San Francisco Trip, Pt. 3: The Calling

Posted in Buried Treasure, Features on July 16th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

aquarius records

07.15.15 — 10:10PM Pacific — Wed. night — Hotel California (yes, really)

It occurred to me this evening that I’ve had about two and a half hours of “free time” on this trip and I’ve spent it all record shopping. That’s not a complaint, but I’ve had people offer to meet up and stuff and I haven’t quite had the time I anticipated for such things between work obligations and writing at night. Again, I’m not complaining. I’ve worked for a company for less than two months that’s willing to fly my ass quite literally across a continent and trust me to represent them to the best of my admittedly limited ability at a meeting of potential clients and professional cohorts. I’m remarkably fortunate to be here. I’m also very, very tired.

Still, when it came to it, and I had that little bit of time to spare today, I jumped in the first cab that I saw with its light on and told the dude to make for Aquarius Records. It was payday and I had an itch that only another round of record shopping was going to scratch. I probably could have gone back to Amoeba Music and found more stuff in that giant space, but the smaller, curated vibe of Aquarius was just my speed this evening.

I took my time, thumbed through the CD racks of the San Francisco section, the rock/pop, the metal sections both new and used, eyed up some stuff in the boxes under the used section — two albums by Mammoth Volume there, but I have them already — and reminded myself that between yesterday and today, this has kind of become my celebration of returning to the working world, so yeah, I splurged a bit. I picked up a thing or two that on some other days I might have let go, decided to let it ride and be what it is. The fact that it was also payday might have been a factor. That’s a question for hindsight and I don’t have the proper distance to evaluate.

The haul? Here it is, once more alphabetically:

Aarni, Bathos
Across Tundras, Old World Wanderer
Bedemon, Child of Darkness
Carlton Melton, Out to Sea
Children of Doom, Ride over the Green Valley
Elder, Spires Burn/Release
Elder, Lore
Evil Acidhead, In the Name of all that is Unholy
Holy Serpent, Holy Serpent
Pyramido, Sand
Pyramido, Saga
Slough Feg, Made in Poland
The Warlocks, The Warlocks
White Hills, So You Are… so You’ll Be

aqurius records haulOnce again, all CDs. I know it’s not as cool as vinyl, but fuck it. If any of you vinyl hounds want to sell me your CD collection, let me know. I’ll buy that shit. I’ll be the last dude on earth buying CDs for all I care. Whatever. They’re still making them for the most part, so yeah, I’ll still buy them.

The find of the bunch is probably that self-titled EP by The Warlocks, which came out in 2000 on Bomp! Records and was their debut. It was used and cheap, so that was cool. Two of the bunch I already own, but the Across Tundras was also about $5 and the Bedemon is the newer Relapse Records version, so I figured what the hell. True, I was here last year and stopped by the shop when I was out on tour with the Kings Destroy guys — SF resident Jim Pitts included, while I’m thinking of good people I haven’t had the chance to see — but it’s not something I do every day. I pick up things here and there, mostly online at this point, so to actually be in a store and have the chance to browse and enjoy the process, I wanted to do precisely that.

I know Carlton Melton are local to NorCal, so I grabbed that seeing it on the counter by the register, and Evil Acidhead was one of the staff recommendations — if you ever go to Aquarius Records, pay attention; these people know what they’re talking about — and since I knew it’s a reissue of old recordings by John McBain (Monster Magnet, Wellwater Conspiracy) it seemed like one to grab. Both of those Elder discs I have on vinyl, but I wanted the CDs, and while it would make the most sense to go to Armageddon Shop one of the apparently multiple times of a week I drive past Providence on I-95 and pick them up there, I haven’t actually managed to make that happen. Seeing an opportunity, I took it.

Slough Feg‘s 2011 live record, Made in Poland, was used, so that was a no-brainer, and I ran into both Pyramido albums — their first, Sand, used and a buck, their third, 2013’s Saga, new — on opposite sides of the store and picked them up almost independently of each other, hesitating but ultimately nabbing the recently-reviewed self-titled from Holy Serpent because, fuck it, it’s a RidingEasy release and I don’t see that every day in a store. The White Hills was used and I grabbed it thinking of their set at Roadburn this year and how underappreciated they are generally — not that my buying a disc makes up for that, but you know what I mean.

Two purchases I went into completely blind: the Aarni and Children of Doom. Aarni is a one-man Finnish outfit for whom Bathos served as a debut full-length in 2004, and knowing nothing about it, I saw the cover was all mushrooms and that it was on the Firedoom Music label — actually it’s the first release on the label; catalog number FDOOM001 — so I assumed I would be getting something Finnish, strange and doomed, and sure enough that’s how it’s played out so far. French trio Children of Doom‘s self-released 2009 debut EP, Ride over the Green Valley, won me over both for its cover art and for the written-out description of the album, which rightly compared its tones to namesake act Saint Vitus. I hear a bit of Ice Dragon‘s swaggering fuckall in there as well. No complaints. The band’s debut LP, Doom, Be Doomed, ör Fuck Off, came out in 2011, but if Aquarius had it, it wasn’t in my line of sight.

Back to the hotel after to start writing and get my head around the day. I ate the same thing I had for dinner last night — flautas from the taqueria across the street — while checking email to try and keep up on that. As one might expect, it didn’t really work. Still, at least if I have to be behind on absolutely everything, at least I managed to pick up some good records in the process.

I fly out tomorrow night late on a redeye to Boston that gets in Friday morning. The only way to travel. Maybe it’ll also be five hours delayed and turn into a morning flight. Haven’t slept at an airport in a while anyway.

Children of Doom, “Hangover”

Aquarius Records website

Aquarius Records on Thee Facebooks

Aquarius Records on Twitter

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Wino Wednesday: Bedemon, “Time Bomb” at Psycho California 2015

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 20th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

wino wednesday

As for how Scott “Wino” Weinrich came to front Bedemon at the Psycho California fest this past weekend, that — as one might expect coming from the doom outfit who are rightly considered legends despite never having played live before — is something of a long story. Bedemon‘s collection of rare tracks and demos, Child of Darkness, was reissued earlier this year by Relapse, and I guess that’s as good a place as any to start while the band fills in on the rest:

BEDEMON has never performed a single show, ever, with any line-up. When discussion of possibly appearing at Psycho California first came up in November, we were honored. As the months have passed though, determining who would be in the band has proven to be a real challenge on many levels for many reasons. Ultimately, due to prior commitments, neither long-time member bassist Mike Matthews nor current BEDEMON vocalist Craig Junghandel will be able to participate at the Psycho California show. There was some talk about possibly having PENTAGRAM vocalist Bobby Liebling do the set, having appeared on the 70s songs contained on their Child of Darkness: From the Original Master Tapes release which has just been reissued by Relapse Records in both CD and vinyl form, but in the end it was felt that his focus needed to be on PENTAGRAM, who are also appearing at Psycho California and additionally are currently finishing up a new studio album for release later this year.

Yet despite these seemingly insurmountable setbacks, you can’t kill BEDEMON that easily and doomed you will be, Psycho California, as Greg Mayne of PENTAGRAM’s classic 70s line-up will be appearing on bass. Mayne also has BEDEMON ties himself, as he was in the line-up that recorded the 1986 BEDEMON sessions after Mike had moved to Washington state. This will be the first time Mayne and O’Keefe have appeared on stage together in nearly 40 years.

And speaking of Geof O’Keefe, better-known as the drummer for the 70s PENTAGRAM who recorded the original studio versions of “Forever My Queen,” “Be Forewarned,” “Last Days Here” and others, at this show he’ll be playing guitar.

“People not familiar with the early beginning of PENTAGRAM might not realize that when Bobby and I put the band together back in the fall of 1971,” says O’Keefe, “I was originally the guitarist for the first two versions of the band. I’ve actually been playing guitar longer than drums. Not only is this the first time I’ll be playing guitar live on stage but it’s the first time I’ve stepped on a stage in 30 years. I couldn’t be more excited and appreciative to be part of this special and historic experience!”

So with Junghandel and Liebling not singing, who will be handling the BEDEMON vocals? Stepping in on this very special occasion is a rather unique guest and another DC legend in his own right: Scott “Wino” Weinrich! (SAINT VITUS, SPIRIT CARAVAN, THE OBSESSED, PLACE OF SKULLS, SHRINEBUILDER, THE HIDDEN HAND as well as having released a number of great solo projects).

Says O’Keefe of these developments: “While I am really disappointed neither Mike and Craig can perform at this particular show due to prior career commitments, this is an amazing line-up for a very special show. I’m excited to have my old buddy Greg Mayne on board. I haven’t seen him in nearly thirty years and haven’t played with him in forty. And Wino is a DC legend and international star in his own right and it’s an honor to have him guesting on vocals.”

So what becomes of it? Probably nothing. I don’t think we’re going to see Wino fronting a reactivated incarnation of Bedemon anytime soon. One never knows, but Bedemon released their proper debut full-length, Symphony of Shadows (track stream here), in 2012 and seem to be content to do their own thing, and with the Spirit Caravan reunion ongoing and the new Wino & Conny Ochs just out, it seems more likely that if Geof O’Keefe (interview here) was itching to keep the band moving forward, he’d find a situation a little less complex to enter into with a frontman. Though Wino-fronted Bedemon would be pretty badass.

That’s the impression the video below of “Time Bomb” gives, anyhow. Filmed at Psycho California in front of what’s clearly a packed house, Bedemon‘s first show ever featured this track off Child of Darkness and it looks to have been every bit the landmark occasion one might expect.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Bedemon, “Time Bomb” Live at Psycho California, May 15, 2015

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Sleep, Pentagram and Cult of Luna to Headline Psycho California 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

True to their word, it’s Jan. 15 and Psycho California 2015 has announced the headliners for what looks like the best American festival lineup I’ve seen since the days of Emissions from the Monolith. That’s not to take away from the hard work anyone else is doing, but just look at the list of bands. It’s unreal. You’d want to be everywhere at the same time to see all of it. Absolutely wild.

Sleep and Pentagram were pretty clear choices to headline. Not only for being legends in the heavy underground, but for also being just about two of the only bands left. Sweden’s Cult of Luna were something of a surprise, but for a festival already showing a European reach in bringing aboard the likes of Samsara Blues Experiment and Stoned Jesus, they make sense. Hell of a bill. Kudos to anyone who actually gets to go to the thing.

Announcement follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

PSYCHO-CALIFORNIA-2015-POSTER-1400

PSYCHO CALIFORNIA ANNOUNCES HEADLINERS: SLEEP, PENTAGRAM AND CULT OF LUNA

WEST COAST METAL FESTIVAL HAPPENING MAY 15, 16 & 17 AT THE OBSERVATORY IN SANTA ANA

FIRST WAVE OF ARTISTS ANNOUNCED INCLUDED KYLESA, EARTH, OM AND RUSSIAN CIRCLES

Psycho California, the west coast’s first annual metal festival and a must see for fans of doom, heavy psych and sludge, has announced the headliners for this year’s event: Cult of Luna (May 15), Sleep (May 16) and Pentagram, who will perform First Daze Here in its entirety (May 17).

“2015 is going to be a slow year for Cult of Luna. However as much as we are musicians we are also fans,” said Cult of Luna’s Johannes Persson. “Evaluating if the offer to play Psycho California was worth dusting off our instruments was not hard after looking on the line-up. Being on the same bill as Pentagram, Sleep and a festival packed with the best bands around is a privilege in itself and we’ll try to live up to that honor.”

The lineup for Psycho California is: Sleep, Pentagram, Cult of Luna, Kylesa, OM, Earth, Russian Circles, Bedemon, Conan, Wrench, Eyehategod, Indian, Earthless, Pallbearer, Stoned Jesus, Old Man Gloom, Cave In, Acid Witch, Truckfighters, Tombs, Bang, Electric Citizen, Coffinworm, SubRosa, Eagle Twin, Mammatus, True Widow, Anciients, Bellwitch, Dead Meadow, Lord Dying, Death By Stereo, Radio Moscow, Ancient Altar, Samsara Blues Experiment, Atriarch, Elder, Mothership, The Well, Deathkings, Wo Fat, Rozamov, Destroyer of Light, Highlands, Bloodmoon, Slow Season, Goatsnake, Crypt Trip, Wrench, Lords of Beacon House, Tumbleweed Dealer, Sinister Haze, Blackout, Red Wizard, Banquet and Loom.

Festival interludes will be provided by Housecore Records’ artist Author & Punisher and vinyl DJ set from Bob Lugowe (Relapse Records) and Sean Pellet (Last Daze Here).

Previously announced early bird tickets sold out immediately. Tickets for the festival are on-sale this morning with both a 3-day pass ($149.50) and a 3-day VIP pass available ($256.66)

VIP packages include a 3-day festival pass, a signed screen print concert poster by David D’Andrea, express entry via artist check-in booth, access to artist VIP lounge, a limited edition Thief X Obey festival tee, a Psycho record bag and patch as well as access to a complimentary craft tequila bar, premium microbrews and artisan snacks.

www.psychoca.com
www.facebook.com/psychocalifornia
https://www.facebook.com/Thiefpresents

Sleep, “The Clarity/Dragonaut” Live in Chicago, Aug. 28, 2014

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Bedemon’s Child of Darkness to be Reissued Feb. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

bedemon-geof-craig-mike

Though they’re inextricably tied to the legacy of Pentagram via founding drummer/guitarist Geof O’Keefe and guitarist Randy Palmer (RIP), Bedemon‘s early works collection Child of Darkness is the kind of essential, foundational doom that really no riff-loving home should be without. Originally released, as the title says, “From the Original Master Tapes,” by Black Widow Records in 2005 and in the US on Vessel Records the next year, the compilation of Bobby Liebling-fronted material will see a vinyl/CD pressing through Relapse next month ahead of Bedemon‘s appearance as part of the ultra-impressive Psycho California festival (info here) this May, the headliners for which are due to be announced next week. With Bang and Bedemon on the bill, I wouldn’t be surprised to have Pentagram show up as well, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

O’Keefe (interview here) oversaw the release of Bedemon‘s first official full-length, Symphony of Shadows (track stream here), in 2012 on Svart. The PR wire brings tales of darkness:

bedemon child of darkness

Bedemon (early Pentagram): Child of Darkness to See Reissue

Archival Recordings From America’s First Doom Band To Be Released February 24th

Relapse Records is proud to announce the official re-release of BEDEMON’s archival recordings, Child of Darkness. Widely considered America’s first doom metal band, BEDEMON formed in 1973 and consisted of original Pentagram members Randy Palmer, Geof O’Keefe, and Bobby Liebling. The group was an offshoot of Pentagram, with a darker and doomier tone. BEDEMON recorded various sessions spanning from 1973-1979 which are being made available once again after being out-of-print for over 10 years.

Child of Darkness will be made available on CD/LP on February 24th. Pre-Orders are available HERE while the title track is available for listening via YouTube HERE and via Soundcloud HERE.

Additionally, the release includes extensive liner notes from original members Mike Matthews and Geof O’Keefe and is a must for fans of Pentagram or traditional doom metal. BEDEMON’s Child of Darkness is truly a crucial glimpse into the nihilistic minds that gave birth to an entire genre!

Bedemon is:
Randy Palmer (deceased), visionary songwriter and guitarist
Mike Matthews, bass and lead guitars
Geof O’Keefe, drums and lead guitar
Bobby Liebling, lead vocals

Pre-Order ‘Child of Darkness’ from Relapse Records HERE

1. Child Of Darkness
2. Enslaver Of Humanity
3. Frozen Fear
4. One-Way Road
5. Serpent Venom
6. Last Call
7. Drive Me To The Grave
8. Into The Grave
9. Skinned
10. Through The Gates Of Hell
11. Touch The Sky
12. Child Of Darkness II
13. Time Bomb
14. Nighttime Killers
15. Axe To Grind

http://www.relapse.com/bedemon
https://www.facebook.com/bedemondoom
http://bedemon.com/
https://www.facebook.com/psychocalifornia

Bedemon, “Child of Darkness”

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Psycho California 2015 Announces Initial Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 15th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

The list of bands, quite frankly, is astonishing, but even more astonishing is the fact that  Thief Presents‘ Psycho California 2015 (formerly Psycho de Mayo) hasn’t announced its headliners yet, because these sure as shit look like headliners to me.

A three-day festival set to take place at The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA, Psycho California will feature the following acts:

psycho california

Here’s that list again: Kylesa, Om, Earth, Russian Circles, Orange Goblin, Bedemon, Conan, Indian, Pallbearer, Cave In, Old Man Gloom, Tombs, Earthless, Truckfighters, Bang, Eyehategod, Crowbar, SubRosa, Lord Dying, Acid Witch, Electric Citizen, Coffinworm, Eagle Twin, Stoned Jesus, Mammatus, True Widow, Bell Witch, Death by Stereo, Radio Moscow, Samsara Blues Experiment, Anciients, Elder, Mothership, Ancient Altar, The Well, Deathkings, Wo Fat, Rozamov, Destroyer of Light, Highlands, Bloodmoon, Slow Season, Crypt Trip, Lords of Beacon House, Tumbleweed Dealer, Sinister Haze, Blackout, Red Wizard, Banquet, Loom.

Plus interludes by Author and Punisher.

God damn.

Not only does it cover both coasts, huge bands, legends and up and comers, but the reach is international. Take special note of Conan, since their appearance means that Maryland Deathfest won’t be their only US date, and also Samsara Blues Experiment and Stoned Jesus — two killer European bands that you don’t even go after unless you know what the fuck you’re doing. That also hugely extends the possibilities for headlining acts. It’s an assemblage that’s beyond impressive, and if you haven’t already looked up flights to Southern California, I don’t know what to tell you. As I write this it’s after one in the morning on Sunday night, and you know I wouldn’t be doing that if my mind wasn’t leaking out of my ears at the thought of experiencing this thing.

Stay tuned for more to come, since as the poster says, headliners will be announced on Jan. 15. I’ll be looking forward to finding out who else is in store.

Psycho California on Thee Facebooks

Thief Presents on Twitter

Thief Presents on Thee Facebooks

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Buried Treasure and the Walking Ghosts

Posted in Buried Treasure on February 7th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Time was limited. It was Monday morning and I was supposed to go to work after all, but as I was in New England anyway, a quick run to Armageddon Shop in Providence didn’t seem all that unreasonable. I’ve never come out of there feeling less than satisfied, and even back in December at the Boston store, I was able to pick up a few winners. Plus, Armageddon‘s been on my mind lately with their handling the repress of Elder‘s Spires Burn EP and the release of Magic Circle‘s self-titled, for which I have a review pending. All that, coupled with my general desire to crane my neck before a CD rack, made the stop a necessity. Turned out work was still there when I finally showed up anyway. Go figure.

On the wall of my office is a post-it with albums I’ve been meaning to pick up — mostly review stuff that labels won’t send out physical copies of anymore that I’ll grudgingly buy and devalue the effort I put into writing about them while also diminishing my appreciation for the record out of the pervasive annoyance. It’s a vicious cycle. Anyway, most of what’s on it I couldn’t remember, but it was fine. I managed to find enough and then some, as you can see in the stack above. The new Bedemon (track stream here) and Seremonia (track stream here) records were a must, and I hadn’t actually gotten a CD of the last Enslaved (review here), so I figured if I was going to give someone the cash for it, at least I could feel good about it going to Armageddon. The rest was gravy.

The first Hooded Menace full-length, Fulfill the Curse, Orodruin‘s Claw Tower and Other Tales of Terror and the repress of Life Beyond‘s Ancient Worlds were cool finds, but I was even more stoked on the 2003 Cream Abdul Babar/Kylesa split on At a Loss. I think they came by their progression honestly and I think Spiral Shadow (review here) bears that out, but it’s easy to forget how blisteringly heavy that band was at one point, all noise and fury and potential. With the unbridled weirdness of Cream Abdul Babar to complement, that split was a killer. The punkish War and Wine by the UK’s The Dukes of Nothing was something I had my eye on for a while, with Orange Goblin‘s Chris Turner on drums, bassist Doug Dalziel (ex-Iron Monkey) and Stuart O’Hara (ex-Acrimony, current Sigiriya) as one of two guitars, and more on the hardcore end, the self-titled collection from Hard to Swallow was a pleasant surprise, spanning the short tenure of the outfit that featured Jim Rushby (Iron Monkey) on guitar and Justin Greaves (Iron Monkey and even later of Crippled Black Phoenix) on drums and a host of others from that sphere ripping out primitive, violent bursts in rapid succession.

With 13 tracks in 27 minutes, there’s little room for screwing around, so Hard to Swallow get right to it, blending raw riffage with extreme punk fuckall. The compilation was released on Armageddon‘s own label, and though it’s more hardcore than what I’ll generally grab, it’s a solid, intense listen. A secret track incorporating Sabbath‘s “Under the Sun” into a grind medley made a decent, meaner answer to The Dukes of Nothing‘s album on Tortuga, and the metallic outing from Enslaved and Seremonia‘s distinctly Finnish weirdness. More local to home, I grabbed Halfway to Gone‘s split with Alabama Thunderpussy, which I already own but figured for six bucks I’d take a double, and the 1997 debut from underrated Jersey-based psychedelic rockers, Lord Sterling.

Your Ghost Will Walk was one of those albums I figured I’d probably never happen upon, perhaps even less so in Rhode Island. I haven’t been chasing it down for years and years or anything like that — a preliminary search can find copies out there — but neither was I going to pass up the chance to get a new one. The pressing is on Chainsaw Safety Records, may or may not be original, and for anyone who heard Lord Sterling‘s Weapon of Truth (2002, Rubric) or Today’s Song for Tomorrow (2004, Small Stone), the first one is a little more jagged, a little more post-hardcore, somewhat less psychedelic, though the ethereal garage via The Doors vibes of the later albums are definitely present in some nascent form. I always dug those guys, so it was cool to hear where they came from a little bit.

Because I can’t resist a CD on Man’s Ruin and because I’m forever a sucker for NYC noise, I impulse grabbed The Cuttroats 9‘s self-titled. The band had Chris Spencer and Dave Curran from Unsane in it, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong and I was right. It was a last-minute thing as I was looking through, but I’ve done way worse. All told, the haul was well-rounded and with a cup of coffee from the bakery down the street, I felt like the win was even more complete. About five hours later, I strolled into my office like I owned the place.

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Bedemon Interview: Geof O’Keefe Talks New Album Symphony of Shadows, Spontaneity a Decade in the Making, Pentagram’s Legacy and Much More

Posted in Features on September 7th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

The band traces their roots back to 1973, when they began as a recording project separate from drummer Geof O’Keefe‘s other band, Pentagram, but it wasn’t until the past decade that Bedemon really came to any sort of prominence. Once fronted by Pentagram‘s legendary vocalist, Bobby Liebling, it was O’Keefe and guitarist Randy Palmer driving the band, and for all intents and purposes, they were done. After being contacted by Metal Maniacs writer Perry Grayson for an interview in 2001 and realizing there was interest in what Bedemon was and still could be, they decided to give it another go.

Four years later, in 2005, the compilation Child of Darkness: From the Original Master Tapes would surface. Sort of an answer to Pentagram‘s First Daze Here — or at least a complementary piece of an admittedly complicated puzzle — the classic ’70s sound of Bedemon won acclaim from doomers and fans of early metal the world over, but what was unknown at the time was that Bedemon — now O’Keefe, Palmer, bassist Mike Matthews and vocalist Craig Junghandel — had begun work on new material three years earlier in April 2002, and recorded most of an album just months prior to Palmer‘s death following a car crash in July of that year.

A full decade has passed since Symphony of Shadows began to take shape, the band writing in O’Keefe‘s living room and recording in his garage, but after years of work and personal triumphs and tragedies, the CD/LP is available through Svart Records and Bedemon managed to capture the ’70s-style heaviness that formed the original roots of the band without sounding like a redundant rehash of past glories. Responsible for the bulk of the vocal arrangements in conjunction with Junghandel and for a decent portion of the guitar solos as well as the two songs he actually wrote on his own, O’Keefe‘s role in making Symphony of Shadows is not to be understated.

His work, however, has paid off. As with the recently-streamed “The Plague” from the album, Symphony of Shadows makes its home in the primordial ooze from which dark and heavy traditional doom emerged, immediately aligning itself to the formative elements and paying homage to influences like Sabbath, Uriah Heep, UFO and others. In the interview that follows, O’Keefe discusses his legacy and Bedemon‘s being permanently intertwined with Pentagram, the years that went into arranging, recording and mixing the nine tracks on the record and how that balances with the spontaneous setting in which they were initially created, his appearance in the Bobby Liebling documentary Last Days Here (review here) and his thoughts on the finished product of that, the potential for another Bedemon album built from riff demos Palmer recorded before his death, and much, much more.

You’ll see that many references are made to the extensive liner notes O’Keefe composed for the album. You can probably pick up on the point without if you want to, but because they factor so heavily into the interview, I asked and have been granted permission to host the liner notes in their entirety for your perusal or further reading. Click here to read them.

Thanks to Nathan Birk for the allowance there, and to O’Keefe for the interview.

You’ll find the complete 6,000-word Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.

Read more »

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audiObelisk: Bedemon Premiere “The Plague” From New Album Symphony of Shadows

Posted in audiObelisk on August 16th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Theirs is doom a decade in the making, and yet, with the buzzsaw lead that rips a hole right through “The Plague,” mysterious Virginian doom forebears Bedemon sound organic and classic. The recording of their new album, Symphony of Shadows (Svart Records) is rough and that only adds to its heavy ’70s sensibilities — the undulating riff that seems directly built out of Black Sabbath‘s “Electric Funeral” should be enough to give an exact idea of where the band is coming from.

And it’s been a hard road to get them here. Bedemon — guitarist Randy Palmer, bassist Mike Matthews, drummer Geof O’Keefe (a founding member of Pentagram) and vocalist Craig Junghandel — recorded the basic tracks for Symphony of Shadows in April 2002, with Matthews and O’Keefe handling the majority of the guitar leads. Just a few months later, Palmer died in a tragic car accident and the band was completely derailed. They decided to persist and finish the incomplete recordings, interpreting Palmer‘s songwriting from the basic tapes of riffs and the lyrics he’d left behind, but between mourning, recording vocals, mixing, various other personal shakeups and life in general, a full 10 years passed between the recording and the release.

In that regard, though, the timing couldn’t be better. Bedemon‘s restored 2005 collection of oft-bootlegged early ’70s material, Child of Darkness — on which the band was fronted by Bobby Liebling — helped bring the band critical and audience acclaim like they’d never known before, and while I don’t necessarily think you can fairly say a record that arrives seven years later is capitalizing on the momentum of its predecessor, at very least the doom heads Symphony of Shadows is looking to reach won’t have to be told who the band is or reminded of O’Keefe‘s foundational contributions to some of the earliest of the American works in the genre. That’s bound to be a leg up.

More importantly, Symphony of Shadows is of quality enough to stand on its own, and “The Plague” gives a more than solid indication of the means by which it does so. Please find the track on the player below, and enjoy:

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

Bedemon‘s Symphony of Shadows hits iTunes/Amazon on Aug. 25, the same day it’s out in Continental Europe, through Svart. A Sept. 5 release follows for the UK and the record is primed to hit North American shores on Oct. 23. For more info, check out Bedemon‘s site, their Thee Facebooks, or the label’s page. Thanks to Svart and Nathan T. Birk for permission to host “The Plague.”

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