Phantom Glue, A War of Light Cones: Perils Lay Waiting

Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

If you’re left wondering by the title of Phantom Glue‘s second album, A War of Light Cones, exactly how one might wage such a war, the Boston four-piece lead by example on the seven-track collection. They attack swiftly, efficiently, brutally and with crushing effectiveness. A War of Light Cones, which also serves as their label debut on Black Market Activities, follows a similar ethic to their 2009 self-released, self-titled first outing (reissued by Teenage Disco Bloodbath in 2010; review here) in that the newer outing was recorded by Kurt Ballou of Converge and clocks in under 30 minutes — they’re close at about 29 — but more important is the stylistic progression the band has undergone. Front to back, A War of Light Cones feels less concerned with genre than did its predecessor, and though by now the recordings are upwards of two years old, there’s a fresh sensibility to them for the impact both in the tones and the noise-fueled bombast Phantom Glue craft seemingly at will, the hardcore-ish rush that opens centerpiece “Bow in the Dust” given depth by fleet time changes and the kind of tightness and intensity that Ballou has been able to convey in records by High on Fire and Black Cobra over the last couple years. The former act was a specific point of comparison for the self-titled, and that’s something I stand by almost three years to the day after reviewing it, but A War of Light Cones presents a Phantom Glue much more assured of their own sound and direction, and while one can hear elements of post-Mastodonic progressive noodling in the dual guitars of Matt Oates (also vocals) and Mike Gowell in some of the album’s longer cuts — thinking of songs like “Neurolizard” and even brief flourish sections of “Biocult” — but between the insistent push they enact in “Captain Keith Pierce” and the nod-worthy chugging groove to be found buried in the noise of the later “Arboreal,” there’s little left to question that at some point between 2009 and 2011, Phantom Glue started to come into their own in a big way.

Part of that might be the addition of drummer Kyle Rasmussen (ex-Black Thai, Whitey) to the rhythm section alongside bassist Nick Wolf (also vocals), but it’s a growth that pervades every level of the listening experience for A War of Light Cones, so although Rasmussen gives an excellent, creative performance throughout the tracks, able to punctuate the bludgeoning of opener “Perils” just as well as the moodier, slower vibes of closer “Test Pattern,” I’m inclined to attribute it to more than just the personnel shift. And it’s important to remember that this progression is conveyed in a short, short 29 minutes. For that, though, A War of Light Cones doesn’t feel at all incomplete — neither did the self-titled — it just feels lean in a punkish sense not so much fulfilled by the tones of Oates and Gowell or the shouts of Oates and Wolf, but that lies beneath the surface as a stylistic nuance all the same, ready to rear its head when called upon, as on the aforementioned “Captain Keith Pierce,” which when taken with “Perils” directly preceding, makes for a blistering introduction to Phantom Glue‘s ethic this time out: something like “destroy first, leave it to someone else to ask the questions.” So be it. The flashes of airier Akimbo-ism on “Biocult” come packaged with the album’s most blistering solo work, so there’s plenty for anyone so inclined to chew on should it come to that, and for all the to-the-pointery going on, neither does A War of Light Cones feel rushed. The balance suits the band really well, the mix is stellar as harsh vocals slice through overbearing guitar and bass tones and as “Test Pattern” patiently stomp-sways the album to its finish, Phantom Glue sound crucial and cruel, a Melvins influence lurking somewhere in the intensity that’s teased behind a last-minute guitar solo but never really brought to as complete an onslaught as one might expect from the rest of the full-length before it.

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Phantom Glue Unveil New Single “Perils” from New Album A War of Light Cones

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

A few interesting things about the new Phantom Glue track, “Perils,” which comes from the forthcoming A War of Light Cones LP — the first record on Black Market Activities for the band, who released their self-titled debut in 2010 (review here). First, the song itself is a ripper, a basher and a punch-you-in-the-face-er. Second, it was recorded by Kurt Ballou in April and August 2011, nearly two full years before its release date of July 16.

Perhaps it’s my inquisitive nature (I don’t have one), but I wonder what was behind the delay in getting the album issued. Two years is a long wait for a band, especially a good one. Maybe it was just finding the right label. Either way, it must be a relief for the Boston band to know that A War of Light Cones is finally coming out. Good for them. If “Perils” is anything to go by, they’re no strangers to catharsis.

You like heavy, right? Here’s some:

PHANTOM GLUE: Lovecraftian “avalanche of distortion” on upcoming BMA album

Black Market Activities presents the release of Phantom Glue’s second album, A War of Light Cones, set for a July 16th release.

Boston, Massachusetts crushers, equally versed in sludge, doom, and noise rock, Phantom Glue churn out their self-proclaimed “avalanche of distortion” with nods to Neurosis, Trouble, and The Jesus Lizard throughout. Colossal drums and bass charge forth while twin guitars cast evil spells.

Beneath the music lies a heavy H.P. Lovecraft vibe, conjured through the supernatural lyrics and cover art of vocalist/guitarist Matt Oates. Oates describes A War of Light Cones specifically as “a nightmare/occult alternate history of Colonial America”. A perfect sample of Phantom Glue’s sound and vision, lead track “Perils” tells the tale of a trapper catching a creature whose pelt grants psychic gifts.

Phantom Glue’s second album and their first for BMA, A War of Light Cones was produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at GodCity Studio (Torche, Today Is The Day). Ballou’s connection to Phantom Glue dates back to the 90s when he and Matt Oates were bandmates in The Huguenots.

Phantom Glue’s lineup is completed by guitarist Mike Gowell, bassist/vocalist Nick Wolf, and drummer Kyle Rasmussen.

A War of Light Cones‘ tracklist is as follows:

1) Perils
2) Captain Keith Pierce
3) Neurolizard
4) Bow in the Dust
5) Biocult
6) Arboreal
7) Test Pattern

The album will be available as a color vinyl 12″ LP, with digital download, and can be pre-ordered here!

Phantom Glue, “Perils” from A War of Light Cones

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Phantom Glue Inks Deal with Black Market Activities; New Album Due in 2013

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Way to go to Boston-based crushers Phantom Glue. Word came down just a bit ago that the four-piece have signed with Black Market Activities, the Metal Blade imprint helmed by Guy Kozowyk of The Red Chord. Phantom Glue‘s 2010 self-titled debut (review here) was a rager, so hopefully their new alliance gets them some roadtime as they prepare to unleash their second album, A War of Light Cones early next year.

The PR wire tells it thusly:

Black Market Activities signs PHANTOM GLUE

Black Market Activities officially announces its newest signing: Phantom Glue. BMA will release the band’s new album, A War of Light Cones, in early 2013.

From Boston, Massachusetts, Phantom Glue name The Jesus Lizard, Neurosis, and Trouble as key influences, pounding out what Exclaim Magazine has termed “a heated bastion of caustic riffs and unearthly girth”.

Beneath the band’s self-proclaimed “avalanche of distortion” lies a rich conceptual foundation where lyrics and artwork combine to evoke a Lovecraftian universe. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Oates, also the band’s lyricist and resident cover artist, describes new album A War of Light Cones as “a nightmare/occult alternate history of Colonial America”. Standout track “Perils”, for example — released in August on alt weekly The Boston Phoenix’s Born of Fire, Vol. 2 compilation, alongside other Boston bands like Doomriders — tells the tale of a trapper catching a creature whose pelt grants psychic gifts.

Phantom Glue’s second album and their first for BMA, A War of Light Cones was produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at GodCity Studio (Converge, Cave In, Today Is The Day). Ballou’s connection to Phantom Glue dates back to the 90s when he and Matt Oates were bandmates in The Huguenots.

Phantom Glue’s lineup is completed by guitarist Mike Gowell, bassist/vocalist Nick Wolf, and drummer Kyle Rasmussen.

BMA boss Guy Kozowyk states, “We are proud to welcome Phantom Glue into the BMA family. As someone who grew up in Boston and still lives in the area, it means a lot to me to have a strong New England contingent on BMA. With the recent Hivesmasher album and now Phantom Glue, we’re helping represent some of the exciting stuff going on here right now.”

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Sweet Cobra Show Some Mercy

Posted in Reviews on October 29th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Veterans of Seventh Rule Recordings, Chicago heavy hitters Sweet Cobra make their Black Market Activities debut with the surprisingly melodic Mercy, an album that also serves as epitaph for guitarist Mat Arluck, who succumbed to cancer in 2009. Mercy, recorded by the ubiquitous Sanford Parker at Volume Studios in Chicago, features Arluck’s last studio performances with the band, giving the record an emotional context completely outside of the music – put to tape in the early part of last year even as Sweet Cobra released the stopgap Bottom Feeder EP, comprised of leftover cuts from 2007’s Forever full-length – but nonetheless inseparable from it.

Likening them to Seattle merchants Akimbo, what I’ve always enjoyed most in Sweet Cobra’s work has been the reckless bombast of it, like the hardcore kids grew up a little and wanted something thicker but no less angry. On Forever (reissued by Black Market in 2008) and the preceding Praise from 2004, Sweet Cobra touched on stoner riffage, but used it more as ploy to lure audiences into a false sense of security before pummeling them over the head with unhinged intensity and the feeling that at any moment the sound is going to manifest itself from out the speakers and actually kick your ass. On Mercy, they seem to show a little bit of just that, marrying neo-prog metal angularity with the branded Torche melodic vocal approach to hone their most accessible sound yet. And it’s not a fluke, they do it straight through the record, bassist Tim Remus employing a sub-melodic noise rock shout as the harshest vocal technique on the album on a song like the early-arriving title cut.

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