Lizzard Wizzard Debut New Single “Dankrupt”

Posted in audiObelisk on January 13th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

lizzard wizzard

Brisbane four-piece Lizzard Wizzard will release a new 7″, titled Dankrupt, on Houdini Tapes. The two-track release picks up more or less where their 2013 self-titled (review here) left off, though the sound overall proves somewhat more severe this time around, if keeping to the same we-definitely-don’t-take-ourselves-too-seriously humor that made cuts like “Total Handjob Future” and “Bong Dive” such winners. Both “Dankrupt” and its companion, “The Ghost of Randy Savage” have a heaping dose of charm, guitarists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon and bassist Stef Roselli trading vocals between all three Neurosis-style while drummer Luke Osborne holds down a Crowbar-esque plod behind: viciously lumbering, densely toned, baked at 450 degrees.

They’ve got a quick tour booked to promote the single later lizzard-wizzard-dankruptthis month, and today I have the pleasure of hosting “Dankrupt” itself for streaming. There isn’t much mystery to why the song works — feedback and a lumbering riff kicking in out of an initial wash of noise, the molasses progression topped by wailing shouts that only further the nod. I don’t know the lyrics, but the solo that takes hold just about halfway through is no less expressive than the vocals, the whole thing feeding into the lurching movement of the song itself, which seems to get more grueling as it goes on, stopping after about four minutes in for a quick drone-out before the punishing course resumes, ending with the last line, “forever stoned.”

Rumor has it that Lizzard Wizzard will themselves be unveiling “The Ghost of Randy Savage” later this week. That song is a minute longer and no less destructive sonically, but I’ll stop there to restrain myself from spoiling the surprise. Please find “Dankrupt” on the player below, followed by the tour dates, and enjoy:

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lizzard wizzard tour dates

Lizzard Wizzard on tour:
01/22 The Old Bar, Melbourne
01/23 Crown & Anchor Hotel, Adelaide
01/24 Cosmos Rock Lounge, Marrickville
01/25 Town & Country Hotel, Sydney

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Lizzard Wizzard on Bandcamp

Houdini Tapes

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Last Licks 2014: Sigiriya, Handsome Jack, Octopus Syng, Serpent Venom, Purple Hill Witch, Sandveiss, Sun Shepherd, Giant Sleep, Owl Glitters and Acid Elephant

Posted in Reviews on December 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This is it. New Year’s is this week and by Friday we’ll be into 2015. A new year always brings new hopes, concerns, records and so on, but to be completely honest, I’m just not quite done with 2014 yet. So here we are. I’ve had stacks of CDs on my desk and folders on my computer from the last couple months of stuff I have been trying to fit in, and it doesn’t seem right to me to let the year go without cramming in as much music as I possibly can.

Gotta call it something, so I went with “Last Licks,” since that’s basically what it will be. The plan is that between today and Friday, each day I’ll have another batch of 10 reviews. I’m not going to promise they’ll be the most comprehensive ever, but the idea is to do as much as I can and this seems to me the best way to turn my brains into goo. When that ball drops in Times Square, there’s a good chance I’ll be typing.

No sense in delaying. You get the idea, so let’s jump in:

Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today

sigiriya darkness died today

Recorded live as their debut on Candlelight Records and the follow-up to 2011’s debut, Return to Earth (review here), the sophomore outing from Welsh heavy rockers SigiriyaDarkness Died Today, is distinguished by a vocalist swap bringing in Matt Williams of Suns of ThunderWilliams has a tough job in replacing Dorian Walters, who like guitarist Stuart O’Hara, bassist Paul Bidmead and drummer Darren Ivey, is a former member of Acrimony. There are times when it works and times when it doesn’t. Along with a more barebones tonality in the guitar than appeared on the debut, Williams brings a more straightforward style in his voice, and it changes the personality of the band on songs like “Freedom Engines” and the first-album-title-track “Return to Earth.” “Tribe of the Old Oak” is a catchy highlight and I’ll almost never argue with a song called “Obelisk,” but it seems like they’re still searching for the footing here that seemed so firmly planted their last time out.

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Candlelight Records

Handsome Jack, Do What Comes Naturally

handsome jack do what comes naturally

Upstate New York blues rockers Handsome Jack waste little time living up to the title Do What Comes Naturally. The name of their third album, released by Alive Naturalsound, is both mission-statement aand suggestion, and on songs like the soul-inflected “Creepin’” and the rolling “You and Me,” they make it sound like a good idea. Blues and classic soul meet garage rock across cuts like the relatively brief “Leave it all Behind,” but the tones are warm throughout the record, and guest spots on harmonica and Hammond help keep a sense of variety in the material, well-constructed but still loose in its vibe. The twang might recall The Brought Low for heavy rock heads, but one doubts Handsome Jack groove on much that came out after Psychedelic Mud. Even the CD splits into sides, and as easy as it would be for something like this to sound like a put-on, Handsome Jack prevail with closer “Wasted Time” in making an outing that’s anything but.

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Alive Naturalsound

Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen

serpent venom of things seen and unseen

London doomers Serpent Venom sound like experts in the form on Of Things Seen and Unseen, their second album for The Church Within following 2011’s Carnal Altar and their initial 2010 demo (review here), a righteous 48-minute lumbering slab of heavy riffs, downerism and nod. It’s not every band who could put “Death Throes at Dawn” and “Lord of Life” next to each other, but the four-piece of vocalist Garry Ricketts, guitarist Roland Scriver, bassist Nick Davies and drummer Paul Sutherland keep their focus so utterly doomed that even the quiet, minimalist acoustic interlude “I Awake” – ostensibly a breather — comes across as trodden as the earlier “Sorrow’s Bastard,” or the Reverend Bizarre-worthy “Let Them Starve,” which follows. For those who long for trad doom that has an identity outside its Vitus and Sabbath influences, Serpent Venom prove more than ready to enter that conversation on the wah-soaked soloing in the second half of “Pilgrims of the Sun.” Right fucking on.

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The Church Within Records

Owl Glitters, Alchemical Tones

owl glitters alchemical tones

The artwork tells the story. Owl GlittersAlchemical Tones (on Heart and Crossbone Records) is a wash of color. Taking tribal rhythms and repetitions and pairing them with organic low-end, chanted vocals and periodic excursions of psych rock guitar, Arkia Jahani (who seems to be the lone creative force behind the project, though Mell Dettmer mastered) brings a ritualistic sensibility to the eight included pieces, and the flow is molten from the start of “Dervishes.” Less purposefully weird than Master Musicians of Bukkake, but farther into the cosmos than Om, there’s a folkish identity at the heart of Alchemical Tones that keeps the proceedings human even on the near-throat-singing of “Hakim Sanai” or “Poets of Shiras” and “Khalifa’s Visions” an immersive pair preceding the droning closer “By the Candlelight Our Eyes Welcome Glimmers of Eternity.” Beautifully experimental – and in the case of “Mindful of Gems,” fuzzed to the gills – Owl Glitters’ second outing engages sonic spiritualism with dogmatic command and stares back at you from the space within yourself.

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Heart and Crossbone Records

Sandveiss, Scream Queen

sandveiss scream queen

Sandveiss released Scream Queen, their first full-length, late in 2013, reveling in a modern sound crisply produced and more than ably executed to feature the vocals of guitarist Luc Bourgeois, who provides frontman presence even on disc alongside guitarist Shawn Rice, bassist Daniel Girard and drummer Dzemal Trtak. Cohesiveness isn’t in question as opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Blindsided” rounds out its 6:26, leading the way into “Do You Really Know” and setting the tone for big-riffed Euro-style heavy from the Quebecois foursome, who slow down on “Bottomless Lies,” on which Trtak backs Bourgeois in you-guys-should-do-this-more fashion, and ultimately hold firm to the focus on songwriting that establishes itself early. They fuzz out on closer “Green or Gold,” but by then it’s another element of variety among the organ, guest vocals on “Scar” and tempo shifts on Sandveiss’ ambitious debut, distinguished even unto the six-panel gatefold digi-sleeve in which it arrives, the art and design by Alexandre Goulet one more standout factor on an album demanding attention.

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Sandveiss on Bandcamp

Octopus Syng, Reverberating Garden Number 7

octopus syng reverberating garden number 7

Probably the most clearly Beatlesian moment on Octopus Syng’s Reverberating Garden Number 7 is a slight “Hey Bulldog”-style cadence on side A’s “Very Strange Trip,” and that in itself is an accomplishment (one I’m apparently not the first to observe). The Helsinki four-piece in their 15th year are led by guitarist/vocalist Jaire Pätäri and emit an oozing, serene psychedelia, peaceful and lysergic in late ‘60s exploratory fashion. Reverberating Garden Number 7 (on Mega Dodo Records) echoes out vibe to spare and is deceptively lush while keeping a humble vibe thanks in no small part to Pätäri’s restrained vocal approach and curios like “Cuckoo Clock Mystery,” which boasts an actual cuckoo clock to add bounce to its arrangement. Nine-minute closer “Listen to the Moths” is the single biggest surprise, and an album unto itself, but its unfolding is only the capstone on a collection of psychedelic wonder sincere in its stylistic intent and execution. It fills the ears like warm air in the lungs.

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Mega Dodo Records

Sun Shepherd, Procession of Trampling Hoof

sun shepherd procession of trampling hoof

Destructive Australian trio Sun Shepherd put the bulk of Procession of Trampling Hoof to tape in 2011. Closing bonus track “Exploding Sun” is a demo from 2006, but it fits with their extended tracks and big riffs piled onto each other in densely-weighted fashion, if rougher in presentation. More Ramesses than High on Fire, who prove otherwise to be a key influence tonally for guitarist/vocalist Anson Antriasian, must-hear bassist Leigh Fischer and drummer Michael Barson, though their approach is decidedly less thrash-based. The first five of the six songs find Sun Shepherd’s first full-length a pummel-minded blend of sludge and doom. Antriasian’s vocals are semi-spoken, but fitting theatrically on “Goat-Head Awakening” with the grueling riff-led nod, the tension released as they pass the halfway point of the 10-minute run, a raw atmosphere bolstering the chaos of their slower-motion marauding. With the welcome flourish of stonerly soloing on “Engulfed by Ocean of Time,” one can’t help but wonder what the Melbourne natives are up to three years later.

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Sun Shepherd on Bandcamp

Purple Hill Witch, Purple Hill Witch

purple hill witch purple hill witch

Fuzz-toned elements of Sleep and Sabbath pervade the stoner-doomy self-titled The Church Within debut from Oslo three-piece Purple Hill Witch, who carry the bounce well in immediately familiar riffs and groove. Swinging drums from Øyvind and the inventive basslines of Andreas underscore Kristian’s purely Iommic riffage and blown-out vocals, somewhere between Witchcraft’s earliest going and Witch’s self-titled. If that gives Purple Hill Witch an even witchier feel, “Final Procession” sounds just fine with that, as do shorter tracks like the later “Aldebaranian Voyage (Into the Sun)” and centerpiece “Karmanjaka” on which the stoner side comes out in force. They finish by using all 11 minutes of the eponymous “Purple Hill Witch”’s runtime, breaking in the midsection for a murky exploration that’s creepily atmospheric without veering into cult rock cliché. They bounce resumes and slows to a crawl to close out, but the jam serves Purple Hill Witch well in expanding the band’s sonic reach and the album’s weedian sensibility. Not that they were keeping it a secret.

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The Church Within Records

Giant Sleep, Giant Sleep

giant sleep giant sleep

A burly dual-guitar five-piece with roots in Germany and Switzerland, Giant Sleep start out their self-titled, self-released first LP with a brief intro titled “Argos” before getting to the question, “Why am I angry all the time?” as the central, recurring line of “Angry Man.” That song, like “Henu” and “Reproduce,” gets its point across quick in heavy rock fashion and develops its argument from there, a progressive metal vibe pervading especially the latter, which is penultimate in the 10-song/52-minute effort, and underscores the high-grade craftsmanship accomplished throughout. “Dreamless Sleep” is probably my pick of the bunch for its airier tone and resonant minor-key hook in the guitars of Markus Ruf and Patrick Hagmann, vocalist Thomas Rosenmerkel belting out the chorus before making way for plotted solos atop Radek Stecki’s bass and Manuel Spänhauer’s drums, but it’s not so far removed from its surroundings. As a whole, the album could be more efficient, but it wants nothing for songwriting, and especially as a debut, Giant Sleep hits its marks readily.

Giant Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Giant Sleep on Bandcamp

Acid Elephant, Star Collider

acid elephant star collider

Opener “Las Noches del Desierto” is the only one of Star Collider’s five tracks under 10 minutes. Flux seems to be the norm for Finnish post-stoners Acid Elephant, who recently brought in vocalist Martin Ahlö but here revolve around the core of bassist/guitarist/vocalist Miksa Väliverho, guitarist/vocalist Ilpo Kauppinen and drummer Roope Vähä-Aho, employing a host of others on obscure vocals, percussion and djembe throughout the 64-minute sophomore outing, recorded in 2012 and released late in 2013. Whoever they are now, Acid Elephant on Star Collider call out heavy psych, drone/jam and riff-based impulses in their extended cuts, gradually getting longer from “Red Carpet Lane” (10:46) until closer “Bog” hits 18:29. To their credit, their songs leave impressions to match their length, and even as it’s finishing its instrumental run, “Godmason” (15:58) is highlighting its resonant central riff, having emerged from a wash of feedback and amp noise at its beginning, preceded by the droning centerpiece “7th Stone.” Satisfying and unpredictable, Star Collider balances experimentation and engagement smoothly without losing its focus on individualism.

Acid Elephant on Thee Facebooks

Acid Elephant on Bandcamp

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Horsehunter to Release Caged in Flesh on Magnetic Eye Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

horsehunter

Nearly two weeks after opening for Sleep in their native Melbourne, doomly four-piece Horsehunter have inked a deal to release their four-track debut full-length, Caged in Flesh, on Magnetic Eye Records. The Aussie band self-released the album at the end of September and have been garnering acclaim for it since, as they’ll no doubt continue to do in 2015 owing to the massive tones, throaty shouts and lumbering vibe of songs like “Stoned to Death,” which you can hear and download below following a premiere from Decibel. Its 16-minute course is no small undertaking, but they pay it off with hypnotic, bleak psychedelia that only makes the underlying rumble seem like more of a threat.

More to come, I’m sure. In the meantime, the PR wire has this:

horsehunter caged in flesh

MAGNETIC EYE RECORDS Announce Signing of Doom Quartet HORSEHUNTER | New Album out March 2015

Magnetic Eye Records is thrilled to announce the signing of Horsehunter; one of the Southern Hemisphere’s heaviest and most eagerly anticipated doom exports of 2015.

The news crowns a remarkable year for the band and one that has seen them share stages with the likes of High On Fire, Conan and Windhand, and harvest fans from all four corners of the globe through a growing, almost cult-like stir of online worship. In fact news of their signing might come as little revelation to those already baptised and burnt by the fire of Caged In Flesh, the Australian quartet’s impressive self-released debut album.

“After one listen we recognized it for what it is. It’s a masterpiece,” explains MER owner Mike Vitali. “Hands down it’s one of the most exciting albums of 2015 and we’re looking forward to making sure the double gatefold vinyl is above and beyond visually stunning.”

Canned, scrapped, rewritten and rerecorded numerous times by the band over an obsessive two-year period, the darkly lyrical and brutally heavy compositions of Caged In Flesh embody Horsehunter’s perverse and maniacal precision as a band. A testament in four parts to the psychedelic power and glory of Shrinebuilder, Neurosis and Sleep, the latter of whom join Horsehunter this month as part of a sold-out show at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, Australia.

To celebrate the official worldwide release of Caged In Flesh on 10th March 2015, Magnetic Eye Records and Horsehunter are honoured to bring you the sixteen-minute opus ‘Stoned To Death’, available as a free download.

horsehunter.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/officialhorseHunter
youtube.com/officialhorsehunter
soundcloud.com/officialhorsehunter
@horsehunterisdead
merhq.com
facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords
store.merhq.com
twitter.com/magnetic_eye

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Sneakin’ a Peak at Some New Brant Bjork

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Two weeks from today, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk set off on a West Coast US tour alongside Corrosion of Conformity, Bl’ast and Lord Dying. Earlier this summer, the four-piece outfit — Bjork himself on vocals/guitar, drummer Tony Tornay, guitarist Bubba DuPree and bassist Dave Dinsmore – took flight on an inaugural run through Australia and New Zealand that reportedly followed completion of a new album set to serve as Brant Bjork‘s long-awaited debut on Napalm Records. It’s also his first solo-ish offering since 2010’s Gods and Goddesses (review here) and the first record he’ll have out since reuniting with vocalist John Garcia in the Kyuss-offshoot Vista Chino, who released one of 2013’s best full-lengths in the form of Peace (review here), also on Napalm.

Those familiar with his 10-album solo stint between 1999’s classic Jalamanta and Gods and Goddesses already know that Bjork (interviews here and here and Questionnaire here) is a purveyor of some of the finest sandy soul known to man. Instrumental to the coalescing of heavy rock in the ’90s as part of Kyuss and Fu Manchu, in the aughts, he dug into an inimitable style of groove that became as distinct as anything he did with either of those bands or any of his other numerous collaborations along the way — lest we forget Ché or his time with Nick Oliveri in Mondo Generator.

A four-year break between outings is the longest Bjork has had since he started putting out solo records (and yes, that counts the …and the Operators and the …and the Bros. iterations), but as is inevitable in the age of the digitally instantaneous, some new material has started to leak out from the Aussie gigs. Not much is out there that I’ve seen. A quality clip of a Star Wars-referencing track called “We Don’t Serve Their Kind” is on Vimeo, and that’s worth a look since it’s pretty close-up and you can really see the band nailing it, but the vocals are low. This version of “Requiem” is kind of far back, but the sound is clear enough to give an idea of what they’re up to — you’ll note the low-end shaking the camera — and for fans of Brant Bjork, there’s an awful lot to like.

Dates for the aforementioned West Coast tour follow the video (recorded by YouTuber “Dav Ozz”), and the band will also head to Europe this fall for gigs at Up in Smoke and Desertfest Belgium, among others. Please enjoy:

Brant Bjork, “Requiem” Live in Geelong, Australia, May 30, 2014

Corrosion of Conformity, Bl’ast, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk, and Lord Dying tour dates:
8/20/2014 The Hop – Spokane, WA
8/21/2014 In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT
8/22/2014 Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
8/23/2014 Sister – Albuquerque, NM
8/24/2014 Club Red – Mesa, AZ
8/26/2014 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA
8/27/2014 The Roxy – Los Angeles, CA
8/28/2014 DNA – San Francisco, CA
8/29/2014 Catalyst – Santa Cruz CA
8/30/2014 Dante’s – Portland, OR
8/31/2014 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
9/01/2014 The Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, BC

Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks

Brant Bjork’s website

Napalm Records

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Autumn’s Dawn to Release Gone Sept. 3 on Eisenwald

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Australian post-black metal duo Autumn’s Dawn released their self-titled debut EP on German label Eisenwald Tonschmiede this past Spring and will have it out on vinyl in a couple weeks. In the meantime, the two-piece with drummer/guitarist/vocalist Tim “Sorrow” Yatras (also of Germ) and bassist/guitarist/keyboardist Matthew “Anguish” Bell at the helm have announced a full-length follow-up set for release through the same label on Sept. 3. No audio has surfaced yet, but since the EP is only a couple months old, it seems fair to expect it’s pretty representative of what ideas the album, titled Gone, might be looking to expand upon.

The PR wire has all the grim, depressive details:

AUTUMN’S DAWN set release date for new EISENWALD album

Today, EISENWALD announces September 3rd as the North American release date for AUTUMN’S DAWN’s highly anticipated debut album, Gone. Very aptly titled, Gone is a kaleidoscopic plummet into the depths of despair and regret. Upon a foundation of melancholic melody, AUTUMN’S DAWN create a nine-song cycle of dark, emotive energy, dynamically spanning depressive rock, post-black metal, and plenty in between. Most of Gone’s song titles – “Until My Heart Corrodes With Rust,” “Grace of the Grave,” “When the Sun Sets for the Last Time,” and “Blank Stare, Dead Eyes” among them – vividly portray its contents, and the bright ‘n’ balanced production illuminates every shadowy corner.

Although Gone is AUTUMN’S DAWN’s debut album, the Australian duo are hardly newcomers: vocalist/drummer Sorrow is the mastermind behind the critically acclaimed Germ, and did time in cult OZBM bands like Austere, Woods of Desolation, and Nazxul among others. In many ways, AUTUMN’S DAWN in general and Gone in particular can be seen as a more refined version of Grey Waters, a short-lived yet celebrated band of Sorrow; in other ways, one can imagine Sentenced and Mono squaring off with Germ and Austere. Any way you describe it, Gone is the end…and the beginning. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for AUTUMN’S DAWN’s Gone
1. The Ashes Of A Life
2. Until My Heart Corrodes With Rust
3. Into The Cold
4. Grace Of The Grave
5. When The Sun Sets For The Last Time
6. Blank Stare, Dead Eyes
7. Dawn
8. Through The Rusted Gates Of Time
9. Gone

MORE INFO:
www.facebook.com/autumnsdawnband
www.eisenton.de
www.facebook.com/eisenwaldofficial
www.youtube.com/eisenwaldofficial
www.twitter.com/EisenwaldHammer
www.soundcloud.com/eisenwald

Autumn’s Dawn, Autumn’s Dawn EP (2014)

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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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