Tombs Deconstruct the Psyche in New “Seance” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Jam room.

Oft-and-loudly-lauded Brooklyn genre benders Tombs received their customary round of praise for their new album, Savage Gold, and like last time, they earned it. They’ll hit the road in support of the record this fall alongside Pallbearer and Vattnet Viskar on what I’m sure will be one of the season’s most-sought-after tickets, and today, they premiered a video for the track “Seance,” one of the most biting from the record.

That in itself is certainly enough to pique interest — it exists, therefore watch — but I got a special thrill out of seeing the clip was directed by Jaclyn Sheer. About a thousand years ago, Ms. Sheer and I worked together, she in PR and I in editorial, and it always warms my cold, dead heart to see excellent people doing cool things. Like directing Tombs videos. If you’re epileptic or otherwise sensitive to flashing lights, you might want to take care, but otherwise, dive in and enjoy:

Tombs, “Seance” official video

TOMBS Premiere Video For “Seance”

TOMBS released their critically acclaimed album Savage Gold this June via Relapse Records. They have completed work on the album’s first video for the song “Seance”. The video was directed by Jaclyn Sheer and can be viewed HERE.

Front man Mike Hill on the video:

“Watching the video is like observing this realm dissolve as you pass into a higher level of consciousness.”

TOMBS have released an official IPA beer with Tired Hands Brewing Company in Ardmore, PA. The Savage Gold beer is an imminently refreshing and crushable IPA. Brewed with red wheat and oats. Hopped intensely and aggressively with Nelson Sauvin and Hallertau Blanc. Enormous notes of white grape, green pepper, mango, and marijuana. 5.2% abv.

Additionally, frontman Mike Hill has launched a specialty coffee company, Savage Gold Coffee, inspired by his love for high quality, organic coffee. The first roast, Savage Gold Prime, is an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee bean grown between 6,000 and 6,500 feet above sea level. It is an aromatic and dynamic coffee roasted to perfection with a large flavor profile. It is sourced from a co-op of Ethiopian farmers and is 100% Fair Trade, certified organic and wet (mechanically) processed. More info on the coffee is available via the official Savage Gold website HERE.

In support of Savage Gold, TOMBS will hit the road this fall for a three week tour with Pallbearer and Vattnet Viskar. The shows kick off on October 17th in Nashville, TV and run through November 9th in Dallas, TX. A complete list of dates can be found below.

Tombs Tour Dates:

***All dates w/ Pallbearer and Vattnet Viskar***

Oct 17 Nashville, TN Exit/In
Oct 18 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlie’s
Oct 19 Champaign, IL High Dive
Oct 20 Madison, WI The Frequency
Oct 21 Detroit, MI The Magic Stick Lounge
Oct 23 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
Oct 24 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
Oct 25 Montreal, QC Il Motore
Oct 26 Boston, MA Great Scott
Oct 27 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus
Oct 29 Philadelphia, PA Black Box at Underground Arts
Oct 30 Baltimore, MD Metro Gallery
Nov 01 Atlanta, GA The Earl
Nov 02 Tampa, FL The Orpheum
Nov 05 Houston, TX Fitzgerald’s Downstairs
Nov 09 Dallas, TX Three Links

Tombs on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records

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Naam Announce European Tour Dates and New Live in Berlin EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Brooklyn cosmic rock originals Naam are headed back to Europe next month. They made two trips over last year in support of their 2013 sophomore Tee Pee Records full-length, Vow (review here), and will bring with them a new free live EP, Live in Berlin, that was presumably recorded on one or the other of those runs. Between that EP, Vow‘s continued resonance in the consciousness of their audience and their participation in Heavy Psych Sounds‘ four-way split with Black RainbowsThe Flying Eyes and fellow New Yorkers White Hills, they’ve got plenty of cause to spend some time abroad, and from this tour it looks like they’ll be making the most of it.

Of particular note are appearances at this year’s ReverenceBlizzard Mountain and Up in Smoke festivals. As we begin to move out of summer and into the fall, the common perception is that festival season is over, but it’ll be October as Naam close out this run — though they warn that this is an “initial” batch of dates, which could just as easily mean more will be added — at Up in Smoke in Pratteln, Switzerland, so clearly summer-only rules no longer apply. I’m a little surprised the four-piece aren’t sticking around another week to play Desertfest Belgium after doing London (review here) and Berlin in 2013, but if there are more dates to come, I wouldn’t rule anything out entirely just yet.

It’s past time to start thinking of Naam as one of the US’ finest heavy psych exports, and great to see them getting out again:

Naam European Tour 2014

02.09 Berlin 8MM (DJ Set)
05.09 Oslo Psych Fest
06.09 Naumburg Sallepartie
07.09 Kassel Secret Show
08.09 Munich Feierwerk
09.09 Karlsruhe Alte Hackeri
10.09 Dresden Ost Pol
11.09 Lisbon Reverence Warm Up
12.09 Valada Reverence Festival
14.09 London The 100 Club
17.09 Mannheim 7 ER Club
18.09 Jena Kulturbanhof
19.09 Berlin Swamp Fest
20.09 Rotterdam Baroeg Open Air
23.09 Copenhagen Loppen
26.09 Helsinki Bar Loose
27.09 Oulu Nuclear Night Club
30.09 Hamburg Hafenklang
02.10 Chambery Blizzard Mountain Festival
03.10 Weil der Stadt Kloster
04.10 Pratteln Up in Smoke Festival

https://www.facebook.com/KingdomOfNaam
https://twitter.com/Naamsongs
http://teepeerecords.com/

Naam, Vow (2013)

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Hercyn and Thera Roya to Release All this Suffering is Not Enough Split CD

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

A heads up from my beloved Garden State in that Jersey City atmospheric black metallers Hercyn are about to issue a limited split CD with Brooklyn post-metallers Thera Roya. You might recall Hercyn released a 24-minute single-track EP last fall called Magda (review here), which they’ve since followed up with an acoustic version, and the allegiance between the two acts gets even more traction with the fact that Thera Roya used to be known as The Badeda Ladies, whom I was fortunate enough to see late in 2012 at The Grand Victory in Brooklyn (review here).

I’ll be interested to hear what kind of growth the moniker swap has brought that trio, and Hercyn have already proved themselves to be stylistically adventurous, so their inclusion on All this Suffering is Not Enough is one to look forward to as well. It’s out Aug. 5 and they’re playing a release show in Jersey on Aug. 2, should you happen to be in that part of the world:

Hercyn and Thera Roya releasing split CD

This spring, Jersey City’s epic black metal band Hercyn joined together with Brooklyn’s own gloomy doom band Thera Roya to record a a CD split entitled “All This Suffering Is Not Enough” on the DIY outfit Ouro Preto Productions.

The release finds both American bands contrasting Hercyn’s epic atmosphere and weaving black metal with Thera Roya’s gloomy and sorrowful doom / post-metal. Hercyn deliver Dusk and Dawn, a 14 minute sprawling black metal piece with sub-layers of synth and acoustic strings. Thera Roya’s side of the split features Gluttony, a 9 minute slowly thundering song drenched in emotion. Both bands have worked in private on the creation of the split. All production and recording was handled’s by Hercyn’s Tony Stanziano (ex-Annunaki, ex-Blood Feast). “All This Suffering Is Not Enough” follow’s Hercyn’s 2013 self-released 24 minute epic Magda (listen here) and Thera Roya’s self-titled (listen here).

The split will see an official summer release of August 5th in hand numbered CDs and will be highly limited to 333 total copies. Pre-orders will be announced shortly here.

In celebration of the split, both bands will share the same stage August 2nd at the Lamp Post in Hercyn’s hometown (382, 2nd street, Jersey City). The release show is free, music starts at 10pm. Opening the show is special guest, Bible Gun – a dramatic piano and saxophone duo from Montclair, New Jersey (listen here). Early copies of the split CD will be available for purchase at the show.

Follow Hercyn and Thera Roya on Facebook.

Hercyn, Magda (2013)

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The Golden Grass Premiere “All You Have Grown” from Sweet Times Vol. 2 Four-Way Split

Posted in audiObelisk on July 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Just before the song starts, there’s a backwards vocal sample at the start of The Golden Grass‘ “All You Have Grown,” and I won’t spoil the party by giving away what it says when you reverse it, but the band make it easy to agree with the sentiment. The track comes from Who Can You Trust? Records‘ upcoming Sweet Times Vol. 2 release, a four-way split with the Brooklyn trio share with Italy’s Sultan BatheryMetalleg (which features members of Dirty Fences) and The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell-offshoot Gorilla. It’s a lot of lovin’ to pack onto a 7″ platter, but it’ll be out by the end of August, and as the first recording from the feelgood rockers since their self-titled debut (review here) was released earlier this year on Svart, it offers an interesting look at where they might be headed from here.

First of all, it’s short. With four bands sharing a 7″ release, everybody’s gotta keep it brief, so if you’re coming into “All You Have Grown” looking for a 12-minute jam à la “Wheels” from the self-titled, that’s not what’s going on here. In the quick three minutes, though, The Golden Grass – guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich, drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney and bassist Joe Noval – do manage to create an awful lot of texture. The song itself is still structured for maximum hookage, but some upped psychedelic wash in the guitar layering sits gorgeously alongside the vocal harmonies, making the band’s approach sound even brighter than before. Naturally, it’s a sound that’s perfect for summer, and while I’d never expect these guys to do one thing exclusively for a whole album’s duration, they’re already showing a desire to reach beyond what they’ve already done stylistically.

You can listen to “All You Have Grown” to get a sense of the progression, or listen because it’s a good time. That’s up to you. Either way, it’s three minutes you won’t regret. Thanks to the band and Who Can You Trust? Records for letting me host the premiere.

Dig it:

Sweet Times Vol. 2 will be out late August in an edition of 500 copies. First 100 include 3D glasses. The Golden Grass are shortly to announce a European tour for November and have a few upcoming gigs in the meantime:

Aug 2 – Brighton Bar, Long Branch, NJ w/ BANG + YEOMAN
Sept 12 – Bar Matchless, Brooklyn, NY w/ MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN + KING BUFFALO + GEEZER
Oct 3 – No Problemo, New Bedford, MA w/ KIND (members of ELDER)
Oct 4 – Acheron, Brooklyn, NY w/ ANCIENT SKY + KIND (members of ELDER)
10/17 – Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia, PA w/ NEEDLE POINTS + THE ORANGE DROP

European Fall Tour
11/13 – 11/30
Currently being organized by Swamp Booking.

The Golden Grass on Thee Facebooks

Who Can You Trust? Records

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Naam, White Hills, Black Rainbows and The Flying Eyes Split: So Much Space, So Little Time

Posted in Reviews on June 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The four bands included, tripped out as they are, can hardly account for the amount of space traversed. Italy’s Black Rainbows, led by guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori — whose own contributions to European psychedelia include running the label issuing this release, Heavy Psych Sounds and assembling this year’s inaugural Totem Psych Fest, taking place this summer outside of Rome (more info here) — unite with Brooklyn heavy space rockers and past tourmates Naam, well-kept New York secret outfit White Hills and bluesy Baltimore explorers The Flying Eyes for a 2LP gatefold four-way split featuring a side from each. All four groups work regularly in pretty extended forms, so you basically get a song or two from each, but still, the fact that they all got together and combined their efforts for this release makes it something special, the limited numbers of the vinyl and various colors (as well as a CD version) having been pressed in time for this year’s Desertfest, at which Black Rainbows also appeared. Everyone involved shares an obvious affinity for heavy psychedelic rock, but as one would hope for a release of this nature, there are also four distinct takes presented across the split — the official title of which is Heavy Psych Sounds 4-Way Split Vol. I – and each band takes advantage of an opportunity to bliss out in their own way, beginning with Naam – who’ve spent significant time on tour in Europe both before and after issuing their latest album, 2013′s Vow (review here) — on their two tracks, “Skyscraper (Ambient Mix)” and “Thickening Web,” which are included as side 1A leading off the 51-minute double-LP.

Its title is a dead giveaway, but “Skyscraper (Ambient Mix)” is a reworking of Vow highlight “Skyscraper,” and what was a landmark on the ultra-spacey sophomore full-length from the Brooklyn four-piece arises on the Heavy Psych Sounds split as a stripped-down wash of effects, elements dropping in and out over the course of its seven-plus minutes, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lee Lugar‘s voice barely distinct for the reverb it carries, a slow, mellow progression playing out behind given further depth between the high and low end thanks to a swirl of effects. “Skyscraper” proper was not short on ambience, between the guitar, John Weingarten‘s keys, John Preston Bundy‘s bass and Eli Pizzuto‘s percussive roll, but “Skyscraper (Ambient Mix)” — on which engineer/mixer Jeff Berner has added some instrumentation as well — feels thoroughly reworked and comes across experimental enough to make the original seem straightforward in comparison. With a fuller-sounding instrumental stretch to over eight minutes, “Thickening Web” furthers the atmosphere of the opener while building on it, Weingarten coming to the fore in a dreamy midsection as the bass, guitar and drums fade out and back in around his keys. There’s a build at work and constant movement, but Naam still evoke a laid back feel, which is all the more fitting leading into White Hills‘ experimental 11-minute “They’ve Got Blood… Like You’ve Got Blood,” presented here as an alternate version to what appeared as the title-track of the 2005 self-released full-length, They’ve Got Blood Like We’ve Got Blood. As much as they’re clearly separate entities with their own sonic aims, a linear flow is present as well, and White Hills further Naam‘s sprawling ambience and percussive undertones with engrossing space-drones and an ending movement with lo-fi techno beats and organ leadout. You’ve got four psych bands all contributing to the release. It was bound to get weird at some point.

Read more »

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The Golden Grass Tour Starts Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Starting tomorrow, Brooklyn heavy summer rockers The Golden Grass will head to the Midwest for a few shows in Ohio, Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Detroit. They’re playing with some killer acts along the way — see Main Street Gospel, Mike Cummings from Backwoods Payback, and the very, very fuzzy Electric Lucifer — and they’ll get back to Brooklyn just in time to play two shows at this year’s Northside Festival on June 14 and 15, which no doubt will be a righteous coming home party.

The Golden Grass head out supporting their self-titled Svart Records debut, which was streamed in full here. They’ve also got a new video for the song “One More Time” that you can dig into following the PR wire info below:

THE GOLDEN GRASS to embark on USA tour

Beginning tomorrow, THE GOLDEN GRASS will embark upon a mini-tour of the United States, supporting their self-titled debut album for SVART RECORDS (which can be streamed in its entirety HERE). Released last month, The Golden Grass has won over critics worldwide with a sound that authentically hearkens back to the golden age when heavy rock music was upbeat, skillfully played, energetic, edgy, and bursting with goodtime sunshine vibes. Now, THE GOLDEN GRASS will be taking those psychedelic textures and jaw-dropping proto-metal moves to audiences across the USA. Confirmed dates and venues are as follows:

June 4 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Brillobox w/ OUTSIDE INSIDE + COME HOLY SPIRIT
June 5 – Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class w/ ELECTRIC LUCIFER + WEATHERED LOVER
June 6 – Columbus, OH @ The Tree Bar w/ MAIN STREET GOSPEL
June 7 – Cincinnati, OH @ House Show (e-mail pactinkrecords@yahoo.com for RSVP/Facebook invite)
June 8 – Louisville, KY @ Modern Cult Records w/ TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN DAWN
June 9 – Akron, OH @ Annabell’s w/ Mike Cummings (BACKWOODS PAYBACK)
June 10 – Detroit, MI @ Painted Lady Lounge
June 14 – Brooklyn, NY @ Northside Fest/Spike Hill w/ RUBY THE HATCHET + NIGHTBITCH + GODS + CONTACT
June 15 – Brooklyn, NY @ Northside Fest/Baby’s All Right w/ ANCIENT SKY, SLOTHRUST + NOWAY? + Drippy Eye Projections <***matinee/early show***>

THE GOLDEN GRASS formed in early 2013, and before they had even played their first show, they were signed to Svart Records. Their debut 7” was issued in October of that, as a split release with US label Electric Assault Records. Since playing their first show in September of 2013, they’ve shared the stage with an impressive and eclectic range of rock and metal groups, including Windhand, Natur, Ramming Speed, Serpent Throne, Wolf People, and an appearance at the Cincy Psych Fest.

What truly sets THE GOLDEN GRASS apart from the pack of modern ’70s-inspired music is their relentlessly upbeat, soulful energy and feel-good vibe, which is a welcome departure from the faceless sea of proto-metal/doom bands currently drowning the underground scene. This catchy five-track album will make you dance, smile, and catch yourself singing along! This album is a sure treat for fans of classic underground hard rock such as Truth and Janey, Dust, and Josefus as well as fans of classic UK psychedelia such as The Move, The Pretty Things, and Mighty Baby. THE GOLDEN GRASS will also greatly appeal to folks into the contemporary sounds of Danava, Horisont, Graveyard, and Dead Man.

The album was recorded by Andrea Zavareei at Urban Spaceman Studio in Brooklyn, New York where many seminal early La Otracina albums were also tracked. The album was mixed by Jeff Berner at Galuminum Foil Studio in Brooklyn. Jeff has also recorded albums by Naam, Heliotropes, and Weird Owl, among others, at this studio, and he is also a member of Psychic TV. The album was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. The artwork was constructed by Niko Potocnjak of Seven That Spells. The collective experiences and talents of all involved were of utmost importance to the creation of this album.

THE GOLDEN GRASS is:
*Adam Kriney – drums/vocals (also of LA OTRACINA and past tour member of NEBULA/CULT OF YOUTH/CASTANETS/CLOUDLAND CANYON)
*Michael Rafalowich – electric guitar/vocals (also of STRANGE HAZE/WHOOPING CRANE and past tour member of TAV FALCO’S PANTHER BURNS)
*Joe Noval – electric bass

MORE INFO:
www.facebook.com/thegoldengrass
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/thegoldengrass

The Golden Grass, “One More Time” official video

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Tombs’ Savage Gold: Track-by-Track with Mike Hill

Posted in Features on June 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Three years, one bassist, one added guitarist and heaps of hyperbole later, Brooklyn atmospheric extremists Tombs return with Savage Gold, their third album on Relapse Records and the follow-up to 2011′s Path of Totality. Set for release June 10, Savage Gold pushes the four-piece into deeper terrain of the sonically frenetic, and if there’s any doubt the 10-track collection was produced by Erik Rutan, it’s dispelled immediately in the clarity of drummer Andrew Hernandez‘s blastbeats on opener “Thanatos.” Rutan (who cut his teeth in NJ-based Ripping Corpse before moving to Florida and joining Morbid Angel) brings the same sense of purpose and malevolent ambience to Tombs‘ latest as he did with his own outfit, Hate Eternal, on American death metal landmarks like 2002′s King of all Kings and 2005′s I, Monarch, proving that a crisp production doesn’t necessarily have to come at the expense of impact.

His work and Tombs‘ are exceptionally well paired throughout Savage Gold‘s 58-minute span, and whether it’s the bleak Celtic Frostery that emerges on “Deathtripper” and “Spiral,” the minimalist post-doom of “Severed Lives,” or the all-out blackened ferocity of “Seance,” “Ashes” and “Legacy,” Tombs proffer a laser-precise efficiency of songwriting, not just blasting away for extremity’s own sake, but conveying a darkened mood and churning tension to go with all of that brutality. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Hill, bassist Ben Brand, Hernandez and guitarist Garrett Bussanick offer no shortage of bludgeoning throughout, and more power to them for it, but as savage as it is Savage Gold‘s real asset is the sonic complexity that Hill and Tombs have been developing over the course of the last seven years, through their beginnings, 2009′s Winter Hours debut, and of course, from Path of Totality until today and hopefully on from here.

No doubt at the end of 2014, you’ll find Savage Gold on any number of best-of lists, but what the album really accomplishes is furthering Tombs‘ evolution, and to that end, it seemed prudent to get Hill‘s perspective on the songs themselves, rather than simply add to the chorus of praise. I’m fortunate that he agreed to do a track-by-track for each of the 10 cuts on Savage Gold, and happy to be able to bring it to you below.

Once again, Savage Gold is out June 10 on Relapse Records. Please enjoy.

Savage Gold Track-by-Track by Mike Hill

1. Thanatos

This is one of my favorite tracks on the record; fully realized and complete. It sets the tone for the entire record, a meditation on death and the thin membrane between realities

2. Portraits

We wrote this when we returned from the Path of Totality recording session down in Texas. The song went through a series of rewrites and metamorphoses before we arrived at the version that is on Savage Gold.

3. Séance

The Oroborus is a symbol that recurs in many different ancient cultures. While contemplating infinity, the vision of a serpent whose eyes stare into forever appeared to me.  This song is a simulation of what seemed like an eternity of experience.

4. Echoes

Over the last few years, I’ve been reading a lot of Graham Hancock, an Egyptologist and Alternative History Specialist among other things.  Echoes was inspired by the concept that civilization has gone through many cycles of technological advancement and cataclysmic events have forced it all to be reset.

5. Deathtripper

I pulled the lyrics of this song fully formed from an old journal. I had been living this dark, Travis Bickle-like existence that seemed incredibly hopeless. Ultimately, I pulled it together. “DeathTripper” is a tribute to that period.

6. Edge of Darkness

More meditations on death and the great unknown; “Edge of Darkness” refers to the membrane that separates this reality from what may lie beyond the coil of mortality.

7. Ashes

I watched Jacob’s Ladder one night. It was really late. I had seen it many times before, but the movie took on new meanings. I worked with the fear and anxiety that the film had caused and put these lyrics together. The song addresses the concept that the lies of organized religion will all be revealed at the final moments of life.

8. Legacy

This song had the working title “Dissection.” Musically, we were channeling the Swedish masters of black-death metal. Lyrically, the song works with the idea that time is a recurring cycle of infinity. That everything which has gone before will happen again, into infinity.

9. Severed Lives

This was one of those songs that sort of fell together. It wrote itself. Lyrically, I went into the “panspermia” concept that life on Earth originated out in the universe.

10. Spiral

This is more death and the unknown. It’s another meditation on the final moments of life and what will pass through your head as your consciousness scatters into an infinite number of infinitesimal pieces.

Tombs, Selections from Savage Gold (2014)

Tombs on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records

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Serpentine Path Stream New Album Emanations in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on May 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

When it comes to Emanations, the second long-player from metro NYC-based Serpentine Path, you’re probably going to hear a lot of people talk about how dark it is. How extreme. How their death-sludge sounds even more like some kind of East River pollution tar pit that’s growing by the year and smells like decay. Okay, maybe that last one you won’t hear all the time, but you get my point. It’s fucking dark. What you’re not going to hear people talk about is the obvious glee the band — who probably qualify for supergroup status with vocalist Ryan Lipynski (ex-Unearthly Trance, The Howling Wind), guitarists Tim Bagshaw (ex-Ramesses) and Stephen Flam (Winter), bassist Jay Newman (ex-Unearthly Trance) and drummer Darren Verni (ex-Unearthly Trance), though I’m not sure if they’ve filled out the proper paperwork to be certified — have for the miseries they create. They’re well enough hidden, but in the soloing at the end of “Torment” or the unmitigated stomp that follows, or in the twisted hook of the preceding “Systematic Extinction,” it’s there. Just because a band is skull-cavingly heavy doesn’t mean they can’t also have a good time.

Maybe that’s not the thing to say, but when I listen to a song like the mournful “Treacherous Waters” and cringe at the grueling, malevolent churn that Serpentine Path have crafted as the follow-up to their 2012 self-titled debut (discussed here), it sounds as much like the band is celebrating their extremity as much as they’re using it to create bleak, abrasive soundscapes. It’s not like Serpentine Path are writing joke songs and goofing around, but neither is their deep-low-end viciousness delivered without passion. Emanations is not a cold album, and that separates it from a lot of extreme metal, which comes across as plenty heavy, but also clinical and more concerned with technique than atmosphere. As if to begin in direct contrast to the very idea, the way opener “House of Worship” hits immediately, no intro, and launches into its first verse is practically punk rock, just twisted into slow grinding and given a sludgy groove that, as “Treacherous Waters” and “Claws” move into the highlight cut “Disfigured Colossus,” answers back the depressive melodicism of ’90s Euro-doom with a gritty, particularly dismal reinterpretation that’s as nasty as anything that’s come before it.

They don’t take much longer than that first verse to distinguish themselves and set the course for what’s to play out over Emanations‘ seven-song/45-minute span, but in kind with the classic death metal sensibilities evoked by the music as much as the cover art, the wretched psychedelia they create is an abyss of deceptive depth, and one that warrants a headphone listen to experience correctly. Their tales may be morbid, and they may tell them with a lumbering brutality, but Serpentine Path also stand for the excellent end results that can occur with an assemblage of those whose joy derives from such dark artistry. And with the addition of Flam since the release of the self-titled, the continued chemistry of Lipynski, Newman and Verni bled over from Unearthly Trance, as well as the lethally heavy collaboration with Bagshaw which is all the more cohesive this second time out, they have plenty to be glad about with the crushing filth they’ve created.

The album is out today on Relapse and I have the honor of streaming it in full. Find it below and please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Serpentine Path‘s Emanations was recorded by Jay Newman and is available now on Relapse Records LP, CD and digital. For more info, check the links.

Serpentine Path on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records

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Friday Full-Length: Naam, Naam

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Naam, Naam (2009)

The 2009 self-titled debut from Brooklyn heavy psych forerunners Naam is an album that’s only grown in my esteem since its release, now five years ago, on Tee Pee Records. I think at the time my head was still trying to wrap around the preceding Kingdom EP, so when the full-length came out with the sprawling, 16-minute “Kingdom” as the title-track, it was almost too easy for me to take it as an extension of Naam‘s first offering, rather than the standalone beast that it is. At least that’s how I see it now. Looking back on the interview I did with drummer Eli Pizzuto around when it came out, I seemed pretty into it. Half a decade can do funny things to your brain.

Point is that for as brilliantly open and far out as the entire hour-long stretch of the album is, there’s no part of it that’s to be overlooked. It was last July that I most recently had the occasion to catch them live, which frankly is longer than I’d prefer — Massachusetts has a lot of rock and roll but not much of it could be called psychedelic — and Naam have grown beyond where they were with the self-titled even before you get to factors like the full-time addition of John Weingarten on keys, but that doesn’t at all diminish the appeal of this record for me, the bombastic space rock moments or the quiet stretch of “Tidal Barrens.” There’s so much here that I still feel like I’m digging into something new when I put it on.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I went and saw Negative Reaction tonight in Allston. Speaking of “been too long.” Ken-E Bones and company were in top form and got a great response from the crowd. Might be Tuesday before I get a review up, depending on holiday plans and whatnot for Memorial Day, but either way I got one or two pics at O’Brien’s to go with, so I’ll roll with that. Basically though it was just awesome to see them and to talk with Bones because, again, it had been a long time.

Also on Tuesday, look out for a full stream of the new Serpentine Path album. It’s out Tuesday, so we’re doing it up for the release date. I’m also interviewing John Garcia on Tuesday, and his solo album isn’t out for a while yet, but would be good to get that posted sooner rather than later. Wednesday I’m premiering a new Mars Red Sky video as well, so much goodness to come. At some point in there I’m also going to squeeze a Radio Moscow album review, and maybe one for that new Eyehategod too if I have time. That too depends on the holiday.

If you’re celebrating Memorial Day, I hope you have a good and not overly jingoistic one. Please have fun and be safe and I’ll see you back here either Monday or Tuesday for more of the ol’ clacky-clacky on the keyboard.

Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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The Golden Grass Interview with Adam Kriney: To Places and Faces (Plus Album Stream!)

Posted in Features on May 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Press play above to stream the debut album from Brooklyn feelgood rockers The Golden Grass in its entirety. The self-titled offering (review here) releases Friday on Svart Records, and brings with it the promise of summer ahead. A traditional power trio with warm tones and inviting melodies, The Golden Grass meld psychedelic flourish and straightforward, classic structures and clear, modern production to craft a sound that’s immediately their own. Their debut 7″, One More Time b/w Tornado, was issued last year through Svart and Electric Assault Records, and served as initial notice of the friendly vibes coming through the still-weighted guitars and funked-out basslines, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich, drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney and bassist Joe Noval set to work on the album with the same engineering and mixing team of Andréa Zavareei and Jeff Berner, respectively, expanding initial ideas for the full-length that would wind up with “One More Time” as its centerpiece.

The phrase “wind up” denotes some measure of happenstance, and while Kriney recalls a series of fortunate coincidences that brought the band together back in 2012, the actual crafting of the five songs on the 37-minute debut is a much more considered process of writing and revising, refining pieces until they’re finally done and ready to be put to tape. A telling moment in the interview that follows here is when Kriney mentions the months The Golden Grass put into their material prior to playing out for the first time, working on getting everything nailed down just so before letting the public see it. If you want proof that the time was well spent, the clarity of ideas on the album and the fact that it’s out through Svart — whose roster ranges widely in sound while keeping a standard of quality that few can match — speak to the success of the band’s vision.

Rafalowich and Kriney sharing vocal duties and harmonizing over unpretentious, easy-rolling grooves, The Golden Grass‘ debut is as stylistically cohesive as it is memorable, each of the tracks making a standout impression one way or another, be it the initial strut of “Please Man,” the more psychedelically boogie-fied “Wheels” — an extended jam which comes complete with a drum solo — the catchy also-highway-song “Stuck on a Mountain,” unmitigated fun of closer “Sugar ‘n’ Spice” or the nostalgia-for-the-impossible of “One More Time.” The band are recent veterans of the Hudson Valley Psych Fest alongside White Hills and It’s Not Night: It’s Space, and will look to tour more in the months that follow the release, bringing a stage presence that doesn’t rely on its heaviness or aggression (there’s just about none of the latter and the former is by no means the basis of their sound) to make an impact, but instead on its positivity and upbeat approach. The Golden Grass are a stirring reminder both of how enjoyable classic rock and roll can be and how just because something’s a good time doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be dumbed down or stripped of personality in the name of accessibility.

I could go on, but you can hear the album for yourself above. No doubt when 2014′s over, The Golden GrassThe Golden Grass will have been one of its best debuts. After the jump, Kriney talks about how it all came together and much more.

Please enjoy:

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Wino Wednesday: Spirit Caravan Live at Saint Vitus Bar, April 15, 2014

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I wasn’t fortunate enough to catch Spirit Caravan‘s reunion tour. Missed the Providence show by a couple hours as I was coming back from Roadburn — not at all a hardship — and as such, I was hoping the venerable Frank Huang would be on hand in Brooklyn to film the closing night of the tour at the St. Vitus Bar. As it happens, he got the whole set in glorious high definition, and the band looks and sounds killer running through classic Spirit Caravan material on the final evening of a long slog alongside doomly up-’n’comers Pilgrim.

The circa-35-date tour began in Maryland, fittingly enough for a band native and so pivotal to the underground there, but I can think of few places in the country as appropriate for it to wrap than at the Vitus Bar. As you can see in Huang‘s clip, the crowd is into it, the trio of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Dave Sherman (in an Earthride hat, killing it) and drummer Henry Vasquez sound as tight as one could ask for a band who’ve been on the road for more than a month across the country, and if ever there was a Wino Wednesday video to put on full-screen and groove to front to back, this one might be it.

Spirit Caravan are in Europe now getting ready to headline this weekend at Desertfest in Berlin and London. There are other shows booked throughout Europe for the summer and hopefully they do more in the US as well, if not 35 shows in a row. Though if they did, all the better to nail down the dynamic and the better chance of putting together a new studio album. Of course, I’d take a live record in the interim, but until that shows up, I’m even gladder to have footage like this of them at the top of their game on stage.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Spirit Caravan, Live at St. Vitus Bar, April 15, 2014

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The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass: Heading for the County Line

Posted in Reviews on March 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

What sets  Brooklyn trio The Golden Grass apart from the hundreds of bands the world over who cull the bulk of their influence from the heavy rock of the early ’70s and/or the original psychedelic era is a relentlessly positive mindset. Where the current retro rock movement — and because of the modern production on the three-piece’s self-titled Svart Records full-length debut, I’d hesitate to even call it “retro” — spearheaded by the likes of Graveyard and the first couple Witchcraft outings has resulted in a slew of acts pretending to worship both the Devil and Jinx Dawson with due candles, incense and pomp, The Golden Grass turn that formula on its head and delight in a boogie free from these thematic constraints and the inherent moodiness they bring to classic rock sound. This was evident from their 2013 debut single, One More Time b/w Tornado, and the limited 456th Div. tape (review here), and the upbeat vibes remain consistent throughout The Golden Grass‘ farthest-out, most wandering moments, which arrive in the 12:51 penultimate jammer “Wheels,” a side B standout on a 36-minute LP that in no way overstays its welcome. As they did for the prior single, guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich (Strange Haze), bassist Joe Noval and drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney (La Otracina) recorded with Andrea Zavareei at Urban Spaceman Studio, and Jeff Berner mixed at Galuminum Foil, and it’s a collaboration whose dividends show themselves in the crisp but natural feel of the songs and the balance that highlights organic tones without sacrificing the clarity of the vocal arrangements.

Those arrangements are a big part of what gives The Golden GrassThe Golden Grass its personality. There’s laughter on the album, and though its songs are heavy and relatively extended — the shortest is opener “Please Man” at 5:23 — it’s a friendly, inviting listen that even at its most driving, heading toward the finale of closer “Sugar ‘n’ Spice,” in the early verses of “Wheels” or eliciting the riffy bounce of “One More Time,” the initial single which makes a reappearance here as the centerpiece of the tracklist, is never outwardly aggressive. Rafalowich and Kriney trade off in the lead spot, but whoever’s out front, the other is never far off, and as “Please Man” emerges with a drum fill from its build-up intro wash of psychedelic guitar, it’s not long before the two are working together to get the most out of their harmonic range. The balance of straightforward, catchy rock and psychedelia is something else that shifts fluidly throughout the proceedings, and when they want to, The Golden Grass are well capable of playing one side off the other. “Please Man” does this in Rafalowich‘s opening and subsequent solo sections, as well as the slow, dreamy ending that gives way to the uptempo push of “Stuck on a Mountain,” the call and responses of which seem to be begging for a sing-along. There’s more engaging vocal interplay and Noval offers no shortage of texture in matching and side-stepping the riffs, but the real payoff in “Stuck on a Mountain” is when a build opens up to the chorus and The Golden Grass still don’t get mad.

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On Wax: Eidetic Seeing, Against Nature

Posted in On Wax on March 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s a resonant but difficult to place course that Brooklyn trio Eidetic Seeing chart on their second, self-released full-length, Against Nature. The band — guitarist Sean Forlenza, drummer Paul Feitzinger (also synth) and bassist Danilo Randjic-Coleman — shift easily between pulses of aggro-jazz and post-rocking doom, resulting in a kind of gritty wash made all the more immersive by their mostly-instrumental approach. Particularly on side B’s “Ashplant Blues” and “K2,” both of which top 10 minutes, it’s hard to know where one stops and the other ends, and that’s obviously on purpose on the part of the three-piece, who seem to arrive at an airy dreariness on the 11-minute finale, like Crippled Black Phoenix gone wandering and slamming into a brick wall of stylized freakout, dense fuzz and those gravity waves from the Big Bang that I keep hearing so much about.

Tonal warmth is high, both on “K2″ and throughout most of what precedes it, which makes the cooler greys of the matte-finish LP cover — the record itself is black vinyl housed in a black dust jacket — somewhat mysterious, but I suppose multicolor psychedelia has been done to death and rebirth, black and white less so. If that’s representative of a drive toward individualism, it’s mirrored in the five songs included on Against Nature as well. From the opening strums of side A’s launch with “A Snake Whose Years are Long,” which give a deceptive impression of Americana that the song ultimately has little interest in fulfilling, Eidetic Seeing show themselves as patient when they want to be and propulsive in kind. The shortest inclusion on Against Nature is the third track, “Frôleuse,” and even that tops six and a half minutes, so there’s plenty of space for the trio to flesh out and pursue sonic whims where and when they might.

And while there is a suitable meandering sense for (mostly) instrumental heavy psych, this is somewhat offset by shifts into grounded, densely weighted riffs. “A Snake Whose Years are Long” establishes an expertise in the technique, not so much trading back and forth as oozing between one side and the other, and “White Flight” moves from a dreamy synth opening to some of the most dead-on traditional Sabbathian tonality I’ve heard. The kicker is Eidetic Seeing don’t use it to mimic Sabbath. Instead they just ride the riff momentarily on the way to a stomping verse of building intensity that, in turn, cuts back to smoky jazz, undercutting its class with abrasive feedback before moving on to more glorious space riffing. A noisy finish cuts cold into the start of “Frôleuse,” the capstone of an A side that shows no less delight in ignoring the Lego instructions of genre as it constructs a somewhat more tempered spaceship of its own design.

“Frôleuse” hands down disenchantment in a chaotically swirling culmination made rawer through natural-sounding production — that is, they’re not lush even at their farthest out — and after the flip, “Ashplant Blues” seems to answer back with some initially doomed-out lumbering, but the personality of the song and of the second side as a whole is distinct from the first half of Against Nature and shows Eidetic Seeing are comfortable pitting longform works against each other as they are the sounds of Morricone and Russian Circles. Ultimately, Against Nature – which presumably was not named in honor of the Maryland classic heavy rock outfit featuring the members of Revelation, though one never knows — stands as an intriguing and self-directed LP, and while Eidetic Seeing present an approach with some rougher edges, they seem more to delight in riding the sharp corners than to be in need of smoothing out. If it’s to be a long-term creative progression, Against Nature makes a solid argument for following it.

Eidetic Seeing, Against Nature (2013)

Eidetic Seeing on Bandcamp

Eidetic Seeing on Thee Facebooks

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The Golden Grass to Release Full-Length Debut May 9 on Svart

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Confession time: I’ve been looking forward to reviewing The Golden Grass‘ self-titled debut for a while now, and seeing the artwork today with the official tracklisting and release date reveal has only made me more so. The Brooklynite feelgood trio will issue the five-track The Golden Grass on May 9 via respected purveyors Svart Records.

Of course, before that, they will have already played shows this spring alongside White Hills, It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Blackout and Aqua Nebula Oscillator, so hit up their Thee Facebooks if you want to get fully caught up on their doings. The PR wire sends over plenty to dig into as well:

THE GOLDEN GRASS set release date for SVART debut

The glory of American hard rock has returned with the debut eponymous album by THE GOLDEN GRASS, set for international release on May 9th via SVART RECORDS. This Brooklyn-based power-trio is the real deal, and their LP harkens back to the golden age when heavy rock music was upbeat, skillfully played, energetic, edgy, and bursting with goodtime sunshine vibes. They come hard with a strong backbone of deep-pocket funky flare and an earnest/uplifting southern/country/mountain rock vibe, layered with waves of psychedelic textures that explode into jaw-dropping proto-metal moves. And throughout their progressive arrangements and timeless grooves are lush and powerfully delivered vocals, stacked with gorgeous harmonies and maddeningly catchy verses and choruses singing the tales of real-life loves, losses, and the drive to keep on keepin’ on! Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for THE GOLDEN GRASS’ The Golden Grass
1. Please Man
2. Stuck On A Mountain
3. One More Time
4. Wheels
5. Sugar N’ Spice

THE GOLDEN GRASS formed in early 2013, and before they had even played their first show, they were signed to Svart Records. Their debut 7” was issued in October of that, as a split release with US label Electric Assault Records. Since playing their first show in September of 2013, they’ve shared the stage with an impressive and eclectic range of rock and metal groups, including Windhand, Natur, Ramming Speed, Serpent Throne, Wolf People, and an appearance at the Cincy Psych Fest.

What truly sets THE GOLDEN GRASS apart from the pack of modern ’70s-inspired music is their relentlessly upbeat, soulful energy and feel-good vibe, which is a welcome departure from the faceless sea of proto-metal/doom bands currently drowning the underground scene. This catchy five-track album will make you dance, smile, and catch yourself singing along! This album is a sure treat for fans of classic underground hard rock such as Truth and Janey, Dust, and Josefus as well as fans of classic UK psychedelia such as The Move, The Pretty Things, and Mighty Baby. THE GOLDEN GRASS will also greatly appeal to folks into the contemporary sounds of Danava, Horisont, Graveyard, and Dead Man.

The album was recorded by Andrea Zavareei at Urban Spaceman Studio in Brookly, New York where many seminal early La Otracina albums were also tracked. The album was mixed by Jeff Berner at Galuminum Foil Studio in Brooklyn. Jeff has also recorded albums by Naam, Heliotropes, and Weird Owl, among others, at this studio, and he is also a member of Psychic TV. The album was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. The artwork was constructed by Niko Potocnjak of Seven That Spells. The collective experiences and talents of all involved were of utmost importance to the creation of this album.

THE GOLDEN GRASS is:
Adam Kriney – drums/vocals (also of LA OTRACINA and past tour member of NEBULA/CULT OF YOUTH/CASTANETS/CLOUDLAND CANYON)
Michael Rafalowich – electric guitar/vocals (also of STRANGE HAZE/WHOOPING CRANE and past tour member of TAV FALCO’S PANTHER BURNS)
Joe Noval – electric bass

MORE INFO:
www.facebook.com/thegoldengrass
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/thegoldengrass

The Golden Grass, Live at Johnny Brenda’s in Philly, Dec. 2013

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Hull, Legend of the Swamp Goat

Posted in Radio on February 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Written and initially recorded in 2007, Hull‘s “Legend of the Swamp Goat” coincides timing-wise with their debut EP, Viking Funeral as some of the earliest material from the band. The Brooklyn now-foursome never released the song to my knowledge, but it now emerges on a 7″ of the same name released in a variety of colors DIY through their own Iron Works Orchestra imprint to mark the occasion of a European tour with Boston’s Elder that will begin at Roadburn and end at Desertfest in London. It is, however, more than just a dug-up lost recording trotted out because they needed something for the shows. Guitarist/vocalist Nicholas Palmirotto went back in and tracked vocals and reworked the guitar, and the song is newly mixed and mastered, so while it also predates Hull‘s first full-length, 2009′s Sole Lord, it’s also their first studio output since their brilliant 2011 album, Beyond the Lightless Sky (review here). Sure enough, the single — which clocks in at just over five minutes long and features a laser etching on the B-side — is a blend of new ideas and old.

I wouldn’t speculate on which layers are new and which ones older, but the sweeping lead that takes hold at 1:52 certainly reminds tonally of any number of Beyond the Lightless Sky‘s triumphant solos. Likewise, the multiple tracks of vocals show a complexity of arrangement that the band simply hadn’t yet developed on Viking Funeral – destructive as the debut was — and Palmirotto‘s voice holds the confidence of an approach that’s way more coming off its second record than making an initial demo. Fellow guitarist/vocalist Carmine Laietta, bassist/vocalist Seanbryant Dunn, then-guitarist/vocalist Drew Mack (currently in Cleanteeth) and drummer Jeff Stieber blend acoustics and electrics throughout and lock in a solid groove, showing some stoner roots in the verse rhythm, resulting in a Sleep-style march that Hull have since largely left behind. That, taken into account with the title “Legend of the Swamp Goat” itself and the swaggering riff-led midsection, give a somewhat lighthearted feel. It’s not exactly congruous with Sole Lord or Beyond the Lightless Sky, which were conceptual works both in theme and structure, but it’s fun, and the intensity of the final rush that caps “Legend of the Swamp Goat” gives a metallized apex that shows how willing Hull were even seven years ago to play various genre elements off each other, and how effectively they could do it.

Something of a curio, maybe, in terms of their overall catalog, but if the tour was an excuse for the single to surface, then three years beyond Beyond the Lightless Sky, I’m inclined to take what I can get. When or if a third Hull full-length will arrive remains to be seen, but the Legend of the Swamp Goat 7″ offers more substance than a stopgap and provides a listen unlike anything else in the band’s to-date discography. Paired alongside their recent vinyl reissue of Viking Funeral, it provides an insight into Hull‘s beginnings that may also offer some hint of where they may be headed.

Hear “Legend of the Swamp Goat” now as part of the 24/7 stream of The Obelisk Radio, and take a listen via the player below, snagged from Hull‘s Bandcamp page, where the 7″ can also be ordered:

Hull, “Legend of the Swamp Goat”

Hull on Thee Facebooks

Hull on Bandcamp

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