Quarterly Review: Blues Pills, Arctic, Major Kong, Hands I Annul Yours, Storm Ross, Sinister Haze, Love Gang, Nap, Manthrass, Astral Cult

Posted in Reviews on October 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Today we hit the halfway mark on the Fall 2016 Quarterly Review. Always an occasion worthy of song — or, you know, another batch of 10 records — which happens to be precisely the plan. We pick up much where we left off yesterday in working across a broad spectrum of heavy, and though there are some major releases in here as seems to be the case increasingly, please make sure to note some of the deeper underground stuff as well, whether it’s Hands I Annul Yours or Astral Cult, as nothing here is included by mistake. Some of this I’m late on, some of it isn’t out yet, but all of it is pretty current, so if there’s something here you’ve missed, bigger name or smaller, I hope you get some use out of the lot of it. Here goes.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Blues Pills, Lady in Gold

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Blues Pills – like their Nuclear Blast labelmates in Witchcraft, Graveyard and Kadavar before them – have modernized. Their second album behind what became a landmark self-titled debut (review here) in 2014, Lady in Gold arrives with a slick production casting off the vintage vibes while holding onto classic sensibility and rightfully continuing to feature the soulfulness of vocalist Elin Larsson, joined in the band by guitarist Dorian Sorriaux, bassist Zack Anderson (ex-Radio Moscow) and drummer André Kvarnström (ex-Truckfighters). Its 10 tracks/40 minutes are unmistakably pop in their construction, and deftly, complexly arranged, and play to an alternative vision of commercial accessibility in rock that I’m not sure exists anymore even in Europe. Or needs to for an album like Lady in Gold to be successful. As they weave into and out of gospel and R&B conventions, Blues Pills take a bold step away from what one might have expected coming off their debut and ultimately define themselves precisely through that boldness. Whether that works for them in the longer term will have to remain to be seen. For now, Lady in Gold can be jarring at first, but one would be hard pressed to come up with something else out there that sounds quite like it.

Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast website

 

Arctic, Arctic

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Los Angeles three-piece Arctic make their entry into Southern California’s crowded sphere of heavy/psychedelic rock with their self-titled debut on Outer Battery Records. To call them skate rock seems fair enough, since guitarist Justin “Figgy” Figueroa (also Harsh Toke), bassist Don “The Nuge” Nguyen and drummer Frex are all professional skateboarders, but the core of Arctic’s five-track/half-hour-flat runtime is in mixing classic stoner impulses with heavy psych jamming. Most of the record is instrumental, including 8:51 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Over Smoked,” but vocals pop up to surprise on centerpiece “Burnt Ice” and return again in form drawled enough to justify their having called the nodding closer “High” as they do. At very least they make it believable. Between the dankness throughout, the guitar-led fuzz boogie of “Cryptic Black Sun,” the natural vibes, the Arik Roper cover art and the utter lack of pretense, Arctic summarize much of the appeal of the West Coast’s current heavy movement, and so, should have no trouble continuing to make their name as part of it.

Arctic on Thee Facebooks

Outer Battery Records

 

Major Kong, Brave New Kong

Robot

Three new tracks from Poland’s Major Kong is nothing to complain about. The Lublin trio have been not-at-all-quietly stomping out quality riffs for more than half a decade now, and with “Energy Whip,” “Escape from the Holodeck” and “Pollution Halo,” the instrumentalists are in and out of Brave New Kong in under 14 minutes, working quickly and efficiently with a crisp but still thick production that pulls away from some of the focus on crush from late last year’s Galactic Cannibalism EP (review here). That may well be the Brave New Kong to which the title refers, or it’s entirely possible they’re just having fun with their own moniker – subsequent offerings will tell the tale – but Major Kong continue to be a well-kept secret for Poland’s fertile heavy underground, and if nothing else, they sound like a group due for a third full-length album, which will hopefully arrive sooner than later.

Major Kong on Thee Facebooks

Major Kong BigCartel store

 

Hands I Annul Yours, Year of Death

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One could make the argument that given the swath of cultural icons passed away, 2016 is the Year of Death to which Hands I Annul Yours are alluding to in the title of their latest Major Destroyer Records three-song tape, but aside from the fact that they specify it was 2013, one seriously doubts they give a shit about famous people dying. Beginning with the drone and feedback noise of “Year of Death Part I,” the cassette moves into a 19-minute stomp and crush that’s as misanthropic as it is weighted, and much as there is one, the prevailing sentiment is less reflecting on loss than it is rolling out claustrophobic heft. Fair enough. Following the tape-only “Verloren,” “Year of Death Part II” boasts more sample manipulation and a discernible lead from the guitar, but finds its way toward abrasion as well, rounding out Year of Death with a dissolution into feedback that would seem to bring it full circle.

Hands I Annul Yours on Bandcamp

Major Destroyer Records website

 

Storm Ross, Welcome, Sunshine

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Fortunately, the fact that Storm Ross named the opening track of Welcome, Sunshine “We Need to be Fugazi Now, More than Ever” is only the start of the 37-minute/10-track LP’s experimentalist charms. The follow-up to the Michigan-based guitarist’s 2014 return full-length, The Green Realm (review here), this new collection finds Ross himself once again making his way through soundscapes manic and pastoral with like ease, and as one piece feeds into the next on “Please Don’t Kill My Family” and “Benzie County Farm Fire, 1973” or the synth-infused, tech-shredding “Atheon” fading into the penultimate post-rock drift of “The Smiler” later (think Dylan Carlson solo gone sentimental for the West, plus a late uptick of noise), the sense of Welcome, Sunshine as a whole work is even more palpable than was the last outing, even as Ross jumps from one style to another or incorporates keys, percussion, etc., following various whims toward a universally progressive payoff. Limited to 300 copies on yellow vinyl or on cassette through Already Dead Tapes and Records.

Storm Ross on Thee Facebooks

Storm Ross on Bandcamp

 

Sinister Haze, Laid Low in the Dust of Death

STB_SINISTER_Cover

Virginian doomers Sinister Haze follow-up their 2015 debut EP, Betrayed by Time (review here), with the raw and scummed up Laid Low in the Dust of Death LP on STB Records. Recorded by Chad Davis (Hour of 13), it’s their first outing to feature Naam’s Eli Pizzuto on drums, and they do trip out a bit on guitar, but if you’re thinking slow space rock here you’ve got the wrong picture. Guitarist/vocalist Brandon Marcey (ex-Cough) and bassist/vocalist Sam Marsh lead the charge – the low-end is particularly satisfying in its roll throughout – and fellow newcomer JK (Lost Tribe) adds to the mix as well, so the spirit of Laid Low in the Dust of Death is bare-bones and classic, but positively covered in its titular dust. And maybe one or two other kinds. Six tracks split easily onto two sides, Sinister Haze’s first full-length outing comes across as a reaction against cleanliness in doom – call it gutter doom – flowing in its 12-minute closer “A Buried Dream,” but still clearly from the gut.

Sinister Haze on Thee Facebooks

STB Records BigCartel store

 

Love Gang, Love Gang

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The flute-laden heavy rock with which Denver’s Love Gang open their debut EP might stand among the best outcomes of Colorado’s marijuana legalization. A four-piece with a full sound only enhanced by the organ/woodwind work of Leo Muñoz, Love Gang self-release their first outing as four tracks that sap classic prog of its pretense and offer ‘70s heavy chemistry without leaning on vintage production. Guitarist/vocalist Kam Wentwork, bassist Grady O’Donnell and drummer Shaun Goodwin, together with Muñoz, get down to business on “Can’t Seem to Win” and the instrumental “Lonely Man,” go bluesy on “Highway” and boogie to a finish in “Sands of Time,” all the while sounding ready in their songcraft and execution for whatever label might come calling to stand behind their work. It’ll be somebody. Some bands take time to develop into their own sound, and some break the doors down out of the gate. Love Gang are the latter. Whenever they get around to a first full-length, I hope they remember to weird out a little bit.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Love Gang on Bandcamp

 

Nap, Villa

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Though five of the eight tracks on Nap’s debut, Villa, have words at one point or another, it’s probably still fair to note the psych-inflected German trio as a mostly-instrumental outfit. The lyrics, when they’re there, arrive in short verses, lines included it seems more to create the impression of a human presence rather than affirm a structure. They are vague in theme for the most part, but there, though there isn’t a song in the bunch that goes as far as a chorus. No complaints. Nap, as a project, feel much more given toward the spacious and atmospheric exploration one finds in the midsection of second cut “Sabacia” than the four or five lines in the driving riff subsequent. As the record plays out, they incorporate elements of surf – surprisingly more on “Duna” and closer “Autobahn” than “Xurf,” but it could also be a Yawning Man influence surfacing – resulting in an overarching progressive feel that serves their fluidity on this first album.

Nap on Thee Facebooks

Nap on Bandcamp

 

Manthrass, Blues del Destino

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Heavy rocking Buenos Aires three-piece Manthrass issued their debut, Blues del Destino, last year and were subsequently snagged for release through South American Sludge Records, no doubt for the record’s cohesive, hard-driving bluesy push, natural tones and easy-grooving feel. The shuffle of “Una Flor” is a highlight, but neither will you find me arguing with the Pappo’s Blues cover “El Brujo y el Tiempo,” with a burlier vocal and a rolling progression that seems to sum up a lot of where Manthrass are coming from to start with, though closer “Navegar” gets down with more raucous fare. A quality first full-length with a crisp production balanced by a fervent live feel in the energy from the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mariano Castiiglioni, bassist/vocalist Ángel Rizzo and drummer/backing vocalist Fede Martínez, who are clearly versed in modern heavy as well as the classics, and are able to control their own destiny here accordingly.

Manthrass on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge on Bandcamp

 

Astral Cult, The Sacred Flame

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Commencement comes on Astral Cult’s second album, The Sacred Flame, via the ritualized psychedelic incantations of “Prayer,” and from there, the Californian four-piece unfold a molten vision of heavy space rock that stands apart from a lot of what bands further sound in San Diego or even San Francisco are doing, vocalist Alexandre Lapuh, guitarist Ryan Musser, bassist Stefan Henskens and drummer Brazdon Goodwin (since replaced by Cristian Gonzalez) finding their footing in a lumbering and deceptively doomed “Quetzalcotl” after so much lysergic preaching on “Call of the Wild” and “Beacon of Darkness.” The range is surprising, but more so is the fluidity Astral Cult conjure between what are often disparate styles, the four-piece nearly hitting the 13-minute mark on the closing title-tack as they lay the two sides together, one into the next. It’s a rarer blend, but The Sacred Flame, at nearly an hour long, gears itself for maximum immersion.

Astral Cult on Thee Facebooks

Astral Cult on Bandcamp

 

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Blues Pills Post “Lady in Gold” Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

blues pills

Swedish heavy rockers Blues Pills enter into the cycle for their forthcoming second album, Lady in Gold, at the forward position of a next phase in Europe’s classic heavy blues movement. The multinational four-piece made a self-titled debut (review here) in 2014 and since then have become a significant influence internationally — one can hear their impact in the US almost as much as the EU — and while that puts no small amount of pressure on the impending follow-up, which will be out on Nuclear Blast, there’s been nothing thus far into their career to make one doubt Blues Pills are up to the task before them. Instead, the potential they showed on Blues Pills seems to be looking for payoff in the full-sounding, blues-fueled “Lady in Gold,” for which a new video has just been released.

The clip itself brings frontwoman Elin Larsson to the fore, as does the mix of the song, and she proves more than able to carry the track with guitarist Dorian Sorriaux, bassist Zack Anderson and drummer André Kvarnström supporting. Hard to get a read on a full record from one four-minute song, obviously, but if “Lady in Gold” is representative at all of the album that bears its name, one might expect to find Blues Pills working in a more modern context à la their labelmates and upcoming tour partners in Kadavar (as well as Witchcraft and Graveyard, for that matter, both also labelmates) and pushing back on ’70s traditionalism with a fullness of production. Again, whether or not that pans out for the whole outing remains to be seen/heard — I haven’t gotten the record yet — but it’s something to maybe keep in mind as you check out the video.

You’ll find that below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Blues Pills, “Lady in Gold” official video

Up and coming multi-national rock act BLUES PILLS released the official music video for the brand new first single and title track of their upcoming second album, Lady In Gold (out August 5). The video was directed by Johan Bååth (AVATARIUM, DREGEN) who is best known for his work with cult director Jonas Åkerlund (THE ROLLING STONES, U2, MADONNA, OZZY OSBOURNE, METALLICA) and shot by well known BACKYARD BABIES drummer Peder Carlsson.

“We shot the video for ‘Lady in Gold’ in Stockholm’s skärgård (what is like an old castle) with the amazing team around Johan Bååth,” commented singer Elin Larsson. “The idea behind the video is to visualize the ‘Lady in Gold’ in all the different ways she can come. She can be that beautiful young woman or a scary old witch. It was a lot of fun and super exciting to jump into these different roles and characters. The whole team did a great job and it was a pleasure to work with all these talented people. Clothes and design was made by Anna Bonnevier and make up and hair by Cecilia Lidén. We all hope you will enjoy the video.”

Furthermore, Lady In Gold is now available for pre-order. The album will be available in various formats:
– CD-DIGI+DVD
– CD-DIGI+PICTURE DISC
– DIGI+DVD
– Vinyl (black, gold, clear, bone, hot pink)
– Vinyl Nuclear Blast Mailorder only (orange, yellow, lilac/neon pink bi-colored, clear+green/orange splatter)

Just as it’s highly successful predecessor, Lady In Gold was once again produced by Don Alsterberg (GRAVEYARD, DIVISION OF LAURA LEE, JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ, JERRY WILLIAMS). The cover art for Lady In Gold was created by Marijke Koger-Dunham (THE BEATLES, CREAM).

Lady in Gold preorder at Nuclear Blast

Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks

Blues Pills on Twitter

Blues Pills website

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Blues Pills Announce New Album Lady in Gold

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Few and far between are the debut albums that make the kind of impact that did the 2014 self-titled offering from Blues Pills (review here), which seemed to inspire followers as soon as it arrived. The band has toured heavily in Europe since that release, even headlining at Freak Valley last year, and have announced they’ll issue their second long-player this summer via Nuclear Blast. It’s been dubbed Lady in Gold, and while the artwork and obviously audio and an exact release date remain forthcoming, the mere news that such a thing exists and will exist is enough to make note of. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Blues Pills make their US live debut for Lady in Gold sometime over the next year, though of course a lot depends on the response to the record. Which I guess is true all around.

So the pressure’s on Blues Pills. Guess we’ll see how it all works out when the album arrives. Until then, the PR wire:

blues pills (photo by John McMurtrie)

BLUES PILLS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM!

Multi-national newcomer sensation BLUES PILLS have announced the title of their eagerly awaited second album. Lady In Gold is expected to be released during the summer of 2016 and will contain 10 brand new tracks (see full track list below).

Commented singer Elin Larsson on the choice of the album’s title: “Lady gold is a character who symbolizes death. We wanted a twist on the typical stereotype of death being the grim reaper. So instead we made her a lady in gold.”

Lady In Gold track list:
01. Lady In Gold
02. Little Boy Preacher
03. Burned Out
04. I Felt A Change
05. Gone So Long
06. Bad Talkers
07. You Gotta Try
08. Won’t Go Back
09. Rejection
10. Elements And Things

Just as it’s highly successful predecessor Lady In Gold was once again produced by Don Alsterberg (GRAVEYARD, DIVISION OF LAURA LEE, JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ, JERRY WILLIAMS). More info to be revealed soon!

www.BLUESPILLS.com
www.facebook.com/BLUESPILLS
http://twitter.com/BLUESPILLS
www.youtube.com/BLUESPILLS
http://smarturl.it/BLUES-PILLS-NB

Blues Pills, “High Class Woman” official video

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Freak Valley 2015: Blues Pills Added as Thursday Headliner

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

freak valley 2015 banner

The ties between Blues Pills and the Freak Valley festival run pretty deep. For one thing, the band is named after fest-founder Jens Heide‘s old ‘zine, and my understanding is they’ve been tight all along as Blues Pills have ascended to such high profile over the last couple years, leading to the release of their massively-well-received 2014 self-titled full-length debut. Blues Pills played the fest last year and they’ll be at Freak Valley 2015 as well, headlining Thursday night, June 4, and their 2014 set will be released in limited vinyl/CD fashion. Presumably copies will be on hand in Netphen, Germany.

Freak Valley 2015 runs from June 4-6:

freak valley 2015 blues pills

+++ FREAKIN’ AWESOME NEWS +++

While BLUES PILLS say “thank you” to Freak Valley Festival with the release of a superlimited Live @ Freak Valley Festival 2014 album on Vinyl and CD we are proud and more than happy to announce that Blues Pills will return and headline Thursday June 4th!!

We are totally thrilled and honoured about these two massive news!

Thank you so much Elin, Zack, Dorian & André. We’ll never forget!

The mindblowing poster beauty is done by Mr-Frumpy Frumpedia

Tickets are running low already. Please make sure you get yours in time!!

FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL – 4th-5th-6th June 2015
www.freakvalley.de www.rockfreaks.de

FVF tickets are selling like KADAVAR vinyls already – get yours in time – the first 3 editions have been sold out early!! We are selling tix to all parts of this planet!!

Tickets: www.freakvalley.de | Only 66€ for 3 days incl. Camping!!

Hardtickets @ our onlineshop: http://shop.rockfreaks.de/

Also: http://kozmik-artifactz.com/ | Kozmik Artifactz

Also: At our Club shows @ Vortex Surfer Musikclub (next show Saturday Jan. 24th w/ Vibravoid Official, HARSH TOKE & Comet Control

FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL: No Fillers – Just Killers
Blues Pills – Orchid – Eyehategod – Earthless – Goatsnake – Crippled Black Phoenix – Horisont – The Vintage Caravan – Electric Moon – Gas Giant – Monkey3 – Danava – Egypt – Siena Root – Bröselmaschine – Sigiryia – Kamchatka – Purson – Dead Man – Freedom Hawk – Mountain Witch – Tuber – Valley of the Sun – Tombstones – Travelin’ Jack – more tba soon!!

https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley
https://www.facebook.com/BluesPills
http://www.freakvalley.de
www.rockfreaks.de

Blues Pills, Blues Pills (2014)

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The Top 20 of 2014 Readers Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

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It was close for a long time, but in the last week or so, one record pulled ahead to stake a definitive claim on the top spot. Even so, more than the 2013 poll, this was a fun one to watch, three albums duking it out, trading back and forth in the raw votes depending on who happened to submit a list at any given time. In the end, 355 people participated in this year’s poll, which is an average of over 11 per day — there was a significant push at the end — and up from 2013, which now that it’s 2015 will no doubt soon feel like ancient history.

To that end, Happy New Year and huge, huge thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute a list to the poll. Even if it was one or two records, the simple fact that you felt it was worth your time to type out the names of bands and albums and take part in this thing is unbelievably gratifying to me. I do a lot of the talking around here, apart from comments and the forum, so to have your participation in this really means a lot to me. It’s nice knowing you give enough of a crap to take part.

You’ll find two lists below. The first, measured in points, is the weighted tally. A 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. After that comes the raw votes, a measure of what caught the most attention along the way.

After the jump, you’ll also find all the lists contributed to the poll — including my own, which seemed fair since I do a lot of reading on this site, mostly to experience shame at the typos and correct them hoping no one else noticed — presented in the order in which they were received. Thank you all again.

Top 20 of 2014 — Weighted Results

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1. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend (560 points)
2. Wo Fat, The Conjuring (404)
3. Electric Wizard, Time to Die (367)
4. Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (334)
5. Conan, Blood Eagle (275)
6. Orange Goblin, Back from the Abyss (254)
7. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes (240)
8. Truckfighters, Universe (237)
9. Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Black Power Flower (235)
10. Earth, Primitive and Deadly (230)
11. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid (225)
12. Blues Pills, Blues Pills (211)
13. Lo-Pan, Colossus (202)
14. Eyehategod, Eyehategod (198)
15. Monolord, Empress Rising (190)
16. Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun (188)
17. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia (161)
18. John Garcia, John Garcia (156)
19. Bongripper, Miserable (141)
20. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt (127)

Honorable mention to:
Goat, Commune (126)
Swans, To be Kind (117)
Monster Magnet, Milking the Stars (116)
Blood Farmers, Headless Eyes (105)
Floor, Oblation (104)
Mothership, II (104)

Stubb, Elephant Tree, Thou and plenty of others also did very well in the voting, but everything else I could find was less than 100 points. Again, it was close for a while between Wo Fat, Electric Wizard and YOB — and Pallbearer wasn’t so far behind them, either — but YOB pulled it out in the end and jumped way in front of everyone else. A lot of number-one votes for Clearing the Path to Ascend, which I can understand completely, since I happened to agree with the position.

On to the raw votes:

Top 20 of 2014 — Raw Votes

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1. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend (138 votes)
2. Wo Fat, The Conjuring (111)
3. Electric Wizard, Time to Die (104)
4. Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (89)
5. Orange Goblin, Back from the Abyss (78)
6. Conan, Blood Eagle (72)
7. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid (71)
8. Truckfighters, Universe (66)
9. Earth, Primitive and Deadly (65)
10. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes (64)
11. Blues Pills, Blues Pills (63)
12. Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Black Power Flower (60)
13. Lo-Pan, Colossus (58)
14. Eyehategod, Eyehategod (55)
15. Monolord, Empress Rising (52)
16. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia (48)
16. Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun (48)
17. John Garcia, John Garcia (47)
18. Bongripper, Miserable (41)
18. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt (41)
19. Goat, Commune (37)
19. Mothership, II (37)
20. Swans, To be Kind (32)

And some honorable mentions:
Dwellers, Pagan Fruit (31)
Floor, Oblation (31)
Monster Magnet, Milking the Stars (31)
Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty (30)
Thou, Heathen (30)
The Well, Samsara (30)

A couple ties here make the raw votes list a little more inclusive, and since it’s not like we’re giving out olympic medals, it didn’t seem fair to count out ties and sacrifice other numbers. The top 20 has 23 entries? Yeah, sounds about right. Again, not much mystery ultimately to who came out on top, but it was a more thrilling race than the final numbers might suggest. Cool to see some differences in placement emerge between the two lists as well, Greenleaf and Brant Bjork doing really well in the weighted results since they obviously inspire some strong support, and a couple of others working their way into the raw votes top 20. I’m not really a numbers guy, but it’s been cool putting this together.

About not being a numbers guy: All the lists that came in appear after the jump below. If you find some glaring error in my math, or something seems like it really got enough votes to be included in one or the other, it’s possible I just missed it. I hope you’ll point it out in the comments so that if there is a mistake, I can get on correcting it as soon as possible. Your vigilance is sincerely appreciated.

And thank you again so much for being a part of this readers poll. It’s been a really great experience and I look forward to doing it again come Dec. 2015.

Please find everybody’s list after the jump, and have fun browsing:

Read more »

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 10 Debut Albums of 2014

Posted in Features on December 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Dudley-Street,-Seven-Dials.-Gustave-Doré-(1832-83) top 10

Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll. That’s still going on. Please feel free to submit your list.

Making and releasing a first full-length album is a special moment in the life of any band, and that’s why I wanted to single out some of the best debuts of the year. I’ve never done this before, and so maybe with a top 10 I’m testing the waters a bit, but it seemed a worthwhile project anyway. It was a long (inner) debate about whether or not to include EPs and singles here too, but in the end, it just seemed to work better with albums.

Not to take anything away from shorter releases, but putting out a debut EP is much different than a debut LP. First of all, a debut LP can come after several EPs or singles or demos or whatever and still be considered first. What a first album says to the listener is, “Okay, we’ve come this far and we’re ready to take this step.” Some bands, once they start putting out albums, never go back to EPs. Others who’ve been around for 30 years still release demos every now and then, but even so, a group only ever gets one crack at their first album, and it can be one of the most important things we ever do.

Compared to how many come out any given month, year, century, etc., very few debut long-players ever wind up being classics, and who knows what the future might hold for any of these acts on this list, but that not knowing and that excitement are part of the fun.

Let’s get to it:

the-well-samsara

The Top 10 Debut Albums of 2014

1. The Well, Samsara
2. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass
3. Spidergawd, Spidergawd
4. Atavismo, Desintegración
5. Blues Pills, Blues Pills
6. Steak, Slab City
7. Comet Control, Comet Control
8. Elephant Tree, Theia
9. Black Moon Circle, Black Moon Circle
10. Temple of Void, Of Terror and the Supernatural

A couple honorable mentions. First to Valley of the Sun‘s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk, which I still didn’t know what to do with the release date for. Officially 2014, but kinda released in 2013 too. I was back and forth on it. Also Wasted Theory‘s burly debut, Monolord‘s Empress Rising, Child‘s Child, the Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart sprawling one-song LP from Sylvaine.

Some notes: Actual time spent listening played a big role in the structuring of this list. More so than the Top 30 of 2014, I would say. The Well‘s Samsara and the self-titled debut from The Golden Grass featured pretty high on that list as well, and that’s because both of them were records that I continually went back to and found satisfying after they came out. In both bands I think there’s significant stylistic potential, but more importantly, they both came out of the gate with their mission solidified and ready to roll.

With Spidergawd‘s Spidergawd, the progressive take on classic heavy rock boogie was blinding, but righteous. Their second album is due early next year on Stickman and I’ll have more on it to come in the weeks ahead. Atavismo‘s Desintegración hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Just four songs, but the atmosphere was gorgeous enough that after listening I went back and asked the band if I could host a stream in hopes that more people would hear it. Fortunately for anyone who listened, they were kind enough to comply.

On sheer impact alone, I think Blues Pills‘ Blues Pills warrants inclusion on this list, but in my own listening, I put on the top four so much more often that I couldn’t really justify placing it any higher. But in terms of a first album coming out and really propelling a band to the next level, I think for a lot of people it’s probably the debut of the year. Fair enough. Steak‘s Slab City found the London four-piece physically and stylistically right in the heart of the California desert and their passion for that place and its sound came across heartfelt on the recording, which only heightened the appeal.

And while I’m still sorry to see Quest for Fire go, the debut from offshoot Comet Control helped ease that sorrow neatly with a blend of driving heavier space rock and psychedelic vibing. Cool album, bodes well. You could say the same for Elephant Tree‘s Theia, I suppose. Their take on psychedelia melded with screamy sludge successfully where I think a lot of bands would’ve fallen flat trying the same thing, and that’s definitely something noteworthy in an initial offering, particularly one not preceded by an EP or other kind of release.

To round things out, two very different records. Black Moon Circle‘s self-titled took a popular stylistic course — melding heavy rock and psychedelic jamming — and showed the trio beginning to make it their own. That’s something I hope will continue on their second outing, which, like that of Spidergawd, is coming on quick early in 2015. And finally, Temple of Void‘s extreme, deathly take on doom courted genres smoothly and delivered its punishment with efficiency while holding together a coherent atmosphere of darkness and aggression. It was a sadistic joy to behold.

If you missed it, there were a couple debuts included on the Top 20 Short Releases of 2014 list as well — Gold & SilverWrenDeath Alley, and so on — so if you’re looking for more of that kind of thing, you don’t have to look too far. I hope if there was a debut album this year that particularly caught your attention, you’ll let me know in the comments.

 

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Blues Pills, Truckfighters and Jex Thoth Announce Euro Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

blues pills

If you think the jump-up-and-down-and-run-in-circles fuzz of Truckfighters and the classic-minded heavy blues rock of Blues Pills don’t mix, the two Swedish acts have more in common than you might think, up to and including drummer André Kvarnström. Kvarnström was playing with Truckfighters after they parted ways with Oscar Johansson (who subsequently joined Witchcraft, just in case the scene didn’t seem incestuous enough yet), but has rotated into the lineup of Blues Pills following their split with Cory Berry, half-brother of Blues Pills bassist Zack Anderson and, like Anderson, an alum of Radio Moscow.

Got all that? Good. The takeaway is Blues Pills and Truckfighters are touring Europe together next March/April and they’ll be joined by Jex Thoth. They’re calling it the “Rock Revelation Tour” and the announcement goes like this:

blues pills truckfighters jex thoth tour

Blues Pills – Truckfighters – Jex Thoth

ROCK REVELATIONS TOUR

BLUES PILLS are back! After their successful first big headline-tour in October 2014 with 11 sold out shows in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria, the band is going to come back for 13 shows. BLUES PILLS´ singer Elin Larsson comments: “We´re very happy to announce that we´re going to come back to Germany and Switzerland to play some new places that we couldn´t do on our last tour. We´re looking forward to meeting you all in March and April 2015. Love / BP´s”

Next to Blues Pills their fellow countrymen TRUCKFIGHTERS are confirmed as well as US Doom/Psych Rock sensation JEX THOTH.

Get your tickets at www.hardticket.eu for BLUES PILLS and their 2 very special guests on this tour.

TOURDATES
20.03.2015 DE – Erfurt, Stadtgarten
21.03.2015 DE – Berlin, Astra
22.03.2015 DE – Dresden, Tante Ju
23.03.2015 DE – München, Backstage
25.03.2015 CH – Geneve, Usine
26.03.2015 DE – Lindau, Club Vaudeville
27.03.2015 DE – Cologne, Kantine
28.03.2015 DE – Olsberg, Konzerthalle
30.03.2015 DE – Saarbrücken, Garage
31.03.2015 DE – Karlsruhe, Substage
01.04.2015 DE – Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
04.04.2015 DE – Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle
05.04.2015 CH – Zürich, Komplex

TOURPRESENTER
Blast!, EMP, Eclipsed, Musix, Noizeletter, Rockhard, Rocks, Visions

TICKETS
www.hardticket.eu

https://www.facebook.com/BluesPills
https://www.facebook.com/truckfighters
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jex-Thoth-Official/360347127314661

Blues Pills, “No Hope Left for Me” official video

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Inaugural Totem Psych Fest Canceled Due to Weather

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

…And now, a bummer. The first annual Totem Psych Fest has been called off. It was set to take place this weekend at a castle in Rocca Sinibalda, Italy, which — since it’s also the highest point in the town — would only put it closer to the rainstorms that have been forecast for when it would be going on. An impressive lineup was culled together with Church of MiseryBlues Pills and Nik Turner as headliners and many other killer acts supporting, but it would seem it just wasn’t to be this year.

Heavy Psych Sounds and Black Rainbows‘ Gabriele Fiori, who might be his country’s single most passionate ambassador of heavy fuzz, organized the fest and put out word today that it was a no-go. Sympathies to him and to anyone who might’ve been looking forward to what was surely going to be a unique event.

Replacement shows for some of the headliners have been announced, and those details follow here:

TOTEM PSYCH FEST CANCELLATION

Heavy rainfalls and lightning are expected in Rocca Sinibalda during the days of the Totem Psych Fest, expecially in the area of the Castle that is in the town’s highest part.

Local authorities responsible for security have therefore established requirements and limitations that make it impossible to perform the planned Event in the unique setting of the Castle.

We have no viable alternatives; with great regret, both for the quality of the event and for the great organizational effort we put in these months, we have to cancel the Totem Psych Fest.

Our disappointment is great, beacuse of the encouraging ticket pre-sales and the confidence of a resounding success of the Event.

We cannot but apologize for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation of the Festival, expecially for those who had planned their coming to Rocca Sinibalda.

All tickets will be refunded: those who have purchased through Ticketgate and Paypal circuits will be entitled to reimbursement from August 4th; those who bought the ticket physically in Rome will be refunded on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th of July at the AirportOne, Centocelle’s Airport, Rome.

We managed to bring 3 of the Festival headliners in Rome, AirportOne, Centocelle’s Airport.

Therefore TOTEM PSYCH FEST, in collaboration with INIT CLUB presents:

Friday, July 25th:
Blues Pills
Nik Turner (ex Hawkwind)

Saturday, July 26th:
Church of Misery + opening

https://www.facebook.com/totempsych.fest

Black Rainbows, Live at Sweet Leaf Festival 2014

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