Elder to Release Live at Roadburn 2013 on LP and CD

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

Some right-on-yes-please news today out of the Burning World/Roadburn Records camp in that Boston trio Elder will be releasing their 2013 Roadburn performance under the suitable title of Live at Roadburn 2013 on CD and vinyl. By way of a confession, I sort of knew this one was coming since the band was kind enough to ask for some photos from the set — which took place at the converted church Het Patronaat – to be included in the package, but it rules to see it announced and what’s best of all is that Live at Roadburn 2013 is available now for a pay-what-you-will download through the Burning World Records Bandcamp page.

Check out the righteous Adrian Dexter artwork, the announcement, and of course, the stream below, and rejoice. They were a highlight of that whole weekend, and some of the best memories I took away from Roadburn 2013 were of watching them so thoroughly kill it. Here’s the news, complete with a section of my review from that day:

ELDER to release Live At Roadburn 2013, download now on Bandcamp

Roadburn Records is proud to present: Elder Live At Roadburn 2013 on both vinyl, cd and digital. For those we weren’t there check what JJ Koczan, connoisseur of all things rock and psychedelic, over at The Obelisk had to say about the experience of catching Elder live:

‘What a fucking blast. Seriously. That’s what it says in my notes: “What a fucking blast.” It’s a direct quote. Probably the best thing I can compare it to is when Black Pyramid played the Afterburner in 2011 and were given such a warm reception, but this was bigger, both in room size and in that reception itself. People were lined up out the door and down the alley to see Elder‘s Roadburn debut, and the crowd was cheering before they even started the first song. They waved and people cheered. It was a lot of fun to see, and as it was the 10th show on their 15-date European run with Pet the Preacher, they also handed the place its collective ass. Both cuts from the Spires Burn/Release EP were included, as well as “Dead Roots Stirring” and a host of others, and for the umpteenth time in the last couple days, I felt lucky to be there. I know for a lot of people, this was the first time they’re getting to see them live, but even for the several times I have, this one was something special.’

Live At Roadburn 2013 captures the set in all its glory. Listen to it on below on Bandcamp and if you like download it, it’s “Pay what you want” so even free!

If you need the set on cd or vinyl please go here but beware we will not be able to send out the vinyl or cd before Feb. 1st 2014.

Elder, Live at Roadburn 2013

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audiObelisk: Atlantis Stream “Raptor” from New Album Omens; Out Oct. 14 on Burning World Records

Posted in audiObelisk on September 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It should say something about the complexity of their operations that it takes six people to reproduce live what by and large is created solely by multi-instrumentalist Gilson Heitinga in the studio for the band Atlantis. Heitinga‘s project began seven years ago and will release Omens, their third mostly-instrumental full-length — there are also two EPs, most recently 2012′s La Petite Mort — on Oct. 14 through Burning World Records, crafting a sonic blend of post-metal, progressive electronica and a sense of tonal weight, resulting in six varied and textured tracks that truly seem to be the output of a clear vision for what the sound should be. Whether it’s the initial ambience of “Rapture” or the patient building of tension that leads to the slow-paced crush of “Widowmaker,” both of Omens‘ vinyl sides produce a rich, immersive feel that’s easy to get lost within.

There are stretches that come across as comparatively minimal, but Omens is never really still, and whether it’s a swirl of synth on backing the emergent shouts on “And She Drops the 7th Veil” or the noisy, chaotic patterning of the side B intro “The Path Into” — that path, incidentally, goes into “Widowmaker” — Atlantis always keep a sense of forward motion despite the changing sphere of each given track and the mood that each piece of the 50-minute offering makes so malleable throughout. As both the first instance of the weighted riffing that comes to the fore periodically and the album’s initial thrust,”Raptor” does a significant amount of work in establishing the atmospheric basis from which the rest of the songs work. It has both parcel fluctuations and an overarching linear build, and pays off in grand style only made more affecting by the drawn out keyboard melodies that top.

Because of that drama at the apex and because “Raptor” does so well in representing the whole of Omens from which it comes, I’m happy to have the chance to feature it here. Check it out on the player below, and please enjoy:

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Omens will be available on Oct. 14 through Burning World Records and can be pre-ordered now on CD and gold or black vinyl.

Atlantis on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records

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audiObelisk: Monomyth Stream “Vanderwaalskrachten” from Self-Titled Debut

Posted in audiObelisk on September 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

One week from today, on Sept. 16, Dutch progressive heavy rockers Monomyth will release their self-titled debut LP on Burning World Records. The album (review here) is rife with patient builds, playing off synth and programming textures from Peter van der Meer and Tjerk Stoop while the alternately ambient and crunch-riffing guitars of Thomas van den Reydt run wild over the steady foundations of bassist Selwyn Slop and drummer Sander Evers. Melody is constant, the mood is progressive and contemplative, but celebratory, and whether they’re rooted in a plotted-seeming jam or spacing out into parts unknown, Monomyth retain their sense of control across the span of the album’s five extended tracks without sacrificing a feeling of vitality or ever losing sight of their overall purpose. It’s an impressive debut.

Evers‘ tenure in 35007, who worked off some of the same ideas but ultimately in a much different way — still instrumental heavy prog, but theirs was more rooted specifically in stoner rock than the new Den Haag five-piece comes off as being — should lend the band notoriety to anyone who may have heard that act. A sort of dog-whistle for the familiar. But Monomyth are quick to show a personality of their own, and ultimately come out having more in common with the smooth productions of My Sleeping Karma than Evers‘ prior outfit, and opening cut “Vanderwaalskrachten” goes a long way in showing why. A slow, atmospheric start leads to a gradual build not comprised of predictable changes from measure to measure but of an overarching progression — more the tide coming in than a dam being breached — and though there’s a moment when it “takes off,” it does so naturally, giving up none of the fluidity established earlier on as it continues to solidify around a potent, engaging groove.

And don’t be fooled, because when you think “Vanderwaalskrachten” — its Dutch name referring to the bonds between electrons and what attracts one charge to another, positive and negative — has hit its peak, that’s still yet to come. Keys step to the fore in jazz fusion style but a cacophony of hits and wailing leads ensues, and Monomyth cap the 11:41 track with circumstance enough to make the beginning of their first record among its most righteous highlights.

With thanks to the band and Burning World Records, I have the pleasure today of featuring “Vanderwaalskrachten” for streaming ahead of the release next week. Please check it out on the player below and enjoy:

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Monomyth‘s Monomyth is due out Sept. 16, 2013 on Burning World Records. More info at the links below:

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Monomyth, Monomyth: The Valence Electrons

Posted in Reviews on August 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Although at its most expansive, Monomyth‘s Monomyth ranges well into a cosmos of Krautrock-infused progadelia, there isn’t one moment of the album that feels like happenstance. Rather, the den Haag instrumental five-piece put an immediate sense of purpose into their Burning World Records self-titled debut — which is bound as well to grab extra attention owing to the involvement of drummer Sander Evers, formerly of Dutch heavy psych groundbreakers 35007 — and each of the five extended cuts on the 57-minute outing offers a complete individual journey while also flowing directly one to the next, so that the whole of the album is built up around these at times breathtakingly cohesive parts. The exception to that rule of flow is the 17-minute closer, “Huygens,” which comes on following silence at the end of the penultimate “Loch Ness,” but even that seems to have been a conscious decision on the part of the band — Evers on drums, Selwyn Slop on bass, Thomas van den Reydt on guitar, Peter van der Meer on keys and Tjerk Stoop credited with “synthesis and processing” in the album’s liner, which I assume means laptop — and certainly “Huygens” doesn’t detract from the overall liquidity of Monomyth for its slow fade in from the aforementioned silence, only adding to it a grand payoff patiently built toward that justifies the song’s position as the finale without losing sight of the progressive vibe. One could spend a lifetime immersed in the heavy prog spectrum of the early and mid ’70s, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that one or more of the members of Monomyth has, but in truly progressive form, the production here is modern-sounding to its very core. Modern-sounding, but not over-produced, it’s worth pointing out, and Monomyth walk just as careful a line in their presentation of their self-titled as they do in the intricate sense of composition and technicality that rests at the core of “Vanderwaalskrachten” (11:26), “Vile Vortices” (8:28), “The Groom Lake Engine” (10:06), “Loch Ness” (10:24) and “Huygens” (17:04) — all the titles coming together to blend into a theme of something unknown, scientific and otherworldly.

Whichever came first, those titles or the songs themselves, the pieces are clearly meant to be taken in a complete listen with how each feeds into the one following. Still, there doesn’t seem to be a narrative at work across them, or at least not in the sense of “Jack runs here, Jack goes there.” “Vanderwaalskrachten” begins with sparse guitar and synth hum, setting up a swirl and lushness of sound that will prove almost constant but for a few purposeful moments of minimalism. Setting a patient tone, the drums kick in around two minutes in with the bass and the dynamic at the core of Monomyth‘s Monomyth is established; the rhythm section holds pieces together so that the guitar, keys and other elements are free to explore, which they do, again, not without a pervasive sense of purpose. The initial impression is similar in its smoothness and moody underpinnings to Germany’s My Sleeping Karma, but as “Vanderwaalskrachten” — named for the attractions between molecules and intermolecular forces — hits a pre-midpoint peak of heavy guitar riffing later to reemerge as a kind of instrumental chorus, it’s that much clearer that the band haven’t yet played their entire hand. A solo follows topping space rock pulsations and carries into a quiet bridge marked out by some funky organ work, only to find that chorus return again late in the track, giving all the more an impression of structure. Actually, “Vanderwaalskrachten” winds up rather traditional at its heart, just presented in a much different form than a phrase like “verse/chorus structure” might conjure in the mind of the listener. Likewise careful not to get underway too quickly, “Vile Vortices” — aka the Devil’s Graveyards; the Bermuda Triangle, Indus Valley, Algerian Megaliths, et. al. — unfolds to Floydian leads punctuated by xylophone-sounding percussion given flourish by jazzy keys before bass and organ introduce the crux of the build, Evers holding steady on drums behind. Those leads return, but structurally, “Vile Vortices” is different from its predecessor, more linear, and after five minutes in, it breaks to introduce a heavier riff that acts as the foundation for the build over the remainder of the track, which rounds out with a drone leading right into “The Groom Lake Engine,” the  centerpiece of Monomyth.

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The Midnight Ghost Train Release Live at Roadburn 2013

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

I took the above photo of always-raucous The Midnight Ghost Train‘s frontman Steve Moss from the sweaty doorway of the Bat Cave at the 013 venue in Tilburg, the Netherlands, as part of the Roadburn 2013 festival. It was as close as I could get to the band, who opened in grand fashion with feedback before unleashing an entire weekend’s worth of boogie into one bluesified, bombastic set. The Kansas trio are in the throes of a six-week US tour (dates here) supporting 2012′s Buffalo (review here) and have just released said Roadburn set as a free download under the fitting title Live at Roadburn 2013, with a CD and LP to follow soon on Roadburn/Burning World Records that’s available now for pre-order.

The link to that, more info, audio and the artwork — which I’m fairly sure is referencing a Leadbelly collection — follow here, courtesy of the label:

THE MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN Live at Roadburn 2013 free download. Pre-sale for vinyl + CD

Download The Midnight Ghost Train Live At Roadburn 2013 from Bandcamp below. As usual with the Roadburn releases this download is free (or more exact ‘pay what you want’). If you need more you can pre-order the album on vinyl (including a cd) and cd (in digipack with artwork). Pre-orders are up here.

The Midnight Ghost Train is a heavy blues / stoner rock band hailing from Topeka, Kansas. For five solid years The Midnight Ghost Train has been touring relentlessly in both the U.S.A and Europe, spreading their own version of thick Mississippi Delta-rooted style of stoner rock. The band is most well known for their intense, passionate, and soulful live show. No matter where they are or how many people they play to, you will never find TMGT giving anything less than their absolute best.

The Midnight Ghost Train, Live at Roadburn 2013 (2013)

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Wino Wednesday: Live at Roadburn 2009 in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on March 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The first thing you hear is that unmistakable wall of fuzz. I was fortunate enough to be standing on the balcony in the Green Room at the 013 in Tilburg when the Wino trio — Scott “Wino” Weinrich on vocals/guitar, Jon Blank on bass and Jean Paul Gaster on drums — played the set that’s captured on Live at Roadburn 2009, and though it’s a work that will probably always carry with it an element of tragedy — Blank would die of an overdose a few weeks after returning home to the States — there’s no denying the potency of the three-piece in this live setting. If anything, Live at Roadburn 2009 (review here) is only made sadder by how good it is and how much potential this partnership had, should it have been able to continue and flourish as its own unit.

Of course, Wino and Gaster (who was on loan from his main outfit, Clutch) were the headlining names, but to hear how well Blank stood up to both of these marquee players in filling out “Sunblood” — which originally appeared on The Hidden Hand‘s first full-length, Divine Propaganda, in 2003 — it’s obvious he was the right guy for the job. In addition to the setlist that spanned Weinrich‘s discography and included cuts from The Obsessed (“Neatz Brigade,” “Streetside” “Skybone” and “Streamline”), Spirit Caravan (“Lost Sun Dance”) and the aforementioned The Hidden Hand in addition to the Wino album, Punctuated Equilibrium, released on Southern Lord the same year they played in Tilburg, Live at Roadburn 2009 showed a nascent propensity to jam as Gaster and Blank took off in “Release Me/Wild Blue Yonder” that Weinrich would soon use as a founding principle in his subsequent four-piece, the shortlived Premonition 13.

Roadburn/Burning World Records, which released Live at Roadburn 2009 late in 2010, has the collection up for a pay-what-you-want download at their Bandcamp page, and to honor their generosity and celebrate this perhaps-baggage-laden-but-still-awesome live record, hosting the stream here for Wino Wednesday seemed like a no brainer. Hope you enjoy.

Happy Wino Wednesday:

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Conan to Release Mount Wrath Live at Roadburn CD/LP; Merch Update and Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I was there. I can say with certainty that you’re probably gonna want to pick this one up. Today in a newsletter sent down the PR wire, UK smashers of skulls Conan sent word of Mount Wrath, a live album recorded last year at Roadburn in the Netherlands. The release will arrive on CD and LP this March and April, respectively, via Burning World Records.

Conan also have an update on their merch (they’re one of few bands I know who sell out of t-shirts on preorders alone) with some limited designs and colors and a slew of tour dates for next month into March. They’ll be performing in April at Desertfest London as well.

And in case you didn’t get to see it or haven’t heard it yet, I’ve also included the stream of their Roadburn set below, so you don’t have to just take my word as regards its badassery.

Conan January Mailout: Announcing New Live at Roadburn album ‘Mount Wrath’ via Burning World Records. New Merch Designs & European Tour this February

First it give us great pleasure to introduce our next release entitled “Mount Wrath” released in multiple formats on the following dates via Burning World Records.

1st February 2013 Digital Release (on Bandcamp ‘pay what you want’ basis)
1st March 2013 CD Release
1st April 2013 LP Release

Roadburn 2012 saw us travel to Mainland Europe for the first time, ever. We would like to thank Jurgen, Walter and all of the Roadburn team for asking us to play – as well as of course the people who work on the festival in the 013.

Enjoy our performance, captured here in all its glory, we had a fucking blast playing for you all…… Until we meet again.

For my information on the release please click here.

New Shirts:

2012 also saw us release several shirts, some in limited numbers. In 2013 we have several new designs planned, but first we wanted to re-release some of out established designs. This will be setup a little differently. For all those that preorder the new designs this week there will be a multiple colour options of the Monnos, Sentinel and Horseback Battle Hammer designs. For all preorders please head over to http://conan.bigcartel.com/

Available colours: Black, Charcoal, Cardinal, Dark Chocolate, Forest Green, Ash Grey, Sports Grey, Red

In a few weeks the designs will all revert back to their original colours, white on black print apart from Horseback Battle Hammer which will be black on red

2013 will see us head out to Europe in February, Finland in March, UK in April and Denmark in May. For all venue information including maps please visit www.stereoposters.com/conan

Feel free to share and embed the posters with audio if you like.

All current dates:

February 8th Le Havre, France
February 9th Amsterdam, Netherlands
February 10th Paris, France
February 11th Club Dijon, France
February 12th Zurich, Switzerland
February 13th Dornbirn, Austria
February 14th Praha-B?evnov, Czech Republic
February 15th Pardubice, Czech Republic
February 16th Leipzig, Germany
February 17th Potsdam, Germany
February 18th Hamburg, Germany
February 20th Dresden, Germany
February 21th Brussels, Belgium
March 21st Turku, Finland
March 22nd Helsinki, Finland
March 23rd Oulu, Finland
May 4th Copenhagen, Denmark (Heavy Days In Doomtown)

Onwards Northmen
Jon – Paul – Phil

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Windhand Sign to Burning World Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Congrats to Virginian cult doomers Windhand (which boasts members of Cough and The Might Could in its ranks) on forging an alliance with Burning World Records for the 2013 release of their upcoming, yet-untitled sophomore LP. Last year, Windhand released their self-titled debut, which also came out on vinyl this past spring, and as they’ve spent pretty much every moment since building momentum and successfully spreading their gospel of eerie psychedelia, you can expect the second album will earn a solid response. One more to look forward to.

The Burning World Records website had this to say:

WINDHAND to release second album on Burning World Records in 2013

Burning World Records is proud to present another signing for the new year. Virginia based Windhand are joining ranks with Conan, Slomatics, Black Magician and Lustmord among others. Why we signed them? Just read some quotes below from reviews for their first album (listen to the album on Bandcamp below) and tell us what is not to like.

The album is scheduled for a June 2013 release so you’ll have to wait a while before it’s out but we heard through the grapevine there will be some other Windhand releases to keep you warm till the summer.

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UK Special — The Debate Rages: Conan vs. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

Posted in The Debate Rages on September 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster


It’s the battle for next-gen British doom supremacy!

In a way, the question of Conan vs. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats all comes down to how you like your doom. If you want it with some of the world’s heaviest tones bashing you over the head alternately with ferocious hooks and unmatched lumber, you’re going to go with Conan. If you want it rife with slicing malevolence, lurking murderously in classic buzzsaw fuzz, as demented and mysterious in its slasher ambience as it is catchy and memorable, then Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats are the clear choice.

Yes, I know these bands are about as different as you can get and still call it doom. The way I figure it, that’s half the fun.

Conan released one of 2012′s best albums with Monnos (review here) and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ 2011 outing Blood Lust received such a massive response (not that I knew it at the time) that Rise Above couldn’t help but sign the band. Both acts have new material in the works — Conan are writing and Uncle Acid will enter the studio, of course, on Halloween — but as they have both have crazy momentum going into their next releases, it seemed like a good time to see where people stood.

There are a lot of bands coming out of the UK, but I’m hard pressed to think of two acts who so clearly highlight the diversity in the country’s current scene and the quality of material put forth by British artists. So what’s your pick for the forerunner of the next generation of British doom?

If you need a refresher, have at it:

Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, “I’ll Cut You Down” from Blood Lust

Conan, “Grim Tormentor” from Monnos

As always, take your pick and leave a comment. Any other contenders are awesome too. Basically I just figured it would be fun to see how the support stacked up, so whatever you’ve got to say, it’s definitely welcome.

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UK Special — Stream Black Magician’s Nature is the Devil’s Church in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on September 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Maybe it’s the cultural remnants of the Second Pandemic, but there’s just something even more miserable about classic British doom. The five-piece Black Magician released their debut album, Nature is the Devil’s Church, on Sept. 3 through Shaman Recordings (LP) and Burning World Records (CD), and throughout the record’s five tracks, the band capture the eerie stillness of a rolling English countryside, the ancient malevolence of pagan Christianity, and a healthy doses of Cathedral and Celtic Frost, comporting with long-forgotten demons and tried and true tonal weight.

Vocalist Liam Yates isn’t shy about his Lee Dorrian influence, but as the spooky vibes of 15-minute closer “Chattox” show, there’s more to Black Magician than retreading old(e) ground. The organ work of Matt Ford goes a long way in setting the atmosphere alongside Kyle Nesbitt‘s guitar, and from the first notes of the intro “The Foolish Fire,” there’s a devilish sensibility that the band maintains throughout the entire album, drummer Jay Plested announcing the slow march of “Full Plain I See, the Devil Knows How to Row” with lumbering kick and far-back echoing snare. Nesbitt is quick with a slow lead, and bassist Paul Robertson‘s rumble helps make “Four Thieves Vinegar” a highlight before the acoustic/organ interlude, “Ghost Worship” takes hold. “Bring out your dead,” indeed.

I’ll make no secret of the fact that Shaman Recordings has been streaming Nature is the Devil’s Church at its Bandcamp page. All the same, I wanted to take the chance to highlight the album’s potent dreariness and resonant plod, and lucky enough to be granted permission to do just that.

You’ll find the album streaming in full on the player below. Please enjoy:

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Black Magician‘s debut, Nature is the Devil’s Church is available now on Shaman Recordings in a limited run of 300 red vinyl and Burning World Records on CD. More info is at the band’s Thee Facebooks page, the Shaman Recordings website or the Burning World Records webstore.

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Conan Interview with Jon Davis (Plus Curated Mixtape!): Threat Descending from Dead Skies

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on July 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

When I spoke to Jon Davis for the following interview, the Conan guitarist/vocalist was sitting on a rooftop on holiday with his family on the southeast coast of Spain. “Not far from Alicante,” as he put it. One imagines him, just weeks after Conan finished their first European tour, looking out over a Spanish landscape every bit the satisfied conqueror. Rightly so, as Conan — who followed performances at this year’s Roadburn and Damnation festivals with a slot opening for Sleep in Oslo — have done little else since the release of 2010′s Horseback Battle Hammer EP (review here) other than obliterate whatever lay in their path. If that happens to be the European continent this time, so be it.

Earlier this year, Conan issued Monnos (review here). What was ostensibly their first full-length — though I’d argue that at a little over half an hour, Horseback Battle Hammer had more than enough meat to it to be a complete album — the coming of Monnos was heralded by a split with Slomatics (review here), and when the album arrived, it did so via Roadburn/Burning World Records in Europe. The trio of Davis, drummer Paul O’Neil and bassist/backing vocalist Phil Coumbe returned to Foel Studios to work once again with producer/engineer Chris Fielding, and stripped their songwriting down to its essential parts even as they crafted their most expansive outing yet. For a “first album,” it was frighteningly cohesive, and it proved there was more to Conan than just the heaviest low end in the world.

This summer (July 31 to be exact), Gravedancer Records will release Monnos in the US, and it was to mark that occasion that I connected with Davis via Skype to discuss the development of the band, their conscious desire to keep true to their musical and epically-themed aesthetic, the show with Sleep, the overwhelmingly positive reception Conan has gotten from around the globe, the prospect of further touring, and finally, the relationship with his wife, Holly, that allows him to leave his young family every so often and embark on another quest to cleave skulls with volume. As has been my experience with every Skype interview I’ve done, the connection was rough — it cut out a couple times and then I ran out of credit and it was a big mess — but there’s enough here that you should more than be able to get a sense of where Davis and Conan are coming from.

To aid in that, I also asked Mr. Davis to curate a playlist to go with the interview, and much to my delight, he complied. On the player below, you’ll find that collection of classic metal and heavy rock — everything from Exodus covering AC/DC to Japanese sludge noisemakers Greenmachine, and a few surprises along the way. Given the era most of this stuff comes from, the word “mixtape” fits especially well.

Please enjoy:

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The complete 5,700-word Q&A with Jon Davis of Conan is after the jump, along with some photos from Roadburn. It might interrupt the player when you click through, so be prepared to resume. Thanks for reading.

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Conan, Monnos: This is How Heavy it Gets

Posted in Reviews on March 1st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Conan are comprised almost exclusively of sonic devastation. They exist as a kind of touchstone, a comparison point of tone-worship taken to a new extreme – you hear another band trying to be really, really heavy, and you ask yourself, “Well, okay, but is it as heavy as Conan?” The answer will nearly always be no. The British trio debuted with 2007’s Battle in the Swamp EP, but made their first seismic footprint with 2010’s four-track/32-minute Horseback Battle Hammer (review here); also slated as an EP, but with more than enough heft in the tones of guitarist Jon Davis and then-bassist John McNulty — since replaced by Phil Coumbe, who also contributes vocals alongside Davis‘ own — for a full-length album. Horseback Battle Hammer and an ensuing 2011 split with Slomatics (review here) inspired devotion enough to get Conan picked up by the prestigious Burning World Records, who now offer the band’s first official LP, Monnos. Recorded at Foel Studios by Chris Fielding (Electric Wizard, Moss, Serpent Venom, etc.), the record gloriously basks in being what you might expect if you’ve heard Conan’s output up to this point – a ceremony conducted in homage to distorted punishment and doomed riffing. Drummer Paul O’Neil cuts through a muck unmatched by any other to set a pace that varies mostly from plod to stomp, but Conan show on Monnos that they can balance weight and movement, particularly on the earlier part of the six-track offering, which opens with the relatively upbeat “Hawk as Weapon.”

The album is a vinyl-ready 39 minutes long, and easily split into sides (the second longer than the first) in the middle of the tracklisting. Unspeakable righteous begins almost immediately with a faded-up riff from Davis on “Hawk as Weapon,” which O’Neil soon gives thunderous ground with tom hits that feel no less imbued with low end than the guitar or bass and a crash groove that’s both surprisingly active and undeniably hooky, like if Torche decided to take the dive-bombs from “Tarpit Carnivore,” go deeper with them and blend it with their poppier side. Not to harp on the tone, but at any reasonable volume, it’s enough to vibrate my computer desk and would almost certainly test and/or conquer any other speakers I put it through. It would be enough to carry Monnos in itself – that is, you could listen to this album for nothing other than the gluttony of its rumble – but Conan actually have made several developmental moves and grown even in the time since Horseback Battle Hammer, flaunting atmosphere in the later tracks of Monnos and even effectively using lone screams toward the end of “Hawk as Weapon” where the earlier part of the song had dueling shouts from Davis and Coumbe. The more complex arrangement may not seem like much, but it’s something to supplement the instrumental bludgeoning Conan affect the rest of the time. As “Hawk as Weapon” feedback-bleeds directly into “Battle in the Swamp,” it’s Davis at the fore vocally on top of more open, simpler riffing – which makes sense given that the song is taken from the first EP.

Later into it, though, a sped-up ending movement features more prominent layered vocals and works well to evoke a sense of having beaten the song itself – during the opening verses, it seemed indomitable and the shouts were more buried. It’s almost a shock to hear Conan riff as fast as they do toward the song’s end, but perhaps bringing that side of the sound to Monnos was part of the reason they specifically brought in that track from the EP. Either way, it’s not at all out of place on side A of Monnos, which culminates the momentum built by the first two tracks with “Grim Tormentor.” Here, as with “Hawk as Weapon” and “Battle in the Swamp,” there’s no sacrifice of heaviness for the increase in pace or the clear development of the song structures. “Grim Tormentor” turns into the fastest cut on the record following a bass intro from Coumbe, with verse vocals that echo bordering on YOB’s spaciousness or maybe purposefully nodding toward it, and an infectious delivery of the title line that makes the song an immediate, first-listen standout among the other five tracks. The groove is huge, the tones likewise, but everything comes through clearly as well, and as “Golden Axe” begins its five-and-a-half-minute ambient sprawl, it seems that on their first record, Conan – who admittedly came into this record with considerable momentum from the reception of Horseback Battle Hammer and now find themselves being asked to open for Sleep in Norway following both bands’ performances at Roadburn 2012 – have managed to find a balance between clarity and depth of tone that so few bands manage to capture. They remain undeniably, and at times unbelievably, heavy, and the second half of Monnos proves even more doomed than the first.

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Conan to Enter Foel Studio Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 25th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Any update from Conan counts as news you can use… if you want to listen to something so heavy it opens a crack in the earth’s crust that swallows humanity whole. I was already stoked beyond compare to see the mega-bashers at Roadburn next year, but now it seems I’ve got a new record to look forward to as well. Add it to the 2012 list! More news and more destruction to come.

For now, though, here’s the latest:

Conan – the über-heavy doom titans – are sharpening their axes and preparing to head back to the studio. The formidable trio will enter Foel Studio, Mid-Wales next week to begin tracking for their second album, with producer Chris Fielding once again at the helm. The tracks will be released in spring 2012 via Burning World Records.

Conan vocalist Jon Davis had the following to say: “We’ve been writing these songs for a while now, and we are really happy with how they are sounding. We’re all looking forward to heading back to Foel, and working with Chris again — we are definitely in safe hands there. 2012 is shaping up nicely for us, and we can’t wait to get stuck in.”

The riff-heavy, monolithic beast that is Conan recently announced their debut mainland European show; playing the Voivod-curated event at Roadburn 2012 on Friday 13th April. Jon adds:  “We are honoured to have been asked to play Roadburn, of course. It is a high point in the festival calendar, and the lineup for 2012 is amazing — we’re so happy to be part of it.” Their mainland voyage will continue for a further week after Roadburn.

Details of these additional shows will be available in the coming weeks.

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Conan Sign to Burning World Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 8th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Congratulations to British heavyweights Conan on the announcement that came through yesterday that the band has signed to Burning World Records, which is home to, among other things, Roadburn‘s label imprint. A suitable home, for sure, and since Conan get down with some of the heaviest tones on the planet, it should make for a formidable partnership going into their next album.

Here’s the press release:

Caveman battle doom lords Conan and European purveyors of fine riffs Burning World Records mothership of Roadburn Records and home of musical heavyweights Gnaw Their Tongues, Lustmord and A Storm of Light — have joined forces for the release of Conan’s first full-length album.

This leaden slab of doom is due to be recorded towards the end of the year at the renowned Foel Studio, with producer Chris Fielding. The album is scheduled for early 2012. The release will follow on from the success of 2010’s devastating Horseback Battle Hammer (Throne Records / Aurora Borealis Records) and the current release, a grim black hole of tone in the form of a split with Northern Ireland’s Slomatics (Head of Crom Records). Conan slay all with a compelling mix of devastating drones and warhorse-gallop crust to drive home their brutal intention and wrestle victory from the jaws of chaos.

Europe’s heaviest battle-sloths may have found their finest ally in Burning World Records

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