Hotel Wrecking City Traders Stream New Album Ikiryo in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on April 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve made attempts in the past to describe the scope that Melbourne, Australia, instrumental duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders cover, but to be perfectly honest with you, I think I’ve fallen a little flat in doing so to date. When I first got a copy of their 2008 Black Yolk full-length debut, it seemed to me that the brotherly two-piece of guitarist Toby Matthews and drummer Ben Matthews were embroiled in a kind of post-punker noise rock. Their edges were sharp, the material angular, almost mathy. The subsequent 2010 Somer/Wantok 7″ single (review here) preceded a 2011 collaborative 12″ with Gary Arce of Yawning Man (review here), and both the pairing itself and the output showed shifting influences, the Wreckers taking on a more progressive, groove-based mindset, smoothing out. In 2012, they again partnered with Arce, this time taking part in a three-way split between his WaterWays project and UK instrumental proggers Sons of Alpha Centauri (review here) that once again expanded the Hotel Wrecking City Traders palette. Now, more than half a decade since their last long-player, the Matthewses return with Ikiryo on their own Bro Fidelity Records and seek to confound those who’d try to simplify their approach by sticking it in one category or another.

Ben and Toby — who also issued the solo album Sounds of Jura in 2013 under the moniker Toby Wrecker — offered a look at some of their present breadth late in 2013 with the one-song, largely-improvised 46-minute live video “Ode to Chunn” (discussed here). It was probably the best extended-form single of last year that never actually got a release, and Ikiryo continues to trace the development of Hotel Wrecking City Traders as a unit of multiple sonic affiliations. Over its vinyl-ready five-track, 36-minute sprawl, Ikiryo touches on Pelican pastoralia (see “Riley”), doomly minimalism (the midsection of opener “Breath”), post-desert joybringing (“Dance the Hempen Jig”), extended builds (the closing title-track), and on “Tetryl,” they seem to fuse the patient atmospherics of who they are now with the crunching riffs they offered in their beginnings while also experimenting either with vocals or something that sounds enough like them to serve that purpose. Likewise, there also seems to be some conversation happening way, way down in the mix of “Breath,” unless that’s just my brain receiving alien transmissions again. It’s vague. Could go either way. The point is, Hotel Wrecking City Traders are pushing themselves, experimenting, refusing to settle into any comfort zone, and for arriving six years after their first album, Ikiryo shows they haven’t wasted their time.

There’s at least six years’ worth of growth evident between the initial rush of “Breath” and the moodier, contemplative launch of “Ikiryo” — though the title cut rounds out with a viciously heavy payoff of its own — and along the way, they hit numerous peaks and valleys, striding out in the centerpiece “Dance the Hempen Jig” for a fuzz highlight memorable enough to be an anchor for anyone who finds themselves rudderless in stretches of linearity without traditional verses or choruses to ground them, Toby‘s guitar metering out airy lead lines over Ben‘s smoothed-out drum pattern. Even here they’re not without purpose or dynamic, and as much as they come to rest in a given part anywhere on Ikiryo, their use of repetition never goes from hypnotic to redundant.

Even now I find that none of this is really doing justice to Hotel Wrecking City Traders‘ heavy and increasingly expansive take. Fortunately, the duo have granted me permission to host a full stream of the album, so that instead of spinning my adjectival wheels to look for alternate uses of “deeply creative,” I can simply direct your attention to the player below and you can hear it for yourself. Score one for the nifty future in which we reside.

Ikiryo is out on CD April 16 as Hotel Wrecking City Traders begin a European tour (info an dates below). Enjoy:

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

Hotel Wrecking City Traders’ (HWCT) first full length LP since 2008’s ‘Black Yolk’. After a series of successful collaborations & splits with Desert Rock forefathers Gary Arce, Mario Lalli (Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson) and a steady bout of touring Australia and Japan, the urge to record as a duo again was something that was important. So was emphasizing the song and the melody and crafting the riff. ‘Ikiryo’ is a more harnessed beast and comprises 5 songs that were written over the course of a 3 month period at the end of 2013. They were recorded in a mere 2 days, in January, 2014. This time working with engineer Jason Fuller at his Goatsound Studios in Melbourne. Jason’s background is well known as being in the heavier more metal realm (Brutal Truth, Blood Duster). The band were sought out by Jason and invited to record, ironically entering the studio with some of the most melodic and concise songs of their existence. The result is a vivid sonic journey over the course of 40 minutes that sees HWCT’s new approach spread across 5 measured sonic explorations. Improvisational aspects are still present but so is a confident and measured velocity. This is evident in the album’s title, suggesting a spirit leaving the body and moving around freely. The album is heavy, mind altering and noisy and still undeniably HWCT.

Ikiryo European Tour April/May 2014
Fri April 18th The Anvil, Bournemouth
Sat April 19th The Hole in the Wall, Colchester
Thu April 24th Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Fri April 25th Church of St Thomas the Martyr, Bristol w/The Body, Arabrot, Hey Colossus
Sat April 26th The Desertfest, London
Tue 29th April RockSound, Barcelona
Wed 30th April IncivicZone, Sant Feliu de Codines
Thu 1st May Lion Cafe, Benicarlo
Fri 2nd May La Residencia, Valencia
Sat 3rd May Métrica, Málaga
Sun 4th May Mondongo Bar, Puerto Santa María — Cádiz
Mon 5th May Cruce de Caminos, La Zubia — Granada
Tue 6th May Wurlitzer Ballroom, Madrid
Wed 7th May El Reino, Cabezón de La Sal
Thu 8th May Sentinel Rock Club, Erandio + MEIDO
Fri 9th May Mogambo, Donostia + ERROMA + MEIDO
Sat 10th May AVV Arrebato, Zaragoza

Hotel Wrecking City Traders on Thee Facebooks

Bro Fidelity Records

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Lizzard Wizzard Release Demo in Deluxe Tape Package

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

To those who might bemoan the miniscule reemergence of tapes as a cheap physical alternative to vinyl — which, as I understand it, everybody really enjoys looking at while continuing to stream music off their phones, laptops, etc. — there are few arguments to be made in terms of relative audio quality, but as in the case of Brisbane, Australia-based stoner foursome Lizzard Wizzard, there are instances where cassette releases provide an opportunity for creativity in packaging that other formats don’t, doubtless in no small part because they’re cheaper. Lizzard Wizzard, who’ve teamed with newcomer Los Angeles tape-specialist imprint Houdini Tapes, have issued their 2013 debut self-titled demo (review here) in a deluxe package that includes not only two pre-rolled smoking cones in a plastic container, but a 20-sided die and patch as well. For eight bucks.

Whatever else cassettes do, whatever formats they might be inferior to in some ways and superior in others, they offer a different experience of an album than CDs, than vinyl or digital media, and for that alone, never mind the options that a less costly production opens up, I consider them a valid alternative. Vinyl’s great, don’t get me wrong, and there are no shortage of purveyors doing interesting, creative things with that packaging as well, but I guess I don’t see why it needs to be a competition between one or the other instead of people being glad that a band like Lizzard Wizzard, still getting their start, can provide their followers with a product that fits their sonic personality that neither does the audio an injustice nor prices anyone on either side out of the market.

Not to get preachy, it’s just unfortunate to see cool releases and ideas get the shaft because of party lines being drawn between one format and another. Here are the specs on Lizzard Wizzard‘s Lizzard Wizzard, which you can also listen to and download below:

HDNI-001 LIZZARD WIZZARD “S/T”

7 tracks of dungeon crawling, bong ripping, tail losing and then regrowing, stoner doom from Brisbane, Australia.

For fans of Eyehategod, Electric Wizard, Sleep/Asbestos Death

Package Includes:
– 7 Track Cassette
– Translucent Green D20 die
– Green tube with 2 Empty Pre-rolled Smoke
Cones
– Screen printed patch

Limited to 150 Copies.

Listen to the album at:
lizzardwizzard.bandcamp.com
http://houdinitapes.storenvy.com/products/5669764-hdni-001-lizzard-wizzard-s-t

Lizzard Wizzard, Lizzard Wizzard (2013)

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Hotel Wrecking City Traders Announce New Album Ikiyro and European Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Australian duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders have announced they’ll release their first long-player in six years’ time in the form of Ikiryo. What will be interesting to hear in the instrumental outfit’s sophomore outing is how much their songwriting will have been affected by their collaborations over the last several years with the like of Gary Arce (review here) and the more psychedelic influence they showed late last year on the live recording “Ode to Guinn” (video here). Their last physical release was a 2012 split with WaterWays and Sons of Alpha Centauri (review here), so really, the Matthews brothers have a wide open range of places they could take their sound, including the crunching noise rock elements that were the driving factor of their 2008 self-titled debut.

Much to look forward to, and if you’re in Europe, a cool chance to see them live. They’ll be at Desertfest in London and more, as the PR wire informs:

HOTEL WRECKING CITY TRADERS ‘ Ikiryo’ (2014)

Hotel Wrecking City Traders’ (HWCT) first full length LP since 2008’s ‘Black Yolk’. After a series of successful collaborations & splits with Desert Rock forefathers Gary Arce, Mario Lalli (Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson) and a steady bout of touring Australia and Japan, the urge to record as a duo again was something that was important. So was emphasizing the song and the melody and crafting the riff. ‘Ikiryo’ is a more harnessed beast and comprises 5 songs that were written over the course of a 3 month period at the end of 2013. They were recorded in a mere 2 days, in January, 2014. This time working with engineer Jason Fuller at his Goatsound Studios in Melbourne. Jason’s background is well known as being in the heavier more metal realm (Brutal Truth, Blood Duster). The band were sought out by Jason and invited to record, ironically entering the studio with some of the most melodic and concise songs of their existence. The result is a vivid sonic journey over the course of 40 minutes that sees HWCT’s new approach spread across 5 measured sonic explorations. Improvisational aspects are still present but so is a confident and measured velocity. This is evident in the album’s title, suggesting a spirit leaving the body and moving around freely. The album is heavy, mind altering and noisy and still undeniably HWCT.

1. Breath (7:40)
2. Riley (4:15)
3. Dance the Hempen Jig (4:49)
4. Tetryl (6:18)
5. Ikiry? (13:39)
BRO FIDELITY RECORDS [BroFi010]

HWCT:
Toby: Guitars
Ben : Drums

Ikiryo European Tour April/May 2014
Fri April 18th The Anvil, Bournemouth
Sat April 19th The Hole in the Wall, Colchester
Thu April 24th Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Fri April 25th Church of St Thomas the Martyr, Bristol w/The Body, Arabrot, Hey Colossus
Sat April 26th The Desertfest, London
Tue 29th April RockSound, Barcelona
Wed 30th April IncivicZone, Sant Feliu de Codines
Thu 1st May Lion Cafe, Benicarlo
Fri 2nd May La Residencia, Valencia
Sat 3rd May Métrica, Málaga
Sun 4th May Mondongo Bar, Puerto Santa María — Cádiz
Mon 5th May Cruce de Caminos, La Zubia — Granada
Tue 6th May Wurlitzer Ballroom, Madrid
Wed 7th May El Reino, Cabezón de La Sal
Thu 8th May Sentinel Rock Club, Erandio + MEIDO
Fri 9th May Mogambo, Donostia + ERROMA + MEIDO
Sat 10th May AVV Arrebato, Zaragoza

www.facebook.com/hotelwreckingcitytraders
www.hotelwreckingcitytraders.bandcamp.com
www.reverbnation.com/hwct
www.brofidelity.blogspot.com
www.wombatbooking.com

Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Ikiryo Euro Tour Promo

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In the Round: Reviews of Hobosexual, Midryasi, Operators, Pylar and System of Venus

Posted in Reviews on March 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s a big world and there’s a lot to review in it, so I won’t do much to delay. This time around covers both coasts of the US as well as Europe and even Australia, proving once again that heavy knows no borders and seems to be at home wherever it goes. It’s a pretty varied batch this time as well, but should provide some fun along the way.

Hobosexual, II


Billing themselves as “Seattle’s only rock duo” — which is charming if unlikely — guitarist/vocalist Ben Harwood and drummer Jeff Silva self-release their second album as Hobosexual (I see what you did there…) in the aptly-titled 12-tracker, II. It’s a record that brims with attitude from the chugging, semi-Melvinsian opening of “Switchblade Suburbia,” but there’s a depth of tone and swagger to back up the smacktalk in their songwriting. The 38-second “Ghettoblaster” is Hendrix-style feedback and soloing, playing directly into “Hostile Denim”‘s lead-obsessed Rolling Stones hook ‘n’ push. Topped off with striking artwork from Adam Burke of Fellwoods, II proves very much of its Pacific Northwest origins — a magical land where everybody has a beard and they all listen to stoner rock — and while the tongue-in-cheek snark of “Sex Destroyer” might be over-the-top to some, Hobosexual avoid the minimalist aesthetic some duos use as a crutch for lazy songwriting, make old riffs new again and showcase some melodic depth in Harwood‘s vocal layering, positioning songs like “The Black Camaro Death” and the penultimate “BMX” highlights arguing against style over substance amid party-ready riffing and don’t-have-a-fuck-to-give panache. Their 2010 self-titled debut worked in similar stylistic parameters, but II strikes as more confident overall, and it’s a record that you’re either going to fall prey to its sleaze or shoot down early and go about your night. If the album’s a party, I feel at times like my invite must have gotten lost in the mail, but Hobosexual provide a decent reminder nonetheless that there are those capable of turning heavy rock into a good time and put it on the listener to ask why they should take it so seriously in the first place. FOAD: Fuck off and dance.

Hobosexual, II (2013)

Hobosexual on Thee Facebooks

Hobosexual on Bandcamp

Midryasi, Black, Blue and Violet


Strange things are afoot throughout Italian four-piece Midryasi‘s third album, Black, Blue and Violet. The multifaceted heavy outfit run a gamut from Pentagram-esque riff doom to Pink Floyd-infused progressive texturing, all the while keeping a clarity of sound that can likely be traced to the metallic roots of bassist/vocalist Convulsion, who aside from having played in DoomSword can be traced to a number of more extreme outfits. His brother, DoomSword vocalist Deathmaster, shows up on opener “The Counterflow,” but Black, Blue and Violet never goes quite so far into one subgenre or another, the keyboard work of Umberto Desanti always adding an edge of prog to whatever else might be happening, whether it’s the otherwise doomed “Diagonal” or the dramatic verses of the title-track. Released through My Graveyard Productions, Midryasi‘s third ultimately finds its atmospheric crux in an intelligent construction, but perhaps feels somewhat distant in its performance, coldly executed. That’s an inherent tradeoff for the complexity of its arrangements, maybe, and there’s something to be said in argument for the skillful calculation at work across these seven tracks that run smoothly with the underlying drum work of Sappah and fluid guitars of Paolo Paganhate and hit their high-point with the rumbling “The Nuclear Dog,” which provides the most memorable hook of the long-player and seems to revel most in the psychedelic and progressive weirdness that the whole album moves within. The six-and-a-half-minute “Hole of the Saturday Night” closes out with a heavy rock riff and vocal delivery from Convulsion that moves in some of the same (stone) circles as Venomous Maximus, though that’s likely a coincidence of common influence between the two, and with a smooth, consistent production, Midryasi wind up sounding most of all like a band working on its own level. And successfully.

Midryasi, Black, Blue and Violet (2013)

Midryasi on Thee Facebooks

Midryasi on Bandcamp

Operators, Contact High


Raucous Berlin six-piece Operators made an impression in 2012 with the unabashed new school stoner rock of their self-titled debut (review here) now a little older, a little wiser, a little more drunk, the band returns with Contact High, a record that wears its influences on its sleeve in much the same manner as the Satellite Beaver, Neume and Stonehenge patches grace the varsity jacket of the figure on the album’s cover. “Kiss of De Ath” resides at the end of side A of the eight-track/39-minute offering and offers some of Operators‘ most satisfying boogie as Konni‘s organ and the guitars of Jacky and Dirk align for an intricate but still-rolling groove of a midsection build while Stonehenge‘s Enni steps in as a guest singer, but it’s vocalist Eggat who makes the first impression on opener “Terra Ohm,” setting up a strong hook for the rest of Contact High to live up to. The album plays out unpretentious and riotous in kind, and while they haven’t necessarily settled down since their first outing, it’s easy enough to hear Operators as having solidified their approach somewhat. Konni‘s keys work just as well alongside the rhythm section of bassist Dän and drummer Säsh as with the guitars, and Eggat proves a formidable enough presence on cuts like “If I Burn,” “Bring on the Spice” (I don’t know whose guitar solo that is, but kudos) and the driving “Contact High” to reign the rest into cohesion. The six-and-a-half-minute “Arrows” shows a more subdued side that, somewhat surprisingly, never quite explodes into the noisy chicanery found elsewhere. Could it be that Operators are growing up right before our ears? I don’t know, but the results are fascinating and display more even potential from these Desertfest veterans.

Operators, “Terra Ohm” from Contact High (2013)

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzmatazz Records

Pylar, Poderoso Se Alza en My


Grand soundscaping, an underlying sense of ritual, and a pervasive experimental bent — it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Spain’s Pylar boasts some manner of allegiance to forward or at least side-to-side thinking doomers Orthodox and the avant extremists Blooming Látigo, but the unit’s Knockturne Records debut, Poderoso Se Alza en My, strikes as a decidedly more conceptual work, with one song spilling into the next, religious themes crossing through minimalist atmospheres and a periodic lurch emerging that’s as much a trip aurally as mentally. Two longer cuts, “El Pylar Se Ha Alzado” (13:49) and “Al Fin Te Contemplo Entre las Ruinas del Tiempo (Pentagrammaton)” (12:11) sandwich five not-quite-as-extended segments as the opener (the longest on the record; immediate points) and closer of the 68-minute behemoth, which one would be thoroughly mistaken to dub a “compact” disc. It is, instead, expansive and challenging, rife with droning tension, vague shouts in Spanish seeming to describe some torment either physical or spiritual amid art-jazz percussion in another dimension’s time signatures. Will not, will not, will not be for everyone, but Pylar‘s first is a fascinating and dense work that one could easily spend any number of months dissecting, only to still come up with an incomplete picture of its scope, and for those with a high tolerance for the experimental and indulgences of noise, the intense swell of “La Gran Luminaria” could easily prove essential as the culmination point for what seems to be an album-long drive toward enlightenment and the sundry terrors it might carry with it. If you think you’re bored of the mundane, Poderoso Se Alza en My is ready to pull back the veil and toy for a while with what you used to think of as “your” consciousness.

Pylar, Poderoso Se Alza en My (2013)

Pylar on Thee Facebooks

Pylar on Bandcamp

System of Venus, System of Venus


I remain a sucker for Aussie heavy. System of Venus guitarist/vocalist/graphic designer Fatima Baši? gets into a doomly melodic range that reminds at times — as on “Dancing in Hell’s Garden” — of Alunah‘s Soph Day, but the rough edges in her guitar and Amanda‘s bass add a more distinct ’90s feel to the seven-track/36-minute proceedings on their full-length debut and first release, as the crunch in “Monster Ego” will further attest. Drummer Matt Lieber shows himself comfortable with the quick tempo changes in that song and elsewhere on the self-titled, self-released offering, and though the centerpiece “Dr. Dumb” works quickly to earn its position in the CD’s tracklist, ultimately the opener “Blackrock” and the closing duo of “Nothing” and “Beast” are the strongest statements the album has to make in showcasing the diversity nascent in System of Venus‘ approach, “Beast” rising to an apex that though satisfying feels somewhat shortlived in providing the payoff for the record as whole while “Nothing” holds to a quieter, brooding sentiment that plays off the foundational bassline of “Gannets Drive,” giving what might’ve otherwise easily turned out to be a demo an LP’s overarching flow and speaking to an early awareness of quality construction from the Melbourne trio, though “Gannets Drive” seems to cut out early, building to a hit that’s snapped mid-crash, so perhaps there remain some kinks to work out one way or another. All the same, taken as a whole, System of VenusSystem of Venus satisfies as the debut of a band feeling out where they want to be sonically, and bodes well for where they might grow their sound somewhere between grunge, doom and heavy rock.

System of Venus, System of Venus (2013)

System of Venus on Thee Facebooks

System of Venus on Bandcamp

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In the Round: Reviews of The Devil Rides Out, Manthra Dei, Ol’ Time Moonshine, Robot Lords of Tokyo and Rowsdower

Posted in Reviews on January 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Heavy stuff from all over the world. These have all been available for a little bit, and I’ve included audio and links as much as possible. Hope you dig:

The Devil Rides Out, Ugly Creatures EP

Checking in at just the other side of a half-hour, Perth four-piece The Devil Rides Out‘s self-released Ugly Creatures launches with its title-track, which, like the closer “Blood River,” tops seven minutes. There are five-songs total, and they get shorter as you approach the middle from either side, second cut “Empty Sky” and the penultimate “The Righteous Walk” being 5:59 and 5:44, respectively, and centerpiece “Burn Again” running just 4:05. It’s a kind of parabolic listening effect and an interesting structural note on the band’s part, but whatever progressive ideals they may proffer in terms of how the EP is put together, Ugly Creatures is a rock record and doesn’t attempt to be anything else sonically. The guitars of Andrew Ewing lead the way with Joey K.‘s bluesy, gravelly vocals with some airy flourish in the solos, but the vibe is consistently earthy, and the heft and inventiveness of play in Scott Paterson‘s bass and the consuming wash of Royce Uyen‘s drums keep the proceedings grounded stylistically. It’s a loose, swinging heavy rock that emerges by the time they get to “Burn Again,” if deceptively atmospheric, but The Devil Rides Out in their midpoint introduce a thicker lurch and though Ewing‘s vocals seem to be high in the mix, they offer a commanding presence up front. “Blood River” strikes a better balance in having a somewhat bigger guitar sound and allowing the throaty delivery to cut through, decidedly un-reverbed as it is, and the ending tone of the EP winds up stronger for it. There are more than a few interesting explorations here, and if The Devil Rides Out were looking to delve into new stylistic ground, they’ve set themselves up well in doing so for their next full-length.

The Devil Rides Out on Thee Facebooks

The Devil Rides Out on Bandcamp

Manthra Dei, Manthra Dei

It’s somewhat jarring when Italian mostly-instrumental heavy psychedelic four-piece Manthra Dei launch from the languid beginnings of “Stone Face” at the open of their self-titled full-length Acid Cosmonaut Records (vinyl through Nasoni) debut and into more driving space rock, propelled by the keyboard work of Paolo Tognazzi, but it comes to make sense in the progressive sprawl and mounted swirl of the 51-minute album overall. Paolo Vacchelli handles the sole guitar in the foursome, with Branislav Ruzicic on bass and Michele Crepaldi on drums, but throughout, each player gets an opportunity to shine, whether it’s the bass in “Stone Face,” the guitars pushing heavier riffage at the apex of “Xolotl,” the keys adding jazzy melody to a King Crimson-style run in the 17-minute “Blue Phantom” or taking an organ solo on “Urjammer” or the hard-tapping snare punctuating the fervent groove of “Legendary Lamb.” Vocals show up in that last cut, handled by Crepaldi, and with as natural as he sounds amid the instrumental complexity surrounding, I’m not sure what would keep Manthra Dei from employing them more often, but this is a first release, and the band are making pretty clear efforts to hammer out their style, so with as much as is going on and as many parts as a given track has, there’s not a lot of room as they flow from one to the next for verses and choruses. Still, Manthra Dei‘s Manthra Dei is engaging, holding attention even through the aforementioned 17-minute monster and on through the acoustic epilogue that reprises “Stone Face” in a much humbler form. They’re feeling their way, but the push they’ve concocted on their first outing is both exciting and impressively held together, melding progressive flow, space rock rhythms and a psychedelic tendency toward open structures.

Manthra Dei on Thee Facebooks

Acid Cosmonaut Records

Ol’ Time Moonshine, The Demon Haunted World EP

Gruff four-piece Ol’ Time Moonshine hail from the humid backwoods Southern bogs of… Toronto? Okay, so maybe the “Southern” we’re talking about is Southern Ontario, the Down-style chug-and-stomp these dudes get up to on their self-released The Demon Haunted World EP is whiskey by any other name. The seven-tracker finds the two, sometimes-three guitar outfit with a distinctly riffy push, not afraid to get big and angry in the second half of “March of the Trees” or turn things on their head with a little High on Fire gallop on the subsequent “Jazz Cigarettes.” They make little bones about their predilections or tastes in “There be Dragons,” “Jazz Cigarettes” or “This Black Hole is a Demon Rift,” but the ride is enjoyably varied nonetheless, with vocalist Bill Kole showing a range beyond that of the typical post-Anselmo “whoa yeah momma” drawl, getting into sludgier fare when called upon by his own and Chris Coleiro‘s riffing. On instrumental opener “There be Dragons,” “Seven Deadly Suns” and the swayingly grooved “She Dances in Graveyards,” Ol’ Time Moonshine brings in Chris Kendrick of Galaxies in the River for distinct solos, but even elsewhere, Ol’ Time Moonshine show no trouble in offering sonic variety across these tracks. Kole, who also did the jewel-case layout and recorded the guitars and vocals while Ronald Roy of Threshold Sound did Kyle Marnoch‘s bass and Brett Savory‘s drums, seems to be in the lead role, but the band offer a full, active presence throughout, and show themselves to be more than capable songwriters in making something of their own out of familiar genre elements. At just under half an hour, The Demon Haunted World packs enough dirt and grit to be called a full-length, and particularly for being the band’s debut, hits hard enough to leave a mark.

Ol’ Time Moonshine on Thee Facebooks

Ol’ Time Moonshine on Bandcamp

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Virtue and Vice

With their artwork in homage to KISSLove Gun, Ohio-based Robot Lords of Tokyo proffer pro-rocking burl of the sort that Brand New Sin pounded out over a decade ago on their self-released third full-length, Virtue and Vice, and while that doesn’t necessarily say much about the originality of the influences under which they’re working on the follow-up to 2008′s Whiskey, Blood and Napalm (review here), the songwriting at the heart of cuts like “Great Escape,” the swaggering “Hate’s Eternal Spring” and the dudely stomp of “Chicken Little” distinguish the metal-infused core of Rick Ritzler (drums, backing vocals) and Paul Jones (vocals), collaborating bassist Joe Viers (who also recorded and mixed, played some guitar and did backing vocals) and Beau Vanbibber (rhythm and acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals) as they bring in a host of guest guitarists, from Tracy G. to Chris Poland to Terry Adams and Wayne Findlay. One might think that an album with no fewer than 12 players appearing throughout would sound uneven, but Robot Lords of Tokyo actually hold it together pretty well — doing themselves a service by keeping the songs straightforward and mostly upbeat — even finding room to cover Cinderella‘s “Night Songs” in the second half. Rounding out with the nine-minute build of “Through Perdition’s Flames,” their testosterone-powered motor rock seems to delight in how over the top it gets, but still represents a kind of lost commercial viability for heavy rock in general, as though beamed in from an alternate time and space in which Robot Lords of Tokyo are the rockstars they sound like, instead of self-releasing quality albums so dickhead reviewers like me can me months behind on reviewing them. There are times where Virtue and Vice comes on strong, but at its core it’s professional work.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo’s website

Rowsdower & Send the Mistress, Split CD

Taking their moniker from the lead character in the cult-classic action movie The Final Sacrifice (also one of the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes of the Mike Nelson era), St. Louis heavy blues rockers Rowsdower emerge in making their Dead Grooves Records debut on a split full-length with fellow Missourians Send the Mistress. The latter act appear second and have a much more metalcore-derived sound — i.e. there are breakdowns and mixed screaming and clean vocals — but the five-piece Rowsdower bring together blues-swinging heavy riffs and Facelift-style vocals, hitting on a sonic niche that Salt Lake City’s Dwellers made their own on their first album. “Monday Morning Space Invaders” is bar-ready, even if the hook isn’t as strong as the opening “Acid Healer,” but the tone is set quickly, and with considerable bounce in their step, Rowsdower show promise throughout their four included tracks, notable for their comfort at a middle pace and for the easy mesh of classic heavy rock and distinct ’90s stylization, which shows up not only in the vocals, but in the snare drum sound as well. It’s an enticing affair ultimately, and as much as it’s Rowsdower‘s name that got my attention, the boozy debauchery of “Redemption Denied” and the Mastodon-style riffing that hits in the second half of “Victor’s Waltz” make it plain that there’s more to Rowsdower than there might at first seem. Not sure how they got paired with Send the Mistress, but I imagine there was alcohol involved one way or another. The second act’s three cuts, “Tired Limbs Energetic,” “A Magnificent Feast” and “Medusa’s New Do” are crunchier-toned all around, but there are heavy rock roots in there, even if they take them someplace else, genre-wise. Sometimes geography makes for strange bedfellows.

Rowsdower on Thee Facebooks

Send the Mistress on Thee Facebooks

Dead Groove Records

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The Devil Rides Out Finish Video Series with “Empty Sky”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Because I’m a punk and I thoroughly missed the boat on reviewing The Devil Rides Out‘s 2013 Ugly Creatures EP, you’ll find it included in its five-track entirety in a Bandcamp stream below. Please note that it’s no less a professional heavy rock execution than was the Perth-based foursome’s 2011 sophomore full-length, The Heart and the Crown (review here), and that with their new video for “Empty Sky” from the latest release, they complete a series of five videos working with different directors (including themselves), providing visual accompaniment for every song on Ugly Creatures. The links to the others are included below as well, coming courtesy of the PR wire, which also supplies more info about the EP and video project.

Clearly these guys do not fuck around.

Enjoy:

The Devil Rides Out, “Empty Sky” official video

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT RELEASE NEW MUSIC VIDEO ‘EMPTY SKY’

Long before Beyonce dropped her self-titled video album late last year, four very hairy, very loud gentlemen from the west coast of Australia dreamed a little dream. Perth stoner/sludge lords The Devil Rides Out announced back in June 2013 that they were to release a short film for every track on their new release, each one with a different director / artist given free reign to do whatever they liked. This “video album” was entitled ‘Ugly Creatures’.

As they had hoped for, the resulting films have been incredibly varied but always interesting, from Cat Hope’s experimental take on ‘Blood River’ to the more traditional live performance video – with a twist – of Baz Harvey’s ‘Ugly Creature’. They’ve also enjoyed a bit of success, with ‘The Righteous Walk’ – created by the bands own Joey K and Andrew Ewing – selected to appear on the 2014 Music Feedback DVD compilation, and Richard Eames’ epic video for ‘Burn Again’ being selected for the 2013 WAM Festival DVD compilation as well as the 2013 Sydney Underground Film Festival.

‘Empty Sky’ – the fifth and final “Creature” in this ambitious video project – has been directed by up-and-coming young filmmaker Robert Bremner and is a badass homage to Eastern samurai cinema via Italian spaghetti western and a Tarantino-esque sexy/cool aesthetic. The dream-like film was shot by Bremner with assistance from Alex Aitken and stars Taihra Swaine and Ayzia Hogan as the rival samurai warriors in a battle to the death, beneath an empty sky…

Watch ‘Empty Sky’ here now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrrwU_cAXp0

‘Ugy Creatures’ can be purchased online from the The Devil Rides Out Bandcamp page: http://thedevilridesout.bandcamp.com/

You can also watch the previous four short films here:
‘The Righteous Walk’ by Joey K & Andrew Ewing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrzupEJ5h9s
‘Burn Again’ by Richard Eames: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DntDfFFVs5A
‘Ugly Creature’ by Baz Harvey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mok92QKw0Rg
‘Blood River’ by Cat Hope: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TXak3ARzD8

The Devil Rides Out, Ugly Creatures EP (2013)

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Clagg, Gather Your Beasts: Curses, Beasts, Mortality, Death and Oblivion

Posted in Reviews on December 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s with a dark, brooding and at times extreme take on (e)visceral sludge that Australian five-piece Clagg return on their fourth full-length, Gather Your Beasts. The two-guitar/standalone-vocal outfit were last heard from with 2009′s Lord of the Deep (review here), which saw reissue in 2011 on Obsidian Records. Gather Your Beasts is self-released, but that’s not to say a similar fate doesn’t await it, because if anything, it’s Clagg‘s most realized outing yet, casting off some (not all) of the heavy rock sway in their riffs in favor of focusing on bleaker and tighter-feeling material. Guitarists Anthony Viccars and Dav Byrne lead the charge, with bassist Dase Beard and drummer Tim Byrne marking the progress of their lurching plod with some sizable footprints. Dase and Dav are new as of this collection, but if there’s an even bigger difference to be heard between Gather Your Beasts and Clagg‘s prior output, it’s in Scott Williams‘ vocals.

Tonally, the five mostly-extended tracks of Gather Your Beasts – the longest is opener “Five Curses” (immediate points) at 11:22 and the shortest is closer “Pathways to Oblivion” at 6:30 — are rife with cavernous echo, and where the last time out, Williams was charged with cutting through and dominating the rumble, right from the start of “Five Curses” he comes on buried, overwhelmed by the tidal riffs, carried out with them on undulating groove. The effect is to give the impression of even greater tonal largesse, and it works well, somewhere along the lines of an unritualistic Ramesses, less candlelit-ceremony and more burn-the-fucking-house-down. Neither feedback nor eardrums are spared throughout, “Five Curses” (the title maybe a reference to the five band members or to the album’s five tracks or both) unfolding to a rolling riff not without a sense of bounce punctuated by Tim‘s snare, as Williams unfurls tradeoffs of lower growling and high-pitched screams. Over the course of the title-track and “The Great Mortality,” they vary the level of extremity somewhat, even getting into a stoner shuffle for a stretch in the latter and giving Williams space for spoken word over ambient guitar in the former, but the brutality is never far off and always seems to make a return at just the right time.

That is to say, the crux and the  resounding impression of the album is its heft and that already-noted brutality. Clagg use it well. As a centerpiece to the CD/digital version of Gather Your Beasts — which nonetheless is a vinyl-ready 44 minutes long — “The Great Mortality” takes the buried-vocals and crushing riffs and speeds them up for at least half of the song’s 7:51, starting out with a tense build on drums and guitar before the full rush is let loose. And when it slows down, it’s no less massive than anything else here, though the vocals are more forward than in some places preceding a mournful dirge of a solo that gradually rises from the agonized progression that marches into a fade, leaving the bass as a transition into the more definitively Sleep-via-Weedeater-style boogie that begins “The Dream is Dead.” If Clagg are stoner rock anywhere on the album, it’s here, but the classic heavy swagger is shortlived here as well — maybe that’s the dream dying — and in any case the vocals give it an entirely sludgier edge. So where does it hit the wall? Just about at the four-minute mark it seems like Clagg might be full-on ready to roll, and that’s when “The Dream is Dead” slams headfirst into feedback and excruciating tempo shift. Like someone hit the vibe in the face with a shovel.

Obviously that’s what Clagg are shooting for, so I wouldn’t call “The Dream is Dead” anything other than a success. It might be even more of one than “The Great Mortality,” which is similar in both title and construction, since there’s a more projected sense of build in the later, penultimate track. Eventually, though, the 10-minute “The Dream is Dead” stomps to a noisy, feedback-drenched finish and bleeds directly into “Pathways to Oblivion” as the final cut on Gather Your Beasts, which given the melee surrounding and the sprawl of “The Dream is Dead” seems short at 6:30 but winds up as more than an afterthought, keeping consistently to a pace that finds the middle ground between the duality in “The Great Mortality” and “The Dream is Dead” and rides it to a raucous, solo-topped finish before descending into a minute-plus of effects noise to close out. Clagg remain somewhat undervalued coming into Gather Your Beasts, and while one is hesitant to make “they’re gonna be huge” predictions because frankly that kind of thing depends on more than just the quality of a release and to say otherwise is needless hyperbole, their fourth album is at least worthy of the attention it seems to be demanding, and with the depth of its production, stylistic cohesion and the effort of presentation, Clagg‘s latest lurks like devastation waiting to be found.

Clagg, Gather Your Beasts (2013)

Clagg on Bandcamp

Clagg on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Lizzard Wizzard, Lizzard Wizzard

Posted in Radio on November 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve expounded at some length before about the virtues of stoner rock charm, and with nerd-tastic references to South Park and Game of Thrones and role-playing games — they bill themselves both as “turn-based” and “four-player” — Brisbane, Australia’s quadruply-zedded Lizzard Wizzard most certainly have that working in their favor. The four-piece band self-released their 37-minute self-titled debut this week, and from the Dopesmoker-esque beginnings of “Twilight of the Terminator” to the almost unfortunately catchy lurch of “Total Handjob Future” — this is not a song you want to be singing as you walk, say, through the aisles of a grocery store on a weekday afternoon — the vibes are as lighthearted as the tones are heavy. Guitarist/vocalists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon, bassist/vocalist Stef Roselli and drummer Luke Osborne find a nod-worthy balance of humor and crushing riffs, and while something in me seriously doubts that closer “Dogs Die in Hot Cars” was titled after the Scottish indie band of the same name, the awareness of pop culture only adds to the appeal of the album.

To wit, the gang-shout chorus of “Don’t forget your towel!” cribbing Towlie lines from South Park arrives over molasses grooving in the midsection of centerpiece “Bong Dive,” and only underscores what Lizzard Wizzard‘s Lizzard Wizzard is all about: Not taking itself too seriously but still being heavy as hell. Couple that with production that’s both huge and professionally crisp, and while they might be goofing around, Lizzard Wizzard ultimately come off as having a clear understanding of what they want to do as a band and how to do it. With “Game of Cones,” a sample of someone sparking a joint (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) and inhaling echoes over feedback before an oddly familiar riff begins and introduces what turns out to be the theme song of the HBO series based on George R. R. Martin‘s fantasy books redone as doom — a heavy genre that, if I may be so bold, has been sorely lacking in dragons for some time. The screaming verse and feedback in “Chaaaaarles” mounts a palpable tension that only starts to see release once the undulating bastard of a riff gets moving, so even though Lizzard Wizzard are obviously enjoying what they’re doing, they’re also crafting well-structured and effective material.

If that song’s making a reference to something other than a band in-joke, I don’t know what it is, but with talk of an “adamantium boner” and some accusations regarding illicit trying on of blouses, it’s pretty scathing. Meanwhile, “Twilight of the Terminator” breaks out “hail Sagan” and “Dogs Die in Hot Cars” actually winds up making a threat to those who’d abuse animals — the lines “Better be good to your pooch/Or you’ll taste my fuckin’ gooch” epitomize the mindset heard throughout — and while the emphasis is clearly on riffs across the board, the lyrics are a big part of what’s making the tracks stand out from each other and from the bevvy of fuzz-worshipers across various inhabited continents, even if the chanted “bongs, bongs, bongs” makes up three of the total five words included in “Reptile Dysfunction” (six if you count “yeah”). Sometimes that’s all you need to say.

Alright, maybe I’m a sucker for wordplay and big riffs, but I know I’m not alone. All seven tracks of Lizzard Wizzard are playing now in The Obelisk Radio‘s constant, unceasing stream, and you can hear them there and check out the album and grab a free download courtesy of the Bandcamp player below. However you go, go Sagan:

Lizzard Wizzard, Lizzard Wizzard (2013)

Lizzard Wizzard on Bandcamp

Lizzard Wizzard on Thee Facebooks

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Hotel Wrecking City Traders Unfurl Improv Bliss on “Ode to Chunn”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Over the last two years or so, Melbourne, Australia duo Hotel Wrecking City Traders have immersed themselves in a Californian desert influence. In 2012, they contributed to a split with the Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson-affiliated outfit WaterWays and Sons of Alpha Centauri (review here), and prior to that, they issued a collaboration with Yawning Man guitarist Gary Arce (review here) that found guitarist Toby Matthews and drummer Ben Matthews moving past some of the noise rock elements that typified their earlier work (it doesn’t fit as neatly into my constructed narrative, but they also released a split with Melbourne’s Spider Goat Canyon last year). Listening to the brothers’ 46-minute improv jam “Ode to Chunn,” it’s abundantly clear this basking in heavy psychedelia has had a profound impact on Hotel Wrecking City Traders.

It’s worth noting for an American audience that the PBS in question here is not the Public Broadcasting System, but instead PBS 106.7FM, a Melbourne-based radio station which filmed Hotel Wrecking City Traders playing “Ode to Chunn” live and got a pro-quality sound to match the high definition video. The band had uploaded “Ode to Chunn” in four parts, but I was dying to hear the complete piece, front to back, so I waited until they strung it all together. I had been kicking myself in the ass for not posting it earlier in its components until I finally caught the finished product. Not anymore. This thing is fantastic. A huge demonstration of how far Hotel Wrecking City Traders have come stylistically and an unmistakable glimpse at the musical chemistry the brothers share between them.

Maybe you won’t put it on and watch it front to back, staring at your screen the whole time, but even if you play the audio and check back in periodically over the course of the piece, you’ll no doubt find yourself amply consumed by the flow of the track. My only hope now is that “Ode to Chunn” makes its way to some kind of physical release, whether it’s a 12″ split into two sides or a tape or CD with it contained in its linear entirety. I’d argue in favor of the CD or an extended tape, if only so that the builds and rushes that Toby and Ben enact over the course of the song don’t find their momentum interrupted and that anyone listening isn’t pulled out of the trance for any reason whatsoever. Whatever they do with it, hopefully it’s something. In the meantime, note Toby‘s Mother Teacher Destroyer shirt and enjoy the crap out of “Ode to Chunn” below:

Hotel Wrecking City Traders, “Ode to Chunn” Live at PBS 106.7FM

Hotel Wrecking City Traders on Thee Facebooks

Bro Fidelity Records

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Riff Fist, Fistful of Riffs

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

From where I sit, stoner rock charm is a very peculiar and particular kind of charm, and Riff Fist have all the earmarks. A trio of lugs from Down Under, they’re armed with inside jokes, guitar-bass-drums and steady Fu ManchuClutch and Kyuss influences, a cartoon Clint Eastwood on their cover (by Brian Koshak) and a four-track debut EP of riff-led shenanigans that they’ve decided to call — just in case you didn’t get the point from the fact that they’re called Riff FistFistful of Riffs. Ambitious it is not.

But really, if have any experience listening to stoner rock whatsoever and you go into listening to a band called Riff Fist who have a release called Fistful of Riffs thinking you’re going to wind up with innovation, it’s your own fault. That’s not what Riff Fist are about. They’re about riffs, booze, and — again, the way I see it — charm. I don’t listen to “Spud King” with any kind of expectation for something landmark that will change my life forever. I listen hoping I’m going to hear a dude singing about being king of the potatoes, and thankfully, that’s just what I get from Riff Fist, and if that’s not enough to let you know how seriously Cozza, Grondo and Casey don’t take themselves, between calling out Fu Manchu in third track “Riff Stew” and the picture of one of the band members on a riding a pony under the CD tray in the digipak with the caption “It’s a Satanic Pony Thing… You Wouldn’t Understand” should fill in any blanks that might be left. Accordingly, they close out the EP with the eight-minute jam “Ride the Pony.”

Given all that and the fact that though it’s pretty raw vocally, the Melbourne three-piece’s first outing nonetheless comes with clean tones and some decent-sounding low end punch, I’m more than happy to get down with the silliness on offer. “Spud King” has some blues in its leads and “Fingerless Ben” is memorable for its strangeness as much as its chorus, but at least if Riff Fist are having a good time, they’re inviting you to have one too. I don’t know if the formative methods they’re showing here would pay off for them over the course of a full-length without something to sonically change it up — “Ride the Pony” branches out instrumentally some as it plays out, but is still very stoner rock and righteously, unashamedly so in this context — but as it is, what seems like the cream of their initial batch of songs since forming in 2011 appeals to the goofball in me. Wherever they go from here, it’s still fun.

And figuring it might be good times every now and again to have “Spud King” or “Ride the Pony” pop up in the playlist, I added Riff Fist‘s Fistful of Riffs to The Obelisk Radio. As standard practice seems to go for self-releasing bands, they’ve got the EP available on their Bandcamp too for CD and/or digital purchase, so here’s the stream of that as well if you’d like an immediate sampling:

Riff Fist, Fistful of Riffs (2013)

Riff Fist on Thee Facebooks

Riff Fist on Bandcamp

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The Devil Rides Out: Aussie Rockers Streaming Bluesy New Single

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Submerged in organ-drenched blues, The Devil Rides Out delve into some gritty atmospheres on their new single “The Righteous Walk.” Even the Perth, Australia, outfit acknowledge that this is new territory for them — their 2011 full-length, The Heart and the Crown (review here) touched on some of the same kind of moodiness in a song like “Hard Love,” but didn’t go nearly as far — and though they assure that the rest of their forthcoming Ugly Creatures LP is full-on, this stuff sounds pretty heavy to me and still has an underlying groove that should tie it well to what one can reasonably expect the rest of the album to offer.

Off to the PR wire:

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT STREAMING NEW SINGLE ‘THE RIGHTEOUS WALK’

The new single for Western Australia’s disciples of all things dirty and doomy THE DEVIL RIDES OUT was delivered to radio this week and has been posted for streaming online here.

The first taste of their upcoming ‘Ugly Creatures’ is probably the least “metal” song that the band have ever released. The irony of this will soon come to light, as overall the new release is easily the heaviest thing they have ever committed to tape, a pitch-black descent into crushing sludge and doom.

For now though, we walk ‘The Righteous Walk’, a blues-drenched lament to loss and redemption. Featuring tasty guest keys from Julian Bolleter, the track simmers and swaggers with vulnerability and menace in equal measure before erupting into a frenzied and desperate climax.

Written in the wake of death and the midst of disintegration, this song – and indeed all of their ‘Ugly Creatures’ – reveals a darker and more reflective Devil. Perhaps no longer running from demons but rather standing and facing them. Walking through the fire… walking the righteous walk…

LIKE www.facebook.com/thedevilridesoutband
FOLLOW www.twitter.com/devilridesout @thedevilridesout
VISIT www.thedevilridesout.com.au

The Devil Rides Out, “The Righteous Walk”

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First Video of New Vista Chino Song Surfaces

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

In one of the last shows they’ll play under the Kyuss Lives! moniker, Vista Chino joined forces with Orange Goblin and Red Fang (god damn that’s a good show) at the Metro in Sydney, Australia on Feb. 27. All three bands and many others are down that way for the massive Soundwave festival, and Vista Chino closed their pre-encore set with — wait for it — a new song. The title is either “Dragona” or “Gakona,” but likely it’ll be something else entirely by the time their new album streets, so it probably doesn’t matter yet anyway. Joining drummer Brant Bjork, guitarist Bruno Fevery and vocalist John Garcia was C.O.C.‘s Mike Dean on bass.

Here’s their full setlist:

One Inch Man
Gardenia
Asteroid
Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop
100°
Thumb
Green Machine
Freedom Run
El Rodeo
Hurricane
Dargona

Encore:
Whitewater
Allen’s Wrench
Odyssey

I know I already closed out the week, and I hope if this isn’t actually the first video of new Vista Chino someone will correct me, but seeing this, it was too cool not to post. The video’s a little rough (shot on an iPhone), but it should still be enough to give a general idea until something a little cleaner surfaces, which it’s bound to do. Till then, dig you some of this:

Vista Chino, “Dragona” Live in Sydney, Feb. 27, 2013

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Motherslug, Motherslug EP: Presenting the Symptoms

Posted in Reviews on February 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The self-titled debut EP from Melbourne, Australia’s Motherslug arrives in a CD jewel case with green artwork on the front and a fuzzy black and white band pic on back, over which the four component songs — “Symptoms,” “Rollin’,” “Devils Rise” and “Space Man” — are listed in the Scorpions logo font. Some records just bleed stoner rock, and Motherslug‘s first outing is most assuredly that, moving from an initial Sleep reference at the very start of “Symptoms” — think the beginning of “Dragonaut” — all the way to a bigtime ride-this-riff slowdown at the end of the eight-and-a-half-minute closer. If nothing else becomes clear at the end of the EP’s 26 minutes, you can at least say Motherslug know what they like.

But in fact, a lot becomes clear by the EP’s end, and it’s not so much about seeking out hidden breadth — though to that end, I’d note the psychedelic break in “Rollin’,” which thankfully was not a Limp Bizkit cover — as it is about approaching Motherslug on the level of their intent. Having been a band for just over a year now, not even a year when they put these cuts to tape, there’s a lot about Motherslug that sounds exploratory, feeling out different ideas to see what works in their songwriting, but Cam (vocals), Fergus and Matt (both guitar), Cyn (bass) and Nick (drums) come out of the gate with a solid presentation of their genre and a clear idea, basking in the glow of Sabbath‘s “Hole in the Sky” in the early verses of “Rollin’” even as they push their thickened riffs into churning crash later in the track before putting the second half of the riffy bookend in place. Cam‘s singing reminds mostly of middle-era Alabama Thunderpussy or any number of other stoner singers, but he shows some drive toward fleshing out his approach as well on “Devils Rise” with a Cathedral-style cadence, and though high in the mix, his vocals don’t grate like so many heavy rock singers’ do.

And Motherslug are hardly the first nascent heavy rock unit to put their frontman out front, but with a song like “Devils Rise” — a little slower, a little more on the doom end of stoner doom — one really does want that sense of being swallowed whole by the riffs, and burying the vocals under the guitars and bass is how that happens. Again though, I’m not about to hold that against a self-releasing band on their first EP. By and large, the sound on Motherslug‘s Motherslug is crisp and professional — not too clean, but clean enough to display some will toward accessibility on their part. The closer, longer by two full minutes than anything else on the EP, keeps to a middle pace between the more shuffling “Rollin’” and “Devils Rise,” beginning with winding guitar and quickly locking in its central groove. Cyn provides the bridge between the opening run and the aforementioned final slowdown of the track with viscous, satisfying low end that pushes air en route to the rest of the band joining back in just past the five-minute mark.

That slowdown lasts for about the last three and a half minutes of the song, and though Motherslug have left themselves some room to grow, they’ve also made their intentions thunderously apparent. For listeners long inducted into the realm of stone, the tracks on the Motherslug EP should more or less feel like coming home, and though the band live quite literally on the other side of the planet, I can still just imagine the pint glasses raised in their honor in some darkened venue. Not revolutionary, not aiming for revolutionary, but a thoroughly enjoyable listen for the converted and something to build from should Motherslug seek further development.

Motherslug on Thee Facebooks

Motherslug on Bandcamp

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Elder, YOB and Beastwars Australian Tour Canceled

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

It was a nice thought to imagine YOB and Elder arriving in the Southern hemisphere to align themselves with the thunderous New Zealand outfit Beastwars and stomp their way across Australia, but seems it’s not to be. At least not now. Elder and Beastwars both put out word that the tour (which was alluded to here back in November) was a no-go. Bummer, but hopefully it’s not the last opportunity for these bands to get together.

Here’s Elder‘s announcement followed by the whole of their Spires Burn/Release EP from their Bandcamp just because it rules and some local East Coast dates they have coming up this week and beyond:

It is with great regret that we have to announce the official cancellation of our Australian/New Zealand appearances coinciding with the cancellation of Doomnations 2013. We received word this morning that the festival would not be taking place this year due to “logistical issues”.

I assure you that we are deeply disappointed to postpone our travels, but would nevertheless like to thank all bands, fans and promotors who supported us in this endeavor. We hope to one day have the privilege of performing for you!

Elder upcoming live dates:
Jan 23 O’Brien’s Allston, MA
Jan 24 St. Vitus Bar Brooklyn, NY
Jan 29 Ralph’s Worcester, MA
Mar 14 Great Scott Allston, MA

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On the Radar: Drifter

Posted in On the Radar on January 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Caking a ’90s alternative influence in fuzz, heavy riffs and a gnarly feedback bent, Aussie heavy rockers Drifter unveil their gritty debut EP, Head, with few frills and a pervasive garage-type rawness. The five-song release is over in 13 minutes, so you know the Melbourne-area trio aren’t wasting much time getting down to business, and sure enough they don’t. Cuts like “I’ve Been Bad” and the punkier “Priest” run from point A to B, and even the crunchier, grunge-derived “Halo” keeps to a more or less basic structure and lack of pretense, leading into closer “So Long,” which reminds of something Nick Oliveri might have brought to the table in Queens of the Stone Age, filling out sound-wise in the chorus behind the half-screamed vocals of guitarist Dan King, bassist Scott Fraser and drummer Dave Payne.

Each of the five tracks ends in feedback, and it’s King‘s guitar leading the way for almost the entirety of the proceedings, but Drifter do find room to work some complexity into their approach and their style. It’s a jump in aesthetic from “Halo” to “Priest” that’s striking even with “All Over Town” between them, the latter working off an almost pop-punk progression to showcase its “take that, maturity”-type chorus while the former churns and builds a considerable tension in just a three-minute span while also proffering one of those in-spite-of-itself hooks that made grunge so powerful a pop force in the first place. In terms of the sheer fuzz, “All Over Town” might be my favorite track. King‘s riff is simple and the vocal cadence touches on Fu Manchu without ever going overboard. Like the EP as a whole, it’s also over before you know it.

That works though, since if Drifter started spacing out it would take away from the immediacy of their hooks and the punkish base they show on Head. The CD arrived in a creatively-folded sleeve with the recording info, tracklisting and a cartoon cover of caveman beardos in shorty-shorts, so it’s good to know that whatever else Drifter have going on, they’ve got a good sense of weirdness to match. Can only help them going forward, and in the meantime, they work a bit of that into the music as well. You can hear the tracks on Head by hitting up the Drifter Bandcamp or looking them up on Thee Facebooks. Here’s the EP in its entirety for your perusal:

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