Desertfest Berlin 2020: Witchcraft, Amenra, 1000mods, The Vintage Caravan & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest berlin 2020 banner

Desertfest Berlin 2020’s second lineup announcement arrives in coordinated fashion with that of Desertfest London 2020, and even so, finds the two festivals beginning to distinguish themselves from each other. Of course, there are shared factors — Witchcraft will play both, as well as Spirit Adrift — but while there’s always a chance some bands from the one will still be added to the other, as of now, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, 1000modsAmenra and The Vintage Caravan are exclusive to the German edition of the festival series. I have zero insight or insider information to offer, so we’ll see if it stays that way, but for now, both Spring Desertfests seem to be growing on their own into something badass, sharing a bit but also having plenty to stand apart.

And Witchcraft headlining certainly doesn’t hurt either. I mean, really.

Here’s the Berlin announcement:

desertfest berlin 2020 poster

WITCHCRAFT, AMENRA, 1000MODS, THE VINTAGE CARAVAN, PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS and SPIRIT ADRIFT confirmed for DESERTFEST BERLIN 2020!!!

Friends, here we goooooo!

They belong to the most distinctive bands of the Swedish psychedelic classic rock, their sound influenced the heavy rock scene for decades, but they also rarely appear live on stage: The more we are proud to welcome legendary Witchcraft in 2020! This show will already mark a true milestone and unforgettable highlight in the history of Desertfest.

Joining them on the bill are atmospheric post-metal overlords, Amenra, who will turn the ARENA BERLIN stage into a mesmerizing sound landscape. Putting all their heart and soul into every note, word and visuals, AMENRA change the course of people’s lives everywhere their path leads them. After London and their highly acclaimed show at the Electric Ballroom last year, we’re thrilled to become a part of this path in 2020. And because your wish is our command: They are one of the most beloved and requested bands on our socials – yes, your prayers have been heard!

Greek fuzz rock unit 1000mods, THE hottest band in within the current heavy rock scene, will be finally back at Desertfest Berlin. On this special show you’ll be listening to some amazing new tunes from their upcoming album (which is recorded as we “speak” in Seattle), for the very first time! With an average age of nearly 23 years old, Icelandic rockers The Vintage Caravan show a maturity worthy of any band that has been on the road for decades. When the band got on stage at the 2012 edition of the Icelandic Eistnaflug festival, the trio was only allowed to enter the venue accompanied by their parents. The charismatic band released 3 critically acclaimed records to date, their career has been impressive while they toured the globe with bands alike Europe, Blues Pills, Grand Magus or just currently with Opeth to name just a few. Desertfesters, bring your mums and dads, too, when THE VINTAGE CARAVAN will roll over our beloved Desertfest Berlin in 2020!

Furthermore we will see Newcastle’s maximalists, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, whose riffs, raw power and rancour have blazed a trail across the darker quarters of the underground in the last five years, finally bring their mighty tsunami of rancorous riffage and unholy abjection over us in Berlin!

Last but not least, today’s’ second and killer announcement will be rounded up by Phoenix-based, Spirit Adrift, who are carving out a sound now patently its own. Lazily labelled Doom by some, the band is in fact the true representation of what modern Heavy Metal should sound like.? Folks, we hope you dig this second announcement as much as we do, while dozens of bands are still to be announced in the weeks ahead!

Treat yourself or your loved ones with an early X-Mas gift, and purchase your Weekend Ticket now at: www.desertfest.de

We can’t wait to party with ya’ll at our 9th edition, May 1st – 3rd at DesertFest Berlin 2020!

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/
www.desertfest.de
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Witchcraft, Live at Tons of Rock 2018, Norway

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Review & Track Premiere: Grin, Translucent Blades

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

grin translucent blues

[Click play above to stream ‘Helix’ from Grin’s second album, Translucent Blades. Album is out Jan. 17, 2020, on Crazysane Records with preorders available here.]

Both Jan Oberg and Sabine Oberg, who together comprise the Berlin-based duo Grin, also double in Earth Ship. Though the origins are murky, it would seem Grin formed as a side-project of that outfit sometime ahead of recording and releasing their debut full-length, Revenant, last year, with Jan overseeing the recording and mixing at his own Hidden Planet studio in Berlin in addition to drumming, noisemaking and singing. He and Sabine, who also plays bass, would seem to have a hand vocally in Translucent Blades, the early 2020 Crazysane Records follow-up to that debut, but the process from which the second album emerges would seem to be somewhat similar — done at home, so to speak, with just the two of them involved.

It is a relatively quick eight-track/36-minute LP, and yet, the level of stylistic exploration and the sheer aesthetic ground covered on Translucent Blades is somewhat staggering, and while there’s little doubt that the material benefits from the players’ prior familiarity with each other — I don’t think it’s a coincidence they have the same last name; i.e., they’re married — but in concert with that is a clear will shown on a per-song basis to tread onto some new ground, try some new thing, and incorporate it into a whole that takes shape as being their own. Though quick, it is also a heady project, to be sure, but these are heady times, and one tends to think the general listenership is schooled in and out of genre in such a way as to appreciate the progressive aspects of what Grin build toward in cuts like “Husk” as well as the impact of the payoffs in “Orbital Grace,” “Electric Eye,” “Holy Grief” and the finale “Reviver,” which is aptly named for the blackened aspects it reignites from opener “Helix,” giving a symmetrical closing to the record that only underscores the notion of a masterplan at work on the part of the two-piece. And masters they just might be.

To wit, there’s no ground they touch on Translucent Blades that they don’t conquer. “Helix” begins with a push of low end and spacious crash cymbal, a swirl backing that’s either guitar effects or some kind of synthesizer noise as the first black metal-style cavern screams start — an immediate defiance of expectation that Grin wear exceedingly well. The overarching stylistic affect is psychedelic, and all the more so when a clean-sung chorus takes hold with even more delay/echo in the midsection, Jan and Sabine seeming to come together on vocals before a drop to standalone bass leads to a semi-spoken section with far-back shouts behind, the final stage of the first of eight tracks, summarized there in some ways but still with plenty of ground to boldly cover. “Orbital Grace” brings in Jesu-style post-all, while the title-track rolls out more severe plod with more semi-spoken lines atop a wide open atmosphere and a finish that — I don’t know if Grin are able to play live or if there’s just too much going on with layering to make it happen — but deserves to come from a stage somehow some way.

grin (Photo by Ruby Gold)

They again toy with black metal on “Husk,” but in squibbly guitar, not vocals, and push it so deep in the mix as to have almost an ambient effect alongside the galloping drums, playing out behind an airier lead and lyrics that are so drenched as to become part of the wash, an instrument unto themselves, as is clearly the intent. The risk any such release runs is in putting its aesthetic ambitions ahead of the songs, but Grin seem to pivot around this trap by making each piece on Translucent Blades stand out in some way while feeding into the complete flow of the record in its entirety. “Husk” rounds out side A and side B begins with the meditative-heavy-Om-via-Zaum unfurling of “Electric Eye,” a rollout more about hypnosis than build, even when an additional layer of fuzz joins the proceedings late in their march.

One might think that by the time they get through the first half of Translucent Blades that the course would be set, but the Obergs continue to broaden the scope as they move forward, first with “Electric Eye” and then with the plunder-in-space of “Holy Grief,” which brings together a cosmic doom via Ufomammut spirit with a forward thrust of snare in its verses that seems pulled from High on Fire‘s rhythmic fervency. Perhaps most importantly, the song seems to dissolve into noise, cutting off at the end, but prior to that, letting itself get lost in the wash of its own making in an effective moment of inward and outward trance induction. That is, they seem just as affected by it. A quiet two-and-a-half-minute instrumental “Antares” serves as the penultimate inclusion, bringing in flute — or flute sounds — with an echo-soaked spoken sample or verse (it’s hard to tell) and stark guitar resolution that gives way to silence ahead of “Reviver,” the very title of which lets the listener know that Grin aren’t letting go without a fight, whatever shape that might ultimately take.

“This is how everything ends” is the first line of the song, and though Jan would seem to be describing an apocalyptic landscape — fair enough — the fact that “Reviver” is where it is would seem to clue one into its having been written as an intended finale. It grows in intensity across its five-plus minutes, making its way toward a last march that shuts down cold on snare hits but still brings out a sense of drift before it does. Grin are of course not the first act in the universe to blend sonic heft and atmospheric breadth, but the reach with which they do so is noteworthy, and the feeling of intent behind their finished product only makes its execution more appreciable. Their experiments work, and further, they’re not just experiments. There’s an expressive aspect to Translucent Blades that unites the material regardless of where an individual track is headed, and while Grin might demand multiple listens to let the record properly sink in, each airing provides more than enough satisfaction to earn the next.

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Kadavar, For the Dead Travel Fast: Ghosts on the Run

Posted in Reviews on October 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Kadavar For the Dead Travel Fast

Five records into a career as one of the most influential European heavy bands to come along this decade, Kadavar would seem to be returning to their roots. For the Dead Travel Fast is indeed the fifth long-player from the Berlin-based trio — fourth for Nuclear Blast — and in following up the modern sheen of their last two albums, 2017’s Rough Times (review here) and 2015’s Berlin (review here), the band would seem to have sought some middle ground in aesthetic conversation with their earlier work on 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) and their landmark released-in-2012-but-perpetually-reissued self-titled debut (discussed here), digging into an organic production style mirrored in the gritty sepia and severe contrast of the photo on their cover art.

If they’ve proven anything over the course of the last seven-plus years, it’s their ability as songwriters, and they’ve only grown more complex and more expressive in that regard, with guitarist/vocalist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann emerging as a genuine frontman presence, drummer Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt functioning as the proverbial madman behind the kit and bassist Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup the quieter presence but ever more responsible for the band’s weight of impact. For the Dead Travels Fast leans on that weight more than did Rough Times, but it takes some cues from that album just the same, with the darker themes that pervaded there in songs like “Die Baby Die” and “Words of Evil,” “Skeleton Blues” and “Vampires” showing up in the ready-for-Halloween pieces “Children of the Night” — a highlight here — “The Devil’s Master,” “Evil Forces,” “Dancing with the Dead,” “Poison” and “Demons in My Mind.” Despite something of a shift on the most basic sonic level from one style to another — i.e., the re-adoption of a more vintage mindset — this continuity feels natural from the brooding opening of “The End” as an intro to “The Devil’s Master” onward.

By the time they get through the cavernous side B dark-psychedelia echoes of “Demons in My Mind” and into the closing duo of “Saturnales,” an organ-laced minimalia with hypnotic guitar and duly obscure lyrics, and the 7:49 capper build of “Long Forgotten Song,” mood becomes a central feature of For the Dead Travel Fast and where Rough Times did more than flirt with horror rock and a grimmer outlook, the newer work unquestionably pushes further. Songs are more patient in their execution and unfold in brooding fashion at least where they want to, and even a rocker like the proto-metallic “Evil Forces” finds room for a section of cackling, howling laughter at its conclusion, moving into the starts, stops, stomps and hooks of “Children of the Night” with a smoothness that signals the intent that always seems to be lurking beneath the surface of Kadavar‘s work. That is to say, they know what they’re doing here, as they always do.

kadavar (Photo by Joe Dilworth)

Kadavar are not a haphazard band, at least in their finished product (I can’t really speak to the process that brings that product about), and For the Dead Travel Fast shows yet again that their will is to have more than just a stylistic impact, but to back that up with a quality of craft and delivery that they’ve at this point put in years of work to hone on tour and in the studio. Frankly, it shows. I don’t think one could listen to “Dancing with the Dead” and say they sound tired, because they don’t, but there’s a maturity at play throughout their fifth record that suits them and their material well. They’re not the brash ’70s rockers anymore. They’re a band who’ve toured the world, headlined festivals and done gigs on multiple continents, and whose fanbase has grown to encompass not just listeners, but other bands who’ve taken up their influence. Again, there are few in Europe or anywhere else who’ve had more of an effect on the course of this particular branch of classic-minded heavy rock this decade than Kadavar, and they round out the 2010s in prime fashion on For the Dead Travel Fast, claiming their place not quite as statesmen of the underground, but as a band who never wanted to be a fluke and went on to prove it in the most righteous manner possible.

I’ll stop short of calling For the Dead Travel Fast a victory lap for that notion, mostly because I don’t think that’s what the band intended it to be, and because the characterization doesn’t really suit the mood of most of the material — which, again, is more grim even in its uptempo moments on “The Devil’s Master,” “Evil Forces” or the echoing thrust of “Demons in My Mind” — but it ends up being a powerful argument in favor of the idea just the same. Across a clean nine-track/45-minute run, Kadavar demonstrate their utter mastery of their form, hard won but ultimately uncompromised, and as much as one might be tempted to think of the sound of For the Dead Travel Fast as a “return to form” or something like that — and maybe that’s not entirely wrong — it’s also important to consider the ways in which the three-piece continue to push themselves forward, as on “Saturnales” or even the atmospheric beginning “The End” provides the record as it moves into the alternatingly broadly spaced and pushing “The Devil’s Master,” that dynamic persisting throughout nearly everything that follows.

Principally, Kadavar write memorable songs, as they always have. Whatever form that takes, whatever turns of aesthetic they might bring to that, they never seem to lose that foundation beneath them, and much as Bouteloup‘s bassline underscores Lindemann‘s scorcher solo in “Evil Forces,” it’s always right where it needs to be at the structural root of their material. They’ve made themselves harder to predict with For the Dead Travel Fast, which is refreshing. After the outright sheen of Berlin and the harder-edged modern sound of Rough Times, one might have expected Kadavar to stay on that path, but by shifting their production style, they’ve elbowed their way through whatever preconceptions might’ve existed of where they were headed and instead decided to chart their own course in the manner befitting a mature outfit of their stature. They’ve never sounded so much in command of their songs.

Kadavar, “Demons in My Mind” official video

Kadavar, “Children of the Night” official video

Kadavar, “The Devil’s Master” official video

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Desertfest Berlin 2020: First Lineup Announcement: Masters of Reality, Brant Bjork, C.O.C., Orange Goblin & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest berlin 2020 banner

I admit, I’m going to miss seeing the poster art for Desertfest Berlin 2019 around thee social medias, but if there’s one thing that eases that loss, it’s the poster art for Desertfest Berlin 2020. It’s like something out of a cel-shaded JRPG, but, you know, awesome, and an airship is always welcome as far as I’m concerned. Will this be the year I finally get my ass to Berlin? I’d be lying if I said that their having Masters of Reality — who’ll also be in London — on the bill wasn’t a significant draw in my head. I’d wonder if they won’t do New York as well, but they don’t do a lot of shows at all, so I’m not going to bank on that. Of course, having Corrosion of ConformityBrant BjorkOrange GoblinPapirMinami DeutschSÅVER, Earth Tongue and Dhidalah certainly doesn’t hurt the argument either, but it’s just the beginning of Spring fest-announcement season, and so there’s much more to get all giddy-hyperbole about to come in the next few months. Hell, they haven’t even held Desertfest Belgium yet.

Bottom line: expect this airship to circle around many more times before May 1.

From the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2020 first poster

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/

MASTERS OF REALITY | CORROSION OF CONFORMITY | BRANT BJORK | ORANGE GOBLIN | MINAMI DEUTSCH | EARTH TONGUE | PAPIR | DHIDALAH | SÂVER confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2020!!!

Tickets now on sale at: www.desertfest-tickets.de

Finally, we are thrilled to announce the first batch of (outstanding!) acts for our 9th edition, taking place at the ARENA BERLIN May 1st – 3rd 2020. You may not believe your eyes, but it’s a dream come true: Palm Desert scene icons, Masters Of Reality – Official, are finally playing Desertfest! Fronted by Chris Goss, renowned producer of legendary bands such as Kyuss, Queen of the Stone Age and many more, with their Black Sabbath-inspired sound MASTERS OF REALITY will take you on an unforgettable trip through the desert. A true milestone in the eclectic live history of Desertfest Berlin!

It’s been a dozen years since Southern Rock legends, Corrosion Of Conformity, would reunite with Pepper Keenan to blow the doors off the whole damn scene again. In 2014, after nearly a straight decade traversing the globe as a guitarist with New Orleans supergroup DOWN, Keenan reconnected with the core C.O.C. trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin to hit the road hard. And the long wait is over, we will give them a warm and heavy rocking welcome in 2020!

The Godfather of Desert Rock, Brant Bjork, will return to the Desertfest Berlin stage and revive your spirit! Brant has spent over a quarter-century at the epicenter of Californian desert rock. From cutting his teeth alongside Fatso Jetson’s Mario Lalli in hardcore punkers De-Con to drumming and composing on Kyuss’ landmark early albums, to propelling the seminal fuzz of Fu Manchu from 1994-2001 while producing other bands, putting together offshoot projects like Ché, embarking on his solo career as a singer, guitarist and bandleader, founding his own record label and more, his history is a winding narrative of relentless, unflinching creativity. Expect timeless classics and a new album next Spring, and lay back to get into the groove with the one & only, Mr. BRANT BJORK live at the Arena Berlin!

Widely admired as one of the most ludicrously thunderous and entertaining live bands on the planet, longtime Desertfest comrades Orange Goblin, are on their unstoppable mission to bring us joyous, blood ’n’ thunder metal! With a steady stream of critically acclaimed albums that boldly and gleefully blurred the lines between stoner, doom, black, crust and southern rock, while always fervently saluting the old school heavy metal flag and the sacred Sabbathian code. 2020 will celebrate their 25th anniversary, still ORANGE GOBLIN is an inspiration, full of power and ready to unleash their thunder over Berlin!

Hailing from Japan, kraut rock masters Minami Deutsch have been finally confirmed for the Berlin edition of Desertfest! After their highly acclaimed show at Desertfest Belgium two years ago, desert festers in Berlin will be finally able to witness their unique, mesmerizing live performance. Kraut rock may be alive heavier than ever, but this Tokyo trio proves they are way more than just a revival act. Don’t miss this EXCLUSIVE show of the fantastic MINAMI DEUTSCH!

Sometimes music is supposed to feel weird and indescribable. It’s the moments of clarity within the dense, sonic mess that often feels the most satisfying. That’s the space that New Zealand prog-rockers Earth Tongue occupy. With their 2016- debut EP and a just released full-length album, these guys quickly became one of NZ’s most exciting underground live acts and it wasn’t long until they were playing alongside international touring bands like Red Fang, Beastwars or
Monolord. We are thrilled to welcome EARTH TONGUE live in 2020, taking us all on raw and fuzzy journey into psych-rock with a sound that weaves between melodic and jarring, with unexpected turns leaving us in a disoriented, euphoric haze.

Copenhagen trio, Papir, might be the ultimate expression of the Danish creative soul: distinctively modern, deceptively minimalistic, and stylish yet understated. A band of virtuoso musicians who move between psychedelic rock, jazz and krautrock seamlessly with the ability to hypnotize you at the Arena Berlin; PAPIR are the real deal for fans of bands alike Causa Sui, and could easily become the showboats of the scene!

Dhidalah burst into the fuzz rock scene in 2013, and has hailed from the Tokyo underground as a space rock power trio. The band name derives from the Japanese legend of the Giant Gods — known as the creaters of mountains, lakes and islands. DHIDALAH plays improvisational music performances inspired by various genres from stoner and doom to kraut rock. Give these Japanese Giant Gods a very warm welcome next Spring, when the Arena will be turned into a psychedelic wonderland!

Norway’s hottest underground act, SÂVER, is the new project of Ole Christian Helstad, Ole Ulvik Rokseth and Markus Støle of TOMBSTONES and HYMN. The band delivers an astounding sound of sublime heaviness, shimmering moogs, abrasive vocals and a devastating, gnarly bass. SÂVER’s tunes can be characterized by a strong component of apocalyptic synths and textural electronics hovering above the base of heavy guitars and bass – a mélange that works incredibly well, and has seen SÂVER rising up and being no longer just one of the world’s best kept music secrets!

Friends, we hope you enjoy this first round of bands as much as we do, with many more killer names to come. After last year’s changes of a new sound system, the “Black Box“, that many of you seem to appreciate, we will also again provide a lot more specials, space, and again a chill- and live zone on the ubercool Hoppetosse boat! Don’t miss THE fuzz rock party of the year, at the capitol of the almighty riffs: DESERTFEST BERLIN 2020 is ready to roll!

Tickets & more infos are now available at:
www.desertfest.de

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/
www.desertfest.de
www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
www.instagram.com/desertfest_berlin

Masters of Reality, “Dreamtime Stomp”

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Kadavar Post “Children of the Night” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kadavar children of the night

Kadavar played at Psycho Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, and in a couple more weeks, they’ll release their new album, For the Dead Travel Fast, which they’ll support beginning in November with a pretty substantial European tour. That’s how it goes. Put out a record and tour. Kadavar, certainly, have done it before.

The difference this time, I guess, is the album itself. I’ll get a review up at some point — mostly because I like writing about Kadavar, rather than the expectation that anyone gives a crap what I have to say about them or that Nuclear Blast is eagerly awaiting my opinion on the record — but it’s a different vibe as Kadavar embark on their fifth album, and the slick modernity that showed itself through 2017’s Rough Times (review here) and 2015’s Berlin (review here) seems to be at least meeting halfway with their more vintage-minded early work, 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) and 2012’s self-titled debut (discussed here). The track for which they’re sharing a new video now, “Children of the Night,” brings that pretty clearly to the forefront.

It’s a proto-metallic fuzz crunch in the guitar and an organic sounding bassline that wouldn’t be out of place on an Uncle Acid record were they perhaps dirtied up a bit, but of course guitarist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann puts his own vocal stamp on it and for my money there aren’t a lot of heavy rock drummers in Europe’s well-populated underground who play with the vitality of Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt, his roll in the ending section of the track matched fluidly by the low-end air-push of  Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup. Less immediately hooky and more dug-in feeling, “Children of the Night” has the mood of For the Dead Travel Fast well summarized, and it’ll be interested to see how the LP is received especially by those fans of their first two records.

But it’s the internet, so people will probably bitch either way. Whatever. I dig it.

They spliced old movie clips together for the video, obviously going for something simpler than the last one. A respite well earned.

Enjoy:

Kadavar, “Children of the Night” official video

After their insanely ambitious spaghetti western video for the “The Devil’s Master”, Berlin, Germany-based rock overlords KADAVAR have released the official music video for the brand new single, “Children Of The Night”. The song comes off the band’s highly anticipated new album, For The Dead Travel Fast.

Get/stream the song here: https://nblast.de/KadavarChildrenOfNight

Pre-order For The Dead Travel Fast and/or accompanying merchandise here!

Recently the band had announced their European headlining tour in support of the album.

KADAVAR – FOR THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST EUROPEAN TOUR 2019
Special Guests: HÄLLAS & PABST
06.11. SE Copenhagen Pumpehuset
07.11. NO Oslo Bla
08.11. SE Göteborg Brewhouse
09.11. SE Stockholm Debaser
10.11. DE Hannover Capitol
12.11. FR Lyon Le CCO
13.11. FR Nantes Le Stéréolux
14.11. FR Paris L’Alhambra
15.11. FR Bordeaux BT 59
16.11. ES Madrid Mon
17.11. ES Barcelona Razzmatazz 2
19.11. FR Strasbourg La Laiterie
20.11. DE Wiesbaden Schlachthof
21.11. DE Nu?rnberg Hirsch
22.11. DE Mu?nchen Backstage Werk
23.11. AT Wien Arena
24.11. DE Dresden Beatpol
25.11. BE Brussels Orangiere at Botanique
27.11. DE Stuttgart LKA Longhorn
28.11. DE Köln Essigfabrik
29.11. DE Hamburg Große Freiheit
30.11. DE Berlin Columbiahalle

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Friday Full-Length: Weltraumstaunen, Weltraumwelt

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Weltraumstaunen, Weltraumwelt (2004)

You might be forgiven if you’ve never heard Germany’s Weltraumstaunen. The band formed in 1998 around Growing Seeds members Andi and Silke Heinrich and Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, then of Liquid Visions, Zone Six and probably 10 or 20 others, and released a self-titled album in 1999. It would be five years, the dissolution of Growing Seeds — in which Schmidt had also taken up the drummer role — and the end of the marriage between Andi and Silke before Weltraumstaunen would issue a second record, Weltraumwelt, as the two-piece of Andi Heinrich and Dave Schmidt. The album is part of the mighty earlier-years catalog of Nasoni Records, along with acts like Vibravoid, Zendik Farm Orgaztra, Liquid Visions, and many others (the label began in 1996), and was made by exchanging recordings via tape — not files, tapes; remember this would’ve been nascent times for broadband speeds — between Berlin and Bayreuth, further south.

That distance, and the fact that the distance mattered, becomes crucial to understanding Weltraumwelt‘s aesthetic and just exactly how Weltraumstaunen wound up where they got in terms of sound. The second album was somewhat more adventurous than the first — though nothing against that record either — and found its strongest moments in a forward-looking kraut and space rock; the swirling effects, hard-strummed funky wah and a steady groove on the title-track indicative of the far-outness to which Weltraumstaunen was aligned, but really just the barest indication of some of the more experimental side of the nine-track/48-minute collection, which showed itself perhaps most of all in the 14-minute anything-goes sprawl of “Farfisadelic.” With steady pulsations of synth emerging amid flourish of backwards guitar and other atmospherics, that cut was by far the deepest journey into cosmic vacuum that the two-piece made, and its anti-apex resolution in an almost-standalone line of piano and effects drift proved clearly that Weltraumstaunen weren’t simply about a linear build or about capturing the rush of space rock. Their five-year mission was more varied in its course, with opener “Black Dove Part I” and closer “Black Dove Part II” dug into a vision of heavy psychedelia that by now feels prescient of what a German band like Samsara Blues Experiment would go on to do in their beginning stages, or even Schmidt‘s own Electric Moon, jam-based as that would be.

Not only that, but the moody prog of “Doors” and the acoustic/electric swirl of centerpiece “Wizard vs. Time” brought a classic feel to the proceedings and offered a grounding effect compared not just to “Farfisadelic” still to come, weltraumstaunen weltraumweltbut to the minimalist drone of “Introfernale” which followed or the earlier bass throb in the freaked out noisemaker “Hoffmans Mahl (The Dwarves of Yore)” and the resoundingly ambient “Floating in Space,” the latter of which gave its earthy, folkish strum a chance to really bring the album to earth at its midpoint, which “Wizard vs. Time” ultimately succeeded in doing, in sound if not theme. They didn’t rush back to ground by any means, rolling through “Introfernale,” “Weltraumwelt” and “Farfisadelic” before finding their way into “Black Dove Part II,” and in the interplay between vocalized and instrumental songs, the openness of the structures and the overall diversity of mood between their tracks, Weltraumstaunen were able to accomplish the rare feat of uniting their material through its very differences, setting the expectation early between “Black Dove Part I” and “Doors” that the band could and would follow their whims wherever they might go. They went, of course, to space. And floated there.

But the connections to classic prog, whether in “Black Dove Part I” or “Wizard vs. Time” and “Doors” — the latter also dipping into a kind of ethereal grunge — were key underpinnings to the more try-it-and-see aspects of Weltraumwelt, and where so many bands seem to commit themselves either to a planned songwriting modus or to outright improvisation, Weltraumstaunen refused to choose one over the other. No doubt the distance between Heinrich and Schmidt helped that too — because it’s hard to jam through the mail — but even through trying and subsequently fleshing out initial ideas, their songs were able to take various shapes brought together by a single creative persona, not just a work of genre, but a work that toiled at the edges thereof and seemed more interested in pushing the limits forward than residing comfortably within them.

But again, maybe you’ve heard it and maybe you haven’t. I know I’ve name-dropped Weltraumstaunen a couple times over the years in talking about other things Schmidt has done — and he’s done plenty — but I’ve never actually written about the band, and though I’ve periodically looked for it in YouTube, it wasn’t until a couple months ago that Weltraumwelt actually showed up, so the opportunity hasn’t really been there before now. It’s another album that turns 15 this year, which is kind of staggering to think about, but it came into my life in a box of vinyl from Nasoni that I got when I was doing college radio, and it’s one to which I’ve returned every now and again ever since, as it captured a genuinely open creativity that it’s hard not to find inspiring, its exchange of ideas and will toward seeing them realized, whatever shape they might take, indicative of the passion behind the collaboration in the first place. It might take you a listen or two to get it, but it’s worth that, at least.

Of course, Schmidt, working as Sula Bassana, has gone on to become a principal figure in Germany’s psychedelic underground, whether it’s running his own Sulatron Records imprint or expanding the space rock universe with Electric MoonKrautzone, the revitalized Zone Six and so on. Less clear on what became of Heinrich after Weltraumwelt, which was the last of Weltraumstaunen‘s releases. By the time 2004 came around, Growing Seeds had been done already — though their 1997 album, Miraculous Journey, is worth seeking out if you can find it — and given the creativity on display throughout Weltraumwelt, it’s somewhat surprising not to have heard from him more in the years since. Crazier things have happened than a band like this reemerging from such parts unknown, but I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime, a reissue through Sulatron would most certainly be welcome, and hopefully capture and inspire a new generation of listeners as well.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

New episode of the Gimme Radio show today at 1PM Eastern. You already saw the playlist. Listen here: http://gimmeradio.com, or on their app.

I like the app, but web works too.

This weekend is Psycho Las Vegas. I’m not there, obviously. We’re still doing stuff with the move to NJ from Massachusetts, so yeah, I just couldn’t really get out this time. Next year I’ll do it up properly. But if you’re there, enjoy it. Sick lineup, insane venue, scorching desert heat: the true Psycho experience. Nothing quite like it.

I’m expecting The Pecan up any minute now, so I’ll do my best to keep this short and sweet-ish. At the end (maybe the middle?) of next week we’re back in MA to pick up the last of our stuff. One more truck. One more truck. One more truck. That’ll be CDs and whatnot from our storage unit, stuff from The Patient Mrs.’ office at work, and maybe a shitty table to which I have sentimental attachment from the condo. Right now we’re slated to close on the sale on the 23rd. Keep your fingers crossed for us until then. At that point, we live in NJ. That’s home.

There’s a lot on already for next week, which is nice since the earlier part of this week was a little dead. I’d do notes, but frankly I don’t feel like cutting and pasting and rearranging it, so yeah. Zed review, Swan Valley Heights premiere, Stew premiere, Grand Royale video premiere, Von Detta track premiere, on and on. And that’s just Monday and Tuesday. The rest, who the hell knows.

This move has been stressful because it’s been so drawn out, over months rather than days or weeks. We’re up to our eyeballs in boxes and there are more to come, but it’ll be good longer-term. I’m happy The Pecan will grow up here. People look different, sound different, from each other. People speak different languages. It’s like civilization or something. Plus bagels and pizza. So yeah, civilization.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum, radio stream and merch at Dropout.

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Kadavar Take to the West in “The Devil’s Master” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kadavar the devils master

With a release date set for Oct. 11, Kadavar‘s For the Dead Travel Fast is well on its way to being the Berlin trio’s most complex and atmospheric outing to-date, and yet, at the same time, it’s also kind of a return to the vintage production style of their first two records. No question that Kadavar modernized their initial retro sound over their last couple full-lengths — 2017’s Rough Times (review here) most of all — but as their new video for “The Devil’s Master” shows, they’ve not only grown bolder as songwriters, but they’re willing to once again more fully embrace a sonic naturalism in doing so. It is, as the entirety of the album proves, a winning combination.

“The Devil’s Master,” which combines in the video below with the album-intro “The End,” brings a desert-garage-goth vibe to go with its Spaghetti Western visual thematic — an immediate departure from some of the catchy and uptempo beginnings of LPs past, but immersive just the same, and rich in tone and the vocal melodies of guitarist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann, who plays one of the three main characters of the cinematic clip, with bassist Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup and drummer Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt filling the other roles, Bouteloup perhaps having the best part, and as usual, the best hat.

I’ll have a full review of For the Dead Travel Fast at some point in the next couple months — hell, with the delayed release, I might even get it posted before it’s out! — but suffice it to say that while “The Devil’s Master” doesn’t necessarily speak for the entirety of the album, it does capture something essential about its spirit, and that Kadavar have never pushed this kind of engagement with their audience so much to the forefront of their approach before. They succeed with the mastery one has come to expect from them.

Preorder info, tour dates — they’re at Psycho Las Vegas this week — and more background follow the video below, all courtesy of the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Kadavar, “The Devil’s Master” official video

Kadavar Release Epic Western Music Video For First Single Off For The Dead Travel Fast

Album Now Available For Pre- Order Here: nblast.de/Kadavar-FTDTF

Berlin, Germany-based rock overlords KADAVAR have released the official music video for the song “The Devil’s Master”, the opening track of the band’s highly anticipated new album, For The Dead Travel Fast. The epic western movie styled music video was shot in Fuerteventura and stars actress Lucie Aron as well as the band’s members Lupus, Tiger and Dragon.

Commented the band:

Lupus: “Fuerteventura was the perfect set for the idea to shoot a small Spaghetti Western. In the story, everyone is fighting everyone: there are cutthroats who don‘t trust each other trying to survive in the desert. They are hunted by their enemy, a violent priest who enslaves a young lady, who both of the cowboys admire. In the end, there won‘t be any winners…”

Tiger: “The song is about the worst ideas of the people, the attraction of horror and the seductive scent of the disreputable. Just as it is all too human to feel at the mercy of his fears, so comprehensible it seems to give way to the fascination of evil in the face of death.”

For The Dead Travel Fast will be released on October 11 (initially September 20), 2019 via Nuclear Blast and is now available for pre-order.

The album will be released in various formats:

Limited Box-Set including limited tri-colored vinyl, limited tri-colored bonus vinyl including 4 previously unreleased tracks, CD/Blu-Ray Digi (including the KADAVAR & THE COSMIC RIDERS OF THE BLACK SUN live show, Berlin 2019), Poster, signed photo card, patch, sticker.
CD/Blu-Ray Digi (including the KADAVAR & THE COSMIC RIDERS OF THE BLACK SUN live show, Berlin 2019)
Vinyl (black, beige, bi-colored, cornetto)

Pre-order »For The Dead Travel Fast« and/or accompanying merchandise here!

Recently the band had announced their European headlining tour in support of the album.

KADAVAR – FOR THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST EUROPEAN TOUR 2019
Special Guests: HÄLLAS & PABST
06.11. SE Copenhagen Pumpehuset
07.11. NO Oslo Bla
08.11. SE Göteborg Brewhouse
09.11. SE Stockholm Debaser
10.11. DE Hannover Capitol
12.11. FR Lyon Le CCO
13.11. FR Nantes Le Stéréolux
14.11. FR Paris L’Alhambra
15.11. FR Bordeaux BT 59
16.11. ES Madrid Mon
17.11. ES Barcelona Razzmatazz 2
19.11. FR Strasbourg La Laiterie
20.11. DE Wiesbaden Schlachthof
21.11. DE Nu?rnberg Hirsch
22.11. DE Mu?nchen Backstage Werk
23.11. AT Wien Arena
24.11. DE Dresden Beatpol
25.11. BE Brussels Orangiere at Botanique
27.11. DE Stuttgart LKA Longhorn
28.11. DE Köln Essigfabrik
29.11. DE Hamburg Große Freiheit
30.11. DE Berlin Columbiahalle

KADAVAR’s latest album, Rough Times, was released in late 2017 to global critical acclaim, including live hits like “Die Baby Die,” “Tribulation Nation” and “Into The Wormhole”.

KADAVAR live:
16.08. F St. Nolff – Motocultor Festival
17-18.08. USA Las Vegas, NV – Psycho Las Vegas

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Quarterly Review: Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Black Lung, Giant Dwarf, Land Mammal, Skunk, Silver Devil, Sky Burial, Wizzerd, Ian Blurton, Cosmic Fall

Posted in Reviews on July 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Got my laptop back. Turned out the guy had to give me a new hard drive entirely, clone all my data on it, and scrap the other drive. I’m sure if I took it to another technician they’d have said something completely different, either for better or worse, but it was $165 and I got my computer back, working, in a day, so I can’t really complain. Worth the money, obviously, even though it was $40 more than the estimate. I assume that was a mix of “new hard drive” and “this is the last thing I’m doing before a four-day weekend.” Either way, totally legit. Bit of stress on my part, but what’s a Quarterly Review without it?

This ends the week, but there’s still one more batch of 10 reviews to go on Monday, so I won’t delay further, except to say more to come.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo

elizabeth colour wheel nocebo

A rare level of triumph for a first album, Elizabeth Colour Wheel‘s aesthetic scope and patience of craft on Nocebo result in a genre-spanning post-noise rock that maintains an atmospheric heft whether loud or quiet at any given moment, and a sense of unpredictability that feels born out of a genuinely forward-thinking songwriting process. It is dark, emotionally resonant, beautiful and crushing across its eight songs and 47 minutes, as the Philadelphia five-piece ebb and flow instrumentally behind a standout vocal performance that reminds of Julie Christmas circa Battle of Mice on “Life of a Flower” but is ultimately more controlled and all the more lethal for that. Bouts of extremity pop up at unexpected times and the songs flow into each other so as to make all of Nocebo feel like a single, multi-hued work, which it just might be as it moves into ambience between “Hide Behind (Emmett’s Song)” and “Bedrest” before exploding to life again in “34th” and transitioning directly into the cacophonous apex that comes with closer “Head Home.” One of the best debuts of 2019, if not the best.

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Black Lung, Ancients

black lung ancients

Ancients is the third full-length from Baltimore’s Black Lung, whose heavy blues rock takes a moodier approach from the outset of “Mother of the Sun” onward, following an organ-led roll in that opener that calls to mind All Them Witches circa Lightning at the Door and following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here) with an even firmer grasp on their overarching intent. The title-track is shorter at 3:10 and offers some post-rock flourish in the guitar amid its otherwise straight-ahead push, but there’s a tonal depth to add atmosphere to whatever moves they’re making at the time, “The Seeker” and “Voices” rounding out side A with relatively grounded swing and traditionalist shuffle but still catching attention through pace and presentation alike. That holds true as “Gone” drifts into psychedelic jamming at the start of side B, and the chunkier “Badlands,” the dramatic “Vultures” and the controlled wash of “Dead Man Blues” take the listener into some unnamed desert without a map or exit strategy. It’s a pleasure to get lost as Ancients plays through, and Black Lung remain a well-kept secret of the East Coast underground.

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Ripple Music website

Noisolution website

 

Giant Dwarf, Giant Dwarf

Giant Dwarf Giant Dwarf

This just fucking rules, and I feel no need to couch my critique in any more flowery language than that. Driving, fuzzy heavy rock topped with post-Homme melodies that doesn’t sacrifice impact for attitude, the self-released, self-titled debut from Perth, Australia’s Giant Dwarf is a sans-pretense 35 minutes of groove done right. They may be playing to genre, fine, but from the cover art on down, they’re doing so with a sense of personality and a readiness to bring an individual sensibility to their sound. I dig it. Summery tones, rampant vocal melodies in layers, solid rhythmic foundation beneath. The fact that it’s the five-piece’s first album makes me look less for some kind of stylistic nuance, but it’s there to be heard anyway in “Disco Void” and the bouncing end of “High Tide Blues,” and in surrounding cuts like “Repeat After Defeat” and “Strange Wool,” Giant Dwarf set to the task before them with due vitality, imagining Songs for the Deaf with Fu Manchu tonality in “Kepler.” No big surprise, but yeah, it definitely works. Someone should be beating down the door to sign this band.

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Land Mammal, Land Mammal

land mammal land mammal

Land Mammal‘s debut outing is a 14-minute, proof-of-concept four-songer EP with clarity of presentation and telegraphed intent. Marked out by the Robert Plant-style vocal heroics of Kinsley August, the band makes the most of a bluesy atmosphere behind him, with Will Weise on wah-ready guitar, Phillip PJ Soapsmith on bass, Stephen Smith on drums and True Turner on keys. On opener “Dark with Rain” and closer “Better Days,” they find a pastoral vibe that draws from ’90s alternative, thinking Blind Melon particularly in the finale, but “Earth Made Free” takes a bluesier angle and “Drippin’ Slow” is not shy about nor ashamed of its danceability, as its lyrics demonstrate. For all the crispness of the production, Land Mammal still manage to sound relatively natural, which is all the more encouraging in terms of moving forward, but it’ll be interesting to hear how they flesh out their sound over the course of a full-length, since even as an EP, this self-titled is short. They have songwriting, performance and production on their side, however, so something tells me they’ll be just fine.

Land Mammal on Thee Facebooks

Land Mammal on Bandcamp

 

Skunk, Strange Vibration

skunk strange vibration

Even before they get to the ultra-“N.I.B.” patterning of second track “Stand in the Sun,” Skunk‘s Sabbathian loyalties are well established, and they continue on that line, through the “War Pigs”-ness of “Goblin Orgy” (though I’ll give them bonus points for that title), and the slower “A National Acrobat” roll of “The Black Crown,” and while that’s not the only influence under which Skunk are working — clearly — it’s arguably the most forward. They’ve been on a traditional path since 2015’s mission-statement EP, Heavy Rock from Elder Times (review here), and as Strange Vibration is their second album behind 2017’s Doubleblind (review here), they’ve only come more into focus in terms of what they’re doing overall. They throw a bit of swagger into “Evil Eye Gone Blind” and “Star Power” toward the end of the record — more Blackmore or Leslie West than Iommi — but keep the hooks center through it all, and cap with a welcome bit of layered melody on “The Cobra’s Kiss.” Based in Oakland, they don’t quite fit in with the Californian boogie scene to the south, but standing out only seems to suit Strange Vibration all the more.

Skunk on Thee Facebooks

Skunk on Bandcamp

 

Silver Devil, Paralyzed

Silver Devil Paralyzed

Like countrymen outfits in Vokonis or to a somewhat lesser degree Cities of Mars, Gävle-based riffers Silver Devil tap into Sleep as a core influence and work outward from there. In the case of their second album, Paralyzed (on Ozium Records), they work far out indeed, bringing a sonic largesse to bear through plus-sized tonality and distorted vocals casting echoes across a wide chasm of the mix. “Rivers” or the later, slower-rolling “Octopus” rightfully present this as an individual take, and it ends up being that one way or the other, with the atmosphere becoming essential to the character of the material. There are some driving moments that call to mind later Dozer — or newer Greenleaf, if you prefer — such as the centerpiece “No Man Traveller,” but the periodic bouts of post-rock bring complexity to that assessment as well, though in the face of the galloping crescendo of “The Grand Trick,” complexity is a secondary concern to the outright righteousness with which Silver Devil take familiar elements and reshape them into something that sounds fresh and engaging. That’s basically the story of the whole record, come to think of it.

Silver Devil on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records website

 

Sky Burial, Sokushinbutsu

sky burial Sokushinbutsu

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/engineer Vessel 2 and drummer/vocalist Vessel 1 (also ex-Mühr), Sky Burial release their debut EP, Sokushinbutsu, through Break Free Records, and with it issue two songs of densely-weighted riff and crash, captured raw and live-sounding with an edge of visceral sludge thanks to the harsh vocals laid overtop. The prevailing spirit is as much doom as it is crust throughout “Return to Sender” (8:53) and the 10:38 title-track — the word translating from Japanese to “instant Buddha” — and as “Sokushinbutsu” kicks the tempo of the leadoff into higher gear, the release becomes a wash of blown-out tone with shouts cutting through that’s very obviously meant to be as brutal as it absolutely is. They slow down eventually, then slow down more, then slow down more — you see where this is going — until eventually the feedback seems to consume them and everything else, and the low rumble of guitar gives way to noise and biting vocalizations. As beginnings go, Sokushinbutsu is willfully wretched and animalistic, a manifested sonic nihilism that immediately stinks of death.

Sky Burial on Thee Facebooks

Break Free Records on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd, Wizzerd

wizzerd st

One finds Montana’s Wizzerd born of a similar Upper Midwestern next-gen take on classic heavy as that of acts like Bison Machine and Midas. Their Cursed Tongue Records-delivered self-titled debut album gives a strong showing of this foundation, less boogie-based than some, with just an edge of heavy metal to the riffing and vocals that seems to derive not directly from doom, but definitely from some ’80s metal stylizations. Coupled with ’70s and ’90s heavy rocks, it’s a readily accessible blend throughout the nine-song/51-minute LP, but a will toward the epic comes through in theme as well as the general mood of the riffs, and even in the drift of “Wizard” that’s apparent. Taken in kind with the fuzzblaster “Wraith,” the winding motion of the eponymous closer and with the lumbering crash of “Warrior” earlier, the five-piece’s sound shows potential to distinguish itself further in the future through taking on fantasy subject matter lyrically as well as playing to wall-sized grooves across the board, even in the speedy first half of “Phoenix,” with its surprising crash into the wall of its own momentum.

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Ian Blurton, Signals Through the Flames

Ian Blurton Signals Through the Flames

The core of Ian Blurton‘s Signals Through the Flames is in tight, sharply-executed heavy rockers like “Seven Bells” and “Days Will Remain,” classic in their root but not overly derivative, smartly and efficiently composed and performed. The Toronto-based Blurton has been making and producing music for over three decades in various guises and incarnations, and with these nine songs, he brings into focus a songcraft that is more than enough to carry song like “Nothing Left to Lose” and opener “Eye of the Needle,” which bookends with the 6:55 “Into Dust,” the closer arriving after a final salvo with the Scorpionic strut of “Kick out the Lights” and the forward-thrust-into-ether of “Night of the Black Goat.” If this was what Ghost had ended up sounding like, I’d have been cool with that. Blurton‘s years of experience surely come into play in this work, a kind of debut under his own name and/or that of Ian Blurton’s Future Now, but the songs come through as fresh regardless and “The March of Mars” grabs attention not with pedigree, but simply by virtue of its own riff, which is exactly how it should be. It’s subtle in its variety, but those willing to give it a repeat listen or two will find even more reward for doing so.

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Cosmic Fall, Lackland

Cosmic Fall Lackland

“Lackland” is the first new material Berlin three-piece Cosmic Fall have produced since last year’s In Search of Space (review here) album, which is only surprising given the frequency with which they once jammed out a record every couple of months. The lone 8:32 track is a fitting reminder of the potency in the lineup of guitarist Marcin Morawski, bassist Klaus Friedrich and drummer Daniel Sax, and listening to the Earthless-style shred in Morawski‘s guitar, one hopes it won’t be another year before they come around again. As it stands, they make the eight minutes speed by with volcanic fervor and an improvised sensibility that feels natural despite the song’s ultimately linear trajectory. Could be a one-off, could be a precursor to a new album. I’d prefer the latter, obviously, but I’ll take what I can get, and if that’s “Lackland,” then so be it.

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