Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
San Diego three-piece Heavy Glow have been on tour for the better part of a week now, supporting their new album, Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine. That is, of course, unless you count their previous tour, which ended just three days before this one began. How that even splits up tours, I have no idea. Pretty much, when it’s all over, Heavy Glow will have been on the road for a stretch running from September into mid-November. The current run ends Nov. 14. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point they announced a tour starting Nov. 17 and going into December.
Here are the remaining dates and some whathaveyou off the PR wire:
HEAVY GLOW Announces North American Headlining Tour
San Diego Rock Trio Heading Out to the Highway in Support of Celebrated New LP
Electric San Diego rock band HEAVY GLOW has announced a North American headlining tour in support of its new LP Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine. Set to kick off on September 18 in Fort Worth, Texas, the 18 city jaunt will showcase the trio’s unhinged explosiveness, which blends post-millennial blues-rock and haunting, Mowtown-esque hard soul, calling for comparison to The Dead Weather, The Black Keys, Afghan Whigs and Cream.
Led by guitarist / vocalist Jared Mullins, HEAVY GLOW has been called “a bluesy slice of Free-meets-Grand Funk” and “an impressive Hendrix / ZZ Top hybrid that pays homage to other blues masters (Clapton, Cray) and modern-day fuzz tone titans.” Recorded with producers Michael Patterson (Nine Inch Nails, Puscifer) and Nic Jodoin (Spindrift, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine has been hailed as “blistering” and has yielded the crunching cuts “Headhunter” and “Look What You’re Doing to Me”; the latter track’s music video starring actress Mayra Leal of the Robert Rodriguez film “Machete.”
HEAVY GLOW on tour: Oct. 20 Underbelly Jacksonville, FL Oct. 24 Pegasus Lounge Tampa FL Oct. 30 The Hi-Tone Memphis, TN Oct. 31 Daisy Duke’s Nashville, TN Nov. 1 Hangar Bar, Greenville, TX Nov. 6 Tiki Bar Shreveport, LA Nov. 7 Dan Electro’s Houston, TX Nov. 10 Plush, St. Louis, MO Nov. 13 Silver Dollar, Texarkana, AR Nov. 14 Vino’s Brewpub Little Rock, AR
In terms of the sheer “fuck yeah!” factor, Acid King‘s Busse Woods is one of the best stoner rock records ever made. A monster of classic riffage, it was the San Francisco trio’s 1999 sophomore outing after 1995′ Zoroaster debut, recorded by Billy Anderson and released by Man’s Ruin Records. Small Stone rightly stepped in and did a reissue in 2004 prior to releasing the band’s third album, III, in 2005, and with cuts like “Carve the Five,” “Electric Machine,” “Silent Circle,” “Drive Fast, Take Chances” and their eerie take on “39 Lashes” from Jesus Chris Superstar, it remains a paragon of all that is riff-led and virtuous and heavy, rife with timeless nod, warm tone and a dropped-out-of-life atmosphere. My biggest surprise in closing out the week with it is that I haven’t already done so.
To mark the 10th anniversary of the album — now over five years ago — I did an interview with guitarist/vocalist Lori S. in which she talked about the Cook County, Illinois, preserve from which the full-length takes its name and its relation to her own growing up:
Thinking back at Busse Woods or Ned Brown Forest Preserve, it’s hard to believe we weren’t all in prison or dead. This place was where bored suburban teenagers hung out ’cause that’s what we did! Most of my memories are hanging out with my high school pal John Cesak. He was the big drug dealer back in the day and we would go there pull in open the trunk, crank Black Sabbath and sell nickel bags! It was like a flea market for drugs, lids, purple microdot, black beauties HELL YEAH! Hanging out, smoking and playin’ Frisbee. Total Dazed and Confused.
Acid King are set to release a new LP in 2015 through Svart. Also recorded by Billy Anderson, it’ll be their first since III and to say it’s one of my most anticipated releases for next year would probably be short-selling the nerditude with which I’m looking forward to hearing their new songs, some of which they’ve been playing live now for a while. Still, whatever they may have in store, Busse Woods remains an unfuckwithable monument to Sabbath-worship that only gets richer with age.
I hope you enjoy.
No lie, part of my motivation in picking Acid King to end the week was because of the righteous manner in which the San Francisco Giants dispatched the Cardinals to advance to the World Series, but Busse Woods is an album I go back to pretty regularly. Plus, I’m cutting out a little early this afternoon, and as Lori explains above, it’s a great one for slacking off. The Patient Mrs. and I have some friends coming from out of town tonight, and tomorrow is Clamfight, Wizard Eye, Faces of Bayon and Wizard Eye in Worcester, so it should be a pretty full weekend. One which, it would seem, I’m eager to get started.
On Monday, I’ll have a review of that show, and Tuesday a writeup for the new John Wilkes Booth record — and if the timing works out, I’ll have that Lowrider interview up sometime in there too — but Tuesday night, I’m headed out to meet up with the Kings Destroy guys. Their tour with Radio Moscow, Bang and Pentagram begins on Thursday in Chicago, and I’ll be along for the entirety of the trip once again. Very much looking forward to getting back out with those guys and seeing places I’ve never seen before, starting with Chicago, as it happens, which to date I’ve only driven through en route elsewhere.
Like this past Spring, I’ll have my camera and my laptop along for the trip, and writeups on the shows and the travel over the next week-plus as we make our way through the 10 shows in the Midwest and the East Coast. More to come.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend and that if you checked out the podcast that just went up, you enjoy that as well. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
A Day of the Dead-concurrent companion for earlier this year’s Psycho de Mayo fest, Santa Ana, California’s Day of the Shred has assembled an unfuckwithable lineup of East and West Coast acts — go ahead and picture Ancestors and Elder on the same show, or Red Fang and Weedeater headlining with Hot Lunch and All Them Witches jamming out prior — for an all-dayer that promises hearses, skating and volume in good measure. Oh yeah, and Bongripper‘s gonna be there. Fucking hell it’s a solid bill. I don’t know what time they’re getting started on Nov. 1 but there are enough acts included to fill two stages and then some, so if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in that part of the world come the Dias de los Muertos, Day of the Shred seems like one to mark on the calendar. Assuming there are still tickets available by the time the day actually arrives.
All the more staggering is that Radio Moscow will be flying out West from being on tour with Pentagram, Bang and Kings Destroy (the latter of whom I’ll be accompanying on the road) and then coming back east afterwards. No stopping the boogie, it would seem.
Dig the lineup and info for the fest below, courtesy of the PR wire:
From the creators of Psycho De Mayo…THIEF brings to life the first annual DAY OF THE SHRED – an all-day music festival celebrating megalithic riffs, skateboarding, and the souls of the departed. Join us this Dia De Los Muertos as we gather the living and raise the dead.
The forces behind Thief are preparing a bountiful sacrifice for the extinguished souls at this year’s inaugural DAY OF THE SHRED. Paying tribute to the fallen, Earthquaker Devices has teamed up with Thief and Arik Roper to birth an exclusive festival edition fuzz pedal, entitled; “The Grim Reefer.” The cool ghouls over at KR3W are hosting an open air skate jam and giving concert goers the opportunity to shred the dead on their mini ramp. Screen printed textiles both wearable and collectible will be available on November 1st, including a 9-color design by David D’Andrea and additional prints by UK legend, Godmachine. Vintage hearses will consume the blacktop of the Observatory and vagabond moto maidens: Babes Ride Out will also be in attendance morphing into the “Babes Of The Shred.” Thrasher Magazine will serve as the festivals official media partner, while Midnite Collective completes the festival’s ouroboros with a panorama of genres and audiences. On November 1st, these leaders in ceremony will unite to gather the living and raise the dead.
The Observatory in Santa Ana 3503 S. Harbor Blvd Santa Ana, CA
Red Fang Weedeater Windhand Elder Bongripper ASG Radio Moscow The Shrine Danava Graves At Sea Glitter Wizard Ancestors Hot Lunch Arctic Goya All Them Witches (16) Trapped Within Burning Machinery Greenbeard
Posted in audiObelisk on October 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Short of slicing a piece of tree trunk and putting that on your turntable, vinyl is widely regarded as about as natural-sounding as you can get. We’ve seen a lot of analog worship over the last several years as a result, fed into by a movement of ’70s-minded retroists, and while Slow Season definitely have some of those elements at play, what’s more striking about their RidingEasy Records debut and second album overall, Mountains (review here), is the spaciousness of the recording. Particularly as the record was put together without digital means, without hand-picking their reverb from a thousands-long list of plugins, the breadth of their mix lives up to the aspiration of the LP’s title — something large, immobile, and seemingly removed from time.
I said when I reviewed Mountains that Slow Season possess a strong current of Led Zeppelin fetishism, and that’s true of the track “Endless Mountain” as much as the bulk of the rest of the album. You can hear it in the echoing harmonica and in Cody Tarbell‘s stomping, swinging approach to the drums, which lead the march alongside Hayden Doyel‘s bass and the guitars of David Kent and Daniel Rice, the latter of whom is also responsible for the vocals, somewhere between a rawer take on Graveyard and of course the early, riff-riding work of Robert Plant. As a demonstration of the movement and bounce that Slow Season enact over the course of Mountains, “Endless Mountain” is a prime example, the band easing into a swaggering shuffle that starts and stops in the verse and opens well in the chorus without losing its jammy sensibility.
Mountains will be out Nov. 11 on RidingEasy Records (preorder from the label here), and you can check out “Endless Mountain” on the YouTube player below, followed by more info on the release with some comment from Slow Season. Please enjoy:
Slow Season, “Endless Mountain”
SLOW SEASON to release new album via RIDINGEASY RECORDS on 11th November 2014
Press “play” on Slow Season’s second full-length album Mountains (RidingEasy Records), and you might just forget what era you’re in. It could very well be the sixties, seventies, or now. It almost doesn’t matter though because this is hypnotic, heavy, and howling rock ‘n’ roll that defies both musical and temporal categorization.
The Central California quartet – Daniel Rice (vocals, guitar), David Kent (guitar), Hayden Doyel (bass), and Cody Tarbell (drums) – scale new heights, while recognising where it all began.
“I’d love for people to wonder if this record is actually from 1969,” grins Cody. “We wanted to capture that spirit. That was the goal.”
In order to do so, the musicians holed up in Cody’s home studio, which actually doubles as his parents’ garage, and cut Mountain’s ten tracks throughout the course of early 2014. Hayden had just returned home from a short detour at college in Idaho before recognizing he belonged jamming with his brothers. Officially back in the fold, excitement to record proved pervasive. Moving when inspiration struck, they actually recorded the songs live on reel-to-reel tape. Eschewing the digital mindset of today and not even uttering the words “Pro Tools”, everything was caught on analog, giving the music a crackling kinetic energy.
“I like everything associated with reel-to-reel,” Cody goes on. “I love the sound. I like the mojo that comes along with it.”
“Working with the limitations of tape really pushed us to play our best,” adds Daniel. “You have to prioritize your ideas. You can’t layer too much on there. You also have to nail the takes. You don’t get to go back and cut paste. You have to feel it when you’re playing it. When everything comes together, it really shines because we’re all playing together on tape.”
They lock in during the album opener and first single, ‘Sixty-Eight’. It snaps into a bluesy riff and bombastic beat before Daniel lets out a soaring refrain and a screeching solo roars. “We wanted to nod back to Led Zeppelin,” the vocalist says. “We managed to get this really big sound in the garage. It’s very organic and natural. The subject matter is pretty gnarly, and I’d encourage everyone to take a close listen to the lyrics.”
That mystique carries over to the hazy ‘Synanon’, which details the exploits of a mountain cult nearby where the boys reside. Meanwhile, ‘Endless Mountain’ drives forward on robust guitars and propulsive drums. It also reflects the overarching theme inherent within the title.
“Mountains embody a few things,” explains Daniel. “They’re difficult, seemingly insurmountable, and bigger than us. They’re both foreboding and beautiful at the same time. I had been doing a lot of hiking and backpacking in the higher Sierra Nevada. It all fit together. We live right next to Sequoia National Park, and we go up there all the time. We connect with the idea of man versus nature.”
Slow Season first emerged in 2012 with their self-titled debut. Supported by shows throughout California and nationally, they began to garner palpable buzz. Now, Mountains kicks off their next chapter. However, they’ll continue to exist within an epoch of their own.
Daniel leaves off, “I want people to walk away knowing there’s integrity behind the music, the process, the words being sung, and the notes being played. We love what we do, and we hope that listeners do too.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ah, Grief. The band that taught sludge how to hate. Guitarist Terry Savastano will lead a semi-reunited lineup of the seminal Boston extremists working under a moniker taken from the title of their 1994 sophomore outing, Come to Grief,in headlining Deadfest 2015 in Oakland, California. The death/grind fest is set for Aug. 14 and 15 at The Oakland Metro and in addition to Come to Grief – whose lineup also boasts guitarist/vocalist Ken-E Bones of Long Island stalwarts Negative Reaction (who also have a new album in the works), Come to Grief-era drummer Rick Johnson and bassist Justin Christian formerly of Morgion – will feature the unwaveringly pulverizing likes of Terrorizer, Nausea, Noothgrush and Primitive Man over the course of its steadfastly anti-corporate two days.
Grief, whose last lineup was bassist/vocalist Eric Harrison, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Hayward, drummer Ray McCaffery and guitarist John Heidenreich, played their final show in 2009 after getting back together in ’05 following several years of inactivity. The band’s last full-length was 2000’s …And Man Will Become the Hunted, which was followed by the 2002 Turbulent Times compilation on Southern Lord, culling together rare an previously unreleased track’s from Grief‘s already tumultuous history.
Deadfest announced their lineup thusly:
Deadfest 2015 / August 14th & 15th @ The Oakland Metro / All Ages / $20 Each Day
2 Day D.I.Y Crust/Hardcore/Punk/Grind/Doom/Death&Black Metal Fest
2 Rooms / 4 Floor Stages / 15 Minute Sets
Come To Grief (MA/NH)
Terry Savastano/Guitars (Martyrvore/Goat felch /Founder of Grief ex-Disrupt ex-Warhorse etc……) Rick Johnson/Drums (ex-Grief ex-Slugpuncher) Ken E. Bones/Guitars and Vocals (Negative Reaction) Justin Christian/Bass (ex-Morgion ex-Keen of the Crow) We will be performing mostly early Grief material ( First 7″,Dismal 12″ Come to Grief L.P.)
Terrorizer (LA) Nausea (LA) Capitali$T Casualties Noothgrush (OAK) Excruciating Terror (LA) Endless Demise (LA) Cretin (SJ) Stapled Shut (LA) Cloud Rat (MI) Catheter (CO) Laughing Dog (NM) Backslider (PHILLY) Cave State (LA) Dope Runner (CO) Primitive Man (CO) And Many More T.B.A
Sometimes in listening to Captain Beyond‘s classic 1972 self-titled debut, it’s easy to forget that there were just four members in the band. At times they’re almost orchestral, layers of guitar and vocals making their way in and around winding, still-heavy riffs and grooves. The lineup was considerable even then — vocalist Rod Evans (ex-Deep Purple), guitarist Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt (ex-Iron Butterfly), bassist Lee Dorman (ex-Iron Butterfly) and drummer Bobby Caldwell (who played with Johnny Winter and would go on to form Armageddon) — but no question that Captain Beyond‘s Captain Beyond was more than the sum of its parts. Few records of the era so successfully bridged the then-widening gap between heavy rock and prog, and frankly few have come along since that could excite fans of both. Its bizarre structure, with each side almost a record unto itself with its own themes and progression, makes it all the more complex, but it’s also a remarkably smooth listen, with cuts like “Mesmerization Eclipse,” “Dancing Madly Backwards (On a Sea of Air),” “Raging River of Fear” and “As the Moon Speaks (To the Waves of the Sea)” creating memorable, lasting impressions.
Lasting enough that Captain Beyond has had four decades of cult influence. After hearing Evans sing “Frozen Over,” I don’t think one can put on early Pentagram without hearing a similarity in Bobby Liebling‘s approach — Pentagram also had the lead track on Record Heaven‘s Thousand Days of Yesterdays tribute — and from The Atomic Bitchwax to Mastodon, scores of bands have taken lessons from Reinhardt‘s style of riffing and spaced-out leads, his layering acoustic and electric rhythms and the jazzy punch of the movement in this Caldwell‘s compositions. And Captain Beyond‘s Captain Beyond was truly a moment that wouldn’t come again. By the time a year has passed, Caldwell was out of the band, and replaced on 1973’s Sufficiently Breathless by Marty Rodriguez, with Dorman at the fore as principal songwriter. Sufficiently Breathless was a more than solid follow-up to Captain Beyond, but the group’s legacy continues to be based largely on their accomplishments here and the rare character and breadth that this album brought to bear. It is rightly considered among the most pivotal works of early heavy rock.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
So. Last Saturday, my mother-in-law’s old, sick pekingese got dropped off so The Patient Mrs. and I could take care of it while her mom was on vacation. You can see where this is going. The week started off — first thing Monday morning — with The Patient Mrs. asking me to get up and confirm her suspicion that the dog had died. Sure enough. I checked for a pulse, as if such a thing were possible on so fluffernutter a dog as a pekingese, and declared her suspicion correct. Added surreality came when a structural engineer and a lawyer showed up to look at something with the house (long, irrelevant story) and I had to hurry to pick up the dog and clean up the various leaked-out fluids so they could enter without having to step over the body. I had not yet brushed my teeth.
The Patient Mrs. found a local kennel that also doubled as a crematorium — take a second and let that sink in — so what else to do? I put the dog in a box and we drove over, about 15 minutes in the car. Our own dog, the little dog Dio, we left home to deal with her confusion. There was a form The Patient Mrs. filled out and then the lady behind the counter at the crematorium was like, “Okay, come on,” and directed us to follow her to the furnace, telling us along the way about the state contracts they have with the Mystic Aquarium, the roadkill, etc. All the while we’re on this piece of property back in the woods, walking past the pet cemetery, canopy of trees overhead with grey skies. I was fairly certain that The Patient Mrs. and I were both going to be killed and shoved in the furnace with only the texts I’d sent my family about the ordeal left for detectives to trace the whereabouts of our murderers.
We weren’t, thankfully. We got into an open barn with what was quite clearly the furnace in the middle of the room, ashes and metal trays on the floor, the vague smell of burning in the air, and I began to wonder if it was a do-it-yourself kind of deal. This worry also proved unfounded. The woman directed me to put the box down on a table nearby and we left, chatting pleasantly and awkwardly as we traipsed through the woods back to my car. I knew this dog well, and there wasn’t really much to say anyhow, so that was it. And everything was fine until I started to have these thoughts that what if I was wrong? What if the dog wasn’t really dead, if it had just peed itself and been asleep and breathing too shallow for me to tell? Of course it was dead — the body was limp when I picked it up — but still, I couldn’t shake the image of the dog waking up in that cardboard box on that table, and it stayed with me the last five days. Even now, and we’ve already gotten the call to go pick up the cremains.
That was how the week started. It’ll end in a little while when I head out to see Kind and The Golden Grass in New Bedford at a taco joint. So yeah, a little strange.
Next week, stick around for a review of that show, plus on Monday a stream of the new split between Krautzone and Lamp of the Universe, an Apostle of Solitude giveaway, review of the new Lo-Pan and Electric Wizard and as many other records as I can manage to fit. If you didn’t notice, I tried to cut back on the word counts for reviews because they were getting out of hand again. We’ll see how long it lasts, but at least I’m trying to keep it under control. Sometimes the sentences just keep going.
Go Giants for Acid King, go Orioles for all of Maryland doom. Hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Work too hard to make sense of Chrome‘s weirdo transwarp spacepunk and you’re liable to bust a lobe. Quiet for a decade at least in terms of studio output, the San Francisco avant rockers returned last year with a crowdfunded compilation of unreleased material called Half-Machine from the Sun: The Lost Tracks from ’79-’80 (review here) covering songs from late founder Damon Edge and guitarist/vocalist Helios Creed, who leads the current incarnation of Chrome on their first album since 2002, Feel it Like a Scientist. Making up for lost time seems to be the order of the day. Feel it Like a Scientist is 16 tracks and 62 minutes long, spread over two LPs or a linear CD of consistently off-the-wall experiments like “Lipstick” and “Brady the Chicken Boy” — with its bok-bok noises and in-studio laughs and forward bassline sounding like an after-the-fact blueprint for early Primus – and synth-drenched New Wave proto-punk freakouts, fuzz guitars intermittently taking the front position to make a track like “Captain Boson” sound even stranger. Recorded over the course of 2012 to 2014, Chrome‘s return channels industrial malevolence in “Big Brats” as easily as keyboard madcap and heavy rock rollout in “Prophecy,” and is every bit as strange and exciting as one could ask.
The historical context of Chrome, begun by Damon Edge, hitting a stride with Edge and Creed working together and then continued on by Creed, stopping and restarting to get to this point — the lineup of Creed, drummer/sampler Aleph Omega, Tommy Grenas on keys/noise, bassist Steve Fishman (Lux Vibratus also features on more than half the tracks), backing vocalist Anne Dromeda and guitarist Lou Minatti – is about as disjointed and difficult to trace as the music on Feel it Like a Scientist itself, but liner notes to the CD provide some direction for how the album came together. What works best about it, though, is that however deep you want to dig, Chrome will meet you on that level. That is, if you feel like putting in research to relating Feel it Like a Scientist to Creed‘s prolific solo output or what one might call Chrome‘s heyday — though that designation would seem to automatically discount the quality of the material here. which isn’t the intent — you can do that and “Something in the Cloud”‘s spaced-out vibes will still resonate, or you can ignore all of it as Anne Dromeda takes the lead vocal on noisy rocker “Unbreakable Flouride Lithium Plastic” and go with the many punches provided. Whatever you want to take into account as you listen, it’s up to you.
That said, by the time one gets down to the wash of vibe that is “Himalayanelimination” and the droning finale that arrives with “Nymph Droid,” Feel it Like a Scientist benefits from knowing something of what Chrome have done in the past, the influence they’ve had one more than a generation of bizarro rockers, and so on. And it can be hard to separate the actual listening experience from the fact that it’s been so long since the last Chrome full-length, but if there’s anything to take away from these 16 tracks, it’s that the outfit has more than academic value, and that the beamed-in progressiveness they display seems to have its (giant, face-consuming) eye turned forward rather than back. This does not sound like a one-off, and it does not sound like a final album. The material is vibrant and comes with a clear sense of the joy of its creation. It’s a spirit as inimitable as the craft on display throughout and no less individualized, and it speaks to the possibilities that lay within the current incarnation of Chrome for where they might next wind-up on this new mission, their minds in a gas cloud and their amps on overdrive. Going by the vast swath of styles they bend to their command on these tracks, that trip is just beginning, and if there’s a destination, it could just as easily belong to another universe as to our own.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Comprised of three extended tracks arranged longest to shortest, Bloodmoon‘s 2013 outing, Voidbound, was as progressive as it was extreme. On a dime, the San Luis Obispo trio might cut from raging blackened sludge on the title-track to ambient drones and airy post-rock, then roll out scream-topped doom building toward a vibrant neo-prog run en route to crushing metal heft. Granted, you’ve got plenty of time to do that when you’re working with a 17-minute song, but still, few bands put that kind of time to such varied use and still manage to come out of it with anything resembling the kind of cohesion Bloodmoon presented on Voidbound. They’ll head out on tour this weekend, starting in Eureka, CA, and heading north before making their way back down, and I wouldn’t know from personal experience, but these guys seem like they put on a hell of a show.
The PR wire has dates and background:
BLOODMOON West Coast Takedown Starts This Week
San Luis Obispo, California’s blackened sludge outfit BLOODMOON is setting out on a West Coast jaunt that begins this Friday, October 3 in Eureka, California.
Gazing into the Void with combined effort since 2010, BLOODMOON have been exploring the musical elements of Sludge, Doom, Stoner, Black and Death Metal with heavy doses of Psychedelia to give themselves a highly distinctive sound of their own. Over the past 2 years, the band has released 2 albums, embarked upon two tours, and played countless shows all over California at any given point in between. Between shows, they are continually writing with the self-imparted directive of releasing new music every year while always experimenting with different ways to bring the heavy in their own way.
10/3 Eureka, CA @ Ink Annex 10/4 Portland, OR @ Slabtown 10/5 Seattle, WA @ Lo-Fi 10/6 Olympia, WA @ The Track House 10/7 Eugene, OR @ Wandering Goat 10/8 Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge 10/9 San Jose, CA @ Caravan
Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Californian desert rockers Fever Dog like to keep things nebulous. Their self-released (for now) sophomore full-length, Second Wind, brings together songs that were issued over the last two years since their 2012 debut, Volume One, as singles and in various other forms and unites them as a complete long-player. The album isn’t solely made up of these tracks, but with “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds,” “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” (review here) and “The Great Tree” (review here) having previously appeared, almost half the 10-track outing’s runtime is material already aired. How is it then that Second Wind manages to sound so fresh? I chalk it up to the jammy nature of the material itself, the variety the three-piece delivers across the board and the energy of their presentation. While generally a phrase like “Californian desert rockers” serves as little more than a dogwhistle for a Kyuss or Queens of the Stone Ageinfluence, Fever Dog dive much deeper than that, incorporating synthy space rock and drone to immediately distinguish their still-growing sound, winding up closer to Zoroaster than Sky Valley on the quick single “Iroquois” and blending acoustic guitar and swirling keyboard progressions on “Rukma Vimana” to give Second Wind a go-anywhere-at-anytime vibe that serves the band and their songs well. There are moments that feel disjointed — hazards of the trade — but whether it’s the moody grunge-gaze of “The Back of Beyond” or the huge solo that emerges from synth grandiosity in the back half of the nine-minute “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds,” the trio of Danny Graham (guitar/vocals/theremin), Nathan Wood (bass/noise) and Joshua Adams (drums/organ/backing vocals) never fail to bring the listener into the fold of their complex, rich and spacious sound, giving a Floydian progressive vision of what the genre can be while proffering jazzy rhythmic turns and an unwavering sense of creativity. Yes, it’s desert rock, but it’s also working toward a broader definition of what that means.
This alone makes the immersive 48-minute release admirable, and it proves only more so with an openness of structure. Well-named acoustic/electric guitar intro track “Obelisk” eases the listener into what proves to be a course rife with twists and turns, the title-track taking hold with a drum fill and fuzzy blend of lead and rhythm, Graham‘s verse arriving blown out and bluesy but not overdrone atop insistent riffy push. A shuffling jam emerges, the band never quite departing from and never quite returning to the verse as effects swell in a guitar solo toward the finish of the three-minute “Second Wind,” winding toward “The Back of Beyond” and a cymbal wash and slow strum that announces a different take, more Masters of Reality than perhaps it knows in its wah, but foreshadowing the rhythm that will surface heavier in “Iroquois,” vocals deep in the mix and given an echo that mirrors the guitar. A more solidified structure, but still pretty open, “The Back of Beyond” jams to its end and the six-minute “The Great Tree” swirls an intro to a more extended mostly-instrumental jam, some classic heavy rock edge working its way in early as more virtuoso leadwork gives over to the second half’s drum stomp from Adams and momentum-building push, Wood marking each measure turn with a punchy bassline that plays well alongside the lead guitar. “Iroquois” starts innocently enough but soon shifts into heavy psych chug with a vocal changeup to match, space rock pulse underlying the memorable riffing en route to trades between solo and riff, “One Thousand Centuries” coming on quick with a build-up from Adams that opens to fluid jamming not unlike that of “The Great Tree,” a verse nestling into a quieter section that gets by without coming right out and emphasizing the rush of Second Wind up to this point but making its point via subtlety anyway. Effects signal a transition in the second half of “One Thousand Centuries” — the title-line delivered discernibly through a wash of melody and echo — and the album’s most fervent freakout ensues, double-time drums, guitar soloing and bass runs coming to a head and capping with feedback that ends cold.
“Rukma Vimana” comes without a direct transition from “One Thousand Centuries,” which makes me think that if Fever Dog had vinyl in mind, that would be the point of the side A/B split. The three-minute raga-style cut, with its tanpura-style drone behind, acoustic strum, hand-claps mixed low and keyboard surge makes a fitting intro, though with “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” and “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds” behind it — both over nine minutes long — and 5:33 closer “Nexus” after that, I’m not sure it would all actually fit. Either way, this second half of Second Wind is where the three-piece really unfold their breadth, the longer-form material allowing for further exploration of their jammy ethos, heavy psych, desert rock, nighttime jazz and spaced-out vibing coming together across “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” in warm tones and momentum-driving drums, though it’s the guitar that ultimately leads the way out, solos layered on top of each other atop drone noise, the quiet first seconds of “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds” doing little to portray the song’s actual scope, vocals going a long way to ground it where “Hats off to Andrew Bowen” seemed to float out its run, exciting loud/quiet shifts leading to a cinematic synthesizer movement, hypnotic before Fever Dog snap back to their heavy build, Graham once again leading the way out as backwards guitar marks the change into closer “Nexus,” which is the record’s proggiest stretch, a last-minute change in vibe bringing a bluesy solo and quiet, key-laden verses to a head to a driving apex in the middle third before transitioning to the noisy, droning finish that provides the space rock preceding with a moment of landing before cutting off at the very end. It’s an impressive range that Fever Dog showcase throughout their second outing, revising and putting that previously-released material to its best use, but they also leave themselves room to grow as they continue forward in their songwriting and toying with structure. California’s desert has needed a next generation band to come to the fore stylistically and build on what groups like Fatso Jetson and earliest Queens of the Stone Age accomplished. There are already a few out there, but with Second Wind, Fever Dog position themselves to be right in the discussion in terms of potential torch-carriers for the years to come.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Holy macaroni. After four years of sporadic live appearances and rumors of a release impending, Goatsnake have confirmed that they’ll release a new studio full-length in 2015. Did I already say “Holy macaroni?”
Goatsnake only put out two albums in their original run, from 1996 until 2001, but both I and Flower of Disease have become essential works of heavy rock. Their last offering was 2004’s Trampled under Hoof EP, which introduced Scott Reeder to the band on bass. Scott Renner (Sourvein) will fill the position this time out, working alongside Greg Rogers, Greg Anderson and Pete Stahl.
Just off the PR wire:
Goatsnake reveal initial details of an impending new album, due for release in 2015
Los Angeles, California’s Goatsnake are back in a big way – having spent the summer at Rock Falcon studios in Franklin, Tennessee they are gearing up to release their first new full-length album since 2000’s Flower Of Disease.
The new album, due for a release on Southern Lord next year, will feature the familiar faces of Greg Rogers (The Obsessed, Sonic Medusa), providing drums, Greg Anderson of Sunn O))) taking care of the riffs, Pete Stahl (Scream, Wool, Earthlings?) on vocals, and new bassist Scott Renner (Sonic Medusa, Sourvein). Joining them again on production duties is Nick Raskulinecz, who, since being introduced to Dave Grohl during the recording sessions of Flower of Disease, has gone on to work with seminal artists such as Rush, Alice in Chains, Deftones and Ghost, and has won Grammys with the Foo Fighters. United again, he and the band are sure to serve a menacing cut of the time-honoured ultra-heavy rock they are infamous for.
Goatsnake began life in 1996, and released two EPs, two LPs, two 7″ records and a split during the years 1998-2000. In 2010 they returned as a live band, playing a handful of well-received shows in the U.S, the UK and Europe in the years since.
More details of the upcoming album will be announced soon. For now, take comfort in the news that fans will definitely be able to catch Goatsnake live next year at Temples Festival, taking place in Bristol, May 29-31st, alongside acts including Sunn O))), Today Is The Day and Martyrdöd. Fans in North America needn’t wait that long as Goatsnake shall be playing the following two shows this October:
15/10/2014 @ Southern Lord Showcase, Los Lobos LA (also featuring Excel, Xibalba, Obliterations, Baptists, Torch Runner) 17/10/2014 @ Southwest Terror Fest, Tucson AZ
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Originally slated for release this month, Leave Me Alone, the debut album from Nick Oliveri’s Uncontrollable is now set to arrive on Oct. 28 courtesy of Schnitzel Records. The new band, as it were, is essentially Oliveri. He plays everything on the record but lead guitar, for which he enlisted a number of comrades and friends as guests. Not a bad way to go when you happen to be buddies with Phil Campbell from Motörhead. That’s a good friend to have.
The PR wire has details and more on Leave Me Alone:
release date of Nick Oliveri solo album moves from Sept. to October
Nick Oliveri’s debut solo album, Leave Me Alone, is having its U.S. release moved from September to late October. The album gives powerfully captivating proof of his mastery of multiple instruments while boasting some of the most intensely visceral, hard-rocking music he’s made – no small achievement for someone who’s served time in the ranks of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, and The Dwarves, not to mention his own band Mondo Generator…among others.. Produced by Oliveri himself, recorded by Harper Hug and Trevor Whatever, and mixed by Mathias Schneeberger Leave Me Alone will be released on Schnitzel Records October 28.
Many artists struggle to establish their musical identity; Nick Oliveri has forged his through a long career of hard work and full command over his craft and his music. Recording at Thunder Underground Studios in his longtime haunt of Palm Springs, CA, Oliveri sang and played drums, guitar and bass — all the instruments on every track save the guitar solos. The solos were provided by an array of distinguished guests including Phil Campbell from Motorhead, Mickey Melchiondo (a.k.a. Dean Ween) from Ween and Moistboyz, Stephen Haas from Moistboyz, Mike Pygmie from Mondo Generator, Marc Diamond from The Dwarves and Bruno Fevery from Kyuss Lives!/ Vista Chino; mostly once and future bandmates. There’s also a guest vocal by Blag Dahlia from The Dwarves.
Born in Los Angeles, Oliveri began his musical career in the late 80’s with Katzenjammer whose personnel would eventually gain worldwide recognition under the name Kyuss. Appearing on their Wretch and Blues for the Red Sunalbums, Oliveri left the group and joined The Dwarves. He eventually rejoined Kyuss guitarist Josh Homme forming Queens of the Stone Age. Nick would go on to front his own band Mondo Generator and collaborate onstage and in the studio with a wide variety of distinctive, oftimes extreme outfits including the Mark Lanegan Band, Masters of Reality, Turbonegro, Moistboyz, Bl’ast, and Kyuss Lives!/Vista Chino to name but a few.
Posted in On Wax on September 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Five years after making their debut on MeteorCity with the cave-riffed 2009 first album, Native (review here), San Francisco stoner plod trio Flood reemerge with Oak, their second long-player. Released by Volcom as a 12″ platter with green-swirl vinyl, it’s the second time the label and band have worked together behind a 2010 split with Wildildlife that included the track “The Gate to the Temple of the Ocean King.” That track doesn’t appear on Native or either of Oak‘s two sides, but as the six included tracks show, it’s not exactly like Flood are short on riffs. Some of their methods are consistent on Oak – as with the first album, they earn immediate points by opening here with the longest track, “Perihelion,” though it’s worth noting that at just under 11 minutes, it’s still considerably trimmed down from “Aphelion”‘s 18:29. The two titles relating to orbital positions of planets in relation to the stars around which they’re revolving — perihelion is the closest point, aphelion the farthest — the two seem to be in direct conversation with each other, the newer track answering the lumbering thud of the older one with its own stomp and rumble, vocals echoing over slower riffing that picks up after about halfway through, if momentarily, to remind that somewhere along the line, Flood picked up a Fu Manchu influence.
The two-part “Holy Astro Shaman” follows on side A, and side B continues the heavy roll with “Beryllus” (also the longest song on its side at 8:14), “Baphomet Sermon” and “Lake Nyos,” proffering distortion largesse, echoing shouts and resonating percussive march in a post-Mastodon stoner metal with deep-running Sabbath/Sleep elements. The recording on Oak is rawer than was Native – the newer LP tracked by Bart Thurber at House of Faith Studio in Oakland — but in a way that sounds probably closer to Flood‘s live show and that brings out an extra edge from the material. In any case, the sound remains clear enough for the three-piece of guitarist Fozzy, bassist/vocalist Eli and drummer Fink to get their weighty message through. Periodic tempo shifts, as those in “Perihelion” and “Holy Astro Shaman Pt. II,” go a long way in changing up the feel. Longer than it might at first seem, even, since so much of what Flood does is consistent in its push and focus on tone, riffs, groove, but the two-part “Holy Astro Shaman” enacts a solid build across its span and, paying off that build about halfway into its second part, uses the remainder to explore a drum-led jam that fades out to cap side A.
Side B starts “Beryllus” with feedback and more consume-the-room riffing, a long Dopesmoker-style drum build opening not to riotous explosive heaviness, but to more jamming exploration prior to the first verse. Flood don’t sound like a patient band, but they are, albeit in a subtle way. Throaty vocals shouting from deep in the mix, the guitar and bass work well together across the Side B opener, which gives way to the familiar chugging of “Baphomet Sermon,” which breaks in the middle with some highlight bass work from Eli, but otherwise sticks mostly to its central riff, leaving some atmospheric vocals to do the work of distinguishing it in the first half while arriving at a verse only later on, when the rollout is more established. Closer “Lake Nyos,” which takes its name from a body of water in Cameroon on top of a volcano that, in 1986, emitted a cloud of carbon dioxide responsible for the deaths of 1,700 people, starts with an appropriate sense of foreboding, the bass and drums setting a doomed ambience to be joined soon enough by the guitar, a siren in the background signaling the transition into the next stage of the build that will run a line throughout its seven minute runtime, Eli‘s vocals cave-shouting from under the guitar and bass while Fink‘s fills shift between slow-moving measures, leading to a gradual disintegration. The guitar and bass chug out, the drums thud, and Flood‘s Oak caps its final movement with a couple last hits and a quick shot of feedback.
Working greatly in the band’s favor is their utter lack of pretense. Flood did not take five years to put out their second record because they were trying to conquer the world or write a progressive masterpiece. They got around to it when they got around to it. That wouldn’t work for everyone, but it suits them and what they do, keeping their approach relatively simple while adding flourish in moments of experimentation without losing track of the heaviness they’re looking to convey. Dudes riffing out. I don’t know what it was that took them so long to get the album together, but Oak shows — like a second debut, almost — that Flood‘s worship continues to provide a fix for those who might need one. It’s the kind of heavy that makes squares show their corners.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re looking for a reference point for San Fran heavy trio Disastroid, think of a thicker-toned, more metallized Fatso Jetson and you might get something of a picture for what they do on their third album, Missiles. The record lobs eight such slabs of projectile rock, taking influence from the deserts to the band’s south but adding a but of noise crunch as well, like the Melvins but less showy in their weirdness, and guitarist Enver Koneya comes straight out of the Mario Lalli vocal school (which I very much wish was an actual school, like, one that I could go to). To wit, the husky soul of “Unsound Mind,” on which Koneya soothes over prog metal chugging and desert rock push. That’s one example and Missiles goes elsewhere on other tracks, but a standout all the same if you’re looking for a place to start.
Details on the album and some background on Disastroid follow, courtesy of the PR wire:
Disastroid is a heavy music trio from the San Francisco Bay Area who has carved a name for themselves in the Bay Area heavy music scene with their sporadic releases and intense/atmospheric live shows and complete DIY ethic and approach. Formed in 2007 by Enver Koneya, Travis Williams and Braden McGaw through their shared interest in Kyuss, fuzz pedals and Godzilla movies, the collective interests were then forged into a band that created a sound that one fan has described as: “It sounds like an armada of spaceships blasting across the galaxy in preparation for intergalactic war.” With two full lengths under their belt and a handful of E.P. releases, they guys keep pretty active and have already played alongside the likes of Fu Manchu, Yawning Man, Eagles of Death Metal Church of Misery, Jucifer, Black Cobra and Helmet since their inception.
The latest release from the San Francisco riffers is entitled Missiles and is follow up to their last 7” release Karoshi. Recorded and mixed in the Bay Area with mastering done in Los Angeles by Mike Wells, artwork/illustrations created by bass player Travis Williams. Eight songs of conceptual tone and carefully crafted riffs, it’s a break from what Karoshi brought with its slow sludgy tempo and feel. A faster/frantic pace and melodic sense is prevalent in most of the tracks, without sacrificing any of the characteristics that made them known for the sound they’ve forged for themselves and their audiences. Enver’s playing is much more upbeat with a good mix of clean tone harmonies and sludge infused grooves, Travis’s bass playing never wavering along with Braden’s drumming patterns. These guys musicianship and songwriting capabilities improve and excel with each new release they put out and it shows with Missiles.
Like all their other releases, this was a complete DIY effort in terms of the recordings, mastering and production. Other releases that Disastroid have done include:
Life or Death – 2009 Iris Failure E.P. – 2011 Money & Guilt – 2012 Karoshi E.P. – 2013
Posted in Radio on September 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been a couple weeks since the last time I was able to get together a proper round of adds to The Obelisk Radio, and the list as a result is accordingly huge. I’d have to go back and compare the last 18-plus months to be sure, but I think 40 albums is up there with what I might have uploaded during the initial buildup of the playlist, just basically getting everything I could think of and a bunch of stuff I couldn’t to expand on what was on the hard drive when I got it. We’ll be at two years since the Radio stream went live before I know it. Time goes quick, and seems to all the more when each post has a timestamp.
I say this every time, but there’s a lot of killer stuff included this week, so I hope you find something you enjoy.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for Sept. 13, 2014:
Bong, Bong Presents Haikai No Ku Ultra High Dimensionality LP
I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to try to ascertain what plane of being Bong are residing on these days, but suffice it to say, they’ve evolved beyond corporeal form and merged with the all-consuming distortion of the universe. At least that’s how it sounds. The maddeningly prolific UK drone-doomers present this release but aren’t actually on it, save for guitarist Mike Vest, who leads the side-project Haikai No Ku through five tracks of blissful psychout on Ultra High Dimensionality. If you’re looking for differences between the two outfits, Haikai No Ku lean less toward grim droning than Bong, and songs like “Dead in the Temple” and “Blue at Noon” roll out huge psychedelic grooves — the band is completed by bassist Jerome Smith and drummer Sam Booth – but there’s consistency to be found in the wash of noise and the complete hypnosis of their repetitions anyway, and as high as the dimensionality might be, the volume should be higher. One to get lost in for sure, and there’s enough space for everyone. Bong on Twitter, on Bandcamp.
Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, The Shining One
The pun in the moniker of Moscow double-guitar four-piece Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds probably doesn’t need to be pointed out. Featuring The Grand Astoria collaborator Igor Suvorov, Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds pull together touches of psychedelic impulsiveness and classic heavy rock structures with the production clarity and catchy songwriting of mid-era Queens of the Stone Age. There’s a danger underscoring the boogie of “How to Fix Things” from the band’s self-released debut LP, The Shining One, that seems to find payoff later in the big-groove hook of “Highlow World,” which provides one of the album’s most satisfying listens before shifting into an airier dreamspace and fading into the noisier “Lords of the Damned,” reviving the largesse of riff prior to the closing title-track. An intriguing debut for an outfit loaded with potential, the fullness of their sound boding particularly well for their confidence in their sound and the precision of their execution. One not to be missed. Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Desert Lord, To the Unknown
Finnish stoner-doom foursome Desert Lord get into some Sabbath-worship on their debut long-player, To the Unknown, but manage to avoid both the trap of retro ’70s-ism that has much of Europe so firmly in its grasp and the trap of sounding like Reverend Bizarre, whose legacy in their native land isn’t to be understated. Of particular note is that Desert Lord cite The Cult as an influence. One can hear shades of that in the guitars on opener “Forlorn Caravan,” but Desert Lord quickly move into doomier fare on the subsequent nine-minute “Wonderland,” which distinguished by weeded-out wah on Roni‘s bass. Middle-ground is sought and found on “New Dimensions,” with vocalist Sampo Riihimäki reminding of Earthride‘s Dave Sherman in his movement between rougher delivery, spoken word, and accentuated screaming, also hinting at roots in more traditional metal, though “Manic Survivor’s Song” gives way to more stoner territory in the guitar, reminding of some of Eggnogg‘s stylistic turns, though with less of a mind toward tonal thickness. They’re still figuring out where they want to be, but Desert Lord‘s To the Unknown has more than a few moments worth the effort of a listen. Desert Lord on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Space Mushroom Fuzz, Onward, to the Future
Perpetually progressive and perpetually prolific bizarro psych rockers Space Mushroom Fuzz return with another new release, dubbed Onward, to the Future. The Boston outfit, led by Adam Abrams of Blue Aside, include two tracks this time out, “Onward, to the Future,” a laid back space rocker made strange in its midsection with some theremin-style keys, and the waltzing “Half the Way Down,” which shows off some classical guitar work over a subtly oompah backing rhythm with soft, brooding vocals. Is it possible to have a shoegazing waltz? Space Mushroom Fuzz never lack character in they do, Abrams periodically leading the way through jams that could and sometimes do run into indulgent (if satisfying) noodlefests, but particularly with “Half the Way Down,” there’s something more grounded and sadder at the root. “Onward, to the Future” tells a tale of alien invasion — short version: they win — and showcases the band’s exploratory side, but even that ends contemplative and relatively minimal, sort of dropping instruments one at a time by its finish on a long fade. A lesson in taming expectation, perhaps, and a fascinating, quick journey from this inventive outfit. Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Plunger, Space Plumber
All seems to be on a course for weirdo noise punk as Los Angeles bass/drum duo Plunger get underway on their debut Space Plumber EP, some Melvins influence making itself felt on “Toxic Wrap,” and then they rumble and thump their way into the eight-minute centerpiece title-track, and it becomes apparent that there’s much more going on with twin brothers Mark (bass/vocals) and Kris Calabio (drums/vocals, also of Old Man Wizard) than it might at first seem. They quickly put their own minimalism to work for them on the faster opener “Blerg Rush,” but “Space Plumber” moves far off into sparseness, the drums barely there when they are and then gone ahead of the transition into “Sleep,” on which both Mark and Kris contribute vocals over a fuller rumble and steady roll, clearly enjoying the contrast. “Plunger” rounds out the release with a fuller take on some of the faster movement of the opener, starts and stops in the unpretentious 1;53 finale. One gets the feeling the (Super) Calabio Bros. are only going to get stranger from here, and that suits them well. Plunger on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Once again, these are five cool releases, but there were 35 other records that join the playlist today, including full-lengths from Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, Apostle of Solitude and on and on. A couple of these will be on the year-end list, so if you get the chance to check out The Obelisk Radio playlist and updates page, I think it’s worth a look.
They kind of had to stretch to make the title work, but they got there in the end. For each respective side of the Battleground Records split tape between Arizona polisci sludgecore bashers Godhunter and Oakland atmospheric blackened doomers Secrets of the Sky, there are two songs. Godhunter present “Pursuit/Predator” and “Gh/0st:s” and Secrets of the Sky have “The Star” and “Gh/0st:s (Part II),” the latter cut for both deriving its title from an acronym of the bands’ names, the second one altered so that if written out it would appear as “Of the Sky: Secrets” and stylized with a zero where the ‘o’ in “of” would otherwise be. Again, it’s a stretch, but they make it work, and tie the two pieces together musically well. The two acts toured together earlier this summer around slots at the Doom in June festival in Las Vegas and they’ll partner again — with many others as well — for the Southwest Terror Fest as part of a booming lineup headed by Neurosis, SunnO))), Goatsnake, et al. On the earlier tour, the tape was sold in an edition of 100 copies with artwork by Nate Burns. Vinyl is due at the end of this month in cooperation between Battleground and The Compound.
What the two bands mostly have in common is that they’re heavy, and yes, I recognize that says next to nothing about them. Godhunterderive a big part of their sound from hardcore, and as the “Pursuit/running you down” call and response gang-style vocals over acoustic guitar round out “Pursuit/Predator” — which begins and ends with the Zodiac Killer, sampled — that’s all the more prevalent. To contrast, Secrets of the Sky take a Euro-style approach to blackened doom, a clearer production than one thinks of to fit the phrase “American black metal” adding a lush sensibility to their doomed progression on “The Star.” I suppose the two bands share an affinity for experimentation as well, however, since both 10-plus-minute installments of “Gh/0st:s” depart widely from the sphere of what one might expect from the band. In Godhunter‘s case, they bring in vocalist Julia DeConciniof Young Hunter and Burning Palms to top a moody, ambient tension with layers of otherworldly melody. There’s a spoken word break somewhere around the middle, and a guitar chug emerges later on, but at no point does “Gh/0st:s” explode with the kind of aggression shown in “Pursuit/Predator,” and that’s obviously the idea.
Immediately, Secrets of the Sky are on a different wavelength. Side two starts out with guitars slowly building up, and when “The Star” kicks in full brunt, the Oakland five-piece include a roaring death metal growl for good measure. A current of synth throughout provides further distinction, but even without, Secrets of the Sky have a more metallic root. Blackened vocals over a rolling doom verse give way to atmospheric guitar and spoken whispers, and it’s not until the final moments a cleaner-sung approach is revealed. By then, Secrets of the Sky have taken “The Star” up and down and around and beaten the hell out of it, a clear, full production ensuring that nothing is lost in the process. A more plotted feel presides over “Gh/0st:s (Part II)” as well, which is instrumental save for the endearingly blasphemous Exorcist sample at the end, as it too builds and recedes with crisply mixed toms, synth, acoustic guitar and plugged-in rumble. The sample is what pushes the track past 10 minutes, and I’d call it superfluous, but Secrets of the Sky and Godhunter pretty clearly had in mind that the pieces would complement each other and be of similar length, and they are.
Despite the sonic differences, there’s an apparent affinity between the two bands for each other’s work, and that comes across as they meet in the middle (it’s a very far out “middle”) on the two “Gh/0st:s” pieces. Still, each side of the tape has something different to offer underscoring the idea that, let’s say, if you’re showing up to a gig where both acts will be taking the stage, there’s really any number of angles from which your ass might be kicked.