Posted in Whathaveyou on January 19th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
San Diego heavy rock forerunners Radio Moscow have inked a deal to release their next album on Century Media Records. The trio will enter the studio soon to record the follow-up to 2014’s Magical Dirt (review here) with an eye toward a summer 2017 release. Given that everything Radio Moscow have put out to-date going back to their 2007 self-titled debut has come out via Alive Naturalsound, I’ll say this one hits as something of a surprise, and I feel like I haven’t even had enough time to process if it’s a bigger get for the label or for the band. Both maybe? I don’t know.
Either way, Radio Moscow definitely mark Century Media‘s biggest foray into heavy rock to-date in the current swing — lest we forget Fu Manchu were a Century Media band for a minute there — and as they were already one of the hardest-working — and, frankly, one of the best — live acts I’ve ever seen, I don’t anticipate this new label deal will slow their momentum any. Can it really be anything other than a win to push them further into headliner status? Not on any level I can think of.
Just off the PR wire:
RADIO MOSCOW Signs Worldwide Deal with Century Media Records
Southern Californian rock trio RADIO MOSCOW and CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS are proud to announce a worldwide partnership to release the band’s upcoming albums. RADIO MOSCOW already started songwriting and will enter the studio soon to release their fifth full length album in late summer 2017.
Guitarist and vocalist Parker Griggs comments: “Radio Moscow couldn’t be more stoked to be joining the Century Media family! When we met these guys we spent hours nerding out on obscure classics from our favorite era of Rock ‘n’ Roll (1965-1974)…. so we feel right at home! Excited to keep writing and working on the next Radio Moscow release on Century Media. Looking forward to 2017 with a new label and album! Peace n Love!”
Jens Prueter, Head of A&R at Century Media Europe adds: “A beautiful summer night at a club in the middle of Germany, some beers, a nice chat about weird 60s stuff and an amazing sweaty show: that’s a good start for a long time partnership. I’m very happy to welcome this highly talented band that is taking the roots to the roof!” Trends come and go, but the idea of a bunch of guys getting together in a garage and playing the kind of music that makes the neighbors call the cops – that’s forever. And it’s that idea that’s crystallized in the form of Radio Moscow who took their name from an obscure 60s garage punk novelty single. The power trio led by the Stratocaster genius Parker Griggs have found THE formula: Crunching, heavy Sabbath-style chords topped with fiery solos that earn the right to be called Hendrixian. Radio Moscow plants their flag firmly in the territory where psychedelic rock and cranked-up blues meet. The sound is unabashedly retro (think Cream, Blue Cheer, Led Zep or Jimi Hendrix Experience), so it’s easy to see how it caught the ear of the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who produced Radio Moscow’s 2007 self-titled debut.
With “Brain Cycles”, their second album, Radio Moscow proves that they’re not a cheap time machine but a direct descendant from the golden age of Rock ‘n’ Roll. In 2011, Griggs continued his psychedelic trip with “The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz” followed by “Magical Dirt” in 2014. Parker Griggs (vocals, guitar), Anthony Meier (bass) and Paul Marrone (drums) hit the road hard in the U.S. and in Europe, touring with the likes of Graveyard, Witchcraft, Joe Bonamassa and Pentagram, followed by an appearance on the legendary German television program Rockpalast.
Coming off of what seems like endless touring proceeding and following the recording of the double-live gatefold “Live! In California”, Radio Moscow is ready to hit the studio again. “Live!…” was recorded absolutely live with no overdubs of any kind; New York Music Daily called it the Best Heavy Psych LP of 2016, proclaiming “there’s nothing that’s been released in 2016 that can touch this.”
The band toured the U.S., Europe, South America, and Australia around the release of the live document, landing at such festivals as Desert Daze (US), the Void Fest (Ger), Electric Funeral (US), Burg Herzberg Fest (Ger), and the Orbital Festival in Santiago, Chile, to name a few.
The live album wrapped up the first chapter of the band’s career, playing highlights from their first four studio albums. As Rolling Stone’s Dave DiMartino cited, “I would be lying if I did not say I have been completely taken with this…The band actively evokes all that was great about hard-rock trios, but does it with such gleeful abandon you’ve got to admire both their spirit and whatever time capsule they rode in on. Great fun.” The story continues with a new chapter in 2017. Discography: Radio Moscow (2007) Brain Cycles (2009) The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz (2011) 3 & 3 Quarters (2012), early demos recorded in 2003 by Parker Griggs Rancho Tehama EP (2013) Magical Dirt (2014) Live! In California (2016)
RADIO MOSCOW line-up: Parker Griggs (vocals, guitar) Anthony Meier (bass) Paul Marrone (drums)
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 19th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’ve known for a while now that Californian heavy psych/punk rockers The Freeks would be heading abroad to support their 2016 album, Shattered (review here), and with the release out through Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds, it’s even more reasonable to have that label’s booking wing presenting the shows. All makes a lot of sense, I guess is the point, including the significant stretch of the tour that takes place in Italy before hitting Switzerland, France, Austria and Germany, starting Feb. 28 in Rome and going from there. Looks like an awesome run, and no doubt The Freeks will kill it along the way.
They go in the company of Netherlands-based Komatsu, who released their debut full-length, Recipe for Murder One (review here), on Argonauta, and between some of the expanse The Freeks offer and the at times intense tonal weight brought forth by Komatsu, they should make for a fitting and complementary lineup. I won’t get to see the shows, of course, but I’ll look forward at least to the customary tour-end picture of both bands in front of a van or empty stage celebrating the end of a successful time together.
Heavy Psych Sounds announced it like this:
THE FREEKS + Komatsu European Dates Announced!
Heavy Psych Sounds Booking is proud to announce the EU dates for the Californian 70’s fuzzsters The Freeks! The band is just out with their last record “Shattered.” Supporting the entire tour, the heavy rockers from Netherlands, Komatsu!
The Freeks feature Ruben Romano former drummer of Fu Manchu and Nebula as well as Tom Davies, bass player of Nebula.
The Freeks & Komatsu live: 28.02.2017 IT Roma-Traffic 01.03.2017 IT Torino-Café Liber 02.03.2017 IT Erba-Centrale Rock 03.03.2017 IT Bologna-Freak Out 04.03.2017 IT Fidenza-Arci Taun 05.03.2017 IT Castel D’Ario-Hostaria 06.03.2017 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando 07.03.2017 IT Trieste-Tetris 08.03.2017 IT Savignano-Sidro 09.03.2017 CH Basel-Hirschneck 10.03.2017 FR Ensisheim-Woodstock Guitar Shop 11.03.2017 CH Luzern-Bruch Bros 12.03.2017 AT Feldkirch-Graf Hugo 13.03.2017 Looking for a show! 14.03.2017 AT Leipzig-Zoro 15.03.2017 DE Halle-Huhnermanhattan 16.03.2017 DE Berlin 17.03.2017 DE Dresden-Sabotage 18.03.2017 DE Erfurt-Tiko 19.03.2017 DE Munster-Rare Guitar Shop
This Friday, Jan. 20, Los Angeles heavy rockers Aboleth oversee the release of their EP I (discussed here) on CD. Offered last summer digitally and on cassette, the three-track collection introduced a somewhat different direction for the touring rhythm section of psych-jammers The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, with baguitarist Collyn McCoy and drummer/engineer Dan Joeright joining forces behind powerhouse vocalist Brigitte Roka to elicit classic vibes and a fervent, grooving drive. Clarity of sound and clarity of intent were likewise prevalent, and between the three of them and Matt Lynch of Snail, who mixed and mastered, they left little doubt as to the direction they were headed.
As to that? Less heavy rock and roll in the Californian desert style and more foundational hard rock. That is, rock that doesn’t need to be so aesthetically loyal to one end or the other. Rock that wouldn’t be out of place either in a skate video or in some raucous tv scene. Rock that might, just might, have an appeal beyond the already converted. These probably shouldn’t feel like brave steps for a band to take, even on their first outing, but Aboleth — as much as their name sounds like they should be playing black metal in a forest somewhere — come across as especially bold throughout EP I, which only serves to complement their songwriting and overarching energetic feel.
Roka and McCoy would seem to have parted ways with Joeright, and have been playing shows with the formidable backing of Sasquatch‘s Rick Ferrante. Neither Joeright nor Ferrante appear in the video for “No Good,” directed by Dugan Nasche, so it seems to be up in the air as to who will take that spot permanently, but the clip has plenty of attitude and plenty of hanging out in the desert to work from, and there’s just about nothing more I’d ask of it than that.
And yeah, I know I just went on about how Aboleth don’t necessarily sound like a desert rock band and now I’m posting a video of them actually performing in the desert. You’ll just have to take my word for it when I say they could just as easily have gone any number of places. But I guess when the desert’s nearby, you go to the desert. Fair enough.
Full credits and more info follow the video below. Please enjoy:
Aboleth, “No Good” official video
Aboleth release video for “No Good” from self-titled EP (available on CD Friday, January 20th, 2017)
Los Angeles desert doom band ABOLETH released its first official video for the song “No Good” from their debut EP.
Video was shot on location in Reefer City, CA (yes, it’s a real place, Google it) by infamous cult/occult filmmaker director Dugan Nasche (aka Dugan Na$H). Director of Photography was Mariana Fiel, First AD was Duffey Westlake.
The lo-fi, 70s-exploitation-style video focuses on the antics of vocalist Brigitte Roka and baguitarist Collyn McCoy (Trash Titan, Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Otep) in a high-desert post apocalyptic landscape.
Said director Dugan Na$H: “I hadn’t done a music video in a few years. I’d been living as a recluse in my desert compound, working with found footage, tape loops. stop-motion animation pornography… anything but music videos, really. So I was skeptical at first. But when I met with Brigitte and Collyn, they had an energy that I wanted to capture. Also, they brought me weed and ammo. I don’t get out much so that was appreciated.”
“The video doesn’t have a concept per se. But the subtext is there. I see them as part of desert witch cult, like a post-apocalyptic Manson family, piecing together what they can of the pop culture flotsam from a bygone era to form something new.”
Aboleth vocalist/resident visual artist Brigitte Roka had this to say: “Working with Dugan was interesting. On the first day of shooting I asked him about one of the shots we filmed and he said he envisioned it that way because it would please his favorite desert demon, the Goat of Lust, as he often referred to it. Never look that guy straight in the eye unless you want to hear a 45-minute long explanation about who the Goat of Lust is. I learned the hard way.”
Aboleth’s debut EP, which was previously available only as a limited-edition cassette, will be available on CD on January 20th, 2017.
Aboleth’s McCoy said of the re-release: “Timing it to coincide with Donald Trump’s inauguration is no accident. The CD edition of the EP contains Satanic back-masking — basically a black magical spell to combat the negative energies generated by Trump presidency. In order for it to work, though, the record has to be cranked loud and often.”
It’s short at about two and a half minutes, but with their new video, San Francisco-based trio Hornss seem to stake a direct claim on their desert heritage. The clip for the low-end-centric groover cut “Manzanita” was put together by guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha, and it finds its summary moment at the very end of the track, when we see bassist/vocalist Nick Nava standing in front of an impossibly open landscape, holding his Rickenbacker aloft, possibly in an offering, possibly as his means of conquer. Hard to know which, but in the brief span of the video, which features a swath of manipulated footage of the three-piece of Moracha, Nava and drummer Bil Bowman hanging out in what one assumes is the Palm Springs area, Hornss engage a desert vibe in a manner fitting for the song itself, which takes its name from the manzanita plant that grows there.
Hornss released their second album, Telepath (review here), last year via STB Records and Ripple Music. The answer back to 2014’s No Blood No Sympathy (review here), it furthered the sometimes-raw-and-punkish/sometimes-rolling-and-nodding spirit of the first outing while keeping to an overarching thrust that was without pretense and full in its sound, despite coming across as organic to a live experience. Shit was heavy, in other words. What it wasn’t, necessarily, was desert rock in the way one commonly thinks of languid fuzz or post-Kyuss riffery. Nonetheless, as Moracha and Nava both trace their roots back to the desert band Solarfeast — they’re also featured in the Lo Sound Desert documentary (review here); Bowman‘s path to Hornss seems to have been more roundabout — they don’t by any means owe some explanation for why they’re there (could’ve been seeing family for all I know) or why they’d still consider that area an important element in what they do, despite currently being based in the Bay Area.
That duality — the push and pull of home — I think is something to which I think anyone who’s moved from one area to another can probably relate. We could have a whole conversation about what it means to be “from a place,” but probably better to just let Hornss explain their side of things with the video itself. Their argument is admirably concise where, rest assured, my own would not be.
This coming Saturday, Jan. 21, Hornss play Bender’s Bar and Grill in San Francisco with Fatso Jetson and BigPig. More info on that show is available at the Thee Facebooks event page listed under the video itself, which you’ll find below.
Hornss, “Manzanita” official video
HORNSS have gained a worldwide reputation among the stoner rock and doom scene, taking the stage with fellow heavy hitters such as Ufomammut, YOB, Windhand, Bang, Black Cobra, Fatso Jetson, Lord Dying, Naam and Elder. They also co-headlined a successful 2014 European tour with Vancouver’s Black Wizard.
Telepath is the follow-up to the band’s acclaimed debut album, No Blood, No Sympathy, released in 2013 on Riding Easy Records. Recorded by Tim Green (Saviours, Melvins, KARP, Comets on Fire, Hot Lunch), the guys recorded this one directly to analog tape at Green’s Louder Studios in Grass Valley, CA.
[John Garcia releases The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues via Napalm Records on Jan. 27. Please enjoy a lyric video premiere for ‘Give Me 250ml’ by clicking play above.]
It’s hard to say exactly how long John Garcia‘s acoustic album has been in the works. Granted, if we’re talking about this release, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues, which teams the singer whose voice inarguably most typifies California’s desert rock movement with guitarist Ehren Groban (War Drum), bassist Mike Pygmie (Mondo Generator, You Know Who) and percussionist Greg Saenz (The Dwarves, You Know Who), it’s a more recent affair, following up on Garcia‘s fully-plugged 2014 self-titled solo debut (review here). But the notion of a Garcia acoustic record goes much further back.
In 1998, after the demise of his former band Kyuss and as the late ’90s stoner rock movement he helped inspire was taking shape — which Garcia would further solidify on the West Coast in Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano and by contributing to other groups and projects in the early ’00s — he provided the closing track on MeteorCity‘s first release, the Welcome to MeteorCity compilation (discussed here) under the guise of J.M.J., with the song “To Believe.” Just to do some quick math for emphasis, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues arrives 19 years later and finds Garcia an entirely different presence, having long since cemented his legacy in the aforementioned acts and pushed ahead through further work with Hermano, the Garcia Plays Kyuss/Vista Chino semi-reunion of Kyuss, who released their lone album to-date, Peace (review here), in 2013, and his ensuing solo outfit. His vocal approach, guttural at times in the true sense of coming from the gut, but able to be sweetly melodic in its croon, has influenced a generation of heavy rock singers while remaining inimitable.
This nine-track/39-minute offering finds him at the top of his game and seemingly delivering as much for his fans as for himself. It brings together the new material in opener “Kylie,” “Give Me 250ml,” “The Hollingsworth Session,” “Argleben II” — an apparent sequel to “Argleben” from Garcia‘s self-titled — and instrumental closer “Court Order” with Kyuss classics “Green Machine,” “Space Cadet,” “Gardenia” and “El Rodeo,” which of course are reworked to suit the acoustic context. Garcia is right to keep the scale weighted on the side of newer songs, and not that they needed to, but the Kyuss cuts earn their place as well owing to the fact that Garcia played them on his acoustic European tour. In any case, one doubts he’ll get many complaints. On The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues, they appear in the order in which I just listed them, with “Green Machine” following “Kylie” at the start of the record and introducing the listener to the notion that, while familiar at their root, the arrangements are fair game when it comes to the older stuff; the signature riff of “Green Machine” becomes a sentimental intertwining of string plucks and Garcia‘s verse vocals — practically shouts on the original — are a subdued croon that well earn the late flourish of keyboard after the last chorus.
The pair “Give Me 250ml” and “The Hollingsworth Session” follow, with the former providing a considerable groove for Garcia to ride as he will — a forceful strum and some backing vocals layered in that make it easy to imagine a full-on heavy version. It’s the shortest track here at 2:58, but leaves an upbeat impression that carries into “The Hollingsworth Session,” which stands as the most complex of the pieces making their first appearance here in its back and forth trades of “loud” and “quiet” — all things relative, right? — and proffers a hook that stands up to the triple-shot block of Kyuss songs that immediately follow. Its layered chorus, prominent bass and energetic start-stop groove lead to a winding guitar solo finale that fits well as a lead-in for the album’s well-deserved centerpiece, “Space Cadet.”
Of all the Kyuss one might include on an acoustic outing, “Space Cadet” probably makes the most sense, since the quiet track from 1994’s mega-crucial Welcome to Sky Valley (and yes, before you get all internet-clever, I know it’s officially a self-titled) was practically unplugged to start with, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It just needs less rearranging as compared to the more driving “Green Machine,” or “Gardenia,” which follows. What seems to be a far-back inclusion of organ or keyboard adds to the forward guitar strum, but it’s Garcia himself carrying “Space Cadet,” which is as it should be, and he makes it a highlight. But for the lyrics, “Gardenia” is hardly recognizable for the hypnotic picking of strings, punctuating percussion and quiet, meditative spirit it’s given. “Hear a purring motor and she’s a-burnin’ fuel/Push it over baby/Makin’ love to you” never sounded more romantic.
Just before two and a half minutes in, the vibe picks up a bit with some slide guitar added to the song’s more bouncing end progression, but like “Green Machine” before it, “Gardenia” gets a considerable reworking for The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues, while “El Rodeo,” which begins with a foreboding moment of piano before its guitar introduction, seems to allow itself to be a little more fun. Strings or key-strings back the verse, which Garcia doles out in full-force despite the lack of distortion behind him, letting loose in a cadence that brings together the layered lines of the original in an effective, stage-style presentation. Percussion from Saenz backs the section of instrumental pauses in the second half, and the repetitions of the title bring “El Rodeo” to a vibrant finish, leading to the more atmospheric “Argleben II,” which brings piano to the fore alongside the guitar and seems to pull together and swell with each run through its chorus, making for a quick five-minute stretch. It ends on a fade, leading to the closing meditation of “Court Order,” which may or may not actually be included as a result of one.
Somewhat surprising for Garcia — who’s known entirely for his vocals — to cap his first acoustic solo LP with a quick three-minute instrumental, but it may well be that desert rock’s greatest frontman is sending a message of branching out and letting his audience know they should do likewise in terms of what they might expect from him. Given that, as noted, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues has been nearly two decades in the making in one form or another, one hesitates to think of what a follow-up might bring, but one thing to note is that with a catalog as vast as his has been, if he’s looking to blend new material and old on records like this, there is a wealth of songs ripe for reinterpretation. Thinking of tracks like Slo Burn‘s “Muezli,” “Hermano‘s “Brother Bjork” or Unida‘s “Slaylina,” or even Vista Chino‘s “Adara,” there would seem to be little reason a conversation between Garcia and his fans in this manner couldn’t be ongoing. There are numerous contingencies to consider there, including the Slo Burn reunion happening this year — will that result in a studio album? — and persistent rumors of a new Hermano record, which would be their first in a decade, so one can’t necessarily guess where Garcia might be headed following this release. But that’s part of what makes it enjoyable as a moment finally captured, and the realization of The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues should be considered a landmark in one of heavy rock’s most pivotal careers.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 12th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
Desert rock trio Avon made their debut early in 2016 with Mad Marco, a full-length collection distinct in its still-inimitable Californian style. The band is distinguished by its lineup, which features drummer Alfredo Hernandez, of Yawning Man, Kyuss, Che, and Queens of the Stone Age fame, as well as Charles Pasarell of Waxy and James Childs of Vic du Monte’s Persona non Grata and Airbus. As such, it’s little surprise ultimately they’d have their head screwed on right when it comes to knowing what they want to sound like, and as tracks like “Yvone the Avon Lady” and “Bloodlike Rain” — both of which you can sample below as part of the full-album stream — demonstrate, they’ve got a sphere that extends beyond sandy origins to a wider psychedelia.
I’ll admit the album got by me last year when it was issued by Spira Records — trying to run down a CD copy as we speak, actually — but the three-piece have a new single coming in April on respected German purveyor H42 Records and that’s well worth looking forward to.
A quick announcement came down the PR wire:
New 7″ from AVON released in April 17
We from H42 Records are so Happy to announce to release Avon’s new 7″ in April.
Avon is: Alfredo Hernández (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Yawning Man) James Childs (Airbus, Little Villains) Charles Pasarell (WAXY)
AVON play heavy rock and are from California USA. The music is psychedelic, raw, melodic and has something to say. Their musical bond comes from years of playing in their respective bands often together in California’s desert cities, Los Angeles and on many European tours. Each member brings with them influence and experience to form a unique and driven sound. So if you like heavy desert rock, then you have come to the right place. After their 2016 debut ‘Mad Marco’ they will be back with new tunes soon.
Posted in Radio on January 9th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been a long time. Long enough that I’m not even going to link back to the last time I did a round of Radio Adds. Life happens, and with the Quarterly Review, I guess my focus went elsewhere. Well, I just did a Quarterly Review, and that actually kind of inspired this, since I found there was yet more records that wanted covering even after that over-full round of 60 that closed out 2016 and opened 2017. So here we are.
There are, in fact, more than 50 albums being added to The Obelisk Radio playlist today. I can’t promise I’ll do Radio Adds weekly like I once did, or monthly, or again in 2017, or ever, but the opportunity presented itself and it seemed only right to take advantage. This stuff all came out last year, so it’s all readily available, and audio samples are included, because, you know, music and such.
Let’s dig in:
Lord Mountain, Lord Mountain
Of all the styles under the vast umbrella of “heavy,” traditional doom is among the hardest to execute – especially, I’d think, for new bands. You need a balance of atmosphere and lack of pretense, a classic vibe, riffs, and groove. On the surface, you’re playing to the past, but if you put out something that just sounds like Sabbath and bring nothing of yourself to it, you’re sunk. Santa Rosa, California’s Lord Mountain – vocalist/guitarist Jesse Swanson, guitarist Sean Serrano, bassist Dave Reed and drummer Pat Moore – would seem to have it figured out on their self-titled debut EP. Released by King Volume Records on limited tape, it brings forth four tracks in 21 minutes that are no less comfortable playing to the downer riffing of Candlemass – opener “Fenrir” – than to the epic chanting of Viking-era Bathory – “Under the Mountain” – and that find distinction for themselves in nodding to one side or the other as they make their way across the bass-y Sabbathism of “Dying World” and into the concluding solo-topped gallop of “Tomb of the Eagle” (more Dio-era there, but effectively translated tonally). As an initial offering, its presence is more stately than raw, and part of that is aesthetic, so I still think Lord Mountain will have growth to undertake, but their EP shows marked potential and brings a fresh personality to doom’s rigid traditionalism, and there’s nothing more one could reasonably ask of it. A CD would probably be too much to ask, but it’s hard to believe no one’s snagged it for a 10” release yet.
Behold the winding, self-directed narrative of underrated, underutilized and underappreciated New York heavy rockers The Giraffes, who issued Usury via Silver Sleeve Records in Jan. 2016, on the cusp of their 20th anniversary and with it welcomed back frontman Aaron Lazar (also a one-time contributor to The Book of Knots, speaking of underrated) to the fold alongside guitarist Damien Paris, drummer Andrew Totolos and bassist Josh Taggart. Comprised of just six songs with a 28-minute runtime, it nonetheless holds to a full-album sentiment, with songs like the tense “Washing Machine” working in a vein not dissimilar to their righteous 2008 offering, Prime Motivator (review here), while the preceding “Facebook Rant” and “Product Placement Song” bask in a social commentary that one can only hope the ensuing decades make dated and the subsequent “White Jacket” has a melancholy danceability that one might’ve related around the time of The Giraffes’ 2005 self-titled debut related to System of a Down, but now just sounds like an enrichment of their approach overall. Usury gets off to a slow start (not a complaint, given the groove) with “Blood Will Run,” which seems to shake off its dust initially before commencing its real push and chug circa the halfway point, but by the time they get down to eight-minute finale “How it Happened to Me,” the sudden conclusion of the jam leaves one to wonder where they went and when they’ll be back, which presumably is the whole idea. Behold a band who did it before it was cool, should’ve been huge, and still kept going. The story is more complicated than that, but there are few tales more admirable.
The first Saint Vitus live album – Live – surfaced in 1990 via Hellhound Records and captured the band in Germany in 1989. Its 2005 reissue on Southern Lord played a large role in introducing the pivotal doomers to a new generation of fans. Live Vol. 2 follows some 26 years later via Season of Mist and likewise documents a crucial era in the four-piece’s existence, having been recorded in 2013 in Luxembourg following the release of their 2012 album, Lillie: F-65 (review here), with the lineup of vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez. It’s a 59-minute set, all told – one suspects some of Chandler’s stage rants between songs were shortened or removed – and among the most striking impressions it makes is how seamlessly Lillie: F-65 cuts “Let Them Fall,” “The Bleeding Ground” and “The Waste of Time” fit in alongside classics like the speedy “War is Our Destiny” and “Look Behind You” or the more grueling “Patra (Petra)” and galloping “White Stallions.” Of course, the anthemic “Born too Late” closes out, with Chandler’s wash of feedback and all-low-end tone at the start the ultimate hallmark of what Saint Vitus have always been – a middle finger to square culture unlike any other. This era of the band may be over, with original vocalist Scott Reagers stepping back into the frontman role, but as one continues to hope for another studio album, Live Vol. 2 proves more than a stopgap and takes an active role in adding to the band’s legendary catalog.
After two successful full-lengths in 2010’s Skygrounds and 2012’s Slow Rivers, next-gen Swedish heavy rockers Långfinger join forces with Small Stone Records for their 10-song/46-minute third album, the crisply-executed Crossyears. Like their countrymen labelmates in Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, the Gothenburg three-piece bring modern edge and production to what a few years ago might’ve been purely retro ‘70s boogie rock, as tracks like “Fox Confessor,” “Say Jupiter,” the more languid “Atlas” and “Caesar’s Blues” bask in a showcase of tight, natural performance with a clean production style that still highlights same, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Victor Crusner, guitarist/backing vocalist Kalle Lilja and drummer/backing vocalist Jesper Pihl proving the maturity of their songwriting while still delivering the push of “Silver Blaze” and closer “Window in the Sky” with a sense of energy behind them. Their approach so solidified, Långfinger don’t seem to leave much to chance in their sound, but Crossyears engages heavy rock tradition effectively while bridging a gap of decades across its run, and that, frankly, seems like enough for any one record to take on.
Soggy’s self-titled LP, released in this edition by Outer Battery Records (see also Arctic, Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket), is a reissue of a 2008 collection of tracks from a span of years that find the blown-out French punkers paying direct homage to The Stooges with a cover of the seminal “I Wanna be Your Dog,” immediately drawing a line to what seems to have been the band’s most prominent influence. Some 35-plus years after they were initially put to tape, Soggy’s tracks continue to feel dangerous and raw in their frenetic proto-punkery, and that would seem to be exactly what the Soggy LP is looking to convey, digging into the vast trove of lost artifacts in heavy and punk rock and finding a treasure ripe for hindsight appreciation. As much as it just makes me want to put on the self-titled Stooges record or Fun House, I can’t argue with the success of Soggy’s Soggy or not admire its mission, even if some of its blows land harder than others.
Posted in Reviews on January 2nd, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
Now having spanned multiple years since starting way back in 2016, this Quarterly Review ends today with writeups 51-60 of the total 60. I’ve said I don’t know how many times that I could go longer, but the fact of the matter is it would hit a point where it stopped being a pleasant experience on my end and I’d rather keep things fun as much as possible rather than just try to cram in every single release that ever came my way. Make sense? It might or it might not. I can’t really decide either. From the bottom of my heart though, as I stare down the final batch of records for this edition of the Quarterly Review, I thank you for reading. Let’s dive in.
Quarterly Review #51-60:
Crippled Black Phoenix, Bronze
Nine albums and just about 10 years on from their 2007 debut, A Love of Shared Disasters, the UK’s Crippled Black Phoenix arrive on Season of Mist with the full-length Bronze and remain as complex, moody and sonically resolute as ever. If we’re lucky, they’ll be the band that teaches a generation of heavy tone purveyors how to express emotion in songwriting without giving up the impact of their material, but the truth is that “Champions of Disturbance (Pt. 1 & 2),” “Deviant Burials,” “Scared and Alone” and take-your-pick-from-the-others are about so much more depth than even the blend of “heavy and moody” conveys. To wit, the spacious post-rock gaze of “Goodbye Then” gives a glimpse of what Radiohead might’ve turned into had they managed to keep their collective head out of their collective ass, and the penultimate “Winning a Losing Battle” pushes through initial melancholia into gurgling, obtuse-but-hypnotic drone before making a miraculous return in its finish – then closer “We are the Darkeners” gets heavy. Multi-instrumentalist, founder and chief songwriter Justin Greaves is nothing shy of a visionary, and Bronze is the latest manifestation of that vision. One doubts it will be the last.
Nothing shy about Trouble in Eden, the third full-length from San Jose heavy rockers Zed and second for Ripple Music. From its hey-look-guys-it’s-a-naked-chick cover to the raw vocal push from Pete Sattari –which delves into more melodic fare early on “The Only True Thing” and in rolling closer “The Mountain,” but keeps mostly to gruff grown-up-punker delivery throughout – the 10-tracker makes its bones in cuts like “Blood of the Fallen” and the resonant hook of “Save You from Yourself,” which are straightforward in intent, brash in execution and which thrive on a purported “rock the way it should be” mentality. Well, I don’t know how rock should be, but Zed – Sattari, guitarist Greg Lopez, bassist Mark Aceves and drummer Rich Harris – play to classic structures and seem to bring innate groove with them wherever they go on the album, be it the one-two punch of “High Indeed” and “So Low” or the Clutch-style bounce in the first half of “Today Not Tomorrow,” which leaves one of Trouble in Eden’s most memorable impressions both as a song and as a summary of their apparent general point of view.
Limited to just 200 copies on We Empty Rooms and Gotta Groove Records, the Collective Fictions split 180g LP between Melbourne noise duo Dead and Mark Deutrom (Bellringer, Clown Alley, ex-Melvins) is a genuine vinyl-only release. No digital version. That in itself gives it something of a brazen experimentalism, never mind the fact that one can barely tell where one track ends and the next track starts. Purposeful obscurity? Maybe. It’s reportedly one of a series of four LPs Dead are working on for the next year-plus, and they present two cuts in “Masonry” and “In the Car,” moving through percussion and mid-range drone to build a tense jazz on the former as drummer Jem and bassist Jace make room for the keys and noise of BJ Morriszonkle, which continue to play a prominent role in “In the Car” as well, which is also the only inclusion on Collective Fictions to feature vocals, shortly before it rumbles and long-fades snare hits to close out Dead’s side of the LP, leaving Deutrom – working here completely solo – thoroughly dared to get as weird as he’d like. An opportunity of which he takes full advantage. Over the course of four tracks, he unfurls instrumentalist drone of various stripes, from the nighttime soundscaping of “The Gargoyle Protocol,” which seems to answer the percussive beginning of Dead, through the spacier reverb loneliness of “Presence of an Absence,” like a most pastoral, less obtuse Earth, dreamy but sad in a way that denotes self-awareness on the part of the title, or at very least effective evocation thereof. Likewise, “Bring the Fatted Calf,” with its gong hits, Master Musicians of Bukkake-style jingling and minimalist volume swells, is duly ritualistic, which makes one wonder what the prog-style keys at the open of “View from the Threshold” are looking at. Deutrom moves through that side-closer patiently but fluidly and ends at a drone, tying up Collective Fictions as something of a curio in intent and execution. By that I mean what seems to have brought the two parties together was a “Hey, wanna get weird?” impulse, but each act makes their own level and then works on it, so hell yes, by all means, get weird.
Any record that starts with a narration beginning, “In the not too distant future…” is going to find favor with my MST3K-loving heart. So begins The Apocalypse Trilogies: Spacewolf and Other Dark Tales, the cumbersomely-named but nonetheless engaging Salt of the Earth Records debut full-length from Toronto’s Ol’ Time Moonshine, whose 2013 The Demon Haunted World EP (review here) also found favor. The burl-coated outing is presented across three chapters, each beginning with its own narration and comprising three subsequent tracks – trilogies – tying into its theme as represented in the cover art by vocalist/guitarist Bill Kole, joined in the band by guitarist Chris Coleiro, bassist John Kendrick and drummer Brett Savory. They shift into some more complex fare on the instrumental “Lady of Light” before the final chapter, but at its core The Apocalypse Trilogies remains a (very) heavy rock album with an undercurrent of metal, and whatever else Ol’ Time Moonshine bring to it in plotline, they hold fast to songwriting as the most crucial element of their approach.
Italian four-piece Ufosonic Generator (also stylized as one word: UfosonicGenerator) make themselves at home straddling the line between doom and classic boogie rock on what seems to be their debut album, the eight-track The Evil Smoke Possession, released through Minotauro Records. Marked out by the soaring and adaptable vocals of Gojira – yup – the band offer proto-metal shuffle on shorter early cuts “A Sinful Portrait” and the rolling nod of “At Witches’ Bell,” but it’s the longer pairing of “Meridian Daemon” (7:47) and “Silver Bell Meadows” (6:53) on which one finds their brew at highest potency, sending an evil eye Cathedral’s way without forgetting the Sabbathian riffery that started it all or the Iron Maiden-gallop it inspired. They cap with the suitable lumber of their title-track and pick up toward the finish as if to underscore the dueling vibes with which they’ve been working all along. Ultimately, the meld isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but it does pay homage fluidly across The Evil Smoke Possession’s span, and as a debut, it sets Ufosonic Generator forward with a solid foundation on which to progress.
Issued digitally in late-2015 and subsequently snagged for a 2016 vinyl issue through Krauted Mind, Nocturnes is the debut full-length from Dublin five-piece Mother Mooch, and in its eight tracks, they set their footing in a genre-spanning aesthetic, pulling from slow-motion grunge, weighted heavy rock, psychedelic flourish and even a bit of punk on the shorter, upbeat “My Song 21” and “L.H.O.O.Q.” Those two tracks prove crucial departures in breaking up the proceedings and speak well of a penchant on the part of vocalist Chloë Ní Dhúada, guitarists Sid Daly (also backing vocals) and Farl, bassist Barry Hayden and drummer Danni Nolan toward sonic diversity. They bring a similar sensibility to the closing Lead Belly cover “Out on the Western Plain” as well, whereas cuts like opener “This Tempest,” “Into the Water” and “Misery Hill” work effectively to find a middle ground between the stylistic range at play. That impulse, seemingly innate to their songraft, is what will allow them to continue to develop their personality as a band and is not to be understated in how pivotal it is to this first LP.
To my knowledge, this only-70-pressed five-song tape release is the second self-titled EP from off-kilter North Carolina heavy rockers The Asound following a three-songer back in 2011 (review here). Offered by Tsuguri Records, the new The Asound starts with its longest track (immediate points) in the 6:54 “Moss Man” and touches on earliest, most righteous High on Fire-style brash, but holds to its own notions about what that that blend of groove and gallop should do. Through splits with Flat Tires (review here), Magma Rise (review here), Lenoir Swingers Club (review here) and Mark Deutrom (review here), the trio of Guitarist/vocalist Chad Wyrick, bassist Jon Cox and drummer Michael Crump have always had an element of the unpredictable to their sound, and that’s true as centerpiece “Human for Human” revives the thrust of the opener coming off “Controller”’s less marauding rhythm, but the sludgy rollout and later airy lead-work of “Pseudo Vain” and chugging nod of closer “Throne of Compulsion” speaks to the consciousness at play beneath the unhinged vibes that’s been there all along. They’ve sounded ready for a while to make a full-length debut. They still sound that way.
Immediate bonus points to Richmond, Virginia’s Book of Wyrms for titling a track on their full-length debut “Infinite Walrus,” but with the Garrett Morris-recorded tones they proffer with the seven-song/53-minute Sci-Fi/Fantasy (on Twin Earth Records), they don’t really need bonus points. The five-piece of vocalist Sarah Moore Lindsey, six-stringers Kyle Lewis and Ben Coudriet, bassist Jay Lindsey and drummer Chris DeHaven mostly avoid the sounding-like-Windhand trap through stretches of upbeat tempo, theremin and other noise flourish, and harmonies on guitar, but they’re never far from an undercurrent of doom, as opener “Leatherwing Bat” establishes and the long ambient midsection and subsequent nod of centerpiece “Nightbong” is only too happy to reinforce. “All Hallows Eve” gets a little cliché with its samples, but the dueling leads on 11-minute closer “Sourwolf” and included keyboard noise ensure proper distinction and mark Book of Wyrms as having come into their first long-player with a definite plan of action, which finds them doing well as a showcase of potential and plenty immersive in the here and now.
Despite the sort of cross-cultural ritualism of its cover art, Oxblood Forge’s self-titled debut EP has only the firmest of ideas where it’s coming from. The Whitman, Massachusetts-based five-piece boasts former Ichabod vocalist Ken MacKay as well as bassist Greg Dellaria from that band, and guitarist Robb Lioy (also in Four Speed Fury with MacKay) alongside guitarist Josh Howard and drummer Chris Capen, and in a coherent, vigilantly straightforward five-tracker they touch on aggressive fare in “Lashed to the Mast” as their Northeastern regionalism would warrant – we’re all very angry here; it’s the weather – and demonstrate a knack for hooks in “Inferno” and “Sister Midnight,” the latter blending screams and almost Torche-style melodies over clam chowder riffing before closer “Storm of Crows” opens foreboding with Dellaria’s bass and moves into the short release’s nastiest fare, MacKay sticking to harsher vocals as on the earlier “Night Crawler,” but in a darker instrumental context. They set a range here, and might be feeling things out in terms of working together as this band, but given the personnel involved and their prior familiarity with each other, it’s hard to imagine that if a follow-up is in the offing it’ll be all that long before it arrives. Consider notice served.
Ukrainian trio The Heavy Crawls set out as a duo called just The Crawls and released a self-titled debut in 2013 that was picked up in 2015 by ultra-respected German imprint Nasoni Records. Under the new moniker, they get another stab at a first album with the 10-track/42-minute classic rocker The Heavy Crawls, the three-piece of founding guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Max Tovstyi, drummer Inessa Joger and keyboardist/vocalist/percussionist Iryna Malyshevska evoking spirited boogie and comfortable groove on “She Said I Had to Wait” and the handclap-stomping “Girl from America.” Elements of garage rock show up on “Too Much Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the soul-swinging “I Had to Get Away,” but The Heavy Crawls are more interested in establishing a flow than being showy or brash, and the payoff for that comes in eight-minute closer “Burns Me from Inside,” which stretches out the jamming sensibility that earlier pieces like the organ-laced “One of a Kind” and the staccato “Friday, 13th” seem to be driving toward. Some growing to undertake, but the pop aspect in The Heavy Crawls’ songcraft provides intrigue, and their (second) debut shows a righteous commitment to form without losing its identity to it.