Recommended Buried Treasure: Enos’ First Launch

Posted in Buried Treasure on March 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s a pretty rare phenomenon, but every now and again somebody gets in touch who feels strongly enough about a release to send it to me even though they’re not affiliated with the band in question, not part of any record label or promotional effort or anything like that. Just a fan of a work who thinks I’d be better off hearing it enough that they’re willing to put their postage where their mouth is and actually send it. To that end, I offer thanks and kudos to Anthony Brown of Guildford in the UK who saw fit to shoot a copy of Enos‘ 2010 debut, Chapter 1, across an ocean on my behalf. Even before I went to the post office and picked it and the XII Boar demo he also sent up, it was an effort I appreciated.

I’ve had some past experience with Enos, and pleasant experience at that. The band played the pre-show at London’s Desertfest last year (review here) supporting 1000mods that I was fortunate enough to attend, and while there, I picked up a copy of their 2012 self-released outing, All too Human. The band, who are named for the first chimpanzee launched into orbit, also work with space-program themes on the five tracks of what would essentially be a demo if it didn’t sound so cohesive over the course of its 34 minutes. It’s not hard to pin a narrative arc to the five tracks, “Launch,” “In Space,” “Floating,” “Transform” and “Back to Earth,” so to coincide with the professionally crisp production, they seem to have started out with a firm grip on the concepts driving their creativity. All the better across the songs, really, since “Launch” embarks with a countdown of cymbal wash and explodes with a vibrant pulse into the riffing of Chris P. Rizzanski and Sean Cox, which emerges as the dominant force in a nonetheless well-balanced mix thickened by George “Bungle” Cobbold‘s bass.

Rizzanski also handles vocals in semi-melodic, echoing shouts that sit smoothly alongside a psychedelic impulse, though when “In Space” is at its most chaotic, following a brief acoustic stop when Sparky Rogers kicks back in on the drums and the guitars are going full-force, he seems to shift more into a throatier approach that in another context I’d probably attribute to a Neurosis influence. Even looking back after All too Human, Chapter 1 finds Enos refreshingly individual. Yeah, there are the post-Kyuss riffs and some of Rizzanski‘s delivery reminds of Orange Goblin‘s Ben Ward — an impression I got less from the subsequent outing — but if Enos are making anything clear on these tracks it”s that what they’re in the process of developing is theirs specifically, and as “Floating” lives up to its name with the transition into the more raucous “Transform,” the shortest song on Chapter 1 but a barn-burner at 4:26, the work they’re doing seems well worth undertaking, the two guitars showing some lead interplay in the bridge over the solid rhythmic foundation of the bass and drums.

As it was no doubt intended to do, the nine-minute closer “Back to Earth” provides a neat summary of the 2010 outing — which, if you’re looking for a marker of its era, you might find in the MySpace link included on the back liner of the jewel case — gradually building a psychedelic opening progression to an airy mid-paced push and forward to a grander, louder, larger apex that consciously answers the call of the first four cuts for resolution prior to its long fadeout. Knowing they’d put out All too Human two years later and build on the accomplishments here feels a bit like cheating, but does nothing to diminish enjoyment of Chapter 1 as it is. The band’s latest release is the 2013 live album The East Slope, which is sold-out on CD, but still available digitally through the Enos Bandcamp, and there are still a couple copies of Chapter 1 out there as well. I feel fortunate to have been given one and having sat with the album and gotten to know it better, am all the more able to understand why Brown felt so strongly about it in the first place. Thank you, sir.

Enos, Chapter 1 (2010)

Enos on Thee Facebooks

Enos on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Grey Widow, I

Posted in Radio on January 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s entirely possible that UK four-piece Grey Widow‘s fucked-up barrage of monstrous tones and vicious screams will make you feel right at home. Seems like every time I post about a band who make a point of being abusively heavy, someone has to step up and say, “Well I don’t think they’re that abusively heavy.” If that’s you, then congratulations ahead of time on working on a different standard than the rest of the universe, because the way I see it, Grey Widow are maddeningly extreme in their approach, and whether it’s the slow oozing riffs of “I” — which I’d call the title-track of their self-released full-length debut, I, but for the fact that all the other songs follow suit in Roman numeral fashion — or unbridled snare-count-in black metal pummel of “IV,” they’re bound to be a test of sonic endurance which many listeners won’t pass. No doubt that’s the point. Weed ‘em out quick and then kick the living shit out of the rest. Grey Widow seem to have a pretty solid idea of what they’re doing on these eight songs.

But for a few cleaner shouts on “II” or in the punkish second half of “VII,” vocals stick to growls and screams. Those aware that Grey Widow boasts former Dopefight guitarist Owen Carty (also members of The Ergon CarouselThread and Parole) won’t have to strain to hear some of that band’s sludgy take, but Grey Widow are a different entity almost entirely, darker in there atmospheres and more metallic in their brutality. There’s plenty of groove in “III,” in the chaos-build of “V,” and in the consuming end section that begins with “VI” and runs through “VIII” — comprising about 25 of the album’s total 56 minutes — but nothing so stoner on display here, nor does I want for it, its tidal tonality captured by Slabdragger guitarist Sam Thredder late in 2013 at The Cro’s Nest Studio. Rather, Grey Widow commence and carry through an assault of their own, easing the listener into their sundry terrors the way one imagines being tossed off a cliff as “easing.” The Roman numeral titles only make the album more obscure and hard to get a bearing on, but this also seems to be on purpose, the band’s focus not at all on meeting halfway or making overtures toward accessibility.

In the fertile UK heavy underground, Grey Widow‘s debut positions them well on the more extreme end of the scene, and while that will invariably alienate some who might attempt to take on I‘s violent cycle, no doubt just as many other heads will turn in their direction precisely because they’re so unyielding. Particularly as I approaches its finish in the last three tracks, coming to a grisly, excruciating culmination on “VIII,” Grey Widow‘s approach feels terrifyingly solid for being the band’s first time out, and they’ve set themselves up to affect any number of atrocities they might choose in the wake of the genre-spanning cruelties unleashed here. You wanna have the heaviest, most extreme taste in the room? Okay. Meet Grey Widow and prepare to be outclassed.

Listen to I now as part of the 24/7 streaming rotation on The Obelisk Radio and grab a sample of Grey Widow‘s disturbing wares via the player below, snagged from their Bandcamp page.

Grey Widow, I (2014)

Grey Widow on Thee Facebooks

Grey Widow on Bandcamp

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War Wolf, Crushing the Ways of the Old Tape Available for Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Tartarus Records, now in its second year with its 20th and 21st cassette releases coming, sends word of a forthcoming tape from Brighton, UK, punk grinders War Wolf. Crushing the Ways of the Old is available now for pre-order in a limited edition of 100 that I can’t imagine will last very long.

War Wolf boasts drummer Ant Cole and bassist Paul Hale, formerly of Dopefight, alongside guitarist/vocalist Oliver Heart of doomers Sea Bastard, and Crushing the Ways of the Old follows their split with Sob Story and their Riding with Demons demo, for which they toured earlier this year.

They’ve got a handle on some thickened hardcore punk, and they’re plenty pissed off as you can hear on “The Upper Hand” below. Dig it:

War Wolf cassette now available for preorder

TAR020 War Wolf – Crushing The Ways Of The Old

Finally the debut full-length album of War Wolf is upon us! This is the third release after their first EP ‘Riding With Demons’ and the split tape with Sob Story. Twelve tracks of pummelling Hardcore/Doom from Brighton, UK. Taking influence from the likes of Dystopia, Nihilist and Brainoil. Lyrically they express their hatred for Religion, Homophobia, Racism and Sexism.

This Cassette is a co-release of Tartarus Records and Dry Cough Records. (Vinyl version is being released by Tadpole Records, Atomsmasher Records and Headless Guru Records.)

Edition of 100 grey tapes
Comes with a War Wolf guitar pick!

War Wolf, “The Upper Hand” from Crushing the Ways of the Old (2013)

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On the Radar: War Wolf

Posted in On the Radar on November 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

If the “ex-members of Dopefight” doesn’t get you, the repurposed nod to “Symptom of the Universe” that launches headfirst into grinding punk probably will. Brighton-based trio War Wolf, who will release their Riding with Demons debut 10″ on Headless Guru Records early in 2013, are not shy in their intent, and their intent is bludgeoning. As someone who was genuinely bummed at the demise of Dopefight earlier this fall, to see two out of the three members emerge with new material so quickly is like they hardly missed a beat. I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison with Dopefight‘s last demos, but War Wolf definitely has their own personality.

That personality? More punk, more abrasive vocally, less stoned, more given to fits of grinding like the one noted above, which comes early into Riding with Demons on the track “Stench of Death.” More mosh-ready hardcore. But there remains a propensity every now and again to slow things to an excruciating crawl and bask in sounding as fucked up as possible, which is nothing if not consistent. Riding with Demons is short, but it’s a bold mission statement nonetheless, like what earliest Hatebreed might have been if it ever put on a Vitus record, or like a drunkard’s Napalm Death.

Either way, it’s fucking heavy and the trio find room to work a political bent as well, sampling former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair talking about the start of the Iraq War on “Liberation” before nailing the d-beat on closer “Slain Deity,” which is positively sprawling at 2:18. I’m about the least-likely proponent of hardcore-based anything you’re going to find, but with the sense of extremity underlying most of Riding with Demons, War Wolf prove they’re not going for any kind of tough-guy pose-out, and they’re a little too reckless to tie completely to one genre or another. Let’s hope they stay that way.

War Wolf is on Thee Facebooks here, and here’s the stream of Riding with Demons, courtesy of the War Wolf Bandcamp:

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On the Radar: Dopefight

Posted in On the Radar on May 6th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

There’s an old saying in the UK I learned on my recent visit that I’d like now to share with you, having since proved its validity. It goes like this:

Dopefight will fuck you up.”

And it’s true. Dopefight, a trio based in Brighton, will indeed fuck you up. Their songs (as audible on MySpace as anything ever is), are short bursts of weedian anger, carrying stoner riffage into a darker, more aggressive place than it usually goes. Sometimes instrumental, sometimes not, the material is unpredictable and volatile in equal proportion. One imagines it’s a chemical concoction which, if not balanced just right, could blow up the whole damn neighborhood.

They’re a photo-not-available type band, so don’t expect much in the way of biography, but if Dopefight‘s music is left to do the talking, it does so with all the subtlety of scar tissue. I’ve been knee-deep in “Hound” and “Hijos de Fumar” for a couple days now and have no regrets whatsoever. “Saviour” and “Widows Smoke” should likewise serve anyone well who’s looking for a little boot in their ass.

Their four-track demo — featuring “Hijos de Fumar,” “The Thrall,” “Somnia” and “Widow’s Smoke” — is out on Corruption Recordings for anyone who wants to track it down, and Dopefight also has a split out with crusty London doomers Dead Existence that I haven’t heard yet but is bound to be worthy fodder for a scorching of the eardrums. For anyone too lazy to check out Dopefight‘s MySpace page or the aforementioned split, here’s a video of the band doing “Saviour” filmed at this year’s Loud Howls festival in London on April 11. Killer. Special thanks to Chris West for turning me on to these dudes.

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