Gozu, Revival: Acts of Vitality

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

gozu revival

In some ways, Gozu‘s Revival is defined by its barnburners. There are a few of them, and the impression they create across the Boston four-piece’s third album — first for Ripple Music — is one of a more intense approach overall than was showed either on 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) or 2010’s Locust Season (review here). Those records, both released by Small Stone, had their driving moments, but to listen to “Nature Boy,” “Oldie” or the penultimate “DD McCall” from Revival is to realize how much harder Gozu are pushing themselves across the album as a whole.

The production of Dean Baltulonis at The Wild Arctic and Benny Grotto at Mad Oak brings that out even in a swinging track like “Big Casino” or the soul-fueled “By Mennen.” It’s not necessarily about tonal thickness — that’s not what they’re going for — so much as what kind of impact each instrument can have. Add to this the fact that for the first time on record, Gozu have a cohesive lineup in guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, guitarist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto (brother to the aforementioned Benny) and drummer Mike Hubbard, and it becomes less of a wonder that these eight songs/41 minutes are the strongest the band has yet presented in their tenure. As Gozu enter relative maturity as a group — three LPs deep — they show clear growth in performance, craft and chemistry, while keeping many of elements of the prior work intact that helped push them to the fore of their home region’s crowded heavy rock sphere. To rephrase: They kick ass early and often.

I’ll note at this point that I’m hardly an impartial observer, having been a fan since Locust Season and grown to think of them as friends, but feel no compunction in offering critique, whether it’s of Gaffney‘s vocals dominating the mix in the crashing apex of “By Mennen” (as opposed to the end of it, where the vocals stand alone and would inherently dominate the mix, being the only thing in it), or of the continued use of gag/reference song titles. “Lorenzo Llamas” is clever, but hardly does justice to the spaciousness of the side A closer itself or the manner in which it complements and sets up “Tin Chicken” as the album’s finale. In any case, if you want to take my continued respect for Gozu‘s work with a grain of salt, feel free, but Revival also stands legitimately on its own as their finest hour to date. Whether it’s the blistering, immediate zero-to-100 that “Nature Boy” brings to lead off or the sleeker groove of “Bubble Time” that follows, there isn’t a level on which Gozu aren’t moving beyond what they’ve done before.

CAMBRIDGE, MA - Photo shoot with Gozu, at The Sinclair. Sunday, January 12, 2014.

Grotto, who played on part of The Fury of a Patient Man, and Hubbard, formerly of Warhorse, make for a rhythm section formidable enough to stand up to the melodies and layering in Gaffney‘s vocals and the crunch in his and Sherman‘s guitars alike, and though the attack here is more pointed than it has been in the past, that suits Gozu remarkably well as they lend each song a personality of its own while uniting the work as a whole through hooks, harmonies and a sense of abandon like that shown in the layered soloing that pushes “Bubble Time” over the top at the end. That song and “Nature Boy” before it build momentum into the more shuffling “Big Casino,” which rides a hypnotic chugging riff — something of a miniaturization of “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf” from the last outing — in its middle and after one more chorus trips out a bit with far-back falsetto from Gaffney and consistent punctuation from Hubbard as it fades into the crashes that begin “Lorenzo Llamas,” which builds across its seven-minute span with semi-psychedelic patience as a vocal highlight, subtly insistent riff and fluid groove add to the otherworldly feel the ending of “Big Casino” put forth. Through soloing from Sherman, interplay of the two guitars, and more forceful delivery from Gaffney, “Lorenzo Llamas” gives a fitting cap to Revival‘s first half and sets up the continued expansion of reach that follows in the second.

That expansion comes in hand with a feeling that each of side B’s tracks is in conversation with a counterpart on side A, reversing the first three songs and aligning for the longer fourth so that “Oldie” opens with a chug and hook that could be playing off the sway of “Big Casino,” “By Mennen” answers the soul of “Bubble Time” with swaggering, heavy funk — the early bassline is a highlight — and “DD McCall” follows up on the all-out thrash style with which “Nature Boy” lead off, leaving “Tin Chicken” to build on what “Lorenzo Llamas” accomplished. One doubts that kind of symmetry was something that came to mind for Gozu as they were writing — it’s not like they’re making a concept record — but it does give Revival‘s presentation another level of cohesiveness, and whether it’s the fading-out guitar harmonies of “Oldie” or Gaffney pushing his voice to its limits in that standalone part at the end of “By Mennen,” Gozu manage to add to what they did earlier without sonic redundancy.

This is true in the heads-down thrust of “DD McCall” as well as the immediate contrast that “Tin Chicken” brings with its quiet, fluid guitars, subdued drums and soft vocals. The closer pushes through a louder part and quiets again momentarily before launching into the atmospheric payoff that “Lorenzo Llamas” teased, still heavy but swirling as well before cutting back to fade out after a few quiet lines bringing it back to the intro; the song seems to kind of wander off, but it works with the trance-inducing effects display preceding. And as it goes back to its start in a different way, “Tin Chicken” also summarizes some of what works best about Revival, which is the sense of how purposefully built the album is. While the performances are crisp, the natural chemistry Gozu have harnessed onstage remains intact, and the intensity with which they bring it to bear feels like something the band has been waiting for the opportunity to do. They make the most of that opportunity, and what results is some of the best American heavy rock you’re likely to hear in 2016 in composition and execution.

Gozu, “Nature Boy” official video

Gozu on Thee Facebooks

Gozu on Bandcamp

Ripple Music

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,

Worshipper Sign to Tee Pee Records; Shadow Hymns Due in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Congratulations to Boston heavy rockers Worshipper on signing to Tee Pee Records for the release of their debut album, Shadow Hymns, this August. The hard-driving four-piece have impressed over the course of two 2015 singles — Place Beyond the Light (discussed here) and the preceding Black Corridor (review here) — as well as in a live setting so much that they’ve already picked up a Boston Music Award and, more recently, won the Rock and Roll Rumble competition of local acts. Boston loves its own, to be sure, but even so, that’s a considerable response for a band who hasn’t yet put a record out.

I asked guitarist/vocalist John Brookhouse to comment on the signing and he had this to say:

“Holy shit! I listen to my copy of the first Graveyard record constantly and to flip it over and see ‘Tee Pee’ on the back, the label that is putting out OUR first record, blows my mind. We’re all really proud of how it came out, sonically and visually. Bob did an amazing job with the artwork, so we’re excited for people to see it in person as well as to hear it.”

Worshipper release Shadow Hymns on Tee Pee Records on Aug. 28. The PR wire makes it official:

worshipper

WORSHIPPER Sign With Tee Pee Records

Award-Winning Massachusetts Metal Band To Unleash Full-length Debut, ‘Shadow Hymns’, this Summer

Boston-based metal band WORSHIPPER has signed to NYC’s Tee Pee Records, the independent record label known for releasing landmark albums from acts such as High on Fire, Graveyard, Earthless and Sleep. With a sound described as “darkly epic”, WORSHIPPER has earned consistent accolades since its formation, being named the “Metal Artist of the Year” at the 2015 Boston Music Awards and, most recently, being chosen over 23 other participating bands as champions of the 2016 “Rock and Roll Rumble”, a competition hailed as “The World Series of Boston Rock” that has taken place annually since 1979.

WORSHIPPER will release its full-length debut, Shadow Hymns, on August 28. The record was recorded at Q Division, Mad Oak, and Converse Rubber Tracks Studios with producers Benny Grotto (Aerosmith, Orange Goblin) and David Minehan (The Replacements) and showcases WORSHIPPER’s melodically thunderous sound. Through its unique mix of contemporary and classic influences, WORSHIPPER prove that the horn-throwing soul of melodic heavy music’s past still burns brightly.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to be welcomed to the Tee Pee family,” comments guitarist Alejandro Necochea. “We think it’s a perfect fit and we are immensely proud to have our music released by the same label that put out some of our favorite records of the past couple decades.”

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

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

Worshipper, Place Beyond the Light / Step Behind (2015)

Tags: , , , , ,

Moon Tooth and Rozamov Announce Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

In a little less than a month, Long Island prog-metallers Moon Tooth head out on tour to support their latest album, Chromaparagon, which was released in February. They’ll be doing essentially a month-long swing down and back up the Eastern Seaboard, playing New England with Warm at the end of May, pushing into the South early in June, and then cutting back north, meeting up with Boston trio Rozamov to continue into Upstate New York and into Canada for shows in Montreal and Toronto before rounding out June 20 in Burlington, Vermont.

All put together, it’s a not inconsiderable run, and hardly Moon Tooth‘s first, the band over the last several years having basically forced their way into East Coast the progressive consciousness through hard work and volume. As noted below, this is the first time both of these acts will hit Canada, and Rozamov do so ahead of the release of their much anticipated debut album, due out later this year. They’ll apparently be playing new material at these shows.

Word came down the PR wire:

moon tooth rozamov poster

Long Island progressive sludge rock weirdos Moon Tooth and Boston atmospheric sludge mongers Rozamov have announced a string of dates together this June. This will be both bands’ first excursion north of the border, hitting both Montreal and Toronto on this run. Moon Tooth are supporting their self released debut LP “Chromaparagon” which has reached numbers 85 and 120 on the Hard Rock and Best New Artist charts respectively.

Rozamov recently wrapped up the recording for their own first full length, and will be airing songs from the album on this run. Last year saw Rozamov release “Ghost Divine” on a split with Deathkings via Midnite Collective.

June 16th – Kingston, NY @ The Anchor
June 17th – Rochester, NY @ Monty’s Krown
June 18th – Montreal, CAN @ Crobar
June 19th – Toronto, CAN @ Smiling Buddha
June 20th – Burlington, VT @ Nectar’s

https://www.facebook.com/Rozamov/
https://www.facebook.com/moontoothband/

Moon Tooth, Chromaparagon (2016)

Rozamov, “Ghost Divine” from split with Deathkings (2015)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Roadburn 2016 Trip Pt. 1: Hover

Posted in Features on April 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

theee airporte

04.12.16 — 6:35PM Eastern — Boston Logan Intl. — At the gate

The flight before my flight, or maybe the flight before the flight before my flight — one does like to get to the airport early — seems to be running late, so the place is packed. A constant murmur bleeding through the quiet moments of the Spotlights album, which, despite that, is pretty good. Whenever my time comes, I’ll board the plane and fly redeye-style to Reykavik, which may be the coolest thing I ever get to say in my life: “Yeah, it was a redeye to Reykjavik.” No big deal. I do it all the time.

Nothing, of course, could be farther from the truth. This doesn’t happen all the time. This happens once a year. After connecting in Reykjavik, I head on to Amsterdam and then — maybe a car, maybe a train?; not sure yet — to Tilburg for what will be my eighth attendance the Roadburn Festival, third as editor of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch daily ‘zine. I am no longer able to convey how special this time of year is for me, nor can I accurately describe the clawing I’ve done through the last several weeks to get to this point. Last year, I walked onto the loading dock behind the 013 venue, where Roadburn is held or at very least based, and said out loud it was good to be home. That space has been redone in the interim — so have I, to an extent — but I know once I get there and figure out where the stages are it will be the same feeling.

An ultimate escape from real life, and right now particularly, one sorely needed. Having gone back to work full-time has drained me past a comfortable point of the parts of me that I consider myself, and as I’ve been squirming in my seat for I don’t even know how long, this is precisely the kind of okay-go-play I need to make me feel alive again, like I’m something more than a commuter with short hair or the office weirdo who always takes his shoes off at his desk. I need to not be that, I think probably even more than I realize I need it.

If you’ve read this site’s Roadburn coverage in previous years, then you know how it goes. Each night, after the day’s events are over, I will update with a wrap up of that day. It’s not quite live-blogging, which would be me tweeting that Neurosis are awesome while Neurosis are playing and offers in my view precious little substance (though I will probably post some stuff on Instagram as well), but I hope to capture a fraction of the vibrant, creative mania that drives this event and, in my view and my experience, makes it different from everything else out there and, yes, special as fuck.

Let’s say each day’s review will be up before the next day starts, at the latest. But unless a piano falls on my head, that means late-night posts all the way.

Hours to go before I leave, and from what I hear I have a middle seat on the flight — of the exit row, but still — so I don’t expect too many favors from the universe on this one, but at the end of this slog is Roadburn, and if Roadburn is anything at all, it’s worth getting to. This is the start of my calendar, a retreat for mind and what in my pitiful case passes for a spirit, and I can’t wait to be surrounded by the music, the people and to be in the place itself. There isn’t a doubt in my mind it will be incredible. Not one.

Thanks in advance for reading if you do and for being a part of this.

Tags: , , , ,

Kind Sign with Total Volume Agency; Touring Europe this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kind‘s 2015 debut album, Rocket Science (review here), is available now on vinyl through Ripple Music. The band have done some sporadic live shows over the months since the CD dropped last December, as members continue their work on other bands and tours — drummer Matt Couto out with Elder again, bassist Tom Corino wrapping up the awaited debut from Rozamov, vocalist Craig Riggs (also Roadsaw and White Dynomite) touring on drums with Sasquatch, guitarist Darryl Shepard busy being the mayor of Boston heavy rock — but it seems their intention is to head to Europe in October and do a round of shows to support the record. They’ve just signed a deal with Total Volume Agency, in good company with the likes of Valley of the SunGeezerTuberBlaak HeatNaxatras and Funeral Horse, which will no doubt help them in that cause.

Total Volume announced the partnership thusly:

kind (Photo by Nicole Tammaro)

Total Volume – First addition to our roster this year : KIND!

Formed in 2013 by Matt Couto (Elder), Darryl Shepard (Black Pyramid, The Scimitar) and Tom Corino (ROZAMOV) – after the trio spent time jamming together in-between day-to-day commitments – the doom supergroup KIND quickly cemented their formation with the addition of Roadsaw vocalist Craig Riggs.

Out of the mind-bending riffs and extended jam sessions, whole songs began to take shape through winter rehearsals down in Couto’s freezing cold basement in 2014, where the newly formed quartet began laying down ideas for their soon to be released debut, Rocket Science, which officially landed this December on Ripple Music.

Shows were soon booked to share the tunes with the curious. Further riffs materialized, new songs banged into shape, and yet more shows confirmed, so keen were the band to test their mettle and mixture of heavy metal, psych, Krautrock and straight-up classic rock and roll.

With four songs recorded at Mad Oak Studios serving as the band’s demo in the spring of 2015, KIND entered New Alliance Studios with engineer Alec Rodriguez to record their first full-length, Rocket Science, which received an official release this past December on the California-based label Ripple Music.

https://www.facebook.com/KINDtheband/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
http://www.totalvolumeagency.com/kind.html

Kind, Live at Saint Vitus Bar, Dec. 2015

Tags: , , , ,

Hepatagua Announce East Coast Tour; Premiere New Track “Ganesha”

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

hepatagua

If you want to give people a taste of what you’re going for with your debut EP, a 10-minute track will probably get the job done. Thus Boston-based duo Hepatagua unveil the sprawling “Ganesha,” the closing cut from their upcoming Worms release, which is out this Friday and which they’ll carry with them on their upcoming East Coast tour, all serving as a precursor to their first full-length, The Lost Art of Dropping Dead, due out later this year. Got all that? It’s a lot, I know.

The take-away is that Hepatagua, the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Gray and drummer Nate Linehan, are getting ready to unveil their first offering, Worms, by taking it down and back up the Eastern Seaboard for shows in Philly, Brooklyn, Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Alabama, etc. A release tour is a pretty bold move for a band like Hepatagua, but a listen to the EP finds their sound working likewise, either reveling in noisy aggro crush, as on its title-track, melding post-metallic progressive churn and soaring melodies on “No Rights” or moving from the initially frantic opening stretch of “Ganesha” to the patient, semi-psychedelic wandering that follows and rounds out with Gray‘s guitar offering full-on hypnotic drone at the finish.

You can hear “Ganesha” via the player below, following the tour info and some more background on Worms and the impending The Lost Art of Dropping Dead.

It all goes like this:

hepatagua worms

Hepatagua announces East Coast Spring 2016 Tour in support of their upcoming EP titled “Worms”

Boston sludge/doom/dark rock duo, Hepatagua are about to hit the road for their first East Coast tour. They’ll kick things off with an EP release (a selection of the upcoming LP) show at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston, MA on Friday April 8th, 2016 and then head out down to AL and back to support the EP. Also joining them will be local sludge titans, Phantom Glue, hardcore/metal/thrashers Jack Burton vs David Lo Pan (also their LAST SHOW), and sludge/doom heartthrobs, Upheaval.

Hepatagua East Coast TOUR DATES
4/8/16 O’Brien’s Pub – Allston, MA
4/9/16 33 Golden St – New London, CT
4/10/16 Lucky 13 Saloon – Brooklyn, NY
4/12/16 The Radio Room – Greenville, SC
4/13/16 The Ordnance – Birmingham, AL
4/14/16 Union EAV – Atlanta, GA
4/15/16 The Odditorium, Asheville, NC
4/16/16 Guido’s Speakeasy, Frederick, MD
4/17/16 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA

Hepatagua was once described as a two headed giant fighting another giant with the limbs of a third giant. It came to life in 2013, when BFF’s Nate Linehan (of AxCx/Fistula fame) and Aaron Gray (owner of Grayskull Booking) came to realize that they loved The Melvins, Nirvana, High on Fire, Failure, and formed a two piece dedicated to the riff and the exploration of playing whatever genre they feel like as long as it’s heavy as fvck. They’ve shared stages with the likes of Weedeater, King Parrot, Jucifer, Lo-Pan, and more and their debut EP, Worms, is just a taste of their upcoming LP titled “The Lost Art of Dropping Dead.”

www.facebook.com/hepatagua
www.hepatagua.bandcamp.com
twitter : @hepatagua

Tags: , , , , ,

Gozu Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds Booking; Euro Tour in September

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

This seems an awful lot like a winning match. I’ve heard the Gozu record, and among the primary impressions I have of the band at this point is the fact that they should be touring. They play locally a lot, and they’ve been to Europe before, certainly, but they should be on the road. Particularly for the upcoming Revival (review pending), they’re more than ready to take their game to a wider public, and since Europe is where that kind of thing happens these days, teaming up with the booking arm of the oh-so-busy Heavy Psych Sounds, yeah, that’s a good way to go.

Looks like September is when they’ll head over, as the PR wire explains:

gozu (Photo by Tim Bugbee)

Well the old saying, “Rock is my business and business been good.” This statement is definitely coming true for the Boston 4 piece Gozu.

First signing earlier this year to California’s heavy rock label, Ripple Music, and having their new album coming out to the masses in June they have now teamed up with Italy’s Heavy Psych Records Booking department for their upcoming European tour in September.

“The group is very excited to be working with Gabriel, the brains behind Heavy Psych.” said vocalist/guitarist Marc Gaffney. His roster is incredibly strong and all of us enjoy the bands that he works with and felt it would be a comfortable home. When booking a tour you want to feel a sense of calmness and togetherness and that was concretely evident, hence signing with Heavy Psych to book the band. We feel it will be a vibrant and fortuitous relationship.”

“Ripple Music is thrilled to have Gozu touring Europe with Heavy Psych Sounds Booking,” said Ripple Music CEO Todd Severin. “They’ve done a great job of booking European tours for other Ripple bands, such as Ape Machine and Mos Generator, and as the relationship between our two like-minded organizations grows hopefully they will be able to help many more Ripple bands tour Europe in the future.”

Look for the Ripple album, Revival, to hit the stores on both sides of the Atlantic on June 10th, in LP, CD and digital formats. Available world-wide in music outlets and the Ripple Music Webstore, and digitally via Ripple Music Bandcamp and all known digital platforms

“Gozu is extremely excited to get back to Europe and let the rock roll,” said Gaffney “So see you all in September as there will truly be a Revival!”

https://www.facebook.com/GOZU666/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
www.heavypsychsounds.com

Gozu, “Nature Boy” official video

Tags: , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Wheel in the Sky, Sun Dial, LSD & the Search for God, Duel, The Canadian Sweetmen, Wren, Transient, Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Telstar Sound Drone, Fantasy Arcade

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

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

So it begins. I’d say this one snuck up on me, but the terrible truth of these things is that there are months of planning involved. You know the drill by now: Between today and Friday, I’ll be posting 50 record reviews in batches of 10 per day, and that’s the Quarterly Review. They’re not really in any order. Some have been out for a while, some aren’t out yet. I have tried to mark 2015 stuff where possible, if only to keep my own organizational modus straight. We’ll see how that goes as the week plays out. In any case, I hope you find something here that you dig. I know I have.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Wheel in the Sky, Heading for the Night

wheel in the sky heading for the night

Although Wheel in the Sky’s presentation is modern enough on their The Sign Records debut album, Heading for the Night, to steer them clear of Sweden’s boogie-mad masses, they’re still very clearly taking influence from classic rock, most notably The Who on cuts like opener “Fire, Death to All” (also the longest track; immediate points), “Total Eclipse of the Brain” and “Thrust in the Night.” The clarity of sound and approach puts them more in line with bands like The Golden Grass and, for a countrymen example, Troubled Horse, than Graveyard, and the Uppsala/Stockholm four-piece distinguish themselves further through the dual-lead interplay of “A Turn for the Wicked,” which hints just a bit toward Thin Lizzy bounce to feed into closer “God on High,” which coats its vocals in echo to add a sense of grandeur before the last instrumental push, which picks up the pace at the end to cap a first album from a band clearly looking to find their own niche within a classic heavy rock feel.

Wheel in the Sky on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control

sun dial mind control

Offered first by the band in 2012 and reissued through Sulatron Records with two bonus tracks from the same recording session, Sun Dial’s Mind Control puts the long-running UK psych/space rockers in their element in a kosmiche expanse quickly on “Mountain of Fire and Miracles,” and while electronic experimentation is a factor throughout “Radiation” and “Burned In,” there’s always a human spirit underneath and sometimes out front in what Sun Dial do, and the newly-included “Seven Pointed Star” and “World Within You” fit in with the sense of acid ritual that the original album tracks convey, the title cut transposing Hawkwindian warp drive on a more relaxed atmosphere, each measure seemingly a mantra in a longer meditation. Even with its wah-soaked ending, “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” has a more straightforward tack, proving that even when you think you know what a group like Sun Dial are up to, you’re probably wrong.

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Mind Control at Sulatron Records

 

LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place

lsd and the search for god heaven is a place

The second EP from San Francisco-based shoegazing psychedelic rockers LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place, arrives a whopping nine years after its self-titled predecessor. Granted, it might be the wash of effects and the almost-whispered vocal melodies that seem to barely break the surface of the waves of airy distortion, but if any of this material goes back that far, it doesn’t show its age. The five-piece – guitarist/vocalist Andy Liszt, vocalist Sophia Cambell, guitarist Chris Fifield, bassist Ryan Lescure and drummer Ricky Maymi – offer five tracks of blissed-out, dripping wet vibe, with “Outer Space (Long Way Home)” at the center of a post-grunge swirl following the cosmic push of “(I Don’t Think that We Should) Take it Slow” and before the serenity of “Elizabeth” takes hold as a lead-in for seven-minute finale “Without You,” simultaneously the most lucid and dreamy of the cuts included. Nine years is a long time. Heaven is a Place begs for a quicker follow-up.

LSD and the Search for God on Thee Facebooks

LSD and the Search for God on Bandcamp

 

Duel, Fears of the Dead

duel fears of the dead

Austin purveyors Duel make a striking impression from the cover onward with their Heavy Psych Sounds full-length debut, Fears of the Dead. The four-piece, which by all reports features two former members of Scorpion Child, get down with classic swing on the opening title-track and thereby broadcast the intent of the album as a whole, bringing ‘70s-style grooves and boogie forward in time with modern fullness and a crisp production that highlights the gruff vocals of guitarist Tom Frank, who alongside bassist/vocalist Shaun Avants, guitarist Derek Halfmann and drummer JD Shadowz, swaggers through the record’s eight included slabs as one might through a crowded venue for the next in a long series of an evening’s beers. Later cuts like “When the Pigs are Fed” and 7:52 closer “Locked Outside” bring some more variety to the approach, but the heart of Fears of the Dead remains brash and unbridled, and one doubts if Duel would have it any other way.

Duel on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds

 

The Canadian Sweetmen, Intro b/w New Cigarettes

the canadian sweetmen intro new cigarettes

One might blink and miss the debut single from somewhat mysterious psychedelic rockers The Canadian Sweetmen, which totals its A and B sides together for a runtime of about four and a half minutes, but the fact that the 90-second “Intro” (the A side) manages to marry The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys in that span is definitely something worth taking the time to note. There’s just about no information on the band as to who they are, where they come from, where they’re going, etc., but the three-minute “New Cigarettes” makes an impression on style and substance alike and offers an encouraging glimpse at what seems to be a psychedelia bolstered by organ and Rhodes and unbound by a need to adhere to genre tenets. “Intro” doesn’t even stick around long enough to do so, but “New Cigarettes” careens into a rhythmic push for its chorus that offers an earthy undertone to the heady, spaced-out vibe. More please.

The Canadian Sweetmen Tumblr

The Canadian Sweetmen on Soundcloud

 

Wren, Host

wren host

Absolutely devastating. UK post-sludgers Wren dole out a punishment that won’t be soon forgotten on their second EP, Host (on Holy Roar), following up the blackened post-rock of their 2014 self-titled EP (review here) and their 2015 split with Irk (review here) with four pummeling but still richly atmospheric cuts. Working now as the lineup of Owen Jones, Chris Pickering, Robert Letts and John McCormick, Wren have had three different vocalists on their three releases, but not a one of them has failed to add to the ambience and crushing impression of their riffs, and the hook of “No Séance” particularly on Host signifies that despite whatever lineup shifts they may have had, Wren continue to progress and refine their attack. “Stray,” “No Séance,” “The Ossuary” and “Loom” are unshakable, deeply weighted and righteously spaced. They may have flown somewhat under the radar up to this point, but Wren are too loud to be a well kept secret for much longer.

Wren on Thee Facebooks

Wren on Bandcamp

 

Transient, Transient

transient transient

Some 12 years after their initial demo surfaced in 2003, Massachusetts’ Transient present an atmospheric take on alt-metal with their self-titled debut full-length, self-released last fall. Bringing together nine tracks/46 minutes with a patient but tense pacing and underlying currents of progressive metal in cuts like “Ditch of Doubt” and “Wrong Time,” it unfolds gracefully with the intro “Voyager One” and finds an aggressive burst in “Wrong Time” and the Tool-gone-psych build of the penultimate “Slightest Scare.” That song is part of an extended two-cut closing suite with “Hold this Grudge,” which highlights Scott McCooe’s bass tone as it provides a surprising but satisfying laid back finish. McCooe, joined here by guitarist/vocalist Tim Hayes and drummer John Harris, splits his time with metalcore progenitors Overcast, and as Transient was recorded over a year’s stretch and then mixed and mastered a year after that – living up to the band’s name – it may be a while before a follow-up, but after so long from their demo, it’s still a welcome debut.

Transient on Thee Facebooks

Transient on Bandcamp

 

Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Split

desert storm suns of thunder split

Issued by H42 Records in a limited edition for this year’s Desertfest, the new split 7” from UK heavy platoons Desert Storm and Suns of Thunder is so dudely they could sell it as vitamin supplements on late-night tv. A complex critique of gender it is not, heavy it is. One track from each band. Desert Storm bring the burl of “Signals from Beyond,” which with its strong hook and gravely vocals brings to mind Orange Goblin nestled into a nodding riff. For Swansea’s Suns of Thunder, it’s “Earn Your Stripes,” with its complex vocal arrangements for lyrics about small men and big men, paying your dues and other whathaveyou that dominant culture tells those with testicles will make them more complete people. Fine. Masculinity and femininity are scams to sell pants, but “Earn Your Stripes” is catchy as all anything and “Signals from Beyond” is even catchier than however catchy that is, so a testosterone overdose seems a small price to pay.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

Suns of Thunder on Thee Facebooks

 

Telstar Sound Drone, Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles

telstar sound drone magical solutions to everyday problems

Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles is the second album from Copenhagen-based auralnauts Telstar Sound Drone, and like much of what Bad Afro releases, it presents a strong temptation to drop out, tune in and turn on. Little surprise the band is something of an offshoot from Baby Woodrose, sharing guitarist Mads Saaby and drummer Hans Beck with the seminal garage rockers, but the lush impression made on “Something I Can’t Place” with the watery vocals of Sean Jardenbæk comes from an even more lysergic place, and the experimental side that comes through on “Closer Again,” “Dark Kashmir” and the languid “Dead Spaces” is a multi-tiered dreamscape that closer “Lean down on White” seems sad to leave. Reasonably so. With guest spots from members of Spids Nøgenhat, Bite the Bullet and Baby Woodrose (Kåre Joensen on bass/synth), Telstar Sound Drone’s sophomore outing is an otherworldly psychedelic vision that, as promised, does seem to cure what ails, exciting even in its most subdued moments.

Telstar Sound Drone on Thee Facebooks

Bad Afro Records

 

Fantasy Arcade, Fantasy Arcade

fantasy arcade fantasy arcade

Initially offered by the band in 2012 and subsequently pressed to a six-song 7” and jewel case CD, the self-titled debut EP from San Diego trio Fantasy Arcade only runs about 11 minutes, but that’s all it needs to bring together punk, thrash, sludge and heavy rock across fuckall-heavy cuts like “The Dwarves are Missing” – the longest song here at 3:38 – and the rumbling finale “Die Before You Suck,” which gallops and shouts and seems to crash into walls on its way out, though drummer/vocalist Adam, bassist/vocalist Chris and guitarist Mike actually do well in deciding when to keep control and when to let it go. More nuanced than it lets on, Fantasy Arcade is an aggressive pulse given to moments of frustration boiling over, but being rooted in metal as much as punk, its dwelling in two worlds gives heft to the freneticism at play, as shown in “Poison Arrow,” the first half of which runs at a sprint right into the brick wall slowdown of its second, and final, minute.

Fantasy Arcade on Thee Facebooks

Fantasy Arcade on Bandcamp

 

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