Bongzilla to Release Thank You… Marijuana Compilation Nov. 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

bongzilla

Though it’s kind of a wonder they can manage to cross state lines let alone international borders, Wisconsin’s Bongzilla toured Europe this past summer, and they had copies of their compilation Thank You… Marijuana, along with them for the ride. The 2LP brings together the band’s off-album catalog — tracks from splits, EPs, singles and so on. Other songs that presumably got high and wandered off. With a suitably stonerly respite between, Totem Cat will release Thank You… Marijuana on Nov. 15, with preorders starting next week.

Bongzilla releasing a comp called Thank You… Marijuana is nothing if not “on theme.” But any new outing from them is welcome, as it’s been some 13 years since they issued Amerijuanican, their most recent studio album. I of course don’t know what their plans are, but in noting this was coming, Totem Cat also hinted at another announcement to follow shortly behind, and it seems entirely possible that’s a new Bongzilla record or the long-awaited debut LP of side-project Aquilonian, which rumors had circulated might actually take shape sometime this or next year. I wouldn’t complain with either.

When/if I hear something I’ll put a post up, so if you want to consider this the first half of Totem Cat news going on, that’s fine. Certainly worth noting either way:

bongzilla thank you marijuana

[NEW RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT] Bongzilla – Thank You… Marijuana

Compilation of all their previous splits & EPs, specially remastered for this release.

Available on CD / 2xLP / Totem Cat Exclusive 2xLP / Tour Edition 2xLP.

Tracklisting:
A1 Lighten Up 3:23
A2 Smoke Like The Wind 5:24
A3 Brownie 3:17
A4 Gungeon 4:21
B1 Hemp For Victory 5:17
B2 Smoke 4:26
B3 Budgun/THC 5:48
B4 Witch Weed 5:32
C1 Satan’s Calling 4:21
C2 Smell The Jar 5:39
C3 Proper Stoning 6:26
C4 Dealer McDope 6:49
D1 Gestation 3:46
D2 Trinity 6:44
D3 Witch Weed 6:37

Preorders will start October 30. Release date is November 15.

Artwork by Flog Diver | Illustration & Design

https://www.facebook.com/Bongzilla/
https://bongzilla.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/totemcatrecords/
totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://totemcatrecords.bandcamp.com/

Bongzilla, “Gestation/Greenthumb” live in Paris, June 21, 2018

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Roadburn 2017 Audio Streams Mega-Batch Posted Featuring Bongzilla, Slomatics, Valborg, Warning and More

Posted in audiObelisk on September 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

warning-1-Photo-by-JJ-Koczan

It’s been tradition around these parts for I don’t even know how long to post the annual audio streams as they come out from each Roadburn, and I hope the case will be no different as we move further away from Roadburn 2017 this past April in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and inexorably toward the first announcements for Roadburn 2018 to come. This process — the posting — used to require a slew of links and media players, which I actually kind of liked because it allowed for emphasis on just how much material there was emerging from the festival, how much work Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team put into the recording and mixing of these sets for all the bands, and so on.

Well, it’s the future now — or I guess it was the future like five years ago? I may have missed when it actually became the future; whatever — and we apparently don’t even need to have 22 different media players to post 22 different streams from Roadburn 2017. We need one. Netherlands-based media company 3voor12, which has always hosted the sets, brings forth a mega-batch today featuring the likes of (alphabetically) Atala, Author and Punisher, Bongzilla, Carpenter Brut, Casual Nun, Cobalt, Disfear, Forn, GNOD, Inter Arma, Joy, Les Discrets, Nadra, Pontiak, Serpent Venom, Slomatics, Temple ov BBV, Trans Am, Ultha, Valborg, Warning and Wolvennest.

Not inconsiderable. It’s been mere hours since Slomatics‘ Futurians: Live at Roadburn was reviewed here, but I also had occasion to see Warning (pictured above), JoyLes DiscretsAtalaValborg and others on that list, and I can attest to their being a joy to behold. Part of the fun of these streams is also getting some sense of what you missed at Roadburn due to making the inevitable hard choice of a schedule conflict, so I guess this is my shot at hearing what Bongzilla got up to during their time on stage. If you need me I’ll be doing that.

Hope you enjoy as well:

Thanks as always to Walter for sending the embed my way. For all this site’s Roadburn 2017 coverage, click here.

Roadburn’s website

Marcel Van De Vondervoort on Thee Facebooks

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Desertfest London 2017: Individual Day Schedules Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I have no problem admitting to feeling overwhelmed looking at the full lineup and individual day splits for Desertfest London 2017. I mean, seriously. Look at that poster. What a way to spend a weekend.

Likewise, I have few grand reflections to offer in light of that overwhelming feeling, except perhaps to take a step back and be massively impressed at how much this event has grown in just six incarnations. Along with Desertfest Berlin, the London edition has become an anchor not only for the UK heavy rock underground — which is well represented here as ever in Elephant TreeBlack SpidersStubbVodunPigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs PigsTerminal CheesecakeChubby Thunderous Bad Kush MastersMammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, and so on — but for bands from abroad as well. You’ll note the three headliners: two American, one Norwegian, and the next line down on the poster is two Swedish, one American. Desertfest London 2017’s reach feels wider than ever. Staring at the final lineup, it’s clear just how much of a big fucking deal this festival has become.

Wish I could be there to see it.

Here’s the announcement of the individual day lineups from their website:

desertfest london 2017

DESERTFEST 2017 DAY SPLITS AND DAY TICKETS ARE HERE!

Finally, the Desertfest 2017 day and stage splits are here, along with individual day tickets. It’s the point of the year where you can start planning the weekend, you can imagine the sets in your head and you can curse those god damned clashes.

Last things first, let’s get straight to that insane Sunday main-stage. To celebrate The Roundhouse joining the Desertfest family, we made their debut appearance something special. Not only will stoner doom icons Sleep be topping the bill, but the Roundhouse hosts a full bill of huge acts. Candlemass, with over three decades of underground acclaim to their name, bring the epic doom metal. USA’s Wolves in the Throne Room bring the atmospheric black metal. Traditional doom metal stalwarts Saint Vitus bring the classic riffs. And how about this for a ‘curtain jerker’? Bongzilla bring the raw weed metal for their second show of the weekend; more on the first later.

It’s not just about the Sunday though. Friday’s stage at the Electric Ballroom is headlined by returning heroes Slo Burn whose short run in the mid 90s furthered the then fledgling stoner rock scene. One band they surely had an impact on is Lowrider, who play Europe’s finest stoner rock alongside them. Ukraine’s Stoned Jesus celebrate their resonant album Seven Thunders Roar, and 1000Mods and Pontiak round up the main stage on the Friday.

The Electric Ballroom on Saturday will be swarming with Turbojugends as death-punk grandmasters Turbonegro turn Camden into party central. John Garcia sticks around for a solo show, sure to feature classics from his years of nonstop mastery in the stoner rock scene. Sheffield’s rock and roll five piece Black Spiders visit London for one last time on their farewell tour, with Satan’s Satyrs and Avon rounding up the main stage.

As ever though, it doesn’t stop at the main stages. Our regular partners have delivered three stages with diverse lineups. Human_Disease_Promo and When Planets Collide take over The Underworld on Saturday in a bill headlined by Bongzilla with a special set celebrating the band’s early work. The Quietus stage is led by synth wavers Zombi, and Nightshift Promotions bring an eclectic mix led by Hungary’s Apey & the Pea. To be honest, just stick a pin in the lineup poster and you’re guaranteed a good time.

For those who can’t make the full weekend, we have a limited number of individual day tickets. Priced at £40 for Friday tickets, £40 for Saturday tickets and £45 for Sunday tickets, links are below.

So there we have it. Our final lineup for Desertfest 2017. We hope you’re as excited as we are to get back to Camden this April and riff London to the ground.

DESERTFEST LONDON 2017 Final Lineup:
SLEEP
SLO BURN
TURBONEGRO
CANDLEMASS
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
SAINT VITUS
JOHN GARCIA BAND
BONGZILLA
LOWRIDER
SCISSORFIGHT
BLACK SPIDERS
SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT
THE PICTUREBOOKS
STONED JESUS
SATAN’S SATYRS
INTER ARMA
WEAR YOUR WOUNDS
1000MODS
STEAK
AVON
DEATH ALLEY
DEAD LORD
BOSS KELOID
PONTIAK
YURI GAGARIN
HARK
VODUN
CHRON GOBLIN
PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS
THE WELL
MAMMOTH STORM
CELESTE
STUBB
MONOLITHIAN
WUCAN
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS
BRUME
APEY & THE PEA
ELEPHANT TREE
GRAVE LINES
IRON WITCH
EARTH SHIP
BACKWOODS PAYBACK
WIZARD FIGHT
BRULE
CLOSET DISCO QUEEN
GRAND MAMMOTH
CHUBBY THUNDEROUS BAD KUSH MASTERS
MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD
SAMAVAYO
WELCOME BACK DELTA
DEAD LETTUCE
MONSTERTONE
LEDFOOT
ZOMBI
TERMINAL CHEESECAKE
KHÜNNT
BASK
BRUXA MARIA

http://www.desertfest.co.uk/#tickets-section
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/desertfest-2017-tickets-27305267791
http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/

Dead Lettuce, Booze and Blues EP (2015)

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Desertfest Berlin 2017: Saint Vitus to Headline; Venue Expansion Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

As doom legends Saint Vitus join Sleep and John Garcia in headlining, things seem to still just be heating up for Desertfest Berlin 2017. The reason I say so is the fest has just announced plans to expand beyond the Astra Kulturhaus for the first time in its five-year history. It will now incorporate multiple spaces in RAW, including two other clubs near to the Astra at which affiliated shows will be hosted put on by local promoters. Pretty awesome news, quite frankly, and it gives those fortunate enough to be in attendance even more options for how to spend their time as Desertfest gradually takes over the whole area for the weekend.

The fest made the announcement thusly:

desertfest-berlin-2017-first-poster

Desertfest Berlin 2017 We go BIGGER and BETTER: additional Venues / SAINT VITUS to Headline

2017 – DESERTFEST will conquer all of RAW !

That means, for all of you who don’t know, the wonderful RAW-Area where our main venue ASTRA is located. It is a former GDR train maintenance station with lots of now newly populated old factory buildings, lots of space to play and street art to enjoy. It means you get to roam freely in and outside of the Astra and go out and explore, as we will expand the festival to three more additional venues! Of course the traditionalists can enjoy the full program, eat & drink and get wild without leaving the premises – our main stage, our foyer stage, bingo-bongo bar and the beloved beergarden.

We are super stoked to have the venues CASSIOPEIA, URBAN SPREE and BADEHAUS BERLIN with us on board – three amazing clubs in three minute walking distance from Astra that will host special parties and more concerts. The events there will be curated by underground labels and promoters which we will introduce to you with several postings in the weeks to come.

Desertfest Berlin 2017 will feature more than 50 bands in total !!!

Also be prepared to welcome very special known people who are trading their instruments with turntables and deliver you exclusive DJ Sets!

In order to make things more fun we are forced to raise the ticket prices a tiny bit. But have no fear – until February 1st, you can still buy Tickets for 85 € (visit our Website, or use the links below in this release). After that, the weekend pass will be 95 €. We hope you like the news of our expanding ideas and you are looking forward to celebrate the biggest and best DESERTFEST ever ;)

SAINT VITUS TO HEADLINE DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017

On top of that great news, we are thrilled to tell you that SAINT VITUS will be our third headliner for this 2017 edition, alongside SLEEP and JOHN GARCIA ! BONGZILLA, STONED JESUS, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH and ODD COUPLE are also added to this year’s line-up !

SAINT VITUS (USA)
Los Angeles titans Saint Vitus are over 36 years-strong and still bleeding black… Coming from the same school as Trouble or Pentagram, they are praised as one of the original instigators of doom metal. Even through the turmoil of personnel changes and re-formations, Saint Vitus have always held a position of respect in the underground heavy rock scene, and we are proud to have them headlining Desertfest Berlin 2017!!

BONGZILLA (USA)
Before virtually any of these new jacks started claiming “weed metal” or anything of the like, there was Wisconsin’s Bongzilla. Formed in 1995 and devoted to all things green, the band infuses its homegrown, psychedelic sludge sound with a distinctive Southern feel. After several releases and lineup transformations, the band went on hiatus in the late 00s. But since 2015, Bongzilla are back to deliver their stoned out, tuned down, Sabbath inspired stoned music to the world, and have proven that their live shows are not to be missed!

STONED JESUS (UKR)
It’s been half a decade since Ukrainian heavy trio released their second album, “Seven Thunders Roar”, and it would be hard to imagine they had any idea the audience it would find back then. This year at Desertfest Berlin, to mark the fifth anniversary of “Seven Thunders Roar”, Stoned Jesus will perform a set featuring their most famous album in its entirety!! They are at work on new material as well, so keep an eye out for more updates!

MAMMOTH MAMMOTH (AUS)
Melbourne’s Mammoth Mammoth just emerged from the studio with a new album locked, loaded and ready to fire! Again, the recording was not without the usual disturbances that plague this foursome. Yes the police came (and not to jam a few tunes). Yes, there was a chemical fire. And yes, a little voodoo was practiced. And okay, the bass player did barely survive a motorcycle crash just before the final tracking. But nothing short of Armageddon was gonna stop MM from getting the job done and to launch this new album at Desertfest Berlin!!

ODD COUPLE (GER)
Odd Couple are a Berlin duo with guitars, drums and hands. Together they play a fast paced, sweaty rock ‘n’ roll, wwhere it dwho is playing which instrument, it’s all about setting a room on fire – with limited resources. Another new edition of the Black Keys formula? Not at all!

Previously confirmed for this year’s DESERTFEST BERLIN: SLEEP, JOHN GARCIA & BAND (playing songs from Kyuss to Slo Burn), SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, LOWRIDER, 1000MODS, TOUNDRA, ECSTATIC VISION, SUMA, THE COSMIC DEAD, PONTIAK, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, WUCAN, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GOLD, RIFF FIST, TSCHAIKA 21/16.

http://www.desertfest.de/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
http://woolheads.com/shop-2/festivalmerchandise/desertfest-berlin-2016-early-bird-ticket-action-1/
https://shop3.ticketscript.com/channel/html/get-products/rid/4MGC3S6H/eid/327518/validity/any_day/language/en

Lowrider, “Shivaree” live at Desertfest Berlin 2013

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Roadburn 2017 Adds 24 New Bands: Bongzilla, Disfear, Serpent Venom, Lycus, Ruby the Hatchet, Harsh Toke, Joy and Many More

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn 2017 banner

As one has come to expect by now, there’s an awful lot of badassery in this latest announcement from Roadburn 2017. The Tilburg-based festival doesn’t seem to do anything small at this point — though it boasts not one, but two delightfully intimate venues, so take that assertion with a grain of reality’s salt — and that certainly includes this round of 24 lineup additions. For me, particularly notable is the West Coast heavy psych invasion underway with the likes of Joy and Harsh Toke added — Tee Pee labelmates Ruby the Hatchet are no slouches themselves in that regard — and UK doomers Serpent Venom, who, as noted in the expansive update below, are overdue for an appearance at this showcase of showcases. I’ve included the stream of their last album as a refresher of its righteousness, in case you need one.

Also dig Bongzilla added to perform Gateway in its entirety. They’ll be part of a killer Main Stage lineup that day that’s basically untouchable and bound to engender much whining when the schedule is released and is packed as ever in all the other rooms. See also Big Business, Pontiak, Radar Men from the Moon, The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Lycus and so on. In the immortal words of pre-cold-dead-hands Charlton Heston, “it’s a madhouse.”

Check it out:

Twenty-four new additions to Roadburn’s 2017 line up

• John Dyer Baizley adds four new bands to his curated event, plus confirms a live interview at Roadburn 2017.
• Bongzilla confirm their first trip to Roadburn
• Big Business return to Roadburn ten years after their last performance at the festival.
….and more

JOHN DYER BAIZLEY

John Dyer Baizley has confirmed four more bands for his curated event, with the line up now almost complete. In addition, he will also take part in a live interview at Roadburn 2017 as part of the festival’s side programme.

Few others, if any, hardcore bands carry so much weight and impose so much respect outside their own scene as INTEGRITY do, perhaps because they have always transcended their “root” genre, both stylistically and conceptually. Baizley comments: “I hope to see you all there, while Integrity proves to all present that the ferocity has neither dulled nor become disingenuous throughout their career. Reality is bleak, but through darkness we are able to find connectivity and community.”

DISFEAR have been one of the leading lights of the Swedish d-beat scene in the almost three decades they have existed. They might not record of perform often, but when they do, you know it’s going to be something extraordinary, as John says: “I don’t know exactly what to expect from this re-emergence, but I’m sure it won’t be a gentle one. This should be a no-hold-barred, fists-in-the-air, mandatory-circle-pit set, and you better believe I’m not missing a minute of it.”

OATHBREAKER have wowed audiences around the world with the release of their latest album, Rheia. John counts himself among the devoted, commenting of the album: “Therein exists a healthy reverence and understanding of the genres it references; yet it’s a record that is beholden to no style, genre or convention. There are layers upon layers of sound that recall black metal, pop, indie, hardcore, shoe-gaze, you-name-it; yet as I listen, I am aware of none of this – it has been presented so artfully and with such earnest and unpretentious conviction.”

If you trace the history of post-rock, you’ll go all the way down the family tree to find Nathan Means, Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson, the three members of TRANS AM, at the very root of it all. “I have always been a massive Trans Am fan, and I think their performance at Roadburn will be an incredible moment during next year’s festival,” John says, “I’m sure Sebastian will have his work cut out for him, playing two very intense and completely different sets, with both Baroness and Trans Am (Friday and Saturday, respectively). Do not miss this show, it will be a truly incomparable experience during Roadburn 2017.”

John Dyer Baizley will also be participating in Roadburn’s popular side programme, having confirmed that he will take part in a live interview hosted by Ula Gehret. John will talk through his personal and professional highs and lows before taking questions from the audience.

BONGZILLA

In an unparalleled stoner celebration, reformed Wisconsin riffmasters BONGZILLA have been confirmed to perform their classic album Gateway in its entirety at Roadburn Festival 2017. Next year marks 15 years since BONGZILLA originally released Gateway in 2002. Their third album, it indeed was for many listeners a doorway into a new world – a dimension of crust-laden sludge that, in the years since, has gone on to put an entire generation of bands under its influence. Unmatched in its dankness, coated in purple and green tonal wash, Gateway’s weedian righteousness is no less potent today than a decade and a half ago.

BIG BUSINESS

The last time this dynamic duo set foot at Roadburn was way back in 2007, in the company of their Melvins bros, but now, fully grown up and with a bunch more records, experience and exactly the same amount of boundless creativity, they will return on their own, as the singular, unique musical force they are.

WHORES.

Their live shows have a reputation for being way beyond the norm in terms on intensity, so we are super stoked to bring this power trio, WHORES.to Roadburn for the first time. We have the feeling it just might be one of those shows that everyone will talk about for years afterwards, so make sure you don’t miss WHORES. when they play Roadburn 2017 – they have a curious knack for melody that’ll ensure these tunes stay with you long after the bruises have healed up.

ALSO CONFIRMED:

Alaric will deliver a hybrid of post-punk’s tense, angular structures with the size and spread of extreme metal’s most dynamic sonic components.
Author & Punisher heralds the rise of the machines with a unique take on industrial doom.
Cobalt offer atypical excursions through black metal via apocalyptic tribalism, old Americana, and a doom-laden, ritualistic atmosphere.
Fórn bring both soul-crushing lows and groovy assaults at higher moments.
Gnaw Their Tongues have promised “something special” for their Roadburn set. Prepare for aural torture.
Harsh Toke will perform a set comprised entirely of Roky Ericsson covers.
Hedvig Mollestad Trio touch on genre-blurring hardrock and metal riffery as well as the noisier realms of jazz improvisation.
Joy are a San Diego heavy psych power trio, inviting you to ride along with them at Roadburn.
King Woman heavy, dark, emotional, beguiling, confrontational.
Lycus – monolithic, mournful, and massive sounding doom.
Pinkish Black will be making waves and breaking hearts with their chilling synthesiser dirges.
Pontiak are primal and fiery and often fuzzy and psyched out; ready to give a lesson in rock.
Radar Men From The Moon will team up with Roadburn 2017 artist in residence GNOD for a collaborative performance known as Temple Ov BBV, as well as playing their own show.
Ruby The Hatchet invite you to follow them on their kosmiche trip.
Serpent Venom – they’re trippy, they’re heavy, they are long overdue a Roadburn appearance.
The Devil & The Almighty Blues are heavily inspired by Delta blues, and standing at the crossroads of both American and British blues-based rock.
True Widow return with more sultry yet syrupy fuzzed out trips.

Artists already announced for Roadburn 2017 include Coven, Warning (playing Watching from a Distance in full), Artists in Residence – GNOD, My Dying Bride (performing Turn Loose The Swans in its entirety), Ulver and Hypnopaz?zu (David Tibet & Youth) and Zeal & Ardor, Mysticum, Deafheaven, Chelsea Wolfe, and our 2017 curator, John Baizley who will perform with Baroness, plus many more. Roadburn Festival will take place 20-23 April, 2017 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets (and campsite tickets) are on sale for Roadburn 2017 and can be purchased from this link.

4 day – 195 Euro
3 day (Thu, Fri, Sat) – 172 Euro
Single day ticket, Sunday only – 54 Euro

Thursday, Friday and Saturday single day tickets will be on sale on January 12 priced at 59 Euro.

http://www.roadburn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://twitter.com/roadburnfest

Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen (2014)

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

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

bongzilla show 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

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

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

Here’s how it went down:

Lo-Pan

lo-pan 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

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

Kings Destroy

kings destroy 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

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

Black Cobra

black cobra 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

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

Bongzilla

bongzilla 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

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

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

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The Obelisk Presents: Bongzilla, Black Cobra, Kings Destroy and Lo-Pan at ONCE Ballroom, Somerville, MA, 04.02.16

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on March 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

bongzilla black cobra lo pan kings destroy poster

Holy crap that’s a stacked bill. Show is this Saturday, April 2, at the all-caps ONCE Ballroom in Somerville, Massachusetts, and it’s a stop on the second full-US reunion run from Wisconsin sludge megastoners Bongzilla. They hit Massachusetts for the second time since getting back together, having rolled through nearby Allston with Spirit Caravan, Dirty Streets and local destroyers Rozamov supporting last fall. The lineup this time — Bongzilla, Black Cobra, Kings Destroy and Lo-Pan — brings together four acts who each deliver a different take on heaviness, and four acts whose reputation for killing it should at this point precede them.

This tour began more than a month ago, on Feb. 28, with a hometown Madison, WI, show for Bongzilla, and has continued forth since. They covered the West Coast with Against the Grain before a stop at Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 at SXSW found that band and New York’s Kings Destroy swapping out, and head east with the promise of locked-in furies and massive tones to come, Black Cobra raging in support of their new album, Imperium Simulacra (review here), as both Lo-Pan and Kings Destroy herald new material from yet-unannounced next albums. Simply put, it’s the kind of gig you’d much rather be at than not be at.

Deep thanks to Grayskull Booking for having me involved and giving me the chance to talk about it, as well as, you know, for putting it on. And just so we’re all on the up and up, the tour is sponsored by Cvlt Nation and I’m not trying to bite a piece off anyone’s contractual anything. Show info follows:

The Obelisk Presents:
BONGZILLA
BLACK COBRA
KINGS DESTROY
LO-PAN

April 2nd, 2016
ONCE Ballroom
156 Highland Ave
Somerville, MA

18+ Doors at 7:30pm, show starts at 8:30pm
$18 adv – $22 dos

Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2478127

Bongzilla at ONCE Ballroom teaser

Event page on Thee Facebooks

Grayskull Booking

Bongzilla on Bandcamp

Black Cobra website

Kings Destroy website

Lo-Pan website

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Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3: Two-Day SXSW Event Lineup Announced

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

The formidable likes of PentagramWeedeaterBongzillaBlack CobraKings DestroyLo-Pan, Mondo DragVenomous MaximusToday is the Day and many more will take part in Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 this March in Austin, Texas, as part of SXSW. A two-day event clustered in the madness that is the Texan capitol that week, Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 is set for March 18 and 19 at The Lost Well, just north of 7th St., and far enough off 6th that if you happen to be in town for SXSW, it’s an easily-enough justified walk (stumble) by the righteousness of those on the bill. You might as well just camp outside the venue to be sure you get back there on the second day.

Or, you know, fall asleep in the gutter, because that’s kind of how it goes at SXSW, or at least it was the last time I was there. Though you can’t deny the wide reach of Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3 in bringing in its headliners from around the Midwest and East and West Coasts, it’s worth pointing out the particular attention paid to supporting local acts, among them Texan outfits like Venomous Maximus — who reportedly have a new album coming this year — as well as BanquetSweat LodgeDestroyer of LightFrom Beyond and so on. Cheers to American Icon Presents for making sure all sides are represented.

Lineup follows here, in case you’d like to drool or book a flight or book me a flight, you know, whatever:

heavy metal parking lot 3 poster

HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT 3

Day 1 -Fri Mar 18
WEEDEATER ( Exclusive Performance )
BONGZILLA
Kings Destroy
Black Cobra
Author and Punisher
Today is the Day
Lord Dying
Lo Pan
Against the Grain
Widower
Slurr
Thunderkief

Day 2 – Sat Mar 19
PENTAGRAM ( Exclusive Performance)
Mondo Drag
Venomous Maximus
Sweat Lodge
The Blood Royale
Tower
Sabbath Crow

SPECIAL GUESTS
Destroyer of Light
Banquet
From Beyond
Greenbeard

Day 1 and Day 2 tickets Purchased Separately
Sponsored by American Icon Records (A.I.R)

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heavy-metal-parking-lot-3-day-1-weedeater-bongzilla-tickets-20491750377
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/heavy-metal-parking-lot-3-day-2-pentagram-tickets-19813562900
https://www.facebook.com/events/430113890521968/
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanIconpresents/
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanIconRecords/

Pentagram, “When the Screams Come” live at A.I.R. Expo

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