Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a considerable and ambitious lineup put together for Autumn Screams Doom II, the second in an annual series of Baltimore-based fests. Word of a follow-up was out even before the first fest was over last fall, but with the likes of Loss, Uzala, Negative Reaction, Satan’s Satyrs and others on the bill, it’s pretty clear the fest is establishing a reputation for itself as a place to be. The poster below isn’t final, but the info that follows from the PR wire gives some idea as to the scope of the event, which is set for Oct. 25-26 at the Ottobar and which will be recorded for a live compilation LP.
Autumn Screams Doom II Fest Descends Upon Baltimore in Late October
AUTUMN SCREAMS DOOM II
25-26 October 2013
The second annual Autumn Screams Doom fest descends upon Baltimore, MD on October 25th and 26th at the Ottobar. This year’s rendition of the fest features an exclusive East Coast appearance from none other than LOSS. Other highlights include the first Maryland appearance of Rhode Island’s CHURCHBURN, doom mainstays IRON MAN (recently signed with Rise Above Records), Virginia’s SATAN’S SATYRS, and doom miscreants UZALA. The complete lineup and details on the bands is located below.
Autumn Screams Doom is now in its second year, and showcases the very best from across the doom spectrum over two days.
Autumn Screams Doom II Lineup Friday, October 25th SINISTER HAZE (Richmond, VA) SERPENT THRONE (Philadelphia, PA) NEGATIVE REACTION (Long Island, NY) IRON MAN (Gaithersburg, MD) WEED IS WEED (Frederick, MD) SUNBURSTER (Philadelphia, PA)
Unholy Anarchy Records, in conspiracy with At War With False Noise (UK), will be recording the fest in preparation for a Double LP compilation that will feature a live track from each band playing the fest. The compilation will be mixed and mastered by Zack Allen of Obsidian Eye Studios, who mastered the vinyl edition of Loss’s Despond, and more recently, mixed the Recluse demo tape. Anton Escobar will handle the complete artwork and gatefold layout.
Information on pre-orders and news regarding the Double LP will be made availableHERE.
Single day and two day tickets are still available for pre-order at the Official Fest SiteHERE. Tickets will also be available at the door.
Iron Man, “The Worst and Longest Day” from South of the Earth (2013)
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Press play above to hear “The Worst and Longest Day” from Iron Man‘s new album, South of the Earth. Set for release on Oct. 1 through Metal Blade in North America and Sept. 30 on Rise Above in Europe, Iron Man‘s fifth full-length overall and first for the two mentioned imprints re-teams them with producer Frank “The Punisher” Marchand, who recorded 2009′s I Have Returned. Though the two outings have that in common and they’re united by the inimitable, smoke-on-the-finish tone of guitarist and band founder “Iron” Alfred Morris III, they’re nonetheless vastly different offerings from the long-running and long-underappreciated Maryland doom stalwarts.
Primarily in lineup. A change in the frontman position back in 2011 saw “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun enter the fold in place of the departed Joe Donnelly, and though it was clear from the first searing high notes of the 2011 Dominance EP that Calhoun lived up to his name as a singer of Halfordian power, it wasn’t until Iron Man brought drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann into the rhythm section alongside longtime bassist Louis Strachan that the South of the Earthlineup would be complete. Taking to the stage almost immediately, Iron Man soon became a new force in the live setting, also releasing the Att hålla dig över EP as the first output with the Morris, Strachan, Calhoun and Waldmann lineup to keep their momentum going into the recording of the new long-player.
But the differences on South of the Earth go well beyond the simple matter of personnel. Full in sound and crisply professional, Iron Man‘s latest serves as an arrival point for Morris‘ years of riff-slinging. With the validation of a release through Metal Blade/Rise Above behind them, Iron Man stand poised to take their place at the forefront of the American doom consciousness as a band that have never wavered from their purpose or, no matter who’s involved, sacrificed their loyalty to the Sabbathian traditionalism that served as their founding principle when they emerged out of Morris‘ prior outfit, Force, in the late ’80s. Top quality riffs, undeniable grooves and Calhoun‘s glass-shattering pipes make South of the Earthunlike anything Iron Man has released in years gone by — and their other records, whether it’s the 1993 Black Nightdebut, 1994′s The Passage, 1999′s Generation Void or I Have Returned, already kicked considerable ass. As a band, they’re simply at another level.
And they know it. In the interview that follows, Morris speaks with confidence about their stage presence, the writing and recording of “The Worst and Longest Day” and the rest of South of the Earth, Iron Man‘s impending UK debut this December at the two-day Rise Above 25th anniversary party in London and much more, giving the impression not of arrogance, but of someone whose decades of experience bleeds into everything he and his band does. Whatever notoriety or attention Iron Man are able to gain as a result of the new album upon its release, it will be well earned, by both past and current efforts.
As it happens, Iron Man are doing a track-by-track through the album this week on their Thee Facebooks page, and today’s is “The Worst and Longest Day.” You’d almost think it was planned out (it wasn’t). Here’s what they had to say about the track:
“I left you alone long enough for your guard to die…”
TRACK FOUR: THE WORST AND LONGEST DAY
Another track that is swampy and mean, “The Worst and Longest Day” is as unsettling in subject as it is heavy in delivery. Heavy guitars and soaring vocals ride atop a bouncy rhythm section, and drag you through a cold monologue, delivered by the thing that vexes you.
Special thanks to Metal Blade and to Rise Above for allowing me to premiere “The Worst and Longest Day.” Please find the Q&A after the jump and enjoy.
Posted in Reviews on July 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
With a couple European tours under their belt and a resulting sense of being in full command of their sound, Baltimore four-piece The Flying Eyes make a return with their Kickstarter-funded third album, Lowlands. Released on Noisolution Records, Lowlandsdoesn’t so much comprise a departure from the ground the band covered on their sophomore outing, 2011′s engaging Done So Wrong(review here), or even for that matter the roots from which they sprung on their 2010 EP compilation that served as their self-titled full-length debut (review here) — formative though that last seems in hindsight — as an arrival at a point of mastery for those ideas that bleeds into nearly every stretch of the record’s 44 minutes. Aligned to producer Rob Girardi (Arbouretum, Double Dagger, etc.) with a clean, dynamic mix from Chris “Frenchie” Smith, to say The Flying Eyes have never sounded better doesn’t really capture what’s working so well throughout Lowlands. They’ve never sounded so in control, or so assured of their approach. Whether that’s a result of working with Girardi or of their road time is ultimately secondary, the fact remains that The Flying Eyes have come of age as a band and that Lowlands makes for one of the best flowing heavy psych LPs I’ve heard yet in 2013. Its fuzz is rich and dense in the guitars of Adam Bufano and Will Kelly (the latter also vocals) and bass of Mac Hewitt, and drummer Elias Schutzman continues to provide able leadership for grooves, whether it’s the ’70s heavy-style rock of “Rolling Thunder” or the semi-grunge acoustic/electric blend of “Comfort Machine.” Whatever else is driving this material, The Flying Eyes have definitely — and perhaps unsurprisingly — taken some measure of influence from the modern European scene in which they’ve immersed themselves several times over. Flourishes of Mars Red Sky-style wah and fuzz show themselves throughout, winding up both in the airier leads of the aforementioned “Comfort Machine” and in the initial unfolding mid-paced comfort groove of opener “Long Gone,” Schutzman‘s snare also sharing some sonic commonality, either by coincidence or intent.
Moods vary within a consistent psychedelic atmosphere, and more than they ever have to date, Kelly‘s vocals have a grounding effect on the material. Like the rest of the instruments on Lowlands, his voice is more his own, having overcome some of the Jim Morrison-isms that showed up on the band’s earlier works to arrive at a natural, bluesy-sound that adds a touch of inadvertent Americana to the deceptively quick push of “Long Gone”‘s verses. He was a more than capable singer to start with, and his voice comes across fitting in smoothly with the touches of electric and acoustic guitar, the spaced-out wah leads and the rhythmic thickness Hewitt‘s bass so provides both on “Long Gone” and “Under Iron Feet,” which is even more commanding and drenched in attitude. Instrumental stops at the ends of the verses let Kelly carry the shift to the chorus — something The Flying Eyes will do again shortly on “Smile,” though in a different context — and upping the tempo in the second half, they border on cacophony making their way to a last-minute boogie chorus before ending cold and leaving Schutzman to announce the foreboding beginning of “Rolling Thunder.” It’s a deception, if a grand one, since “Rolling Thunder” is both the most propulsive rhythm yet and working at a pace more akin to the sort of loud-motor shenanigans the title may or may not be referencing — i.e. classic biker rock. A slowdown as they approach the midsection provides an unexpected turn, and Kelly adjusts his shout to something more reminiscent of West Coast lumber-riffers Snail, but they bring it back to the shuffling progression soon enough and by the halfway point are so deep in a jam that for a moment it seems like there’s going to be no getting out. A dead stop, of course, brings back the verse hook in building form, they riff it out, go back to the slowdown and end with a last push in a maddening series of turns as exciting as they are smoothly executed, Bufano and Kelly and Hewitt locking in with Schutzman‘s half-time stomp to bring the track to its conclusion. A sparser feel pervades throughout the six-plus minutes of “Smile,” but the tension the band creates throughout its linear build makes the darker vibe a highlight of Lowlandsnonetheless, Kelly giving a fitting sense of finality in his delivery of the lines, “I’m broke I know to your delight/You want my trust but it’s too late/Wicked deeds have sealed your fate,” after the first swell dies down to start the second from the album’s most silent, brooding moment.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m not surprised that Iron Man got signed by Rise Above Records because I think they don’t deserve it. That’s not it at all. I’m surprised because they do deserve it and it actually happened.
From where I sit, this might be the feel-good story of the year. I’ve seen Iron Man slog it out in mostly-empty rooms on more than one occasion and deliver sets that would’ve thrilled arenas — they most recently killed it closing out the first night of Days of the Doomed III. One hopes that getting picked up by Rise Above for a Sept. 30 release of their new album, South of the Earth, ushers in a new era of appreciation for the long-running Maryland doomers. They’ve long since had it coming.
Huge congratulations to the band and here’s looking forward to South of the Earth!
IRON MAN ‘SOUTH OF THE EARTH’
(RISE ABOVE 2013)
Rising out of the same Maryland/DC mean streets as fellow US doom pioneers Pentagram and The Obsessed, IRON MAN was formed in 1988 as a Black Sabbath tribute band by guitarist Alfred Morris III, whose musical career began in 1977 with mysterious proto-doom cult FORCE. Al’s legendarily heavy, unearthly guitar tone was already much in evidence on FORCE’s ultra-rare 1981 debut EP – and it has only deepened, hardened, improved and refined in the ensuing 32 years.
“The main thing for me is Al’s tone,” enthuses Lee Dorrian, owner of Rise Above Records and Morris worshipper since the late 80s. “It’s so brutal but in a natural way, no frills, straight for the gut. Listening to his riffs is like being stuck in a vat of molasses, unable to move with a rotating grinder lodged into the middle of your forehead down to the base of your stomach. It’s that heavy!”
“When I felt ready to be a live performer, I asked myself, who are the baddest guitar players out there?” says Al Morris of his earliest sonic inspirations. “I thought about it and came up with Jimi Hendrix and Tony Iommi! Being that they are both left-handed players, it was like looking into a mirror as their hands went up and down the fretboard. I dialled in the tone for soloing, but had to add some bass tone to get the Tony/Geezer sound combination!”
Signed to the legendary underground doom label Hellhound Records, IRON MAN released the stellar ‘Black Night’ debut in 1993 – “an absolute classic in the field of Sabbath-inspired Doom,” Lee asserts – followed by ‘The Passage’ in 1994, before line-up and label instability forced the band into a late 90s wilderness period. They re-emerged in 1999 with ‘Generation Void’, before another extended hiatus. This time it took a full ten years before Al reassembled the indestructible IRON MAN with yet another new line-up for the aptly-named return-to-form ‘I Have Returned’ on Shadow Kingdom.
In 2010, Maryland doom circuit veteran ‘Screaming Mad’ Dee Calhoun joined IRON MAN on vocals, recording two EPs before starting work on their latest masterpiece, the monstrous snorting rocking doom behemoth ‘South Of The Earth’. Bursting with inspirational tunes, from the killer anthemic rumble of the opening title track to the blissful elegiac blues-doom of the closing ‘Ballad Of Ray Garraty’, IRON MAN’s fifth album is shot-through with stunning soulful leads, gargantuan riffs, powerful throaty vocal melodies and a muscular, resounding rhythm section.
“Every time Iron Man goes into the studio, we treat it like a blank canvas. As things progress, the art form takes shape,” says Al Morris on the band’s creative process. “We wrote this album in about 2 months. Then we practiced our asses off to perfect the performance of the songs. This CD was done with Frank Marchand, an engineer/producer with a head full of ideas! He enhanced every element of this CD. We have great trust in Frank and followed his ideas. This is what came out!”
“I’ve loved all of Iron Man’s work,” says Lee Dorrian. “‘South of the Earth’ easily matches it and the band sound better than ever. Great musicianship all round and they have a seriously killer vocalist with Screaming Mad Dee.”
Asked how Al feels the latest incarnation of IRON MAN compares to the line-ups he’s worked with over the last few decades, his reply displays a heartening, positive renewed enthusiasm for the bullishly durable group he founded all those years ago. “I am not the only person pushing the band forward!” he beams. “Now all of the band is pushing in the same direction!! We can write great songs together and perform on stage with lots of energy!”
Tour details will follow, you lucky bastards – in the meantime, get familiar with ‘South Of The Earth’, surely IRON MAN’s finest, fullest achievement to date.
IRON MAN: ‘SOUTH OF THE EARTH’ (RISE ABOVE) 1. South Of The Earth 2. Hail To The Haze 3. The Whore In Confession 4. The Worst And Longest Day 5. Aerial Changed The Sky 6. IISOEO (The Day Of The Beast) 7. Half-Face/Thy Brother’s Keeper (Dunwich Pt 2) 8. In The Velvet Darkness 9. The Ballad Of Ray Garraty
Al Morris III – guitars ‘Screaming Mad’ Dee Calhoun – vocals Louis Strachan – bass Jason ‘Mot’ Waldmann – drums
Recorded and mixed at Hudson Street Sound, Anapolis, Maryland Produced/engineered by Frank Marchand III Mastered at Bias Studios, Springfield, Virginia
Posted in audiObelisk on June 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In just over a month’s time, Baltimore heavy psych rockers The Flying Eyes will be making a return trip to Europe for an extended, two-month tour. Joined for the majority of the trek by like-minded Brooklyn duo Golden Animals, the four-piece are out supporting their newly-released third album, Lowlands(you can see their video for the track “Under Iron Feet” here), while Golden Animals will be marking the issue of their new full-length, Hear Eye Go.
So although both acts have records they’re pushing, a month-plus on the road together is an occasion worth marking, and they’re doing exactly that with the release of a new split 7″ single on H42 Records. Set for release Aug. 1 — the same day The Flying Eyes‘ tour begins, by amazing coincidence — in an edition of 400 hand-numbered copies in red, black or “weird clear,” “Raise Hell”/”Never was Her Name” gives just a quickie sampling of where each band is at and provides lucky Euro-type showgoers with something to remember the tour by.
The Flying Eyes‘ contribution “Raise Hell” strikes first with an engaging sub-retro classic rock fuzz shuffle, stomping out the lines “Show me how to pray/So I can raise some hell” for a chorus that sounds like it’s ready to do just that, and Golden Animals‘ “Never was Her Name” offers a brief, two-minute meditation on its title line and amid meandering psychedelic guitar, the two-piece honing a moody sensibility that’s not at all cornball in its theatricality. H42 Records will start taking pre-orders shortly for 90 copies, while the rest will be available at shows only.
Today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting both “Raise Hell” and “Never was Her Name” for streaming. You’ll find them on the player below, followed by the dates and more info on the upcoming European tour. I hope you enjoy and get to use these songs as a springboard to check out Golden Animals and The Flying Eyes‘ new records :
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The Flying Eyes Over Europe 2013
THE FLYING EYES are a heavy, psychedelic rock band hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. Their name comes from a 1962 science fiction novel about giant, disembodied eyes that descend from outer space to control humanity. They have achieved a notable following in Europe with sold out club tours and highlights including: the Burg Herzberg Festival (sharing the main stage with Jeff Beck and Hawkwind), an appearance on the legendary Rockpalast television show, the Orange Blossom Special festival (DE), Stoned From The Underground (DE) and Trutnov Open Air (CZ). They recently finished their album “Lowlands” (produced by Rob Girardi and mixed by “Frenchie” Smith who discovered them at SXSW), which was paid for entirely through the support of their loyal social media following.
Modern-day psychedelic pioneers, GOLDEN ANIMALS, are a rock duo formed in Brooklyn, but owe much of their sound and vision to the 3 years they spent submerged in the rattling, secluded heat waves of the Southern Cali Desert. Their sound is a dead-ahead, no bullshit, loud, minimalist vehicle for strikingly well crafted, powerful songs. Referencing influences from Billie Holiday to Dr. John to Lou Reed to The Doors with many stops between, they believe in the simple as a means to the powerful.
01.08.2013 – DE Leipzig, Plaque 02.08.2013 – DE Bad Kötzting, Voidfest 03.08.2013 – DE Stuttgart, Zwölfzehn 04.08.2013 – DE Dresden, Chemiefabrik 06.08.2013 – DE Halle/Saale, Hühnermanhattan 07.08.2013 – DE Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg 08.08.2013 – DE Frankfurt/M., Nachtleben 09.08.2013 – CH Vinelz, Open Air am Bieler See 10.08.2013 – CH Sargans, Out In The Gurin 13.08.2013 – DE Kassel, H.Schmiede 14.08.2013 – DE Riegsee, Raut Oak Open Air (private) 15.08.2013 – DE Ludwigshafen, Club London Underground 16.08.2013 – DE Nürnberg, Misty Mountain Festival 17.08.2013 – DE Groß Lindow, Open Air Groß Lindow 19.08.2013 – PL Szczecin, Morion* 20.08.2013 – PL Zielona Gora, Rock-Out* 21.08.2013 – PL Poznan, Pod Minoga* 22.08.2013 – PL Gdynia, Desdemona* 23.08.2013 – PL Warszawa, Harenda* 24.08.2013 – PL Krakow, Kawiarnia Naukowa* 28.08.2013 – CZ Prague, Klub 007 Strahov* 29.08.2013 – DE Jena, Black Night * 30.08.2013 – DE Schüttorf, Komplex* 31.08.2013 – BE Brussels, DNA Café * 01.09.2013 – BE Wortel, Jeugdklub ‘t Slot* 02.09.2013 – DE Hannover, Mephisto @ faust * 03.09.2013 – DE Bremen, Meisenfrei* 04.09.2013 – DE Bielefeld, Forum* 05.09.2013 – DE Ahaus, Logo * 06.09.2013 – DE Siegen, Vortex* 07.09.2013 – DE Hamburg, Haus III70* 09.09.2013 – DE Freiburg, White Rabbit * 10.09.2013 – DE München, Backstage * 11.09.2013 – IT Milano, Lo-Fi * 15.09.2013 – IT Roma, Sinister Noise * 17.09.2013 – CH Genève, Le Kab * 18.09.2013 – ES Barcelona, Rocksound* 19.09.2013 – ES Madrid, La Boite* 20.09.2013 – ES Leon, Taberna Belfast* 21.09.2013 – ES Hondarribia, Psilocybenea* 23.09.2013 – FR Chambéry, Brin De Zinc * 24.09.2013 – DE Konstanz, Kulturladen* 27.09.2013 – DE Kiel, Schaubude* 28.09.2013 – SE Gothenburg, Showdown * 29.09.2013 – DK Copenhagen, Loppen * * = w/ Golden Animals
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The forthcoming South of the Earth will be the first Iron Man album in four years — nothing compared to the decade between Generation Void (1999) and I Have Returned (2009; review here) — and the first with “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun as the frontman, and though a handful of EPs as the band ironed out their approach over the last couple years have given some hint of what to expect (i.e., doom), South of the Earthstill feels like an event. Release date still to come.
While we wait on that, the album art and finished tracklisting for South of the Earthhave been made public, and you can find them below along with a preview of the record:
Maryland doom legends Iron Man are happy to announce completion of their fifth full-length album, “South of the Earth.”
Recording and mixing took place at Hudson Street Sound in Annapolis, Maryland with producer/engineer Frank Marchand III. This was Iron Man’s second project with Marchand, who was also at the controls for the band’s 2009 album “I Have Returned.” “South of the Earth” was mastered at Bias Studios in Springfield, Virginia.
Digital distribution of “South of the Earth” will be handled by MusicLive365/Sony. The album’s physical distributor will be announced soon.
The track listing for “South of the Earth,” which is set for a summer release, is as follows:
South of the Earth Hail to the Haze A Whore in Confession The Worst and Longest Day Ariel Changed the Sky IISOEO (The Day of the Beast) Half-Face/Thy Brother’s Keeper (Dunwich pt. 2) In the Velvet Darkness The Ballad of Ray Garraty
Iron Man “South of the Earth” personnel: Alfred Morris III – guitars, backing vocals Screaming Mad Dee – voice, piano, keyboards Louis Strachan – bass, backing vocals Mot Waldmann – drums, percussion
I continue to dig the hell out of Baltimore heavy psych rockers The Flying Eyes. The still-youngin’ four-piece will release their third full-length, Lowlands, on July 26, 2013, through Berlin’s Nois-O-Lution Records. To herald its arrival and precede a European tour with Brooklyn’s Golden Animals (more on that in the coming weeks), The Flying Eyes have just posted a new video for the song “Under Iron Feet” from Lowlands, that you can find below with some background on the band in case you missed their two albums to date, 2011′s Done So Wrong(review here) and their 2009 self-titled debut (review here).
Things to watch for: The Conan-esque wheel being pushed while the band plays atop, silhouettes, and grade A heavy psych rock that shows The Flying Eyes have obviously been paying attention to how it’s done during their extensive road time in Europe.
The Flying Eyes, “Under Iron Feet” official video
THE FLYING EYES are a heavy, psychedelic rock band hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. Their name comes from a 1962 science fiction novel about giant, disembodied eyes that descend from outer space to control humanity.
The Flying Eyes have played supporting gigs with national acts such as Dead Meadow, The Raveonettes, The Black Angels and Dan Auerbach among many others. They founded and host “Farm Fest”, a DIY music festival in the Maryland countryside. Farm Fest 2012 (“Farmageddon”) featured Black Moth Super Rainbow, Celebration and White Hills.
The Flying Eyes have achieved a notable following in Europe with sold out club tours and highlights including: the Burg Herzberg Festival (sharing the main stage with Jeff Beck and Hawkwind), an appearance on the legendary Rockpalast television show, the Orange Blossom Special festival (DE), Stoned From The Underground (DE) and Trutnov Open Air (CZ). They are currently finishing their album “Lowlands” (produced by Rob Girardi and mixed by “Frenchie” Smith who discovered them at SXSW), which was paid for entirely through the support of their loyal social media following. The band plans to support the release of the album with another European tour in late Summer 2013.
02.08.2013 – DE Bad Kötzting, Voidfest 03.08.2013 – DE Stuttgart, Zwölfzehn 04.08.2013 – DE Dresden, Chemiefabrik 06.08.2013 – DE Halle/Saale, Hühnermanhattan 07.08.2013 – DE Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg 08.08.2013 – DE Frankfurt/M., Nachtleben 09.08.2013 – CH Vinelz, Open Air am Bieler See 10.08.2013 – CH Sargans, Out In The Gurin 13.08.2013 – DE Kassel, H.Schmiede 14.08.2013 – DE Riegsee, Private Open Air 15.08.2013 – DE Ludwigshafen, Club London Underground 16.08.2013 – DE Nürnberg, Misty Mountain Festival 17.08.2013 – DE Groß Lindow, Open Air Groß Lindow 19.08.2013 – PL Szczecin, Morion* 20.08.2013 – PL Zielona Gora, Rock-Out* 21.08.2013 – PL Poznan, Pod Minoga* 22.08.2013 – PL Gdynia, Desdemona* 23.08.2013 – PL Warszawa, Harenda* 24.08.2013 – PL Krakow, tba* 29.08.2013 – DE Jena, Black Night * 30.08.2013 – DE Schüttorf, Komplex* 31.08.2013 – BE Brussels, DNA Café * 01.09.2013 – BE Wortel, Jeugdklub ‘t Slot* 02.09.2013 – DE Hannover, Mephisto @ faust * 03.09.2013 – DE Bremen, Meisenfrei* 04.09.2013 – DE Bielefeld, Forum* 05.09.2013 – DE Ahaus, Logo * 06.09.2013 – DE Siegen, Vortex* 07.09.2013 – DE Hamburg, Haus III70* 09.09.2013 – DE Freiburg, White Rabbit * 10.09.2013 – DE München, Backstage * 17.09.2013 – CH Genève, Le Kab * 18.09.2013 – ES Barcelona, Rocksound* 19.09.2013 – ES Madrid, La Boite* 20.09.2013 – ES Leon, Taberna Belfast* 21.09.2013 – ES Hondarribia, Psilocybenea* 23.09.2013 – FR Chambéry, Brin De Zinc * 24.09.2013 – DE Konstanz, Kulturladen* 27.09.2013 – DE Kiel, Schaubude* * = w/ Golden Animals
The Flying Eyes Adam Bufano- Guitar Mac Hewitt- Bass and Vocals Will Kelly- Vocals and Guitar Elias Mays Schutzman- Drums
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Looks like Pittsburgh imprint Shadow Kingdom Records and underappreciated Maryland doom stalwarts Revelation will be continuing their alliance with a release of the latter’s newest album, Inner Harbor (review here), in April. As they usually do, Revelation self-released the album digitally last year and highlighted a more progressive sound, still melancholic, but steeped in a kind of resigned mellowness of spirit as well. If you didn’t hear it then, it’s worth hearing now.
The members of Revelation‘s other outfit Against Nature (same dudes, different band) will be playing a show in Philadelphia earlier in April as well that a trailer has just been released to help promote. Find that after the PR wire info about the Inner Harborrelease:
Shadow Kingdom Records To Release REVELATION’s “Inner Harbor” In April
April 30th, 2013 will see the release of Inner Harbor, the newest album from long-running prog rock/doom outfit REVELATION.
In existence since the mid-80′s REVELATION has earned the respect of many bands and fans from all around the world and are often credited with creating the Progressive Doom Metal genre. They’ve taken the very best sounds of Rush, Black Sabbath, and early Heavy Metal to create yet another masterpiece amongst a catalog of many with Inner Harbor. This is quite possibly the band’s most fluid and laid-back release to date. While the sound is difficult to pinpoint, one can hear classic REVELATION mixed in with a dash of 70′s Italian Progressive Rock. The music flows through you so smoothly and freely, that you’re going to feel like you’re in a state of deep relaxed meditation.
The combined creative forces of drummer Steve Branagan, guitarist/vocalist John Brenner and bassist Bert Hall Jr. are responsible for over twenty full-length releases – split between REVELATION and their eclectic alter-ego AGAINST NATURE – and countless demos and EPs. Inner Harbor was made available as a digital release last year by the band’s own Bland Hand Records (www.againstnature.us/BH/) and will see worldwide distribution on CD format by Shadow Kingdom Records in April. Pre-orders are being taken at the newly revamped Shadow Kingdom Records Webstore atwww.shadowkingdomrecords.com.
In other news, Revelation‘s alter ego Against Nature will be playing a rare gig in Philly on April 6 with Beelzefuzz, Wizard Eye and Lucertola at The M Room. A video promo for the show has been put together by Lucertola‘s Tad Leger (also Blood Farmers) and you can find it below:
Maryland’s Sixty Watt Shaman released their third album, Reason to Live, in 2002. Hard to believe it’s been that long, but I guess it has. I remember getting the album from Spitfire Records at the time and thinking it was pretty damn heavy, and sure enough, the first impression has lasted for a decade-plus, even if the band hasn’t. Sixty Watt Shaman broke up after Reason to Live, with drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell joining forces with The Mighty Nimbus and playing with Victor Griffin in Place of Skulls (he also features in Griffin‘s new outfit, In~Graved) and bassist Rev. Jim Forrester moving on to a variety of projects, including the current Serpents of Secrecy, whose details remain — you guessed it — a mystery.
They reunited in the later part of the last decade with their final lineup of Forrester, Campbell, guitarist Joe Selby and guitarist/vocalist Daniel Kerzwick, and have done shows here and there, mostly locally, but Reason to Liveremains Sixty Watt Shaman‘s last studio outing to date, and on the album, the 12-minute “All Things Come to Pass” serves all-too-fittingly as a closer. The song boasts a raging, burly jam, with Kerzwick repeating the title line ad infinitum, and that jam has two guests: Scott “Wino” Weinrich on guitar and Scott Reeder on bass.
If you have to have two names on a song, those are ones to have. Wino and Reeder, both former members of The Obsessed, leave a stamp on the extended cut to the point that after the big rock finish more than eight minutes in Kerzwick, calls them each out by name and says thanks. The impression given is that the jam was put to tape live with everyone in the studio at the same time, and while I don’t know if those were the actual circumstances of the recording, it sounds natural enough and it’s a killer groove, so I’m not about to complain.
“All Things Come to Pass” doesn’t use the full 12 minutes. There’s an acoustic hidden track afterwards, but as that’s got a cool vibe and this clip had the better sound quality of the ones I could find, we get the finish of Reason to Live in its entirety.
Posted in Reviews on February 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Baltimorean outfit make no direct claims about their fifth album being narrative in its structure, but there can be little question that Arbouretum’s Coming out of the Fog ends in a different place than it began. In a concise but peaceful 39-plus minutes, the four-piece move from “The Long Night” to the closing title-track, “Coming out of the Fog,” which contrasts the darker push of the opener with a soothing melody and soft strum from founding guitarist/vocalist Dave Heumann. With “All at Once, the Turning Weather” positioned near the album’s center, the metaphors may be mixed, but the hopeful movement is nonetheless conveyed over the course of the eight analog-recorded tracks. The Arbouretum lineup that also brought forth 2011’s excellent The Gathering – Heumann, bassist Corey Allender, drummer Brian Carey and Matthew Pierce on keys and extra percussion – has returned and that album’s lush tendency for creative genre defiance has been retained as well, Arbouretum working with patience and grace to walk a line between heavy psychedelia, doom, folk and indie rock(s), and while the album flows easily and naturally, there is a definite structure to Coming out of the Fog as well, each side ending with a quieter piece, be it “Oceans Don’t Sing” or the aforementioned title-track. Something else Arbouretum’s latest shares with its predecessor is a strong launch point – “The White Bird” was one of The Gathering’s high points, and “The Long Night” has an immediate appeal here as well, residing on the heavier end of the band’s sound without unveiling the full tonal crunch that will make itself known on “The Promise” still to come. Heumann begins solo on guitar and introduces the first two lines of the verse vocally before Allender’s bass and Carey’s drums join in. A not-overbearing hook persists in both the verse and the chorus, and Pierce makes his presence felt playing off the guitar in a bluesy solo section as the rhythm section holds fast to the established groove before shifting on a stop back into a final verse, where they end rather than reviving the chorus for a last runthrough – more a testament to the weight of that progression than an oversight – there’s nothing on Coming out of the Fog that feels like a misstep when it comes to songwriting.
Or, for that matter, performance. Heumann gives the music plenty of space to breathe, but when singing, he’s very much at the fore vocally and shows no hesitation in carrying the band when appropriate. On second track “Renouncer,” a dug-in distorted riff is complemented by the vocal line following it, but with the heavier “The Promise,” Heumann is all the more up front in his delivery, and where’s “Renouncer”’s chorus has a gentle bounce, “The Promise” announces its arrival with sharp snare hits from Carey and an insistent, thick rhythm bolstered by Pierce’s added percussion. At no point on Coming out of the Fog are Arbouretum trying to be heavy for heaviness’ sake, instead using aural heft as a tool in their varied arsenal to evoke a specific feeling or add to the overarching atmosphere of the album. Such is the case on “The Promise,” which meets Heumann’s solo with a layer of surprisingly abrasive feedback noise that comes on with two minutes left in the song and remains for the duration of the instrumental jam remaining even as the rest of the music fades out, working to setup the transition into “Oceans Don’t Sing.” A contrast in sound winds up making the flow between the two tracks work, as the side A finale, even at the peak of its build, is given more toward Americana twang, filled out by a pedal steel guitar. At 3:24, when the song opens wider, Pierce’s piano adds to the breadth, and Heumann’s vocal doesn’t quitesoar, but is masterful nonetheless in keeping the fragility of earlier in the track. A pair of heavy rockers in “All at Once, the Turning Weather” and “World Split Open” start out side B, the former stretching Arbouretum’s sonic naturalism into psychedelics late into its run while the latter affirms the earthier fuzz of “Renouncer” while setting it to a more active rhythm. Both are exceedingly engaging, especially for listeners from the fuzzier end of the musical spectrum, rife with tonal warmth and a maintained balance of influence that still finds Arbouretum sounding like no one so much as themselves. Take your pick for which is the high point of the album; it could just as easily be any cut on Coming out of the Fog, depending on your mood when you hear it.
Posted in Reviews on January 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve had an itch to catch Baltimore’s Arbouretum live really since I caught wind of their 2011 album, The Gathering (which I didn’t review here because I didn’t think it would fit; I’ve since stopped caring), but especially since hearing about their sharing the stage with Om in their hometown the same weekend I was there and not being able to make that gig. Hearing their new record, Coming Out of the Fog, which is due out Jan. 22 on Thrill Jockey, only added to the urgency, and when I heard they were sharing a two-band bill with long-running alt country pioneers Freakwater at The Bell House on a Tuesday night, the decision basically made itself.
The ride in was easy enough. I’d stayed at the office late to split on time to get there for a 9PM start and miss most of the tunnel traffic, and when I got to The Bell House, I paid the door charge and was somewhat surprised to find rows of foldout chairs set up in front of the stage. I was taken aback, since last time I was there was to see YOB in May 2012, but I grabbed a seat up front and proceeded to make an activity of waiting the 10 or so minutes for the band to come out. It was mildly awkward and I felt a bit like the curtain behind Brian Carey‘s drums was going to rise and we were all going to be treated to a live The Creation of Adam à la Arrested Development (“Where is god?” “There is no god!” etc.), but no, in another couple minutes, Arbouretum emerged from the side door and the show began.
This being my first time watching them play and a big part of my attraction being their tonal warmth, I was particularly interested to see what kind of amps guitarist/vocalist David Heumann was playing through. It would be just as easy to imagine full stacks from some obscure fuzz factory, or even Dead Meadow-style Orange combos, given the sonic richness and fullness that pervades from Heumann and bassist Corey Allender, though the reality was far more understated. Heumann ran two small Egnater half-stacks arranged separately (it was a bit of linguistic near-irony when one of them started smoking mid-set; I couldn’t get “ignitor” out of my head), and while the striking visual aspect wound up working in the opposite direction from what I’d figured, his tone was unmistakable, and the band quickly went to work straddling and crossing the lines between heavy psychedelia, folk, indie and doom, as few other than them seem to be able to do.
My familiarity is really with the last couple albums (I was kind of hoping they’d have any of the first three on their merch table and I’d be able to get caught up, but no dice), but I recognized a goodly portion of the material they played, the memorable “Oceans Don’t Sing” standing out from Coming Out of the Fogalong with “Renouncer” and “The Promise.” The three cuts from the new album ran in order as they do on the record behind set opener “Mohammed’s Hex and Bounty” from 2007′s Rites of Uncovering. It seemed a curious choice to me to start off with — one would expect something more recent, and, if they’re playing tracks two, three and four from the new one, then “The Long Night,” which leads off Coming Out of the Fog, wouldn’t have been out of place — but it very quickly became apparent they knew what they were doing.
The lightly rolling groove of “Renouncer” and more lumbering fuzz of “The Promise” — on which Matthew Pierce turned from his Rhodes to add percussion and complement Carey – were an excellent setup for the instrumental build of “Oceans Don’t Sing,” which also proved a highlight for showcasing Heumann‘s voice, like an earthier David Bowie gone west. The setlist was probably tailored to the show, that is, playing with Freakweather, Arbouretum probably weren’t looking to blast out eardrums — though before they got going, Heumann warned that parts would be pretty loud and they were — but the flashes of heavy that came through the songs seemed to be met with appreciated from where I was sitting. Catchy almost in spite of itself with the vocals following the guitar line in a bouncing melody, “Renouncer” rumbled a subtle threat in Allender‘s bassline, and “The Promise” paid that off with a noisy finish and a solo that Heumann didn’t seem to want to let go.
Contrast was a big part of what made it all work. Arbouretum balanced heaviness and sweetness of melody and tone and ranged dynamically in terms of pace and volume. Rites of Uncoveringopener “Signposts and Instruments” followed “Oceans Don’t Sing” with a similar if less countrified linearity and the subsequent “St. Anthony’s Fire” provided the most raucous stretch of the set. Longer than everything else and seeming to range even further than the studio version (which appears as part of a 2012 split with Hush Arbors called Aureola), “St. Anthony’s Fire” gave way to a legitimately huge-sounding jam led by Heumann‘s guitar, which broke into an extended heavy solo, periods of shred offset only by the crunch elicited when the guitar, percussion and bass came together with Carey‘s thudding drums. Maybe it was the fact that I was sitting right in front of it, but Heumann’s lead was particularly impressive, sounding soulful and even a little funky as it moved along in a world seemingly of its own.
Little doubt that’s what Heumann was thinking of when he warned earlier they’d get loud, and the band lived up to the warning. The crowd at The Bell House had been filtering in throughout their whole set, but there were enough people in the room by the time Arbouretum got around to “St. Anthony’s Fire” to give a genuine response, and it was a cool moment to witness, cheers coming up after Heumann finished that solo. I had been hoping for “The Long Night” or even “The White Bird” from The Gathering, which still gets stuck in my head on the regular, as a closer, but they finished with the title-track to Coming Out of theFog. It rounds out the album as well and might have been somewhat faster live owing to the sheer momentum they built during “St. Anthony’s Fire,” but they made it work anyway, despite what looked like some technical difficulty in Allender‘s backing vocals.
Given that it was still early when they finished, I thought maybe I’d stick around for a bit and catch at least some of Freakwater, even just for myself if not to write about it later, but the temptation of being able to go to a show in Brooklyn and still get back to Jersey before midnight won out. I waited for the band to emerge so I could buy a copy of Coming Out of the Fogand then headed out, the freezing rain that would turn to snow overnight just starting to fall as I crossed the street to my car.
Driving past the homogenized “warmth” of the brick retail chains that have appeared since I was last down on the outskirts of Baltimore’s Fell’s Point neighborhood, I couldn’t help but think of John Brenner from Revelation discussing the inner harbor in that interview that went up last week. These places with all the trappings of economic stimulus except any investment back into the community that hosts them the way feet host blisters. There for a painful while and then gone. Pop.
It was different once I actually got into Fell’s Point. Not that the neighborhood wasn’t gentrified from its working class harbor roots, but that at very least it was actual gentrification, independently owned businesses or at least smaller, regional chains and a most welcome onslaught of pubs, eateries, and other gastro-type decadences. Kooper’s Tavern, where The Patient Mrs. and I had lunch, had tables set up outside selling oysters and recycling the shells for use by — wait for it — other oysters. Seems nobody is immune to the economic ravages of our age. Even the oysters have to buy used.
Fitting that act of conservation would be prelude to a radical haul whose like — in what otherwise might be considered a regular ol’ record shop — I’ve not seen in some time. Sound Garden (no relation) was just down the street from the pub where we ate and several others, and it wasn’t my first time there by any stretch (seems impossible that it would’ve been over three years ago, but I guess that’s why old posts are dated), but I didn’t remember it being quite the trove it was this time around. Walking up the middle of the three aisles, I went past the metal and the midsection divide — I’d come back to the metal, no worries — something strange compelling me forward, and that’s when I saw it:
The Psychedelic section.
Oh yeah, that’s right. The monkey that lives in my head where my brain should be clicked on the dim bulb of his cavernous abode and for a moment I said a prayer to my pagan octopus god that I might win the $300 million Powerball and come back to Sound Garden to purchase every album in the Psychedelic section on principle alone. A mere celebration of the existence of such a thing. Portrait of the mouth, drooling.
What fun I had. Flipping through was like opening presents. I limited myself to two discs about which I knew absolutely nothing but what was written on the eloquent description labels — Truth‘s Truthfrom 1969 and Escombros‘ Escombros, from 1970. The former is a poppy, folksy thing, not bad but not quite as bizarre as I was hoping based on the cover, and Escombros is a heavier Chilean obscurity that opens with a cover of Hendrix‘s “Stone Free,” so I guessed I was pretty safe in grabbing it. Turns out I was right about that. The vocals sounded mixed too high on my office speakers when I listened, but I expect on a different system, it might not be an issue at all, and there were a couple gems there anyway. Wicked Lady‘s Psychotic Overkillwas a welcome find as well, all buzzsaw-this and early-’70s narcodelia that.
I also picked up Goat‘s World Musicbased on the tarantula-sized hype surrounding. That hype is probably earned, and however problematic I might find European acts copping a feel on some Fela Kuti afrobeat fuzz, they’re hardly the first and they did it well enough. I wasn’t quite enchanted, but sometimes with albums like that I go into it determined not to like them and usually find I don’t. That wasn’t the case with Goat.
In the “I reviewed this and I’m annoyed at buying it” category, the newest ones from Golden Void (review here), Astra (review here)and Six Organs of Admittance (review here) were fodder enough for a grumble, even if Astra and was used. Six Organs was $15 new and the sleeve isn’t even a gatefold. Call me a privileged shit if you want — boo hoo you don’t get free stuff, etc. — but for the time and effort I put into even a shorter review, I don’t think a CD is too much to ask, especially when I know that I’m one of like three remaining motherfuckers who cares in the slightest. Apparently the music industry disagrees. Grumble grumble, man.
One might include the new Neurosis (review here) in that category as well — and the Grand Magus I didn’t even step to this time around — but the fact is on that one I was just being impatient and that a physical promo of Honor Found in Decaywould show up sooner or later (it did, today). However, my wanting to hear it right that minute met with such logic on the field of diplomacy and the compromise reached was that I’d buy the digipak edition, because it’s limited and the promo would likely be the jewel case anyway. I never got the digi version of 2007′s Given to the Rising and there’s a little bit of me that still regrets it. That same part is very much enjoying listening to “My Heart for Deliverance” as he types this.
There were odds and ends as well. With Kalas on my brain after The Johnny Arzgarth Haul resulted in another promo, Used Metal paid dividends in the first full-artwork copy I’ve ever owned — and in case you were wondering why I care so much about physical media, that’s how long I remember shit like that — and over in Used Rock, the first Grinderman happened to be situated next to a special edition of 2009′s Grinderman 2, the unmitigated sleaze of which I friggin’ loved at the time, as well as Grails‘ cinematic 2012 outing, Deep Politics (review here).
I wound up with a used copy of Dungen‘s 2002 third album, Stadsvandringar, getting the band confused with Black Mountain, I think because they both used to have the same PR. Thanks a lot, Girlie Action Media circa 2005. I felt a little pathetic when I discovered my error, but I checked out the Dungen and it wasn’t bad, covering some of the same sunny psych folk territory that Barr did on their 2012 sophomore installment, Atlantic Ocean Blues(track stream here), and giving me a new context for not onlyBarr, but a slew of other acts as well. Could’ve been much worse.
Cap it off with a used copy of Lewis Black‘s The Carnegie Hall Performancefrom 2006 — a stellar two-disc show recorded in the depths of American hopelessness post-Katrina but for the bit about air traffic control — and when I brought it all to the counter, the dude asked me, “Are you local?” I said I wasn’t and he said, “Well, I’m going to give you a discount anyway.” It was much appreciated, regardless of the geography involved, and by the time I left Sound Garden, I was more pleased with the outcome I carried in a red plastic bag than I’ve been coming from a single record store in a long time. Probably since I visited Flat, Black and Circular in Lansing, Michigan, over the summer, and that’s saying something.
My hope is that it’s not another three years before I get back there — appropriately enough, Lewis Black has a whole section early into his show about time moving faster as you age, and he’s absolutely right — but whenever it is, Sound Garden is definitely on the must-hit list for next time I’m in Baltimore. If you want to look them up, their website is here.
Seems only reasonable to cap this week with The Flying Eyes, from Baltimore, as I’m situated outside the city for the weekend. The Patient Mrs. has family down here and I’ve adjourned early on what if the noise level emanating from downstairs is an ongoing evening, but yeah, I’m pretty much done with the night. I left work early to head south, we’ve got the dog with us, and there will be plenty more geniality tomorrow. Honestly, I think last night’s Thanksgiving food coma carried over into today. No amount of coffee could make me stir, and all a few glasses of wine with leftovers for dinner did was increase my longing for the comforts of pajamas, bed and laptop glow. So here I am.
The Flying Eyes have a new album in the works that I’m looking forward to hearing, and in the meantime, this full set from Rockpalast Crossroads is full-on righteous. There are a few young bands right now that make me excited for the prospects of next-gen American heavy. The Flying Eyes are one. Eggnogg are another, and bands like Pilgrim and Elder seem like a given by now, but they’re both still plenty young as well. As long as everyone remembers to turn the bass up, things should be just fine. I’m excited to hear what The Flying Eyes have in store for their next record.
Kind of wild week, but I guess that happens with holidays. In any case, I took a little shit for it, but I was glad to get that Om review up yesterday. Coincidence has it that they’re playing the Ottobar in Baltimore tomorrow night, with Arbouretum opening. I’ve never seen Arbouretum, and I’d like to, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Kind of a hard sell to be like, “Hey, yeah, we’re coming to stay with you for the weekend but by the way we’re gonna skip out and go to a show and oh by the way do you mind watching our dog for the night she’s allergic to peanut butter okay thanks bye!” Seems a little scummier than I’m interested in being, at least this weekend.
Nonetheless, I’m hoping to get into town proper tomorrow for a bit in the afternoon, maybe get a crabcake sandwich and hit a record shop or two, as is my wont. I’ll be sure to report on any and all acquisitions, and otherwise, stay tuned next week for reviews of Kowloon Walled City‘s new one, Cultura Tres, and probably one or two others, as well as a High on Fire live review — they hit Philly on Thursday and I’m going — an interview with Dylan Desmond about the new Bell Witch album and a track stream of the Don Juan Matus/Oxido split 7″ that’s been out for a while but I wanted to feature all the same because it’s limited and because it’s cool.
And speaking of audio, it seems only fair to give you the early heads up that on Monday I’m going to be launching a live, 24-hour streaming radio station. The Obelisk Radio. I’ll have more details Monday and you’ll probably be able to check it out before then since I’ll be putting the links up and stuff over the weekend, but yeah, that’s happening. Thanks to Johnny Arzgarth, I got the hard drive that was the old K666 from StonerRock.com, Slevin essentially set up the stream, and I’ll be adding to it as we go. The first record that I put up today as a test — in addition to the hundreds already there — was Sungrazer‘s Mirador. Much more to come on that.
Until then, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I will see you on the forum and back here Monday for a whole new league of shenanigans.
Posted in Reviews on October 18th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
It seems strange to think that three years would pass before Revelation put out another record. The trio of John Brenner (guitar/vocals), Bert Hall (bass) and Steve Branagan (drums) released For the Sake of No One (review here) late into 2009, and it was the third of three full-lengths issued in a 16-month span (not counting the …Yet So Far reissue on Shadow Kingdom, but counting the previously unreleased self-titled from 1988). Still, it’s been three years and that time has brought some changes in Revelation. Not in lineup, or in their general writing ethic, but like much of Revelation’s music itself, the shifts the band is making stylistically are subtle. Their new work, Inner Harbor (free download through Bland Hand, CD forthcoming on Shadow Kingdom, vinyl through Pariah Child), is a full 10 minutes shorter than was For the Sake of No One, but more pivotally, its six tracks find the long-running Baltimore trio pushing into new, progressive territory, with keyboards featuring heavily in line with the guitars on tracks like “Rebecca at the Well” and closer “An Allegory of Want.” At the same time, Inner Harborpresents both the most active songs of Revelation’s new tenure – marking the middle of the last decade the point at which they got back together after disbanding after 1998’s Fourteen Inches of Fury four-way split – with the surprising upbeat motor-thrust of “Eve Separated,” and the most subdued tracks in terms of production, the opening title-track being no less a signal of a shift in modus than the aerial photo of Baltimore’s inner harbor is set when set against the classic art and sculpture that served as covers for For the Sake of No One, 2008’s Release, or Revelation. Additionally, as the band’s alter ego, Against Nature, has begun to distinguish itself from the three-piece’s work in Revelation by adding vocalist Ron “Fez” McGinnis for their latest album, Fallen Rock, released earlier this year, Revelation has in turn stepped out from its morose past to become something more aesthetically complex. Of course, they remain doomed, and when they want to, Revelation can elicit a plod second to none within the sphere of Maryland doom – see the early moments of “Jones Falls” – but they’re by no means limited to just that here. Less so than they’ve ever been.
Seems silly to put it in some kind of “casting off expectations” narrative, since Bland Hand is the band’s own label and it’s not like they’ve ever been shooting for having their songs used in car commercials or the reflective moment in your favorite sitcom, but one way or another, Inner Harbor is less tied to genre than anything Revelation has put out previously. It remains tonally gorgeous, with Brenner and Hall emitting rich warmth to match Brenner’s quiet vocal style and the often soft, straightforward drumming of Branagan, but “Rebecca as the Well” has a darker atmosphere and thicker pulse, and second track “Terribilita” comes as close to a shuffle as I’ve ever heard from Revelation in its intro before keyboard sirens – if I find out that’s a guitar, I’ll be genuinely surprised, but Brenner reportedly a big Rush fan, so anything’s possible with layering – underscore a fervent verse nod. Many of these shifts in approach and/or method can be chalked up to simple comfort. Revelation did not rush to get Inner Harbor out – if they had, it probably would’ve dropped in 2010 and been a much different album – and that extra time seems to have served the songs well. In particular, Hall’s performance on bass throughout these tracks is stellar. The final moments of “Terribilita” make a striking example, but no more or less so than the second half of “Eve Separated,” on which the bassist weaves a rhythm under Brenner’s guitar solo that proves no less engaging than that solo itself. Even in the slower stretches of “Rebecca at the Well,” Hall is forward in the mix and a huge part of carrying across Revelation’s emergent prog fetish – though in that regard, the synth really is at the core and it’s not so much that Hall is putting on a clinic technically as much as he’s playing thoughtfully and artfully on these tracks. With a more dynamic production, the ending swirl of “Rebecca at the Well” might be even more of an apex to close out the album’s first half, with layered solos, synth and Hall’s bass and Branagan’s drums holding down the rhythm beneath, but they’ve retained an element of DIY in their recording, while also staying true to their live sound. In any case, they more than get their point across.
Posted in Reviews on July 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not to be confused with the trad doom trio Pilgrim from Providence, Rhode Island, The Pilgrim are a bluesier heavy rocking five-piece from Baltimore. They make their debut in the form of the full-length The Pilgrim, which they’re self-releasing on Kickstarter-supported vinyl. The six songs that comprise the album were put to tape in 2009 by Rob Girardi at Sir Lord Baltimore Studio, and the band reportedly traded roofing in order to get the tracks recorded, so if you’re wondering what might be behind a three-year delay between tracking and pressing, let that give some indication of the kind of budget they’re working with. Nonetheless, a Spring 2012 tour also brought a handcrafted CD digipak issue, limited to 500, so the songs are out there one way or another, however much they might represent a version of The Pilgrim that The Pilgrim have already outgrown. If that’s the case (and I’ll underscore the point that I don’t know if it is or isn’t), all the more kudos to the band, because the tracks on The Pilgrim hardly sound formative. They’re crisply produced in a manner both organic and professional, and the band maintains a rough-hewn energy well suited to their ‘70s-derived sound, vocalist Mis Zill and guitarist Bob Sweeney coming together in several of the songs – “Cold Lady” and the later “Hey Freddy” and “The Pilgrim,” as examples – for what might truly be called duet parts. The band behind them, which has been through two bass players since Scott Rot played on this album (including Tonie Joy of the recently-reviewed The Convocation and current bassist Dan Evans), proves nimble, moving between fuzzy swagger on “Perdido” and a boogie shuffle on the title-track, guitarist Danny McDonald, Sweeney, Evans and drummer Derrick Hans touching on a variety of ‘70s rock tendencies without really ever aping one band or another. The resulting atmosphere hits on a mood somewhat reminiscent of Valkyrie’s Man of Two Visions, which was hard to place in a similar way – Zill’s vocals being an obvious difference between the two bands.
The Pilgrim have a clear awareness of their genre, and that shows right from the start of “Really Movin’,” which opens the self-titled with blues harp and a driving, classically-styled riff. Hans makes his snare pay for some unknown crime while McDonald and Sweeney move into and out of harmony with each other – feel free to cite Thin Lizzy for riff construction and any number of classic acts who’ve put their two guitars to good use over the decades as comparison points – and Rot does well holding the rhythm with the drums but veering here and there with and between the guitars. Zill’s vocals are an immediate focal point. She’s mixed high but is a more than capable singer, though perhaps best when backed by Sweeney and McDonald on “Cold Lady,” the longest cut on The Pilgrim at 8:12 and arguably the most stylistically complex as well, flowing well from one part to the next in its first half and much of the second to a frenetic boogie and slower break that boasts some of the album’s best vocals repeating the line “Go on and go.” That kind of strength of performance is heard again in the chorus of side B opener “Hey Freddy,” and because of that, it’s easy (and somewhat ironic) to forget “Perdido” closing out side A, but if you’re into dueling solos, it’s not to be missed. Sweeney and McDonald seem both to be lead players, which might account for their adept melodicism as well, and “Perdido” is a blistering showcase of their prowess, as well as a well-written song, on which Zill tops a kind of Witchcraftian sub-waltz (there’s a riff in there that keeps taking me back to “What I Am” from the first album – not a complaint) with an appropriately more crooned delivery. When “Hey Freddy” arrives on the CD, it does so as an energetic burst to contrast the subdued finish of the track before it.