Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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
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
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 Misery, Blues 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)
Posted in Features on July 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Before I even start, let’s get one thing out of the way. I want a new Sleep album too. My not including them on this list isn’t due to the fact that I don’t think a new Sleep album is a good idea, but just because I haven’t seen anything about it being recorded or released in the next five-plus months. If it hits on Jan. 1, 2015, I’ll be the happiest Baby New Year you ever saw, but that’s a different list altogether.
Ditto that Om and High on Fire. The latter were writing as of May, and I know Om did some recording way back in January, but I’ve yet to see solid word of new records at all, let alone before the end of the year. Either or both or all three may happen, but until I see some hint of it, all I can go on is the info I can find.
Seriously though, how badass would it be if all three put out albums before the New Year? That excitement is kind of what this list is about. Some of these records I’ve heard, but most I haven’t, so it’s just basic speculation about what I think could be some of the best releases in the next couple months. You’ll note that while there are plenty of dates TBA, nothing listed arrives in November, so as 2014 winds down, there’s bound to be even more quality stuff than appears here.
In fact, I struggled to take things out to get it down to 30. And it still goes to 31! I figured no one would mind. They’re numbered, but the list is in alphabetical order.
If I left something out you’re dying to hear, please let me know in the comments.
Thanks in advance for reading:
1. Alunah, TBA (Sept.)
Birmingham’s Alunah, like several others below, are a holdover from the Most Anticipated Albums list back at the start of the year. The difference between now and then is that, while its title still hasn’t been revealed so far as I know, their Napalm Records debut has been recorded, mixed and mastered, the latter by Tony Reed, the former by Greg Chandler of Esoteric, and given a September release date. Two years after Alunah made riffy doom sound easy on their sophomore outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I look forward to hearing how they’ve grown and shifted in their approach to warm-sounding tones and memorable hooks. They’ve set a pretty high standard for themselves. Alunah on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
2. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds (Oct.)
These guys. I don’t mind telling you it was a thrill when Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude were announced as having signed to Cruz del Sur to release their third album, Of Woe and Wounds, this fall. Their second outing, 2010’s Last Sunrise (review here), didn’t get the attention it deserved, but the handful of songs they’ve made public since have shown much promise, and as the first Apostle of Solitude full-length to feature guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay) in harmony with guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown — the band is completed by bassist Dan Davidson and drummer Corey Webb — this is definitely going to make for a doomly autumn. Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks, Cruz del Sur Music.
3. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance (Aug. 26)
Recorded late last year at Amps vs. Ohms in Boston, the third album from Maple Forum alum Blackwolfgoat — the prog-drone alter ego of guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Roadsaw, etc.) — is the project’s most expansive outing yet, and it seems Shepard is moving more in a song-based direction, rather than some of the building loops of the past two offerings. Of course, there will be plenty of those as well, but watch out for some acoustic guitar, and deep-in-the-mix vocals, as they could easily hint of things to come. Or Darryl could turn it on its head and do a calypso record. Either way, I’m on board with no pretense of impartiality. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp, Small Stone’s Bandcamp.
4. Blues Pills, Blues Pills (Aug. 5)
The much-heralded Swedish/French/American psych-blues conglomeration Blues Pills will make their self-titled debut (short review here) next month, and while it’s probably going to be a bigger deal in Europe than in the States — at least until Nuclear Blast brings them over here for a tour, then the country is going to go apeshit for them — the songwriting and soulful execution of their tracks justifies the hype. There’s a bit of retro posturing to what they do, some Graveyard shuffle (it feels inevitable at this point with a ’70s-influenced band), but the grooves are easy to dig into and the potential is basically limitless for where they want to go. It’s scary to keep in mind, but this is just the beginning. Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.
5. Bongripper, Miserable (July 7)
You may notice something strange about the date above for a list of upcoming albums in that July 7 was yesterday. Well, Chicago’s Bongripper posted their new three-track full-length monster Miserable on their Bandcamp for stream and download ahead of the vinyl’s arrival, and it was just too righteous to leave out. Those seeking landmark riffing need look no further than the 19-minute centerpiece “Descent,” which meters out stomp enough that future “scientists” will study its footprint, and closer “Into Ruin” (28:25) is guaranteed to be the heaviest half-hour you’ll spend today. Miserable feels like a no-brainer, but maybe that’s just because Bongripper have such a propensity for pounding skulls into mush. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, Miserable on Bandcamp.
6. Botanist, VI: Flora (Aug. 11)
I feel like I missed a couple numbers from San Francisco-based environmentalist black metal unit Botanist along the way, but they’ll nonetheless issue VI: Flora on The Flenser next month, furthering their marriage of destruction and beauty and insistent percussive expression. The spaces Botanist — a one-man project from Robert Martinelli — create feel ritualistic without the dramatic posturing that pervades much of the genre, and sound, somewhere between raging and mournful, is hypnotic. Whatever your expectation might be, Martinelli seems pleased to use it to their advantage, and ultimately, defy it. Post-human, hammered dulcimer-laden black metal. It would be harder for Botanist to not be unique. Botanist on Thee Facebooks, The Flenser.
7. Brant Bjork, TBA (TBA)
When Brant Bjork‘s next album might show up, I don’t know. I know he’s signed to Napalm, and I know the photo above was snapped as he finished some vocals before going on tour with his Low Desert Punk band that includes guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, but whether or not the album they made is the funk-inspired Jakoozi that’s been in the offing for a while, or another collection of songs, and if Napalm will get it out before the end of the year remain a mystery. I do find it interesting that for his first “solo” outing post-Vista Chino (that band being on hiatus), Bjork has assembled a new band to work with rather than record multiple instruments himself, but no matter who’s involved, when it’s Brant Bjork writing the songs, it’s gonna be high rock from the low desert. Can’t wait to dig into whatever comes. Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
8. Earth, Primitive and Deadly (Sept.)
The headline for Earth‘s new album is it’s the one where they experimented with vocalists. And hey, if you’re going to toy around with the idea, you might as well get Mark Lanegan involved. The former Screaming Trees frontman is one of several singers appearing on Primitive and Deadly, due in September on Southern Lord, and it would appear that Earth‘s sound — always evolving, always somehow changing — is about to take another considerable turn. Fortunately, the Seattle band, led by guitarist Dylan Carlson and now approaching their 25th year, have long since proven worthy of trusting with their own direction. Earth will never be huge, by the simple nature of what they do, but their influence resounds and the quality of their output is unmatched. Earth on Thee Facebooks, Southern Lord Recordings.
9. Electric Wizard, Time to Die (Sept.)
“Wake up baby/It’s time to die.” So goes the title-track hook of Electric Wizard‘s new album and Spinefarm Records debut, Time to Die. As ever, it’s simple, hateful, drenched-in-fuzz misanthropy, and Electric Wizard revel in it accordingly. Their witchcult continues to grow in their native UK and abroad, and while their last two records have divided some listeners, they’ve invariably gained more ground than they’ve lost. A legal dispute with Rise Above finds them on the new label, and if there’s even the slightest chance that change will bring them to the US for a tour, I’ll take it. Expect 66 minutes of glorious filth. Electric Wizard on Thee Facebooks, Spinefarm Records.
10. Fever Dog, Second Wind (TBA)
Palm Desert youngsters Fever Dog have been kicking around the last few years finding their sound in varying elements of heavy rock and psychedelic experimentation. Most recently, they impressed with the single “Iroquois” (review here) taken from their new album Second Wind, and in looking forward to the full-length, I’m eager to learn how their style has solidified and what sort of vibes they conjure over its course. They’ve shown plenty of propensity for jamming in their prior work, so hopefully there’s a bit of that on hand as well. I’ve said before they’re a trio of marked potential, and nothing I’ve yet heard has dissuaded me from that impression. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, Fever Dog on Bandcamp.
11. Goat, Commune (Sept. 23)
Somehow, a band from Sweden who dress up in tribal costumes (problematic) and play Afrobeat psychedelia became a very, very big deal. I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to, and I won’t try, but I know that when Sub Pop releases Goat‘s second album, Commune, it’s going to be to a flurry of hype and heaps of critical fawning. It would be tempting to call Goat a novelty act, but their 2012 debut, World Music (discussed here), showcased a legitimately creative musical approach to go with the visual aspects of their presentation, and I find the fact that I have no idea what to expect from Commune to be refreshing. Goat on Thee Facebooks, Sub Pop Records.
12. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren (Aug. 11)
UK heavy rockers Grifter will make a welcome resurgence on Ripple Music with The Return of the Bearded Brethren, an album that builds on the straightforward, catchy sounds of their 2011 self-titled label debut (review here) and takes their infectiousness to new places lyrically, such as exploring issues of aging via an ode to Princess Leia from Star Wars. That particular brand of humor and is writ large on Grifter‘s second Ripple outing, and the trio set to work refining their take without losing the engaging feel of their self-titled. It feels like a long three years since that record hit, and I’ll be glad to have a follow-up in-hand. Grifter on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
13. Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz, New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future (TBA)
Unclear at this point whether Boston outfits Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz collaborated on New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future, or if it’s a split. Either way, the prolific acts make a sound pairing. Both are vehemently creative and exploratory, psychedelic and progressive each in their way, and if what’s presumably a single finds them working together, all the better, but even if not, new material from either is nothing to balk at, particularly when topped off by such gorgeous artwork. Neither act is ever long from putting something out, so to have them come together one way or another makes a weird brand of sense, which I’m relatively sure the songs will as well. Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks, Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks.
14. Ides of Gemini, Old World New Wave (Sept. 16)
Ides of Gemini‘s 2012 Neurot Recordings debut, Constantinople (discussed here), established the three-piece as freely inhabiting either side of the imaginary line between ambience and heaviness, J. Bennett and Kelly Johnston providing sometimes minimal, sometimes consuming foundations for vocalist Sera Timms (ex-Black Math Horseman, also Black Mare) to cast ethereal melodies. What Old World New Wave will hold sound-wise, I don’t yet know, but Ides of Gemini‘s otherworldly resonance and ultra-patient approach makes it well worth finding out. Ides of Gemini on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
15. John Gallow, Violet Dreams (Aug. 4)
Frontman of Blizaro and Orodruin guitarist John James Gallo adds a ‘w’ to his last name and steps out solo on the I, Voidhanger Records release, Violet Dreams, the title hinting at some of his on-his-sleeve affinity for Italian psych-doom master Paul Chain and Swedish legends Candlemass. Gallo‘s work in Blizaro has a tendency to lean toward the progressive and cinematic, but as John Gallow, the focus is more on classic doom riffing and darkened metallurgy. As one would expect, he’s well in his element on the hour-long album, and I hope he decides to call the next one Ancient Theatre. Also note the incredible artwork of Costin Chioreanu. John Gallo on Thee Facebooks, I, Voidhanger Records.
16. John Garcia, John Garcia (Aug. 5)
A long-discussed solo debut for the former Kyuss frontman following a stint alongside Brant Bjork in Vista Chino, John Garcia‘s John Garcia (review here) finds the singer right in his comfort zone, topping desert rock riffs with his trademark guttural vocals. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’d trade a second Vista Chino outing for it if given the choice — that band seemed to be on course for a sound of its own, separate from Kyuss‘ legacy, and that struck me as worth pursuing — but these songs have a similar enough production style that it’s easy to think of the one as an offshoot of the other, and of course Garcia calls his shots well throughout. John Garcia on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
17. King Buffalo, TBA (TBA)
Including King Buffalo here was pretty speculative on my part, but I dig the Rochester, NY, outfit and didn’t want to leave the prospect of their STB Records debut long-player out. It probably won’t land until 2015 — the future! — but their demo (review here) still gets regular plays around these parts, and I’m very much looking forward to catching them with similarly-minded Nashville blues rockers All Them Witches when they tour together next month. Whatever King Buffalo‘s recording/release plans might be, they’re definitely one to keep an eye on in the back half of this year. King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.
18. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy (TBA)
Love these guys, love this band. I make no bones about it. Their third record, self-titled and produced as the last two were by Sanford Parker, is as close as they’ve yet come to capturing their live sound, and while they’ve yet to nail down an exact release date, they have a couple very cool tours in the works for this fall, including dates next month with Eric Wagner‘s Blackfinger, that will make a fitting lead-in to their best outing yet. I’ve heard this and had the chance to see some of the material live, and they’ve outdone themselves again, which, considering the esteem in which I continue to hold their 2013 sophomore full-length, A Time of Hunting, is really saying something. Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks, War Crime Recordings.
19. The Kings of Frog Island, V (Fall)
Easily one of the LPs I’m most eager to hear over the next few months, and specifically on vinyl. The Kings of Frog Island have shown themselves to be so dedicated to the format that their early-2013 album, IV (review here), was presented as two bundled sides even digitally. They recently gave a taste of what their fifth album will in-part hold via a video for “Sunburn” and I’m told more jamminess ensues elsewhere to complement that track’s easygoing flow and platter-ready hook. All the better. The Kings of Frog Island on Thee Facebooks, The Kings of Frog Island on YouTube.
20. Lonely Kamel, Shit City (Sept. 9)
I’d be lying if I said part of my immediate interest in Oslo heavy rockers Lonely Kamel‘s fourth record wasn’t due to the cheeky title, but it’s been three years since the Napalm Records four-piece released their last album, Dust (track stream here), and as they’ve put in plenty of road-time, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to go into this time around with elevated anticipation. I’m not sure you could get away with calling an album Shit City unless you meant business. Got my fingers crossed that’s precisely the case with Lonely Kamel. Lonely Kamel on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
21. Lo-Pan, Colossus (Oct. 7)
Fucking a. Doing the research for this list was the first I’d seen the Jason Alexander Byers cover art for Lo-Pan‘s fourth album, Colossus, or its Oct. 7 Small Stone release date. I haven’t heard the tracks yet — they recorded in Brooklyn back in March, and while I got 2012’s Salvador (review here) pretty early, the Columbus four-piece seem to be keeping a tighter lid on the follow-up — and I can’t help but feel like that’s my loss. Judging by what I’ve heard of the material live, Lo-Pan have dug further into their individual brand of riff-led soulful heavy, and I’ve got a high wager that a few months from now, Lo-Pan‘s latest will make an appearance on another list. More to come. Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
22. Novembers Doom, Bled White (July 15)
One of doom’s most fascinating and largely ignored progressions is that of Chicago melancholists Novembers Doom, who, when they started out 25 years ago, did so largely as a death metal band, and then moved on to pioneer an American interpretation of what’s commonly thought of as European doom, until, over their last several records, as they’ve started to move back to a more extreme, double-kick-drummed style. Bled White, on The End Records, continues along this path, but especially in the cleaner vocals of frontman Paul Kuhr there remain shades of the morose emotionality that typified what’s now become their mid-period doom idolatry. Unheralded, Novembers Doom keep exploring deeper, darker terrain. Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks, The End Records.
23. Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (Aug. 19)
Foundations of Burden is unquestionably among the second half of 2014’s most anticipated albums. Arkansas-based doom four-piece Pallbearer will mark its release with extensive European and North American tours, and where their 2012 Profound Lore debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), came out and caught listeners off-guard with its unabashed emotional core, their sophomore outing finds them positioned at the forefront of American doom. Already the hype machine is rolling out the red carpet for the Billy Anderson-produced Foundations of Burden, but no one can say these guys haven’t put their work in, and the record is indeed one to look forward to. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.
24. The Skull, TBA (TBA)
For The Skull to put out an album of original material is a unique challenge. Their earlier-2014 first single (stream/review here) found them standing up to it on the new song “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” but at least half the point of the band since its inception has been to pay homage to legendary doomers Trouble, from whence vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson come. For their Tee Pee Records debut full-length — yet untitled and hopefully out before 2015 — it’ll be most interesting to see how guitarists Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram) and Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) rise to the occasion of building off some of doom metal’s most celebrated tones. Fingers crossed on this one. The Skull on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.
25. Snail, Feral (TBA)
Nothing has been formally announced yet, but on Small Stone Records‘ website, they list Snail‘s Feral among their upcoming releases. It would make a suitable pairing, the West Coast riffers having previously worked with MeteorCity on their 2009 post-reunion outing, Blood (review here), prior to independently releasing 2012’s Terminus (review here), and Small Stone seems like a good home for their fourth overall record and return to form as a trio, which was their original incarnation before their original dissolution circa 1994. How they expand on the heavier crunch of Terminus remains even more a point of fascination, and surely their cult following will be glad to find out. I know I will. Snail on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
26. Steak, Slab City (Sept. 9)
After two strong EPs in 2012’s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013’s best-title-ever-boasting Corned Beef Colossus (review here), it’s time for London stoner rockers Steak to step up their game for their Napalm Records debut full-length. The four-piece headed to the Californian desert to record Slab City, and so it’s fair to think some of that atmosphere may have worked its way into the material. Would be an awfully long way to go, otherwise. In either case, Steak have showcased considerable songwriting chops already, now it’s just a matter of sustaining it for a full album’s runtime and keeping enough variety in their approach. I have no doubt they’re ready for this next step. Steak on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
27. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean (TBA)
It is with simple, unabashed warm feelings that I look forward to hearing Cry of the Ocean, the second long-player and Ripple Music debut from UK riffers Stubb. They’ve traded out drummers since 2012’s self-titled (review here), bringing aboard Tom Fyfe with guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, but I’m excited to hear what changes and shifts in sound Cry of the Ocean might have in store to match its provocative title. Goes without saying the photo above isn’t the final artwork, but instead Tony Reed‘s mastering sheet from back in May when he worked on the tracks. No solid release date yet, but hopefully soon. Stubb on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
28. Torche, TBA (TBA)
Torche‘s new album and Relapse Records debut was originally slated for the end of the summer. Given that no official word has come out about a title or anything like that and the members of the band have been busy with other projects, it seems unlikely as of now that they’ll hit that target, but after something of a break so frontman Steve Brooks could focus on the resurgent trio Floor, Torche are in fact getting going again, beginning with their first tour of Australia this fall. Maybe their LP will be out by the time they go and maybe it won’t, but word on the street is that whenever the thing arrives, it’s gonna be heavy, which I have no problem believing. Torche on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
29. The Well, Monomyth (Late Summer)
I’ve been waiting since the March announcement that Austin trio The Well signed with RidingEasy Records for further word of their debut full-length, Monomyth (pretty sure that’s not the cover above), but thus far to no avail. Their 2012 single, Seven (review here), was a repeat-listen thriller, and anticipation abounds for what sort of psychedelic garage riffing they’ll conjure up for the album itself. It’s been a couple months at this point, and maybe it’ll be 2015 before Monomyth gets out, but screw it, a boy can hope. The Well on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.
30. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels (Sept.)
Please note: The original cover art with this post was not final and has been replaced with the above band photo.
Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain have spent much of the two years following their 2012 third LP, Cauldron of the Wild (review here) on tour in the US and abroad, playing fests, headlining, supporting, but generally putting in a lot of time. As such, Mobile of Angels, which will be out on Svart in Europe and Profound Lore in North America, comes as the end product of a considerable touring cycle. Has all that gigging worn Witch Mountain into the ground, or will they rise above it with metal-loving doom-blues supremacy? They’ve got a vinyl-ready 38 minutes on tap for September and if they’ve ever been in a position to make their case, it’s now. Watch out for the killer sway in “Can’t Settle,” the title of which seems a fitting theme for the band. Witch Mountain on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.
31. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend (Sept. 2)
Yet again — as was the case back in January — alphabetical order forces me to end with YOB, whose seventh full-length and Neurot debut might just be my most anticipated of all on this list. The recently-unveiled Orion Landau cover speaks to a brooding sentiment, and from the one time I was fortunate enough to hear it to-date, the four-track album from the Eugene, Oregon, natives corresponds to its visual side in being a more aggressive push than was 2012’s Atma (review here), but also more exploratory and contemplative in its approach. Now statesmen in American doom and the forebears of a cosmic-minded sound, YOB stand ready to showcase a creative progression that has yet to find its end point. YOB on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
Other Notable Mentions
Just a couple of these I’d be remiss if I didn’t note. Some were carried over from earlier this year, others just come up along the way. Not sure on all the release dates, but these are worth keeping an ear out for:
Acid King — Were listed in January, but their record has a Feb. 2015 release date.
Bright Curse — Second album recorded at Skyhammer Studios.
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth — My understanding is the album is done and they’re waiting to secure a label. Seems like a good occasion for Southern Lord to step forward, if not Profound Lore or Neurot.
Eggnogg — Not sure if it’s their full-length, You’re all Invited, or something else that’s coming, but whatever. More stoner-funk riffing needs to be had.
40 Watt Sun — There was some word of this early in the year, but nothing since.
Godflesh — Their first in 15 years, A World Lit Only by Fire, will be out Oct. 7. A fuckup not including them on the list proper.
It’s Not Night: It’s Space — Eagerly awaiting the Small Stone debut from this instrumental outfit, but it might be next year.
Karma to Burn — New album, Arch Stanton, out in August. I emailed for a review promo and never heard back. Always a great feeling.
Larman Clamor — Solo-project from Alexander von Wieding has a new one in the can, but I’m not sure on the release schedule.
Lowrider — They’re working on it, but don’t hold your breath to have it out by December.
The Machine — Kind of a slow year for Elektrohasch, but the new one from these Dutch fuzzers would be a nice way end up.
Nachtmystium — Century Media releases their final album, The World We Left Behind, on Aug. 5.
Orange Goblin — Seriously debated putting them on the list, since I know they’ve recorded, but they seem to be promoting a recent reissue of 2007’s Healing through Fire and their upcoming European tour with Saint Vitus rather than their new album, so unless news comes out about it like this week from Candlelight, I wouldn’t expect it until early in 2015.
Pink Floyd – Believe it when I see it, but I honestly couldn’t care less either way if I tried.
Ruby the Hatchet — Their full-length Tee Pee debut is due sometime in the next couple months.
Sun Voyager — Upstate NY youngsters had hinted at new recordings.
Again, if I forgot anything — and I’m sure I did — please let me know in the comments.
Lots to get to on this holiday week, but I didn’t want to let the Radio Adds slide any longer than I already have. As ever, there’s a lot of good stuff joining the ranks, and hopefully if you listen, you find something you dig. That’s what it’s all about. Also about giving me a never-ending playlist to listen to while I vacuum, apparently. But still, definitely both.
You’ll note six adds instead of five this time around. Every now and then there’s just too much going on to play by your own limits.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 3, 2014:
Blues Pills, Blues Pills
The awaited self-titled debut from Blues Pills arrives via Nuclear Blast in August and finds the four-piece with the blazing rhythm section of bassist Zack Anderson and drummer Cory Berry culled from the former ranks of Radio Moscow, French guitarist Dorian Sorriaux and Swedish frontwoman Elin Larsson almost frighteningly cohesive and cognizant of their blues rock lineage. Larsson does a solid Tina Turner on opener “High Class Woman” — as much as anybody can — and Sorriaux quickly proves himself a wunderkind in classic shuffle. Blues Pills offer all the heavy ’70s influence one could ask with less of the retro aesthetic, giving their first record a refreshing charge, though closer “Little Sun” has plenty of Graveyard-style melancholy for those looking to hear it. A relatively subdued midsection in “Black Smoke,” “River” and “No Hope Left for Me” adds emotional depth, but when Blues Pills decide to tear it up, as on “Devil Man,” they’re more than able to do so. A dynamic first full-length from an obviously powerful four-piece. On Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.
Major Kong, Doom for the Black Sun
A two-years-later limited vinyl issue of Polish instrumental stoner doomers Major Kong‘s Doom for the Black Sun debut long-player courtesy of Transubstans Records should be a welcome advent for those who worship riffs, as the trio clearly do. The tracklist is shifted some from the original release and the artwork has changed, but Major Kong are true to the Kyuss reference of their album’s title in their commitment to heavy nod ‘n’ roll. Fuzz abounds and the grooves are smooth as “Witches on My Land” opens up into “The Swamp Altar,” each song getting progressively longer until bassist Domel, guitarist Misiek and drummer Bolek arrive at the 11-minute finale of “Primordial Gas Clouds,” a huge jam peppered by airy psychedelic soloing that doesn’t so much build to a grand finish as it does melt the album down into a molten stew of reverb and fermented buzz. Major Kong released a subsequent single, “Sequoia” early in 2013 and a follow-up full-length in Jan. 2014’s Doom Machine, so there’s plenty of ground to cover for further investigation. On Bandcamp, on Thee Facebooks, Transubstans Records.
Moab, Scion A/V Presents Billow
There are a lot of bands who balance riffs and melody, but few sound as natural or as fluid as Moab in doing so. The L.A.-based three-piece follow their 2011 Kemado Records debut, Ab Ovo (discussed here) with Billow, a self-produced nine-track collection presented by Scion A/V that furthers the noise-rock crunch of their guitars while also branching into languid heavy psychedelic washes (“Said it Would”), tribal-style percussive insistence (“I Concede”) and generally bigger, wider-sounding sonic spaces. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Giacumakis holds mostly to a subdued delivery no matter the madness unfolding behind him — witness the stomp with bassist Joe Fuentes and drummer Erik Herzog on “No Soul” — and in addition to proffering some infectious hooks along the way, the approach also gives Billowa sense of purpose beyond heaviness for its own sake, Moab‘s element of restraint putting their material in league with Radiohead as much as the Melvins, while offering something that should appeal to fans of either, both or neither. Here even more than on the first record, they’ve crafted their own sound, and they’re giving it away for free. On Thee Facebooks, download Billow.
Monobrow, Big Sky, Black Horse
Big Sky, Black Horse is the third self-released vinyl from large-riffing Ottowa trio Monobrow following 2012’s Bennington Triangle Blues and their 2010 self-titled debut (review here), and immediately the instrumentalists set about knowing their business when it comes to putting the riffs front and center and backing up with strong, forward-pushing rhythmic drive. Parts of Big Sky, Black Horsefeel derived from Karma to Burn‘s all-straightforward-all-the-time mentality, but by and large, Monobrow have a more upbeat approach, and even on a mid-paced groove like “These Mountains Don’t Want us Here,” the 8:27 second track of the total eight, they use their longer runtimes to showcase fluidity in pacing and genre-minded stylistic depth. It’s an easy record to dig, and I dig it, whether it’s the bass-led thud of “Old Man Mouthbreather” or the go-anywhere 11-minute apex the album receives in its title-track, which starts big, ends big and is big in the middle. Beware the quiet parts in that song and a cut like “Ancient Arctic Wanderer,” as stretches of silence only seem to presage the next round of riffy pummeling. Monobrow seem comfortable working in either modus, and their third offering is a primo boon to fellow riff-heads. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Put into the right hands and through the right effects pedals, a saxophone can be a formidable tool in the psychedelic woodshed. Slow-rolling Italian foursome Mope clearly realize this on their three-track self-titled full-length debut CD, which comes in a digipak with gorgeous Snailking-esque black and white art from guitarist Jessica Rassi. They’re not long into opener “Old Grey Street” (7:32) before Sara Twinn distinguishes herself in adding a smoky melody atop the doomly vibes unfolding from Rassi, bassist Stefano Parodi and drummer Fabio Cuomo, and the dreamy-but-still-very-very-heavy mood Mope establish in the first track holds firm on the subsequent “Doomed to Feed the Ground” (12:58) and “La Caduta” (9:58) as well, the instrumental band sticking to a balance between psychedelic and stoner-doom impulses. Hypnosis ensues. The centerpiece is perhaps the most immersive of the three inclusions on the Taxi Driver Records outing, with its surprise piano at the beginning and sparse, minimalist ending, but across the board, Mope hone an engaging depth of presentation by which it’s a pleasure to be subsumed. Ending slow and jazzy on “La Caduta,” Mope‘s Mopeis one to close your eyes and just go with. On Thee Facebooks, at Taxi Driver’s Bandcamp.
Prisma Circus, Reminiscences
I don’t know how many times I’ve said it over the years, but, oh, what a difference a great drummer can make. Spanish classic heavy rock power trio Prisma Circus separate themselves on their World in Sound debut full-length, Reminiscences, from the scores of post-Graveyard retro worshipers thanks in no small part to the unmitigated swing in drummer Alex Carmona Blanco‘s playing. Couple that with the fiery leads of guitarist Oscar Garcia Albizu and warm, steady fills and bluesy exultations of bassist Joaquín Escudero Arce and Prisma Circus bang out thick-cut chops on their eight-track outing, starting with longest cut “The Mirror” (immediate points) and tapping into some Radio Moscow-style psych-blues volatility along the way. “Born in a Red House” slows the proceedings some, but Blanco kicks out a drum solo on the subsequent “Napalm” that lives up to the title, and the lighter back-half acoustics of “Cain” and the power trio thrust of “Onyx Star” ensure that Reminiscences stays satisfying to the bitter end, capping off with the smooth roll-out of “Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man),” which turns tempos fast enough to require multiple listens just to keep up. They may not be innovating the style at this point, but Prisma Circus are tight enough to stand out anyway. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, World in Sound.
Righteous though these grooves are, this is less than half of everything that joined The Obelisk Radio playlist this week. See the updates page for the complete list.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
For a band to bring together members from four different nations is complicated enough, but Blues Pills, who seem to have settled in Swedish retro/heavy rock hotspot Örebro (home to Truckfighters, Witchcraft, etc.), make a fluid debut with their self-titled. The record is set to land on North American shores on Aug. 5 via Nuclear Blast (July 25 in Europe), and it follows the Devil Man EP and a Live at Rockpalast recording issued on the label last year, a buzz having more or less build around the four-piece since their demo surfaced in 2010 and their first single arrived in 2011.
They’ll play the Totem Psych Fest on July 25 in Italy, will play other fests all summer and have tour dates booked this fall around appearances at Desertfest in Belgium and the Up in Smoke and Keep it Low fests in October. More to come, I’m sure. Here’s the album info off the PR wire:
Multicultural Rock Band BLUES PILLS to Release Self-Titled Debut August 5
Örebro, Sweden-based blues rock force BLUES PILLS will release its debut LP Blues Pills on August 5 via Nuclear Blast Records. The stunning young American-Swedish-French quartet, featuring vocalist Elin Larsson, drummer Cory Berry, bassist Zack Anderson and 17- year-old guitar phenom Dorian Sorriaux, are wise beyond their years, creating unique, intense and extraordinary rock music fueled by the timeless greats. The highly-anticipated follow up to 2013’s Devil Man EP, Blues Pills was recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden with producer Don Alsterberg (Graveyard, Horisont) and is advanced by the release of the blowback lead single “High Class Woman”.
Led by sensational Swedish songstress Elin Larsson, whose powerful, versatile and emotionally direct voice could enliven the raunchiest blues as well as the subtlest love songs, BLUES PILLS is a true musical experience; one we thought was long gone, lost forever in time. Larsson’s incredible, soul-filled vocals and siren-like presence recalls Hall of Fame heroines such as Etta James, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner, impressively guiding and corralling the group’s deep dynamics; driving bass lines, tasty, fiery guitars and overarching hard edge that call for comparison to early hard rock and heavy metal greats such as UFO, Rainbow, Fleetwood Mac, Cream and the kingly Led Zeppelin.
Simply stated, BLUES PILLS create a beautiful and powerful mix of both old and new, mashing the sounds of legendary rock and soul pioneers while incorporating their own distinctive marks. The end result is impeccable, nearly-timeless blues-based power rock. Hearing is believing!
The album’s cover art was created by world renowned artist and musician Marijke Koger-Dunham, hailed as the mother of psychedelic art. Koger-Dunham designed clothing for The Beatles and Cream, created custom-painted instruments for John Lennon, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, printed posters sold at the counter culture shops of the day and was commissioned as a muralist to exercise her talents in large format for The Beatles’ Apple Boutique on Baker Street. Her striking artwork was chosen by the band because, in their own words, “it is a representation of the balance of life, as shown in all the symbolism of natural duality such as darkness and light, sun and moon, life and death. It shows how opposite forces are interconnected and compliment each other to form a whole. Besides that, it looks absolutely amazing!” Can you dig it?
Track listing: 1.) High Class Woman 2.) Ain’t No Change 3.) Jupiter 4.) Black Smoke 5.) River 6.) No Hope Left for Me 7.) Devil Man 8.) Astralplane 9.) Gypsy (Chubby Checker cover) 10.) Little Sun
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The apparent hubris I showed in bragging last time around at the silly method by which I transferred audio editing software from one laptop to another came back to bite me in the ass as I put this podcast together. Finally, last night, I turned to Thee Facebooks for assistance and received an amount of input that was both useful and encouraging on a personal level. Thanks to everybody who took the time to help and to recommend alternative programs to the one I was using. I’m by no means technically inclined, so it is very much appreciated.
So yeah, there was a bit of drama in the making maybe — it was right around the Buzzo track that everything went to hell — but I don’t think you’ll get any clue of that from the audio, which has a few unexpected turns in its progression. At least in the first hour. Hour two is huge jams, because basically there was no way I wasn’t going to put that 17-minute-long Wo Fat song in there and I wanted to have some other stuff to stand up to it, but hour one takes a couple different avenues toward heavy rock and I guess I was feeling some bluesy psych this time as well. I won’t spoil it any more than I already have. Hope you enjoy.
The Scimitar, “Babylon” from Doomsayer (2014)
Moab, “No Soul” from Scion A/V Presents Billow (2014)
Monobrow, “Cicada” from Big Sky Black Horse (2014)
1000mods, “Horses’ Green” from Vultures (2014)
Mat McNerney & Kimmo Helén, “Blood and Bone Revival” from The World is Burning OST (2014)
The Atlas Moth, “City of Light” from The Old Believer (2014)
Highlands, “Your Let Down” from Dark Matter Traveler (2014)
Blues Pills, “River” from Blues Pills (2014)
Sea Bastard, “Door Sniffer” from Scabrous (2014)
Major Kong, “Acid Transmission” from Doom for the Black Sun (2014)
Buzz Osborne, “The Ripping Driving” from This Machine Kills Artists (2014)
Prisma Circus, “Napalm” from Reminiscences (2014)
The Heavy Company, “One Big Drag” from Uno Dose (2014)
Mope, “Doomed to Feed the Ground” from Mope (2014)
Idre, “Witch Trial” from Idre (2014)
Harsh Toke, “Weight of the Sun” from Light up and Live (2013)
Wo Fat, “Dreamwalker” from The Conjuring (2014)
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Desertfest continues to take shape in London as the 2014 lineup grows. Yesterday, Blues Pills joined the lineup, and today it’s The Midnight Ghost Train, who presumably will accompany their performance by no less than 18 straight months on the road, since that’s how they do. They join a varied assemblage of acts that ranges from The Body to Spirit Caravan, so I think it’s safe to say that the 2014 installment will be the most sonically diverse yet.
The following announcements were swiped from the Desertfest website and the copy comes courtesy of Cat Jones. Dig:
DesertFest 2014 Take the Blues Pills
Blues Pills are the ultimate example of the return of pure, unadulterated blues in the modern age.
Elin Larsson, Cory Berry, Zack Anderson and Dorian Sorriaux come from three different sections of the globe: Sweden, America and France, and were drawn together over shared talent and the magic that comes along with playing the blues from the heart.
With Elin’s voice sounding like an even more powerful Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin combined mixed with warm, retro tones and knock-you-on-your-back guitar solos, Blues Pills’ new EP ‘Devil Man’ sounds akin to an amped-up Jimi Hendrix or Cream. You could even say it’s what Graveyard might sound like if they had a pair of ear-blasting female lungs at the helm. Either way, this is exactly what we need in order to keep resurrecting the heart of rock ‘n’ roll; which is, after all, what DesertFest is all about.
The Midnight Ghost Train’s wheels to screech at DesertFest 2014
Once upon a time, at the height of Tom Waits’ career, he grew weary of touring and decided to regain his strength for a bit by disappearing into the dry, tornado-ridden southern plains of the States where the women are kind and the whiskey runs rampant like a flood.
As he stumbled home on a particularly overindulgent night, he befriended a band of smiling, bearded ruffians who handed him a copy of Kyuss’ ‘Blues For The Red Sun’ plus an ounce of their finest weed and said, “Take this and call us in the morning.” Needless to say, Waits was floored by the heavy grooves and vowed to devote his life to heavy rock ‘n’ roll. And that, boys and girls, is how The Midnight Ghost Train came into existence.
Clearly none of the aforementioned is true, but with the tunes on the Topeka, Kansas natives’ new EP ‘Buffalo’ as simultaneously gravelly, heavy, bluesy and downright dirty as they are, it all might as well be. Plus, ‘Buffalo’ is a definite contender for “sexiest cover art of 2013”. And after a successful stint of European touring under their belts already this year, we have no doubt these guys will fit in perfectly at DesertFest 2014.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s always a special time of year when the audio streams start coming out, and the output from Roadburn 2013 is no less stellar than ever. Whether or not you were able to make it to the legendary festival at the 013 venue and Het Patronaat in Tilburg, the Netherlands, their ability to capture the audio performances and the rate with which those performances are released is either a great way to relive a special weekend, discover something you may have missed, or just check out some killer bootleg-type material you can’t get anywhere else.
As ever, thanks to Walter Roadburn for sending over the streams for me to host and to Marcel van de Vondervoort and his crew for capturing Roadburn 2013 for posterity so that future generations can know how much ass their forebears kicked in their day. Or so I can put the stuff on this afternoon and rock out at the office. Either way. Maybe a bit of both.
This first batch includes Ash Borer, Black Bombaim, Blues Pills, Endless Boogie, Golden Void, Satan’s Satyrs (who played twice) and Teeth of the Sea. Enjoy:
Roadburn 2013 was an extravaganza of great bands from Alcest to Zodiac. Sometimes, trying to decide between shows (or get into the Green Room or Het Patronaat) was as hellish as anything screened during the Electric Acid Orgy Grindhouse Cinema. And if you couldn’t make it at all, well…
Have no fear, the 2013 audio streams are here! Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Marcel van de Vondervoort (Torture Garden Studio) and the team from VPRO 3voor12, which is the best cultural media network in the Netherlands, you can listen to the Roadburn 2013 shows you either missed or want to relive.
Tune in and ‘burn on!
Ash Borer – Roadburn 2013
Black Bombaim – Roadburn 2013
Blues Pills – Roadburn 2013
Teeth of the Sea – Roadburn 2013
Satan’s Satyrs – Live at Roadburn 2013 (Friday, April 19th)
Posted in Features on April 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
04.19.13 — 00.17 — Friday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
I was early to the Green Room, which is the middle-sized space at the 013. The first band on for Roadburn 2013 would be Black Bombaim, and if you’ve been here before, you know the crowds are serious and that if you’re not careful, you can wind up watching an act through an open doorway — which also happened to me more than once throughout the course of the evening. Plenty on time to see Black Bombaim, though, and no regrets for taking the head-first dive into jamming European heavy psychedelia, instrumental meandering to the cosmos. Man, all of a sudden it was a hell of an afternoon.
They were, as was somewhat expected, blissed right out, all-natural, all-jam, immediate swirl. The day had other starts on other stages, but for me, this was what it was about. I was stocked to watch them after digging last year’s Titansand 2010’s Saturdays and Space Travels(review here), and Tojo‘s bass tone served as an immediate reminder of why I can’t get enough of this kind of thing. Warm, grooving and perfectly suited to the band’s extended wandering progressions, I couldn’t have asked for more than I got as a way to kick off this year’s Roadburn. Watching guitarist Ricardo signal changes to drummer Senra, the whole thing had a very organic, very spontaneous vibe, and that’s just what you want. The first song was a little rough, but after that, they settled into a solid groove and stayed there.
Today was a fair amount of running around — less than some, more than others. Pallbearer were on the Main Stage shortly, and after the heavy dose of salivating they got in the US last time I saw them in New York with Enslaved (whose own Grutle Kjellson was kicking around here at some point today, seemingly just to hang out and why not?), I was curious to see how the Euro crowd would respond. Answer: Much the same. I knew what to expect in terms of performance, as it wasn’t that long since I last saw the band, but they still didn’t disappoint, and thinking about it in hindsight after seeing them on this stage, which is sizable to say the least, they were cramped at Bowery Ballroom. Tonally and in terms of presence, they more than held their own as a main stage act, which for only having one record out is all the more exciting.
Most of what they played I recognized from that record, early 2012’s Sorrow and Extinction(review here), and seeing them again, it was easier to get a sense of the four-piece’s live dynamic, Brett Campbell holding down the drama on guitar and vocals while bassist Joseph D. Rowland and guitarist Devin Holt bang their heads like they’re trying to get them to come off on the other side of the stage, and behind, drummer Mark Lierly steadily holding songs together and adapting fluidly to what would otherwise be stark tempo changes. The contrast of Rowland and Holt to Campbell is striking, but it makes Pallbearer a richer experience to watch. They’ve certainly had no shortage of hype around them since cropping up, but whatever else you might say about them and however loudly or emphatically you might say it, they’re well on their way to becoming a really great live act. Hopefully they continue to tour and carve out their sound and chemistry on the road.
Now, at every Roadburn, you’re going to see some things that you’ve never seen before and you’ll probably never see again. And even the stuff you have seen before — like tonight’s headliners, Primordial, for example, who came though NYC years back on the first Paganfest — is special here. Bands play better, play different material, and for an American coming over, it’s a chance to see European acts who probably aren’t going to be touring the States anytime soon. I say this so you understand why I left Pallbearer to go back and watch more of Black Bombaim. Since there’s so much going on at every fest, sometimes you have to make hard choices, and I almost always try to lean toward that which I’m less likely to run into later on or that which I’ve never seen before.
However, the Green Room was full to capacity and then some, so I wound up standing in the hallway in a cluster of people to watch for a couple minutes and then hit up the merch area across the way. I’d figured on picking up some discs and was pleased to find a host of Nasoni stuff again at the Exile on Mainstream table, including Johnson Noise and Vibravoid, as well as Burning World Records discs from The Angelic Process and Slomatics. Later on, I’d roll back through and grab more CDs from Svart and finally get a copy of The Midnight Ghost Train‘s Buffalo(review here) on CD. It wasn’t long though before I had to be back at the Main Stage for the start of Penance. Vocalist Lee Smith prefaced their set by saying it was the first time they’d played together since 1993, which math tells me was 20 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Butch Balich-era Penance a lot. I thought Spiritualnatural was a killer record and Proving Groundstill kicks my ass on occasion, but 1994’s Parallel Corners, with the lineup of Smith on vocals, guitarist Terry Weston, bassist Rich Freund and drummer Mike Smail has to be their high-point. The Pittsburgh natives resided at exactly the juncture where doom becomes metal, and with a riffy looseness and ultra-straightforward Sabbath-loving ethic, cuts like “Crosses” and “Words Not Deeds” brought out more than a fair share of righteous grooves. Both of those were standouts of their set — “Crosses” I took as a personal favor though I’m sure it wasn’t one — though long breaks between songs and surprisingly quiet banter from Smith seemed to undercut the momentum their riffs were building when they were actually playing, so it was hard for them to get on a roll.
No-frills trad doom, Penance nonetheless got their point across in beefy riffs utterly lacking in pretense. I checked in on Blues Pills in the Green Room from the hallway, and they seemed to be holding it down with no trouble, so I wandered back into the Main Stage area in time to catch “Words Not Deeds” round out the Penance set. From there, it was back to the Green Room to catch Pilgrim, who started early following a guitar and bass classic rocking-type jam during the setup that I’d be interested to hear them take elements from for their next album, which reportedly is in the works. They played new material and cuts from 2012’s Misery Wizarddebut like the immediately recognizable lumber of opener “Astaroth,” and not at all surprisingly, had the Green Room packed out the door. I don’t know if the Rhode Island trio are friends with the dudes in Pallbearer or what, but that’s a tour that should probably happen at some point. I’ve seen Pilgrim four times now since they put out that album, and they’ve only gotten stronger as a live act.
Though, to be fair, they did seem a little amped up at the start of their set, but the muscle memory kicked in before they were through the first song — you could actually see it — and they were locked in thereafter. I took pictures and then started to make my way through the crowd to watch from the back, and before I knew it, had kind of a, “Well shit, now what?” moment when the only place to be was outside the room. The answer to that question was “dinner.” I started to head out and get something to eat on the quick when I saw Gravetemple were just getting ready to hit the Main Stage for their start. With a lineup of a pedigree like that of Stephen O’Malley, Oren Ambarchi and Attila Csihar, popping my head in seemed like the least I could do on my way by. Csihar stood in front of a table of who knows what kind of manipulation devices, while O’Malley and Ambarchi came in soon enough on drone guitar. It was super-artsy in that particularly O’Malley kind of way, a different take on some of SunnO)))‘s atmospheres with Csihar‘s vocals providing a distinguishing element along the way. I dug it, but time was a factor, so I moved on to get a bite to eat.
Wound up with some salad, fish and plain pasta which I mixed in with the greens and the dill dressing. It was the first thing I’ve really eaten since I got on the plane that wasn’t a protein bar, and — here’s something that’s not at all shocking — I felt much better afterwards. My brain was like, “Dude, you’re the worst at life. You probably should’ve had a meal yesterday, jerk,” and I tried to argue back but there’s really no talking to that guy, so whatever. The salad was glorious in context for being just an ordinary salad, and though I got a piece of clam stuck in my tooth, the mixed fish was most welcome too. Nothing like actual protein drawing a direct comparison to the would be substitutes for it. By the time I was done, I felt like someone had just given me a piece of particleboard with macaroni glued onto it in the shape of the cover to Volume 4, and by that I mean ready to take on the world. This was fortunate, because High on Fire were getting ready to go on the Main Stage and play The Art of Self Defensefront to back.
Or maybe they weren’t getting ready. They kind of took their time coming out from the back, but with a backdrop behind them modified from the album’s original cover from its 2000 release on Man’s Ruin, High on Fire stormed — what else would they do, really? — through the riffy sludge of their first record in a manner befitting its grooving bombast. “10,000 Years” and “Blood from Zion” still feature in their set on the regular (they were aired when I saw the band in Philly late last year), but to get a song like “Fireface” out and have bassist Jeff Matz start off its viscous slog, it was a treat the three-piece seemed to enjoy as well, guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike cutting smiles every now and again between solos and the galloping riffs that started it all for the band. Tucked away in the back, drummer Des Kensel punctuated the stomp of “Last” and “Master of Fists” made for a suitably riotous finish, deconstructing at the end to leads and noise.
But they weren’t done. The bonus tracks from the 2001 Tee Pee Records reissue were also included, including the punkish rush of “Steel Shoe” and the Celtic Frost cover “The Usurper,” which Pike called the encore before they started. The room was the most packed out I’d see it the whole day, and it was the first complete set I watched. Elsewhere, other bands were playing, other special gigs taking place, but how could I not watch High on Fire do The Art of SelfDefense? In reception, the crowd was unanimous in fervent approval — heads banged, fists pumped, madmen shouted along to Pike‘s long-heralded battle cries — and particularly as the last High on Fire studio outing, De Vermis Mysteriis(review here) was so crisp and tight, it was striking to hear them take on the earlier material. Almost like they were letting their hair down a bit, though as anyone who heard that record can tell you, they’ve hardly lost their edge in the decade-plus since the first record came out.
Rounding out with “The Usurper,” High on Fire still finished early, a good 15 minutes before their scheduled end. I guess there’s only so much album to play. Fair enough. I took notes in my fancypants license place notebook and went back to the merch to pick up some more of the aforementioned odds and ends, and then headed back to the big room in plenty of time for the start of Primordial, who if nothing else were the most thoroughly fronted act I’ve seen so far. The Irish double-guitar five-piece were helmed by vocalist Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill, who came out with a bottle of Jameson and a bottle of wine and was through the better part of both by the time their 90 minutes were done, and from his stage makeup — that’s not to say corpsepaint, because it wasn’t really corpsepaint — and costuming to his intense on-stage persona, Averill positively owned the 013. I saw Primordial years back when they came through New York on the PaganFest tour (it was a lot of glockenspiels to get to a Primordial set, but worth it), so I knew just how much of a factor the performance element was, but like many before him, the singer stepped up his game to match the occasion, and in a space so large, it was an impressive feat of showmanship.
He also noted more than once from the stage that it was the band’s first time playing Roadburn, and made it clear he felt they were overdue in this — provocateur, I suppose, could be part of the role, but either way — and I wondered if perhaps he was putting in a bid for curator next year. That would assure Pilgrim a return slot (Averill released Pilgrim‘s Misery Wizard via his Poison Tongue imprint through Metal Blade Records), and I wouldn’t mind seeing them take on 2007’s To the Nameless Deadin its entirety, were it in the offing. His other band, the nascent and doomier Dread Sovereign, also play tomorrow, so there’s room to work with, I guess. In the meantime, this set touched on To the Nameless Deadand several others in Primordial‘s seven-album discography, beginning with “No Grave Deep Enough” from 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (review here) and spanning genres as much as full-lengths, running from post-black metal to Celtic-inspired progressions and keeping at times a doomly edge, particularly on newer material like “The Mouth of Judas” or “Cities Carved in Stone,” which closed 2005’s The Gathering Wilderness.
That LP’s title-track and “The Coffin Ships” also featured, the latter penultimate to To the Nameless Deadopener “Empire Falls,” with which they closed. In introducing “The Coffin Ships,” Averill mentioned it was about the Irish famine in the 1800s, and said they were bringing a bit of their history and culture to the here and now. By all accounts I’ve seen, he does seem to think of Primordial‘s music as a sort of ambassadorship — they were very much representing the Republic of Ireland on stage — and though I wondered if maybe there was anyone in the audience who hadn’t already heard of the famine, the song left little to want. Averill had slowed some by then, less foot on the monitor, less back and forth from one end of the stage to the other, tossing around the mic stand, calling everyone present including the band lazy cunts, and so on, but revived with “Empire Falls,” letting adrenaline carry him through the end of the set as he got on his knees and shouted the chorus at the somewhat-dwindled but still strong crowd, who were only too glad to return the favor.
So the headliners were done, but the night still had its closing acts to go. Averill had plugged fellow Irishmen Mourning Beloveth‘s set at Het Patronaat a couple times, and former Hawkwind/Meads of Asphodel bassist Alan Davey was doing Space Ritualin full on the Main Stage, but what I really wanted to see was The Midnight Ghost Train, who were playing at Stage01, formerly known as the Bat Cave, the smallest of the three rooms at the 013. It was full by the time I walked over, and I probably could’ve stood there and gotten bumped into again, and again, and again, but after 16 or 17 times, I started to get claustrophobic and had to get out. Much to my surprise, the band followed not long behind me.
Guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss, drummer Brandon Burghart and yet another new bassist walked through the crowd and out of the room. From my spot in the back, I got to say hi to both, and Burghart explained they were doing a stagger-on, one member at a time. Moss had left his guitar feeding back, so there was a steady hum, and I suppose walking back through the audience (no backstage to come out from) there was something of a delay, so that went long, but once their crazed, blues-infused rock got going, the full room of people there to see them had no trouble getting on board for the wild shuffling riffs and Moss‘ throaty vocals. From Kansas to Roadburn. They’re always a lot of fun to watch, and in Tilburg was no exception.
I stayed and got bumped into a few more times and then decided to check out a couple minutes of The Psychedelic Warlords, who were just getting ready for launch at the time. Space rock, man. It sure is spacious. They pulled a good crowd as well of loyal lysergeons and Davey, along with a full lineup of keys, guitar, vocals, drums and sax, were in the process of giving Space Ritualits due. By that point, the “get back to the hotel and start writing” urge was coming on pretty strong, and I didn’t resist. Outside, people sat at the picnic tables (new this year) or ate grub from the outside food stand (also new this year and just closing as I walked by) and smoked whatever they may have felt like smoking. Needless to say, Weirdo Canyon was also abuzz.
Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham of Electric Wizard were also hanging around the 013 lobby. The band curated tomorrow’s lineup under the heading of “The Electric Acid Orgy,” which one can only imagine will leave but a modicum of survivors. Looking forward.
Extra pics after the jump and more to come tomorrow. Thanks for reading.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It hasn’t been easy keeping up with the Desertfest updates, as both the London and Berlin fests seem to be adding new bands every day — Truckfighters and Colour Haze joining the London lineup was a bit of a “holy shit” moment for me — and sure enough, the last couple days have been no different, with French bands Glowsun and Mars Red Sky added to London and Blues Pills and Orchid signing on for Berlin. Lineups for both are getting pretty packed.
I’ve had several of those “holy shit” moments, including one listening to Dozer last weekend when I realized I’m actually going to get to see that band play, so although I may have some trouble keeping up, I’m unbelievably psyched to catch Desertfest this year.
Here’s the latest:
After crashing the Berlin leg of Desertfest last year, French ‘psychédélique’ trio Glowsun are heading to Camden and completing the double. Already strong contender for any best French band of all time awards, Glowsun are masters of mixing powerful, ambient psychedelia with raw, crushing groove.
Debut full length, The Sundering, put Glowsun on the stoner map in 2008 thanks to its expertly crafted, hooky jams. Last year’s follow up, Eternal Season, shoved drone more to the centre of the sound as well as pushing through heavier, crunchier guitars. The result was an equally atmospheric, but much darker album with more strut and swagger.
Sitting halfway between Sleep and Sungrazer, Glowsun’s appearance at the Camden leg this year is bound to be a thunderous, apocalyptic journey into a psychedelic waste ground.
words courtesy of Tom Geddes
Mars Red Sky
Mentioning the very concept of Mars Red Sky in the UK brings to mind the bizarre combination of tasty chocolate, caramel and nougat with a high quality brand of potato crisps. En France however we’re talking only about the psyche-tripping, outer galaxy meanderings of Bordeaux’s finest retro rockers, known to their fans as MRS.
Taking in influences as broad as Hendrix, Kyuss, Cream, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, these meteor-bothering cosmonauts create a thick, fuzzy, yet delicate sound, memorably topped off by frontman Julien Pras’ startlingly soulful bluesy rasps behind the mic. With just a singular, though poignant, self-titled debut record and a split with Year of No Light out to date, MRS have quickly built an impressive résumé which includes guest spots at Roadburn, Les Eurockennes and Incubate festivals as well as opening slots with the likes of Sleepy Sun and Killing Joke. A groovy, acid-frying three piece rounded out by Jimmy Kinast on bass and Benoit Busser behind the kit, MRS bring brooding basslines, triumphant drumbeats and a megaton of big-muffled guitar riffs together with a dark and haunting sense of melody, seldom heard in the cactus fields of classic stoner rock.
If you dig the likes of Colour Haze, Tweak Bird, Witchcraft and Earthless then get your shovel back out and prepare to get crater-making with yet another astounding addition to our line-up here at DesertFest 2013.
As many of you expected, ORCHID is now confirmed for the DESERTFEST BERLIN ! :)
ORCHID is an American Doom Metal band based in San Francisco, California, founded in 2007, and one of the greatest new acts of its kind. Rocking hard with their dark, psych-sonic blues assault, the band, around the charismatic lead singer Theo Mindell and his fascinating psychedelic vocals, are the new darlings of the retro heavy rock scene.
ORCHID established their reputation early with the 2009 release of their first EP “Through The Devil’s Doorway” on the small indie label The Church Within. The EP quickly received first-rate reviews around the world naming it an ingenious debut for a band with an auspicious future. Shortly after this release, ORCHID unleashed their first full length album “Capricorn”, released in 2011 by the same label. The record immediately gained the band a huge following in Europe. In September 2012, Nuclear Blast released “Heretic”, their last EP to date … but not for long, as they already prepare a new one, “Wizard of War” ! Stay tuned…
As they live for writing, recording, and playing live, they tour in Europe every year, participating in many of great festivals, such as Hammer of Doom Festival in October 2011, and DesertFest London last April.
Now it’s Berlin turn !!
It’s time for us to bring a little bit of blues to the DesertFest. We are glad to welcome the Swedish-American-French hybrid BLUES PILLS !!
After their departure from Radio Moscow in September 2011, drummer Cory Berry and bass player Zack Anderson, joined up with Swedish lead singer Elin Larsson and French guitar player Dorian Sorriaux to form BLUES PILLS, a compound of heavy, driving bass lines, colossal drums and ferocious, riff based, soul-penetrating guitar work tied together by an incredible soulful voice.
Their 4-track debut EP, “Bliss”, released in May 2012 on Crusher Records, propelled them at the forefront of the on-going 1970?s blues rock retrospective. They toured last summer in Spain and Portugal, and this year, they will play at Roadburn Festival and DesertFest !!
So come to Berlin and take your dose of this blues medicine !!
The Best Blues Medicine Comes from Sweden! Blues Pills Confirmed for Roadburn 2013!
We’re very pleased to announce that Sweden’s Blues Pillswill be making their appearance at Roadburn Festival 2013 on Thursday, April 18 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.
After their abrupt departure from Radio Moscow, drummer Cory Berry and bass player Zack Anderson grouped with classical-trained Swedish lead singer Elin Larsson and French guitar player Dorian Sorriaux to form Blues Pills, a dynamic hybrid between blues rock of the 60s and the heavy 70s. Think heavy, driving bass lines, colossal drums and ferocious, riff based, soul-penetrating guitar work, tied together by the incredible soulful voice of Larsson, sometimes singing in her mother tongue, and whose timbre, range and power is reminiscent of Susan Tedeschi and Janis Joplin.
Blues Pills‘ sound is very diverse as shown on Bliss, their 4-track debut for Crusher Records. The band has put lots of emphasis on both dynamics and emotion by bringing out beautiful harmonics, escaping the the typical 12-bar form for Peter Green‘s Fleetwood Mac-inspired melodies and a more progressive Zeppelin-like structure.
With our fondness for Swedish rock (we have invited the likes of Witchcraft, Graveyard, Dead Man, Horisont, Troubled Horse, Spiders et al to previous festivals) it’s not surprising that Blues Pills are appearing at Roadburn 2013 and not just because they are Swedish…but because they bring out the best heavy 70s inspired rock we have heard in a long time.
Roadburn Festival 2013 will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.