Quarterly Review: Blood of the Sun, Evoken, IAH, Asylum, Merlin, The Hazytones, Daily Thompson, Old Man Lizard, Tuskar, Space Coke

Posted in Reviews on December 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I had to think long and hard just now about what day it is. It’s Tuesday. — See how confident I was in saying that? A mask for insecurity, as always.

Anyway, the QR continues today with 10 more records and a pretty solid mix of whatnot. Some of this I’ve written about before here, but basically want to have another shot at the records themselves, so as we wind down 2018, it seems like the time to do that is now. As always, I hope you find something you dig. Seems pretty likely, frankly. If you go the entire 100 records with nothing but a “meh” to show for it, the problem isn’t likely to be the records. Not trying to insinuate anything, I’m just saying. 100 records is a lot. 10 records is a lot. And that’s what we’re doing today, so let’s get going.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Blood of the Sun, Blood’s Thicker than Love

blood of the sun bloods thicker than love

Drummer Henry Vasquez (also Saint Vitus) returns to his ultra-Texan heavy rock roots with Blood of the Sun‘s first album in six years, Blood’s Thicker than Love (on Listenable). Driven by his own fervent rhythmic push, the six-song collection is given further classic heavy vibe through the prominent organ/keyboard work of Dave Gryder. Oh, and also the riffs from newcomer guitarists Wyatt Burton and Alex Johnson. Oh, and also bassist Roger “Kip” Yma‘s quick turns on bass. Oh, and also Sean Vargas‘ vocals. So yeah, pretty much the whole damn thing is classic uptempo heavy boogie, produced modern but making no mistake about where its heart lies. Vargas‘ voice has a pre-metal swagger that helps define tracks like “Livin’ for the Night” and the capper “Blood of the Road,” and while the follow-up to 2012’s Burning on the Wings of Desire (review here) is enough to make one wistful for the days when their contemporaries in Dixie Witch once also roamed the land, Blood of the Sun make classic rock their own and give it a vibrancy that’s nothing if not a show of love, regardless of how thick that may be.

Blood of the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Listenable Records on Bandcamp

 

Evoken, Hypnagogia

evoken hypnogogia

Unremitting. Unrelenting. Unforgiving. Whatever else one might say about New Jersey death/doombringers Evoken, it better start with the prefix “un-.” The negativity runs through the 60 minutes of their latest work, Hypnagogia (on Profound Lore), and one would expect no less than the ultra-mournful crush of “To Feign Ebullience” or the buzzing, resonant disdain of “Valorous Consternation,” the string sounds playing such a large role in crafting both the melodies and the relentless nature of their lung-deflating atmosphere. They may only break into speedier sections on rare occasion, but there’s no way to listen to Hypnagogia and call it anything other than extreme metal. It’s so cast down and so grinding that it not only conveys mood but affects it. Evoken are masters of the form, of course, and while Hypnagogia is their first full-length since 2012’s Atra Mors (review here), their history spans more than a quarter-century and time seems only to have made their miseries plunge even deeper.

Evoken on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

IAH, II

iah ii

In part, the gift that Argentinian trio IAH give with their aptly-titled second outing, II — following their 2017 self-titled debut EP (review here) — is to allow their parts to flesh out naturally across the six-song/38-minute span, so that even as second cut “HH” turns to more weighted chug, that in turn evolves into something no less spacious than the drift brought to bear in the second half of the later “La Niña del Rayo,” which makes its way ultimately through similar interplay. This back and forth is exceptionally smooth throughout II, as the instrumental outfit blend heavy psychedelia and progressive metal with an unflinching cohesion of their songwriting. The longest inclusion is the penultimate “Pri” at 7:35, which caps with massive start-stops en route to closer “Sheut,” which serves as one last showcase of the cosmic doom dynamic burgeoning in the band’s sound, as much ready to depart the earth as leave impact craters on it.

IAH on Thee Facebooks

IAH on Bandcamp

 

Asylum, 3-3-88

asylum 3-3-88

The band who a short time later would evolve into Unorthodox, Asylum have long stood as a testament to the enduring power of Maryland doom. 3-3-88 is the second official issue of their material Shadow Kingdom has stood behind, following 2008’s reissue of 1985’s The Earth is the Insane Asylum of the Universe (review here), and it’s no less a document of the classic metal that’s still very much the foundation of what Maryland doom is. From the Sabbathian opening of “World in Trouble” and the later “Psyche World” to the kind of feeling-out-the-riff happening in “Funk 69” and the concluding instrumental “Unorthodox,” there’s a rawness to the sound that suits it well in the spirit of Pentagram‘s First Daze Here, but even in barebones form, Asylum‘s doomly vibes brook no bullshit and weed out the feint of heart. Straightforward working-class doom grit stripped to its essentials. Hard to ask for anything more when you actually hear it.

Unorthodox on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Merlin, Dank Souls and Dark Weed: A Live Experience

merlin dank souls and dark weed

Kansas City doom rockers Merlin expanded to a six-piece early in 2018, and Dank Souls and Dark Weed: A Live Experience, as the title hints, captures this form of the band on stage. They’re playing a hometown gig at the Riot Room, and from the nodding groove that opens with “Abyss” from this year’s The Wizard (review here) to the extended reaches of a 19-minute take on “Tales of the Wasteland” that’s actually shorter than the studio version from 2016’s Electric Children (review here), the band explore reaches that are vast with a patience befitting their quickly-earned veteran status. The recording is remarkably clear and allows for the wash of “The Wizard Suite” to be discernible in its progressive rollout, and as they close with “Night Creep” from the 2016 LP, their energy comes through no less prevalent than the distortion driving it forward. The crowd are right to holler.

Merlin on Thee Facebooks

Merlin on Bandcamp

 

The Hazytones, II: Monarchs of Oblivion

the hazytones ii monarchs of oblivion

Touching on garage-doom influences, Montreal three-piece The Hazytones effectively sleek into the groove of “The Great Illusion” on their second Ripple LP, II: Monarchs of Oblivion, finding a balance between swing, melody and heft that pushes beyond the seemingly-requisite Uncle Acid influence to a place that isn’t shy about working in crisp tones or unabashed vocal harmonies. The title-track is a two-parter, and touches on theatrics-sans-pretense in the first piece while dedicating the second to following a central riff well worthy of the attention they give it toward a galloping solo finish. Opener “Empty Space” sets a creper vibe, and by the time they’re down to finishing out with the “Hole in the Sky”-style riff of “The Hand that Feeds,” that sensibility is reaffirmed as an essential component of The Hazytones‘ aesthetic. Whether it’s the chugging “Hell” or the way-blown-out “The Beast,” they hold firm to that central purpose and work with it to effect a sound that one can hear becoming their own all the more.

The Hazytones on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Daily Thompson, Thirsty

daily thompson thirsty

Three albums in, Dortmund’s Daily Thompson indeed sound Thirsty — or maybe it’s hungry, but either way, the Dortmund trio’s MIG Music offering captures a tight presentation based around nonetheless natural energy born of their time on tour, as the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Danny Zaremba, bassist Mercedes, and drummer Stefan Mengel touch on Spidergawd-style classic heavy rock strut with “Brown Mountain Lights” and make their way through the semi-acoustic drift of “Stone Rose” and toward the later roll of “River Haze” with a trail of hooks behind them. Songwriting is central to what they do, but while Thirsty isn’t a minor undertaking at a CD-era reminiscent 10 songs/53 minutes, the band offer a chemistry between them and a fullness of sound that allows them to play to different sides of their approach, be it the fuzz-blues of “Gone Child” or the final summation “Spit out the Crap” that seems to shove all the more to its cymbal-wash finish. The title Thirsty brings to mind connotations of need, but Daily Thompson sound like they’ve got it all taken care of.

Daily Thompson on Thee Facebooks

MIG Music website

 

Old Man Lizard, True Misery

old man lizard true misery

A strong enough current of noise rock runs beneath Old Man Lizard‘s True Misery (on Wasted State) that leadoff track “Shark Attack” is enough to remind of Akimbo‘s Jersey Shores, and in under two minutes, the subsequent “Snakes” ties that into crawling-paced doom riffery such that the lumbering “Tree of Te?ne?re?” opens like the gaping jaws of some deep-sea trench. From there it unfolds a bit more uptempo than one might initially think, but it shows how fluidly Old Man Lizard shift from one impulse to the other. Accordingly, True Misery plays out with familiar-enough tones put to deceptively subtle and unpredictable purposes, making one-two highlights of the eight-minute back-to-backers “Cursed Ocean, Relentless Sea” and “Misery is Miserable” — which says it all, really — ahead of the finale, well titled “Return to Earth.” A better band than people know, Old Man Lizard bring a progressive touch to what from many others would just be sludge riffing — a bit of Elder on that closer — and manage to do so without losing touch with the righteousness of their groove. True Misery takes a couple listens to sink in, but well earns those and more besides.

Old Man Lizard on Thee Facebooks

Wasted State Records website

 

Tuskar, The Tide, Beneath, The Wall

tuskar the tide beneath the wall

Tuskar‘s second offering through Riff Rock Records arrives titled for its three songs, “The Tide,” “Beneath” and “The Wall,” and comprises three tracks of largesse-minded sludge, burying its shouted vocals beneath mountainous low end. The Tide, Beneath, The Wall sets itself up through noisy churn and a roll that’s somehow misanthropic at the same time it seems well geared to have an entire bar headbanging. Either way, the feedback-worship in “The Wall” — sure enough a massive thing to slam into — makes a fitting end to the 20-minute release that seems to run so much longer, as “The Tide” and “Beneath” each set forth a grueling sprawl of malevolence that touches on the chaos to come without ever fully giving away what’s in store for the finale. At the same time this assault is cast, there’s an atmosphere to the proceedings as well such that Tuskar aren’t simply bludgeoning for the sake of bludgeonry, but finding a place for themselves within that in order to develop their attack. They do that successfully here and sound well up to the inevitable task before them of a debut full-length.

Tuskar on Thee Facebooks

Riff Rock Records website

 

Space Coke, L’Appel du Vide

space coke lappel du vide

I just about never do this, but I’m gonna go ahead and make the call: Space Coke‘s L’Appel du Vide is going to get picked up for a vinyl release in 2019. I don’t know who, how or when, but it’s basically a lock. The Columbia, South Carolina, organ-laced four-piece play classic-as-now heavy rock with right-on songcraft and a hard-hitting presentation that’s begging for some label with ears to hear it and press it to the platter it deserves. Be it the molten unfolding of the title-track or the fuzz-swirl of “Thelemic Ritual” or the cosmic stretch of “Kali Ma,” they’re locked in to a degree that utterly defies the notion that this is their first record, and from the vocal-effects smash in “Lucid Dream” and the samples laid over-top of “Interlude,” there’s never really a sense of where Space Coke — extra kudos for the Cheech & Chong reference — might go next, and yet their sound is cohesive, directed, and well aware of exactly what it’s doing and what it wants to do. Never a guarantee of anything in this world, but with Space Coke‘s take on modern stoner sprawl, I’d be amazed if someone didn’t grab this in the New Year, if not before. Eyes peeled on the PR wire for the announcement.

Space Coke on Thee Facebooks

Space Coke on Bandcamp

 

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Blood of the Sun Premiere “Keep the Lemmy’s Comin'”; New LP Blood’s Thicker Than Love out Nov. 2; Euro Tour Dates in October

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

blood of the sun

Texas heavy rockers Blood of the Sun are back with a new album and a classic groove. Blood’s Thicker Than Love is the name of the LP, and it’s the first from the outfit featuring founding drummer Henry Vasquez — see also: Saint Vitus — since 2012’s Burning on the Wings of Desire (review here), and it marks the debut of vocalist Sean Vargas, and guitarists Wyatt Burton and Alex Johnson (the latter who also recorded) alongside Vasquez, bassist Roger “Kip” Yma and keyboardist Dave Gryder. The new track “Keep the Lemmy’s Comin'” is premiering at the bottom of this post. Get in there. Just watch out for the hangover when it’s done.

Next month, the band leaves their Lone Star home and head abroad to Europe to make stops at Rockpalast as well as Desertfest Belgium and Into the Void, and to play shows alongside Lucifer, Ancestors and Elder on an efficient nine-date run that still has one show TBA.

You can find those dates along with the official album announcement from Listenable Records below, again, with the new song thereafter.

Goes like this:

blood of the sun bloods thicker than love

BLOOD OF THE SUN: ‘ Blood ’s thicker than Love’

US release date : 11/2

Preorders here: https://www.shop-listenable.net/en/225_blood-of-the-sun

Drawing influences from Deep Purple, Mountain, Humble Pie, Ted Nugent, Led Zeppelin and probably 50 other bands. BLOOD OF THE SUN have been delivering super catchy hard rock over the course of their 4 albums , churning out upbeat 70s radio hits with so much ease and conviction.

Admittedly retro sounding but with such determination and an enthusiasm, BLOOD OF THE SUN have forged an identifiable sound making their influences an original and integral part of their signature sound.

Founded by Henry Vasquez (drums – SAINT VITUS) and Dave Gryder (keys) The pair has previously joined forces with a number of players – including Derek St. Holmes from Ted Nugent’s band.

The band is now back stronger than ever with Sean Vargas (vocals) who came in shortly after their previous album ‘Burning on the Wings of Desire’ and it was a natural fit thanks to his high register wail and just enough grit. Wyatt Burton and Alex Johnson (both guitars) came into the picture around the beginning of 2018, and have added some new but apt elements to the bands sound. These three players have rounded out the lineup of the band’s core, being Dave Gryder on keys, Henry Vasquez on drums, and Roger “Kip” Yma on bass.

The brand new album ‘Blood ’s thicker than Love’ writing process began around the beginning of 2018 with the exception of the track ‘Keep the Lemmy’s Coming’. That song was mostly put together by then but it went through some tweaking and fine tuning when guitar players Wyatt Burton and Alex Johnson joined the band. The songs for this record really got started once they joined as Henry Vasquez comments: “We got in the jam room and everything just clicked, it was pretty smooth sailing after that, minus the Texas heat!”

He continues : “We began tracking the album early July, we recorded at The Lair in Arlington, TX with our guitar player Alex Johnson handling the engineering. We took a straightforward approach, we just got in and laid down our tracks and tried to make a killer hard rock record our way. Alex did an excellent job, not to mention the usual superb mixing and mastering by Tony Reed (Mos Generator, Stone Axe).”

The new album ‘Blood ’s thicker than Love’ debut track particularly stands out for its title as band founder Henry Vasquez explains : ”Keep the Lemmy’s Coming’ was written right after Lemmy passed, the lyrics just came right away. Everyone was talking about how Jack and Coke’s were going to be called Lemmy’s and we thought that a was killer way to pay tribute to him. He’s an absolute legend and a huge influence, especially on our guitar players Wyatt and Alex. Once they joined, they put their own spin on what was there and we came out with what we think is a great homage to the man, myth, and legend of Lemmy. The song is about living in the moment and going all out, there are times when its necessary to go off the deep end and this song is the soundtrack for a time like that, also a killer driving song!”

‘Burning on the wings of Desire’ was more influenced by Southern rock, driven by the initial influences of the band like Bloodrock, Cactus, Mountain, Deep Purple, et cetera. ‘Blood ’s thicker than Love’ is definitely still informed by those influences, but mixed with the crossover of hard rock into the new wave of British heavy metal namely Motorhead, Riot, early Judas Priest, and Thin Lizzy.

LET IT ROLL !

TRACKLISTING :
1 Keep The Lemmy’s Comin’ 05:47
2 My Time 05:59
3 Livin’ For The Night 08:32
4 Air Rises As You Drown 08:20
5 Stained Glass Window 06:02
6 Blood Of The Road 06:35

BAND LINE UP :
Dave Gryder Keys
Wyatt Burton Guitar
Alex Johnson guitar vocals
Roger “Kip” Yma Bass
Sean Vargas vocals
Henry Vasquez Drums vocals

BLOOD OF THE SUN LIVE DATES :
10.10. GER – Bonn, Harmonie, WDR Rockpalast Crossroads TV Show *
11.10. GER – Dortmund, Junkyard *
12.10. B – Antwerp, Trix, Desertfest
13.10. UK – London,The Dome *
14.10. GER – Münster, Rare Guitar, solo show
15.10. GER – tbc
16.10. GER – Berlin, SO36 **
17.10. GER – Osnabrück, Bastard Club, solo show
18.10. GER – Munich, Backstage*
19.10. NL – Leeuwarden, Neushoorn, Into the Void fest
*with LUCIFER
**with ELDER and ANCESTORS

DISCOGRAPHY:
Blood of the sun ( 2004 )
In blood we rock ( 2007 )
Death Ride ( 2008 )
Burning on the wings of desire ( Listenable – 2012)
‘Blood ’s thicker than Love’ (Listenable – 2018)

www.facebook.com/bloodofthesuntx
bloodofthesun.bandcamp.com/releases
http://bit.ly/ListenableFB
http://bit.ly/ListenableTW
http://bit.ly/ListenableWebsite
http://bit.ly/ListenableShop

Blood of the Sun, “Keep the Lemmy’s Comin'”

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Desertfest Belgium 2018 Adds Enslaved, Lucifer, Blood of the Sun, Child & Sonic Wolves to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2018 banner

Desertfest Belgium 2018 is set for Oct. 12-14 in Antwerp, and the bill gets a little more packed with the latest lineup announcements, bringing in Norwegian progressive black metal forerunners Enslaved, as well as Berlin traditionalists Lucifer, Texas rockers Blood of the Sun, Aussie blues specialists Child and Italian doomers Sonic Wolves. Pretty smart batch, if you ask me. Desertfest Belgium has grown — much like the Desertfest brand in general; still waiting for a US one to surface so I can be sad when I’m not at all involved in its making and/or presentation — into one of the most essential European festivals for the autumn season, and this year’s is unquestionably the biggest and most diverse yet. This announcement highlights that without even saying it. All these groups? Yeah, I’d call them a fit. But doesn’t that just show how broad the sphere of Desertfest in general has become? Of course it does. I don’t think Desertfest Belgium could’ve come out of the gate in 2015 with Enslaved taking part, but now it makes sense to the point of not even being a question. Of course Enslaved are playing. Of course Child are coming from Australia to play. I mean, duh.

Here’s what the fest has to say about it:

desertfest belgium 2018 enslaved

DESERTFEST ANTWERP 2018 welcomes ENSLAVED, LUCIFER and more!

We continue the onslaught with another roundup of heaviness, and this one’s top heavy!

Desertfest has always been about expanding the idea of what is truly mindbending heavy music. Some of you may think the progressive black metal of Enslaved is a leftfield choice for the fest, but there you have it – it feels like a natural fit for us.

For those of you who still crave the boogie, don’t fret! The rest of our new additions will give you that heavy blues fix many times over, in all forms and shapes! First up we have the Berlin-based witchery of LUCIFER, paying glorious homage to ’70s hard rock while building on it with some impressive song craftmanship. CHILD is another take on the same era, with a psychedelic heavy blues infusion that belies the band’s Australian origin. They came to shred the ‘Fest in 2015, and they will return to shred once more!

In a more loose caboose vein, Blood Of The Sun will offer up no-frills Texan boogie that is all about ridin’ that muscle car down the desert road, beer and reefer in hand. Oh yeah: and lots of organ, oh that glorious organ! Finally, for those of you who want it nasty and just a little bit dangerous, there’s Sonic Wolves, a sideproject featuring Vita from Ufomammut and the most awesome DoomQueen Kayt Vigil – and that is all you need to know really.

We have been warning you about those Reduced Combi Tickets, right? Well, one day they’re just… there. But the next minute, they may be gone. Don’t stick around until they’re gone. Get them while they are still here. It’s better for everyone.

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/364607267372737/
https://twitter.com/DesertfestBE

Enslaved, “The River’s Mouth” official video

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audiObelisk: Blood of the Sun Premiere Title-Track to Burning on the Wings of Desire

Posted in audiObelisk on November 5th, 2012 by JJ Koczan


The movement in Blood of the Sun‘s “Burning on the Wings of Desire” is immediate. It’s the title-track of the fourth album by the Texas ’70s worshipers, and the band, led by drummer Henry Vasquez (also of Saint Vitus) and organist/keyboardist Dave Gryder, have tapped the vein of a boogie rarely captured so well. They shift from shuffle to adrenaline-quickened builds, from organ melodies to the swaggering vocals of John O’Daniel and killer leads of guitarist Rusty Burns, both of Southern rockers Point Blank, come aboard for this, Blood of the Sun‘s first release on Listenable Records.

Burning on the Wings of Desire will be issued on Nov. 27, and to herald its arrival, I’ve been granted permission to host the title cut for streaming. The album (full review here) is quick to build classic rock momentum, and does well to hold it for the duration. Its title-track is well chosen, as it more or less embodies the ethic of the whole, with a strong hook, unpretentious style and unabashed love for the glory days of guitar-led heavy rock. But in the grand tradition — and Blood of the Sun reside in several grand traditions — of eponymous songs, it’s worthy of being the one by which the album is defined.

You may also recognize some elements in the songwriting or production as reminiscent of Stone Axe/Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed. Reed, who also recorded Saint VitusLillie: F-65, played bass and some guitar on the album, also overseeing the process of putting it to tape. So if Blood of the Sun wasn’t already familiar enough, that’s one more element working in favor of their accessibility.

Please find “Burning on the Wings of Desire” on the player below, and please enjoy.

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

Blood of the Sun will release Burning on the Wings of Desire on Nov. 27. More info on the band at their Thee Facebooks or at the Listenable Records website.

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Blood of the Sun, Burning on the Wings of Desire: Rocking Your Station

Posted in Reviews on October 23rd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

The only thing that’s ever been guaranteed when it comes to Texas-based classic heavy rockers Blood of the Sun is quality. Granted, if you have to make a guarantee, that’s a good place to start, but throughout the band’s decade-long tenure, they’ve been through lineup changes enough for three bands, the only constants being the obvious love of ‘70s heavy that bleeds through the work of founders Henry Vasquez (drums) and Dave Gryder (keys). Some will no doubt recognize Vasquez from his role as drummer for the ongoing Saint Vitus revival, but Blood of the Sun is his band, and Gryder’s as well. The two have previously joined forces with a number of players – including Derek St. Holmes from Ted Nugent’s band – and on their first album in four years, Burning on the Wings of Desire (also their Listenable Records debut), it’s vocalist John O’Daniel and guitarist Rusty Burns of ‘70s Southern rockers Point Blank who’ve come aboard, as well as Mos Generator/Stone Axe/HeavyPink (ahem) guitarist, vocalist and producer Tony Reed, who contributed to the songwriting here, played guitar and bass, and recorded. Reed’s stamp on songs like “Rock Your Station” and “Can’t Stop My Heart” makes Burning on the Wings of Desire something of an upbeat companion to Mos Generator’s recently-released Nomads, also their first studio outing after a number of years spent focusing on other projects. With the added profile of Vasquez’s time in VitusScott “Wino” Weinrich also makes a guest appearance here on vocals and guitar for closer “Good and Evil” – as well as their having signed to Listenable, no doubt Burning on the Wings of Desire will be the most resoundingly received Blood of the Sun yet, but in truth, it’s just the latest in a string of underrated albums, be it 2008’s Death Ride, the previous year’s In Blood We Rock or 2004’s self-titled debut, all of which saw their initial release through Brainticket Records, the imprint helmed by John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus. Whether all of this is enough for their boogie to get the recognition it has long deserved remains to be seen. More importantly from a listening standpoint, Burning on the Wings of Desire is a collection of top notch American-style classic heavy rock that modernizes its influences rather than trying to duplicate their production and never sacrifices its good-time feel for pretense.

As one might expect, the list of influences reads like thumbing through a collection of kickass vinyl: Humble Pie, ZZ Top, Nugent, Cactus, Mountain, probably 30 or 35 others. Prominent as it is, Gryder’s organ work invariably leads to Deep Purple comparisons, but Blood of the Sun’s riffs are bluesier in their construction than the bulk of Richie Blackmore’s, and follow the shuffle of “Good and Evil” and the earlier title-track with a fluid, natural feel. But for the closer, all of Burning on the Wings of Desire’s tracks fall into the 4:00 to 4:30 range, chorus-based and ready for a radio scene that’s no longer ready for them. It’s a work of genre in the sense that there are musical references and methods at play that heavy rockers will pick up on and others simply won’t, but taken at their own level, the tracks make for accessible listening, rife with friendly motion and enough of an edge and variety of mood to keep monotony at bay. Curiously, they don’t seem to be purposefully locked into a vinyl structure. Even at the album’s midway point, as the slower “Brings Me Down” leads into the burst of energy that arrives with “Rock Your Station,” one could see a break there to switch LP sides, but the contrast between the two works better in a linear – i.e. CD or digital – medium, so that there’s no interruption to the overall flow. It’s splitting hairs after a point, because a catchy song is a catchy song, and Blood of the Sun are full of them. Nonetheless, aesthetically, the band are entirely geared toward that era, and the performances on the album are strong, from O’Daniel’s verses over shuffle of opener “Let it Roll” to the building tension in “The Snitch,” in which Vasquez’s double-kick provides another surprisingly modern element. “Burning on the Wings of Desire” boasts some of the album’s best guitar work from Burns, and some of Burns’ best interplay with Gryder, but really, these guys know who they are musically, know what their mission is and know what the band is all about, and the results aren’t so much old man rock as what old man rock is trying to be when its energy level so often falls too short. After a riotous beginning with “Let it Roll” and the title-track, “Can’t Stop My Heart” keeps the momentum forward and forceful with some head-down chugging in its second half, and if the brash grooving and memorable choruses have you hooked, there’s little in the remainder of the album to be called a let up.

Read more »

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13 Before ’13 — Albums Not to Miss Before the End of 2012

Posted in Where to Start on July 26th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

We’re more than halfway through 2012, and we’ve already seen great releases from the likes of Orange Goblin, Pallbearer, Conan, C.O.C., Saint Vitus and many others, but there’s still a long way to go. The forecast for the next five months? Busy.

In my eternal and inevitably doomed quest to keep up, I’ve compiled a list of 13 still-to-come releases not to miss before the year ends. Some of this information is confirmed — as confirmed as these things ever are, anyway — either by label or band announcements, and some of it is a little bit vaguer in terms of the actual dates, but all this stuff is slated to be out before 2013 hits. That was basically my only criteria for inclusion.

And of course before I start the list, you should know two things: The ordering is dubious, since it’s not like I can judge the quality of an album before I’ve heard it, just my anticipation, and that this is barely the beginning of everything that will be released before the end of 2012. The tip of the fastly-melting iceberg, as it were. If past is prologue, there’s a ton of shit I don’t even know about that (hopefully) you’ll clue me into in the comments.

Nonetheless, let’s have some fun:

1. Colour Haze, She Said (Sept./Oct.)


I know, I know, this one’s been a really, really long time coming. Like two years. Like so long that Colour Haze had to go back and remake the album because of some terrible technical thing that I don’t even know what happened but it doesn’t matter anymore. Notice came down yesterday from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek that the recording is done and the long-awaited She Said is on the way to be pressed on vinyl and CD. Got my fingers crossed for no more snags.

2. EnslavedRIITIIR (Sept. 28)

The progressive Norwegian black metallers have put out 10 albums before it, and would you believe RIITIIR is the first Enslaved album that’s a palindrome? Kind of cheating to include it on this list, because I’ve heard it, but I’ve been through the record 10-plus times and I still feel like I just barely have a grasp on where they’re headed with it, so I think it’ll be really interesting to see what kind of response it gets upon release. Herbrand Larsen kills it all over these songs though, I will say that.

3. Mos Generator, Nomads (Oct. 23)

Hard for me not to be stoked on the prospect of the first new Mos Generator album since 2007, especially looking at that cover, which Ripple Music unveiled on Tuesday when it announced the Oct. 23 release date. It’s pretty grim looking, and even though Mos once put out a record called The Late Great Planet Earth, I’ve never thought of them as being particularly dark or doomed. I look forward to hearing what Tony Reed (Stone AxeHeavyPink) has up his sleeve for this collection, and if he’s looking to slow down and doom out a bit here, that’s cool too. I’ll take it either way.

4. Ufomammut, Oro – Opus Alter (Sept.)

No, that’s not the cover of Oro – Opus Alter, the second half of Italian space doom grand masters Ufomammut‘s Oro collection — the first being Opus Primum (review here), which served as their Neurot Recordings debut earlier this year. That cover hasn’t been released yet, so I grabbed a promo pic to stand in. I’m really looking forward to this album, though I hope they don’t go the Earth, Angels of Darkness Demons of Light route and wind up with two records that, while really good, essentially serve the same purpose. I’ve got my hopes high they can outdo themselves once again.

5. WitchcraftLegend (Sept. 21)

I guess after their success with Graveyard, Nuclear Blast decided to binge a bit on ’70s loyalist doom, signing Witchcraft and even more recently, Orchid. Can’t fault them that. It’s been half a decade since Witchcraft released The Alchemist and in their absence, doom has caught on in a big way to their methods. With a new lineup around him, will Magnus Pelander continue his divergence into classic progressive rock, or return to the Pentagram-style roots of Witchcraft‘s earliest work? Should be exciting to find out.

6. Wo FatThe Black Code (Nov.)

After having the chance to hear some rough mixes of Texas fuzzers Wo Fat‘s Small Stone debut, The Black Code, I’m all the more stoked to encounter the finished product, and glad to see the band join the ranks of Lo-Pan, Freedom Hawk and Gozu in heralding the next wave of American fuzz. Wo Fat‘s 2011 third outing, Noche del Chupacabra (review here), greatly expanded the jammed feel in their approach, and I get the sense they’re just beginning to find where they want to end up within that balance.

7. Blood of the SunBurning on the Wings of Desire (Late 2012)

As if the glittering logo and booby-lady cover art weren’t enough to grab attention, Blood of the Sun‘s first album for Listenable Records (fourth overall) is sure to garner some extra notice because the band is led by drummer/vocalist Henry Vasquez, better known over the past couple years as the basher for Saint Vitus. Whatever pedigree the band has assumed through that, though, their modern take on classic ’70s heavy has a charm all its own and I can’t wait to hear how Burning on the Wings of Desire pushes that forward. Or backward. Whatever. Rock and roll.

8. SwansThe Seer (Aug. 28)

This one came in the mail last week and I’ve had the chance to make my way through it only once. It’s two discs — and not by a little — and as was the case with Swans‘ 2010 comebacker, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (review here), the far less cumbersomely titled The Seer is loaded with guest contributions. Even Jarboe shows up this time around, doing that breathy panting thing she does. Unnerving and challenging as ever, Swans continue to be a litmus for how far experimentalism can go. 3o years on, that’s pretty impressive in itself.

9. Swallow the Sun, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird (Sept. 4)

Apparently the Finnish melo-doom collective’s fifth album, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, came out earlier this year in Europe, but it’s finally getting an American release in September, and as I’ve always dug the band’s blend of death metal and mournful melodicism, I thought I’d include it here. Like Swans, I’ve heard the Swallow the Sun once through, and it seems to play up more of the quiet, weepy side of their sound, but I look forward to getting to know it better over the coming months.

10. My Sleeping Karma, Soma (Oct. 9)

Just signed to Napalm Records and tapped to open for labelmates Monster Magnet as they tour Europe performing Spine of God in its entirety this fall, the German four-piece are set to follow-up 2010’s Tri (review here) with Soma. Details were sketchy, of course, until about five minutes after this post initially went up, then the worldwide release dates, cover art and tracklist were revealed, so I updated. Find all that info on the forum.

11.Eagle Twin, The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (Aug. 28)

Way back in 2009 when I interviewed Eagle Twin guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley about the band’s Southern Lord debut, he said the band’s next outing would relate to snakes, and if the cover is anything to go by, that seems to have come to fruition on The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale, which is set to release at the end of next month. As the first album was kind of a mash of influences turned into cohesive and contemplative heavy drone, I can’t help but wonder what’s in store this time around.

12. Hooded MenaceEffigies of Evil (Sept. 11)

You know how sometimes you listen to a band and that band turns you on in their liner notes to a ton of other cool bands? I had that experience with Finnish extreme doomers Hooded Menace‘s 2010 second album, Never Cross the Dead (review here), except instead of bands it was hotties of ’70s horror cinema. Needless to say, I anxiously await the arrival of their third record and Relapse debut, Effigies of Evil. Someone needs to start a label and call it Hammer Productions just to sign this band.

13. Yawning Man, New Album (Soon)

Make no mistake. The prospect of a new Yawning Man album would arrive much higher on this list if I was more convinced it was going to come together in time for a 2012 release. As it is, Scrit on the forum has had a steady stream of updates since May about the record — the latest news being that it’s going to be a double album — and Scrit‘s in the know, so I’ll take his word. One thing we do know for sure is that the band in the picture above is not the current Yawning Man lineup. Alfredo Hernandez and Mario Lalli out, Greg Saenz and Billy Cordell in. Bummer about the tumult, but as long as it’s Gary Arce‘s ethereal guitar noodling, I’m hooked one way or another.

Since we closed with rampant speculation, let me not forget that somewhere out there is the looming specter of a new Neurosis album, which the sooner it gets here, the better. Perhaps also a new Clutch full-length, though I doubt that’ll materialize before 2013. And that’s a different list entirely.

Thanks for reading. Anything I forgot or anything you’d like to add to the list, leave a comment.

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Wino Wednesday: Blood of the Sun, “Good & Evil” from Burning on the Wings of Desire

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 23rd, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Happy Wino Wednesday, y'all.The connection between Scott “Wino” Weinrich and Texan classic heavy rockers Blood of the Sun is simple: Henry Vasquez. The frontdrummer of Blood of the Sun also serves in Saint Vitus as the replacement for Armando Acosta, who left the band in 2009 owing to health issues and passed away last Thanksgiving, almost exactly one year ago. Blood of the Sun haven’t had a record out since 2008’s Death Ride on Brainticket, and though Vasquez‘s obviously been busy since then, they’re due.

Vasquez toured on drums with Dave Chandler‘s Debris Inc. project with Trouble‘s Ron Holzner (as did Eyehategod‘s Jimmy Bower), which is how he came to the Vitus gig, but Blood of the Sun have been kicking up riff rock dust since the release of their self-titled record in 2004. Their live show is incendiary, and though Death Ride got a modicum of positive reception among the right people, no doubt the new album, Burning on the Wings of Desire, will see even higher profile thanks to Vasquez‘s ongoing tenure in Saint Vitus.

And rightly so, because they’re a good band. Bringing Wino in on guest vocals always helps as well, and as it happens, Tony Reed (of Stone Axe, Mos Generator and HeavyPink fame) is playing guitar for Blood of the Sun these days too, in addition to having recorded Burning on the Wings of Desire, which is due out sometime next year. Since it was Reed who put up a clip of “Good & Evil” on the TuberYous earlier this week, I figured all the better to make it this week’s Wino Wednesday cut and celebrate another killer cameo from the man himself.

Hope you enjoy:

If you dig that Blood of the Sun song (and I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t), they’ve also put another one up here that you can check out, featuring the same Alabama Thunderpussy, Staring at the Divine-esque booby-lady art. Sorry to anyone for whom “SFW” is a concern, but rock is rock, and sometimes there’s nipples in rock. Hazards of the trade.

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