High on Fire first released the track “Slave the Hive” as a limited, Scion A/V-sponsored 7″ and download to coincide with their fall tour. Today the band gives the song some visual accompaniment. It’s a classic metal video for sure, and the track is a ripper, so don’t miss out. High on Fire‘s tour with Kvelertak and Windhand is currently winding down on the West Coast, and I don’t know about you, but I’m anxiously awaiting any possible news of a follow-up to 2012′s raging De Vermis Mysteriis being in the works. Cross your fingers, and keep them that way for a year. Yeah, I know they’ll start to cramp up. It’s for a good cause.
Needless to say, it’s going to be a while before humanity recovers from this one:
High on Fire, “Slave the Hive” official video
HIGH ON FIRE Unleashes New Music Video “Slave the Hive”
California Metal Champions in the Midst of Massive North American Headlining Tour
Heavy metal powerhouse HIGH ON FIRE releases a music video for its brand new single “Slave the Hive” today. The song, available as limited edition 7-inch at every stop of the group’s current Scion A/V-sponsored headlining tour, marks the first new music from the California metal champions since the spring 2012 release of De Vermis Mysteriis.
HIGH ON FIRE’s North American headlining tour will run through December 12. Norwegian thrash-metal sextet Kvelertak opens all dates.
Scion AV presents: HIGH ON FIRE: Kvelertak support on all dates; Windhand – Nov. 29 to Dec. 12. December 4 Edmonton, AB Starlite Room December 5 Calgary, AB Republik December 7 Vancouver, BC Venue Vancouver December 8 Seattle, WA El Corazon December 9 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theater December 11 San Francisco, CA Regency Center Grand Ballroom December 12 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I had to look up how long it’s been since Mammatus last released an album. According to the Excel file in which I carefully log each new addition to my collection according to artist, title, year of release, label, method of acquisition (promo or retail, sometimes gift), format and label catalog number, The Coast Explodes, their second album, came out in 2007 on Holy Mountain (catalog number 8516, if you’re curious). As it was preceded in 2006 by Mammatus‘ self-titled debut, it’s all the more striking that it’s taken six years for the band’s third album to manifest. Nonetheless, the day has arrived, and Heady Mental has been released on LP via Spiritual Pajamas for public consumption.
Mammatus had some decent momentum in the works coming off the second record, but six years is a long time. Heady Mental brings three new, probably extended tracks, and can be ordered through Spiritual Pajamas here by anyone inclined.
Here’s more info on the LP:
Mammatus / Heady Mental
If you’ve seen mammatus clouds in person, you probably noticed the way those massive formations hang heavy like wilting and bulbous gray-blue sacs, bubbling from heaven towards us. Curiously, as monstrous as they look, these gentle giants are not portents of a storm; they cradle the sky, high above where they belong. How can something so heavy float?
If you’ve seen Mammatus the band in concert, you probably noticed how visual their sound is. Guitarist Nicholas Emmert sports a one-piece full-body flight-suit, bassist Chris Freels dons a space cape, and drummer Aaron Emmert steers the ship, staring straight ahead with flashing laser eyewear. The homespun wizard-cum-trippy-dad-at-a-campfire look that they’ve adopted softens the blow of the heavy aural trickery afoot.
Heady Mental is the perfect title for the third Mammatus album, for it rests heavily in the moldy caverns of heavy metal history, but doesn’t get too comfortable before revealing its true colors. This is music for flight, music for the sky, and music for the things that lie beyond. These men are searching for the source through sound. Repetitions of themes with variants spread over four separate songs that act as a whole. Heady Mental functions as a soundtrack to the Mammatus Brain: Heavy / Airy, Earth / Sky, Man / Creator, Complete and Grok’d.
For the obligatory band reference, one could start by imaging what The Fucking Champs’ IV would have sounded like if they had been more into the McLaughlin / Santana LP Love, Devotion, Surrender instead of Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind.
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-orderhere. 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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I guess what I find so interesting about this latest collaboration from SunnO))), which partners the American masters of drone with Norway’s post-black metal progenitors Ulver, is that I have no idea what it might sound like. Drones? Big riffs and moody vocals? Acoustic folk ballads? It’s wide open for different avenues of exploration on the part of both acts, which is likely why they decided to team up for the album, which will be called Terrestrials, in the first place.
Also interesting in that although SunnO))) have put out live records and even another collaboration with Nurse with Wound, it’s been more than four years at this point since their expansive 2009 outing, Monoliths and Dimensions(review here), was released. That album was hardly just Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, but still, they’re about due for a SunnO))) proper outing, so one wonders if maybe Terrestrials isn’t the only SunnO)))-related project in the works.
The PR wire’s mum on that but has plenty to say otherwise:
SUNN O))) & ULVER: Collaborative Work Entitled Terrestrials Due For February 2014 Release Via Southern Lord
SUNN O)))’s most recent studio album, 2009′s Monoliths and Dimensions, and ULVER’s 2013 album, Messe I.X-VI.X,found both evolving and longstanding groups venturing into the world of acoustic arrangement and contemporary orchestration. Besides arriving at this seeming parallel in vision, the pair’s long standing camaraderie was initiated during SUNN O)))’s 2003′s White1 sessions with the track “CutWOODED” which was produced by ULVER, in tribute to deceased film director Ed Wood.
ULVER’s decision to emerge from the shadows into live performance, in 2009, unveiled a new facet of showmanship and presentation which took their audiences to an unforeseen level. SUNN O)))’s presence has continuously been felt — whether in the prospect of their hundreds of legendary live concerts, the reissue of out-of-print albums in devotion to their loyal fanbase, or the recent unveiling of their new website — and the anticipation of something new was heightened beyond belief recently when the label posted online the words, “SUNN O))) & ULVER 2014″.
Yes. At long last they have come together for a more developed collaborative work.
Today, it comes with great pleasure to confirm that these words, SUNN O))) and ULVER, together, represent an astonishing yet somehow totally tenable matrimony of these two earthshakingly powerful forces, coming together like tectonic plates. The result of this union is a three-track recording entitled Terrestrials; a trio of movements which flow like magma beneath the Earth’s crust, sonically uninhibited, unpredictably cosmic, haunting and stirring, yet simultaneously ceremonious and beautiful.
Southern Lord shall release Terrestrials in February 2014. Over the course of the next month we shall be revealing the story of how this alliance and recording came to be, revealing the insight of the musicians involved, attempting to answer some of the burning questions which we have, for now, left hanging in the air.
Posted in Reviews on November 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s telling that the lyrics to two of the seven tracks on Old Man Wizard‘s Unfavorabledebut LP talk about telling stories. In both “If Only” and “The Bearded Fool,” there’s a drive toward narrative, and as the majority of the songs included on the California progressive trio’s self-released first outing are ultimately character studies — from “Highwayman,” to “Nightmare Rider,” “The Bearded Fool” and “Traveller’s Lament” — with guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Francis Charles Roberts assuming the various characters in first-person (“Nightmare Rider” is in third), Old Man Wizard seem like a band destined to write at some point in their tenure a full story arc concept album. They haven’t done that with Unfavorable, but they’re not far off, and Roberts, who doubles as Ruba Jouba in pirate metal outfit The Dread Crew of Oddwood, comes by his theatricality honestly. Fortunately for anyone who’d taken on listening to Unfavorable — and this isn’t always the case –Old Man Wizard have the accomplished songwriting and progressive theory behind what they’re doing to back up that theatrical sensibility. Both bassist Andre Beller and drummer Kris Calabio contribute vocals alongside Roberts, and Minni Jo Mazzola, who also adds flute to “Traveller’s Lament,” makes periodic singing appearances, so it is a vocal-heavy album, but it’s with the distinctive harmonies and creative arrangements that Unfavorablesets its mood and forms its cohesive layers of aesthetic. Front to back, the album winds up gorgeous, accomplished, varied and well beyond the common expectation of a fumbling debut from a band feeling their way into a songwriting methodology. Old Man Wizard — and Roberts as the principle architect of their output on this LP — seem to have a firm grasp on what they want the band to be and how they want to realize that vision. Drawing influences from traditional and progressive metal — clean vocal Opeth are a big influence in both the vocal style and overarching melancholy of a song like “If Only” — and playfully marrying them with garage and other heavy rocks, Old Man Wizard showcase marked potential and stylistic nuance that seems beyond their still-nascent tenure, having only come together in 2012.
Both the music and lyrics of “Highwayman” feed into a sense of motion, and Roberts immediately assumes charge of the album as its narrator. It’s an initial rush, a quick gallop to get lost in that finds a mirror later with the push of side B’s bass-heavy opener, “The Bearded Fool.” Also working in “Highwayman”‘s favor, however, is its hook, which comes paired with jumpy transitions and a smooth running verse, the backing vocals in the chorus foreshadowing a nod to Ennio Morricone that comes to the fore with cello from Beller and harmonica from Roberts at the culmination. Already, Old Man Wizard have proven their ability to cull cohesive results from unlikely combinations of influence, and Unfavorableonly gets more complex as the acoustic folk of “If Only” pulls off an easy sway and more Opethian harmonies. Electric guitar is gradually layered into the background, giving a sense of build to the song, but the peaceful, wistful air is maintained throughout, even as “If Only” comes as close to threatening as it gets with a volume swell at the 4:30 mark. Rather than take off into a heavier thrust, Old Man Wizard serve the song better by staying patient, knowing that everything has a place in the course of the album, and drop back to the sweet vocal melody and psychedelic folk acoustic guitar. If there’s a single arrangement on Unfavorablethat demonstrates the band’s prog mindset, it might be this one, but “If Only” still works best in the context of the release overall, leading into the shortest track, “Nightmare Rider” (3:23), on which lyrics arrive in jabs and the guitars and bass go headfirst into a grungier riffing that’s hammered out somewhat by the production but still the dirtiest-sounding thing they’ve played yet on the record. Of course, the atmosphere is maintained, and one gets a Danny Elfman-esque vibe filtered through proto-metallic crunch and classic thrash as the shouts at the start of each verse line calling to mind Metallica‘s “The Four Horsemen,” seemingly with intent.
Having recently relocated myself, I’ve been paying closer attention than I otherwise might (that is to say, “any”) to how people choose to decorate their homes, what’s on the walls, etc. I think an understated inclusion to any living room might be a heavy-as-hell NorCal five-piece. You know, to add a little bludgeon to the decor. It’s like feng shui, only crushing.
Though not for nothing, but that’s actually a pretty nice house that Chico, California’s Cold Blue Mountain are working so hard to raze to the ground in their new video for “Branch Davidian Compound.” It’s got a back yard, a French press for coffee, even an elliptical machine, not to mention the nifty ceiling fan that vocalist Brandon Squyres is in danger of getting his hair caught in as he headbangs. I’m sure whoever the owner is will be sorry to see it go, since I’m sure there’s no way the foundation could withstand Cold Blue Mountain‘s tonality and still hope to be up to code. You’re never gonna pass inspection after that big slowdown, no matter how much smoking tai chi you do in the yard.
I’m all for a video with a sense of humor, and obviously Cold Blue Mountain – Squyres, guitarists Will McGahan and Sesar Sanchez, bassist Adrian Hammons and drummer Daniel Taylor — have that working in their favor. “Branch Davidian Compound” was the opener and among the most striking impressions left by their 2012 self-titled (review here), which was released on Gogmagogical Records, and as a way to get acquainted with their specific brand of pummel — somewhere between post-metal brutality and the rawer-throatedness of sludge, but all dissatisfied with itself and probably blaming you for it — the clip makes a rousing introduction to the violence that ensued on the album.
“Branch Davidian Compound” was directed by Michelle Camy. Please enjoy:
Cold Blue Mountain, “Branch Davidian Compound” official video
If Man’s Ruin Records had never put anything else out, the 1997 Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age split would still make them legendary. The end of one era and the beginning of another. Of course, Man’s Ruin did put out a ton of other landmark albums from the likes of Acid King, Dozer, Alabama Thunderpussy and on and on, but to have the last Kyuss tracks and the first Queens of the Stone Age tracks on the same disc gives the split a momentous feel in hindsight. Josh Homme had put out the Gamma Ray 7″ in ’96, and Queens would go on to include the track “18 A.D.” on Roadrunner Records‘ Burn One Up: Music for Stoners compilation (discussed here) in 1998, but the three tracks on this split — “If Only Everything,” “Born to Hula” and “Spiders and Vinegaroons” — were the first to surface under the moniker.
And until John Garcia and Brant Bjork picked back up with Kyuss Lives! and continued into Vista Chino, the jamming cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Into the Void” and the two “Fatso Forgotso” tracks (both of which were included on 2000′s Muchas Gracias: The Best of Kyuss, the second under the title “Flip the Phase”) were the last of Kyuss‘ studio output. So yeah, something of a landmark. It was more the grooves of the thing itself than the historical aspect that made me want to round out the week with it, but I figured if the thing can be appreciated on multiple levels, that rarely hurts the actual listening experience.
Next week, look out for a new podcast, a review of that Clutch show and hopefully one for It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Olde Growth and company on Sunday night in Boston — I’m going to Connecticut during the day, but provided I get back in time will hit up the show — and then a look at the new Horisont and Sandrider albums, as well as more in the “10 Days of Stoner Hands of Doom XIII” coverage, including a video premiere provided it comes together as scheduled and some words about the new Druglord tape, which is duly fucked up-sounding. I also took a poll today on Thee Facebooks to name a new vinyl column, so On Wax will start next week too.
Much to come, in other words.
Hope you have a great and safe weekend. See you back here Monday and in the meantime, please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Reviews on October 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
If nothing else, Full On is well named. The second full-length offering from Southern California five-piece The Freeks, it’s an album that has a few different working modes and moves with ease between them, but whatever the band — led by guitarist/vocalist Ruben Romano (ex-Nebula/Fu Manchu drums) — does during any given stretch of the album, rest assured, they’re going all out. That’s as true of the acoustic summertime The Freeks harness in “Splitting Atoms” as it is of the get-off-your-ass-and-rage Mondo Generator-style adults-only punk of “Bitchin’” and several of the other tracks. Romano shares vocal duties with guitarist Jonathan Hall (Backbiter) and bassist Tom Davies (also a Nebula alum), and the band is completed by Esteban Chavez on keys and drummer Hari Hassin (formerly of Roadsaw). They’re an act with a decent amount of experience who sound like they know what they’re doing when it comes to writing heavy rock and roll. Full Onis for sure a West Coast album — one can hear desert-hue shades of grown-up Nebula-isms on songs like “The Secret Pathway” and “Fast and Black” — and even the rawest moments seem to be coming from that particularly Californian tradition of hardcore punk. But again, it’s a mature presentation. Not old, not tired, but conscious of the moves its making. One can get that sense even in the structure of the 10-track/34-minute Full On itself, and how songs are arranged not in clumps of rowdier and dreamier material, but in a way that keeps the listener moving from one atmosphere to another, all the while sandwiched between an intro and outro, titled “Before” and”After,” respectively, that underscore the purposefulness of what comes between them.
Tying the album together is a consistency of strong hooks and a tendency to, when they do delve into psychedelic territory, to do so in a manner that nods not at endless wandering jams, but at the roots of late-’60s pop. That’s maybe best exemplified by “Splitting Atoms,” but it shows up in side B’s “Vitamin D” as well, which is both the most singularly blissful inclusion on Full Onand also the longest at 7:50. Contrasted by the rushing catchiness of “On a Whim” and “Weirdness” and “Bitchin’,” these peaceful moments can feel somewhat short-lived amid classic heavy rock raucousness, but it’s worth noting that the shifts seem effortless on the part of The Freeks and that the album, wherever it goes, does well in bringing its audience with it. The ambient intro and outro cuts, both just a little over a minute long, make for a decent bookend and provide transition into and out of the stylized chicanery that follows or precedes, but it’s in the opener-proper “Big Black Chunk” and the subsequent “Weirdness” that Romano and company really set the tone for what The Freeks have to offer sonically, the former delighting in an uptempo Alice Cooper cabaret during its verses only to give way to an immediate groover of a riff to serve as a chorus. Chavez‘ keys and a slew of spaced-out effects meet with garage boogie, and it seems for a while that “Big Black Chunk” is going to have it all until the next two pieces unfold and each give an entirely different feel for what becomes the scope of Full On. The two sides of the album — they’ve done vinyl and CD — don’t mirror each other exactly, but there are similar elements being used for both, whether it’s the sleeze-you-out groove of “Fast and Black” or the freakout that seems built up one layer at a time on “Vitamin D.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m stoked I’ll get to see Blaak Heat Shujaa. I guess that’s what it really comes down to as regards the announcement below that the L.A.-based desert rock trio are hitting the East Coast for the first time. Yeah, it’s cool that they’re continuing to support The Edge of an Era (review here), their 2013 full-length debut on Tee Pee Records, and even cooler that they’re doing it in front of new audiences, but basically, they’re a band I’ve dug for a while now and I’m glad I’ll have the chance to watch them playing their songs live. I get jaded pretty easily, so it’s nice to just be stoked for a show every now and again.
I know some of these gigs are with Mirror Queen and that Queen Elephantine are playing the Rhode Island show, so if you in any of the areas where the tour is rolling through, make sure you check out who else is on the bill. The band sent the info for the tour down the PR wire, and I decided to toss in “Pelham Blue” from The Edge of an Era, just thankful to have an excuse to revisit Mario Lalli‘s guest spot.
We are happy to announce that heavy psychedelic trio Blaak Heat Shujaa (Los Angeles, CA) will play nine US East Coast shows this November.
After their triumphant return from a month long European tour that saw the band perform in 14 different countries alongside label-mates Spindrift, Blaak Heat Shujaa will set on their first US East Coast tour to further support their sophomore release, The Edge Of An Era (out on Tee Pee Records).
11/08 Glasslands, Brooklyn NY 11/09 Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia PA 11/10 The Pinch, Washington DC 11/11 Mojo Main, Newark DE 11/12 Brillobox, Pittsburgh PA 11/13 CFC, Montréal QC, Canada 11/14 JJ’s Tavern, Florence MA 11/15 AS220, Providence RI 11/16 Cake Shop, New York NY
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
Posted in Features on September 30th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Whatever your expectations might be for the new trio Sun and Sail Club — which is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Bob Balch (Fu Manchu), drummer Scott Reeder (also Fu Manchu) and bassist/recording engineer Scott Thomas Reeder (Kyuss/The Obsessed) — chances are the finished product of their debut album, Mannequin, will offer some level of surprise when it’s released early in November. The 31-minute first outing from the Balch-led outfit was constructed over a period of at least two years, as riffs began to pile up as a result of Balch taking inspiration from his work with PlayThisRiff.com, interviewing the likes of Death Angel and The Red Chord and beginning to reach beyond the sphere of what might even at their most expansive fit with Fu Manchu, whose riff-grooving aesthetic leaves room for periods of showing off their SoCal punk roots, but has essentially been set over the course of their 25-plus years.
And whether it’s the progressive ambience of “I’m Not Upside Down,” which is marked by Reeder‘s starts and stops on bass and atmospheric vocals, or on the more metallic “Whites of Your Eyes,” Mannequinimmediately demonstrates that it’s well justified sonically as being separate from Balch‘s main group. What began as experiments in guitar technique and a drive on Balch‘s part to explore his instrument even as he continued to teach others how to better their own playing and interview other players for PlayThisRiff leaves a much different impression, parts like the opening “Lagrimas de Dios,” centerpiece “La Muerte de un Planeta” and closing “La Risa de Satanas” honing on solo-jazz composition while the use of vocoder on all vocals save for Reeder‘s on “I’m Not Upside Down” lends an experimental air to the album overall, also serving as a major uniting factor for the otherwise richly diverse material, ranging from thrash to more intricate and precise heavy metal.
It had been Balch‘s intent to hire out vocals for Sun and Sail Club initially — he likens the original idea to what Dave Grohl did with Probot, sending it out to different singers — but after laying down the original vocoder ideas in the studio with Reeder, who was not yet in the band, which was just the duo of Balch and the drumming Reeder (I know it’s confusing; there are two Scott Reeders, one on drums, one on bass; imagine how they feel), the decision was made to keep the vocoder parts. After the guitar and drums were on tape at Reeder‘s The Sanctuary studio, Reeder asked Balch who was playing bass and wound up taking the job himself, chipping away at the material over a series of months and sending the finished tracks to Balch in a process that the guitarist says made every week “like Christmas.”
In the interview that follows — the first for the new project — Balch discusses that recording situation and how Sun and Sail Club came to be from the ether of unplaced riffs exchanged between himself and his drummer, the possibility of doing live shows, how Sun and Sail Club, Fu Manchu and PlayThisRiff all tie together for him, a potential vinyl release for Mannequinand much more. The album is expected in early November through Satin Records.
The complete Q&A with Balch follows the jump. Please enjoy:
Posted in Reviews on September 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
As bluesy, soulful and classically rocking as ever, Sasquatch return with their aptly-titled fourth album, IV, on Small Stone. Three years doesn’t seem like an especially long time for a band to take between outings — it’s roughly consistent for the Los Angeles trio with their 2004 self-titled debut, 2006′s IIand 2010′s III(review here) — but still, IVfeels like it’s been a while in arriving. Recorded earlier this year at Mad Oak (guitar and vocals) in Boston and Rustbelt in Detroit (drums and bass), one might expect the three-piece to sound fractured or cobbled together somehow, but though the nine-tracks of IVare professionally crisp, there’s nothing lacking in natural feel throughout, and Sasquatch‘s latest finds itself basking in the fullest fuzz since the first record. Taking the larger production sensibility that showed up their last time out after II‘s more stripped-down classic power trio feel and meshing it with gorgeous tonality from guitarist/vocalist Keith Gibbs, IVcalls to mind some of the best aspects of heavy rock — timelessness achieved by means of modernizing classic methods and structures, and updating heavy swing and swagger to sound not like a put-on, but like the inheritor of an expressive mode that’s dug underground to hide like mammals while the dinosaurs get taken out by an asteroid of bullshit — and proves over its vinyl-ready 43-plus minutes that Sasquatch deserve mention among the foremost of modern American practitioners of the form. Whether it’s the ultra-catchy opener “The Message” or more sonically spacious “Smoke Signal” or closer “Drawing Flies,” Gibbs, bassist Jason Casanova and drummer Rick Ferrante proffer exceptional songwriting, hitting all the marks along the way for gotta-groove fuzz rock supremacy while maintaining a stamp and personality of their own, characterized by Gibbs‘s belt-it-out vocals on “Sweet Lady” or the bevvy of solos he seems to just exude as Casanova and Ferrante maintain progressions behind, keeping the songs tight, purposeful and never overly indulgent. It’s beering music that makes little effort toward class but winds up there anyway, and while IIIoffered a host of memorable cuts, each piece on IVboth provides a standout and feeds into the larger, overarching flow.
There are moments particularly on side B where IVborders on too perfect — thinking of songs like “Wolves at My Door” and the shorter “Corner” — but, 12 minutes shorter than its predecessor, there’s no filler on Sasquatch‘s fourth, and even where their songwriting modus is most laid bare with a, “Let’s make this into a verse and chorus,” mentality, the quality of the material stands up to the familiarity of the intent. In addition, Gibbs has dialed back some of the Chris Cornell-style vocals that came out on IIIcuts like “Pull Me Under,” so that even in slower, more-open tempo stretches like that early into “Smoke Signal,” he sounds more like his own singer, giving IVall the more a sense of accomplishment. That song, “Smoke Signal,” is one of two included that top seven minutes long — the other is “Drawing Flies” — and both are used to close out their respective sides, underlining the classic album structure of IVoverall as a collection of high-quality individual pieces set to the best working order to bring out a dynamic feeling of movement between them. The earlier “Eye of the Storm” (5:12) reaches for some of the same ground, but ultimately finds itself distinguished more for the strength of its hook in following ultra-catchy opener “The Message” — simply one of the finest choruses the band has ever written — despite also slowing the tempo from that track. Built around motor riffing and straight-ahead uptempo groove, “The Message” arrives at its chorus to find Gibbs‘ double-tracked and singalong-ready with a cadence and lyrics that are simple enough to leave an immediate first impression that lasts through the rest of the album and of course the first of many stellar solos layered in atop rhythm tracks in a way that’s professional but not overdone, a long feedback outro adding to the edge en route to the guitar opening of “Eye of the Storm,” which has a more melodic riff and makes itself felt with a wash of crash from Ferrante and glorious bed of low end from Casanova. Vocal harmonies distinguish the chorus further, leading to second-half stomp that recalls some of the last album’s more weighted stretches, an Ozzy reference tossed in (“…the white horse it’s symbolic of course”) tossed in for good measure in a deceptively intense ending. Seems surprising they don’t go back to the original chorus at the end, but that’s likely the point.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Good news continues to roll out from the High on Fire camp in the form of additional tour dates with Kvelertak, Doomriders, Windhand and Pack of Wolves. Each of the latter three are opening in rotation as per the details below, while Kvelertak will play all the shows, but as you can see, shows were added with all of them. Funny how things work out.
Fresh off the PR wire:
The previously announced Scion A/V presented High On Fire tour, which sees the California power trio joined by Norwegian hard rock crew Kvelertak, has added an additional twelve dates to the incendiary extravaganza with newly announced stops in Boston, Toronto, Chicago and San Francisco amongst others.
As part of the Scion A/V-sponsored tour, High on Fire will release a new single titled “Slave The Hive” on Oct. 16, marking the first new music from the Oakland-based metal champions since the Spring 2012 release of De Vermis Mysteriis. A limited edition 7-inch will be available at all tour dates with a video for the song to be released simultaneously.
Norwegian thrash-metal sextet Kvelertak, who have had one of 2013’s buzziest hard rock releases with the Kurt Ballou (Converge) produced album Meir, will open all dates. Doomriders (Nov. 10 to 23), Pack of Wolves (Nov. 25 – 27) and Windhand (Nov. 29 to Dec. 12) will be featured as the evening opener on different legs of the tour.
A Twitter (Twitter.com/ScionAV) sweepstakes will be ongoing throughout the tour, with two pairs being given away per show.
Scion A/V Presents High On Fire New dates are italicized
November 10 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade November 11 Asheville, NC Orange Peel November 12 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel November 13 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts November 15 New York, NY Webster Hall November 16 Boston, MA The Middle East November 17 Montreal, QC Corona Theatre November 18 Toronto, ON Opera House November 19 Detroit, MI Crofoot Ballroom November 20 Columbus, OH A&R Music Bar November 22 Chicago, IL Metro November 23 Sauget, IL Pop’s November 25 Houston, TX House of Blues November 26 Dallas, TX Tree’s November 27 Austin, TX Mohawk Outside November 29 Lawrence, KS Granada Theatre November 30 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue December 2 Winnipeg, MB West End Cultural Centre December 4 Edmonton, MB Starlite Room December 5 Calgary, AB Republik December 7 Vancouver, BC Venue Vancouver December 8 Seattle, WA El Corazon December 9 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre December 11 San Francisco, CA Regency Center Grand Ballroom December 12 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
Kvelertak support on all dates; Evening openers rotate: Doomriders – Nov. 10 to 23, Pack of Wolves – Nov. 27 and Windhand – Nov. 29 to Dec. 12.
Tickets for the newly announced dates are on-sale on Sept. 13 with Chicago on-sale on Sept. 14. Tickets for the previously released dates are currently on-sale.
High On Fire recently released the first official live recordings of their career with the two volume set Spitting Fire Live, which has been hailed as “high-volume intensity” by the Austin Chronicle, “hot as the infernos” by Pitchfork and a “documentation of the band’s undiminished ferocity onstage” by the SF Weekly. Recorded over a two evening NYC headlining stint at both NYC’s Bowery Ballroom and Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg last winter, Spitting Fire Liveshowcases High On Fire at its incendiary best, containing songs from each of the band’s critically acclaimed studio albums including last year’s celebrated De Vermis Mysteriis.
Either next week — or more likely the week after, with the pace I’m working at these days — I’m going to do a full review of IV, the voluminous and aptly-titled fourth album from L.A. power trio Sasquatch, so I guess I’ll save whatever deep analysis I might make about it for that, but suffice it to say that if you were looking forward to this one, you were right. It’s the songs. Sasquatch toss of rock classics like they were empty bottles — downed another one, on to the next — and IV is silly with them, and also pushes the duly heralded outfit into new sonic territory with the psychedelic sprawl of “Smoke Signal” (more a suggestion to begin than a linguistic communication; though maybe it winds up the same), which features a guest appearance by Marc Gaffney of cross-country labelmates Gozu.
So not only is it Sasquatch doing what they do best, but also taking steps forward with their sound. I’ve been through it a couple times, but I’m looking forward to getting to know it better for a review. Not sure when the CD is due, but a stream/download in the meantime isn’t exactly a hardship, my general disdain for non-physical media notwithstanding. And by that I mean I can’t stand it.
There were two or three other posts I wanted to get up today, but I just ran out of day to do it. I ran into town (which, yes, is what I now call driving to Boston; it’s friggin’ awesome to not have to take 70 minutes to get to an urban center) in the afternoon and then had to play catchup with work for what’s now my only job. Yup, got completely shitcanned from the other job at NECA this week; won’t even be getting the it-was-a-quarter-of-my-former-salary freelance rate. One email and poof. I worked there longer than both my supervisors. Put together. It doesn’t matter.
I’m here with The Patient Mrs. and the little dog Dio, we had a good dinner, watched the ball game, had a good night. All told, the week ended on an up. Job shit, work drama. I don’t want any part of it. I’ve got only the vaguest of prospects and everyone I’ve hit up for potential writing work has blown me off. The other day I was looking up $10 an hour night security work for the fucking Pinkertons — hey, it’s a job — but it doesn’t matter. That will all get sorted. I’m going to keep plugging away, keep doing my best, try to laugh, remember to smile.
I didn’t get out this week to that Nightstick show — to either of them — and that was a bummer. Sunday though I’m going to do an in-studio with Darryl Shepard as he records the new Blackwolfgoat, so expect pics and a writeup on that on Monday, and next week I’ll also have reviews of Windhand and maybe the new Monster Magnet. I’ve got an interview with Red Fang in the can that I’d like to get posted as well, but maybe closer to the album release. Depends on time, basically.
Until then, I’m looking forward to the weekend, to a bit of running around tomorrow morning and chores followed by a quiet evening. Saturday stuff. Maybe I’ll take a nap.
Whatever you’ve got going, I hope you have a great and safe couple days. I might post some stuff tomorrow, but if I do or don’t I’ll see you back here Monday either way as well. All the best from me and mine to you and yours.
Posted in Reviews on September 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Two factors work in the immediate favor of The Blood of Others, the self-released debut full-length from Los Angeles doom rockers Witches of God: Craft and performance. Technically speaking, there really isn’t much more you need once you’ve got knowing what you want to do and doing it. Witches of God come into the eight-track, analog-recorded, 45-minute vinyl outing with a firm grasp on aesthetic, a collection of songs that work in a variety of moods and an underlying structure of tracks that maximizes the overall flow between them. Even before you press play or lower the arm on your turntable, The Blood of Othersshowcases its accomplishment by beginning with “Devils II” and “Devils III” while saving “Devils” itself for side B, as the opening duo make for catchier, stronger material and it’s glaringly obvious that Witches of God knew that and had the presence of mind and editorial sensibility to separate a trio of cuts that on countless other records probably would’ve been stuck all together at the end. That’s craft. The actual songwriting, which makes “Devils II” and cuts like “The Blood of Others,” “Higher than the Heavens” — which is a tribute to Denis “Piggy” D’Amour of Voivod featuring It’s Casual‘s Eddie Solis on vocals — so memorable, is only bolstered by the performance of the band throughout, which ties into a vaguely cultish aesthetic somewhat similar in its energy and vibe (if not actual sonics) to Venomous Maximus out of Texas and demonstrates a range of moods ably, running from the attitude drenched Motörheadery of “First Love” and ’80s metal swagger of “Devils” itself to the subdued closing comedown of “Chasing Coffins,” also featuring Solis on vocals.
Solis and fellow guest Scott “Wino” Weinrich – who donates vocals to the penultimate “The Horror” — are the only two names given by the group apart from co-producer Samur Khouja and Tom Neely, who handled the artwork for the gatefold LP. The actual players are anonymous for the time being, with the songwriting credited to the band as a whole with Weinrich given cowritten-by status on the track on which he appears. Given the commitment made to such a stylized presentation, I get why the band would want to remain anonymous, but with the drama especially vocally that comes through as the songs play out, I’m not sure they’d lose anything by taking credit for work well done. Still, no names. Witches of God, the singular entity, stand as responsible for one count of viciously hookish songwriting, and while I don’t think they actual go out and drink people’s blood at night (nor does the vast majority of people who sing about it) or whathaveyou, they sure sound like they’re having a good time playing songs about it. And if some of the thematics throughout will ring familiar — witches, blood, the devil, horror, and so on — it’s a boon to Witches of God‘s approach that they come out on the other end of “Chasing Coffins” sounding more more redundant than intended. In the case of “Higher than the Heavens,” for example, that’s basically the idea — it’s a complete sonic tribute to Voivod and works in the progressive elements so often imitated from that band, including (and this I’d argue is the most skillful turn) that particular just-past-the-beat timing that has you immersed in the chorus before you even recognize the change. That song, the album’s shortest at 3:51, is a far cry stylistically from the ultra-catchy scum riffing of opener “Devils II.” There, Witches of God show they are pretty clearly aware of the malevolent shuffle Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats incorporated into “I’ll Cut You Down” at the start of their 2011 outing, Blood Lust, but they pair the darkened boogie and cowbell righteousness with a Cathedral-style sense of playing the host, an open arm leading the way for the listener directly to an unmistakable and well-telegraphed chorus.