Z/28 Release Debut Album Nobody Rides for Free This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

z28

If you’re in the Boston area and pay attention to such things, you’ve probably seen the name Z/28 around in contexts that apply, you know, to more than just the car. The three-piece have been playing regional shows since June 2016 but their pedigree dips further back than that with guitarist/vocalist Jeff Hayward having been in extreme sludge pioneers Grief when they made their debut over 20 years ago. Z/28 take nowhere near such an abrasive approach, and nor do they want to. The three-piece of Hayward, bassist/vocalist J. Negro and drummer Breaux Silcio have a straightforward classic heavy rock sound with more than an edge of grit to coincide. There are a couple tracks streaming ahead of the release, which is officially out this Friday on Fuzzdoom Records.

The label sent the following down the PR wire:

z28 nobody rides for free

Z/28 – Nobody Rides for Free

Formed in early 2016, Z28 is the brainchild of Jeff Hayward (ex-Grief, ex-Disrupt, ex-Morne).

After a short hiatus from the scene, Jeff decided to return with a project that could better realize his dream of being in a more true to mode, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Heavy Metal project. Recruiting Breaux Silcio on drums and J. Negro of bass, this well oiled machine was ready to ride.

Being described as a “crusty” Kiss, or Kyuss doing AC/DC covers, Z28 takes it’s primary cues from the great rock bands of the 70s, with a smattering 80s metal for good measure.

After releasing a well received EP in 2016, and a single for the song “Space Bastard” in 2017, Z28 is ready to roll out “Nobody Rides for Free”, their first full-length endeavor on Fuzzdoom Records. Be weary, the rides about to get wild!

Tracklisting:
1. Intro
2. Wandering
3. Angst
4. Angst II (Electric Boogaloo)
5. Spirit Elk (Lord of the Hunt)
6. Touch of Evil
7. Keep on Rockin’ in (The Invisible World)
8. Night Mysteries
9. Angst III (I Don’t Want to Die)

Z/28 are:
Jeff Hayward – Vocals, Guitar
Jason Negro – Vocals, Bass
Breaux Silcio – Drums, Percussion

https://www.facebook.com/nobodyridesforfree/
https://nobodyridesforfree.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/fuzzdoomrecords
https://fuzzdoomrecords.bandcamp.com/

Z/28, Nobody Rides for Free (2018)

Tags: , , , , ,

Morne: New Album To the Night Unknown Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

morne (Photo by Hilarie Jason)

By early September the nights in Massachusetts usually start to cool off from the day’s residual summer assault of Eastern Seaboard humidity and it portends the no-sun cruelties of the winter ahead. I don’t know if this is what Boston’s Morne had in mind when they released their The Coming of Winter live album in 2015, but it makes the Sept. 7 release date of their new studio record, To the Night Unknown, make a lot of sense. To be issued by Armageddon Shop‘s own Armageddon Label in conjunction with the band’s aptly-titled Morne Records imprint, it will follow some five years behind their 2013 LP, Shadows, which came out via Profound Lore and took the four-piece to Roadburn in the Netherlands in 2014 and made a lasting enough impression that they featured last year as well at Psycho Las Vegas.

A band whose quiet stretches even seem to seethe with extremity, Morne have preorders up for To the Night Unknown now, as the PR wire informs:

morne to the night unknown

Pre-Orders Up Now! MORNE “To The Night Unknown” 2LP / CD

Five years since their last release, Morne is proud to announce their fourth studio album entitled, “To the Night Unknown,” which will be released by the Armageddon Label and the bands’ own label Morne Records, in September 2018. The album was recorded at New Alliance Audio Productions by Jon Taft and mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright and features the photography and design of Hillarie Jason.

Morne, formed in 2005, is a heavy, atmospheric band based in Boston, Massachusetts. Their style blends doom metal and classic British crust but stretches beyond those boundaries, combining a bleak lyrical style with driving riffs. The band has toured the US, Canada and Europe, and they have been part of large festivals such as Roadburn, Hellfest and Psycho Las Vegas.

MORNE – “To The Night Unknown”
Armageddon Label
Release Date: September 7th 2018
Catalog Number: Armageddon 020
Available formats: Gatefold 2LP w/download, Digipack CD, Digital

Vinyl: Gatefold 2LP on 180 gram black vinyl or ltd 180 gram black vinyl with gray splatter
CD: Digipack packaging with 8pg booklet
Digital: via Itunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and others

Pre-orders are live NOW via:
https://armageddonlabel.bigcartel.com/
Orders will ship a week before street date.

TRACKLIST:
1. To the Night Unknown
2. Not Our Flame
3. The Blood is Our Own
4. Scorn
5. Show Your Wounds
6. Night Awaits the Dawn
7. Shadowed Road
8. Surrendering Fear

LINE UP:
Milosz Gassan – Vocals, Guitar
Paul Rajpal – Guitar
Morgan Coe – Bass
Billy Knockenhauer – Drums

https://facebook.com/mornecrust
https://morneband.bandcamp.com/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/morne/440400147
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_music_1?ie=UTF8&field-artist=MORNE&search-alias=music
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5hpeBTPIG4IE2ymmNZUiEf
http://www.storenvy.com/stores/120214-morne
http://armageddonshop.com/
https://armageddonlabel.bigcartel.com/

Morne, The Coming of Winter (2015)

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Worshipper, Dopethrone, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, Omen Stones, Capra, Universo Rojo, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Fire Down Below, Stone Deaf, Cracked Machine

Posted in Reviews on July 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

Well, we made it to the end of another Quarterly Review. One more batch and then it’s off to planning the next one for late September/early October. I hope you have found something this week that you’ve really dug. I have. A few, to be honest. Not everything is going to stick with every listener, of course, and that includes me, but for as much as putting this one together has been, there’s been some really good, year-end-list-type stuff included. At least as far as my own list goes. I sincerely hope you agree.

So let’s do this last one, then go sleep for a couple hours. Alright? Here we go:

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Worshipper, Mirage Daze

worshipper mirage daze

I don’t know if Worshipper knew they’d be embarking on their first West Coast tour in Summer 2018 when they hit Mad Oak Studios in Oct. 2016 to record the four cover tracks for their Mirage Daze EP on Tee Pee Records, but it certainly worked out in the Boston four-piece’s favor. Following-up their 2016 debut, Shadow Hymns (review here), Worshipper present four cover tracks in Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin’,” The Oath’s “Night Child,” Pink Floyd’s “Julia Dream” and The Who’s “Heaven and Hell,” and while I’m a little sad that “Heaven and Hell” isn’t the Black Sabbath song, which I think they’d nail if they tried it, and I’m glad to have a studio version of their take on Floyd’s “Julia Dream,” which from the first time I saw them live was always a pleasure to watch live, I think the highlight of Mirage Daze might be “Night Child.” I never bought that The Oath record, and Worshipper’s take on its lead single is about the best argument I’ve seen for doing so. It may or may not be a stopgap issued to coincide with the tour, but Mirage Daze is a welcome arrival anyway. It’s a fan piece? Well, I’m a fan, so right on.

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dopethrone, Transcanadian Anger

dopethrone transcanadian anger

Montreal scumsludgers Dopethrone return with Transcanadian Anger, an eight-track blister-fest of crunch riffing and misanthropic vibes. Delivered through Totem Cat Records, the 36-minute Weedeater-gone-bad-drugs sludge assault seems to invite superlatives front to back, even in the slamming instrumental “Killdozer” – a tribute to the band? – and the swinging penultimate cut “Kingbilly Kush.” Elsewhere, opener “Planet Meth,” “Snort Dagger,” “Tweak Jabber” and “Scuzzgasm” celebrate addiction and violence unto oneself and others, making a spectacle of decay set to voluminous sludge riffs and abrasive vocals. This is Dopethrone’s aesthetic territory, and they’ve done well over the last decade to make it their own. As they answer 2015’s full-length, Hochelaga (review here), and the next year’s 1312 EP with yet another filth-caked collection, they seem all the more in their own league of aural and narcotic self-punishment. They could be straightedge vegans for all I know, but they sure sound high as fuck, and I guess that’s the point. So, well done.

Dopethrone on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

 

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, BooCheeMish

the mystery of the bulgarian voices boocheemish

Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance would seem to be trying to solve The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, a choral group from Bulgaria who, seemingly until teaming with Gerrard for the Prophecy Productions release BooCheeMish was known by the French name Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. Whatever you call them, their history dates back nearly seven decades and their harmonies are utterly timeless. BooCheeMish is comprised of gorgeous folk renditions for 45 minutes of world-building perfection. Percussion of various sorts provides backing and on pieces like “Rano Ranila” they speed through at a pace and arrangement that’s head-spinning, while the later “Zableyalo Agne” finds them joined by flute for a nigh-religious experience and the subsequent “Tropanitsa” has a bounce worthy of any good times one might to envision from its evocative pulse. One can’t help but feel a bit of the cultural voyeur in taking it on – as well as feeling totally outclassed in reviewing it – but these songs were clearly meant to be enjoyed, and as their ambassadors, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices genuinely serve a public best interest.

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Omen Stones, Omen Stones

omen stones omen stones

Virginia duo Omen Stones have no online presence as yet. No songs streaming. No cheeky logos-on-photos social media posts that new bands do when they’re sitting on their hands waiting to get material out there. What they – and by “they,” I mean guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hamilton of Druglord and drummer Erik Larson of Backwoods Payback, The Might Could, Alabama Thunderpussy, etc. – have is a four-song self-titled EP collecting about 13 minutes of material in demo fashion, bringing forth the Southern-shuffle-gets-weird-then-explodes opener “Secrete” as a first impression of a deceptive approach. You think it’s all good and then you get punched. Go figure. “Secrete” is also the longest track (immediate points) at 4:06, and the forward charge and harsher vocal of “Fertile Blight” follows, catchy as it is mean, and more indicative of what’s to follow in the maddening tension of “Sympathy Scars” and the fuckall sludgepunk of “Purity Tones.” Immediately against-trend, Omen StonesOmen Stones is a bird of prey unto itself. Hopefully at some point soon they make it publicly available.

Druglord on Bandcamp

Erik Larson on Bandcamp

 

Capra, Unholy Gallows

Capra Unholy Gallows

Taking influence from hardcore punk, post-hardcore and sludge, Lafayette, Louisiana’s Capra seem to fit in a Midwestern style of semi-metallic aggression that has flourished in the wake of the likes of The National Acrobat and Coliseum. The foursome’s Unholy Gallows single follows their also-two-song self-titled 2016 EP, and finds Tyler Harper (also of the recently-defunct The Midnight Ghost Train), Jeremy Randazzo, Ben Paramore and Lee Hooper aligned in their purposes of riff-led bludgeoning. Unholy Gallows is two songs/six minutes long – not by any means an afternoon commitment in terms of listening – but its furies are unveiled in far less time than that, and both “Red Guillotine” and “Hot Lips” waste no time in doling out their beatings. A sense of heft stems from tonal thickness, but they make it move to a propulsive degree, and aside from a quick feedback intro to “Red Guillotine,” there’s no letup; even as “Hot Lips” slows the pace some initially, it maintains geared toward foreshadowing the next fist to fly.

Capra on Thee Facebooks

Capra on Bandcamp

 

Universo Rojo, Impermanencia

Universo Rojo Impermanencia

Sprawl, sprawl, sprawl. Into space. Universo Rojo’s excellent four-track debut album, Impermanencia, makes you want to speak slowly enough to feel the words vibrate out of your mouth. The Chilean four-piece offer lengthy, jam-based excursions that echo out their feel across vast reaches of effects, progressive rhythm and melody-making unfurling all the while beneath an overarching swirl of effects, guitars and synth running atop the mix like competing currents of water. Opener “¿A Dónde Ir?” (8:13) gives way to the flute-laden krautrockism of “Visión Planetaria de los Tiempos” (8:40) as vocalist/guitarist/clarinetist Ferro Vargas-Larraguibel, drummer Naim Chamás, bassist Cristóbal Montenegro and synthesis Francisco Arellano conjure such molten possibilities. Though it’s just 34 minutes, Impermanencia is nonetheless expansive, with the 9:36 “Cinco (La Quinta Dimensión)” finding a place between drift and psych-jazz undulations while closer “Inmaterialización del Sentimiento Cósmico” (7:32) lets out a full-impulse burst of energy that’s blinding if you know just where to look. Not to be missed.

Universo Rojo on Thee Facebooks

Universo Rojo on Bandcamp

 

Sergeant Thunderhoof, Terra Solus

sergeant thunderhoof terra solus

Kudos to Bath, UK, four-piece Sergeant Thunderhoof on starting off their sophomore long-player, Terra Solus, with the album’s longest track in “Another Plane.” And likewise for the blend of psychedelia and burl that unfolds. In taking on the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Ride of the Hoof, they offer eight cuts and 51 minutes of spacious riffing charged with just an undercurrent of English boozer burl, Elephant Tree and Steak meeting head on for a raucous session of who knows what. “B Oscillation” taps nod and particularly satisfying fuzzy warmth in its lead section, while even a would-be bruiser like the subsequent “Diesel Breath” has a trip-out included. There is time for such things as every track but the penultimate and relatively minimalist soundscaper “Half a Man” tops six minutes, but Sergeant Thunderhoof make a much richer impression overall than their moniker might lead one to believe, and close out in particularly resonant fashion with “Om Shaantih,” emphasizing the breadth and post-rock elements that help make Terra Solus so engaging from the outset.

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Bandcamp

 

Fire Down Below, Hymn of the Cosmic Man

fire down below hymn of the cosmic man

The adaptation of Kyuss’ “Thumb” riff for Fire Down Below’s “Ignition/Space Cruiser” after the “Red Giant” intro on their second album, Hymn of the Cosmic Man (on Ripple), is nothing short of a clarion to the converted. The Belgian unit’s mission would seem to be to find that place on the horizon where the desert ground and space itself seem to meet and become one, and as side A closer “The Cosmic Pilgrim” turns from its initial crunch into more patient and drifting psych, they’d seem to get there. Atsmophere is certainly central to the record, as the aforementioned “Red Giant” and its side B counterpart “Nebula” demonstrate, never mind the other five tracks, and even as “Saviour of Man” runs through its janga-janga stoner-riffed hook there’s a flourish of effects to create a balance between the earthbound and the interstellar. Side B’s “Ascension” and especially 11-minute album-closer/highlight “Adrift in a Sea of Stars” seem to find the balance the four-piece is shooting for all along, and just before the nine-minute mark when the thick, fuzzed-out riff emerges from the jammy lead, the entire impetus for their journey seems to be laid bare. Well done.

Fire Down Below on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Stone Deaf, Royal Burnout

stone deaf royal burnout

Denver, Colorado’s Stone Deaf present a sans-frills desert rock vibe across the eight tightly structured tracks of their sophomore album, Royal Burnout (on Black Bow Records). Specifically, the compressed crunch in the guitar tone and some of the start-stop bounce riffing in cuts like “Room #240” and “Monochrome” seem to be drawn from the Songs for the Deaf methodology, and some of the vocals on opener “Spitshine” (video premiere here) remind of Queens of the Stone Age as well, but Stone Deaf – whose moniker, then, would be well sourced – have a deeper root in punk rock that underscores the “Go with the Flow” thrust of “Deathwish 62” as well as the chugging verses of “Boozy Spool” immediately preceding. It’s a sound that benefits greatly from the sharpness of its delivery and the craft Stone Deaf bring to it, and even when they seem to loosen up a bit on the midpaced pre-finale “That Lefty Request,” there’s a fervent sense of a plan unfolding. That plan would seem to be a success.

Stone Deaf on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Cracked Machine, I, Cosmonaut

cracked machine i cosmonaut

Originally released last year, Cracked Machine’s debut, I, Cosmonaut, finds vinyl issue through PsyKA Records and earns it well with six tracks/45 minutes of mostly-instrumentalist and progressive space-psych. One assumes there’s a narrative thread at work across the span, as guitarist Bill Denton, bassist Chris Sutton, keyboardist/vocalist Clive Noyes and drummer Blazej Gradziel weave their way through “Twin Sons Rising” and “New Vostok” at the outset into the easy flow of “Baikonur Cosmodrome,” the harder-hitting title-track, the fuzzy declaration of “Svetlana” and the patiently executed 10-minute closer “Transorbital,” Denton’s guitar singing all the while. These places and, maybe, characters would seem to weave together to tell the story in impressions largely open to interpretation and correspondingly open in terms of their creativity, sounding spontaneous and maybe live-recorded if not entirely improvised, instead working to a plan for where each inclusion should go or end up. As Cracked Machine’s first album, it’s an ambitious work that does far more than get the band’s feet wet. It takes them out of the atmosphere and embarks on a journey beyond that one hopes is just beginning.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

Cracked Machine at PsyKA Records webstore

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Worshipper and Old Man Wizard West Coast Tour Starts July 19

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

In just over a week’s time, Boston heavy rockers Worshipper will head west to join San Diego progressive weirdos Old Man Wizard on a tour of the West Coast. The stint begins July 19 and goes till Aug. 4 and finds both acts supporting new releases. For Old Man Wizard, it’s their second long-player, Blame it all on Sorcery, which they released in May, and for Worshipper, it’s a new covers EP, Mirage Daze, which they issued in June. Both offerings are streaming in their entirety at the bottom of this post, so, you know, dig in and make an afternoon of it. If you had other plans, they can wait.

Not to sidetrack or anything, but one of the things I’ve found most interesting/disconcerting since my laptop got ripped off in May has been rediscovering albums that were on my desktop waiting for review that disappeared with that computer. Both Old Man Wizard and Worshipper‘s new releases were right there in that bunch. Sucks. Don’t get me wrong, the situation turned out toward the positive with the new computer and camera and all, but yeah. Things like this are still kind of a bummer to find. “Why didn’t I write about that? Oh yeah…” and so on.

Don’t want to bring the room down so I’ll end by saying it’s awesome to see Worshipper make their way to the Pacific. They’re such outliers when it comes to East Coast heavy in that their approach, at least thus far, is heavy without necessarily the same kind of aggression one so often gets, especially in the Northeast. I’d think they’d be welcome out there where it’s a little more chill, generally speaking.

Hope the run goes well all around:

worshipper old man wizard tour

Worshipper & Old Man Wizard West Coast tour:

Thurs 7/19 – COSTA MESA, CA – Tiki Bar – $10ADV / 21+
Fri 7/20 – SAN DIEGO, CA – Til Two Club – $8ADV/$10DOS/ 21+
Sat 7/21 – OCEANSIDE, CA – Oceanside Sports Bar – 21+
Sun 7/22 – LOS ANGELES, CA – Five Star Bar – 21+
Tues 7/24 – SAN JOSE, CA – The Caravan Lounge – 21+
Wed 7/25 – SACRAMENTO, CA – Blue Lamp – $10ADV/ 21+
Thurs 7/26 – OAKLAND, CA – Golden Bull
Fri 7/27 – GRANTS PASS, OR – The Haul – $10ADV/ 21+
Sat 7/28 – PORTLAND, OR – Tonic Lounge – $7ADV / $10 DOS / 21+ *
Sun 7/29 – SEATTLE, WA – Funhouse – $10 ADV / $12 DOS / 21+
Tues 7/31 – BOISE, ID – The Shredder – $8 ADV / ALL AGES
Wed 8/1 – SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Club X
Thurs 8/2 – DENVER, CO – Streets of London Pub – $5 ADV / 21+
Fri 8/3 – ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Moonlight Lounge – $5 ADV / 21+
Sat 8/4 – TEMPE, AZ – Time Out Lounge – 21+

Old Man Wizard is:
Francis Roberts – Guitar, Vocals
Kris Calabio – Drums, Backing Vocals
Andre Beller – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals

Worshipper is:
Alejandro Necochea (guitar)
John Brookhouse (vocals / guitar)
Dave Jarvis (drums)
Bob Maloney (vocals, bass)

https://www.facebook.com/Old.Man.Wizard/
http://twitter.com/oldmanwizard
https://www.instagram.com/oldmanwizard/
http://oldmanwizard.com/

https://www.facebook.com/worshipperband/
https://www.instagram/worshipperband
https://www.twitter.com/worshipperband
https://worshipper.bandcamp.com/
http://teepeerecords.com

Worshipper, Mirage Daze (2018)

Old Man Wizard, Blame it all on Sorcery (2018)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Roadsaw, Rawk n’ Roll

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

It’s easy to argue that Roadsaw‘s third album is more relevant today than 16 years ago when it was initially released. Both moments represent a general flourishing of heavy and stoner rock(s), but to listen to Rawk n’ Roll — which originally came out in 2002 via Luna Records and which Small Stone reissued in 2007 (also maybe there was a Tortuga release in 2000?) — its tracks seem even more of this moment than that one. Roadsaw were never the “let’s make a record about weed and space” band. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen them on multiple occasions and even share the stage once or twice, and they’re a heavy rock hailstorm: riffs that leave dents in the roof of your car. And likewise, they’ve never wanted to be the most intense band on the planet, but to listen to opener “Right on Through” or the rampaging “Blackout Driver,” the undercurrent of punk is right there to be heard. Still, with bassist Tim Catz‘s classically-influenced writing style, Ian Ross‘ heroics on rhythm and lead guitar, drummer Hari Hassin‘s bending of time on the aforementioned “Blackout Driver,” all-out thrust on “The Finger,” strutting groove on “Bad Ass Rising,” quiet timekeeping on “Your Own Private Slice of Hell” and grounding the nod of “Hoof,” which pulls the band into previously undiscovered spaces, they could hardly be tighter or more electric in their delivery. And in the current moment where it’s more accepted that not every “stoner” band actually spends their days dropping out of life with bong in hand, a sans-bullshit record like Rawk n’ Roll, were it coming out now, could only possibly be greeted as a liberator.

Like the best of Roadsaw‘s work throughout the years, Rawk n’ Roll is dynamic, masterfully composed and structured, and executed with a precision that borders on the scary. With frontman Craig Riggs — who started out on drums when they released their debut, One Million Dollars, in 1995 — so firmly in command of the material, Roadsaw‘s range was able to flourish both from album to album and within the records themselves. Consider the spring of “Disconnected” and the organ and guitar showcase instrumental “That’s Mr. Motherfucker to You,” or the hook of “Bad Ass Rising” and the thickened shuffle of “Buried Alive,” the Hammond-infused midpaced classic vibe in “Foot” and the acoustic-based “Planet Caravan”-style spacer “Burnout,” and the range of Roadsaw‘s craft is all the more the star of Rawk n’ Roll. While acting as a tight, crisp and vibrant unit, they’re able to affect a broad range of material while still keeping an central current of righteousness throughout thanks to the quality of their songwriting, Riggs‘ presence as a frontman, and the focus they demonstrate across the entire album, no matter where an individual song might head. In other words? Really good fucking band and really good fucking album. If Rawk n’ Roll hit inboxes today, the heavy rock blogosphere, myself included, would crap its collective pants, and rightly so.

I guess that’s the other point. It’s been 16 years, maybe more, since Rawk n’ Roll first came out, and it’s timeless. It’s not so much that the genre of heavy rock hasn’t moved on, but that it’s moved on to a place even more suited to Roadsaw than “their day” in the late ’90s and aughts. Their material is straightforward without a lot of the dude-for-dudes chestbeating that permeated so much of the riff-based mindset a few years ago, and their songwriting is top notch to a degree that it could and should be used as a blueprint for others to follow. “Oh, Roasaw did it this way? Cool. That’s what I’ll do.” If only. I talk about it a lot here, especially in these week-ending posts, it seems, but Roadsaw belong in that class of pre-social media heavy that, at this point, doesn’t nearly get the recognition it deserves, though part of the reasoning behind that is obvious: it’s been seven years since they last put out a record.

The shame of that is that 2011’s Roadsaw (review here) was brilliant. No loss of edge, but a more mature band doing what they did best in terms of kicking ass and taking names. Like the preceding outing 2008’s See You in Hell!, it came out on Small Stone, and its hooks were as furious as ever. They did some touring for it, but mostly members have spent the years since developing other projects. Catz and Riggs have the suited-punker troupe White Dynomite, and Riggs also went back to drumming, this time in L.A.’s Sasquatch, making them a cross-country outfit. Ross released a self-titled debut (review here) in 2014 with the Maine-based Murcielago, and then-drummer Jeremy Hemond eventually found himself out of the lineup. Roadsaw signed to Ripple Music in 2016 and of course at that point there were discussions of their next album, but nothing has yet to surface. They’ve continued all along to play regional live shows, doing a weekender last Fall with the reactivated Scissorfight.

Their latest post, from February, on thee social medias reads, “The new Roadsaw record sounds great! Can’t wait for you all to hear it,” so it’s hardly like there isn’t any hope the thing will eventually come out, it’s just a matter of when. In any case, Roadsaw are a band who deserve to be embraced by the generation of heavy listeners who’ve come up in the last half-decade-plus, and nothing’s going to make that happen like a new album. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they get there, and so should you. If you need to know why, listen to Rawk n’ Roll again from the start. It’s not a punishment; you’re only doing yourself a favor.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Massachusetts on the brain. Because I’m leaving. Not permanently, but as of this coming week, The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I will be setting up shop to spend most of the summer splitting time between New Jersey and Connecticut, trying to give the baby as much exposure to both sides of his family as possible, familiarize himself with his older cousins, aunts, uncle, grandmothers. It’s important, and though the house where we’re staying needs a new kitchen — tear! down! that! wall! — I’m also looking forward to getting back to my beloved Garden State and feeling a little bit more like I belong where I am, which I never really have in the five years I’ve lived on the South Shore of MA. I know good people in and around Boston. A lot of them. But while I certainly enjoy the occasional Dudesbrunch (TM) or hanging out with Johnny Arzgarth once or twice a year, I don’t exactly have much going on here. Anyway, I’ll be back around up here periodically — my therapist is here, if nothing else — so I’m not moving, but the base of operations will change until probably later in August, sometime post-Psycho Las Vegas.

This weekend we’re making an initial run. There’s some stuff to bring down — I don’t even know what as of this writing, but stuff all the same; probably baby clothes and toys, maybe my giant Batman action figure. Again, I don’t really know. But I’ve got a few hours to figure it out, so yeah. And if I forget something, well, I’ll be back in MA on Monday, so there’s plenty of opportunity to forget again.

I woke up this morning at 1:30AM. The last couple days I’ve been running a science experiment on myself wherein I forego my evening dose of anxiety medication, which I originally started taking because, well, I was losing my mind. All the time. Anyone remember January? Not me. Anyhow, they’re not the kind of thing that I really think of as a long-term solution, so yeah, I was trying to pull back a bit. Lesson learned? Maybe. I’m going to give it another couple days and if I continue not to sleep, I’ll have my answer. Should make for an interesting weekend though, regardless of the geography. Hell, I’ll probably go back to bed in a bit and read a Star Trek book until I fall asleep, which will be all of 30 seconds. It’s quarter after three as I type this, in case you’re wondering.

While I’m bitching: I also have half a cold, which is delightful if you like sore throated coughing, congestion and sinus pressure. At least I got it traveling.

Notes for next week? Yeah, I have some. With the given that amid all the back and forth over the next five days — running around Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, then back to CT, then back to NJ for what we’re thinking of as the actual start to summer on Thursday or Friday, weathepermitting — but here’s what I’ve got so far:

Mon.: Churchburn review. Holy shit that’s heavy.
Tue.: Pelagos review/album stream. Svart weirdness. Also a post about that 18-minute Sleep single.
Wed.: YOB review. That’s a day in itself.
Thu.: Orange Goblin review. Also have an interview done that will run soon.
Fri.: TBD. I’m sure something will come along.

I’m also waiting for my new camera and laptop to show up. According to FedEx, the camera was due yesterday, so I’m hoping it’s here today, and the laptop is supposed to be here early next week. I anticipate it’ll be pretty much an entire day to set that up to my specifications and preferences — no notifications for anything, as little as possible in the startup, remove intrusive and ineffective bundled “virus protection,” install VLC, PhotoShop, etc. — as Windows 10 has a mind of its own in addition to being a data mine. Also, that day will probably take place over the course of three days, because baby.

Baby. Man, I had that Pecan all day Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Best job ever, but definitely exhausting. The Patient Mrs. was at a social justice colloquium, because she’s fucking brilliant and that’s the kind of awesome shit she’s into, so it was me and The Pecan pretty much straight through the morning and afternoon each day until we went and picked her up on campus. Coming off the London trip, where the situation was much the same, it was no big deal — like, not something scary at this point — but he’s crawling and pulling himself up to standing, and yeah, it’s baby-chasing time for sure. He’s a good dude though. The other night I sang him to sleep with Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell,” so yeah. He stays.

Oh, and yesterday we went to this baby music class thing. Like a bunch of babies and toddlers in some very nice guitar-playing lady’s basement, an entire brigade of housewives and yours truly, sitting there in my faded-as-hell Earthless t-shirt with my son, singing “Wheels of the Bus.” Life takes you to unexpected places. The kid liked it though, and it’s an introduction to music more than what he hears me playing in the house all the time and what The Patient Mrs. and I sing to him, plus socialization for an only child who clearly already enjoys engaging with other kids, so I mark it a win.

Jeebus, think this post is long enough? Time to cut my losses and get the hell out for a bit. We’ll be on the road in a few hours, I imagine — everything these days seems to depend and center around naptimes — but I’m going to try to catch up on some email this weekend and Facebook messages and all that stuff. It’s the communication factor that’s really taken a hit since The Pecan was born. I used to be really good at that stuff, but there are only so many hours in the day and it’s the actual writing that I need.

Anyway, point is I’ll be around. Please have a great and safe weekend. It’s June now, so coming on Summer here in the States. If you can see this, I hope the weather’s good where you are and you can enjoy it. That’s what I’m hoping for as well.

All the best and thanks for reading. Back Monday. Forum and Radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , ,

Worshipper Set June 1 Release for Mirage Daze Covers EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

worshipper

First discussed here almost exactly one year ago, the new Worshipper covers EP, Mirage Daze, is set to arrive via Tee Pee Records on June 1. Preorders are up now for what’s the first new music to come from Worshipper since the Boston four-piece made their debut with 2016’s Shadow Hymns (review here), and even though the songs aren’t orginals, it’s a good opportunity to hear some development in the band’s studio persona and their performances on the whole, as well as get a look at some of their direct influences. If nothing else, having a studio version of their take on Pink Floyd‘s “Julia Dream,” which has been a staple of live shows more or less since their outset, is worth the cheap-as-hell price of admission.

The title, of course, is a phonetic play on Metallica‘s Garage Days covers EP, which was also a bargain when it came out.

From the PR wire:

worshipper mirage daze

Worshipper to Release New EP, ‘Mirage Daze’, June 1

Boston Rock Band Updates Uriah Heep, The Oath, Pink Floyd and The Who on Cover Collection

Boston hard rock band Worshipper will release a collection of cover songs titled Mirage Daze on June 1 via Tee Pee Records. The four song EP, a boisterous bash through songs by Uriah Heep (“Easy Livin”), The Oath (“Night Child”), Pink Floyd (“Julia Dream”) and The Who (“Heaven and Hell”), sees the award-winning quartet put its shredtastic spin on some of its personal favorite rock songs a la Metallica’s The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited.

Mirage Daze is the first new music issued by Worshipper since the release of its critically-acclaimed debut LP, Shadow Hymns, which dropped in summer 2016. Shadow Hymns was hailed as “a highly melodic tightrope between heavy metal, stoner rock and pop” by Decibel and as one of the best hard rock releases of the year by Magnet. Recorded just prior to the debut, Mirage Daze will serve as an electric bridge between Shadow Hymns and Worshipper’s impending sophomore LP, scheduled to be recorded this June at God City Studios in Salem, MA with Chris Johnson (Deafheaven, Summoner).

“Only once in a young bands’ life comes the time to release a debut album. For us this translated to some waiting around in the fall of 2016. With time on our hands before tour dates in support of LP #1 we parked the van and loaded gear into the new Mad Oak Studios, set up and recorded a handful of covers we had been kicking around,” comments guitarist Alejandro Necochea. “The idea was to make something quickly without the typical laboring that goes into making records – for fun. It’s our version of ‘Garage Days,’ Miraze Daze…get it? The covers are an obvious cross-section of the music on which we all agree; some classics and one on the newer side, band-favs The Oath. It’s recorded live, clams and all with just a couple overdubs here and there (a 12-string on Julia and some deep synth wows).”

Track listing:
1.) Easy Livin’ (Uriah Heep)
2.) Night Child (The Oath)
3.) Julia Dream (Pink Floyd)
4.) Heaven and Hell (The Who)

Pre-order Mirage Daze at this location.

In addition to Necochea, Worshipper features John Brookhouse (vocals / guitar), Dave Jarvis (drums) and Bob Maloney (vocals, bass).

https://www.facebook.com/worshipperband/
https://www.instagram/worshipperband
https://www.twitter.com/worshipperband
https://worshipper.bandcamp.com/
http://teepeerecords.com

Worshipper, “Darkness” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Eagle Twin, Wight, Sundrifter, Holy Mushroom, Iron and Stone, Black Capricorn, Owl Maker, Troll, Malditos, The Freak Folk of Mangrovia

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

I’m pretty sure this Quarterly Review — life eater that it is — is going to wind up being six days long. That means next Monday look for sixth installment, another batch of 10 records, which were not hard to come by among everything that’s come in lately for review. I do my best to keep up, often to little avail — some random act’s Bandcamp page starts trending and all of a sudden they’re the best band ever, which hey, they’re probably not and that’s okay too. Anyhowzer, I’m trying is the point. Hopefully another 10 records added into this Quarterly Review underscores that notion.

More coffee. More albums. Let’s rock.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn)

eagle twin the thundering heard songs of hoof and horn

Consuming tones, throat-sung blues, a wash of lumbering doom – yes, it’s quite a first three minutes on Eagle Twin’s The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn). Released by Southern Lord, it’s the Salt Lake City duo’s first outing since 2012’s The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (discussed here), which arrived three years after their 2009 debut, The Unkindness of Crows (review here). Once again, the four-song outing finds guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley and drummer Tyler Smith exploring the natural order and the natural world the 11-minute “Quanah un Rama” and the 14-minute “Antlers of Lightning” bookend “Elk Wolfv Hymn” (8:22) and album highlight “Heavy Hood” (7:21), creating an ever-more immersive and grit-laden flow across the album’s span. It’s hard to know if Densley and Smith are the hunters or the hunted here, but the tones are massive enough to make YOB blush, the rhythms are hypnotic and the use they’re both put to is still unlike anything else out there, ending after the chaos and assault of low end on “Antlers of Lightning” with a moment of contemplative guitar lead, as if to remind us of our solitary place in imagining ourselves at the top of the food chain.

Eagle Twin on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion

wight fusion rock invasion

One wonders what it might’ve been like to see Wight on the 2015 tour on which the Bilocation Records-issued vinyl-only Fusion Rock Invasion: Live Over Europe was captured. Still a year out from releasing their third album, Love is Not Only What You Know (review here), the former trio had already become a four-piece with guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist René Hofmann, bassist Peter-Philipp Schierhorn and drummer Thomas Kurek bringing in percussionist Steffen Kirchpfening and already undertaken the funkier aesthetic turn that LP would represent coming off of 2012’s Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here). At least I’d think it would be something of a surprise as the band hit into “Helicopter Mama” and “The Muse & the Mule” and “Kelele,” which comprise side A of Fusion Rock Invasion, but by all appearances listening to the crowd response between songs, they seem into it. Who could argue? Wight’s groove in those songs as well as the older “Master of Nuggets” and Love is Not Only What You Know finale “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation” on side B, are infectious in their grooves and the soul put into them is genuine and unmistakable. One more reason I wouldn’t have minded being there, I suppose.

Wight on Thee Facebooks

Wight at Bilocation Records

 

Sundrifer, Visitations

sundrifter visitations

Name your bet someone picks up Sundrifter’s Visitations for a proper release. The Boston three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Craig Peura, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan impress in performance, aesthetic and craft across the nine songs and 48 minute of their for-now-self-released debut long-player, and whether it’s Queenan dipping into blastbeats on “Targeted” or Gaughran’s rumble on the Soundgarden-gone-doom “Fire in the Sky” or the fuzz that leads the charge on the Queens of the Stone Age-style “Hammerburn,” Peura doing a decent Josh Homme along the way, each member proves to add something to a whole greater than the sum of its parts and that is able to take familiar elements and use them to hone an individualized atmosphere. In the wake of melodically engaged Boston acts like Gozu, Sundrifter would seem to be a focused newcomer with a solidified mindset of who they are as a group. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised either if they kept growing their sound. Something about the psychedelic distance in “Fire in the Sky” and “I Want to Leave,” says there’s forward movement yet to be had.

Sundrifter on Thee Facebooks

Sundrifter on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Moon

holy mushroom moon

Serenity and presence. There’s no shortage of either on the second Holy Mushroom full-length, Moon. Incorporating the prior-issued digital single “Éufrates,” the five-track/43-minute excursion is rife with natural-toned psychedelic resonance, marked out by organ/piano working alongside the guitar (see “Birdwax Blues”), as well as guest contributions of double bass and saxophone, and other sundry moments of depth-creating flourish. Their trance-effect is palpable, and Moon is an easy album to get lost in, especially as the Spanish three-piece make their way through 12:35 centerpiece “The Preacher,” moving from a dreamy opening line of guitar into funk-laden heft that only pushes forward with Hendrixian abandon through a massive jam before rounding out sweetly with vocals over background organ and sweetly-strummed guitar. “Éufrates” would seem to start the same way, but varies the structure in more of a back and forth format before closer “Grand Finale in the Blind Desert” brings both Holy Mushroom’s most patient execution and their most vibrant jam (sax included), essentially building from the one into the other to end the album in energetic fashion. To say it works for them would be underselling it.

Holy Mushroom on Thee Facebooks

Holy Mushroom on Bandcamp

 

Iron and Stone, Petrichor

iron and stone petrichor

A debut long-player of no-pretense, no-nonsense sludge-infused doom, Petrichor (on Backbite Records) shows German five-piece Iron and Stone as ready to follow where the riff will lead them. The late 2017 album is a solidly-delivered 10 tracks and 43 minutes that strikes mostly in monochrome intent, save perhaps for the acoustic “Interlude” near the midpoint. Their 2015 EP, Old Man’s Doom (review here), was similarly upfront in its purposes, but carrying across a full-length – especially a debut – is a different beast from a shorter outing. Their heavier push on “Monolith” is welcome and the break-then-chug of “Deserts” does plenty to satisfy, but Petrichor might require a couple concerted listens to really sink in on its audience, though as I’ve said time and again, if you can’t handle repetition, you can’t handle doom. Iron and Stone effectively balance traditional doom and rawer sludge groove, playing fluidly to whichever suits their purposes at a given moment.

Iron and Stone on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records webstore

 

Black Capricorn, Omega

black capricorn omega

Sardinian doom cult Black Capricorn push well beyond the limits of the manageable with their 95-minute fourth album, Omega (released Nov. 2017 on Stone Stallion Rex), and that’s clearly the idea. The three-piece of bassist Virginia, drummer Rakela and guitarist/vocalist Kjxu offer grim ambience and tempos that sound slow regardless of their actual speed. That said, the 17-minute “Antartide” is an accomplishment as regards crawl. After a sweetly melancholic opening of guitar, it lurches and lumbers out its miserable heft until a return to that intro bookends. Even shorter tracks like “Flower of Revelation” or “Stars of Orion” hold firm to the tenet of plod, and though the results are obviously a lot to take in, the idea that it should be a slog seems all the more appropriate to Black Capricorn’s style. The band, which hits the decade mark in 2018, churn out one last bit of wretchedness in the nine-minute closing title-track before giving way to an acoustic finish, as if to remind that Omega’s sorrows are conveyed as much through atmosphere as actual sonic heft.

Black Capricorn on Thee Facebooks

Stone Stallion Rex website

 

Owl Maker, Paths of the Slain

owl maker paths of the slain

Guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli, also of malevolent doomers Vestal Claret, leads the new trio Owl Maker, and in the company of bassist Jessie May and drummer Chris Anderson, he embarks on a heavy rock push of six tracks with the debut EP, Paths of the Slain, still holding to some elements of metal, whether it’s the double-kick in opener “Ride with Aileen” or the backing vocals and guitar solo of the subsequent “99.” Songwriting is clearheaded across the EP’s 23 minutes, and in terms of first impressions, “Mashiara” shows a focus on melody that retains a metallic poise without losing its riff-driven edge. The balance shifts throughout “Freya’s Chariot” and the all-go “Witches,” the latter of which touches on black metal in its first half before turning on a dime to mid-paced heavy rock, and closer “Lady Stoneheart” nods in its back end to NWOBHM gallop, as Owl Maker seem to tip their audience to the fact that they’re just getting started on their exploration of the many interpretations of heavy.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Troll, Troll

troll troll

When one considers the multiple connotations of the word, Portland’s Troll are definitely going more for “lives under a bridge” than “meddling in elections” when it comes to their sound. Their self-titled debut EP, issued in 2017 before being picked up by respected purveyor Shadow Kingdom Records for a 2018 CD/tape release, is a highlight offering of classic-style doom worthy of Orodruin and Pilgrim comparisons and headlined by the vocal performance of John, who carries songs like opener “The Summoning” and the later, more swinging “Infinite Death” in a manner impressive in both frontman presence and melodic range. His work is only bolstered by the riffs of guitarist Lou and the consistent groove held together by bassist Wayne and drummer Ryan, whose drive in centerpiece “An Eternal Haunting” is neither overdone nor incongruous with the wall its tempo hits, and who meld shuffle and plod on closer “Savage Thunder” with naturalist ease. Potential abounds, and they reportedly already have new material in the works, so all the better.

Troll on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Malditos, II

malditos ii
Some bands, you just have to accept the fact that they’re on a different wavelength and that’s all there is to it. Magma. Master Musicians of Bukkake. Circle. Enter Oakland, California’s Malditos, whose sophomore outing, II: La Réve, arrives via Svart Records. From bizarre psychedelic chants to ritualized repetitions that seems to be daring you to play them backwards on your turntable, the spiritual freakout to songs like “Azadeh” and the penultimate “Momen” is palpable. Reach out and touch it and it will ripple like water in front of you. A sense of space is filled with elements alternatingly horrifying and engrossing, and after they make their way through “Le Passage” and centerpiece “Disparu” and wind up in the title-track to close out, the journey to the final wash of noise gives the distinct impression that for neither the listener nor the band is there any coming back. High order head trippery. Will simply be too much for some, will gloriously expand the minds of others.

Malditos on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records webstore

 

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach

the freak folk of mangrovia sonic meditations live at palach

I don’t know how much improvisation is a factor in the sound of The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, but the Croation collective bring an ultra-organic presence to their perhaps-debut release, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach. The group, which seems also to have gone under the names Marko Mushan & the Mangrovian Orchestra and The Free Folk of Mangrovia, was opening for Acid Mothers Temple that night, and Sonic Meditations mostly breaks down into parts – “Sonic Meditation I,” “II,” “III” and “IV” – before the band closes out with “’Mangrovian Summer,” all the while with The Freak Folk of Mangrovia making their way through progressive dreamscapes, dripping with effects and spacious enough to house an entire Mangrovian village, however big that might be. It is otherworldly and jazzy and moves with such fluidity that the entire “Sonic Meditation” becomes one overarching piece, complemented by the closing “Mangrovian Summer,” which ebbs and flows through louder, more active jamming before capping in a wash of noise.

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Thee Facebooks

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review & Track Premiere: Gozu, Equilibrium

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

gozu equilibrium

[Click play above to stream Gozu’s ‘Manimal.’ Equilibrium is out April 13 on Blacklight Media and available to preorder here.]

No doubt that for many who take it on, Gozu‘s Equilibrium will be their first exposure to the band. Fair enough. The Boston four-piece are a decade removed from their debut self-titled demo, and depending on how one counts that release, the latest is either their fourth or fifth full-length. What matters more than how one accounts for it, however, is that Equilibrium represents the fruit of 10 years’ worth of upward and outward trajectory both in creativity and profile. That is, Gozu — the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, guitarist/backing vocalist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Mike Hubbard (ex-Warhorse) — have never ceased to get either bigger or better from one offering to the next.

In 2016, they brought their game to a new level of clarity and aggression with Revival (review here), and looking back, one can only say that album built on 2013’s Small Stone-released The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) the same way that record built on 2010’s Locust Season (review here). Still, if Equilibrium — which finds issue through Metal Blade imprint Blacklight Media — is one’s first exposure to the band, there’s nothing to stop the process of getting on board. Their songs are melodic, varied, heavy, presented with a decade-built clarity of purpose and unmistakably their own. Its title evoking a sense of balance, Equilibrium‘s eight tracks and 49 minutes show a group of diverse but not conflicting intent and expert songcraft. Positioned at the forefront of an always-well-populated Boston underground, they have only ever taken forward steps, and this latest of them resonates from beginning to end.

By returning to Wild Arctic Studio in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to work with producer Dean Baltulonis (HatebreedFreya, many others), they bring some sense of continuity from Revival in terms of tone, but hearing moments of flourish like the choral vocals on “Prison Elbows” or the progressive interweaving of guitar on “The People vs. Mr. T.,” they seem to be more comfortable in that setting the second time around and freer to expand arrangements vocal and instrumental. Another example of balance throughout Equilibrium, however, is that of live energy and studio polish. One wouldn’t necessarily expect Gozu to break out the spacious 11-minute closer “Ballad of ODB,” with its patient, ambient opening and pervasive atmospherics, on stage, but the showing of soul in Gaffney‘s vocals is inimitable and unquestionably his own, and even in the opening salvo of “Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat” and the aforementioned “The People vs. Mr. T.,” there’s a vitality that leads one to believe at least some of the basic tracks were captured live.

This, in addition to Hubbard‘s right-on-the-front-of-the-beat drumming style, makes the more uptempo material on Equilibrium soar, and as Sherman shreds out a forward-mixed solo in the second half of “Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat,” the question of what the band would do after their Revival is immediately answered in their living to the fullest. “King Cobra” calls to mind the best of classic grunge in its verse before turning through a more aggro mini-chorus and finally unveiling its actual hook, which is a standout companioned by that of the deeply-weighted “Manimal,” which holds to a slower pace but maintains its sense of roll and flows easily with its surroundings, picking up somewhat in its second half around a chug given all the more force by Grotto‘s bassline as Gaffney takes to falsetto during the fadeout. This would be a natural ending for side A — it may in fact be; I don’t know the vinyl breakdown — and it leads to the shortest inclusion on Equilibrium, “They Probably Know Karate.”

gozu

If indeed “They Probably Know Karate” is the start of side B, it would make sense for the uptick of energy it provides coming out of “Manimal” before it, which is more about impact than thrust. Some spoken backing vocals late provide a bit of curious detail late, but “They Probably Know Karate” is very much Gozu being Gozu, and again, if you’ve never heard them before, what that means is a blend of choice songwriting, rich melody, heavy rock groove and underlying metallurgy. They deliver with efficiency on the 4:17 cut, which is the shortest on Equilibrium, and move forward into the five-minute “Prison Elbows” without looking back or losing any of the momentum they’ve so quickly established. At about two minutes in, “Prison Elbows” cuts to a slower groove to set the stage for Sherman‘s solo, but the build that ensues after — a cymbal crash from Hubbard, a swirl of guitar effects over the sustained riff, the low end grounding the whole affair and keeping it from flying apart — is perhaps even more satisfying.

Teasing the psychedelia to come in the intro to “Ballad of ODB,” it nonetheless finishes in a quick return to ground before the penultimate “Stacy Keach” takes hold with further crunching riffery that opens into a broader verse that’s a vocal highlight from Gaffney ahead of the finish, shifting into a more aggressive riff in its midsection and playing back and forth throughout the second half between the verse/chorus and that meaner chug, on which it ends cold. The soft guitar, echoing ambience and distant drumming that opens “Ballad of ODB” is an immediate departure from “Stacy Keach,” and its soothing and hypnotic three and a half minutes offer a breather after the all the careening and turning that’s come before. A heavier, slower movement ensues, making “Manimal” a hindsight foreshadow, and layers of vocals retain an otherworldly atmosphere. Gozu have never been a psychedelic band, and Grotto‘s rumble underscoring “Ballad of ODB” is nothing if not grounded, but those elements are there, and they help in the final expansion of mood that the closer represents, the chorus flowing into a last, extended solo, and back to the chorus and a short wash of guitar noise to end out.

For fans of the band — I consider myself one — and those who’ve followed them for some portion of the last 10 years, Equilibrium should stand undeniably as the most exacting representation of who Gozu is as a band to-date. Their sound is fully their own and they are in full command of it. Their songwriting is natural and the performances here from all four players together only demonstrates how much the lineup has clicked after touring in the US and Europe to support Revival. These same factors are exactly what also makes Equilibrium such a viable point of entry for new listeners. There is nothing redundant about Equilibrium, and the sense of balance that pervades doesn’t come at the cost of vitality; Gozu sound exciting, fresh, and like one of the most individualized bands in American heavy rock — which, of course, is exactly what they’ve become.

Gozu on Thee Facebooks

Gozu on Bandcamp

Gozu on Instagram

Gozu on Twitter

Blacklight Media website

Blacklight Media on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

Tags: , , , , , ,