Mountain God Announce New Forest of the Lost EP and Regional Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I was fortunate enough to get a taste of Mountain God‘s forthcoming single-track EP release, Forest of the Lost, seeing them in Brooklyn late last year. They’ll be playing the piece in full this April at the same venue, the Grand Victory, and they’ve slated a handful of other killer gigs as well for the spring, including O’Brien’s in Allston, MA, with Summoner and Second Grave and at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn with Syphilitic Lust. Not sure when they’ll record or if they already have, but I’m looking forward to hearing what the four-piece concocts to follow up on their 2013 demo tape, Experimentation on the Unwilling (review here).

The band sent show details and some background on Forest of the Lost down the PR wire:

Mountain God, the atmospheric doom band from Brooklyn NY, have announced a series of dates in support of their first album, “Experimentation on the Unwilling”. Since the album was released in July of 2013, it has been described as “moving forward irresistibly, often leaning into a rather hypnotic territory before another well placed riff shakes you out of your daze and gets you pumping your first again.” Their spring dates include gigs at St Vitus and the Acheron, and culminate with what should be a hellish show with fellow Brooklyn band Throaat, and Boston mainstays Summoner and Second Grave. A limited run of “Experimentation” cassettes will be available at each show.

In addition, Mountain God will be road-testing material for their new EP, tentatively titled “Forest of the Lost”. The EP is a concept record, consisting of a single song broken down into different movements. The diverse track twists and turns over the course of 20 minutes, focusing on the plight of a medieval village, whose children disappear into the night searching for proof of a local witch, all the while their parents engage in acts of depravity and debauchery. The EP, slated for a spring/summer release, is a melding of 60s and 70s psychedelics with the heaviness, crunch, and shattering riffs of traditional doom and metal. The band will be performing this EP at the Grand Victory on April 23rd, along with bands Jovian Drifts, We are all Savages, and Eidetic Seeing. This is the first time the song will be played in its entirety.

Upcoming Mountain God Shows:
Thursday February 20 at St Vitus/Brooklyn NY w/Syphilitic Lust, Arsantiqva and Jotunheim
Wednesday, March 5th at The Acheron/Brooklyn NY w/Mortals and Immortal Bird
Saturday, March 22nd at O’Briens/Allston MA w/Throaat, Summoner, Second Grave
Thursday, April 23rd at Grand Victory/Brooklyn NY w/Jovian Drifts, We are all Savages, Eidetic Seeing

https://www.facebook.com/MountainGodBand
http://mountain-god.bandcamp.com/album/experimentation-on-the-unwilling

Mountain God, Experimentation on the Unwilling Demo (2013)

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The Golden Grass Announce March and April Live Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Brooklyn it’s-okay-to-have-fun-while-you-play-rock-and-roll rockers The Golden Grass have their new LP in the can. I don’t have the release details or I’d give them, but like the preceding One More Time b/w Tornado single, it was engineered by Andréa Zavareei and mixed by Jeff Berner, so it’s not out of line to expect the same kind of crisp, classic-but-clear warmth in the sound of the full-length.

Maybe a spring release? That, again, would make sense with the sound of the trio, who serve as a fitting reminder that just because a song is heavy doesn’t mean it has to be mad about it, but we’ll see how it goes. The hint they drop below about doing some shows alongside Aqua Nebula Oscillator is particularly fascinating in that regard, and The Golden Grass have detailed other dates coming up in the next couple months, including a weekender split between Providence and Brooklyn and a couple other Friday nights worth noting, most importantly that at the BSP Lounge with the formidable assemblage of White Hills, It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Eidetic Seeing and Queen Elephantine. That gig is presented by Hudson Valley Psych Fest, though I’m not sure if it actually is the fest itself. I’d believe you if you told me it was. It could be.

Dates and details below, swiped from The Golden Grass‘ Thee Facebooks page:

upcoming THE GOLDEN GRASS shows!!!!

Friday March 7 at Kung Fu Necktie/Philadelphia/PA w/ RINGO DEATHSTARR + PURPLE + SORE SAINTS
Friday March 28 at Dusk/Providence/RI w/ HESSIAN + NIGHTBITCH + ALPHA OWL
Saturday March 29 at The Paper Box/Brooklyn/NY w/ HESSIAN + BLACKOUT
Friday April 4 at The Acheron/Brooklyn/NY w/ SATAN’S SATYRS + TBA
Friday April 18 at BSP Lounge/Kingston/NY w/ WHITE HILLS + ITS NOT NIGHT: ITS SPACE + EIDETIC SEEING + QUEEN ELEPHANTINE

Late April/Early May select tour dates with AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR (details coming)

https://www.facebook.com/thegoldengrass
https://www.facebook.com/events/1419345341637657/

The Golden Grass, One More Time b/w Tornado (2013)

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Live Review: The Golden Grass, Weird Owl and Worthless in Brooklyn, 12.06.13

Posted in Reviews on December 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was like someone dared the weather to be as miserable as possible. Just an awful night. Cold, bordering on freezing rain falling more or less in buckets, city wind blowing in your face. Visibility was pretty low as I drove over the Brooklyn Bridge to get to Hank’s Saloon, but screw it, I was going. My curiosity about The Golden Grass had been piqued by their debut single, and having managed to sneak a little family time in after the workday on what was a short post-Thanksgiving trip south, I made sure that even with the rain I got to Brooklyn in plenty of time to see them share the stage with fellow locals Weird Owl and Worthless.

The latter were on first, playing an engaging shoegazey psychedelic rock in a five-piece congregation that made the small stage at Hank’s – one of the room’s assets, in my opinion — appear even more crowded than usual. Flourishes of synth/organ from Nicole Zamfes and effects gave suitable echo and swirl to their material, with a current of guitar, bass and drums at the core to keep material fluid but anchored in a light, contemplative feel. Bassist Skyler Toski‘s vocals came through with an English accent, while guitarist Curtis Godino had more of an indie delivery, and the blend worked well, the drums not crashing so much as keeping a steady beat to ground the complexity around them in songs like “Slumber Time Blues” and “Summer of Love” from Worthless‘ debut tape. The only issue was the P.A.

Godino‘s mic had a persistent crackle, and the right side of the P.A. cut out on more than one occasion. It happened to Toski too and frustration was evident. Soon enough it would be the running theme of the night, which was twice a bummer since the downshift in mood didn’t exactly mesh with the sunshine in Worthless‘ jams. Still, they made the most of what they had, and while they sounded and seemed on stage as though they were still sorting out the dynamic between players in creating their sonic texture, the late ’60s vibe was appreciably realized. I dug it. The obvious thing to say would be they didn’t at all live up to their name, but there you go.

I wasn’t sure where all the people had come from when I turned around following the end of Worthless‘ last song, but Weird Owl pulled in a good crowd. The Tee Pee Records veterans released an EP this fall called Healing through Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre‘s A Recordings (info here), and “Change Your Mind” from it was a recognizable highlight of their set. The tracks for that were recorded by Jeff Berner (Naam, La Otracina, etc.), and as he’d also recently worked with The Golden Grass on an upcoming release, he turned out to see the two bands play. Weird Owl, who upped the synth level even from Worthless‘ material, with John Cassidy trading off between bass and keys (and tambourine), and J. David Nugent furthering the slowed-down space rock feel with an array of synth as guitarist/vocalist Trevor Tyrrell added an effects wash of his own.

Both the exploratory drift of their performance and the stretches wherein drummer Sean Reynolds stepped up to drive the material forward were welcome, but technical problems persisted. More P.A. crackling and cutting out. Watching them play, it was kind of hard to get lost in the groove with the interruptions, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Of more concern to me standing in front of the stage was the incense burning on the floor. I guess for a while I was standing right where the smell was coming up and hadn’t realized it and then it hit me all at once. I had to move to the back of Hank’s and wound up staying there for the rest of Weird Owl‘s set, though for what it’s worth, a new song that Tyrrell later referred to as “Craft” when I asked was a standout jam no matter where you were standing at the time. Weird Owl have been around a while at this point and this was the first time I’d seen them. It made me want to pay another visit to Healing and their two Tee Pee outings, 2009’s Ever the Silver Cord be Loosed and 2011’s Build Your Beast a Fire (track stream here).

And as for The Golden Grass, well, part of what made me want to catch their live show so badly was the sense of positivity that bleeds through the songs on their first single, One More Time b/w Tornado. There’s no shortage the world over of rock acts paying homage to the style and substance of the heavy ’70s era, but there is a shortage of those who are willing to let themselves look like they’re having fun doing it. The Golden Grass do not suffer from this if-we-don’t-seem-miserable-we-won’t-be-artsy phobia either on the single or their 456th Div. tape (review here), and I was pleased to find that the same applied to their stage presence, whether it was guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich boogieing down as he took a solo in “Please Man,” drummer Adam Kriney propelling a shuffle all his own on drums while simultaneously contributing a major of the singing, including harmonies with Rafalowich on “Stuck on a Mountain” and others, or bassist Joe Noval grinning, satisfied, as he held down yet another warm, engaging groove. The Golden Grass were a damn good time, and that was the whole point.

Only trouble? They got it the worst when it came to the night’s technical problems. It turned out there was something wrong with one of the power bars that everything was plugged into, and Rafalowich‘s guitar (along with the Xmas lights on stage) cut out a few times early on. Kriney called for tape, but it had already been taped. Some kind soul swapped out for a different outlet a few songs in, but the toll was taken on the mood and the crowd. Having come from a ways away, it was a bummer to see, but the songs themselves were still right on, even through the technical problems. They opened with the B-side of the 7″, “Tornado,” and played the memorable “Stuck on a Mountain” and “Please Man” from the 456th Div. tape, hit “One More Time” — their signature cut as yet — jammed with a drum solo on “Wheels” and finished up with a song I hadn’t heard yet, “Sugar and Spice,” which nailed the lighthearted vibe perfectly. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t, but I hope it makes it onto the album when that arrives.

It was a rough night technically, I think probably most of all for The Golden Grass, but none of the three bands let that derail them. I picked up a copy of One More Time b/w Tornado and said a quick-enough goodnight before heading out into the rain. It was around one in the morning. I was fortunate enough to have been offered a place to crash in Manhattan, and woke up a bit before 6:30AM to start the drive back north. No regrets for the travel, no regrets for the weather, no regrets for the P.A. I had wanted to see if The Golden Grass would be able to convey the same sense of positivity in their live show as they do on the studio versions of their songs, and even in rough circumstances, the answer was a resounding yes.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Live Review: Eggnogg and Mountain God in Brooklyn, 12.05.13

Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

By the time I rolled into Williamsburg’s The Grand Victory after a more-than-long-enough work day, 100 and Zero were already well into their set of aggressive NY-style noise punk. They were first on a four band bill shared with grinders Scowl, atmospheric sludge metallers Mountain God and thick riff specialists Eggnogg, all local to Brooklyn. Fair enough. Scowl followed shortly thereafter, with drummer Chris Dialogue recognizable as the former vocalist of Alkahest. He handled backing vocals in Scowl as well on the small Grand Victory stage, and put his microphone to use — as did bassist Derek Stephan and vocalist Matt Viel who paced pack and forth in front of the stage, leaving only guitarist Zack Birmingham mic-less — as much, if not more, for banter between the songs, which were mostly short, grinding blasts with the occasional stoner groove thrown in for good measure.

Hell, I can get down with a little stoner extremity every now and again and nothing says charm like when band members spend entire minutes before the next cut calling each other assholes, so yeah, right on. They said they were playing a short set, and it might’ve been in just the material involved, but there was the back-and-forth as well to coincide with saying the next song was about football, or about “sucking on that glass dick, whatever that means,” and such. It was almost an overdose of snark, but all in good fun. When they were done, Mountain God loaded on and were immediately a completely different vibe, their sludge given texture through the keyboard work of Jonathan Powell. Both Powell and Mountain God bassist Nikhil Kamineni used to be in Alkahest as well, but as was evident on their Experimentation on the Unwillingdemo tape reviewed last month, the new band is working from its own amalgam of influences.

I recognized some of what they played from that tape, which I always take as a good sign, but the real highlight of their set was the new song “Forest of the Lost,” which worked in multiple movements and got more to the core of their blend of doom riffing and ambient depth. The vocals of guitarist Ben Ianuzzi come across in a wash of echo throughout most of the studio versions of songs, but live he was inevitably clearer and that gave the set a more tangible resonance. Riff-wise, “Forest of the Lost” tapped into a classic metal malevolence — maybe some Cathedral in there, but thoroughly doomed either way — and though the bulk of the long, unfolding progression was instrumental, what vocals there were came across in a blend of screams and cleaner singing, a noise rock vibe cutting through the tonal morass of Kamineni‘s bass and his own guitar as drummer Ian Murray turned an otherwise chaotic churn into cohesive forward motion.

They’ve reportedly got a new release in the works centered around some incarnation of “Forest of the Lost,” which was well past 10 minutes long on stage, so I took that as a good sign, and when Mountain God finished, Eggnogg took the stage quickly as the last act of the night. It had been more than a year since the last time I saw them — my loss — and in the interim, the prior trio of Bill O’Sullivan, guitarist Justin Karol and drummer Jason Prushko added bassist Corey Dozier to make a four-piece. This move put O’Sullivan from bass to rhythm guitar — as well as vocals — resulting in Karol taking on more of a lead-player role, in which he excelled. In the past, seeing Eggnogg live, I’ve regretted that some of the funk influence that shows up in their studio output, be it last year’s LouisEP (review here) or 2011’s Moments in Vacuumsophomore full-length (review here), is somewhat lost in favor of their pure, unabashedly stoner stomp, enjoyable as that is.

Sure enough, the songs they played at The Grand Victory – a new one to start from their forthcoming, “mostly done” third full-length, You’re all Invited, plus “The God’s Will Destroy the Hive” and “Northern Lights” from their 2009 debut The Three, and an eponymous encore — carried that much more of the funk for the simple fact that Karol was able to devote his attention completely to his solos when they arose. “Northern Lights,” which was the elephantine highlight of their set, soulful as he plucked notes and even threw in a little stoner-rock softshoe, which as far as I’m concerned is always welcome. Together with O’Sullivan‘s low vocal register and the rumble of Dozier‘s six-string bass, Eggnogg were indeed another notch above the already heavy watermark that past shows I’ve seen from them had set. More importantly, Dozier – although he spent a decent amount of time off the stage, playing in front of it or to the side — blended well with the trio tonally and in terms of presence, and provided a thickened match for both guitars and the marching snare of Prushko, which impressed all the more with some subtle ghost notes and increasing character of play.

Of Eggnogg, you could say they seem to be getting to where they want to be in terms of their sound. I frickin’ loved Moments in Vacuumand put on Louis regularly as well, so the chance to see and hear new songs from them was thoroughly appreciated. I don’t know when You’re all Invitedwill see release, but as far as I’m concerned the sooner the better. I’d hoped to be able to pick up a CD copy of their Apocryphacompilation — the only physical pressing of Louis, which couples it with their 2010 NoggEP — but to no avail, and by that I mean there were none available. Still, well worth the trip to the city to catch them with Mountain God, also in a process of coming into their own, albeit in a much different fashion.

I thought maybe there was a late show happening afterwards, as for a time there were a few extra people walking around with instruments, but maybe they were playing across the street at Trash Bar or something and decided to walk over. When Eggnogg finished, the sound guy put on Songs for the Deaf to let the place clear out. I shuffled back to my car and made the trek back to Jersey to crash — a trip that seems even more arduous now than when I lived there — the dark and quiet roads of my former river valley rendered largely invisible by a dense, rolling fog.

Some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Kowloon Walled City and Batillus to Release Split 7″ on Dec. 10

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Trading singers and covering industrial pioneers, Kowloon Walled City and Batillus have united in a bi-coastal split 7″ that will be the third in a series put out by Brutal Panda Records. Fade Kainer of Batillus joins Kowloon Walled City for a rendition of “Anthem” by Godflesh – no word on whether it will synch up with Jesus Christ Superstar as well as the original, but one can hope — and Scott Evans will join Batillus to take on Ministry‘s “Lava.” Sound like a neat idea? It is.

The PR wire has more info, band links and the goods on where a pre-order for the 7″, due out on Dec. 10, can be placed, so get up if you wanna get down:

KOWLOON WALLED CITY / BATILLUS Announce Split 7″

San Francisco’s KOWLOON WALLED CITY and Brooklyn’s BATILLUS have teamed up for a split 7″ of cover songs as part of the the third release in Brutal Panda Records’ split 7″ series.  Recorded at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, CA and mixed by Scott Evans at Antisleep, the split features KWC playing a cover of the Godflesh classic “Anthem” with Fade Kainer of BATILLUS on vocals.  Side B features BATILLUS covering Ministry’s “Lava” with Scott Evans of KWC on vocals.

The split will be officially released on December 10th and is available for pre-order here.  Also released in the 7″ series were splits from BLACK TUSK / FIGHT AMP and HELMS ALEE / LADDER DEVILS.  The fourth and final release will be a split between WHORES and RABBITS with details to emerge soon.

Kowloon Walled City on Facebook
Kowloon Walled City on Bandcamp

Batillus on Facebook
Batillus on Bandcamp

Kowloon Walled City, Container Ships (2012)

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On Wax: Blackout, We are Here

Posted in On Wax on November 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I think I finally figured out what I like so darn much about We are Here, the six-song debut from Brooklyn heavy plodders Blackout. It often happens early into a stoner rock band’s career that they have one riff to rule them all. There’s one song that everyone in their scene knows them for and at least for a while, that’s their hit. With Blackout, almost every riff is that riff, so by the time you get around to the end of side B and the we’ll-just-go-right-over-these-skulls march of “Seven,” the scale of judgment is completely thrown off. I’m not saying it’s revolutionary — the three-piece seem purposefully bent on not fucking with what the Melvins got right the first time around — just that, while formative, it’s done remarkably well.

The vinyl edition of We are Here arrives, with a download card, pressed on 180g wax, but rather than the pressing info (one can only imagine it’s limited to some number or other), the highlight of the album is the crushing weight of it. There’s an almost garage sense of dirty echo to Christian Gordy‘s guitar, Justin Sherrell‘s bass and Taryn Waldman‘s drums, and that gives the recording, which was helmed by Rob Laasko and mastered by Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk, a raw feel, but it lacks nothing for heft in part because of that space created in the audio and how well the three-piece fills it with nodding, unashamedly heavy groove, at least partially derived from Sleep, but already en route to an individual push.

Part of the reason I say that comes down to Gordy‘s vocals, which have a compressed effect on them on each of the tracks. In another context, this might get redundant, but as We are Here doesn’t overstay its welcome and as so much more of the focus to songs like “Indian” and the side A closer “Smoker” is on the riffs, the compression gives the songs just a touch of something to distinguish them, just something to make them weird, and both in theory and in the actual finished product of the album, the effect is to make Blackout stand out. They’re not trying too hard to be unique, they’re not trying too hard to fit into a genre. They’re being themselves and writing songs, and what came out of that on their debut is all the stronger for it.

Things get pretty blown out as “Seven” heads toward its inevitable collapse and the needle makes its return, but in the context of the heft thrown around on “Amnesia” and the ensuing creeper progression in “Smoker” — which, the more I hear the record the more it replaces “Seven” as my pick of the bunch — it works, and if it’s an added level of quirk in line the vocals and garage stomp, that’s fine too. Included with the record and download is an insert with the lyrics on one side and Blackout‘s should-be-iconic band photo on the other, so any way you want to look at it, We are Here is as complete a document of the band’s arrival as one could ask.

Blackout, We are Here (2013)

Blackout on Thee Facebooks

Blackout on Bandcamp

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Duuude, Tapes! The Golden Grass, 456th Div.

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on November 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’ve got the time, The Golden Grass have the vibe. Their 456th Div. tape is available now on In for the Kill Records in a limited edition of 50. I don’t know what of that number are left — the Brooklyn trio were taking Paypal orders on their Thee Facebooks — but considering there weren’t that many to start with, it’s likely there aren’t that many remaining, but even though the audio is fairly rough, 456th Div. offers listeners something different even from the band’s more official debut, the One More Time b/w Tornado 7″ single. That release has clean studio versions of two songs, and the A-side appears here as well, but it arrives coupled with two April 2013 demos — one for “Please Man” and one for “One More Time” — and the live track “Stuck on a Mountain” that, to date, I haven’t come across anywhere else. Between that and the Boy Scout-esque patch with which the cassette arrives, it proves a fitting curio both for collectors or someone interested in the development of the band in their early going.

“One More Time” is almost maddeningly catchy. With lead vocals from drummer Adam Kriney (La Otracina) and backing tracks from guitarist Michael Rafalowich (Strange Haze), it’s a smooth summertime roll that comes on friendly and stays crisp front to back. In its finished, studio form, it’s a classic rocker all the way, comfortably paced and worthy of the sing-alongs for which the chorus seems to be asking. The demo version that closes here, as expected, is more bare-bones, without the vocal interplay. Fortunately, throughout all the material but most especially the live track “Stuck on a Mountain,” which was recorded at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar on Sept. 6, bassist Joe Noval comes through at the fore, where all too often with tape compression the low end suffers most. Of course a lot depends on your system and equalizer, but he’s there. This being my first exposure to “Stuck on a Mountain” and “Please Man” — both of which may or may not show up on The Golden Grass‘ full-length debut, reportedly tracked last week with Jeff Berner (Naam) — the songs didn’t have the immediate familiarity of “One More Time” (there’s nothing to make you feel like you know a song like listening to it a bunch of times), but were immediately engaging nonetheless and fitting with the positive spirit and classic rock warmth that seems to typify all of The Golden Grass‘ material that I’ve encountered thus far.

I already alluded to it, but the actual sound of 456th Div. is raw. If it’s going to be your first exposure to the band, the 7″ is probably the way to go, but as a further precursor to the LP and a complement to the single, it makes sense. The four-song program repeats on sides one and two of the plain white tape, and at louder volumes, there’s a considerable hiss. This would seem to be less in the interest of the songs themselves, though particularly for the demo cuts and the live track it makes sense in that, “Dude, my buddy just dubbed this for me” kind of way, and if the options are no physical pressing of this material or 456th Div., I’d certainly rather have the than not, hiss or no. As The Golden Grass move quickly into the making of their debut, one might think of 456th Div. in combination with the 7″ as a document of their beginnings, and on that level as well as getting a whatever-the-aural-version-of-a-sneak-peak-is at two yet-unheard songs, I’m glad to have gotten a copy.

The Golden Grass, One More Time b/w Tornado (2013)

The Golden Grass on Thee Facebooks

In for the Kill Records

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Tombs Enter Studio to Record New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Working with Hate Eternal‘s Erik Rutan as producer, Brooklyn’s Tombs have entered the studio to record a follow-up to their massively lauded 2011 sophomore outing, Path of Totality. No word yet on a release date for the third Tombs record, but one could reasonably expect a Summer 2014 release on Relapse, unless somehow it takes them eight months to get it put to tape. Anything’s possible, I guess, but certainly anticipation will be high for the new album when it arrives.

The PR wire has confirmation and comment from guitarist/vocalist Mike Hill:

TOMBS Begin Recording New Album

Brooklyn, NY’s Tombs have announced that they will be entering the studio today to begin recording their follow-up to 2011’s critically acclaimed Path of Totality. The band will be working with famed producer Erik Rutan (Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal) over the next two weeks at his Mana Recording Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida. Stay tuned for updates from the studio!

Tombs vocalist / guitarist Mike Hill commented on what to expect from the highly anticipated new album: “The new material is darker and more extreme than the last record. The addition of [bassist] Ben Brand and [guitarist] Garett Bussanick have really stepped up the playing and musicianship to a new level.”

Tombs have released two full-lengths and one singles / rarities collection via Relapse Records, all of which are available for streaming via Bandcamp here.

https://www.facebook.com/TombsBklyn

Tombs, Path of Totality (2011)

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Duuude, Tapes! Mountain God, Experimentation on the Unwilling

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on November 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

What I like most about Mountain God‘s debut demo tape, Experimentation on the Unwilling (released on Archaic Revival Records), is that it gets more and more fucked the further into it you go. Based in Brooklyn, the four-piece band incorporate a dreary kind of psychedelia, and come across partially indebted to Electric Wizard on the nodding “Fields of Life” or side two closer “Maarrat al-Nu’man,” but seem less fixated on the darker aspects of pop, and so are less generally anchored and all the more chaotic for it. The five tracks included on the tape would sound blown-out no matter what media they appeared on, but Mountain God – which features Alkahest members Nikhil Kamineni and Jonathan Powell on bass/vocals/engineering and keys/vocals, respectively, as well as guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi and drummer Ian Murray — make their atmospheric intentions clear on their first outing, and the format on which they’ve chosen to present it plays a role in that as well.

So do the keys, actually. And the multiple vocalists. And the overbearing buzz of the guitar distortion. Really the whole thing is feeding into an overarching sense of mood — foggy, vaguely demented, generally but not necessarily outwardly threatening — but it’s Powell‘s keys that make the most striking impression, and they do so most of all on “Prophet,” which rounds out side one. With just a few single notes that reach up from the chaotic, swirling morass, Powell pushes the song into a different league of individuality and memorability — somebody had The Downward Spiralwhen they were in high school — and elsewhere on Experimentation on the Unwilling, as on the preceding “Fields of Life,” the keys lend a horrific ambience to what would otherwise be almost expected churn. The sheer nastiness that comes across on the opening title cut and spacious chug of “Fallout” would likely be enough to distinguish Mountain God anyway, but the listening experience is that much richer for the creeping melodies that ensue from the keyboard.

Particularly from a demo, I wouldn’t ask much more than that kind of rudimentary show of personality, but Mountain God‘s songs have more to offer than nascent aesthetic and generalized potential. For the consuming tones of “Fallout” alone or the lyrical narrative of the lysergically-riffed “Prophet,” Experimentation on the Unwillinggives more to dig into than it might initially seem, and taken as two whole sides on the tape, it’s immersive and hypnotic in keeping with its atmosphere. I hope these guys have a fog machine. They might need two or three by the time they get around to writing their next batch of material. In the meantime, their debut is available currently in a physical edition of 100 cassettes that seem to just be waiting for vinyl companionship.

Mountain God, Experimentation on the Unwilling (2013)

Mountain God on Thee Facebooks

Mountain God on Bandcamp

Archaic Revival Records

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Live Review: Orange Goblin, Holy Grail, Lazer/Wulf and Polygamyst in Brooklyn, 11.02.13

Posted in Reviews on November 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Odd matchups seemed to be the running theme of the night, whether it was UK doomers Orange Goblin doing a six-week tour with the thrash outfit Holy Grail and Atlanta tech metallers Lazer/Wulf or the show also serving as St. Vitus bar’s Halloween party and more than a handful of patrons arriving in costume throughout the night. For what it’s worth, I didn’t dress up — I mean, at least not any more than the public identities we create for ourselves counts as “dressing up,” anyway. Existentially speaking, we’re all in costume, man. So dig that for your pagan ceremony.

I can only imagine those who did dress up were hot as hell for having made the effort. The show was sold out and more or less packed by the time Polygamyst went on as openers and local support for three touring acts. I had seen them over the summer with Mirror Queen and The Atomic Bitchwax at a boat show, so I knew their wares were metal, but apparently the ensuing months had vocalist George Souleidis, guitarist Phi Moon (also Mirror Queen) and drummer Chadius Broccolius of their second guitarist and bassist, the latter of whom was replaced by James Corallo, also of Mirror Queen. Hammering out a lineup is inevitable as a band continues to get settled, but Polygamyst were nothing if not in the spirit of the show. Broccolius played most of the set with a mask on, his beard poking through the bottom, Moon had a wig, war paint and bandanna — Uli Jon Roth? — and Souleidis seemed to be a sultan of some sort or other, robes and all.

Their set was no less ready to party, running through classic metal wails enough to justify closing out with a cover of Judas Priest‘s “Breaking the Law,” which got some early moshing going as a sign of things to come. Corallo fit well with Moon‘s amorphous lead style, and though he shed the wig as time wore on, Souleidis seemed even more confident as a frontman than he had just five months prior. That could be an effect of having more shows under his belt, or it could be the fact that St. Vitus wasn’t being tossed around the East River while Polygamyst were playing. Either way. When jazzy quirk-prog trio Lazer/Wulf took the stage, a tone was set for sonic diversity that would only continue as the night wore on.

Guitarist Bryan Aiken had a mic set up mostly to thank the crowd and let out various maniacal laughs, “let’s go!” exclamations and periodic melodic vocal lines, but the crux of Lazer/Wulf‘s approach was instrumental. As one might expect five weeks into a six-week tour, Aiken, bassist Sean Peiffer and drummer Brad Rice were ridiculously tight, and it’s a good thing, since their kind of technical, progressive metal completely falls flat when the situation is otherwise. Theirs didn’t. They were well received by a Vitus crowd that seemed to know little about them, myself included, and they had stretches of thrash-style groove that went along well with what I’m told the kids call “djent” but a decade ago just used to be a Meshuggah influence. Not really my thing, but they won over the room and their enjoyment of what they were doing was infectious, even if it was as different from Polygamyst as Holy Grail would be from them when they took the stage.

Studded armbands, uniform black stage garb, a record each out on Prosthetic and Nuclear Blast, plus Kirk Hammett bangs on vocalist James-Paul Luna, Holy Grail had their thrash credentials well in order. I’ve never been huge on revivalist thrash, and though the band traces their roots back to White Wizzard and Bonded by Blood, they weren’t really going for the hightops and Alcoholica thing. “Call of Valhalla” showed some metalcore influence — a surefire generational tell — and one could hear shades of Shadows Fall in the dual-guitar harmonies, but whatever they were doing, they were obviously doing it right. Fists were pumped, moshing was had, axes were shredded, blahs were blah blahed. Holy Grail didn’t have to win the room; the room was already with them. The title-track from their 2013 outing, Ride the Void, went over particularly well, and one of the other dudes up front sang along so hard to “My Last Attack” that I thought his face was going to explode. Fair enough.

So there you go. Sold out night, three bands deep. Temperature up. Things had been moving at a decent clip up to Holy Grail, who played a long set, and Orange Goblin didn’t wind up going on until after 11:30PM. Didn’t really matter. After driving four hours south from Massachusetts a couple days before, that trip was far enough out of mind for the next day that I wasn’t stressing about it like I had been at Truckfighters last time I was at the Vitus bar; the late night was no threat. All the better for stargazing en route back to the humble river valley I used to call home and where I’d be staying for the evening. In any case, when Orange Goblin stormed their way into “Scorpionica” to open their set, it was well worth being awake to see. They came out to AC/DC‘s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll),” and a more fitting theme for the band — now coming up on their 20th year if you count from their getting together as Our Haunted Kingdom in 1994 — would be hard to find.

Returned guitarist Joe Hoare, who’d sat out a not insignificant amount of road time in Europe on account of an injury to his Achilles tendon, looked to be in good spirits despite what had already been a long slog back on the road alongside bassist Martyn Millard, drummer Chris Turner and vocalist Ben Ward, still supporting the 2012 studio release, A Eulogy for the Damned (review here), and subsequent live album, A Eulogy for the Fans (review here), and Ward — his fists raised in what seems to be a permanent conquest — was as engaging as I’ve seen him. He is a mountainous walking advertisement for whiskey, and among underground metal’s best frontmen, but his performance is also about more than the show. “Acid Trial” from A Eulogy for the Damned and “Rage of Angels” from 2002’s Coup de Grace followed “Scorpionica” in succession and showed how little the foursome’s potency has diminished in the last decade, even though one could argue they’re just getting their due recognition now in the States thanks to tours like this one and their earlier-2013 run with Clutch.

I don’t think they were through “Rage of Angels” before I realized I had brown liquor running down my back. Who threw or spilled what remains a mystery, but yeah. That happened. Hazards of the trade. It was fairly rowdy up front for the duration — I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to seeing people moshing to doom — but I stuck it out for a while before dropping back to the other side of the pit around the time “Shine” from 1998’s sophomore outing, Time Travelling Blues, made its appearance. They’d later include the title cut from that album as well, which was a welcome addition, though I’d hoped for “Blue Snow” as well. Some you win, some you lose.

Speaking of, that song was aired, with Hoare and Millard stepping in for backing vocals in the call and response, and after “Cities of Frost,” Exodus and Generation Kill frontman Rob Dukes joined the band onstage for a raging take on “Your World will Hate This” from Coup de Grace. By then, Orange Goblin could’ve done little to derail their own momentum — following it with “Time Travelling Blues” was a risk, but it paid off — and the guest spot was met with due excitement, as was the Black Sabbath cover “Into the Void,” the rolling groove of which was expertly handled like the precious artifact it is. It should probably say something about Orange Goblin‘s recent surge that more recent songs like “They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls)” from 2007’s Healing through Fire and the Eulogy single “Red Tide Rising” would appear so late in the set along with the cover and “Quincy the Pigboy,” which like “Scorpionica” comes off 2000’s The Big Black, but the songs stood up, and “Red Tide Rising” made for a riotous closer.

There was karaoke slated for afterwards and the vibe seemed like it was going to stay lively for some time. That’s not my scene, but I can see the appeal. My car, which has a bent rim, 185,000 miles that I’ve put on over the last eight years, and shakes like a massage chair, was around the corner and I drove empty roads back through Jersey to crash out and hit the highway in the morning.

Extra pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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The Golden Grass Give a Taste of Debut Single in New Video Teaser

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

In addition to a Funkadelic t-shirt spotting — always an encouraging sign — on bassist Joe Noval, the expertly-edited video teaser below for The Golden Grass‘ debut 7″ has clips of both songs included, “One More Time” and “Tornado.” The Brooklyn trio, comprised of Noval as well as guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich (Strange Haze) and drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney (La Otracina), will issue the single on Svart Records and Electric Assault Records next week, and preorders are available now.

They’ve also got a few tour dates lines up that will take them out to Cincinnati for the Cincy Pysch Fest, and they’ll be headed north to Maine for a gig at Geno‘s in Portland, Maine, on Nov. 8. Fingers crossed they add a Massachusetts date so I can finally see what I’ve been fussing about all this time and maybe pick up a copy of their 456th Div. tape if there are any left (they only made 50).

Until then, here’s the teaser for the single:

The Golden Grass, One More Time/Tornado 7″ Preview

Here is the 7″ Preview Video of the forthcoming The Golden Grass 7″ on Svart Records/Electric Assault Records! Shot and directed by Max Warmbrodt!

Please share this!

Pre-order the 7″ in the EU here: http://www.svartrecords.com/shoppe/en/home/2389-the-golden-grass-one-more-time-tornado-7.html

THE GOLDEN GRASS AUTUMN 2013 US TOUR DATES

10/24 at Kung Fu Necktie/Philadelphia/PA w/ Mike Donovan (of SIC ALPS) - https://www.facebook.com/events/541193405967205/

10/25 at Howler’s/Pittsburg/PA w/ CAROUSEL + LOST REALMS - https://www.facebook.com/events/513423455411368/

10/26 at Cincy Psych Fest/Mayday Northside/Cincinnati/OH - https://www.facebook.com/events/211851458983369/

10/27 at Beachland Ballroom/Cleveland/OH w/ ELECTRIC LUCIFER + EXPLODING LIES - https://www.facebook.com/events/1426664174216502/

11/8 at Geno’s/Portland/ME w/ HESSIAN + MANIC ABRAXAS + IDIOT GENES - https://www.facebook.com/events/564778886902500/

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Sannhet Come to Ruin in New Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve seen a few YuberToube clips in the last couple weeks that come with a warning for flashing lights and sharp cuts and such that might trigger epileptics to have a seizure. Seems fair enough. Sannhet‘s new clip for “Slow Ruin” from their 2013 Known Flood debut album on Sacrament Music doesn’t have one, but it easily could for its do-not-adjust-your-set intro or when the blastbeats kick in and our heroine, seemingly confined to a white-but-not-padded box, begins to make a clay version of herself to then cast into the ocean. Take that, constructed identities! Director AJ Annunziata, who also serves as bassist in the sample-prone Brooklyn instrumental post-metal trio, does well in aligning the visual to the audio of the track, which appears here somewhat edited from its seven-minute form on the album, much of the last two minutes of which was given to a wash of droning noise.

One of the highlight aspects of Known Flood (discussed here) is the efficiency with which Sannhet ebb and flow between black-metal-derived blasting and ambient explorations, and even abridged in terms of the latter, “Slow Ruin” brings that duality to light. Brutality and post-rock-style airiness persist in the guitars of Christopher Todd and drummer John Refano fluidly holds the song together in its torrential onslaught, the final product eliciting a feel of entranced worship as much as sonic punishment, calling later Godflesh to mind early but building up to something with an entirely different kind of seething at its center.

Word on the street is Sannhet will release a new digital single next month, and for those of you in that part of the world, they’ll be playing the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn this Friday, Oct. 18, with Pelican, Phantom Glue, Kings Destroy, Pyrrhon and Wreck and Reference as part of the second night of Invisible Oranges’ showcase for CMJ. Quite an evening. Here’s the video:

Sannhet, “Slow Ruin” official video

Sannhet on Thee Facebooks

Sacrament Music

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audiObelisk: Blackout Premiere “Amnesia” from Debut Album We are Here

Posted in audiObelisk on October 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

They called the album We are Here, and who could argue? There they are. Marking their arrival by means of their self-released debut full-length on Oct. 25, Blackout — who hail from a small town on the Eastern Seaboard called Brooklyn (I think that’s how it’s spelled) — show up with big riffs, big stomp, and underpinnings of quirk that give their unabashed tonal weight a sense that’s both lighthearted in not taking itself too seriously and a huge part of what makes the album overall so effective. Copping influence from stoner heavyweights like the Melvins and Sleep — easy comparisons to make, but true all the same — Blackout might read on the surface like Riffy Brand X, but there’s more to We are Here than sonic redundancies and tonal largesse.

Not to understate the tonal largesse — both guitarist/vocalist Christian Gordy and bassist Justin Sherrell (also drums in Bezoar) proffer much viscosity in line with the swing of Taryn Waldman‘s drums — but with the weirdo compression on Gordy‘s vocals throughout the album, subtle melody and boogie of a song like “Seven,” as much as they’re setting up beach chairs in the pool of distortion they’ve crafted, Blackout haven’t neglected to give an individual spin to otherwise familiar elements. Rounding out with the heavy-hoofed march of “Seven,” We are Here gives the impression that Blackout are interested in and working at coming into their own sound-wise. Fortunately for all parties involved save perhaps eardrums, they save room for a noisy freakout at the end.

The early cut “Amnesia” may be short at 3:19 compared to some of what surrounds it, but the rush the trio creates across that span rings out like the echoes off a holy mountain, and it’s clear that whatever one might recognize in their approach, Blackout couple their unabashed stonerly crunch with idiosyncratic purpose. We are Here is an easy record to dig for the already converted, but its greatest strength lies in off-kilter moments like “Smoker” and “Indian,” which show this personality and burgeoning affinity for strangeness but never fail to serve the song and the album overall, striking a balance of indulgence and accessibility that’s a lot harder to nail than it might seem.

It’s a good ‘un, and both times I’ve had the chance to see Blackout live (reviews here and here), they’ve impressed, so I’m thrilled today to be hosting the premiere of “Amnesia” in advance of the release of We are Here later this month. Please find it on the player below and please enjoy:

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

Blackout‘s We are Here will be available on Oct. 25. More info and music at the links below.

Blackout on Thee Facebooks

Blackout on Bandcamp

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Roadburn 2014 Lineup: Hull, Morne and -(16)- Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Straight out of the “Fucking A” file comes the news that Brooklyn post-sludgers Hull have joined the lineup for Roadburn 2014. One can only hope that by the time April rolls around the now-foursome will be supporting a follow-up to 2011’s triumphant sophomore outing, Beyond the Lightless Sky (review here) — they’ve been playing new material live for a while — but even if not, it’s awesome to see them on the bill for Roadburn, where they’re almost certain to lay waste to what and whomever should stand in their path at the 013.

News has also come out in the last couple days that Boston funeral doomers Morne and CA sludge mainstays 16 have been added to the fest. Updates follow, courtesy of the Roadburn site:

Hull: Brooklyn Sludge Rock Alchemists Added To Roadburn 2014 Lineup

Brooklyn, New York sludge rock alchemists, Hull have been confirmed for Roadburn Festival 2014 on Thursday, April 10th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Hull will be performing alongside a jaw-dropping lineup that already includes Opeth, Yob, Triptykon, A Storm Of Light, Crowbar, Graves at Sea, Lord Dying, and so many more.

Comments guitarist Nick Palmirotto, “Hull is absolutely elated to be a part of the vastly diverse lineup that will be gracing the stages of Roadburn 2014. Having had the tremendous experience of performing bass guitar duties for Jarboe in 2010, it is an honor for Hull to be a part of one of the most unique and unprecedented festivals in the world of heavy music. Our gratitude speaks no bounds, we shall forge onward through the barren lands, beyond the lightless sky.”

Hull released their monolithic Beyond The Lightless Sky full-length via The End Records in 2011. Commended by The Village Voice (NYC) its “motorcycle-revving D-beat, bog-trawling doom, sinister black metal, Neurosis drum-offs and hypnotic passages that gnash like a venom-dripping cousin to the final Isis album,” Beyond The Lightless Sky features guest appearances by vocalist Jarboe, keys/ambiance by Fade Kainer (Batillus / Jarboe / Inswarm) and has reaped critical acclaim internationally for its delicate balance of staggering heaviness and poetic grace.

Hull materializes as a massive entity storming stages and immersing their audiences in a blanket of grandiose down-tuned compositions. A shifting fault line of decibel heavy harmony, this collective force converges in a collision of thrash, doom, classic rock, and formal orchestral works.

Hull commands their listeners through each riff with incredible precision, as a seafarer guides vessels through ominous waters. Submerged in cosmic soundscapes, Hull challenges the mind with flowing, off-time fugues and powerful, dynamic movements.

Brace yourself for an onslaught of eruptive force as a new world of music is formed in the deafening clap of thunder that is Hull.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Boston’s Morne To Bring Outsider Funeral Doom To Roadburn 2014 Afterburner

Boston’s Morne has everything you could ever want in an outsider funeral doom band. Their sound, revolving around guitarist / singer Milosz Gassan, shifts from crushing bombast to dark psychedelia, from crumbling, downtuned riffage to lumbering drone and from post rock to gothic gloom and metallic crust. They traverse this wide range of sounds without dwelling in trendy post-metal circles or being part of the seemingly never ending enclave of Neurosis adepts.

On their latest album, Shadows (out on Profound Lore), Morne even delves into classic rock and 70s prog, which drives the band onwards though a darkened wasteland of melancholy and menace, fueled by bleakness, airily textural progressions, moody melodies and a fierce, riffy, but also straightforward chug.

Morne, huge favorites of Darkthrone’s Fenriz and Nocturno Culto –who incorporated the Morne logo into the artwork of Circle The Wagons, will bring their vulnerable slabs of despair to the 2014 Roadburn Afterburner on Sunday, April 13th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday , April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

-(16)- To Bring Jagged Blocks of Buzzing Sludge To Roadburn Festival 2014

Over the last two decades, Califorian veterans -(16)- have been pioneering heavy-as-hell, ill tempered sludge metal, alongside fellow luminaries Buzzov*en, Eyehategod and Crowbar (among others).

Despite all the anguish, pain and countless lineup changes that 20 years brought, -(16)- remained a dependable source of gutsy, misery infested, torturous sludge, captured on albums like Drop Out, Zoloft Smile and Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds (out on Relapse Records).

Whether its the band’s mid tempo, aggressive metal assault, their sludgy dissonance or aggro-punk-hardcore filth, -(16)- spits it out with hateful, jaw-punching glee – thriving on chugging guitars, grinding bass and growling vocals that drive home the point like a blast of scuzzed-up vitriol.

We’re looking forward to get punched in the gut, and smacked in the face as well by -(16)-‘s jagged blocks of buzzing sludge on Saturday, April 12th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Nope we won’t mind it abit, as we’ve been waiting for so many years for this to happen!

Turn up, tune down, give up…

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th, 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Hull, Live at St. Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, Feb. 10, 2013

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Naam Announce Winter European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Brooklyn space/psych rockers Naam are once again taking to European shores in support of their (inter)stellar 2013 album, Vow (review here). The hard-working four-piece already put in considerable road time in Europe this spring, and that run was followed by a complete six-week coast-to-coast slog through the US — they killed in Manhattan on the opening night — that ended in mid-August. Doubtless a little time out of the van has done them some good, but as excellent as the swirl they enacted at the start of the last tour was, I wouldn’t want to miss them for a much-needed injection of warmth this winter.

More dates are reportedly coming, but here’s what’s been announced so far — note the Winter Void fest in Germany (they’ll play with Camera and Fire Walk with Me, among others presumably to be announced) and dates alongside Mars Red Sky and Monkey3. It certainly looks like plenty and I’m sure will become even more considerable as the dates fill in.

NAAM European Winter Tour 2013

November 21 – December 20

More dates to be announced soon!

21.11 – BEL – Brussels – Salle Rogier w/ Mars Red Sky
23.11 – NL – Nijmegan- Merleyn
24.11 – GER – Wiesbaden – Schachthof w/ Monkey 3
25.11 – GER – Hamburg – Markthalle w/ Monkey 3
26.11 – GER – Cologne – Underground w/ Monkey 3
27.11 – GER – Wurzburg – Cairo
28.11 – GER – Berlin – Jaegerklause
29.11 – GER – Regensburg – Winter Void Festival
01.12 – GER – Munich – Orange House
02.12 – AUS – Vienna – Arena
03.12 – CH – Zurich – Mascotte
05.12 – ITA – Roma – Sinister Noise
06.12 – ITA – Bolonzo – Festival
07.12 – ITA – Vincenza – TBA
08.12 – CH – Lucerne – Sedel
09.12 – GER – Stuttgart – TBA
13.12 – GRC – Athens – Six D.O.G.S.
14.12 – GRC – Larissa – Stage Club

https://www.facebook.com/events/1419574994923451/

Naam, “Beyond” from Vow (2013)

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