Friday Full-Length: High on Fire, Death is this Communion

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

High on Fire, Death is this Communion (2007)

This is my favorite High on Fire record. I know plenty other people who’ll choose other albums over 2007′s Death is this Communion, be it the band’s more stonerly 2000 debut, The Art of Self-Defense, or something more recent like 2010′s Snakes for the Divine, but for me, it’s gotta be Death is this Communion.

I remember very clearly the first time I really sat with a High on Fire album. It was 2002′s sophomore outing, Surrounded by Thieves. I was playing the album, which was new at that point, and a friend of mine came in the room and said, “What the fuck is this? It sounds so dirty.” We laughed, and yeah, it did. That record continues to hold a special place in my heart, but I think if you look at the progression of High on Fire‘s sound especially as it is right now, you see that Death is this Communion marks the turning point between their earlier work and the two albums they’ve done since.

Their 2005 third album, Blessed Black Wings, was notable for bringing in bassist Joe Preston (Thrones, ex-the Melvins) alongside the founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike and drummer Des Kensel, but by the time they got around to the follow-up, it was Zeke‘s Jeff Matz in that role, and he’s stayed there since. So in a very real way, Death is this Communion is the marker for when High on Fire solidified itself. Also, if you take a look at where they were two records before (the marauding stoner thrash of Surrounded by Thieves) and where they went two records hence (the latest offering, 2012′s ultra-metal De Vermis Mysteriis), it becomes easy to read Death is this Communion as not just a step-stone in their catalog, but the essential position from which the two sides met and diverged. Whatever glories they’ve gone onto or had done before, they were never quite the same again.

And that’s not even to mention the songs on Death is this Communion — the title-track’s masterful sprawl, the initial pummel of “Fury Whip,” the unmitigated attack of “Rumors of War” that crashes right into the riff-groove of “DII.” It’s not a short album at a little less than 57 minutes, but even into its farthest reaches with “Ethereal” — still one of Pike‘s boldest vocal experiments — and churning closer “Return to NOD,” it never fails to both grasp and brutalize its attendees. They’d come from more filth-caked sonic places and they’d progress to even cleaner ones, but Death is this Communion inadvertently came to stand for the moment in time when High on Fire left behind the heavy forms of their beginnings and started a different quest altogether.

I had a job interview this afternoon. Corporate gig. People seemed nice. It was casual Friday, so I may have been one of few in the building not wearing jeans — the irony of which wasn’t lost on me. Before I left to go to their office, the little dog Dio came upstairs bleeding from the side of her head. An old scab she had opened up because she’s a dog and doesn’t know better. So I had to clean that before I left, put on some Neosporin, and that may have had an effect on my overall mental state, but I left there feeling positive. They asked about this site and I made it clear it was an “on my own time” thing. Guess I’d be putting in some early mornings or late nights. Either way. Gotta get the job first, then I’ll figure out the rest.

We’ve also put in a purchase and sale agreement to buy a condo, The Patient Mrs. and I (I suppose the dog too, though her name isn’t on the account). I’ve learned never to believe these things are going to happen until they already have, but I guess the point is adventure abounds. I’ve done my best these last few days to hold onto the good vibes I brought back with me from Roadburn. In a couple minutes I’ll go downstairs and load up a pizza from Whole Foods with pesto and roasted garlic, then watch baseball. A quiet night. Should be right on.

Next week — Monday brings a stream of two songs from the new The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic EP, and I’ll also have audio from Vestal Claret and Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus later in the week. I’m gonna try to squeeze a review of the new Floor in there as well, and another roundup of discs if I can. We’ll see how it goes, but I have a few staring me down from the pile that need to get written up. Fingers crossed I get there.

Hope you’re enjoying the High on Fire and hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Radio Moscow Post New Single “Death of a Queen”; Magical Dirt out June 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you were to ask me what my biggest regret was about watching Radio Moscow play each night on a seven-show run, my immediate response would be, “What the fuck are you talking about?” The San Diego trio killed it every single night on that tour, and I’m glad to see they’ve posted the track “Death of a Queen” from the forthcoming Alive Naturalsound LP, Magical Dirt, because now I feel like I have a chance to exorcise its catchy bounce from out of my head. Yeah, good luck.

They’re heading to Europe next month and it looks like they’ll be staying a while. Magical Dirt is out in June.

Dig it:

NEW SINGLE “Death of A Queen” by Radio Moscow now available to listen below!

New album “Magical Dirt” out June 17. Presale link and date coming soon.

Come dig some MAGICAL DIRT!

Europe tour starts next month! New shows just announced in Italy and Sweden! Check the dates below to see if we are coming near you.

APRIL :
15/04/14 : Turkey / Ankara @ Hayal Kahvesi
16/04/14 : Turkey / Izmir @ Hayal Kahvesi Performance
17/04/14 : Turkey / Istanbul @ Hayal Kahvesi Beyoglu
19/04/14 : France / Lyon @ Stone Rising Festival
20/04/14 : Germany / Mannheim @ 7er Club
21/04/14 : Germany / Dresden @ Groovestation
23/04/14 : Austria / Vienna @ Arena
24/04/14 : Germany / Munich @ Feierwerk
25/04/14 : Switzerland / Pratteln @ Pratteln
26/04/14 : Germany / Berlin @ Desertfest
27/04/14 : UK / London @ Desertfest

MAY :
15/05/14 : France / Hossegor @ L’escargot
16/05/14 : France / Bordeaux @ Bootleg
17/05/14 : France / Angouleme @ La Nef
20/05/14 : France / Montpellier @ Secret Place
21/05/14 : Spain / Barcelona @ Sala Appolo
22/05/14 : Spain / Madrid @ Shoko Club
23/05/14 : Spain / Bilbao @ Cafe Antzokia
24/05/14 : Spain / San Sebastian @ Sala Bukowski
28/05/14 : Belgium / Brussels @ Vk
29/05/14 : Germany / Siegen @ Freak Valley Festival
30/05/14 : Netherlands / Vlissingen @ De Piek
31/05/14 : Netherlands / Amsterdamn @ Winston

JUNE:
04/06/14 : France / Paris @ Glazart
06/06/14 : Danmark / Copenhagen @ Loppen
07/06/14 : Sweden / Gottborg @ Truckstop Alaska
12/06/14 : Italy / Roma @ Init
13/06/14 : Italy / Siena @ L’ars Festival
14/06/14 : Italy / Mentova @ Rocka ‘n’ Roll Festival

……More dates coming soon.

https://www.facebook.com/radiomoscowband/
https://soundcloud.com/alivenaturalsound

Radio Moscow, “Death of a Queen” from Magical Dirt (2014)

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Red Fang, Crowbar, High on Fire, All Them Witches and More Confirmed for Scion Rock Fest

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re wondering why every other post this week is about a fest I’d like to go to, please rest assured it’s not a coincidence. The latest addition to that growing list is the Scion Rock Fest, set for May 17 in Pomona, California, with High on Fire, Red Fang, All Them Witches, Aqua Nebula Oscillator, recent EasyRider Records signees The Well and many, many others in the lineup. I’ve never been a huge Machine Head guy, but I think there’d be plenty besides with which to keep occupied.

RSVP for the free fest is open as of today, so if you’re thinking you’re gonna hit it up, you’ll probably want to do so on the quick:

SCION ROCK FEST RETURNS TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ON MAY 17 FOR SIXTH ANNUAL HARD ROCK/METAL BLOW OUT

MACHINE HEAD AND HIGH ON FIRE HEADLINE

Scion Audio Visual’s annual hard rock/metal festival, Scion Rock Fest, returns to Pomona, Calif. on May 17 with an all-star line-up of the biggest names in hard rock as well as metal’s most buzz-worthy newcomers.

Headlining Scion Rock Fest, which has quickly become established as one of heavy music’s biggest live outings, are Machine Head and High On Fire. Other prominent artists appearing on the sixth installment of Scion Rock Fest are Red Fang, King Buzzo, Hot Lunch, Pins of Light and Windhand (full list below).

Concertgoers should visit www.scionav.com to RSVP beginning March 26 at 10 a.m. pacific.

Since the 2009 debut of Scion Rock Fest, the annual outing has featured Mastodon, Down, Neurosis, Baroness, Morbid Angel and the Melvins. A rotating location has found the Fest in
Atlanta, Columbus, Tampa, Memphis as well as the 2011 event, which was also in Pomona.

Scion Rock Fest is one of the many music and cultural events curated by Scion Audio Visual, the entertainment division founded by Scion in 2003. Over the past decade, Scion AV has hosted numerous concerts and tours including the monthly Scion Rock Show in Los Angeles and High on Fire’s recent North American trek, sponsored Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Horror Festival and Revelation Records’ 25th Anniversary celebrations, brought together the brightest minds in the music industry for the annual Scion Music(less) Music Conference and offered numerous free singles and EPs from a wide variety of musicians including Meshuggah, Corrosion of Conformity and Municipal Waste.

The full Scion Rock Fest 2014 line-up:
Machine Head
High On Fire
Red Fang
Orchid
Crowbar
BL’AST!
Speedwolf
Power Trip
Jex Thoth
Coffins
King Buzzo
Big Business
Hot Lunch
Aqua Nebula Oscillator
All Them Witches
Pins of Light
Carousel
The Well
Midnight
Exhumed
In Cold Blood
Nekrogoblikon
Windhand
Lord Dying
Moab
Black Sheep Wall

http://www.scionav.com/2014/03/25/scion-rock-fest-2014-rsvp/
http://scionav.com

Hot Lunch, “She Wants More” Live at Scion Rock Fest 2013

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Friday Full-Length: Kyuss, Welcome to Sky Valley

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kyuss, Welcome to Sky Valley (1994)

Yeah, I know. It’s technically self-titled. But you know, sometimes majority rule renames a record. The White Album was self-titled too, and I consider Welcome to Sky Valley no less pivotal in the influence it’s had in the two decades since its release — the 20th anniversary is June 28, wanna have a party? — bands around the world picking up the elements of what would become desert rock largely in this album’s wake. Kyuss‘ legacy is ongoing in Vista Chino and Queens of the Stone Age and all the groups who’ve taken cues from these tracks, presented in three distinct movements (plus a goofy “bonus” cut), but Welcome to Sky Valley, like any monument, is cast in stone.

Seems like overkill to rant about how great it is. If you’d like more, it’s in the Canon of Heavy, and was voted number one on the list of the Best Stoner Rock Records of All Time in the poll taken here a little while back. I feel like there are very few things that can be universally agreed upon, and Welcome to Sky Valley is one of them. If you’re on this site, reading this sentence, even if you don’t actually press play and listen to the thing, on some level you can probably get into it. At least that’s the hope.

So, today was my last day as editor of The Aquarian, which if you didn’t know was the last dayjob from which I hadn’t been laid off. I’m now completely unemployed.

The last couple days I’ve spent applying for different jobs, editor gigs, corporate gigs, one or two public sector deals. Nothing back yet, obviously, but I hear that’s how it goes. It’s been a pretty downer week, to be honest. My boss told me he wanted to talk on Monday and then blew me off until Tuesday. That’s right. I got blown off from getting fired. Imagine how little what you do means when that happens. All of a sudden I was Milton from Office Space. Except he still got a paycheck.

Welcome to Sky Valley is the blanket I’ve pulled over my head. At least it’s warm. I also thought I was getting pinkeye last night, though that seems to have abated.

Things are lookin’ up!

Like I said the last time I lost a job, I don’t know what the future holds for me, this site or anything else. If anyone knows of any professional opportunities, my resumé is here. I’m open to anything.

Hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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HORNSS Premiere “Heir to the Pickle Throne” from Debut Album No Blood No Sympathy

Posted in audiObelisk on March 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

As advertised, there’s little mercy to be found in the approach of San Francisco trio HORNSS. The stoner-thrashing three-piece will make their debut on EasyRider Records May 13 with No Blood No Sympathy, a full-length that takes great and efficient pleasure in crossing the line between heavy rock and metal over the course of its nine-songs/28-minutes, cuts like “Troubled Rose” metering rolling groove with gnarled-distortion even as the later “Debreeding” portrays the crossover punk roots of early thrash with a modern twist of fuzz and satisfying runs of bass. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha and bassist/vocalist Nick Nava hail from the desert punker outfit Solarfeast, whose Brant Bjork-produced debut, Gossamer (discussed here), proved ahead of its time in its blend of heavier punk and hairier tones, and joined here by drummer Bil Bowman, they charge through a crust-laden half-hour of power, somehow making a fluid course from the jam-room stonerisms of “War Gods of the Deep” to the metallic push of “Debreeding.”

I can only imagine there’s some in-band joke that comes with the title “Heir to the Pickle Throne,” but the track all the same to neatly rounded up some of HORNSS‘ stylistic breadth, which finds unity both through the production and the consistently dark overtones. A midpoint stop and slowdown shows off some of their nodding groove, and the hesher-thrashing central riff gets treated to Sleep’s Holy Mountain-style vocal compression, giving a true sense of stoner idolatry to the metal surrounding. It’s not everything HORNSS have to offer on No Blood No Sympathy, but it’s a decent start, and presents a foreshadowing shift from the straight-ahead High on Fire via much dirtier Red Fang aggression of “The Red Death” that will come to further fruition on side B cuts like “Ejaculation of Serpents” and “Haunter of the Dark.” So while I might have no idea what a pickle throne is or what one might inherit upon their coronation thereof, it seemed like the one to pick anyway. Hopefully you agree.

Check out “Heir to the Pickle Throne” below and stay tuned for a pre-order link. No Blood No Sympathy is out May 13.

San Franciscan trio HORNSS to Release Debut Album via EasyRider Records

No Blood No Sympathy to be released on 13th May 2014

Unlike some who are content to adopt that desert sound, San Franciscan trio HORNSS were born into it. Moulded by it from the very beginning in the case of members Mike Moracha and Nick Nava, who originally got their start in the Palm Springs band Solarfeast alongside ex-Kyuss/Evolution’s End member Chris Cockrell.

Formed in 2012 with a line-up completed by drummer Bil Bowman (formerly of Zodiac Killers, blackQueen and Scrog) HORNSS has taken to the stage in support of Fatso Jetson, Naam, Windhand, YOB and The Freeks and are every inch the band you’d hope they would be given the ancestry, influence and arid air that forged their formation.

Thanks to the LA based label EasyRider Records, this May the trio will have a debut album to call their own. If you were sold on the strutting doom groove of their demo The Red Death then No Blood No Sympathy is going to blow your mind and then some. Drawing on influences such as Hawkwind, St. Vitus and The Ramones HORNSS deliver devastating doom, death punk fury (both Mike and Nick were also founding members of San Fran punk band The Jack Saints), stoned out meanderings and crushing desert progressions that will strike a chord no matter where your allegiances lie.

Their debut album No Blood No Sympathy will be released via EasyRider Records on 13th May.

HORNSS:
Mike Moracha – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Nava – Bass, Vocals
Bil Bowman – Drums

HORNSS on Bandcamp

HORNSS on Thee Facebooks

Instagram – @hornssband

EasyRider Records

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Fu Manchu Announce Tour Dates; Currently Mixing New Album Gigantoid

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

A Fu Manchu tour would be good news enough, but to have a list of dates come with word that the band’s new album, Gigantoid, is currently in the mixing stages is even better. Southern California’s Godfathers of Fuzz will embark on a spring run across the US at the start of May, making their way into Canada to hit Toronto and Montreal en route to the East Coast, presumably with some new material from Gigantoid in tow. Hopefully, anyway.

Gigantoid will also be the Fu‘s first new full-length through their own At the Dojo imprint. If the recent 20th anniversary vinyl reissue for their first album, No One Rides for Free (review here), is anything to go by, they should be more than up to the task of handling the next record themselves. Freedom of choice, right?

Here’s the latest:

FU MANCHU ANNOUNCE US TOUR DATES, FINISH UP NEW ALBUM

California rockers FU MANCHU announce their Spring USA INVASION Tour 2014

Fu Manchu are hitting the road in May 2014 to bring their new album “Gigantoid” to fans in the Unites States and Canada. Tickets go on sale Friday March Friday March 7th 2014 for all shows in the US and Canada. The band is currently mixing the album, their first new studio album in 5 years, with Andrew Giacumakis (MOAB). The album was recorded by Giacumakis and Jim Monroe(The Adolescents, X) at the end of February 2014.

The band recorded and released the single “Robotic Invasion” with Andrew Giacumakis last October for Scion Motors.

This is the bands 10th studio album, their 14th release over all and follows on two years of touring in the US, Europe Australia and New Zealand on successful reissues of the classic records ” In Search Of” and ” The Action Is Go.” This will be their first new full length release on their own AT THE DOJO label. The band celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2015 and this year marks the 20th Anniversary of their first album “No One Rides For Free” recently reissued on AT THE DOJO.

FU MANCHU INVASION USA TOUR/ SPRING 2014
Thursday May 1st San Francisco CA Bottom Of The Hill
Saturday May 03 Portland OR Dante’s
Sunday May 4th Seattle WA El Corazon
Tuesday May 06 Salt Lake City UT Club Sound
Wed May 07 Denver CO Marquis Theatre
Saturday May 10 Chicago Il SubTerranean
Sunday May 11 Detroit MI Smalls
Tuesday May 13th Columbus OH Ace Of Cups
Wednesday May 14th Cleveland OH Grog Shop
Friday May 16th Toronto ON Horseshoe Tavern
Saturday May 17th Montreal QC Cabaret Mile End
Monday May 19th New York City NY Mercury Lounge
Tuesday May 20th Boston MA The Sinclair
Wednesday May 21st Philidelphia PA Barbary
Friday May 23rd Washington DC Rock N Roll Hotel
Saturday May 24th Raleigh NC Kings
Sunday May 25th Atlanta GA The Earl
Tuesday May 27th Austin TX Red 7
Wednesday May 28th Dallas TX Gas Monkey Bar and Grill
Saturday May 31st Mesa AZ Pub Rock Live

Los Angeles / San Diego show info soon…
Europe tour info soon…
Australia / japan tour info soon…
Canadian tour info soon…

Fu Manchu, “Robotic Invasion” (2013)

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Castle Cover Alice Cooper for New Single; Lyric Video Now Playing

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

San Francisco/Toronto doom rockers Castle have a new single coming via Ván Records ahead of their third full-length. The band have a lyric video for the lead track, “Second Coming,” an Alice Cooper cover originally appearing on 1971′s Love it to Death paired with “The Ballad of Dwight Fry.” Castle are also set to tour in Europe next month, playing with Conan and The Graviators as well as putting in an appearance at Desertfest in Berlin. Their second record, Blacklands, came out on Prosthetic in 2011, and the new one is expected in spring.

My brain is pretty fried, but it’s a cool cover and the video design follows suit, so have at you:

Castle, “Second Coming” lyric video

Castle cover Alice Cooper’s Second Coming; release single / video

San Francisco doom-tinged metaller’s CASTLE have released a 7″ single on their European label Van Records. The limited edition single features the band covering Alice Cooper’s “Second Coming” as well as a demo track, “Labyrinth of Death” from their upcoming full length. Details for the follow-up to 2012′s “Blacklands” will be released in the coming weeks. For now the band have also unveiled a lyric video for “Second Coming” and European tour dates in support the single.

CASTLE were formed in 2009 and released their debut album “In Witch Order” via the German label Van Records (The Devil’s Blood) in the spring of 2011. The album brought light to the newly formed band and gained them the title of Metal Hammer Norway’s album of the year as well as Roadburn Festival’s “Newcomer of the Year”. The follow-up record “Blacklands” was nominated for a Canadian Juno award for best metal album of the year in 2013.

European Tour Dates
4/11 Cafe Cairo, Würzburg, GER *
4/12 Boröm Pöm Pöm, Oberentfelden, CH
4/13 Slow Club, Freiburg, GER
4/14 La Zone, Leige BEL
4/15 Feierwerk, Munich, GER
4/19 DNA, Brussels, BEL
4/20 Doornroosje, Nijmegen, NL
4/21 Little Devil, Tilburg, NL
4/24 Kulturpalast, Wiesbaden, GER ^
4/25 Vera, Groningen, NL ^
4/26 Desertfest, Berlin, GER
4/27 Underground,Cologne, GER ^
5/1 Katy’s Garage, Dresden, GER

* w/ Conan
^ w/ Conan, Graviators

Castle on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 9: DNA Lounge, San Francisco, CA

Posted in Features, Reviews on February 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

02.26.14 – 2:46AM Pacific – Wed. morning – En route from SF

“You can never win…” – Bobby Liebling

Not sure what to say about tonight, really, but we’re on the move out of San Francisco and it’s getting late. The show was fantastic. Another sellout crowd, a killer venue, great sound, cool mood, everybody’s locked in and coming across excellent. I moved around a bit more rather than just sit tight up front, so got a couple different views and even snapped some shots from the side of the stage. We were rolling. Things were rolling along. When Pentagram were finished, I came out to the van to at least get the night’s photos onto my laptop and ready to post and found two of the passenger-side windows, the two in back, had been blown out.

At first it didn’t look like anything was gone, but of course stuff was. Some wasn’t touched, but iPads, Steve’s clothes, etc., got swiped, and Radio Moscow got hit as well, including for laptops and photo equipment. Shitter way to end what would’ve otherwise been an excellent night, though I say “end” and since we’re still driving and in need of a 24-hour glass repair person to fix the two windows which now have gaffer’s tape and poster board where the window used to be, the night’s not actually over yet. All the same, here’s the deal:

Bedrücken


Somewhere between thrash and doom and more extreme metal, Oakland’s own Bedrücken are there, probably getting drunk. A double-guitar five-piece with a standalone vocalist, they were easily the most extreme band of the night, kind of a standout in that regard, but seemed to know the room and the people, who were starting to trickle in as the show got underway. West Coast sludge has a long history of sounding as thoroughly fucked as possible, and Bedrücken seemed well aware of the legacy they were upholding, but were well distinguished by vocalist Ami Lawless’ vicious rasp and periodic deviations into broodingly intense clean parts. The crusty contingent in the crowd – and there was one — ate it up.

Kings Destroy


“The Whittler,” from the first album, replaced the new song “Embers.” I was digging the way that one was coming along, but it had been a while since I heard the older cut, so no complaints. Things had clicked well in Portland and there was no step back in SF despite a hiccup in closer “Blood of Recompense.” For the most part in this band, these guys have all known each other for so long that their dynamic is well set, and I guess seeing it three shows in a row like this, that’s the primary standout impression, how natural they are on stage with each other. And Aaron Bumpus, who’s not just younger but also rooted differently in terms of his influences, fits well in sound and presence. I’ve been trying to think of what separates Kings Destroy from most doom — much as they’re a doom band at all — in how they handle the stage, and really it seems to be a question of attitude. Bedrücken were plenty angry, but Kings Destroy were confrontational, and that’s a big difference. They had started before I even realized it, and their set went quickly.

Radio Moscow

I’m not sure how one might mosh to Radio Moscow, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t see it happen tonight. Unless 21 got way younger looking when I wasn’t paying attention — possible — this was another all-ages show, and the younger contingent especially was all about Radio Moscow‘s psych-blues mastery. It’s a crazy lineup, the three touring acts, but I think no matter who was on the bill, Radio Moscow would likely distinguish themselves. Guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs, bassist Anthony Meier and drummer Paul Marrone were so snapped-in it was like you pressed play and then there they were, but they still have personality on stage as well. It’s not like they come across as going through the motions of their material. It’s been incredible to watch. Still dug “Death of a Queen” a lot, “Frustrating Sound” made a return, and while it was on their setlist for both prior shows, I’m fairly certain tonight was the first time they actually broke out “No Time” for a jammy runthrough, which had the kid in the flipped-up-brim D.R.I. hat out of his mind.

Pentagram

The song “8″ left an impression on 2011′s Last Rites (review here) as well, but live it seems to be all the more of a showcase for the richness in Victor Griffin‘s guitar tone. Pentagram, three shows into the tour, are killing it. Each night is better than the last. Bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley are fluid and energetic players, and of course with Griffin there as the instrumental anchor, Bobby Liebling is that much freer to gyrate his hips, make obscene hand gestures at the crowd, whatever it might be on any given night. That’s all well and good, but Liebling‘s vocals tonight on “Be Forewarned” might also have been the best I’ve ever heard him sound live, so there’s something to be said for settling into the tour. Of course, “Forever My Queen” was again a highlight, among “Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram),” “When the Screams Come,” “Relentless” and closer “20 Buck Spin,” which I stuck around tonight to see. No regrets of course, unless that was when the van window got smashed, in which case, yeah, I probably should have split a little early. Not that I knew that at the time. Finding a little enclave in the back with a solid 18″ of personal space on as many sides as I wanted, I could’ve stayed there until 2AM and been fine. Didn’t come to that, however.

Even though I stayed to the very end of Pentagram‘s encore, I was still the first one back to the van. Two smashed windows, glass on the ground. Some stuff in the back looked untouched, so I thought maybe it was just vandalism, but no, when the Kings Destroy guys came out of the venue and down the block, they confirmed they had stuff missing. Glass was everywhere in the van, but we swept it, loaded out the gear, taped up the windows and hit the road. Not much choice in the matter. It’s 10 hours to Vegas. Gotta go. The staff at the DNA were cool and stuck around to help load-out.

Stopped for the night maybe 90 minutes outside of San Francisco, everyone bummed out, especially those who lost their stuff. The whole block had been hit, and apparently around the corner where Radio Moscow were stationed. A couple of kids I spoke to while I was waiting for the band to come out from the venue said they had camera equipment stolen, and so did Radio Moscow, and electronics stuff as well. Probably just people looking to make a buck, but still shitty for all involved. I’m telling you, if you’re going to steal, steal from corporations. No one even bothered to call the cops because they would’ve done nothing and nothing was insured. Police cars drove by on patrol the whole time I was outside — it was a while — and said and did nothing. Bigger fish to fry, I guess.

Tomorrow is Vegas. It’s after 4:30 in the morning and we need to be out of here at 9AM, so my watch is set for 8:01. If I’m ever going to sleep in the van, tomorrow seems like it might be the day. We’ll see how it works out.

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 8: Orbiting Satellites

Posted in Features on February 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

02.25.14 — 6:16PM Pacific — Tuesday — DNA Lounge, San Francisco, CA

“City on the go…” — Everyone.

My first impression when I walked into the DNA Lounge was a hearty “fuck yeah,” and yes, I said it out loud. Slept as solidly as I could reasonably ask in Arcata last night and got back on the 101 this morning.  More redwoods, some coast, more little enclaves of people and wide-open spaces. Creative types and hippies painting the sides of gas stations. Trees like dreams are big. Unreal. We got to the venue a little bit after 4PM. They had a couple guys on hand to help with load-in, and when I asked what the password for the wifi was, got looked at like I was from another planet (which, rest assured, I am) and told, “It’s open.” Fucking a.

Ride down was subdued, but everyone seems to be in good spirits. We stopped off at Russian River Brewing and picked up a bunch of Pliny the Elder, which pretty much is to American IPAs what Pentagram is to doom. I didn’t have any — grabbed a cup of coffee and a muffin from the place down the way from Russian River — but it seemed to loosen up the atmosphere in the van nicely. With Jim Pitts at the wheel calling out the sundry landmarks of his town, we came into San Francisco on the Golden Gate Bridge with minimal traffic and stopped off to buy a guitar cable before loading in, which again, ran like clockwork.

Once everything was offloaded, Jim Pitts and I went over to Aquarius Records for a quick poke through. I didn’t splurge — am more than fairly broke at this point; you might say unfairly broke – but I figured the cash was better spent on a couple CDs than not. Sucks to have your credit card denied. Sucks even more to have it denied when your purchase total is $21. Cue sad womp-womp noise. Was glad to have hit an ATM earlier at a rest stop on the way.

Doors I think are in about half an hour. The Pentagram and Radio Moscow cats are all here, as are Bedrücken, who are opening, and sitting on the balcony I can hear jolts of laughing, and nobody’s throwing punches, so I’ll surmise that things are going well. I think having the shows being sold out probably helps in that regard, but frankly whatever gets it done is cool. Plan is to get out of town after the show and put some distance between the van and the city to avoid morning traffic and allow for cheaper lodging. Should be groovy.

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Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast Tour, Pt. 7: The Light Beyond

Posted in Features on February 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

02.24.14 — 10:28PM Pacific — Monday night — Quality Inn, Arcata, CA

“Fuckin’ giant octopus…” – Aaron Bumpus

Today I saw the sun for the first time in what seemed like at least four months, and I’m not sure I can properly explain how good it felt. Not just the last two days of rain in the Pacific Northwest, but just the whole winter back home has been so soul-retchingly grim. It’s February and I stood outside today without a hoodie on. Whatever else happened, the day was going to be a win from the word go. The tour had an off-date, but with last night having been Portland and tomorrow being San Francisco, it was travel the whole day. That’s not the last time that’s going to happen on this run.

Wasn’t terrible, in any case. Most of the drive I spent nerding out on the landscape, which was deeply, richly beautiful, with tree-lined mountains, properties cut into the forest in straight lines like a border about to be eaten by a wave. So fucking cool. Mountains all over the place, people nowhere. Wonderful, gorgeous land. One hardly thinks of loading into a sprinter van with six other dudes as a way to feel refreshed, but that’s where I was at this afternoon as we made our way south through Oregon. Here we are, rolled into a truck stop in the middle of nowhere. There’s the Subway, there’s the Pilot, there’s the porn shack, there’s Kings Destroy picking up a sixer for the road, and here’s me taking pictures in the parking lot like it’s National Geographic. Still, the sky and the mountains had me well enamored.

Jim Pitts had his work cut out for him on the drive, though Steve took over for a while as well after signing a form, taking a picture of it on his phone and sending it to who knows where. We came south down the 205 out of Portland, romantic visions of the Hawthorne Theatre and surrounding area still lingering in my head to go with my ringing ears, then picked up 99 to 199 in Grant’s Pass, which looked like a cool little town. Sort of these hippie enclaves along the way, people for whom getting away from other people was clearly a priority. Very secluded, some small shops outside of town. One place that made custom treehouses that were particularly righteous. I’m not sure that I’d be able to give up my kneejerk New Jersey prick bred-in anger and restlessness long enough to live that way for any real stretch of time, but it’s a lifestyle I envy.

Late afternoon/early evening found the van on winding roads in the hills, headed toward the coast. The kinds of turns you either take slow or slam into the side of a mountain. By the time we got into California and picked up the 101 at around exit 800, about five hours after starting out, I was starting to drag a bit, but a quick pit stop after coming through some crazy mountain tunnel provided respite. I think everyone got increasingly worn down from there by the drive, but best to keep going. Saw some redwood trunks in the forest, but it was dark by then, so not much more, and nothing really of the water except the blackness where it would’ve been by day and stars overhead. We got to this motel in Arcata, CA, a little bit before 8:30PM, checked in, ate at the Mexican place next door — which officially closed at nine, but were very accommodating all the same — for food and drink. Flautas and iced tea. West Coast Mexican food demolishes the vast majority of what’s available back home, though obviously there are exceptions on both sides. As a general rule though, the standard is higher. The East Coast has pizza though, which isn’t nothing. Talk was of hardcore days gone by, bands, shows, people, scenes, etc. I know next to nothing about any of it, but it’s interesting.

Steve had said something about hitting a beach early in the morning and I think C-Wolf and Jim Pitts were going to go as well, but I’m more inclined to crash out for as long as possible. I got to sleep after four last night and the fire alarm at the motel in Portland went off a little after seven because some doofus left his waffle in the iron too long. Sleep in the van is just about out of the question so far, though I was dozing by the time we pulled into Arcata, so I’ll take what I can get however I can get it. Tomorrow night is DNA Lounge in San Fran, and then on to Albuquerque. I’m looking forward to seeing the Pacific coast again during the day and to the show as well. It’s not an insubstantial trip, but it’s going fast. Tomorrow is Tuesday already and we leave on Saturday. Between, more mountains, forest, desert, rock and roll. I feel lucky to be here, immensely thankful to have been invited.

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On Wax: Fu Manchu, No One Rides for Free

Posted in On Wax on February 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

“Gas, grass or ass. No one rides for free.” — ancient boogie van proverb

Here’s a fun idea: let’s talk about Fu Manchu. The long-running SoCal fuzz rock progenitors have a vinyl remaster of their 1994 debut LP, No One Rides for Free, out direct from the band on their own At the Dojo Records imprint, following reissues of In Search Of, The Action is Go, Godzilla’s/Eatin’ Dust, California Crossing Demos and a collection of their cover material aptly-titled The Covers. Even as they’re currently in the studio working on a follow-up to 2009′s Signs of Infinite Power, however, they’re going back to their van-worshiping roots in repressing No One Rides for Free. The album arrives in gatefold form, quality card stock with photos of the four-piece from that era, pressed either to yellow (300), clear (300) or black (the rest) platter of substantive heft, and sounds even better than it looks, the eight tracks reading like a gnostic text of the heavy that would follow in their wake over these two decades since No One Rides for Free was first issued.

The lineup of guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill, guitarist Eddie Glass, bassist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano would be a supergroup if they got together today, with Hill having put out some of CA’s finest fuzz in Fu Manchu over the years while the others went on to form Nebula (whereabouts unknown), Romano now good company and good time in The Freeks — never mind Brant Bjork, who produced the thing — but make no mistake, on No One Rides for Free, there were no laurels to rest upon. Fu Manchu had put out a handful of singles between 1990 and 1994, but what’s widely considered their best work lay well ahead of them, and 20 years ago, the laid back, easy-flowing grooves of side A cuts like the opening one-two of “Time to Fly” and “Ojo Rojo” didn’t fit nearly as easily into assignations like “stoner” and “fuzz,” since they barely existed as a subgenre of rock. It’s easy to imagine No One Rides for Free finding an audience among the more baked-out contingent in Southern California’s seemingly perpetual punk and hardcore scene — that’s where Fu Manchu‘s roots lie, as the 2010 Southern Lord release of Virulence‘s If this isn’t a Dream… 1985-1989 (review here) showed, with Hill, Abshire and Romano in that lineup — but it’s not like it came prepackaged with a sticker that said, “Okay kids, this is stoner rock! Get on board!”

And for everyone who wound up doing that (i.e. getting on board), it’s no stretch to figure there were just as many who heard the acoustics and dreamy leads of “Summer Girls (Free and Easy)” — which here starts side B — and had no clue or context for what to make. If it was next-generation surf rock, however, Fu Manchu could easily fit that bill. No One Rides for Free sets in place an allegiance to that culture that continues to be a part of the band’s identity to this day, and a lot of what they’d later turn into the core of their sound is present in these tracks, let alone a lyrical affinity for good times, vans, Camaros, chrome pipes, ladies, and so on. Is it the record that launched a thousand Spicolis? More likely it’s a piece of that burnout puzzle than a sole actor, but Fu Manchu make it plain by the time Romano starts in with the cowbell of “Shine it On” that they know what they’re doing, and that the rolling grooves preceding are no mistake. Hill sounds like a kid on “Show and Shine” and “Mega Bumpers,” but that only adds to the fun of the reissue, and with the interplay of his and Glass‘ guitars in the jam of closer “Snakebellies” — which they still pull back to the main riff before they’re done – it’s easy to hear where a lot of players might’ve heard it and decided to try their hand at something similar. Like everybody.

It’s not a release that needs to justify its own release. Some reissues you wonder why they even exist. For Fu Manchu to be re-releasing their back catalog as they continue to work on new material wants nothing for rationale, and since they obviously have the rights to the material, all the better they’re the ones getting the chance to profit from putting it back out. Its production might sound dated here and there, but No One Rides for Free has a righteousness at its core that Fu Manchu‘s unyielding relevance and enduring influence shows to be timeless, and whether you’re a fan looking for an excuse to revisit their early output or a newcomer just getting to know them beyond preliminary investigations, this LP seems to serve all interests in a manner worthy of the band’s legacy. You can’t really lose.

Fu Manchu, No One Rides for Free (1994)

Fu Manchu on Thee Facebooks

Fu Manchu’s website

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Radio Moscow to Release Magical Dirt this May

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Details are pretty light, I guess, and I even threw in the quote from the band themselves, but basically the takeaway from the PR wire this morning is that heavy blues rockers Radio Moscow will release a new album this May and that that album is called Magical Dirt. Of course, the trio was recently announced as taking part in Desertfest in London and Berlin this year, and as has occupied my mind to and beyond the point of much-needed distraction the last couple weeks, they’ll also hit the road this month with Pentagram and Kings Destroy on the West Coast, the latter of whom were kind enough to invite me and my laptop along for the trip. I can think of way worse things than seeing those bands, Radio Moscow included, seven nights in a row.

Radio Moscow have other shows booked on either side of that run, and the dates are included below. Seems fair to expect a decent amount of new material in the set as the band look forward to following up 2011′s The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz.

Dig:

RADIO MOSCOW ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF THEIR FOURTH STUDIO ALBUM “MAGICAL DIRT” THIS MAY THROUGH ALIVE NATURALSOUND RECORDS!

PSYCH-ROCK MERCHANTS HIT THE ROAD FEB. 18TH FOR WEST COAST TOUR INCLUDING SEVEN SPECIAL SHOWS SUPPORTING PENTAGRAM!

Says the band:
“Can’t wait to share the new sounds. Release date, and more coming soon! Stay tuned”

RADIO MOSCOW TOUR DATES (* supporting Pentagram)
Feb 18 @ Winters Tavern – Pacifica, CA
Feb 19 @ The Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA
Feb 21 @ The Kremlin – Vancouver, BC
Feb 22 @ El Corazon – Seattle, WA *
Feb 23 @ Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR *
Feb 25 @ DNA Lounge – San Francisco, CA *
Feb 26 @ The Cheyenne Saloon – Las Vegas, NV *
Feb 27 @ Sister Bar – Albuquerque, NM *
Feb 28 @ Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO *
March 1 @ In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT *
March 7 @ Til-Two Club – San Diego, CA
(more dates to be announced soon)

http://radiomoscow.net
http://www.alive-totalenergy.com

Radio Moscow, “Sweet Little Thing”

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Slough Feg, Digital Resistance: Ravenous Medicine

Posted in Reviews on February 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Moral superiority suits San Francisco metallers Slough Feg. Their sound, rooted in NWOBHM traditions and met with righteousness culled from Celtic folk, is neither that simple nor that limited. They reside in that same hallowed realm of underappreciation as Voivod, whose Killing Technology is lyrically referenced here, or like what would’ve happened if the early metal of Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road had continued an unabated progression. All comparisons due justice to parts of their sound, none to the whole of it. Slough Feg‘s eighth full-length, 2010′s The Animal Spirits (review here), was organic in its sound and presentation, and while their 2014 follow-up, Digital Resistance (on Metal Blade), feels inherently more aggressive, it’s hard to figure where the line actually resides between band self-awareness and reading a narrative into the songs. Certainly, Slough Feg, who formed in 1990 and are led by guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi with Angelo Tringali on guitar, Adrian Maestas on bass and Harry Cantwell on drums, can be expected know what they’re doing by now, and as the title indicates, they’re working in opposition — the position beginning with opener “Analogue Avengers/Bertrand Russell’s Sex Den” seems to be (which I say because I haven’t had the benefit of a lyric sheet) resistance to the digital rather than putting up a resistance via or from the digital — so it’s just as easy to think the signs of a struggle are evoked from the music as they are actually present in it. Who ever knows anything, anyway? Rock and roll, goddammit.

The opener sets both the stage and a dramatic tone befitting it, Scalzi‘s voice clear as ever over the band’s dense and rhythmic churn, but the ensuing title-track offers more of a gallop, and much of Digital Resistance seems keen to play the two sides off each other. A seamless blend of acoustic and electric guitar is nothing new for Slough Feg, and though the character and theme of this album is different, one can hear traces of consistency and development both from The Animal Spirits and the preceding outings, 2009′s Ape Uprising! and 2007′s Hardworlder. Slough Feg sounding like Slough Feg shouldn’t be any great surprise to anyone who’s followed the band at any point in their tenure, but that creative will to stand apart suits well the personality of Digital Resistance, and as “Habeas Corpsus” introduces a spacious acoustic strum amid tom roll and multi-layered vocals, the rush in terms of pace is no less prevalent than it was on the title cut — momentum quickly built and even quicker once it gets going. “Magic Hooligan” furthers the pace, bouncing thrash circularity off more technically engaged riff work and slamming into heavy rock groove into its second half as a bed for classic-style soloing and smooth transition back to a double-kick final verse, a sneakier guitar line in “Ghastly Appendage” holding more tension even as it seems to be paying off in its chorus, peculiar and instrumental save for maniacal laughing. Digital Resistance doesn’t feel overtly structured for vinyl — at 10 tracks and just under 41 minutes, it breaks evenly track-wise at 19 minutes for side A and almost 22 for side B, with “Ghastly Appendage” providing a strange, down-the-rabbit-hole vibe to close out the first half.

Read more »

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Fu Manchu Reissue No One Rides for Free on Vinyl

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

After running a contest to give away the test-pressing on their Thee Facebooks page (I didn’t win), Southern California fuzz innovators Fu Manchu have made available a limited run of vinyl for a new remaster of their 1994 debut album, No One Rides for Free. Obviously this is a scenario in which all of humanity benefits.

That’s not sarcasm. Yeah, No One Rides for Free doesn’t enjoy the same kind of landmark status as some of Fu Manchu‘s subsequent outings, like 1997′s The Action is Go or 1996′s In Search Of, but it’s amazing how much of Fu Manchu‘s approach was already laid out by the time they got to No One Rides for Free after a couple of initial singles. Cuts like “Mega-Bumpers” and “Time to Fly” and “Ojo Rojo” lay out the blueprint for what the band would become, and with the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill, bassist Mark Abshire, guitarist Eddie Glass and drummer Ruben Romano — the latter three who’d go on to form Nebula – not to mention production by Brant Bjork, who’d later join on drums, the badassery speaks for itself. It’s like they recorded surfing.

Instructions for how to order follow here, and Fu Manchu are also playing Feb. 8 at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, CA, with Blasting Concept, so one imagines you can pick up a copy at that show as well. From there, the Fu head into the studio to lay down a new album reportedly for release later in the year. Like I said, everybody wins:

Fu Manchu 20 year anniversary of “no one rides for free” remaster / reissue gatefold LP out now. 300 on yellow vinyl and 300 on clear vinyl the rest on black vinyl. We will be selling the colored copies here. CD’s out soon.

Inside the USA $13.00 plus $7.00 shipping fedex priority. email your order.

Outside the USA contact us for shipping.

Paypal and contact is kingfu666@aol.com

Orders will start shipping out 3rd week of feb. Include order and address with payment.

https://www.facebook.com/FuManchuBand
http://www.fu-manchu.com/

Fu Manchu, No One Rides for Free (1994)

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Sleepy Sun Join Lineup for Desertfest Berlin 2014

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

Next week, airy San Francisco psych rockers Sleepy Sun start a US tour that will cross the nation and turn north into Canada in support of their new album, Maui Tears. It will run from Feb. 13 almost through the end of March before planting the five-piece back on their native soil, and then after that, they head to Europe in April, where they’ll take part in Desertfest Berlin 2014. Busy schedule, but all it means is that by the time they hit the Astra Kulturhaus, they’ll be so locked in they’re likely to have forgotten what life was like before they played a show every night. Which is bad for personal relationships, but good for a rock and roll crowd.

The PR wire sends confirmation:

DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014 — SLEEPY SUN CONFIRMED

We are delighted to announce today in exclusivity that Mammoth Psych Rockers SLEEPY SUN will lead their trippy fresh waves to DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014!!

SLEEPY SUN is an American psychedelic rock band from San Francisco (Ca) first formed as Mania in 2005 by students Bret Constantino, Matthew Holliman, Evan Reiss, Brice Tice and original bass player Hubert Guy.

The band progressed from their original garage rock stylings into psychedelia and in 2007 changed their name to SLEEPY SUN, with the addition of former singer Rachel Fannan. Soon after the band set to work on their debut and self released “Embrace” in 2008 (re-issued by ATP Recordings in 2009), which received favorable reviews. Shortly after the release of the album Guy left the band and was soon replaced by new bass player Jack Allen.

SLEEPY SUN released their follow-up album, “Fever” in 2010, and “Spine Hits” in 2012, the band’s first studio album without Fannan. Now in 2014, they released on January 28th their fourth LP “Maui Tears” via Dine Alone Records: 9 tracks of mind-melting trip exploring festering psych-garage, languid space-rock and stoner-waltz delirium!

During the past five years, SLEEPY SUN also embarked on multiple tours, and the band’s mixture of alchemy and architecture on stage has twisted knowing and discerning heads. With their live show becoming a subject of acclaim, Brit-pop colossus Arctic Monkey’s hauled them out on tour in 2010, and drone-psych leviathans Black Angels did the same a year later. Starting a 35-dates tour in the USA on February 13th, they will reach European lands in April, and will make a stop at DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014, for our pleasure!

http://www.desertfest.de/
https://www.facebook.com/SleepySun/
http://sleepysun.net/

Sleepy Sun, “The Lane” official video

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