Posted in Whathaveyou on December 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’ve been getting info in drips and drabs about a resurgence from Berlin heavy psych explorers Samsara Blues Experiment. In October came word of the writing being completed for a fourth album, to be recorded in 2017. Then followed confirmations for Desertfest London and Berlin at the end of April, as well as the Riff Ritual Fest in Barcelona the week before. I’d been kind of assuming the album, whenever it’s made and whatever it’s called, would be out by then. I’m hearing word of a tour mostly through Central Europe to take place as well, perhaps in Spring or Summer, but what we know for sure is that before they hit the road for the aforementioned fests, they’ll travel to Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay for their first ever run in South America this coming March.
Will they have a new album in tow for the merch table? Can you even get vinyl pressed that fast? I guess we’ll find out, but I’m intrigued as to the timing on this one. For what it’s worth, my general opinion on the prospect of new Samsara Blues Experiment is “the sooner the better,” but that’s basically been the case since Waiting for the Flood (review here) came out in 2013.
The South American shows, as if it’s even a question at this point, are presented by Abraxas Events. Below you’ll find the poster (gorgeous), dates and some comment from Samsara Blues Experiment guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters on how the tour came together:
Christian Peters on touring South America:
“We are looking much forward to this tour, not only because it will be our first time in South America but because we planned this for very long. I have met Felipe Toscano before he even had a clearer idea he would run Abraxas Booking, and we were supposed to be the first band he wanted to bring to Brasil — back then, basically a fan of our music. Things didn’t work out earlier for us, while in the meantime, in the last years he had Radio Moscow, The Flying Eyes and many others over there and built a real solid booking network… Well, as I said, we are much excited that this is finally happening.”
Good morning South America!
It’s a-happening-thing. We’re coming to Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Brasil in March 2017!
SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT – SOUTH AMERICA TOUR – MARCH 2017
03/02 – Santiago, CL @ La Capilla Tickets: Mucky Rock (Eurocentro, Santiago) // Respect (Portal Lyon, Providencia)
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Sleep will headline at both Desertfest London and Berlin 2017. Ain’t their first time at the rodeo, but let’s face it: anytime Sleep do anything it’s news, and all the more so because usually what they’re doing is stuff like headlining Desertfests. It was only a week ago that the London incarnation of the multi-city festival brand announced it was bringing reformed desert rockers Slo Burn over for a headline slot, and before them, Turbonegro had been unveiled with the first lineup announcement in October, so that’s three headliners unveiled for a three-night festival before the New Year has even hit. I wouldn’t fret. No doubt Desertfest London 2017 still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, I believe Sleep count for the first headliner announcement. The prior two lineup updates from Desertfest Berlin 2017 (posted here and here) included the likes of Mars Red Sky, Samsara Blues Experiment, Lowrider, Ecstatic Vision, The Cosmic Dead, Tuber, The Well and Satan’s Satyrs. As the two festivals have worked hard to each establish their own personality over the last several years, I’ll be interested to see who shows up in the top spots for Berlin from here on out. Maybe they go local?
I’m also still holding out hope for a new Sleep album sometime in, you know, ever. Guitarist Matt Pike said this year the plan was to record early 2017. At this point it will have been three years since they released their single The Clarity (review here), and eight since they started playing reunion shows, so they’re nothing if not due, but my inclination is to keep my fingers crossed Pike, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros and drummer Jason Roeder can make it happen while also believing it when I see it. Cautious optimism. I wouldn’t mind a new Om record from Cisneros either, while we’re at it. Roeder, who this fall put out the fantastic Fires Within Fires (review here) with main outfit Neurosis, is off the hook for the time being.
Sorry, got sidetracked. Awesome news for Desertfesters in London and Berlin, in whose number I continue to daydream of counting myself.
The PR wire has it:
SLEEP TO REIGN AT THE ROUNDHOUSE AS THEY HEADLINE DESERTFEST LONDON 2017!
After conquering Koko, Sleep are back; this time to reign at the Roundhouse. That’s right, not only did we bag seminal doom legends Sleep to headline the sixth Desertfest, we’ll also be descending on the iconic Roundhouse for the whole of the Sunday.
Forming in 1990 on the bones of previous band Asbestosdeth, Sleep carved out an almost mythological name for themselves in their original stint of less than a decade. The first three-piece lineup of Al Cisneros, Matt Pike and Chris Hakius recorded two of doom’s most revered albums in Holy Mountain and Dopesmoker (or Jerusalem for the purists), with the latter not even seeing release until the years in which Sleep slept.
As Cisneros and Pike found other outlets for their heaviness through Om and High on Fire, a resurging stoner and doom scene declared Sleep as a monolithic pillar of the scene, due mostly to their downtuned, distorted riffs but also their uncompromising love for a certain plant. The time was perfect for a Sleep reunion. In 2009, after over a decade in slumber, Sleep awoke for Cisneros, Pike and Hakius to play two final sets together. Whilst Hakius decided to retire from music after the shows, the rest of the band decided Sleep weren’t quite ready to be put to bed. Recruiting Jason Roeder of Neurosis, Sleep continued to sporadically play shows, before teasing us with The Clarity; a fantastic single ten-minute track which proved that Sleep still had it and we wanted more of it.
We Desertfesters got some of it in 2015, when Sleep closed out Desertfest with an unforgettable set at the Koko. The moment the curtain raised with the first few strains of Dopesmoker hitting is a moment etched into the memory of an entire building full of Weedians. A blisteringly loud green cloud of sound, a pure mad wall of riffs and a room full of grinning, sweaty, hairy doom pilgrims. It’s one of the unquestionable highlights of our first five years of Desertfest; so we’ve invited them back.
But if it’s worth doing again, it’s worth doing bigger and better. That’s why this year, Sleep will be headlining the much larger Roundhouse. The famous London venue, just a short walk from Desertfest’s other stages, boasts an increased capacity, meaning nobody should miss their chance to space out to ‘Dragonaut’. Like the Koko in previous years, the Roundhouse will host bands throughout the Sunday; and to welcome the venue into the Desertfest family, we have huge plans, so keep your eyes peeled.
So drop out of life and ride the dragon to Desertfest 2017 when Sleep blow the roof off the Roundhouse.
SLEEP to headline DESERTFEST BERLIN
It is a very exciting day for us! We are finally ready to unveil our first headliner for next year’s DESERTFEST BERLIN, and what a name this is…! You guys have been asking for them for many years, it is the most common request we receive via mail or Facebook… and we finally managed to bring them to Berlin next year…: Californian stoner doom legends SLEEP!!!
Formed in 1990, the extravaganza outfit SLEEP is one of the most widely-respected and influential acts in the stoner/doom metal universe, best known for “Dopesmoker”, the unfuckwithable 63-minute album/song that acts as one of the greatest tribute to weed that metal has produced. They haven’t really done much since then as original band’s members split off into prolific acts such as Om and High On Fire. And so in 2009 when they were reborn with Al Cisneros, Matt Pike and the estimable Jason Roeder (Neurosis), SLEEP’s popularity grew tremendously.
After “sporadically writing riffs for a while” SLEEP returned with a new song (their first official release in over a decade) for the Adult Swim singles series. “The Clarity” is nearly 10 minutes of mystical, slow-riffing awesomeness. Back then, asked about the possibility of a new studio album, the band refused to offer specific details. But recently, upon Southern Lord’s announcement of the impending re-release of “The Clarity” on vinyl (scheduled for February 2017), Matt Pike said publicly that SLEEP will record a new album next year as well!
SLEEP did what it had done and what it had left to do. Largely and without pause, make music in tune with The Ages. Best to be enjoyed? Live and living. See, hear, feel, do it. Well, beyond just music and well into the experiential joy of pure being. SLEEP.
Also confirmed for our 2017 edition of DESERTFEST BERLIN: SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, LOWRIDER, TOUNDRA, ECSTATIC VISION, THE COSMIC DEAD, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, WUCAN, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GOLD, TSCHAIKA 21/16.
There are still 20 more acts to be unveiled, including 2 other headliners, so stay tuned! And do not miss your chance to be part of the amazing DESERTFEST BERLIN experience… Check out our Website to get your tickets, or the links below in this release! We were sold out last year in February, so better be quick!
Let’s turn all together the DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 into another milestone when it comes to Berlin and festivals!
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Let’s get one thing straight: I really want to go to Desertfest Berlin 2017. For one thing, I’ve never been, and quite frankly I’m more than a little ashamed of it at this point. I spent about two days in Berlin over a decade ago, and aside from the raging jetlag — one did not know at the time to simply stay in one’s own timezone; also I was drunk like the entire trip — found the city to be beautiful, a little sad in the way cool cities are, and welcoming.
But even putting the palce itself aside, Desertfest Berlin has been going on for years now and it’s always been just out of my reach, right there on the horizon. I’ve been to the London incarnation of the festival and wouldn’t mind getting back there either, but to cross this one off my list would be big, especially since as this lineup continues to come together it’s looking more and more admirable. The chance to see Samsara Blues Experiment on their home turf? Come on.
Five bands added in the second lineup announcement, as the PR wire informs:
Desertfest Berlin 2017 – 5 new Names on the Bill (Mars Red Sky, Samsara Blues Experiment, Tuber, Wucan, The Well)
DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 – APRIL 28-29-30
Hey everybody! We are glad to get back to you today with a new batch of bands to announce for our 2017 edition of DESERTFEST BERLIN! Alongside previously confirmed LOWRIDER, TOUNDRA, ECSTATIC VISION, THE COSMIC DEAD and SATAN’S SATYRS, we are thrilled to welcome aboard five new stunning acts:
MARS RED SKY (FR) We are stoked to have Mars Red Sky back for next year DESERTFEST! The Bordeaux three-piece played the very first edition of our festival in 2012 when they were just promoting their self-titled debut album. They always showed “a penchant for 60s space rock filled with doomy tones and tempos, accentuated with pop sensibilities” (The Sludgelord), and 4 years later, after touring relentlessly, they pushed boundaries further into a colossal heavy sound by releasing their third full-length, “Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul),” an album that represents the most significant sonic progression the band has made so far, forging grandiose and hypnotizing thickly produced songs. Their show is going to be a crazy psychedelic trip and Mars Red Sky will be your tour guide!
SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT (D) It is always a pleasure to have Samsara Blues Experiment at DESERTFEST BERLIN. Founded in 2007 by guitarist/singer Christian Peters and completed by bassplayer Hans Eiselt and drummer Thomas Vedder, they are one of Berlin underground scene’s pride, and a household name in the “stoner scene” in general. Playing a mixture of stoner rock, psychedelic blues, Indian raga, thrash metal and traditional folk, the trio is currently working one a new album, their long-awaited fourth one, which should be released around next spring… “Good tunes come to those who wait” guys!
TUBER (GR) Tuber is an instrumental band from Greece blending post, stoner, desert and space rock with a sublime psych edge. They recorded their first self-titled EP in 2011 and their stunning debut album “Desert Overcrowded” in December 2013. Two and a half years removed from the release of this full-length, but having built a steady following all the while (and after traveling in 2015 to play Freak Valley), Tuber hit the European roads for the very first time this past spring and clearly made an impression! So if you guys want to enjoy some rock aesthetic flirting with psychedelic atmosphere and a touch of romantic mood, do not miss them!
WUCAN (D) The Saxonian band Wucan entered the German Rock Scene with a splash by releasing their first EP “Vikarma” in the fall of 2014 and their full-length debut “Sow the Wind” in August 2015, to excellent critical acclaim. Deeply rooted in the 70s, the band’s fresh sounding kaleidoscopic Rock Fusion of groovy Funk, Psychedelic, Hard Rock and Kraut Rock, and enigmatic live performances have proven that the band is capable to hypnotize a receptive audience and take it onto a journey into a rockworld of it’s own creation. The band is currently writing their follow-up second album (tentatively titled “Reap the Storm”) scheduled for a spring release…
THE WELL (US) Austin-based power trio The Well redefine heavy rock by merging massive riffs with sophisticated melodies. Their progressive sound stems from a nostalgic desire to blend different musical styles as diversified as Joy Division to Blue Cheer. As fans of cult horror films, they embrace the sinister, revel in dark themes and find inspiration in haunting echoes. Thet have created a sound that reflects doom, punk and horror all rolled together in a ghostly rock soundtrack. After releasing their debut album “Samsara” in 2014 and toured on it relentlessly, they dropped a furiously strong sophomore effort “Pagan Science” last month, and can’t wait to share it with the European crowd!
There are still 20 more acts to be unveiled, including all our headliners, so stay tuned! Next announcement will be on Friday 2nd of December. Meanwhile do not miss your chance to be part of the amazing DESERTFEST BERLIN experience… Check out our Website to get your tickets, or the links below in this release! We were sold out last year in February, so better be quick!
Let’s turn all the DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 into another milestone when it comes to Berlin and festivals!
Wherever you might lie on the political spectrum, it seemed important to me to close out this week with something radiating love, and in the decade since it came out I’ve yet to put on Colour Haze‘s Tempel and hear or feel anything else from it.
One doesn’t generally think of a band’s eighth album as being a particularly landmark moment in their progression. By the time most acts get that far — and make no mistake, most acts don’t — they’ve probably settled into their sound or at least solidified their processes to a point where they’re kind of on autopilot, even if that autopilot involves a natural growth pattern. For Colour Haze, it was different. The Berlin trio’s seventh outing, their 2004 self-titled (discussed here) had served as a stunning follow-up to the preceding 2001 double-album, Los Sounds de Krauts, and thrust the band to the fore of what seems in hindsight to have been a nascent movement of heavy psychedelia they’d spearhead both aesthetically and through the contributions of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s label, Elektrohasch Schallplatten. The challenge before them was how to answer the warmth and the expanse of the self-titled without repeating themselves, losing the ultra-organic sensibility that made that outing such a joy, or sacrifice songcraft in the process. No small task.
I remember getting Tempel as a fan of the band, putting it on, hearing “Fire” for the first time and immediately knowing they’d done it. From the gentle opening of the winding “Aquamaria” (also the longest track on the album; immediate points) down through later liquefication of “Ozean” and the harmonized finale “Stratofarm,” Tempel presented a vision of psychedelic heft that seemed to need neither but fed off both. The chemistry between Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald was all it needed to convey this — underscoring the point of just how special a group Colour Haze had become. To listen to “Mind” or “Gold and Silver” or the memorable instrumental title-track, they bring forth a varied approach that ties together with fluidity that few beyond Colour Haze can claim to have matched in the years since, classic in style but perhaps even more so now sounding fresh and like something that was genuinely new. One could hear shades of their earlier and more strictly desert rocking work in the later thrust of “Gold and Silver” and the subsequent shuffle of “Earth,” which follows, reminding of records like 1999’s Periscope, 2000’s CO2 or 2001’s Ewige Blumenkraft, but even these are met with shimmering organ and/or a depth of tone that were a definitive forward step even from where Colour Haze were two years earlier.
A couple weeks ago, I was having an email back and forth with someone whose opinion I greatly respect, and the conversation turned to Colour Haze. My thoughts were simple: People still don’t know how incredible this band is. I genuinely feel that way. As much as Koglek, Rasthofer and Merwald have helped to influence a generation of European heavy psych, played a large role in establishing what those words mean when placed in succession, they’re still somehow underrated. Their progression would continue from Tempel on through 2008’s spectacular All, 2012’s much-delayed but glorious 2LP She Said (review here), and late-2014’s surprise outing, To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), the touring for which also resulted in earlier-2016’s Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 (review here). I haven’t heard from them in a bit, but I wouldn’t be the least surprised if they had new stuff in the works for next year or 2018 as well. They never seem to stop, which of course is another part of the appeal. One hopes that if they keep going perpetually, they’ll finally get the recognition they deserve.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
Hug someone you love. Pet your dog or your cat. Write something on the internet. Smoke what you smoke. Drink what you drink. Eat what you eat. Do whatever you have to do to get by. I don’t really want to say much about politics in this space. Somehow I’ve become increasingly wary of doing so over the last couple years. When I was at The Aquarian I wrote a political column every week, often little more than a 700-800 word rant about something pissing me off. I was younger, and drunk. Apart from these posts, which have become half-personal update, half-music (not that music’s not personal), I don’t do that here, or really on Thee Facebooks either.
What I will note is that this election affected me on a personal and emotional level in a way no presidential contest has done in my 35 years. The anxiety beforehand — for months beforehand — and the shock and sadness at the result have been much, much deeper than I expected them to be. I’m actually a pretty political guy, comparatively. I keep up on issues, news of the day, who’s doing what and so on to the best of my ability. This isn’t the first time I’ve ever paid attention. But yeah, it’s been like nothing I’ve ever felt before, even during the Bush/Cheney years. Of course, as a straight white male, it ain’t like the Supreme Court’s coming to take away my rights or like my healthcare is less secure — though state funding for public higher ed., in which The Patient Mrs. works and from which our insurance comes, is more of a question in an arena of increased privatization and budget slashing — but there are people I love whose lives will change directly for the worse because of what happened in my country on Tuesday night. I have a niece whom I worship and adore who will enter her formative years under a president who has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women, and yes, that hurts. It should hurt.
That’s all I’ll say about it. For now. If shit goes full-on 2006-levels-of-despair, I may need to establish some kind of rant space around here just so I don’t lose my fucking mind. We’ll see.
Here’s what’s in the notes for next week. Subject to change:
Mon. – Full album stream/review of the new Borracho.
Tue. – Season of Arrows track premiere.
Wed. – Ice Dragon‘s new single reviewed.
Thu. – EYE‘s new album reviewed day before release.
Fri. – Full album stream/review of The Munsens.
That’s where we’re at for now. I have a couple fest writeups to work on as well, so will be busy over the weekend one way or another. But I’ve also got my best friend up from NJ for the next couple days, and I got my Playstation 4 Pro yesterday and a demo of Final Fantasy XV that I’m looking forward to digging into further, and The Patient Mrs. is very likely buying a new car today to replace the one that died en route to The Obelisk All-Dayer in August, so yeah, there’s kind of a lot going on. My sister also had a special birthday yesterday, which I’ll note because I love her deeply and was sorry to not be there for it. She’s also in Jersey, along with the rest of my family.
You should also know that revisiting Tempel has been inspiration enough to re-load the complete Colour Haze catalog into my iTunes — it’s been there previously but was removed; software stuff; long story — so I expect that will be a good portion of the weekend’s fare as well, which can only be to the benefit of the next few days.
I hope whatever you’re up to you have a great time and that you stay safe.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Brooding traditionalism would seem to be the order of the day on Witch Ritual‘s debut EP, Rising Doom. The German dual-guitar outfit released the five/six-tracker just about two months ago as a digital-DIY offering and limited run of digipak CDs, and presumably contact with DHU Records, if it wasn’t already in progress, came only moments later. Reasonably enough for the raw vibes the band conjure, the eerie but commanding vocals of Lacri and the dark proto-NWOBHM vibe in the riffing of Marcus and Boris. Can’t really argue with a classic formula, and from the chugging “My Doom” through the consuming fuzz lurch of closer “Desert Noise,” Witch Ritual definitely seem versed in the classics.
By which I mean Saint Vitus and Candlemass. What classics were you thinking of?
DHU will have a vinyl pressing out next year at some point of Rising Doom, and while I haven’t seen word of a follow-up as yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean one doesn’t exist or isn’t in progress. In any case, you can hear the appeal in the tracks themselves, which of course are streaming at the bottom of this post, and check out the announcement that the label put out in honor of Halloween earlier this week.
Goes like this:
DHU Records is proud to announce the signing of Berlin’s Cult outfit Witch Ritual!!!
Heavy riffs, demanding and powerful female vocals woven into Occult dirges are what make Witch Ritual’s debut EP Rising Doom a strong and evocative release.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This was bound to happen. Desertfest Berlin 2017 has made its first lineup announcements. Already we’ve started to see Europe’s Spring festival season start to take shape, and as the German incarnation of Desertfest‘s London-based counterpart has already unveiled its first round of bands, it seems only fitting it should be Berlin’s turn. A return of Lowrider is notable, and frankly so are Toundra, The Cosmic Dead, Satan’s Satyrs and Ecstatic Vision, but as someone who keeps holding out hope the vaguely-reformed Swedish heavy rockers will show up one day with a new album, the more shows they do the merrier. One often finds them paired with Dozer at fests — that was the case last time they did Desertfest, in 2013 — so maybe they’ll show up as well in some future announcement. Wouldn’t complain at seeing either again one of these days.
Desertfest Berlin 2017 is April 28-30 at the Astra Kulturhaus. Look for much more to come, including some headliner info next month teased below:
Desertfest Berlin 2017 – First Bands Announcements (Lowrider, Toundra, The Cosmic Dead, Satan’s Satyrs, Ecstatic Vision)
DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 – APRIL 28-29-30
Last year’s Desertfest Berlin was a great success with people taking part from almost 40 countries all over the globe. You came, you saw, you conquered! Now it’s about time for all you riff-rockers, doom and psych-heads to pump up the volume in your earchannel, because here is the first band announcement!!
LOWRIDER (SWE) We are stoked to have Lowrider back for our 6th edition of the Desertfest. The band hasn’t play any shows since 2014 and so it´s greater to welcome them back at our festival in Berlin. Even if it’s not about cars, this combo is as powerful as a Chevy 356 engine and will surely tear down the walls of Astra.
TOUNDRA (SP) Clear your mind for a musical journey with the beautiful soundscapes form the Spanish capital. This exclusive show will end up as one of those you’ll remember for years to come.
SATAN’S SATYRS (US) Hot rocking Virginia quartet Satan’s Satyrs is releasing a new album in spring and they asked themselves; “Is there any better way to celebrate this than doing it at Desertfest Berlin?” Of course not, so here they come.
THE COSMIC DEAD (UK) Trippy sounds from Glasgow will emerge when these four guys hit the stage. With a menu raging from psych to powerful cosmic rock, so let’s just pretend we are the space cadets.
ECSTATIC VISION (US) Bring back the 70’s would be a tempting phrase to use on Ecstatic Vision if you remember bands like Amon Düül II and Hawkwind. Forget all chemical substances, this music is a trip itself.
Stay tuned, by mid-November we’ll be back with a new announcement where some headliners will be unfolded. Last year’s 3-day festival tickets were sold out already early February, so don’t wait too long if you want to come along and experience some of the best acts in the genres of doom, sludge, psych, desert and stoner rock.
[Click play above to stream Albez Duz’s Wings of Tzinacan in full. Album is out Oct. 28 via Listenable Records.]
In its use of Aztec language (actually Nahuatl) as well as its cover art and sound, Wings of Tzinacan is very much a follow-up to Albez Duz‘s 2014 sophomore outing, The Coming of Mictlan (review here). Released as their first through Listenable Records, it finds the Berlin-based cult rockers working as a trio, with founding drummer/multi-instrumentalist Eugen Herbst (ex-Dies Irae) and vocalist Alfonso Brito Lopez having brought on guitarist Julia Neuman — they’ve done live shows as a five-piece, and also currently list David Petersen as a full-time member, so the situation seems in some flux — and further codifying the gothic themes of the preceding record in a way that draws their various stylistic sides together into one cohesive statement.
That statement comes loaded with echoing spaces, weighted groove, righteously dark melodies, top-grade organ work on songs like “Our Lord the Flayed One,” and adds up to an eight-track/51-minute excursion into murk that calls to mind Type O Negative and The Butterfly Effect-era Moonspell as much as Paradise Lost while still retaining an identity of its own in its sense of atmosphere, depth of mix and arrangement flourish. More perhaps than its predecessor, Wings of Tzinacan — the word translates to “bat” — steps forward with a singular idea of what it wants to do. Where The Coming of Mictlan explored a range of ideas, and Wings of Tzinacan operates similarly, the third album moves ahead from the second by having those ideas push further toward a singular emotional and sonic expression.
All of that said, I don’t necessarily think one has to have heard The Coming of Mictlan, which was released through Iron Bonehead and Archaic Sounds, to appreciate what Albez Duz have on offer here. Lopez delivers a striking performance in classic metal frontman fashion, and the instrumental arrangements behind him — from the full-toned headbang roll of second track “Reflections” through the calling bats of “Tzinacan’s Rising” to the grueling desolation of the penultimate “Death Whistle,” in which volume ebbs and flows but the lurching sense of agony remains constant — engage with both their diversity of approach and how that approach never veers from the mission of best serving the song at hand and the album as a whole. Each half of Wings of Tzinacan begins with its longest track, and while I’m not sure exactly of the vinyl structure — that is, as a 51-minute CD/digital stretch, it’s possible one or two songs don’t appear on the LP for time constraint — the immersion both of them bring about helps set up what the ensuing portion of the record has to offer.
With opener “The Uprising,” the metallic chug prominent early in its 9:44 run builds in intensity but gives way toward the midsection to reunion-era Celtic Frost-type malevolence, slower, meaner, wider, and the arrival of keys signals a transition into a longer atmospheric break. Satisfyingly, they return to the central riff before finishing out, and in accord, “Reflections” and “Our Lord the Flayed One” both offer a blend of straightforward-ish hooks and grand-in-the-presentation downer atmospherics — the latter delving into extreme metal growls and shred late while still keeping a relatively moderate tempo; a fascinating meld rarely so fluidly executed — before the quieter, mournful organ of “Innocence Gate” begins a turn toward some of the broader-reaching material that “Sacred Flame” (the longest inclusion at 9:46) will establish as the course for Wings of Tzinacan‘s unfolding side B.
“Innocence Gate” is also a transition in a sense of how it plays out with the songs surrounding, and by that I mean how it picks up from “Our Lord the Flayed One” and leads into “Sacred Flame.” Where “The Uprising,” “Reflections” and “Our Lord the Flayed One” stand alone and certainly each cut has its personality, particularly as the album progresses and particularly on repeat listens, “Innocence Gate” begins a conversation that “Sacred Flame” continues — Lopez reminding of Amorphis‘ Tomi Joutsen in his delivery — by building momentum to lead through the bats-notwithstanding instrumental “Tzinacan’s Rising,” the growling horrors of “Death Whistle” and closer “Omen Filled Season,” which in a mirror of what “The Uprising” itself did before it was done, seems to go back toward a more straightforward (again, -ish) push to finish out. It’s this whole-album mentality that Albez Duz so successfully convey this time around and which, if one was to speculate on a direction for future evolution of the band, seems the most likely candidate.
There is, as for everyone all the time everywhere, room to go further, but Wings of Tzinacan gracefully balances diversity of approach with overarching intent and leads its listeners down a grim path without wholly losing itself in indulgences or letting its theatrical elements take away from the impact the material is clearly meant to have. In clarity and in the sureness of the hands guiding it, it is very much a third full-length, but Albez Duz haven’t stopped growing yet and I wouldn’t expect them to now either.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Three quick years since Berlin heavy psych progressives Samsara Blues Experiment made their most expansive statement to-date with their third album, Waiting for the Flood (review here). That record, which was hands down one of that year’s best, found them traveling Stateside for the first time since they were a demo band, playing a slot at Psycho California in 2015. There was a minute there where I thought that trip was the end of them. After transitioning from a four-piece to a trio already, they seemed to take a break after returning to Germany as guitarist/vocalist Chris Peters focused on solo work and bassist Hans Eiselt turned his attention more to producing.
Good news is they’re not, in fact, done. In addition to being confirmed last week for Desertfest London 2017 (info here), Samsara Blues Experiment have a fourth album in progress now. They’ll also be playing a hometown gig at the end of next month — their only show for 2016 — alongside Muddy Orchid, who are about to release a new single.
I’d guess the timeline on the new full-length will put it somewhere around that Desertfest appearance, but in addition to noting that the band isn’t going to sign with “a metal label” — I’m assuming that means Napalm Records or Century Media, both based in Germany — there’s nothing actually confirmed for a date. Peters, meanwhile, will have a follow-up solo effort as well to this year’s The Hermit (review here), which came out on his own Electric Magic Records imprint.
And now that I’ve just told you everything they’re about to tell you, here’s them telling you:
Samsara Blues Experiment have almost finished writing songs for the 4th album.
We will present all of these five new tracks live for the first time at our November show in Berlin. The release of the album can be expected in around next Spring.
And: We have not, neither will we sign with a Metal label.
Chris a.k.a. Surya Kris Peters has also finished recording a follow-up to his solo debut LP “The Hermit”, which shall be released in very early 2017 on Electric Magic Records.
Recently there´s also been a collaboration with a friend band of ours, which is Muddy Orchid (feat. first SBE-drummer Robin Niehoff). Chris put down some Slide Guitar and Sitar on their new and coming 7″ record, which shall be released in late November 2016.
First string of shows for next year will be announced over the coming weeks as well. One of the very first is Desertfest London!