Desertfest New York 2019 Makes Final Lineup Announcement; Here Lies Man, Fatso Jetson, Black Cobra, Heavy Temple, Steak & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest new york 2019 banner

Desertfest New York 2019, the first one ever, has completed its lineup for this April. Taking place at The Well and Saint Vitus Bar, the three-night event will be headlined by Black CobraWindhand and Elder and will boast newly-announced performances from SteakHigh Tone Son of a BitchHeavy TempleTowerGreen Milk from the Planet OrangeDuelSun VoyagerFatso Jetson and others. It was always going to be a stacked bill, and well, it’s worked out to be a stacked bill. Obviously the Desertfest brand, with history in London, Berlin, Athens and Antwerp, are no strangers to putting on an event, and as Desertscene and Sound of Liberation partner with NY-based Tee Pee Records, there was really no way this was going to be a flop, and it looks like it won’t be.

Calendar’s marked.

Here’s the final lineup:

desertfest new york 2019 poster

THE 1ST DESERTFEST NEW YORK

FULL LINE-UP + DAY SPLITS ANNOUNCED FOR DF NYC – BLACK COBRA, WEEDEATER, HERE LIES MAN, ASG + MORE

Taking place at Saint Vitus Bar on Friday 26th April and The Well on Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th April, please welcome to the bill:

• black cobra
• Weedeater
• Here Lies Man
• ASG
• Ruby the Hatchet
• FATSO JETSON
• Electric Citizen
• HTSOB
• Steak
• Mick’s Jaguar
• DUEL
• Heavy Temple
• TOWER
• Green Milk From The Planet Orange
• Sun Voyager

Unfortunately, we also have to announce that The Atomic Bitchwax can no longer play due to touring conflicts, along with Cali rockers Dommengang. Both band conflicts were out of our control, but we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

2-day weekend passes for ‘The Well’ shows only (Sat + Sun) are still available via www.desertfest.nyc

3-day passes which include access to Saint Vitus on Friday are SOLD OUT

Desertfest NYC will take place at Saint Vitus Bar on Fri 26th April & The Well on Sat 27th April + Sun 28th April

https://www.facebook.com/events/339417893540336/
https://facebook.com/Desertfestnyc/
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_nyc/
http://www.desertfest.nyc/

Green Milk from the Planet Orange, “Phoenix”

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Friday Full-Length: Black Cobra, Bestial

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Black Cobra, Bestial (2006)

Black Cobra are now, always were and likely will remain a live band for as long as they’re any kind of band at all. On paper, should it even work? Of all the branches of the Cavity family tree, Black Cobra might be the most unlikely, as one of that band’s guitarists, Jason Landrian, stepped into a frontman role by pairing up with Acid King bassist Rafael Martinez, who moved to drums. They were a two-piece before being a two-piece wasn’t something to comment on — that is, in their early going, they heard a lot of, “You’re so heavy… and just a duo!” — and their project from the outset with their 2004 self-titled debut EP seemed to be to bridge the gap between sludge/doom tonality and intensity born of thrash. Consider the pummeling “The Cry of Melora,” the centerpiece of 2006’s Bestial, their At a Loss Recordings-issued first full-length. From an angular introduction, it turns to outright extremity before locking in a massive, consuming nod complemented by the harsh bark that would become such a hallmark of Landrian‘s vocal approach. Largely amelodic, they took what High on Fire started doing a few years earlier and pushed it further, playing faster and harder and with more of a sense of impact to their material. And they toured the crap out of it. Especially in their early years, they were largely nomadic. Across Bestial, 2007’s righteous Feather and Stone, 2009’s Chronomega (review here), which found them picked up by Southern Lord well ahead of that label’s full dive into next-gen metalcore and working with Billy Anderson as producer, and 2011’s conceptual triumph Invernal (review here, which seemed to realize the promise of their harsh atmosphere by pairing it with a historical narrative of Arctic exploration, they always seemed to showcase something different while remaining tied to the core elements of their sound, but if and when they grew, it was due to their live work, and the stage was where Landrian and Martinez always seemed most at home.

Bestial was a launch point for that, and like Black Cobra on tour, the album takes only momentary breathers. With the exception of the two-minute intro and shorter outro of its longest cut in Black Cobra Bestialthe six-minute “Broken on the Wheel,” which goes on to emit a plod unmatched anywhere else in the component 11-tracks/36-minutes — conjuring a rumbling bomb tone not unlike that of another former Cavity guitarist, Steve Brooks (of Floor and Torche), in the process — and maybe a tense moment here or there elsewhere, Bestial is about the sharpness of its turns, the weight of its tone and the onslaught brought to bear rhythmically. Riffs hit like they should draw assault charges, from the opening “One Nine” and into “Thrown from Great Heights” and “El Equis,” there’s no letup. All told, it’s about an eight-minute salvo, but the effect it has remains overwhelming 12 years after the fact. “Beneath” dives into an opening quiet stretch like it’s tossing the listener a life preserver only to yank it away again with the lung-squeezing riff and crash that takes hold en route directly into album highlight “Omniscient,” an air-tight execution that winds its way into a slowdown as it heads toward its midsection but loses none of its ferocity in the process. By this point, Martinez and Landrian have already cast their lot in terms of style and made their violent, aggressive intentions plain to hear. Their putting together quieter introductions and slamming into all-out directed chaos is a subtle but essential component, as though they need to remind listeners that quiet exists, but Bestial has its title for a reason: the album is defined by its animalistic raging, a kind of natural brutality brought to life in “El Doce de Octubre,” the foreboding quiet and chugging largesse of “Sombra de Bestia” — which accomplishes more in its two and a half minutes than bands do in their entire careers in terms of creating an ambience while still remaining outwardly monstrous-sounding — and the return to searing thrash with closer “Kay-Dur-Twenty” that seems to call back to the beginning of the record in a way that nonetheless emphasizes how far Black Cobra have actually come from that initial beastliness.

It’s hard to think of Black Cobra as underrated, but as a studio band they might be. Since so much of their focus has always been on playing live, there’s been an almost begrudging aspect to some of their studio work — as though they didn’t want to stop touring to actually record new material — but their albums have always managed to bring some new aspect to their sound, and that was true even as 2016’s Imperium Simulacra (review here) worked itself around the theme of human interaction with technology, which, like Invernal, was a subject befitting the band’s sound, this time for its precise, inhuman attack, rather than the frozen nature of its atmosphere. They’ve slowed down in terms of touring somewhat, though still hit the road significantly to support Imperium Simulacra, and continue to reside in a place between genres with a sense of willfulness in doing so. They’ve never wanted to be exclusively a sludge band, or a thrash band, or a hardcore band or a doom band. Their sound draws from all of those and more besides, but it’s in melting down these different and sometimes opposing sides and reshaping them to their purposes that is where Black Cobra manage to land so hard. And maybe being between genres as they are has contributed to that under-valuing of their recorded work. One way or the other, they’ve never been a comfortable band, and Bestial still offers no quarter to this day. It is a refusal to compromise their approach that has gone on to become one of their signature elements, and though as noted they’ve pulled back somewhat on touring and Martinez has rejoined Acid King once again on bass, it’s the studio work that is left to document who they are and were at various points, and whatever comes next from them, it’s a safe bet they’ll remain steadfast in that identity, wherever else they might take it.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I’m sitting up trying not to fall asleep as I type. I’ve got one eye open and one eye closed like I’m trying to compromise with myself and let the right side of my body go back to bed — it’s not yet 5AM — while the left side stays up and finishes this thing off. I wouldn’t say it’s working, but I kind of knew that going in. Not exactly my first time at this dance.

But no, there will be no dancing.

Yesterday in the States was Thanksgiving. If you celebrated, I hope you enjoyed. Like New Year’s, it’s traditionally a take-stock holiday. Yeah, there’s the feast and the turkey, but there’s also the “what are you thankful for,” and so on. There are a lot of people and things in my life for which I should be grateful, that are better than I deserve. It is not always easy to keep that in mind, especially when you’re as much of a narcissistic shit as I am prone to being.

In two weeks I begin a two-week Quarterly Review. The countdown is on. I think it’s too weeks. Whenever December starts, that’s it. Two full weeks of 10 records a day. It filled up easily. Next week though is a bunch of reviews I want to get in before the year starts to wind down and we get into lists and all that. Greenleaf is in there, Belzebong, Green Dragon, Horehound. There are a couple premieres slated otherwise, but yeah, that’s what’s up. You’ll pardon me if I don’t do proper notes. Right now, holding shift and hitting enter seems really, really hard.

But next Friday the Year-End Poll goes up. Sneaking it in a day early this year. Don’t tell anyone. Or wait, better: Tell everybody.

We’ve been in NJ since Tuesday and have to go back to Massachusetts on Sunday because The Patient Mrs. has some fucking awful work thing that, tragically, doesn’t involve sitting on the couch and eating leftovers while watching Deep Space Nine. I’d say her loss, but I think we all really know it’s mine.

Alright. I’m gonna put the first post of the day up and try to catch some sleep before The Pecan wakes up upstairs. Have a great and safe weekend, and if you’re traveling, stay off I-95. Ha.

Thanks for reading. Forum, radio, merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Up in Smoke 2016: Lineup Final; Trailer Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The final addition to the lineup for Up in Smoke 2016, which starts this Friday at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland? Camping space. Namely the floor of the venue, which will be cleaned after the last band finishes each night so that fest goers can grab their sleeping bags and bed down for the night, only to find breakfast waiting when they roll back to consciousness the next morning. I’ve never slept on a venue floor before. That would be a new one. But provided they get the beer/other fluids up, which I’ve no doubt they’ll be able to do because it’s Switzerland and things like that increase the likelihood that anyone gives a shit about what they’re doing, it seems like a cool way to achieve total immersion in a festival atmosphere. I’ve never gone camping either, though, so don’t necessarily take my word as an expert or anything.

With the festival’s most massive lineup yet, Up in Smoke 2016 kicks off this Friday. A new trailer for the fest with some 1000mods in it has been posted and you can find that under the camping info and complete billing below:

up-in-smoke-2016-timetable

SOUND OF LIBERATION and Z7 KONZERTFABRIK PRATTELN proudly present the 4th edition of UP IN SMOKE INDOOR FESTIVAL on September 30th and October 1st 2016! Musical Highlights include Electric Wizard, Yob, Truckfighters, Pentagram and many many more.

Many of you asked for the chance to sleep over in the venue, like we offered in the last editions. Here´s the procedure:

After the last band is done playing, we will go on partying with Dj music for another hour. Then afterwards, we will ask everybody to step out of the main hall for a few minutes. The floor will be cleaned and covered with a sheet so that the place gets clean for all our “in site – campers”. If you want to sleep over in the venue, you should bring your sleeping bag and camping mat. Upon your arrival on the festival site you can store your belongings in the wardrobe and get it back for the night.

In the morning, we will offer you a nice breakfast with coffee/tea, bread and breadrolls, meat and cheese and sweet stuff to get you in shape for the next festival day! The price for sleep over and breakfast is 15.- CHF per person/night. There´s no option of separate bookings like ” only sleep over and no breakfast” or “only breakfast”.

Up in Smoke 2016 Final Line Up
Electric Wizard
Pentagram
Truckfighters
YOB
Elder
Greenleaf
Monkey 3
Cough
Black Cobra
1000mods
Yawning Man
Fatso Jetson
Dyse
Wucan
Desert Mountain Tribe
Giobia
High Fighter
Mother’s Cake
Ephedra

Also not to forget: No overlapping set times, sleep over/breakfast possibiity in the venue + some more specials to be announced soon to sweeten you the “TWO NOT TO BE MISSED DAYS OF VOLUME WORSHIP” !!! Grab your ticket (2-day passes) right now on our website, on www.z-7.ch and on our Facebook (tab ‘Buy Tickets’). If you prefer to buy an original, real hard-ticket, our partner Woolheads is selling them!

http://woolheads.com/cms/shop-2/festivalmerchandise/up-in-smoke-the-indoor-festival-vol-iv-ticket/
http://www.upinsmoke.de/eventinfo-indoor-festival
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7
https://www.soundofliberation.com

Up in Smoke 2016, festival trailer

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Up in Smoke 2016 Lineup Complete; Black Cobra, Dÿse, Mother’s Cake and High Fighter Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

up in smoke header

With the additions of Black Cobra, Dÿse, Mother’s Cake and High Fighter, the lineup for Up in Smoke 2016 is complete. The Pratteln, Switzerland-based festival runs for two nights, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, and will be headlined by Electric Wizard, John Garcia, Pentagram and Truckfighters, with YOB, Elder, Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson and more listed below on the bill.

Black Cobra and High Fighter are particularly interesting of this final batch of adds. I’m not an expert on Desert Mountain Tribe or Ephedra to say for sure, but it would seem the San Francisco heavy thrash duo and the German sludgecore rockers are the two most aggressive acts playing. I guess you could make an argument for Cough, but they’re more about drowning you in tone than getting a pit going, where it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that in the right setting Black Cobra or High Fighter would do just that.

The PR wire has this:

up in smoke 2016 final poster

UP IN SMOKE 2016! Sept. 30th / Oct. 1st … Black Cobra, Dÿse, Mother’s Cake & High Fighter complete the line-up!

Summer is here, and before you all go on vacation trying to find the sun far, far away (…), we’d like to give you the last bands confirmed for our Up In Smoke Indoor Festival 2016! We are thrilled to welcome San Francisco’s Hardcore-fueled Sludge Metal duo Black Cobra, Berlin’s incredible Noiserock stage freaks Dÿse, Austrian Alternative Space Rock outfit Mother’s Cake (touring with John Garcia next fall) and Hamburg’s rising Heavy Stoner Bluescore band High Fighter (who just released their debut album ‘Scars & Crosses’ on Svart Records)!!

Taking place on September 30th and October 1st 2016, in our dear Z7 Konzertfabrik (Pratteln / near Basel / Dreiländereck) this year’s edition also features Electric Wizard, John Garcia, Pentagram, Truckfighters, Yob, Elder, Cough, Greenleaf, Monkey3, 1000Mods, Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, Wucan, Giöbia, Desert Mountain Tribe and Ephedra.

Unfortunately, the Italian band Noon had to cancel their appearance for medical reason.

Also not to forget: No overlapping set times, sleep over/breakfast possibiity in the venue + some more specials to be announced soon to sweeten you the “TWO NOT TO BE MISSED DAYS OF VOLUME WORSHIP” !!! Grab your ticket (2-day passes) right now on our website, on www.z-7.ch and on our Facebook (tab ‘Buy Tickets’). If you prefer to buy an original, real hard-ticket, our partner Woolheads is selling them!

http://woolheads.com/cms/shop-2/festivalmerchandise/up-in-smoke-the-indoor-festival-vol-iv-ticket/
http://www.upinsmoke.de/eventinfo-indoor-festival
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7
https://www.soundofliberation.com

Black Cobra, “Imperium Simulacra”

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YOB and Black Cobra Announce Fall European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

I don’t recall hearing too many complaints when Oregon visionaries YOB and San Francisco demolition specialists Black Cobra hit the road together last fall in the US, and I don’t imagine they’ll come up against much resistance when they bring the show to Europe this September and October. YOB are still out supporting 2015’s album of the year, Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), while Black Cobra head out under the banner of earlier-2016’s Imperium Simulacra (review here), for which they’ve already toured in the States alongside Bongzilla, Lo-Pan and Kings Destroy and which offers a broader take on their trademark tumult.

The tour will hit an impressive number of festivals, from Incubate to Smoke the Fuzz to Asymmetry to Up in Smoke to Desertfest Belgium, each one basically providing an anchor with club shows in between. Looks like it’ll be a great time.

YOB announced the tour thusly:

yob black cobra europe 2016

EU FALL TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT: All current festival and show dates for our European tour this fall with black cobra are below.

Check back for more dates and ticket info, as we’ll be updating again soon!

11/09/2016 – Tilburg NL – Incubate Festival – September 2016
12/09/2016 – Dortmund DE – FZW
13/09/2016 – Aarhus DK – Radar
14/09/2016 – Gothenburg SE – Sticky Fingers // Göteborg
15/09/2016 – Oslo NO – BLÅ
16/09/2016 – Copenhagen DK – Pumpehuset
17/09/2016 – Athens GR – Smoke The Fuzz gigs Fest
19/09/2016 – Wiesbaden DE – Schlachthof Wiesbaden
20/09/2016 – Munich DE – Feierwerk
21/09/2016 – Berlin DE – Musik & Frieden
22/09/2016 – Wroclaw PL – Asymmetry Festival
23/09/2016 – Leipzig DE – UT Connewitz
24/09/2016 – Nurnberg DE – Z-Bau
25/09/2016 – Vienna AT – Chelsea
26/09/2016 – Ljubljana SL – Club Gromka
28/09/2016 – Zagreb HR – VintageIndustrial Bar
29/09/2016 – Linz AT – Stadtwerkstatt
30/09/2016 – Milan IT – Lo Fi Milano
01/10/2016 – Pratteln CH – UP in SMOKE indoor festival in Z7
02/10/2016 – Orleans FR – L’Astrolabe – Orléans
04/10/2016 – Belfort FR – La Poudrière – Belfort
05/10/2016 – Paris FR – GLAZART
06/10/2016 – Tourcoing FR – Le Grand Mix
07/10/2016 – Bristol UK – The Fleece Bristol
08/10/2016 – Glasgow UK – The Garage
09/10/2016 – Birmingham UK – The Rainbow Venues
10/10/2016 – Manchester UK – The Ruby Lounge
11/10/2016 – Dublin IRE – Whelan’s
13/10/2016 – London UK – Scala
14/10/2016 – Antwerp BE – DESERTFEST ANTWERP 2016
15/10/2016 – Hannover DE – CAFE GLOCKSEE

Design by FTG Illustrations

https://www.facebook.com/quantumyob/
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Black Cobra, “Chronosphere” Live in L.A., 11.20.15

YOB, “Marrow” Live in NYC, 11.07.15

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Desertfest Belgium 2016: John Garcia, Black Cobra, Scorpion Child, JOY and Black Wizard Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Starting to get crowded on the poster for Desertfest Belgium 2016, but there’s no question the latest lineup update from the Antwerp-based Oct. fest is worth making room for, with John Garcia and Black Cobra leading the charge and the likes of Scorpion Child, JOY and Black Wizard offering backup. I can’t imagine there will be anyone in attendance at the fest who won’t be familiar with Garcia‘s work in Kyuss, Hermano, Slo Burn, Unida, etc. — I actually revisited the Vista Chino record last week on a whim; it’s held up well — and of course Black Cobra‘s devastating reputation precedes them as veterans of other Desertfests and just about everywhere else at this point.

The fest sent the following down the PR wire:

DESERTFEST BELGIUM 2016 POSTER JOHN GARCIA

Hot on the trail of our last announcement, we present you with another load of great names to look forward to. We are delighted to welcome desertrock royalty JOHN GARCIA to the DF Antwerp stage this year, for what is sure to be a mesmerizing performance like we have come to expect from the Man. We are equally happy to announce SCORPION CHILD and BLACK COBRA, two bands with an excellent live reputation who will surely set the stage on fire. Expect no less from JOY too, a jam experience that is sure to equal Harsh Toke’s blistering performance from last year. And finally, BLACK WIZARD will be appearing to bring their homemade blend of stoner doom.

Our next announcement will be a biggie, so keep watching this space!

JOHN GARCIA

The man, the myth, the legend. John already secured his place in the rock history books as the iconic singer for the band who started it all, Kyuss. After that, he has consistently delivered only the finest in desert rock, both with outfits like Slo Burn, Unida and Vista Chino and as a solo recording artist on his 2014 self-titled album which showcased his immense talents as a vocalist and songwriter. Still one of the most powerful voices in rock music period, we’re proud to present the Man at DF Antwerp 2016.

SCORPION CHILD

Hailing from Texas freak capital Austin, Scorpion Child indeed add a slightly unhinged quality to their unique combination of classic rock influences. Their 2013 self-titled debut and the subsequent “Polygon of Eyes” single established them as a force to deal with. After that, gigs with Clutch and Monster Truck on the “Lords of the Riff” UK Tour cemented a serious live reputation as well. Now with their new album Acid Roulette, Scorpion Child confidently expands their sonic palette, but the focus is still squarely on a rocking good time!

BLACK COBRA

Formed by drummer Rafa Martinez (ex-Acid King) and guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian (ex-Cavity), BLACK COBRA catapulted themselves onto the scene in 2001 with their ravenous, upbeat and ultimately unique style of punk/hardcore-fueled sludge metal. After several albums on At A Loss Recordings and Southern Lord, they have become virtually a household name to the tens of thousands of fans who’ve witnessed their flooring live performance.

JOY

The sound of JOY has been described as “a spaced-out sonic groove-ride” and “outer reach freak out.” Their kaleidoscopic flurry and full-throttle riffage is anchored by a subtle ear for detail and surprising textural depth. JOY has shared the stage with acts such as Dead Meadow, Harsh Toke, and psychedelic giants Earthless, with whom they now also share a record label. Tee Pee Records just released their new full album ‘Ride Along, another glorious slab of psychedelic boogie featuring members of Earthless, Sacri Monti and Radio Moscow.

BLACK WIZARD

Their performance is impressive, the sound is massive, the vocals are colossal and the guitar leads are seriously, seriously great. We could find more adjectives to describe the heavy heavy sound of Vancouver’s Black Wizard, but nobody put it better than the mysterious “Gord”, who is quoted on their website: “The only band in town that adds inches to your dick.” How could we follow up an endorsement like that!

https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://twitter.com/desertfestBE
https://www.facebook.com/events/488174281372335/
http://www.desertfest.be/tickets

Black Cobra, Live at Saint Vitus Bar, April 1, 2016

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Black Cobra Post “Eye Among the Blind” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

black cobra

If you’re sensitive to flashing lights or generally prone to night-terrors, the new Black Cobra video might not be for you. If you pass those two tests and can live up to the general endurance challenge that is the San Francisco two-piece to start with, then by all means, “Eye Among the Blind” should be just your cup of roiling, poisonous tea. The track comes from Black Cobra‘s latest outing and Season of Mist debut, Imperium Simulacra (review here), and like much of that record, it sets a balance between all-out assault of heavy thrash and an atmosphere of threat and overarching heft, the band having found this time out that maturity doesn’t have to come at the sacrifice of extremity.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to see Black Cobra (review here) at what is thus far the apex of their career. Not just in terms of being on a new label, I’m talking about creatively — and to be fair, that’s not at all to say I think guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian and drummer Rafa Martinez have progressed as far as they can go; quite the opposite — and as much as they get credit for being the blistering, out-rock-the-entire-room-and-then-play-the-last-two-thirds-of-the-set live act that they are, they don’t get nearly as much credit for being progressive either in their songwriting or in the technical interplay between Martinez and Landrian. Part of that might be because the guitar tone is so thick that the nuance is sometimes looked over, but especially as Imperium Simulacra finds them adding further dynamics of tempo and more melody to their sound than ever before, their mastery has clearly come to extend to more than just the stage.

“Eye Among the Blind” has a narrative set to ancient mythology, and you can watch the clip and read more about that from director Zev Deans below, courtesy of the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Black Cobra, “Eye Among the Blind” official video

BLACK COBRA release new video, “Eye Among the Blind”

Critically-acclaimed metal band BLACK COBRA have released a new video for the track “Eye Among the Blind”. The video is directed by Zev Deans (BEHEMOTH, PORTAL, and more).

Regarding the concept behind the video, Zev comments,

“Sisyphus, the two-faced king with the blood of war and betrayal on his hands, was sentenced to Tartarus, the prison below hell, for deceiving Zeus. In my version of the story, he is trapped in a Panopticon, ruled by Panoptes, the giant with one hundred eyes. His struggle reflects that of modern man, forever pushing the same stone up a hill each day, under the omnipresent eye of the ruling class. This project was not possible without a brilliant cast and the talents of Rebeccah Lak, who built the maze from scratch.”

BLACK COBRA have released their new album ‘Imperium Simulacra’ worldwide. The album is streaming in full at the band’s official Bandcamp page.

Black Cobra on Thee Facebooks

Black Cobra on Bandcamp

Black Cobra website

Season of Mist website

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Live Review: Bongzilla, Black Cobra, Kings Destroy and Lo-Pan in Somerville, MA, 04.02.16

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

bongzilla show 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The bill pushed the envelope of ridiculous. As part of their ongoing reunion, Wisconsin sludgers Bongzilla have been on tour since late February with nomadic thrashers Black Cobra and only-slightly-less-nomadic heavy rockers Lo-Pan. They met up with New York’s Kings Destroy — freshly back from their Australian run with Radio Moscow — at SXSW last month, and have continued along the Eastern Seaboard since. Friday night was a sold-out show at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, and Saturday was ONCE Ballroom in Somerville, Massachusetts, for a show that was put on by Grayskull Booking and presented in part by this site.

It was my first time at ONCE Ballroom, but I’d like to extend personal gratitude to whoever decided to leave the lights on while the bands played. The P.A. was formidable, and it was a night that would push its limits, and the layout like the kind of place you might rent for a wedding reception. That’s not a dig on it — actually the room was quite nice — it’s just the first thing that came to my oh-so-domestic mind. There was a dance floor in front of the stage and carpeted floor space all around, bar to the side and another bar upstairs in kind of a lounge with a pool table Addams Family pinball machine and so on. To the best of my knowledge, they haven’t been doing shows there long, which explains how the carpet wasn’t completely disgusting or otherwise gone, but for the most part, the evening ran smoothly.

Here’s how it went down:

Lo-Pan

lo-pan 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I don’t know how many shows the Ohio four-piece have done with Black Cobra over the years, and in fact I doubt it’s a figure even they could quote at this point, but to understate it, I’d say they’re well past the range of “several.” It had been nearly a full 12 months since last time I saw them, which was at Roadburn 2015 (review here). To be blunt, they were missed. I was particularly interested to see a year later how guitarist Adrian Zambrano had continued to fit in the band after joining late in 2014 the lineup with vocalist Jeff Martin, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz, who was positioned, as ever, at the front of the stage. Most of what they played was new, and in terms of where they’re at in progressing from the high-impact delivery of their 2014 fourth album, Colossus (review here), they seemed not at all to have taken a step back, but to have integrated Zambrano‘s energy into their own. And the guitarist had plenty to integrate, stepping up to lead songs with riffs or space out just a bit in two quieter cuts. They reportedly have some new recordings in the can, which I’m dying to hear, and the last song of their set, “Pathfinder,” might be the best thing I’ve ever heard them play. I’d never heard the song before but was taken in completely by its flow, by Martin‘s out-of-this-world vocals, by Bartz‘s signature crashes, the swing in Thompson‘s bass and the dynamic volume switches in Zambrano‘s guitar. They’ve been on the road for a month, so I figured they’d be tight, but Lo-Pan served voluminous reminder of their place among the US’ finest heavy rock acts. Keeping my fingers crossed it’s not another year until I see them again.

Kings Destroy

kings destroy 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Another case of been-too-long. Kings Destroy are very nearly a year out from the release of their self-titled third full-length (review here), and the last time I caught them was at the release show (review here) for it, which, yeah, is too damn long for my preferences. They played a six-song set, and the change in vibe from Lo-Pan was immediate. Each of the bands on this tour offers something different from the others, but I hadn’t really considered how smoothly the acts — especially the first three, but Bongzilla as well — would flow between them, Lo-Pan starting off with a charged-fuzz boot to the ass, Kings Destroy turning that more aggressive, Black Cobra hitting with unmatched intensity, and finally, Bongzilla finishing out with a mass of tone. For being disparate in their sound, Kings Destroy followed Lo-Pan well. They had a fill-in bassist in Mike Moebius (also producer for Pilgrim, Kings Destroy, The Munsens and others) holding down Aaron Bumpus‘ usual spot next to drummer Rob Sefcik and guitarist Chris Skowronski, and while Skowronski didn’t run across the stage to kick fellow guitarist Carl Porcaro, so I can’t call it the most raucous Kings Destroy set I’ve ever seen, they showed themselves plainly to be ready to move forward from the last record. This tour hasn’t been quite back to back with the aforementioned Australian stint, but close enough to it that when it’s over I wouldn’t be surprised if they hunkered down for a while and set to finishing material for their fourth LP. Whatever their plans, it was great to bang my head again to “Mr. O” and “Smokey Robinson,” to groove on the catchy creeper vibes of “The Mountie” and to hear vocalist Steve Murphy‘s changed cadence in the hook of “Blood of Recompense,” which finished out. I’m hardly impartial on the subject, but I’ve really missed these guys.

Black Cobra

black cobra 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What can you do when Black Cobra take the stage other than bow to their utter supremacy? I don’t know. The San Fran (now) twosome of guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian and drummer Rafa Martinez hit the 15-year mark in 2016, a decade since their first album, Bestial, was released, and their assault has only gotten more and more vicious. Their newly-issued Season of Mist debut, Imperium Simulacra (review here), made its primary impression — or at least a complementary one to their omnipresent fury — in an expansion of their capacity for atmosphere, in Landrian‘s willingness to drone out in contrast to the thrashing riffery that has become the band’s signature, and I was pleased to find them bring that sensibility to the stage as well. I’m not going to take away from the joy of watching Martinez blast the hell out of an all-out cut like “Obsolete,” slamming his floor tom in place of a double-kick, or the unmitigated tension of “Challenger Deep,” but to hear them hit the brakes even momentarily to ride out a rolling groove or to have Landrian create an excruciating soundscape of drone before the next wave of the attack was launched made the experience of watching them that much richer. They are a live band and always have been, and anyone who has heard their records but not seen them only has half the story, but the fact that the growth that was so clearly signaled on the record showed up so plainly on stage as well is emblematic of their all-around progression. I won’t say it’s a question of maturity, since I’d argue Black Cobra hit that stride with 2011’s Invernal, but perhaps of how they’re putting that maturity to use, deepening their approach. It’s a thrill to watch Black Cobra break the rules they’ve set for themselves, and one hopes that the explorations of Imperium Simulacra are a sign of things to come.

Bongzilla

bongzilla 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve been wracking my brains for the last couple weeks trying to remember if I’d seen Bongzilla before and I’ve finally decided that the answer is no, because if I had caught them at some point during their initial run, which ended after their 2005 album, Amerijuanican, on Relapse, I’d remember it. The ultra-weedian four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Muleboy, guitarist Spanky, bassist Cooter Brown and drummer Magma stacked their amps high — everything was high — and were loud enough in their early going that, I think in their third song, the power cut out. Not like they blew an amp, like they blew a fuse. It was an unexpected break in the set, during which the band encouraged everyone to go out and smoke weed — because weed — but seemed somehow fitting for the band’s legacy of over-the-top, crusty-as-hell sludge that the room simply couldn’t take it. I learned later they’d plugged a bunch of their amps into a single surge protector, and I guess that’d do it if that’s how it happened, but they got everything back up and running sooner or later and the crowd was right back into the set as they had been all along, the reefer-obsessed anti-hits rolling out in a slow-motion barrage of consuming tonal density. On a couple levels, one knew what to expect going into the show — Bongzilla have never been in danger of being subtle — but those expectations were delivered on thoroughly, and with the response they’ve gotten all along on this tour, and the one before it, and the one before that, I had to wonder how long it might be before they embark on a new record to follow-up on the series of reissues that Relapse and Hydro-Phonic have done over the past years. Wouldn’t want to make any hasty predictions or anything, but I bet whenever they do come out with a fifth record, it’ll have a song or two about weed on it. No complaints. In life, you gotta follow where your passion takes you.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading, and once again, thanks to Grayskull Booking for having me as a presenter on this show. Check out their Thee Facebooks for more dates coming up.

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