Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was late Friday night when, in their usual fashion, Boston doom experimentalists Ice Dragon posted a link to their new album, Seeds from a Dying Garden, available to stream and download on their Bandcamp. This was surprising at first — not because it’s a new Ice Dragon; they’d said they were working on material and they’ve been almost maddeningly prolific over the last several years — but because it wasn’t free. A $7 download. Quite a jump from their usual “here, take it” name-your-price methodology.
I assumed at first there was something they were raising money to buy. Some piece of ancient and obscure recording or synth equipment, a Moog that George Harrison once looked at in a store or something like that, but nope, apparently they just ran out of free download credits on Bandcamp, which is apparently a thing. I’d never heard of it, but I don’t have a Bandcamp, so there you go. They’ve since lowered the price to a measly buck, and I think once you check out Seeds from a Dying Garden itself, you’ll find it worth the investment.
For their latest and umpteenth outing, Ice Dragon dive deep into classic psychedelic pop rock — as their Beach Boys-esque cover indicates — and emerge with Beatlesian characters like “Mr. Merry Melan Man” and the winking weed puns of “Mary Wants a Sunset” to craft a sound still characteristically their own, shades of doomed march working their way into languid progressions, an abidingly stoned sensibility arriving with the eight-minute dream-out “Your Beauty Measures More.” Front to back, it is a consuming journey into psych-ic expansion, but as ever, Ice Dragon maintain the penchant for songwriting that has made them forerunners among garage doom and the unflinching creative will that sees them so constantly broadening their style.
And while they often toy with biting metal tones and lunkheadedly badass riffing, Seeds from a Dying Gardenfeels more like it’s working to push the boundaries of last year’s Born a Heavy Morning(review here), and it does so even unto its ambient interludes “To Everything that Was” and “To Everything that Might Have Been,” which appear three tracks in and three tracks from the end to draw a linear thread through the album’s widely varied course. No doubt Ice Dragon will tackle their metal side again at some point, but for the boldness with which they approach psychedelia when they choose to do so — their sound also isn’t necessarily limited to one or the other — I tend to find this path even more engaging. The title may hint at some sense of loss or foreboding, but the general mood is more suited to the bright nostalgic wash of the cover photo, though of course if Ice Dragon only did one thing all the time, it just wouldn’t be them.
Seeds from a Dying Gardenis available now for download and follows Ice Dragon‘s July 2014 split with Space Mushroom Fuzz (info here). Check it out on the player below.
Posted in Reviews on August 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I parked behind what used to be Boston’s legendary punk venue The Rat and made my way over a bridge across the Masspike, which cuts right through the city, and down a street behind Fenway Park to the House of Blues. It was Sunday night. The evening prior, I’d been in Pennsylvania watching All Them Witches, King Buffalo and King Dead (review here) win hearts and minds at The Living Room in Stroudsburg. I was beat from the drive, but this was Sleep, and some things you just don’t miss when you’re lucky enough to get the chance to see them.
House of Blues. Big. Corporate, but clearly run by professionals. Mezzanine tickets cost more, I think. The privilege of standing further away at a premium. Uh huh. I walked in and over to the crowded merch area — even Sleep‘s t-shirts seemed to cause a mosh pit to break out — and found Arik Roper selling vinyl, pillowcases, posters, etc. He seemed to be busy all night, and for good reason. Sleep‘s new single, “The Clarity” (review here), had just gotten a 12″ release, and legitimately it was sweet looking. Then, poof, it was gone.
Run down though I was — and, if I’m honest, still am — I’d have had a hard time pretending not to be excited for this show. Anytime Sleep comes around, it’s a special occasion, something to be celebrated, and the support slot being filled by a one-off Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket jam only added to the appeal, the influential San Diego trio — it seems fair to think of them at this point as a nexus for the current crop of heavy psych bands coming out of that area — teaming up with J. Mascis (Heavy Blanket, Witch, Dinosaur Jr.) for what if I’m not mistaken was the first time since their performance at Roadburn 2012 (Sleep also played that year), a staggering landmark of jammed heavy recently issued as the Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket, In a Dutch Hazevinyl and CD (review here). As far as nights go, I knew this was going to be a good one.
There was no grand introduction as Earthless – guitarist Isaiah Mitchell (also Golden Void), bassist Mike Egington and drummer Mario Rubalcaba – took the stage, no “Guess who this is!” posturing. They rolled in, turned on their amps, Rubalcaba took his seat behind the drums, in front of the riser that Sleep‘s Jason Roeder would soon occupy, and slammed into 45 minutes of straight jamming. The interplay between Mitchell and Mascis, who shared a side of the stage, was unbelievable, and as Egington and Rubalcaba locked a foundation down early, the guitarists set about tripping out solos and effects washes and riffs that would carry through for the entirety of the cosmic exploration. Whatever you might’ve called the piece — “In a Fenway Haze?” — it moved up and down and sideways, was molten in its changes and overwhelming in its sprawl.
The thing to do was to lose yourself in it. That’s harder in a live space — at least sober — than when listening to a record, but if anyone was ever going to take you on a ride, it was these cats. And they did. Even the big rock finish of the set was about five minutes long, everything huge, swirling and terrifying in both cohesion and scale. I dug it, I dug it, I dug it, and I’m willing to bet six new bands formed in the crowd while Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket played. All the better. Sleep would be on a different rip when they came out, but were no less glorious, the kings of stoner riffing riding high both on the new single and on the promise of an inaugural Australian tour to come, and a couple more shows on this run as well. Bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also Om), guitarist Matt Pike (also High on Fire) and Roeder (also Neurosis) came out after a short break, and it was plain from the start of opener “Sonic Titan” that everyone was having a really good time on stage.
I think back to the first time I saw Sleep, four years ago in Brooklyn. They killed. God damn were they loud. But watching them play, you could see the differences in how they handled themselves on stage. Cisneros came across like he might’ve with Om, a very contemplative, subdued presence. Pike, in contrast, was battle-axe brazen, everything one might expect from watching a High on Fire gig. As the two founding members of the band with Roeder between them, the split in personality was evident, right there to be seen. At House of Blues, it was just the opposite. Not only in how Cisneros and Pike interacted, but in their individual presences and in how solid the three-piece was with Roeder, Sleep weren’t so much a reunion act whose members went on to find success in other bands. That disparity was nonexistent. They were a vital trio, reveling in their classic material — Sleep’s Holy Mountainfeatured heavily with “From Beyond” and “Holy Mountain” early and “Aquarian” and “Dragonaut” after delving into “Dopesmoker” — but more than ever that I’ve seen them, very obviously ready to move forward as well.
Perhaps that was most evident in Cisneros‘ performance. He toyed with the rhythm of his vocal delivery for “Dopesmoker” and elsewhere — the clarion lines “Drop out of life with bong in hand/Follow the smoke toward the riff-filled land” marked by a sustained, almost growling “drop” — and when the stoner caravan of “From Beyond” arrived, it did so with delighted emphasis on “stoner.” Predictably, at some point late in the set, someone tossed a joint on stage, and Pike, who had an electric cigarette on standby, gave it over to Cisneros, who lit up and earned a round of applause for it. He was far from the only one in the room.
“Dragonaut” got the biggest response of the night, which one would expect, but for me, seeing them play “The Clarity” complete with the sampled, compressed intro of its central riff, was a particular highlight, and the appeal of watching Sleep perform their first new recorded material in over a decade’s time wasn’t lost on the crowd either. They closed out with a wash of noise and riffs in “Antarcticans Thawed” and “Cultivator,” as if to further emphasize the vitality and relevance of their project and its ongoing nature. By then, House of Blues was a place of worship, and anywhere Sleep wanted to go, the place was ready to follow. Their utter command of their sound, the joy and chemistry they conveyed in delivering it, and the sheer volume with which they did were remarkable. Even before they were done I found myself asking what could’ve been better, any sense of impartiality I might posture having been reduced to a pummeled mush of fanboy glee.
Feedback carried over after they were done, but those who hadn’t left still showed appreciation after the amps were turned off — pretty sure that was Stoneburner‘s Damon Kelly I saw tech’ing, and if so, I wonder if he was in charge of the endearingly fake setlist at the front of the stage with some choice Montrose song titles like “Rock the Nation” and “Clown Woman” — and there was a short cry for one more song before the house lights came up. Soon enough, it was time to mill out and back across that highway-spanning bridge to the car, the bounce of “Dragonaut” still holding sway on my consciousness, though, admittedly, that seems to be a permanent condition.
Posted in Reviews on August 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Recorded in early 2013 as a blizzard pummeled the East Coast, The Proselyte‘s Our Vessel’s in Need EP hardly conveys any of the snowed-in claustrophobia or manic feel one might expect. Its five songs move, and have tones thick enough to fortify the walls of New Alliance Audio against the storm, but there’s little in the sound that seems to be trying to get away from itself. Maybe they finished tracking early on, or maybe that’s just a testament to the Cambridge, MA, outfit’s songwriting, which is all the more a highlight component of the new EP — released by Gypsyblood Records, an imprint helmed by Stavros Giannopoulos of Chicago’s The Atlas Moth – even than it was on The Proselyte‘s prior 2011 sophomore full-length, Sunshine(discussed here). In the interim, aside from completing several tours, The Proselyte have cut their lineup by one, leaving drummer/vocalist Alec Rodriguez (who also produced), guitarist/vocalist Nicholas Wolf (also of Phantom Glue) and bassist Brad Macomber (also “circuitry”) as a tight-knit power trio with a sound that confidently stands on either side of the border between heavy rock and metal and still focuses on blending melodic and growling vocal arrangements and keeping a sense of atmosphere. About a decade ago, Boston’s Cave In were picked up by RCA using similar elements, but while that band may or may not have had an influence on the rushing churn of Our Vessel’s in Needopener “End Regions,” The Proselyte are by and large a more bruising, heavier group, and even when they dip into upbeat, driving sounds, as on “End Regions” or the irresistibly catchy “Irish Goodbye,” and seem like they might be channeling some of Red Fang‘s crowdpleasing heaviness, they do so with the born-in intensity of the Seaboard they call home.
Our Vessel’s in Needis in and out in a brief 23 minutes, the time feeling that much shorter for the push in the songs themselves, and as with the prior full-length, Rodriguez‘s recording job is clean and professional. The sound overall, however, is bigger on these five tracks than the prior outing, and The Proselyte fill it with likewise sizable riffs and rhythmic movement. Each has a factor distinguishing it from the others, whether it’s “End Regions” with its stomping drumline and harmonized bridge, “Log Computer” with the catchiest chorus of the release — the lines, “Caveman committee/Prehistoric and sitting pretty/Unpolished stone/Built this city,” becoming a landmark hook — “Existential Risk” which seems to deconstruct as it hypnotically follows the guitar into oblivion, “Irish Goodbye,” which touches on classic Queens of the Stone Age-style thrust, or the slower, more open finale of “A Stubborn Hem,” but all manage to flow together smoothly as well, and while Our Vessel’s in Needis definitely an EP in the sense of not trying to come across as a single work but a collection of individual pieces, there’s no ignoring the tact with which The Proselyte execute their material. That’s particularly evident in the vocals, and the timing of the harsh/clean tradeoffs in “End Regions” and “Log Computer” and the times when both come together — “Log Computer” is about as close as they come to falling in the modern metal trap of the growled-verse/sung-chorus, but they avoid it successfully precisely because the arrangement is more complex — but no less true ultimately of the guitar, bass or drums. On the most general level, they sound more focused, but how that specifically manifests in the EP is with the impact each cut seems to have on its landing, even “Existential Risk,” which is the longer than all but the closer here at 4:44 and the moment at which they most depart from their structural base and build a near-abrasive wash of noise.
Though, to be fair, that wash comes more or less after the song itself is done, and thinking in terms of the flow between one song and the next, feels as much about launching “Irish Goodbye” as closing “Existential Risk.” All the more, then, it’s a point at which The Proselyte branch out sonically but maintain their focus on the task at hand. “Irish Goodbye” has a compressed runthrough of the riff before Rodriguez kicks in on the drums and is soon joined by Wolf and Macomber for the progression that most rivals the memorability of “Log Computer,” a Songs for the Deaf vibe and dual-clean vocal interplay/layering taking hold in stark contrast to “Existential Risk” prior, which in terms of the vocals is as rough as Our Vessel’s in Needgets. Fitting that the two tracks should be next to each other and placed such that the latter slams into the feedback beginning of “A Stubborn Hem,” which rounds out the EP with its most doomed moment but shows off some of the progressive tendencies that had appeared on Sunshinein its second half, albeit only en route to the dual-vocal, slow-marching apex of the release which also serves as its leadout. At 6:36, it’s easily the longest track present — “End Regions,” “Log Computer” and “Irish Goodbye” hover at just under four minutes apiece — but its time is efficiently spent, and ultimately, the stylistic branching out it does in relation to the surrounding tracks makes Our Vessel’s in Needa much richer release. I wouldn’t speculate about how the band may have grown or come more into their own as a three-piece in the year and a half since the EP was recorded, but their progression since Sunshineis evident in every second of these songs and the force with which they’re delivered, and if Our Vessel’s in Needis a step en route to someplace even more definitive of where The Proselyte are as a band, it will be well worth seeing this potential further realized. Bring on the next blizzard.
Exactly what kind of audio/visual project is Old Man Gloom‘s forthcoming Here is a Gift for You? Hell if I know. The Boston post-metal don’t-call-us-a-supergroup-even-though-we-are-most-definitely-a-supergroup four-piece keep it cryptic with their just-unveiled trailer, as one would have to expect, showing off documentary interview footage — seen looking comfortable on a balcony at the start, Thor Anderson is a visiting professor at the San Francisco Art Institute — as well as a burning Zozobra effigy and live performance from the band that, because there are lights on and they’re actually visible, I’m going to assume was not filmed in their hometown. Old Man Gloom toured Europe earlier this year, including a stop at Roadburn (review here) and it could easily have come from one of those shows or just about anywhere else. Could be Nate Newton‘s basement. Anything’s possible with these guys.
Old Man Gloom‘s last release was 2012’s No, which marked the return of the project and their first outing since 2004’s Christmas, the lineup of Newton (also of Converge) on guitar/vocals, guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner (ex-Isis), bassist/vocalist Caleb Schofield and drummer Santos Montano (Zozobra) refreshing the cerebral pummel that made their earlier work like 2001’s one-two punch of Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressionismand Seminar III: Zozobraboth so distinct in what was than a nascent post-metal movement and years ahead of their time. I intended to pick up a copy of Noafter their performance at Roadburn was so blistering and didn’t because I suck and I’m broke, but the clip here is another argument in favor of digging through the couch for change to put toward that cause.
Whatever Here is a Gift for Youis, it’ll reportedly be out this fall, produced and directed by Kenneth Thomas with burning Zozobra and everything. Here’s the trailer:
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz have more than a few things in common: They share geography in being based out of Boston. They’re both committed to self-releasing albums without charging for them, and they both do so at a prolific clip. Both bands have a varied and open sound, and while Ice Dragon lean more toward a doomed-out psychedelic nod, recorded raw with physical pressing a matter left to the ages — their Dream Dragon(tape review here) has a CD issue coming — and Space Mushroom Fuzz tend toward the progressive and space rocking side of the heavy spectrum while periodically gathering single tracks and other output for collected release — their 2013 double-tape, Back from the Past(review here), brought together four outings — I don’t think there’s anyone who’d argue they don’t make a solid pair.
To be perfectly honest, I was kind of hoping that Crystal Futurewould be a collaborative release from Ice Dragon. As Space Mushroom Fuzz is a one-man project — helmed by Adam Abrams, also known for Blue Aside – it would be easy enough to bring him into an Ice Dragon session, but the four-song release is a proper split, each act on their own. I’m not about to complain. Each band contributes a longer work and a shorter ambient piece, and as ever from both, the resulting EP is available as a free download.
Links, info, Samantha Allen‘s gorgeous cover art and Ice Dragon‘s announcement follow:
We have a new split out with Space Mushroom Fuzz. Their track is most excellent, and definitely gets stuck in your head. Little interlude action in there too, ours is from an old 4-track tape we did on the porch while recording a few Tome tracks.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Based out of Boston, four-piece drone-folk magnates Owlfood, who released their fourth long-player last year in the form of the 27-minute single-track Destroyers of the Moon, have been confirmed for this year’s Gilead Media Fest in Wisconsin on July 19. Accordingly, they’ll head west next week and make four stops along the way with travel time in between, hitting Boston, Brooklyn, Columbus and Chicago before getting to Oshkosh, and sharing the stage with the likes of Windmills by the Ocean and Taiga.
I hadn’t heard Owlfood before the PR wire sent along the info and dates below, but the lineup for the Boston gig on Sunday looks right on, and unless a piano falls on my head between now and then, I’ll be there. More to come.
Until then, check out the Bandcamp stream of Destroyers of the Moonbelow for your fix of moody, dark psychedelics and minimalist, hopefully-no-one-talks-over-it-at-the-gig ambience:
OWLFOOD: Experimental Drone Folk Quartet To Kick Off US Tour En Route To Gilead Fest
Boston-based experimental drone folk quartet, OWLFOOD, will levy their bleached-out desert tones upon adventurous ears beginning next week. The short journey will begin on their home turf on July 13th and run through Brooklyn, Columbus and Chicago. The band will be joined by instrumental psyche rockers Windmills By The Ocean featuring members of Isis and Blacktail as well as the undulating and cinematic Taiga project featuring Bryant Clifford Meyer (Isis, Palms, Red Sparrows) on select dates. OWLFOOD will make their final descent in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on July 19th at Gilead Fest where they will share the stage with the likes of Thou, The Body, Inter Arma, Sea Of Bones and many more.
OWLFOOD will be journeying in support of their fourth LP, Destroyers Of The Moon, self-released last April. Featuring one twenty-seven-minute movement, the soundscape evoked in Destroyers Of The Moon began as a drawing; a graphic landscape. Conceiving the composition in a visual register in which, for example, barren plains give way to mountainous peaks, allowed OWLFOOD to develop a fuller tonality; a sonority richer and more differentiated than any of their previous recordings. Fans of OM and Scott Kelly pay heed. Dubbed “a glorious epic landscape of cinematic swirls,” by Aquarius Records and, “beautiful and exceptionally original,” by Anti-Gravity Bunny, Destroyers boasts a host of collaborators including Greg Moss (27), Meghan Mulhearn (Divine Circles, The Judas Horse, U.S. Christmas), David Bently and Nicholas Giadone Ward (both of Hallelujah The Hills).
OWLFOOD Live Rituals 2014: 7/13/2014 Middle East – Boston, MA w/ Windmills By The Ocean, High Aura’d, Neptune 7/15/2014 Matchless – Brooklyn, NY w/ Windmills By The Ocean, 27, Thurn & Taxis 7/17/2014 The Fuse Factory – Columbus, OH w/ Taiga, DOT 7/18/2014 Burlington Bar – Chicago, IL w/ Taiga, Rare Animals 7/19/2014 Gilead Fest @ Oshkosh Masonic Temple – Oshkosh, WI
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been six years since Boston’s We’re all Gonna Die released their third and to-date final outing, Kiss the Ground, Curse the Sky on Underdogma Records, and a half-decade since they last played a show. In the interim, drummer Scott Healey has played in the crusty sludge/thrash outfit Gut, bassist Jesse Sherman has moved onto Tired Old Bones and guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey has been fronting Black Thai and performing as a solo artist. Not like these dudes haven’t kept busy in the meantime, but after five years, We’re all Gonna Die are about due to book a gig or two.
Or three. They’ll play in Allston, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Portland, Maine, over the next month, a Saturday series that will be further marked by the release of new single “Pleurisy,” which was written during their initial run but never released. Among heavy rockers in the middle part of the last decade, We’re all Gonna Die was always a little darker, a little more aggressive than the stoner bunch, but still more melodic than outright sludge would warrant. They toed that line well, and it’ll be good to see them again after so long.
The PR wire brings confirmation:
AFTER FIVE-YEAR HIATUS, BOSTON FAVORITE HARD ROCK TRIO WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE REUNITES FOR THREE SUMMER SHOWS AND RELEASES NEW SONG “PLEURISY”
SPECIAL LIVE IN-STUDIO RADIO PERFORMANCE — BOSTON EMISSIONS, WZLX 100.7, SUNDAY, JULY 13, 11PM
Boston hard-rock favorite trio WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE reunites this summer for three shows at Great Scott (Allston, MA), The Shaskeen (Manchester, NH), and Geno’s (Portland, ME). To celebrate they will also release a new song, “Pleurisy,” recorded this spring and be a special guest performing live on WZLX’s Boston Emissions.
Saturday, July 19, 2014 Great Scott Allston, MA Doors @ 8:30pm $10 21+ with special guests Cocked N’ Loaded, Murcielago, The Humanoids, and Wolfsmyth
Saturday, August 2, 2014 The Shaskeen Manchester, NH Doors @ 9pm 21+ with special guests Thunderhawk and Hey Zeus
Saturday, August 9, 2014 Geno’s Portland, ME 21+ with Murcielago and special guests Blackwolfgoat
WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE formed in 1998, recorded three full-length albums on Underdogma Records: Kiss the Ground, Curse the Sky (2008), The Wreck of the Minot (2005), and Go to Hell (2004). They toured the U.S. and Ireland before going on hiatus after their September 2009 performance at the Stoner Hand of Doom festival in Frederick, MD. The trio’s current line-up features Jim Healey on vocals and guitars (also plays in Black Thai and the Jim Healey Band), Jesse Sherman on bass (also plays in Tired Old Bones), and Scott Healey on drums (also plays in Gut and Give Up!).
“We haven’t played in 5 years,” says WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE front-man Jim Healey. “I felt it was time to get together, play a few shows, and see where things went from there. The band will probably only ever play a few shows a year, but it’s great to play together, and see the fans.”
“We recorded a ‘new’ song (written in 2007, but never rerecorded) called “Pleurisy,” Healey says. “It will be available for download along with 5 other unreleased WAGD tracks, spanning the history of the band in all its member formations.”
Posted in On Wax on June 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t want to come off like I’m tooting my own horn, but I feel like Gozu‘s The Fury of a Patient Man is a record I know pretty well by now. The Boston-based outfit’s 2013 sophomore outing was reviewed early last year, wound up on my Top 20 for the year, and was an album that I never strayed too far from as the months passed. As I got to see the band live more often, the material was fresh stayed fresh in my head and even more than their 2010 debut, Locust Season(review here), I considered The Fury of a Patient Manone I more or less had a handle of in terms of its perspective and where the band was coming from.
Listening back now to the Small Stone vinyl version of it — 500 copies pressed to 180g platters in a thick-stock sleeve with one transparent green LP and one solid purple LP — my impression of the songs themselves hasn’t changed all that much. It’s still a very, very good album, whether you listen to it linear on a CD or mp3s, or whether you get up after a couple songs to turn over between “Salty Thumb” and “Disco Related Injury.” When I first heard it, I remember thinking how much heavier it was than LocustSeason, which already lacked nothing for sonic beef. Now, after seeing the band as much as I have since I first heard it (live reviews here, here, here, here, here, here and here), I’m likewise astounded by how much heavier they’ve become live.
Part of that has to be the lineup. In the time since The Fury of a Patient Manwas recorded, Gozu guitarists Marc Gaffney and Doug Shermanhave solidified their rhythm section with bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Mike Hubbard, but on the 2LP, Grotto is one of three bassists who appears — Jay Canava and Paul Dellaire are the other two — and he’s only on the three bonus tracks included on side D. Hubbard is an even more recent addition than that, and even on those bonus cuts, Barry Spillberg handles drums. The new players have had a significant impact on Gozu‘s sound, so although it’s only a little over a year old, The Fury of a Patient Manalready marks a point in the band’s progression which they’ve already moved past.
“Moved past” is the wrong phrase. It’s not like Gozu have outgrown these songs — they still make up the majority of what they play live, and cuts like “Bald Bull,” “Ghost Wipe,” “Irish Dart Fight” and “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” are perennial highlights — but the circumstances have changed. They’re not the same band they were when this album was recorded. Nonetheless, The Fury of a Patient Manremains an unmistakable hallmark of the quality in what Gozu do, and they’ve always been a different act live anyway, putting aside some of the vocal harmonies and layering fromGaffney and opting for a more straightforward, at times pummeling, approach, blended with the thick grooves and a relentlessly forward thrust.
Both offer a rich listening experience, and I find in revisiting The Fury of a Patient Manthat my appreciation for it hasn’t diminished. What was a driving opening salvo of “Bald Bull,” “Signed, Epstein’s Mom,” “Charles Bronson Pinchot” and “Irish Dart Fight” now makes up the majority of side A with “Salty Thumb” hinting at some of the sonic branching out side B will hold, and the unabashed pop catchiness of “Ghost Wipe” and “Traci Lords” stand out well with “Snake Plissken”‘s shuffle on the back half of the green record. I was curious prior to listening what they might do with the 23-minute “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf,” but it appears here uninterrupted as the entirety of side C and preserves its claim as the album’s most get-lost-in-it moment.
The aforementioned bonus tracks, particularly “Break You,” which is the middle of the three, are of particular note for being the band’s most recent recordings. Teaming with Lo-Pan vocalist Jeff Martin, Gozu open side D with a cover of the title-track to D’Angelo‘s 1995 debut, Brown Sugar that incorporates parts of “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker” as well. If it’s a goof, it’s far from Gozu‘s first — see also almost all of their song titles — but they’ve always had a touch of soul in their approach anyway, so “Brown Sugar (Shit Damn Motherfucker)” speaks to that, offers a thick groove from Grotto‘s bass and takes on a classic funk-jam kind of feel, Gaffney and Martin working well enough alongside each other so that I hope it’s not their last collaboration.
Arriving prior to a Simply Red cover “Holding back the Years,” “Break You” is the only one of the bonus tracks that’s a Gozu original, and it starts with Gaffney‘s voice with the guitars, bass and drums swelling up behind before moving into a dreamier verse in a linear kind of structure that’s still not devoid of a hook, the chorus, “I don’t want to break you/I only want to shake you,” etc., standing up to any of its counterparts on the album proper and still leaving room for Sherman to rip into a solo marking out the apex prior to a final slowdown and some well falsetto’ed last-minute crooning . Their take on “Holding back the Years” is decidedly more open, reinterpreting the cut from Simply Red‘s 1985 debut, PictureBook, with an airy, psychedelic sprawl, guitar and voice echoing alike over a solid but languid rhythmic foundation that spreads the four-minute original to nearly twice its original length.
It’s a more adventurous cover if less of a party than the D’Angelo track, but frankly, both have their appeal and show more than a little effort on Gozu‘s part to make them their own. Together with “Break You” and the rest of The Fury of a Patient Manitself, the 2LP edition of the album becomes not only a reminder of one of last year’s best outings, but a celebration of it as well and a look for fans at a band who continue to get more and more vibrant as they continually defy their comfort zone. As familiar as I’ve felt with these tracks, I’ve yet to make my way through them without hearing something new.