Brooklynite duo/live trio Spotlights have basically done nothing but earn accolades since the release last year of their debut album, Tidals. You won’t hear me argue, but it’s kind of rare to find such general consensus on anything these days, let alone new bands. Even their Spiders EP (review here), which was a couple tracks and a remix, came widely hailed.
Sometimes hype like that can be a hindrance, especially in Brooklyn, where if someone knows your name there’s a decent chance you’re already passe, but in the case of Spotlights, they’ve just been signed to Ipecac Recordings, so I guess it’s a double-win. They’ll record a sophomore full-length, yet untitled, later this year with Aaron Harris (ex-Isis) at the helm. As if they were hurting for good-company-type associations.
Kudos to the band and the momentum they’ve built. The PR wire has all the latest info:
SPOTLIGHTS SIGN TO IPECAC; BROOKLYN-BASED BAND WORKING ON NEW ALBUM WITH PRODUCER AARON HARRIS (ISIS/PALMS)
Spotlights, the Brooklyn-based band featuring Mario and Sarah Quintero (formerly of Sleep Lady), have signed to Ipecac Recordings.
The band, who tour as a trio, are working on an as-of-yet untitled full-length with ISIS’/Palms’ Aaron Harris serving as producer. A fall release date is expected.
“It’s such an honor to join Ipecac’s amazing roster,” said the band. “We couldn’t have imagined a better home for the band and our new record.”
“The best part of being a music fan is discovering new artists,” added Ipecac co-owner Greg Werckman. “The best part of being a record label is getting to be the place that introduces music fans to diverse artists. We are thrilled to add Spotlights to the Ipecac family and are sure that a lot of people will share our enthusiasm for their music.”
Spotlights’ most recent releases include the Spiders EP and a previously released full-length titled Tidals.
Spotlights, who were handpicked to open on the Deftones’ summer 2016 tour, will return to the road this summer. Tour dates to be announced soon.
Next month, post-sludge three-piece Thera Roya head out on a week-long tour supporting their debut full-length, Stone and Skin (review here). Self-released by the Brooklynite trio in February, the album was the latest manifestation of what’s been an ongoing growth process for them more or less since their inception, and boasted their most textured material to-date, still raw in its presentation, but clearly pushing them forward beyond their prior output and onto something more their own.
They haven’t been shy about getting out in the past, so it’s not a huge surprise they’d do so now either. Fittingly enough, this run caps in Virginia at a show with doom extremists Foehammer, who are former tourmates. One imagines that will give Thera Roya something to strive for as they slog their way around the Midwest and Southeast, but as you can see below, they’re not lacking for company really at any point on the trip, except maybe Winston-Salem.
Thera Roya – April 2017 Tour
Coming off an extremely busy 2015/16 that saw the band release an EP, a split and then go on to play 88 shows, Thera Roya are unafraid to hit the road and grind it out in the name of their craft. Thera Roya has been able to play with bands like Cult Leader, Seven Sisters Of Sleep, Birds In Row, Pilgrim, Generation Of Vipers, U.S Christmas, Tengger Calvary and North. With the release of their monolithic first full length, Stone & Skin, Thera Roya are preparing themselves to tour on their most important material yet.
Thera Roya on tour: 04/03 Century Philadelphia PA w/ Shithawks, Static Brothers 04/04 Potion Castle Morgantown PA w/ Wax Brain, Rat Ship 04/05 Best Friend Bar Lexington KY w/ Dirtbag, No Witness 04/06 The Cobra Nashville TN w/ Sheep Shifter 04/07 Sluggo’s North Vegetarian Cafe Chatanooga TN w/ Prayer Circle 04/08 The Odditorium Ashville NC w/ Black Mountain Hunger 04/09 Test Pattern Winston-Salem NC 04/10 McCormack’s Irish Pub Richmond VA w/ Foehammer, Grim Sleepers
Thera Roya is: Jonathan Cohn – Bass Ryan Smith – Drums/Vox/Guitar Christopher Eustaquio – Guitar
Brooklyn doomers Eternal Black are reportedly in the midst of having their upcoming debut album, Bleed the Days, mastered by none other than Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed (who else?), but that’s not stopping them from giving a preview of four of the record’s tracks with their new live outing, Live at WFMU. Recorded last month at the world-renowned freeform radio station — a jeweled treasure of my beloved Garden State, to be sure — Live at WFMU has been posted on Eternal Black‘s Bandcamp as a name-your-price download, so not only have guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob, bassist Hal Miller and drummer Joe Wood gone to the trouble of putting the thing together, but they actually want you to hear it, too.
If you caught wind of the trio’s 2015 self-titled demo EP (review here), I doubt you need me to tell you checking it out is worth your time and the utter non-investment of a (free) download. I’ve got personal history with these guys via Wood — the good kind of personal history — so I might be extra looking forward to the arrival of Bleed the Days on account of that, but if you’d like to join me in that anticipation, feel free to check out Live at WFMU on the streaming player below. It makes a convincing argument.
Wohlrob was also kind enough to send along some comment about the new offering, and you’ll find that below as well:
Eternal Black – Live at WFMU
On February 12th, we were honored to be able to record a live set at WFMU’s studios in Jersey City, New Jersey. This was for an episode of “What Was Music?” hosted by Marcel M, which airs on Wednesdays. We loaded in our gear, checked sound, and then tore into six songs like we would at any live gig. In addition to a few songs off our EP, we played four new songs that will be on our upcoming album, Bleed the Days.
Once we heard the playback, we thought it would make a hell of a live album. No messing about, get the damn thing out fast. Hal designed the cover. Kol Marshall handled the mastering. And in the end, we decided to make it available for free via Bandcamp. It’s our way of saying thanks to the doom heads who support our music.
Tracklisting: 1. All Gods Fall 10:44 2. Bleed the Days 06:26 3. Sea of Graves 06:11 4. The Dead Die Hard 06:23 5. Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun 07:22 6. Obsidian Sky 04:46
Recorded live at WFMU Studios, Jersey City, NJ, February 12th, 2017 for “What Was Music?” hosted by Marcel M. Recorded and mixed by Scott Konzelmann Mastered by Kol Marshall Cover design by Hal Miller Words and Music by Wohlrob Obsidian Sky Records
Eternal Black is: Hal Miller: Bass Joe Wood: Drums Ken Wohlrob: Guitars, Vocals
There are bits and pieces of dialog interspersed between the tracks on The Mad Doctors‘ forthcoming second album, No Waves, Just Sharks, that come together to tell the story of the record. I’m not entirely sure what that story is, but it’s there, and it involves drugs, and somehow it feels really, really appropriate when put next to the heavy-surfer-punk that the Brooklyn trio proffer in the songs themselves. It’s a fine line to walk, since so much of the record is about thrust — of crotch and rhythm alike — and it basically interrupts itself at every turn, but yeah, they pull it off. If your brain’s not on board for some weirdness, take a second and get there.
Then go ahead and dive into the song “Dead Beach,” which is premiering below. Last we heard from the band was their 2016 split with fellow New Yorkers Sun Voyager (discussed here), and though “Dead Beach” is a little thicker than some of what No Waves, Just Sharks gets into at its most manic — The Mad Doctors get to be pretty zany as they go, in a subtly-malevolent kind of way — I think it represents the album pretty well in its impact and underlying sense of the unhinged, effectively conveyed across the span of the record as it courses through one song to the next.
The Mad Doctors have a slew of dates lined up to herald the April release via King Pizza Records — preorders are up now — and you can see those below and hear the debut of “Dead Beach” at the bottom of the post. Thanks to the band and label for letting me host the premiere.
The Mad Doctors – No Waves, Just Sharks
The Mad Doctors continue their quest to surf the sludgy seas and headbang on Blood Beach with their second LP ‘No Waves, Just Sharks’. One part riffy fuzz, one part reverb-drenched surf – the Brooklyn trio pound out 10 tracks of driving garage punk shit and take to the highways and byways of America to cover themselves in beer and eat lots of chips (aka tour).
Collaborating with tons of familiar faces from the Brooklyn rock n roll scene – additional vocals by Megan Mancini of The Rizzos & Matt Witte of Coach n Commando plus voice-acting in the b-movie clips (featuring mems of Sirs & Madams, The Rizzos, and more), The Mad Doctors create an unholy soundtrack to a B-Movie you wish existed.
Blurring the lines between punk, sludge, psych, and surf, The Mad Doctors revel in their part of a larger scene bringing all types of rock n rollers together to party. So dig the tunes, spread the scourge, and lose your mind. And always remember, Justin’s a cop.
Limited run of 500 LPs, 100 on minty snot green, 100 on fool’s gold, 300 on black available for pre-order via King Pizza Records
Release is 4/14 at Shea Stadium in Brooklyn with Stuyedeyed, The Royal They, and Crazy Pills
Track List: The Ballad of Jort Dad Springwater Supper Wizard Dead Beach Shit Hawks at Blood Beach Lord of Garbage Justin’s a Cop Mind Rot Dial M (for Sultry) She’s a Psycho The Rats are Coming
Tour Dates: Th 3/16 – Brooklyn NY – The Gutter F 3/17 – New Paltz NY – Fizzies Sa 3/18 – Rochester NY – Monty’s Krown Su 3/19 – Syracuse NY – The Spit House Fri 3/31 – New London CT – Oasis Sa 4/1 – Providence RI – POP Gallery F 4/14 – Brooklyn NY – Shea Stadium M 4/24 – Baltimore MD – The Annex Tu 4/25 – Roanoke VA – Front Line W 4/26 – Knoxville TN – Pilot Light Th 4/27 – Boone NC – TBA F 4/28 – Norfolk VA – Norfolk Taphouse Sa 4/29 – Richmond VA – S.ADD House W 5/10 – Boston MA – Obrien’s Th 5/11 – Amherst MA – Spirit Ghost House F 5/12 – Brattleboro VT – McNeill’s Brewery Sa 5/13 – Burlington VT – Monkey House Su 5/14 – Worcester MA – Distant Castle
Fancy a little mid-week slaughter? Sure, we all do. All the more reason I’m proud to have The Obelisk present Godmaker, Rozamov, HUSH. and Husbandry on March 8 at The Well in Brooklyn for an evening that will boast both kinds of music — crushing and pummeling.
Headlining are Brooklyn’s own Godmaker, who are now more than two years past the Aqualamb release of their self-titled debut (review here) and who in the time since have added guitarist/vocalist Carmine Laietta to their lineup. Somehow I doubt bringing the former Hull axe-slinger on board has dulled their scathing, blister-raising noise rock approach. They have new music in the works that as of a couple weeks ago was in the mixing stage, so it seems likely we’ll be hearing from them again sooner than later. Not a complaint.
As for Rozamov, this gig at The Well follows the March 3 hometown release show in Boston for their long-awaited debut album, This Mortal Road (review later this week), on Battleground and Dullest Records, and marks the beginning of a tour (info here) that spans both coasts and includes time at SXSW to play the Austin Terror Fest. The three-piece have put in significant road time already as a band, but with the record coming out, there are going to be a lot of people turned onto their post-sludge roll and doomed atmospherics.
I was fortunate enough back in 2015 to see all-caps, punctuation-inclusive NY doomers HUSH. open for Conan (review here) in Brooklyn, and if they could stand up to that kind of massiveness on stage — which they did, and admirably — they can conquer just about anything. Their 2016 EP, Nihil Unbound, was recently issued on vinyl through Fuzz Records, Dullest (making them partial labelmates to Rozamov) and Silent Pendulum, and is gone, though they might have a few copies on-hand for the merch table. Won’t know if you don’t show up.
And rounding out the bill are Husbandry. Also native to Brooklyn, the four-piece released their debut album, Fera, on Aqualamb — making them labelmates to Godmaker; I love a lineup with comrades and symmetry — and though they label themselves as post-hardcore and certainly that tells part of the tale, it hardly accounts fully for the charge of a song like “Grab Twist Pull” or the alt-minded infectiousness of “Hymn to Tourach.” Still, gotta call it something I guess. Expect a riotous kickoff to a show that only gets meaner as it goes on.
Rozamov bassist Tom Corino had this to say about the night: “The lineup for this show is heavy, diverse and incestuous. The crushing and bleak Hush are joining us for the first couple dates of this tour and will are Dullest Records lablemates with Godmaker and ourselves. We’ve played with Godmaker a bunch of times, and they’ve become our brothers in ‘loud.’ The ‘oddball’ of the group is Husbandry, a mathy-post hardcore band that will melt your mind and tantalize your senses. See you soon Brooklyn!”
It’s going to be a stellar, ridiculously heavy night, and I’m honored to join Tone Deaf Touring in presenting it.
Here’s the raw data:
Godmaker, Rozamov, Hush and Husbandry at The Well
Wednesday, March 8
272 Meserole St, Brooklyn, New York 11206
Loudest, heaviest show of the spring, in Brooklyn. Quote us on that.
7pm doors, 8pm music – 21+ $10 adv//$12 at the door.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Six albums deep, Sabbath Assembly remain something of an anomaly even in the cult rock set. Their last outing, 2015’s self-titled, made no effort to shy away from its metallic underpinnings, and between that and the member changes that seem to surround the group on the regular, I’m not even a little confident in predicting what their new one, titled Rites of Passage, might have to say for itself.
A May 12 release date has been marked by Svart Records, and it’s almost certain they’ll leak some audio prior to that, but Sabbath Assembly has proven elusive since their heady conceptual days around 2009’s Eno ot Derotser and 2010’s Restored to One, so yeah, what we’re getting this time around is anyone’s best guess.
And not knowing, frankly, is part of the fun.
The PR wire brings art and details:
SABBATH ASSEMBLY set release date for new SVART album
Today, Svart Records sets May 12th as the international release date for Sabbath Assembly’s highly anticipated sixth album, Rites of Passage. The album shall be released on vinyl, CD, and digital formats.
Led by vocalist Jamie Myers (ex-Hammers of Misfortune), Sabbath Assembly anno 2017 features guitarist Kevin Hufnagel (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia), who has been with the band since 2011; original Sabbath Assembly drummer Dave Nuss; bassist Johnny Deblase, who also played on the band’s self-titled album; and the new addition of second guitarist Ron Varod (Kayo Dot, Psalm Zero, Zvi). Rites of Passage marks a moment in which Sabbath Assembly truly “comes of age” as a unique combination of its members, creating progressive metal influenced by Gorguts and Hammers of Misfortune while maintaining a melodic edge true to the roots of the band in the hymnody of the Process Church of the Final Judgment.
Thematically, Rites of Passage is a reflection on the complexity of the transitional stages of life. Ethnographer Arnold van Gennep first defined “rites of passage” in 1960 as birth, childhood, puberty, marriage, parenthood, religious initiation, and funerals. In our current age, when many eschew these specific rites, Sabbath Assembly’s newest songs define transitional moments based on experiences in their own lives that have left them feeling truly changed. The songs on Rites of Passage include stories of losing one’s religion (rather than initiation), dissolution of a relationship (rather than marriage), and managing the dementia and physical decline of a loved one (as more profound than a funeral rite).
In a time when others in the occult rock genre remain preoccupied with fantasy and dark mysticism, Sabbath Assembly finds the most profound of transformative moments in everyday experience. Rites of Passage presents its listeners with a set of songs that the band hopes will mirror their own experiences of transition, and in some way provide necessary passage. First track premiere as well as video to be revealed imminently. Cover art, by Alex Reisfar, and tracklisting are as follows:
Tracklisting for Sabbath Assembly’s Rites of Passage 1. Shadows Revenge 2. Angels Trumpets 3. I Must Be Gone 4. Does Love Die 5. Twilight of God 6. Seven Sermons to the Dead 7. The Bride of Darkness
[Click play above to stream Thera Roya’s Stone and Skin in full. Album is out Feb. 17.]
No simple feat to be airy and crushing at the same time, yet, to listen to Christopher Eustaquio‘s guitar and Jonathan Cohn‘s bass on Stone and Skin, it seems to be the modus in which Brooklyn’s Thera Roya are most at home. At seven songs/42-minutes, Stone and Skin is the self-released full-length debut from the post-sludge trio, completed by drummer/vocalist Ryan Smith (also guitar, and also of Mountain God), and it arrives with suitable development time after 2015’s split with Sangharsha and the Unraveling EP (review here), which was three tracks but enough to provide what seemed to be a significant glimpse at where the band was heading — and I say “seemed” because listening to “Egypt’s Light,” “Hume and Ivey” and others from Stone and Skin, that’s just not how it worked out.
Where the EP offered harshness and abrasion, Thera Roya‘s first long-player takes a more multifaceted approach by far, incorporating aspects of post-hardcore on cuts like “Dream of Arrakis” and finding Smith varying his vocal approach sometimes within the span of a line or two between clean singing, searing screams, deathly growls, and other sorts of shouts. They’re still plenty heavy, as they demonstrate throughout in the weight of Cohn‘s tone and the brutal abandon with which it’s wielded, but from the ambient beginning of opener “Saffron,” which slowly unfolds from quiet on a subtle linear build that grows increasingly frenzied over the final two of its total six minutes, Thera Roya show clear effort has been made to progress their sound, and ultimately prove that effort was not in vain by greatly expanding the sonic reach of the band.
A healthy dose of noise and/or feedback provides ease in the transitions within or between songs, and Smith‘s vocal shifts add intrigue, but the evolution in Thera Roya‘s sound goes further than that and resonates to the core of their craft. Structures vary and are malleable, flows are created and willfully interrupted, melodies seem to crash headfirst into dissonance. Coming out of the leadoff salvo of “Saffron,” “Egypt’s Light” and “Dream of Arrakis,” there is a sense of the unhinged at play, but then the three-minute rocking centerpiece “Hume and Ivey” re-anchors the proceedings, and the simple fact that Stone and Skin exists argues for their control over its processes even when the actual audio of the thing might lead one to believe they’re flying apart. That is to say, there’s intention here, even if that intention is to experiment and find out where a given movement goes.
As to that, the first half of Stone and Skin seems to be careening ultimately toward the nine-minute “Solitude,” which plays off Panopticon-style ambient meandering without actually sounding like Isis — avoiding the telltale drumbeat as Thera Roya do here in favor of a lumbering roll is an accomplishment in itself — and late-arriving clean vocals only underscore the openness of structure with which they’re working. To their credit, “Solitude” doesn’t hit some massive crescendo. There’s an apex, but it’s more patient and natural feeling — more sweep than thrust — and works better in the context of the track itself than some forced explosion in volume otherwise might. When “Solitude” ends, it just comes apart, and in that, it’s point seems to be doubly made and all the more evocative.
The observation at the outset, about being airy and crushing, finds maybe its most succinct summary in the penultimate “The Stream,” which follows “Solitude” and moves at a faster pace from atmospheric guitars into low-end density, seeming to provide some of the thrust that the preceding cut held back while remaining instrumental for all of its three and a half minutes. I cannot stress enough how crucial is a song like this to an album like this in a spot like this. It’s one more aspect of Stone and Skin conveying to the listener that Thera Roya are free to move where they want to go sound-wise. Think of it as a different execution of the “acoustic interlude” — though it is far from acoustic — in changing things up going into the finale. If one is hearing Stone and Skin front to back, it might not even be clear where the transition comes into play.
It’s a complete use of a sonic idea that could just as easily have been subsumed into a more finished “song,” but one that enhances the album overall in ways that another song simply couldn’t, while also providing an effective bridge to the sample-laden beginning of closer “Phaedrus Revealed.” Rounding out at just under eight minutes, “Phaedrus Revealed” finds Thera Roya basking in one of the defining tropes of post-metal: the rhythm and riff progression of Neurosis‘ “Stones from the Sky,” but more than most, they make it their own, finding a sway at the outset topped by satisfyingly soulful clean vocals and marking the shift into that riff on bass while the guitar continues to drift for a time before a pummeling chug takes hold. Post-hardcore screams, starts and stops, thickened tones all around and a last push into chaos bring Stone and Skin to a sudden conclusion, and while by then that familiar churn is long gone, the atmospheric affect remains prevalent and Thera Roya finish by employing what would seem to be the totality of their arsenal.
Given the forward steps in these tracks, one would hardly be surprised to find that arsenal grown further their next time out, and while admirably complex in form, Stone and Skin does still present the band with room to grow. Most essential, however, it portrays them as having the drive to do it while remaining emotionally expressive and not getting consumed in the overthought cerebral end of post-metal that claim’s so many acts in the style. The hope as they move past their debut is that they remain able to enact the balance between various sides as well as they do here while also pushing themselves to cover new ground. No minor task, but I hear nothing from Thera Roya at this point to make me think they’re not up to it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Going from zero to absolute abrasion in about three seconds, it seems only fair to note the quick impulse toward the scathing that the first audio from Mountain God‘s forthcoming debut album, Bread Solstice, elicits. The track is called “Karmic Truth,” and as you can hear at the bottom of this post, it brings the bite of Godflesh together with a brutal, tonally-dense churn, atmospheric and pummeling both. These guys have been included in my most-anticipated lists for the last two years running (see here and here), so yes, I’ve been looking forward to the record for a while. Pretty much since that time their Forest of the Lost EP (review here) tore my face off in 2015. It’s cool. I wasn’t really using it.
March 24 is the release date, and it’ll be out through Artificial Head Records, the label helmed by Walter Carlos of Texas weirdo rockers Funeral Horse. The PR wire has details:
MOUNTAIN GOD: Brooklyn-based doom trio share psychedelic debut | Listen to new song ‘Karmic Truth’
Bread Solstice will be released on vinyl/digital through Artificial Head on 24th March 2017
Artificial Head Records is thrilled to announce the signing of Brooklyn-based trio Mountain God and with it the release of their debut album Bread Solstice.
Formed in May 2012 by guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi and drummer Ian Murray, along with former Alkahest members Nikhil Kamineni and Jon Powell, as one of 2017’s most exciting new prospects Mountain God’s time is almost upon us.
Experimenting with raw concoctions of doom and ’70s psychedelic influences, their commitment to channeling ill feeling, heavy rock, deep meaning and dark subject matter is unwavering. In 2015 Mountain God followed the release of their five-song EP Experimentation On The Unwilling (2013) with the sprawling concept track ‘Forest Of The Lost’; a devastating, doom-infused laudation of distorted sludge, ambient noise and stoner rock.
Following the departure of Powell and Murray, Thera Roya drummer Ryan Smith was drafted in as the trio set to work recordings that would form the basis of Bread Solstice, their full-length debut and first outing for the Houston-based record label Artificial Head.
“While some of the songs date all the way back to 2013, we didn’t begin rehearsing them regularly until Summer 2015,” explains guitarist Ianuzzi. “We started out demoing, writing, and tearing apart the ideas until we had things we liked. We definitely wanted to push the envelope with more nuanced effects and fewer 4/4 time signatures.”
Around this period the band also became a steady fixture on the NYC metal scene performing shows with the likes of Ufomammut, YOB, Primitive Man, Naam and Kings Destroy. Threatening spaced out and progressive paeans in the mold of Wolves in the Throne Room, Neurosis and Candlemass, as angry and complex a beast as Bread Solstice is it’s also deeply immersive and hypnotic in its atmospheres. Much like their early EPs and recordings, while creeping keyboards swell on tracks like ‘Unknown Ascent’, elsewhere riff-heavy tracks like ‘Nazca Lines’ and ‘Junglenaut’ hammer down hard with an iron fist. As Artificial Head founder Walter Carlos points out:
“I just knew I wanted to work with the band on a release. Their music reminds of the sludge and experimentation of bands such as Skullflower, Splintered, and Ramleh. Big, crushing emptiness with grinding tempos. Their new album, Bread Solstice, continues in that epic darkness.”
Mountain God: Ben Ianuzzi – Vocals, Guitars, Noises Nik Kamineni – Bass, Synth/Keys Ryan Smith – Drums, Vocals