Worshipper, Shadow Hymns: Sowing and Reaping

Posted in Reviews on October 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


The simple fact of the matter is that bands like Worshipper don’t just happen every day. Granted, I don’t think this is any of the members’ first project, but just because a player is experienced does not necessarily mean a given endeavor is going to click when other players become involved. Worshipper have not only clicked, but they’ve clicked on their first record, and they’ve clicked in such a way that the Tee Pee-delivered Shadow Hymns has felt destined to be on the best debuts of 2016 list since before it actually came out.

An anticipated debut? Not that it never happens, but like I said, it’s certainly not every day. Listening to the spacious crashes of opener “High Above the Clouds” or the NWOBHM-derived chug of “Step Behind,” which follows and fosters a momentum that continues across Shadow Hymns‘ eight-track/38-minute span, it reminds one of buying some tech product, opening the box, and having it ready to run immediately. Worshipper don’t need to charge up; there’s no assembly required. Guitarist/vocalist John Brookhouse, guitarist Alejandro Necochea, bassist/backing vocalist Bob Maloney and drummer Dave Jarvis have taken care of everything.

Working at three studios — Mad Oak, Q Division and Converse Rubber Tracks — they’ve meticulously constructed songs that thread together impulses from heavy rock and classic metal. Their native scene has already taken notice and embraced them heartily, handing them a Boston Music Award last year on the strength of their two 2015 singles, Place Beyond the Light b/w Step Behind (discussed here) and the earlier Black Corridor b/w High Above the Clouds (review here).

That’s an action I don’t disagree with — it seemed perhaps a bit premature in the way Barack Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, when he’d been president for a matter of weeks — but Worshipper have been nominated for three more such awards in 2016, so clearly the Boston music scene agrees with itself, which it can be relied upon to do generally. As regards Worshipper, it’s right.


Four of Shadow Hymns‘ eight songs appeared on those prior singles, and while “Step Behind” and “Place Beyond the Light” and “High Above the Clouds” and “Black Corridor,” which closes, are standouts for having been issued before, the level of songwriting on “Ghosts and Breath,” “Darkness,” “Another Yesterday” and “Wolf Song” is not only consistent, but broadens an atmospheric scope that may or may not still be in development, but already sounds accomplished. “Ghosts and Breath” taps into Slayer-esque dual-leads at its outset even as it moves into one of the record’s plethora of hooks, while “Darkness” and the penultimate “Wolf Song” bring in layers of acoustic guitar (a specialty of producer Benny Grotto) for a feel bordering on gothic.

These moments of flourish come together fluidly with the gallop that emerges in “Place Beyond the Light,” united by stellar lead work from Necochea, Brookhouse‘s soulful vocals and the steady, forward drive of Jarvis and Maloney, which might be the most metallic aspect of what Worshipper do, ultimately. In its tone, Shadow Hymns is crisp without being unnatural or overproduced-sounding, but even as “Darkness” hits into its nodding chorus, the rhythm section holds to the tension of the verse before, setting up the transition to the solo section that follows. With a strong sense of structure throughout, it works. Worshipper manage their transitions within and between songs gracefully, and on a sheer level of execution, Shadow Hymns is miles ahead of what one generally expects going into a debut album.

“Having their shit together” might be Worshipper‘s most defining sonic feature at this stage. I would not guess their stylistic development is complete as of their first long-player — at least one hopes not — but for how firmly they nail down the airy spookiness of the slower “Another Yesterday” and the dynamic turns of “Step Behind,” they sound remarkably in command and sure of what they want to be doing. With an even side A/B split between “Darkness” and “Place Beyond the Light,” Shadow Hymns‘ personality is made even richer, but it remains drawn together through performance and songcraft, as well as a depth of mix that finds Brookhouse as much at home at the forefront of “Darkness” as buried under “Ghosts and Breath.”

There is room to expand the overall palette of mood — Shadow Hymns tends toward the dark in its themes and ambience — but Worshipper also put themselves in a solid position from which to enact that growth, structurally and in terms of how deftly they move between their rock-meets-metal influences, and with memorable cuts like “Step Behind,” “Ghosts and Breath,” “Place Beyond the Light,” “Another Yesterday,” “Black Corridor,” and so on, they’re working from a foundation solid enough to sustain any number of future directions. Like the best of debuts, the potential of the band in question is part of the appeal, but as noted, if this is just the start, Worshipper have already delivered.

Worshipper, Shadow Hymns (2016)

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Worshipper on Twitter

Worshipper on Bandcamp

Worshipper at Tee Pee Records

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Gozu Post Full Set Video from Psycho Las Vegas

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

gozu at psycho las vegas

Seems like a good time to be in Gozu. The Boston-based four-piece issued Revival (review here), their fourth and deadliest outing yet, earlier this summer via Ripple Music. Last month, they headed out on a choice weekender with the reformed Scissorfight and Backwoods Payback, and this past weekend they took part in what I think is arguably the best heavy rock festival lineup the US has ever seen at Psycho Las Vegas, sharing a bill with everyone from YOB to Alice Cooper to Beelzefuzz. Oh, and later this month they make their way over to Europe to tour with Holy Grove from Portland, Oregon, on a run put together by Heavy Psych Sounds.

No shortage of occasion, is what I’m saying, and if you want to see a band rise to the occasion, look no further than the video of their full set from the Hard Rock Cafe‘s Vinyl Stage. A number of Psycho Las Vegas full sets have begun to show up already, and I might post more as I stumble on them, but even with some technical problems, Gozu absolutely kill it. The momentum they build through “Mr. Riddle,” “Nature Boy” and “Big Casino” is infectious, and closing out with the D’Angelo cover “Brown Sugar” — a bonus track on the vinyl version of 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) on which they collaborated with Lo-Pan vocalist Jeff Martin — is a particularly groovy touch to a set that spends so much time raging, if soulfully.

These guys have spent the last few years becoming one of the most powerful heavy rock bands as part of a long lineage for their hometown, and clearly their efforts have started to pay off. I hope they keep going, because the more they do, the more heads are going to turn.

Tour dates follow the video. Enjoy:

Gozu, Live at Psycho Las Vegas

Thanks Psycho Las Vegas!! Thanks to everybody who came out to see us!! This is our set from Friday. Super fun, might be one of our best sets we’ve ever played with backline issues and all. We end the set with a D’Angelo cover of Brown Sugar. Thanks again!!

We are very excited to announce that we are heading back to Europe with the amazing Holy Grove!! We look forward to seeing you all soon!! Ciao!! HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Ripple Music

28/09/2016 IT Rome-Init
29/09/2016 IT Erba – Centrale Rock
30/09/2016 IT Ravenna – Bronson
01/10/2016 AT Feldkirch – Villa K
02/10/2016 AT Salzburg – Rockhouse
03/10/2016 IT Trieste – Tetris
04/10/2016 IT Zero Branco – Altroquando
05/10/2016 CH Basel – Terrorsamba
06/10/2016 DE Mannheim – 7er Club
07/10/2016 DE Munster – Rare Guitar Shop
08/10/2016 BE Liege – La Zone
09/10/2016 DE Dresden – Chemiefabrik
10/10/2016 DE Koln – Limes
11/10/2016 DE Leipzig
12/10/2016 DE Berlin – Urban Spree
13/10/2016 DE Stuttgart – Keller Klub
14/10/2016 CH Olten – Coq D’or
15/10/2016 CH Frauenfeld – Kaff

Gozu on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Psycho Las Vegas

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Roadsaw Sign to Ripple Music

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

Roadsaw news is good news. The Boston heavy rock magnates have announced that they’ll hit Mad Oak Studio to work with producer Benny Grotto next month in order to record their eighth album, the awaited follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here), which will be released — and here comes the twist — on Ripple Music. Formerly the quintessential Small Stone band, Roadsaw will work with Ripple for their new one, the label having already released material from heavy punkers White Dynomite, whose lineup features Roadsaw‘s Tim Catz and Craig Riggs.

Ripple continues its upswing and will have the new Roadsaw album out early next year, as the PR wire informs:


Boston Riff-Masters, Roadsaw, Sign World-Wide Deal with Ripple Music – New Album out Early 2017

Ripple Music is proud to announce the signing of legendary riff-masters, ROADSAW to the label’s hard and heavy roster. The veteran Boston motor-stoner act still consists of the decade-long classic line up and will be heading into the illustrious Mad Oak Studios with producer Benny Grotto to lay down a potent new batch of songs, due out early 2017, that are sure to please old fans and turn on new ones.

For the unfamiliar ROADSAW invite you to climb inside their jaded jalopy and careen headlong into their amplified analog landscape. From the shores of British electric blues, across the pond to America’s sonic 70s stomp; down to the Southern swamps, thru the New York groove, straight into heart of California’s psychedelic desert. ROADSAW’s long strange trip is a virtual history of heavy riffs.

ROADSAW’s often turbulent career includes 7 albums , numerous compilations, and a smattering of hard-to-find singles. The band has shared stages big and small on both sides of the Atlantic with comrades like Orange Goblin, Fu Manchu, Queens Of The Stone Age, Nebula, Scissorfight, Karma To Burn, Black Label Society and many others. Together with Ripple, the band looks forward to adding a big bold exclamation point to this already impressive resume. US and European tours are being booked for spring 2017, including an appearance at London’s Desert Fest. Spirits are high for the much anticipated return of one of riff rocks most loyal disciples.

Like cockroaches in a post apocalyptic fall out, ROADSAW rise once again. Having survived every storm, war, trend and taste, ROADSAW simply refuses to die. Now, they’re signed to one of the world’s leading heavy rock, stoner, doom and heavy psych label’s, Ripple Music, and it’s a certainty that mayhem will follow. Look for limited edition vinyl, CD’s and digital to be spread around the world in Spring 2017.

So there you have it. New year. New music. New label. The ‘Saw remains the same.


Roadsaw, Roadsaw (2011)

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Cortez Sign to Salt of the Earth Records; The Depths Below Due this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

The teaser clip below provides a quick first glimpse at the new album from Boston heavy rockers Cortez. Titled The Depths Below, the full-length was put to bed nearly a year ago, having been recorded by the esteemed Benny Grotto at Q Division Studios, and it will serve as a welcome follow-up to their 2012 self-titled (review here), as well as yet another record to look forward to before the end of 2016, which seems to have packed as many releases as possible into its second half. Fair enough. One more never hurts, particularly when it brings riffs like those of the sort that Cortez proffer. The song in the clip is called “To the Skies.”

Announcement of their signing to Salt of the Earth Records for the new release follows here, courtesy of the PR wire:



SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS is proud as all hell to announce the signing of Boston riff lords CORTEZ! This veteran group of heavy rock fuzzdealers have really outdone themselves with their latest offering…“The Depths Below”. Truth be told, this album is going to knock you on your ass! All killer, Zero filler. Track after track of sonic bliss.

Having built up a loyal fan base both stateside and abroad over their decade plus existence, CORTEZ have really honed their craft and brought their rock game to a whole new level. Crushing tones, killer hooks and creative dynamics are skillfully woven throughout this blistering nine song release… “The Depths Below” is guaranteed to sink its teeth into you on the first listen.

“The Depths Below” was Recorded and mixed by studio guru, Benny Grotto (Scissorfight, Aerosmith, Lo-Pan) at Q Division, Mad Oak Studios, and Moontower Recording Studio making it the kind of album you will want to both blast from the largest of speakers, as well as repeated listens on a pair of headphones. There is so much packed into these mountain sized grooves!

So with that, we welcome CORTEZ to the SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS family. With open arms and riff pummeled eardrums!

Watch for ”The Depths Below” coming this fall!


Cortez, The Depths Below teaser

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Phantom Glue, 776: Liquefied Mindscapes

Posted in Reviews on July 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


Phantom Glue run through a chaotic gamut of modern heavy on their third album, 776, but come out of it with a cohesion and stylistic fluidity that is very clearly their own. Released on CD through Negative Fun Records and engineered and mixed by Alec Rodriguez at New Alliance, the Boston four-piece’s latest comprises seven tracks of bombast-fueled heft, marked out by dense tonality, rhythmic tension, the harsh vocals of guitarist Matt Oates and bassist Nicholas Wolf and a snare sound from Kyle Rasmussen (since replaced by Dana Filloon) that recalls Hull‘s 2011 swansong, Beyond the Lightless Sky, in its impact, and lead work from guitarist Mike Gowell that seems to add spaciousness to what can otherwise become a claustrophobic thrust. To wit, the opening salvo of “Ion Cloud” and “Hundred Hand” find Phantom Glue launching at full pummel with two tracks under four-minutes, finding a space between Old Man Gloom‘s still-cerebral cacophony and Celtic Frost via High on Fire-style thrash.

It’s a genuine release when “Hundred Hand” moves into its solo section, even if Rasmussen keeps the bounce steady on drums until the riff starts in with Voivod-ish bends and oddity-worship. Freneticism is nothing new for Phantom Glue, as their 2013 second album, A War of Light Cones (review here), and their 2009 self-titled debut (review here), set forth, it’s a crucial element to what they do. What 776 brings to this form — aside from a conceptual lyrical foundation painting impressions of the American present from 1,200 years in the past (and some untold number in the future at the end) — is a progressive flow front to back that demonstrates the maturity that the band has come by honestly during their time together and the consciousness underlying the onslaught, which at times feels inescapable.

Voivod vibe continues into “Somatic,” with Oates and Gowell playing off each other with dissonant notes and odd-timed riffing that seems to be a challenge Wolf and Rasmussen are only too ready to take on, but the pacing is slower, and the vocals bring to mind some of the drawling growls of Beastwars frontman Matt Hyde, almost completely indecipherable to the point of becoming another instrumental impression more than a lyrical one. As Gowell tears into a spacious lead behind, Oates‘ shouts add to the atmosphere and largesse of the track, so that while slower, it maintains the intensity of the first two cuts and leads smoothly into “A Worker-less Mill,” the centerpiece of 776 and maybe a little bit what it’s all about.

phantom glue

Here’s what I mean: At five minutes long, “A Worker-less Mill” is essentially one linear build working in multiple stages. The fact, however, is that Phantom Glue — all four of ’em — pull this off with such tension that by the time they move from the chugging first part to the thudding second, you feel like your head is about to explode. It’s the band using the right tool at the right time, and when they move into the payoff riff, a breakdown chug complemented by low wash of keys or effects or I don’t even know what, there’s a real sense of catharsis. The riff fades, but the surrounding noise stays and holds court for the last minute or so, Phantom Glue still harsh with feedback when providing listeners a moment of relative respite.

The 7:13 “Suttungr” recalls the Beastwars-style sludge of “Somatic,” but with a more patient attack in its first half and a heft that seems to be as much about the lumbering rhythm as about the ambience surrounding. It grows more intense in the second half, churning and thrashing through an instrumental section that leads to an extended guitar solo, but they bring “Suttungr” back to its chorus and more grueling plod smoothly to finish out, setting up a stark contrast with “Hocheim’s War,” which essentially strips down and reverses the tempo structure, so that it starts of faster and more avant/prog-metal and hits the brakes as it moves into its second half. Unsurprisingly, the end result is shorter — they spend more time playing fast; that will happen — but still satisfying, both on its own and in context with “Suttungr” before it, giving a sense of Phantom Glue‘s purposefulness to what can at points feel like noise for its own sake.

They save the doom for last as closer “Gog is Dead” begins with a dirge somewhere between a grandfather clock and warped guitar. More likely the latter, but you never know. It’s never quite as simple as a roll, but “Gog is Dead” makes its way toward the crash and stomp of its second half, the feeling of providing 776 as a whole with its payoff is palpable. They carry that forward — huge, open at last, marked by interplay of clear notes and obscure guitar wash — until they pass the six-minute mark, and then suddenly cut, as though the future just ended. Phantom Glue have never been an outwardly accessible band. They’ve never been about hooks, or trying to make their sound friendly, or anything like that. What they’ve done instead is to build a progressive sludge metal that, while constructed from familiar elements, has been shaped into something unrecognizable from where it started. That is no minor accomplishment, and neither is this record.

Phantom Glue, 776 (2016)

Phantom Glue on Thee Facebooks

Phantom Glue on Bandcamp

Negative Fun Records

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Hey Zeus Post “Richard the Elder” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

hey zeus

“Richard the Elder” is the second single that Boston heavy rockers Hey Zeus have issued this year behind “Caveman” (premiered here), which came out in May. The hard-driving New England traditionalists have yet to disappoint in either their hooks or the force with which they’re delivered, and “Richard the Elder” is no exception. It’s a right-on rush, in and out in just over three minutes of sans-frills heavy rock and roll, recorded live and engineered by vocalist Bice Nathan at New Alliance Audio in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Nathan is joined in the band by bassist Ken Cmar (also of Wonderdrug Records), guitarist Pete Knipfing and drummer Todd Bowman (both ex-Lamont), and recording live suits them remarkably well. For a style so lacking in pretense and so heated in its intensity, the setting could hardly be more perfect, and though Hey Zeus don’t have a record out or even an EP — they did release a split 7″ with White Dynomite in 2014 (review here) and seem to be working their way toward one sort of larger offering or another with this ongoing series of single tracks — they’ve clearly found a method that works for them, and that’s obviously a significant start.

The video is somewhat manic — GoPros hooked up to instruments in motion and so on — but that only suits the song itself, which you’ll almost have to hear twice before you can really feel like it’s begun to sink in even vaguely. Clip was directed by Michael Cimpher and follows here along with a couple live dates Hey Zeus have this month.


Hey Zeus, “Richard the Elder” official video

Richard the Elder by Hey Zeus
Recorded live in studio.
Tracked and Mixed by Bice at New Alliance Audio-Cambridge, MA
Mastered by Dean Baltulonis at Wild Arctic-Portsmouth, NH
Directed by Michael Cimpher
Edited by Michael Cimpher and Bice

Hey Zeus live:
7/15 O’Brien’s Allston MA w/ Black Helicopters and Wolfsmyth
7/22 Higher Ground Burlington VT w/ Scissorfight, Murcielago and The Road Trash Band

Hey Zeus on Bandcamp

Hey Zeus on Thee Facebooks

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Sea Debut “Return” Video; Euro Tour Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

sea (Photo by Erin Gennett)

“Return” is the first audio to come from Boston post-metallers Sea since their initial demo (review here) arrived early last year, and it brings with it the news that the four-piece will tour Europe next month alongside German trio Weedwolf, with whom Sea will also release a new split LP. It’s Sea‘s first tour, and it runs two and a half weeks through Northern Europe — Germany, Scandinavia, Finland, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania — and like their demo was, it’s an ambitious run for a still relatively-new band, but particularly with the split due, it seems like it’ll be a fitting introduction to the band for the continent. While I don’t know what their plans are for the longer term, it doesn’t seem like this will be their last incursion abroad.

But it is their first, and that’s something special. A new video comprised of public-domain psychedelic footage brings the premiere of “Return,” and with recording by Chris Johnson (one can hear the crisp fullness he brought to Summoner ringing true in this track as well), the new song brims with vitality and stylistic purpose, shifting from Isis-style churn into blackened push as propelled by drummer Andrew Muro as vocalist/bassist Stephen LoVerme (Olde Growth) adjusts his vocals to a scream to match the more furious riffing of guitarists Liz Walshak (ex-Rozamov) and Mike Blasi. Most importantly, they make it make sense, and by that I mean Sea don’t simply juxtapose different aesthetics. They create a flow across “Return”‘s eight-plus minutes that builds gracefully in intensity and speaks to an emerging patience within their sound.

And the aforementioned archive video does fit the vibe well. Please find the video for “Return” below, followed by the credits and Sea‘s tour dates with Weedwolf, which kick off on Aug. 17.


Sea, “Return” official video

The lyrical content of the song is sort of about the cyclical natural of the universe, rebirth, intrinsic knowledge, etc. So it’s kind of appropriate that the source footage was culled from a 1969 psychedelic film about Zen Buddhism. On to the production credits…

Recorded and mixed by Chris Johnson (Summoner, Sand Reckoner)
Mastered by James Plotkin

From a forthcoming split LP with Weedwolf from Leipzig, Germany
Due out in August

Original source material: The Flow of Zen 1969

Footage re-purposed by Stephen LoVerme

Tour dates:

sea euro tourWed 8.17 – Halle, Germany
Thu 8.18 – Leipzig, Germany
Fri 8.19 – Potsdam, Germany
Sat 8.20 – Kopenhagen, Denmark
Sun 8.21 – Helsingborg, Sweden
Mon 8.22 – Oslo, Norway
Tue 8.23 – Trondheim, Norway
Wed 8.24 – Lulea, Sweden
Thu 8.25 – Oulu, Finland
Fri 8.26 – Tampere, Finland
Sat 8.27 – Turku, Finland
Sun 8.28 – Helsinki, Finland
Mon 8.29 – Riga, Latvia
Tue 8.30 – Kaunas, Lithaunia
Wed 8.31 – Vilnius, Lithaunia
Thu 9.1 – Gdynia, Poland
Fri 9.2 – Stettin, Poland
Sat 9.3 – Dresden, Germany

Full tour details here:

Sea on Thee Facebooks

Sea on Bandcamp

Sea on YouTube

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Gozu and Holy Grove Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Gozu go supporting their new album, Revival (review here) and Holy Grove go supporting their also-new self-titled debut (review here), but I feel like the part that really makes it isn’t just that they’re both going to Europe, but that they’re doing it together. The Boston and Portland, Oregon, acts will make an exceedingly complementary pairing, I think with a thread of soul influence running between them and each still pushing out heavy grooves, Holy Grove with a nod toward doomly roll, Gozu with an uptick in intensity particularly on some of their newer material. If I had the money and could get the time off, I’d ask to tag along, but turns out I’m broke and not that pleasant company to keep anyway, so maybe for the best I don’t make the trip.

In any case, the full run is presented by Heavy Psych Sounds, which also released Holy Grove‘s album — Gozu‘s is on Ripple Music — and I reached out to Gaff da Rula, aka Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, and Holy Grove vocalist Andrea Vidal, for quotes about the tour to go with the dates, and both were kind enough to oblige.

Have at you:

gozu holy grove tour

“I heard they wanted to schedule the World Cup around it but they were worried people would be too hopped up on the boogie,” says Gaffney. “God damn. Wanna thank Gabe from Heavy Psych Sounds for hooking it up and lathering the clubs because without that angel, none of this would have happened. Also thanks to Ripple for putting out the album. Taking two bands that love each other’s music and setting them on fire together, I don’t know about you, but I like it hot, perfect blend of heat and auditory cuddling, woooo! I feel like Rick Flair, baby!”

Offers Vidal: “As far as heading abroad, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity to tour Europe with our brothers in Gozu and with the support of Heavy Psych Sounds. We’re really looking to forward to playing in places where much of our earliest support was from — and leaving it all on the stage night after night.”

Gozu & Holy Grove on tour:
28.09.2016 IT Rome
29.09.2016 IT Erba-Centrale Rock
30.09.2016 IT Ravenna-Bronson
01.10.2016 AT Feldkirch-Villa K
02.10.2016 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
03.10.2016 IT Trieste-Tetris
04.10.2016 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando
05.10.2016 CH Basel-Terrorsamba
06.10.2016 DE Mannheim-7er Club
07.10.2016 DE Munster-Rare Guitar Shop
08.10.2016 BE Liege-La Zone
09.10.2016 DE Dresden-Chemiefabrik
10.10.2016 DE Koln-Lime
11.10.2016 DE Leipzieg
12.10.2016 DE Berlin-Urban Spree
13.10.2016 DE Stuttgard-KellerClub
14.10.2016 CH Olten-Coq D’or
15.10.2016 CH Frauenfeld-Kaff


Holy Grove, Holy Grove (2016)

Gozu, Revival (2016)

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