Last Licks 2014: Sigiriya, Handsome Jack, Octopus Syng, Serpent Venom, Purple Hill Witch, Sandveiss, Sun Shepherd, Giant Sleep, Owl Glitters and Acid Elephant

Posted in Reviews on December 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This is it. New Year’s is this week and by Friday we’ll be into 2015. A new year always brings new hopes, concerns, records and so on, but to be completely honest, I’m just not quite done with 2014 yet. So here we are. I’ve had stacks of CDs on my desk and folders on my computer from the last couple months of stuff I have been trying to fit in, and it doesn’t seem right to me to let the year go without cramming in as much music as I possibly can.

Gotta call it something, so I went with “Last Licks,” since that’s basically what it will be. The plan is that between today and Friday, each day I’ll have another batch of 10 reviews. I’m not going to promise they’ll be the most comprehensive ever, but the idea is to do as much as I can and this seems to me the best way to turn my brains into goo. When that ball drops in Times Square, there’s a good chance I’ll be typing.

No sense in delaying. You get the idea, so let’s jump in:

Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today

sigiriya darkness died today

Recorded live as their debut on Candlelight Records and the follow-up to 2011’s debut, Return to Earth (review here), the sophomore outing from Welsh heavy rockers SigiriyaDarkness Died Today, is distinguished by a vocalist swap bringing in Matt Williams of Suns of ThunderWilliams has a tough job in replacing Dorian Walters, who like guitarist Stuart O’Hara, bassist Paul Bidmead and drummer Darren Ivey, is a former member of Acrimony. There are times when it works and times when it doesn’t. Along with a more barebones tonality in the guitar than appeared on the debut, Williams brings a more straightforward style in his voice, and it changes the personality of the band on songs like “Freedom Engines” and the first-album-title-track “Return to Earth.” “Tribe of the Old Oak” is a catchy highlight and I’ll almost never argue with a song called “Obelisk,” but it seems like they’re still searching for the footing here that seemed so firmly planted their last time out.

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Candlelight Records

Handsome Jack, Do What Comes Naturally

handsome jack do what comes naturally

Upstate New York blues rockers Handsome Jack waste little time living up to the title Do What Comes Naturally. The name of their third album, released by Alive Naturalsound, is both mission-statement aand suggestion, and on songs like the soul-inflected “Creepin’” and the rolling “You and Me,” they make it sound like a good idea. Blues and classic soul meet garage rock across cuts like the relatively brief “Leave it all Behind,” but the tones are warm throughout the record, and guest spots on harmonica and Hammond help keep a sense of variety in the material, well-constructed but still loose in its vibe. The twang might recall The Brought Low for heavy rock heads, but one doubts Handsome Jack groove on much that came out after Psychedelic Mud. Even the CD splits into sides, and as easy as it would be for something like this to sound like a put-on, Handsome Jack prevail with closer “Wasted Time” in making an outing that’s anything but.

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Alive Naturalsound

Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen

serpent venom of things seen and unseen

London doomers Serpent Venom sound like experts in the form on Of Things Seen and Unseen, their second album for The Church Within following 2011’s Carnal Altar and their initial 2010 demo (review here), a righteous 48-minute lumbering slab of heavy riffs, downerism and nod. It’s not every band who could put “Death Throes at Dawn” and “Lord of Life” next to each other, but the four-piece of vocalist Garry Ricketts, guitarist Roland Scriver, bassist Nick Davies and drummer Paul Sutherland keep their focus so utterly doomed that even the quiet, minimalist acoustic interlude “I Awake” – ostensibly a breather — comes across as trodden as the earlier “Sorrow’s Bastard,” or the Reverend Bizarre-worthy “Let Them Starve,” which follows. For those who long for trad doom that has an identity outside its Vitus and Sabbath influences, Serpent Venom prove more than ready to enter that conversation on the wah-soaked soloing in the second half of “Pilgrims of the Sun.” Right fucking on.

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The Church Within Records

Owl Glitters, Alchemical Tones

owl glitters alchemical tones

The artwork tells the story. Owl GlittersAlchemical Tones (on Heart and Crossbone Records) is a wash of color. Taking tribal rhythms and repetitions and pairing them with organic low-end, chanted vocals and periodic excursions of psych rock guitar, Arkia Jahani (who seems to be the lone creative force behind the project, though Mell Dettmer mastered) brings a ritualistic sensibility to the eight included pieces, and the flow is molten from the start of “Dervishes.” Less purposefully weird than Master Musicians of Bukkake, but farther into the cosmos than Om, there’s a folkish identity at the heart of Alchemical Tones that keeps the proceedings human even on the near-throat-singing of “Hakim Sanai” or “Poets of Shiras” and “Khalifa’s Visions” an immersive pair preceding the droning closer “By the Candlelight Our Eyes Welcome Glimmers of Eternity.” Beautifully experimental – and in the case of “Mindful of Gems,” fuzzed to the gills – Owl Glitters’ second outing engages sonic spiritualism with dogmatic command and stares back at you from the space within yourself.

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Heart and Crossbone Records

Sandveiss, Scream Queen

sandveiss scream queen

Sandveiss released Scream Queen, their first full-length, late in 2013, reveling in a modern sound crisply produced and more than ably executed to feature the vocals of guitarist Luc Bourgeois, who provides frontman presence even on disc alongside guitarist Shawn Rice, bassist Daniel Girard and drummer Dzemal Trtak. Cohesiveness isn’t in question as opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Blindsided” rounds out its 6:26, leading the way into “Do You Really Know” and setting the tone for big-riffed Euro-style heavy from the Quebecois foursome, who slow down on “Bottomless Lies,” on which Trtak backs Bourgeois in you-guys-should-do-this-more fashion, and ultimately hold firm to the focus on songwriting that establishes itself early. They fuzz out on closer “Green or Gold,” but by then it’s another element of variety among the organ, guest vocals on “Scar” and tempo shifts on Sandveiss’ ambitious debut, distinguished even unto the six-panel gatefold digi-sleeve in which it arrives, the art and design by Alexandre Goulet one more standout factor on an album demanding attention.

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Sandveiss on Bandcamp

Octopus Syng, Reverberating Garden Number 7

octopus syng reverberating garden number 7

Probably the most clearly Beatlesian moment on Octopus Syng’s Reverberating Garden Number 7 is a slight “Hey Bulldog”-style cadence on side A’s “Very Strange Trip,” and that in itself is an accomplishment (one I’m apparently not the first to observe). The Helsinki four-piece in their 15th year are led by guitarist/vocalist Jaire Pätäri and emit an oozing, serene psychedelia, peaceful and lysergic in late ‘60s exploratory fashion. Reverberating Garden Number 7 (on Mega Dodo Records) echoes out vibe to spare and is deceptively lush while keeping a humble vibe thanks in no small part to Pätäri’s restrained vocal approach and curios like “Cuckoo Clock Mystery,” which boasts an actual cuckoo clock to add bounce to its arrangement. Nine-minute closer “Listen to the Moths” is the single biggest surprise, and an album unto itself, but its unfolding is only the capstone on a collection of psychedelic wonder sincere in its stylistic intent and execution. It fills the ears like warm air in the lungs.

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Mega Dodo Records

Sun Shepherd, Procession of Trampling Hoof

sun shepherd procession of trampling hoof

Destructive Australian trio Sun Shepherd put the bulk of Procession of Trampling Hoof to tape in 2011. Closing bonus track “Exploding Sun” is a demo from 2006, but it fits with their extended tracks and big riffs piled onto each other in densely-weighted fashion, if rougher in presentation. More Ramesses than High on Fire, who prove otherwise to be a key influence tonally for guitarist/vocalist Anson Antriasian, must-hear bassist Leigh Fischer and drummer Michael Barson, though their approach is decidedly less thrash-based. The first five of the six songs find Sun Shepherd’s first full-length a pummel-minded blend of sludge and doom. Antriasian’s vocals are semi-spoken, but fitting theatrically on “Goat-Head Awakening” with the grueling riff-led nod, the tension released as they pass the halfway point of the 10-minute run, a raw atmosphere bolstering the chaos of their slower-motion marauding. With the welcome flourish of stonerly soloing on “Engulfed by Ocean of Time,” one can’t help but wonder what the Melbourne natives are up to three years later.

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Sun Shepherd on Bandcamp

Purple Hill Witch, Purple Hill Witch

purple hill witch purple hill witch

Fuzz-toned elements of Sleep and Sabbath pervade the stoner-doomy self-titled The Church Within debut from Oslo three-piece Purple Hill Witch, who carry the bounce well in immediately familiar riffs and groove. Swinging drums from Øyvind and the inventive basslines of Andreas underscore Kristian’s purely Iommic riffage and blown-out vocals, somewhere between Witchcraft’s earliest going and Witch’s self-titled. If that gives Purple Hill Witch an even witchier feel, “Final Procession” sounds just fine with that, as do shorter tracks like the later “Aldebaranian Voyage (Into the Sun)” and centerpiece “Karmanjaka” on which the stoner side comes out in force. They finish by using all 11 minutes of the eponymous “Purple Hill Witch”’s runtime, breaking in the midsection for a murky exploration that’s creepily atmospheric without veering into cult rock cliché. They bounce resumes and slows to a crawl to close out, but the jam serves Purple Hill Witch well in expanding the band’s sonic reach and the album’s weedian sensibility. Not that they were keeping it a secret.

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The Church Within Records

Giant Sleep, Giant Sleep

giant sleep giant sleep

A burly dual-guitar five-piece with roots in Germany and Switzerland, Giant Sleep start out their self-titled, self-released first LP with a brief intro titled “Argos” before getting to the question, “Why am I angry all the time?” as the central, recurring line of “Angry Man.” That song, like “Henu” and “Reproduce,” gets its point across quick in heavy rock fashion and develops its argument from there, a progressive metal vibe pervading especially the latter, which is penultimate in the 10-song/52-minute effort, and underscores the high-grade craftsmanship accomplished throughout. “Dreamless Sleep” is probably my pick of the bunch for its airier tone and resonant minor-key hook in the guitars of Markus Ruf and Patrick Hagmann, vocalist Thomas Rosenmerkel belting out the chorus before making way for plotted solos atop Radek Stecki’s bass and Manuel Spänhauer’s drums, but it’s not so far removed from its surroundings. As a whole, the album could be more efficient, but it wants nothing for songwriting, and especially as a debut, Giant Sleep hits its marks readily.

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Giant Sleep on Bandcamp

Acid Elephant, Star Collider

acid elephant star collider

Opener “Las Noches del Desierto” is the only one of Star Collider’s five tracks under 10 minutes. Flux seems to be the norm for Finnish post-stoners Acid Elephant, who recently brought in vocalist Martin Ahlö but here revolve around the core of bassist/guitarist/vocalist Miksa Väliverho, guitarist/vocalist Ilpo Kauppinen and drummer Roope Vähä-Aho, employing a host of others on obscure vocals, percussion and djembe throughout the 64-minute sophomore outing, recorded in 2012 and released late in 2013. Whoever they are now, Acid Elephant on Star Collider call out heavy psych, drone/jam and riff-based impulses in their extended cuts, gradually getting longer from “Red Carpet Lane” (10:46) until closer “Bog” hits 18:29. To their credit, their songs leave impressions to match their length, and even as it’s finishing its instrumental run, “Godmason” (15:58) is highlighting its resonant central riff, having emerged from a wash of feedback and amp noise at its beginning, preceded by the droning centerpiece “7th Stone.” Satisfying and unpredictable, Star Collider balances experimentation and engagement smoothly without losing its focus on individualism.

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 30 of 2014

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-top-30-of-2014

Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t added your list yet, please do.

This was a hard list to put together. The top three have been set in my mind for probably the last month, but trying to work my way backwards from there was a real challenge — what’s a top 10 record, a top 20 record, a top 30, honorable mentions and all the rest. I’ve never done a full top 30 before, always 20, but the truth is there was just too much this year to not expand.

I’m still juggling numbers even as I put together this post, and I’m sure that by the time I’m done several records will have switched places. That’s always how it seems to go. What I’m confident that I have is a list accurately representing critique and my own habits, both what I gravitated toward in listening throughout the year and what I feel is noteworthy on a critical level. This site has always been a blend of those two impulses. It’s only fair this list should be as well.

Before we dig in, you should note this is full-length albums only. I’ll have a list of short releases (EPs, singles, demos) to come, as well as a special list of debut releases, since it seemed to be a particularly good year for them. And since I’m only one person, I couldn’t hear everything, much as I tried.

Okay. Here we go:

30. Orange Goblin, Back from the Abyss

orange-goblin-back-from-the-abyss

Released by Candlelight Records. Reviewed on Nov. 17.

The kings of London’s heavy scene offered more powerhouse heavy rock with their eighth album and second for Candlelight, and their rabid and ever-growing fanbase ate it up. Back from the Abyss proved yet again that few can attain the kind of vicious force that seems to come so natural to Orange Goblin, and made it clear their domination shows no signs of losing momentum.

 

29. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

mos-generator-electric-mountain-majesty

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 14.

A darker affair from Port Orchard, Washington’s Mos GeneratorElectric Mountain Majesty still found its core in the songwriting led by guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed. They’re a band with some changes on the horizon, and I’ll be interested to hear what hindsight does to these songs. As it was, the hooks and downer vibes may have been in conceptual conflict, but the execution was inarguable.

 

28. Pilgrim, II: Void Worship

pilgrim-ii-void-worship

Released by Metal Blade Records. Reviewed on April 15.

Richer in the listening than 2012’s Misery Wizard debut, Pilgrim‘s II: Void Worship nonetheless held firm to the doomly spirit that’s made the Rhode Island outfit such a sensation these last couple years. Its longer songs, “Master’s Chamber,” “Void Worship” and the emotionally weighted “Away from Here,” were particularly immersive, and they remain a bright spot in doom’s future.

 

27. John Garcia, John Garcia

john-garcia-john-garcia

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed on July 7.

His long-awaited solo debut, John Garcia‘s John Garcia offered memorable tracks culled from years of songwriting from the former Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida and Hermano frontman, performed in the classic desert rock style he helped define. I’m not sure it was worth trading a second Vista Chino record for, but it was hard to argue with “The Blvd” and “All These Walls.”

 

26. Swans, To be Kind

swans-to-be-kind

Released by Mute/Young God Records. Reviewed on May 9.

An overwhelming two-disc barrage from a relentless creativity that, more than 30 years on from its first public incarnation, is still to be considered avant garde. I’m not sure planet earth realizes how lucky it is to have Swans running around unleashing all this chaos, but I hope they don’t stop anytime soon. To be Kind was brutal and beautiful in like measure.

 

25. Sólstafir, Ótta

solstafir-otta

Released by Season of Mist. Discussed Oct. 11.

Icelandic four-piece Sólstafir hit on a rarely attained balance of gorgeousness and melancholy, and while Ótta is expansive, it’s also gripping front to back and is the best execution of its style I’ve heard since Anathema‘s Alternative 4, which is not a comparison I make lightly. A challenging record, but satisfying in kind and universal in its expressiveness.

 

24. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

greenleaf-trails-and-passes

Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed on April 25.

The follow-up to Greenleaf‘s stellar 2012 outing Nest of Vipers (review here) brought lineup changes and stripped away many of the textural elements of the band’s sound — guest appearances, arrangement flourishes — in order to get back to a classic heavy rock sound and translate better to the stage. With guitarist Tommi Holappa‘s songwriting ever at the core, it would be unfair to call the process anything but a success.

 

23. Earth, Primitive and Deadly

earth-primitive-and-deadly

Released by Southern Lord Recordings. Reviewed on Sept. 9.

Most of the headlines went to the fact that Primitive and Deadly had vocals, where the generally-instrumental Earth had avoided singers for 18 years prior, but even putting aside Mark Lanegan and Rabi Shabeen Qazi, whose performance on “From the Zodiacal Light” was the high point of the record, presented Earth‘s always progressive tensions in a rawer, heavier production, and was a joy for longtime fans.

 

22. Ogre, The Last Neanderthal

ogre-the-last-neanderthal

Released by Minotauro Records. Reviewed on March 10.

Six years and one breakup later, Portland, Maine, doom trio Ogre returned with The Last Neanderthal, neither afraid to revel in Sabbathian traditionalism or rock out a more upbeat cut like opener “Nine Princes in Amber.” For bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham, guitarist Ross Markonish and drummer Will Broadbent, it was a welcome resurgence of pretense-free heavy riffs and grooves.

 

21. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum

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Released by Candlelight Records. Reviewed on Jan. 30.

Of course, at the time we didn’t know it would be the final outing from this lineup of UK doomers The Wounded Kings, whose guitarist/founder Steve Mills has now reunited with original vocalist George Birch, but Consolamentum was a hell of a closing statement anyway for this era of the band, showcasing their murky, increasingly progressive style still waiting for wider appreciation.

 

20. Floor, Oblation

floor-oblation

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed on April 22.

Wasn’t sure where to put Floor‘s reunion offering, Oblation, on this list at first, since I kind of fell off listening to it as the year went on, but I’ve gone back to it over the last couple weeks and it has held up to the revisit, whether it’s songs like the extended “Sign of Aeth” or shorter, catchy pummelers like “Rocinante” or “War Party.” Floor‘s 2002 self-titled holds an untouchable legacy in heavy rock, but I think the years will prove Oblation a worthy successor. Nobody knew what they had with Floor at the time either.

 

19. Druglord, Enter Venus

druglord-enter-venus

Released by STB Records. Reviewed on Feb. 14.

Little on 2011’s Motherfucker Rising (review here) or their 2010 demo (review here) prepared for the kind of assault that Druglord‘s Enter Venus brought to bear. Four stomp-laden slabs of tectonic crash and distortion, vocals buried under and calling up from the amp-bred fog. The Virginian trio were in and out on the 27-minute 12″ release, but had enough heavy for a record twice as long, and the tinges of darkened psychedelia made their songs like a lurking presence just on the edge of consciousness, a threat waiting to be unleashed.

 

18. Ararat, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

ararat-cabalgata-hacia-la-luz

Released by Oui Oui Records. Reviewed on April 4.

For the sheer variety of Ararat‘s third album in rockers like “Nicotina y Destrucción,” “El Hijo de Ignacio,” the experimentalism of “El Arca” and the piano-driven “Los Viajes” and the acoustic closer “Atalayah,” and the assured, flowing manner in which the Argentina trio pulled it all off, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz should be higher on this list than it is. Part of that might be my frustration at my apparent inability to buy a copy, but don’t let that take away from the quality of the material here, which is wonderfully chaotic, memorable and engaging, rushing in some places and stopping to weep in others.

 

17. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt

radio-moscow-magical-dirt

Released by Alive Naturalsound. Reviewed on May 29.

You won’t hear me deny that Radio Moscow‘s primary impact is as a live band, but their fifth album, Magical Dirt, managed to bring forth much of their psychedelic blues presence in “Death of a Queen,” “Before it Burns” and “Gypsy Fast Woman,” the blinding rhythmic turns and wah-soaked guitar supremacy of Parker Griggs front and center throughout. Together with bassist Anthony Meier (also Sacri Monti) and drummer Paul Marrone (also Astra and Psicomagia), Radio Moscow are hitting their stride as one of heavy rock’s most powerful power trios. One never knows what to expect, but hopefully they keep going the way they are.

 

16. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds

apostle-of-solitude-of-woe-and-wounds

Released by Cruz del Sur. Reviewed on Nov. 6.

Four years isn’t the longest time I’ve ever waited for a record to come out, but in the case of Indianapolis’ Apostle of Solitude, it felt like an especially long stretch. Their third full-length and first for Cruz del Sur, Of Woe and Wounds followed the anticipation-building Demo 2012 (review here) and a couple splits and brought aboard bassist Dan Dividson and guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay), who fit well with drummer Corey Webb and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown to result in a payoff worthy and indicative of the time that went into its making. Hands down one of the finest acts in American doom.

 

15. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean

stubb-cry-of-the-ocean

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed on Nov. 24.

Stubb‘s second long-player, also their debut on Ripple, gets a nod for the sense of progression it brought in answering the potential of the trio’s 2012 self-titled debut (review here), guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist Peter Holland and new drummer Tom Fyfe expanding the scope to include more heavy psych influence and soul along with the fuzz riffs and steady rolling while giving no ground in terms of the level of craft at work. Cry of the Ocean has become one of those albums where all I have to do is look at a title, be it “Cry of the Ocean Pt. I” or “Sail Forever” or “Heartbreaker,” and the song is immediately stuck in my head. With these tracks, that’s not at all a complaint.

 

14. Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Black Power Flower

brant-bjork-and-the-low-desert-punk-band-black-power-flower

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed on Nov. 10.

Brant Bjork has worn many hats, literal and figurative, over the years, whether it’s drummer in Kyuss or Fu Manchu, producer, solo artist or bandleader. With Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, he steps once again into the latter role, and with guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, presents not only on his heaviest record to date, but what could easily begin a sustainable full-band progression that can go just about anywhere his songwriting wants to take it. “Stokely up Now,” “That’s a Fact Jack,” “Controllers Denied” and “Boogie Woogie on Your Brain” made for some of 2014’s best in desert rock, and Black Power Flower was an stellar return for Bjork to his “solo” work.

 

13. Dwellers, Pagan Fruit

dwellers-pagan-fruit

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed on May 22.

An earlier version of this list had Pagan Fruit at a lower number, but I couldn’t live with it not being closer to the top 10. Salt Lake City’s Dwellers pushed deeper into laid back psych and blues on their second album, and in doing so, crafted an atmosphere entirely their own. From “Creature Comfort” down to “Call of the Hollowed Horn,” with triumphs along the way like “Rare Eagle,” “Totem Crawler” (“Ohh, my queen… To whom, I crawl…) and “Son of Raven,” Pagan Fruit became a staple of my 2014, building off their 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here), but presenting their stylistic growth with a confidence and poise that can only come from a band who’ve figured out what they want to be doing and how they want to do it. Front to back, Pagan Fruit sounds like an arrival.

 

12. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass

the-golden-grass-the-golden-grass

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed on March 25.

What made Brooklyn trio The Golden Grass‘ self-titled debut such a special released wasn’t just that it was heavy, or that the tracks were catchy, or that guitarist Michael Rafalowich and drummer Adam Kriney could harmonize over Joe Noval‘s warm-toned basslines. That was all great, don’t get me wrong, but what really stood out about The Golden Grass was its irony-free positivity, the way it was able to capture an upbeat, sunshiny feel without having to smirk about it on the other side of its mouth. It was self-aware, to be sure — knew what it was doing — but the way I see it, consciousness only makes the stylistic choices more impressive. Add to that the nuance they brought to ’70s revivalism, and all that stuff about catchiness and the harmonies, and there just wasn’t a level on which the album didn’t work.

 

11. The Well, Samsara

the-well-samsara

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed on Sept. 22.

My appreciation continues to grow for The Well‘s Samsara, which successfully pulled together influences from garage doom and heavy psychedelia while crafting an identity for the Austin, Texas, three-piece at once raw and melodically accomplished, guitarist Ian Graham and bassist Lisa Alley sharing vocals to classic effect on “Refuge” while otherwise trading off lead position to bolster variety in the material. The high point might’ve been the eight-minute “Eternal Well,” on which GrahamAlley and drummer Jason Sullivvan conjured some of their grooviest demons, but the hooks of “Mortal Bones,” “Trespass” and the attitude-laced “Dragon Snort” were no less engaging. One of many strong releases from their label this year — Slow SeasonThe Picturebooks, etc. — they seemed to come ready to serve notice of a stylistic movement underway.

 

10. Montibus Communitas, The Pilgrim to the Absolute

montibus-communitas-the-pilgrim-to-the-absolute

Released by Beyond Beyond is Beyond. Reviewed on Dec. 4.

Peruvian psych adventurers Montibus Communitas more or less blew my mind when I heard their late-2013 offering, Harvest Times earlier this year, and the narrative, conceptual 2014 release, The Pilgrim to the Absolute, is even more of an achievement in its portrayal of improvised exploration, sonic ritualism and open creativity. The weaving of longer pieces against shorter ones with the various steps along the path as presented in the titles, some journeying, some arriving, some descriptive, almost all accompanied by nature in one form or another, gives The Pilgrim to the Absolute an almost impressionistic quality, so that even as you listen to it, you engage it as much as it carries you along its vibrant, breathtaking progression en route to the closing title-track, which is a destination every bit worthy of the journey. This is the most recently reviewed inclusion on this list, but Montibus Communitas‘ latest readily earns its place in the top 10. It is unique in its surroundings.

 

9. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid

fu-manchu-gigantoid

Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed on May 14.

Looking back at the last two Fu Manchu records, 2007’s We Must Obey and 2009’s Signs of Infinite Power, it seemed reasonable to expect the groundbreaking SoCal fuzz foursome to put out another collection of big-sounding riffs in a big-sounding production. Nothing to complain about, but probably not a landmark. By going the other way completely — stripping their buzzed-out riffing down to its punkish core thanks in no small part to recording with Moab‘s Andrew GiacumakisFu Manchu served up a raw reminder both of where they came from and how top notch their songwriting remains. Reissuing their earliest work and being on their own label might’ve had something to do with it, but whatever it was, the 35 minutes of Gigantoid was as efficient a heavy rock outing as one could hope from an already legendary band, whether it was the hook-prone opening salvo of “Dimension Shifter,” “Invaders on My Back,” “Anxiety Reducer” and “Radio Source Sagittarius” or the righteous ending jam “The Last Question.”

 

8. The Skull, For Those Which are Asleep

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Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed on Nov. 5.

Given the origins of The Skull — ex-Trouble members Eric Wagner, Jeff “Oly” Olson and Ron Holzner joining with Lothar Keller and a series of other guitarists, finally Matt Goldsborough, working essentially as a tribute band to their former outfit — I think not only did the quality of the material and performance on For Those Which are Asleep surprise, as well as the classically doomed feel that resonates throughout the album, but the sheer heartfelt nature of songs like “Sick of it All,” “Send Judas Down” and the title-track itself. This wasn’t a cynical attempt to make a go of an already set legacy. It was an expression of appreciation both for what they accomplished as Trouble and a desire to continue that work. The Skull‘s whole thing has been that they’re “more Trouble than Trouble,” and in their lineup that’s been true since they brought Olson on board. For Those Which are Asleep demonstrated that the classic spirit of that band is alive and well, its address has just changed. Moreover, it’s the beginning of a new progression for that spirit, and I hope it continues.

 

7. Blood Farmers, Headless Eyes

blood-farmers-headless-eyes

Self-released on CD, LP on PATAC Records. Reviewed on March 24.

Nineteen years after releasing their self-titled debut, New York’s Blood Farmers contended for 2014’s comeback of the year with their sophomore outing, Headless Eyes — a morose, horror-obsessed six-track collection that on “Night of the Sorcerers” owed as much to Goblin as to Sabbath. The closing cover of David Hess‘ theme from The Last House on the Left, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” was a late bit of melodic flourish to add depth, but how could the highlight be anything other than the 10-minute title-track itself, with its samples from the 1971 horror flick The Headless Eyes, bassist Eli Brown in a call and response with lyrics comprised of lines directly taken from the movie? That after playing shows the last several years, Blood Farmers managed to get a record out was impressive enough. That Headless Eyes turned out to be the year’s best traditional doom release was an entirely different level of surprise. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for their third, but Brown, guitarist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Leger gave plenty to chew on with Blood Farmers‘ second. It was better than would’ve been fair to expect.

 

6. Lo-Pan, Colossus

lo-pan-colossus

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed on Oct. 7.

A lot of what you need to know about Lo-Pan‘s fourth album you learn in the first five seconds of opener “Regulus.” There’s no fancy intro, no time wasted, nothing to take away from the directness of the song itself. Tones are crisp — the verse is already underway — and guitar, bass and drums are laser-focused in their forward movement. Even when vocalist Jeff Martin enters the song, roughly six seconds later, his arrival comes with no indulgence, no pomp. Colossus is easily Lo-Pan‘s most immediate work to date, and throughout, Martin, guitarist Brian Fristoe (since replaced by Adrian Zambrano), bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz retain that focus no matter where the material takes them, delivering a clinic in how to kick as much ass as possible at any given moment on cuts like “Marathon Man” and “Eastern Seas,” or even bringing in guest vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, who also designed the album cover, for a spot on “Vox.” They had a hard task in following up 2011’s Salvador (review here), but the Columbus, Ohio, unit stood up to the challenge and met it and everyone else head-on.

 

5a. All Them Witches, Lightning at the Door

all-them-witches-lightning-at-the-door

Self-released. Reviewed on Sept. 25.

What to do with All Them Witches‘ Lightning at the Door? The Nashville four-piece released the album last fall digitally, but it wasn’t until this September that it saw a physical manifestation. In fact, if you go back, it was included on the Top 20 of 2013 as well. Which is the release date? I don’t know. What I know is that in terms of the sheer amount of time spent listening, I put on Lightning at the Door more than any other record this year. From where I sit, that alone gets it a place in the top five. Yeah, it might be a cop-out to do a “5a,” but sometimes exceptions have to be made, and All Them Witches have proved to be nothing if not exceptional in their still relatively brief, jam-laden history, the psych-blues dynamic between bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Fender Rhodes specialist Allan van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler pushing them quickly to the fore of American heavy rock’s innovators, their natural, improv-sounding material feeling brazen and exploratory while reshaping the elements of genre to suit their needs. One can only see this dynamic developing further as they continue to grow as a live band, so Lightning at the Door may just be the start, and that’s perhaps most exciting of all.

 

5. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels

witch-mountain-mobile-of-angels

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed on Aug. 20.

A beautiful, stunning work made even more powerful by the honesty driving it. Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain completed a trilogy with the Billy Anderson-produced Mobile of Angels that brought about some of the best doom of this young decade, their 2011 return from a years-long hiatus, South of Salem (review here) serving as the foundation for a stylistic progression that continued on the following year’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and onto Mobile of Angels itself as the four-piece’s most accomplished album to date. The reason it feels like such a concluding chapter is because of the departure of vocalist Uta Plotkin, whose voice helped establish Witch Mountain both on stage and in the studio, leaving founders Rob Wrong (guitar) and Nathan Carson (drums) with the sizable task of finding a replacement. That situation will be what it will be, but Mobile of Angels remains a gorgeous, lonely testament. Plotkin gives a landmark performance on “Can’t Settle” and “The Shape Truth Takes,” which in the context of what was happening in Witch Mountain at the time ring with a truth that’s rare in or out of doom, and she seems to have left the band just as they were hitting their finest hour. So it goes.

 

4. Conan, Blood Eagle

conan-blood-eagle

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed on Jan. 22.

In all of heavy, there is no assault so severe as Conan‘s. With their second full-length and debut on Napalm Records, the UK trio solidified the two sides of the preceding 2012 outing, Monnos (review here), in constructing material that, fast or slow, short or long, retained an epic feel melded with their ungodly tonality and memorable songwriting. Their first recording at guitarist/vocalist Jon DavisSkyhammer Studio, it affirmed Conan‘s will to conquer in its two massive bookends, “Crown of Talons” and “Altar of Grief,” and in the High on Fire-worthy gallop of “Foehammer” — a bludgeon commandingly wielded by Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe and drummer Paul O’Neil, the latter to of whom have since left the band to be replaced by longtime-producer Chris Fielding and Rich Lewis, respectively. What effect the changes might have on the band — except apparently more touring, which isn’t a bad thing — have yet to be seen, but Conan are already in the process of writing a follow-up to Blood Eagle, so it doesn’t seem like it’ll be all that long until we find out. With Davis still steering the band in songwriting and overall direction, one severely doubts they’ll be fixing what obviously isn’t broken anytime soon. None heavier.

 

3. Wo Fat, The Conjuring

wo-fat-the-conjuring

Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed on June 18.

Dallas riff-rockers Wo Fat have grown steadily over the course of their five albums, from the nascent heavy roll of 2006’s The Gathering Dark, to the hooks of 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), the jamming that started to surface on 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here) and was pushed further on 2012’s The Black Code (review here). And their approach has been as steady as the frequency of their releases. In making The Conjuring, the three-piece were simply engaging the next step in their progression, but the material on the five-track/48-minute outing goes further than just that. Putting aside (momentarily) the 17-minute closer “Dreamwalker,” the other cuts, “The Conjuring,” “Read the Omens,” “Pale Rider from the Ice” and “Beggar’s Bargain” each found a place for themselves in pulling together jammed-sounding elements with a memorable construction, and when guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter did kick into “Dreamwalker,” they hit on not only their longest piece yet, but their most accomplished showcase of the chemistry that has developed between them. That song is a beast unto itself, but as has been the case with Wo Fat each time out so far in their career, there’s nothing on The Conjuring to give the impression the band can’t or won’t continue to keep going on the path that’s worked so well for them on this point. They’ve spent the last eight years on the right track and have yet to waiver. The Conjuring should be played at top volume for anyone who contends there’s no life left in heavy rock and roll.

 

2. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia

mars-red-sky-stranded-in-arcadia

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 11.

Mars Red Sky‘s second LP and first for Listenable, Stranded in Arcadia was originally supposed to be recorded in the California desert, but visa problems kept the French trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz in Brazil, where they’d previously been touring. Thus, “stranded in Arcadia,” which is basically another way of saying “lost in paradise.” Can’t say the Bordeaux three-piece didn’t make the most of it, though. Songs like “The Light Beyond” and “Hovering Satellites” — not to mention the utter melodic bliss of “Join the Race” — took cues from their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) in terms of memorable songwriting and melodic craft, but added to that heft and tonal richness more of a psychedelic vibe, so that not only was there fuzz and wah, but a spacious world in which the songs took place. With Kinast on lead vocals, the sneaky boogie of “Holy Mondays” became a highlight, and the one-two swing ‘n’ stomp of “Circles” and “Seen a Ghost” were a perfect demonstration by the band of the various sides of their sound, particularly following after the dreamy instrumental “Arcadia,” an echoing jam distinguished by Pras‘ wistful guitar lead and coming before the closing “Beyond the Light,” which reprises the opener’s resonant unfolding. It probably wasn’t the record they intended to make, but Stranded in Arcadia became one of my go-to albums for 2014, and like the best of any given year’s output, I’ve no doubt it will transcend the passage of time and continue to deliver for years to come. Hell, I was barely done with the debut when this one came out.

 

1. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend

yob-clearing-the-path-to-ascend

Released by Neurot Recordings. Reviewed on Sept. 3.

“It’s time to wake up.”

Can’t imagine this is any great surprise. Not only did Clearing the Path to Ascend – YOB‘s seventh album and first for Neurot — produce my pick for song of the year in its sprawling, emotionally weighted 18-minute closer, “Marrow,” but in the three full-lengths the Eugene, Oregon, trio of drummer Travis Foster, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt have released since the latter reformed the band after breaking it up following 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived, all three have been my album of the year. The Great Cessation was in 2009, and Atma was in 2011. Consistency aside, I’ll point out specifically that each of the same three records has earned that position, perhaps Clearing the Path to Ascend most of all for its progressive feel, moving past genre even at its most raging moment, second cut “Nothing to Win,” the chorus of which proved that among everything else YOB could be, they could be anthemic. The cosmic, spiritual questing that has always been present in their songs, that feeling of searching, showed up in opener “In Our Blood,” but even there, it was evident YOB were pushing themselves beyond what they’ve done before, rewriting their own formulas incorporating lessons from their past in among their other points of inspiration. “Unmask the Spectre” could have easily been an album closer itself, with its patient exploration and feverishly intense payoff, but with the melodic progressivism of “Marrow” and the soul poured into every second of that track, every verse and chorus, solo and build — including the Hammond added to the last of them by producer Billy Barnett — YOB created a landmark both for themselves and the increasing many working under their influence. I’ve said on several occasions (bordering on “many” at this point) that YOB are a once-in-a-generation band, and it feels truer in thinking of Clearing the Path to Ascend than it ever has. Without a doubt, album of the year and then some.

 

 

Honorable Mention

First, special note to Colour Haze‘s To the Highest Gods We Know. I’ve decided to count it as a 2015 release since the vinyl will be out in Spring, but otherwise surely it would earn a place on this list. Blackwolfgoat‘s Drone Maintenance also deserves note.

A few other honorable mentions:

MothershipMothership II — It’s hard to argue with a classic heavy rock power trio kicking ass. I won’t try.

AlunahAwakening the Forest — Every time I make a list, no matter what kind of list it is, there’s a band I wind up kicking myself for forgetting about at the time. This is the case 100 percent with why Alunah aren’t in the Top 30. In fact, I might go in and swap them out with somebody.

Ice DragonSeeds from a Dying Garden — Boston experimental psych/garage doomers continue to defy expectation. May their weirdness last forever and continue to produce material so satisfying.

TruckfightersUniverse – I thought at some point I’d go back to Universe again, but never really did. A problem with me more than the album.

SteakSlab City — An impressive debut following two strong EPs.

GodfleshA World Lit Only by Fire — I never got a review copy, so I never reviewed it. Its name is here because I’m a fan of the band and glad they’re back.

ThouHeathen — Just recently purchased this and am only getting to know it, but a ridiculously strong album.

Corrosion of ConformityIX — Everybody who gets a boner whenever Pepper Keenan is mentioned in connection with this band has missed out. This record and the self-titled kick ass.

SpidergawdSpidergawd — Holy shit they’re over here! No they’re over there! No wait over here again! Oh my god I’ve just gone blind!

Monster MagnetMilking the Stars — I wasn’t sure what to do with this since technically it’s not a new album, mostly reworked songs from the last one. I still listened to it a ton though, whatever it is.

SlomaticsEstron — Another one I’m just getting to know, but am very much digging.

Electric WizardTime to Die — People seem to do this thing where Electric Wizard puts out a record, everyone slathers over it for a few months and then spends the next two years talking about how it sucked. I guess I’ll be on the ground floor with not having been that into Time to Die.

PallbearerFoundations of Burden — Had to put their name somewhere on this list or someone would burn my house down. Album of the year for many.

The list goes on: Monolord, Comet Control, Mammatus, Triptykon, Eyehategod, Fever Dog, Moab, Karma to Burn, Atavismo, Grifter, 1000mods, Megaton Leviathan, Wovenhand, Mr. Peter Hayden, Primordial, and many more.

Before I check out and go sit in a corner somewhere to try and rebuild brain power after this massive dump of a purge, I want to sincerely thank you for reading. If you check in regularly, or if you’ve never been to the site before, if you don’t give a crap about lists or if you’re gonna go listen to even one band on here, it’s fantastic to me. Thank you so much for all the support this site receives, for your comments, for sharing links, retweeting, whatever it is. I am a real person — I’m sitting on my couch at this very moment — and being able to do this and have people see it and be a part of it with me is unbelievable. I realize how fortunate I am. So thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

More to come as we close out 2014. I’ll have a list of short/split/demo releases, a year-end podcast, a list of the best debuts, a round up of the best live shows I saw, as much more as time allows. Please stay tuned.

And again, thank you. If I left anyone off the list, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments and contribute your own top albums, however many there are, to the Readers Poll.

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Orange Goblin, Back from the Abyss: This Weight to Bear

Posted in Reviews on November 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

orange goblin back from the abyss

Twenty years and eight albums on from their beginning as Our Haunted Kingdom, the hills would seem to be few and far between for Orange Goblin, but they keep climbing. The reigning kings of London’s populous heavy rock scene and in many aspects its progenitors, the four-piece seemed to enter a new phase in their career with 2012’s A Eulogy for the Damned (review here), also their Candlelight Records debut. After several years languished following release trouble for 2007’s stellar Healing through Fire, light touring and no output, it was as likely as not they were done. In the years since, they’ve become one of heavy rock’s most eminent stage acts — the 2013 stopgap live album, A Eulogy for the Fans (review here) documented this thoroughly — and their influence continues to resonate well outside of their UK homebase. Back from the Abyss, their latest studio outing, arrives with 12 tracks and 57 minutes of new music and finds guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard, drummer Chris Turner and frontman extraordinaire Ben Ward pummeling along similar lines as its predecessor. Also released by Candlelight, it boasts a similarly clean production style, and with AC/DC and Motörhead as their primary models, Orange Goblin seem across its span to be shifting into a comfort zone of brash turns, snarled vocals, heavy riffs and catchy songwriting. Stylistically and thematically, songs like “Mythical Knives,” “Übermensch,” “Heavy Lies the Crown” and “The Abyss” aren’t so far from what Orange Goblin have done since 2004’s Thieving from the House of God – they’ve long since been in command of their sound — but the vibe is steadier, more self-aware. They’ve established their formula, and like AC/DC, like Motörhead, like Slayer, the project now isn’t so much searching for what they want the sound to be as working to refine it as they move forward.

Like its predecessor, Back from the Abyss was recorded by Jamie Dodd at The Animal Farm in London, and if the band wanted to capture a similar feel, it’s understandable given the welcome reception and success of A Eulogy for the Damned. That’s not to say Back from the Abyss doesn’t have a personality of its own. One can hear it in the tightness of the crisp, thrashing “The Devil’s Whip” and its second-half companion “Bloodzilla,” or in how clearly Orange Goblin are writing for their audience. Ward is not through opener “Sabbath Hex” before he’s interacting with an imaginary crowd: “If you understand, raise your right hand/Repeat after me, we are stone free.” Perhaps that’s direct acknowledgement of how much of a professional live band Orange Goblin have become, and no doubt when that cut is aired live it receives or will receive the desired effect, but if Orange Goblin are writing songs for the stage, they run into the trouble of not needing 12 of them for a new release, and that becomes a conundrum for Back from the Abyss as it plays out. The semi-title-track “The Abyss” is well constructed but doesn’t accomplish much that “Übermensch” didn’t already nail, and while the penultimate “Blood of Them” is a blend of hook and horror-inspired atmosphere worthy of “The Fog” from the last record, “Into the Arms of Morpheus,” which ends the first half of the album (presumably, the first of two LPs encompassed), is a better longer-form progression, sounds more inspired and is closer to the front for a reason. The three-minute instrumental closer, “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” has a lumbering doom sensibility and deftly layered-in solo lines from Hoare, but where it seems to be waiting for its kickoff-riff the way “Mythical Knives” moves from a progressive-sounding opening into bruiser riff and the band’s particular burl, the last track just fades out, ending an offering so obviously keyed for adrenaline on a downer note. Maybe that’s the trip back from the abyss? I don’t really know.

orange goblin

For longer-term fans, the meat of Back from the Abyss comes toward the end of its first half. “Sabbath Hex” is a vibrant opener, “Übermensch” is a formidable showing of a songwriting formula at work, and “The Devil’s Whip” proves that Orange Goblin can tear it up full-speed with no questions asked, but it’s “Demon Blues,” “Heavy Lies the Crown” and “Into the Arms of Morpheus” that really convey a sense of the band’s maturity, their position among the world’s foremost heavy rock acts, and an album-style flow. Millard and Turner setting the foundation, Hoare drives the riff of “Demon Blues” and Ward masterfully rides that groove, leading to the bluesy intro of “Heavy Lies the Crown,” vocals following the guitar for the album’s catchiest chorus: “Who am I to, to make the rules, to break the rules and slay the fools/How am I, to be the man, who rules the land, with sword in hand/Fire roars, upon the shores that carry heroes off to wars/Heavy lies the crown I wear, but I did swear this weight to bear.” A somewhat inflated view of the band’s status, but a hell of a hook. At 7:27, “Into the Arms of Morpheus” is Back from the Abyss‘ longest track, Millard handling the opening with a choice bassline soon built upon by Hoare and Turner, the song taking a stoner rocker’s time to fully unfold. It works in three movements — the opening jam, the verse/chorus trade, and the closing jam — but it’s structurally and in sheer listenability the most human portion of the album, and they still get their sing-along in there too. The subsequent “Mythical Knives” is a solid opener for the second LP of a kin with “Sabbath Hex” or “Übermensch,” but “Bloodzilla” and “The Abyss” don’t have the same urgency behind them, and “Titan,” the instrumental preceding “Blood of Them,” features a welcome guitar hook, but neither pulls the listener back in nor leads directly into “Blood of Them,” which opens with fading-in bass over spooky-style ambience and shifts into a vehement closer (even though it’s the second to last track, it’s obviously the final push), with Ward‘s growl echoing out one last monstrous chorus.

Even the transition between “Blood of Them” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth” seems choppy. They could’ve easily put some more spooky rumbling after “Blood of Them” cut out to smooth the way into the finale, but it’s cold one into the next, and in truth, much of the album is that way as well apart from the first-half section already noted. As a fan of the band, I won’t discount Orange Goblin‘s songwriting ability, and in presence and performance, Back from the Abyss lacks nothing. For how tight they sound, however, the presentation should match, particularly as it’s the longest record they’ve ever done (1998’s Time Travelling Blues and 2002’s Coup de Grace were close). Still, their momentum will continue to carry them forward, and there’s more than enough material here to fit well in the setlist alongside “Red Tide Rising” from the last record and the host of classics from their storied career — “Quincy the Pigboy,” “Scorpionica,” “Blue Snow” (if you’re lucky), “They Come Back,” “Some You Win, Some You Lose,” and so on — and that’s pretty clearly the point. Back from the Abyss isn’t a perfect album, but for a lot of what they do and however many hills they may yet climb, Orange Goblin are largely undeniable. They remain undeniable.

Orange Goblin, Back from the Abyss (2014)

Orange Goblin on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight Records

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The Wounded Kings Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the wounded kings

An interesting spot The Wounded Kings are in, and one that’s really as much new for them as it is old. They’ve been through lineups, multiple, around guitarist Steve Mills over their now-nine tumultuous years, but to my knowledge this is the first time they’ve ever brought anyone back who’s been in the band before. Original vocalist George Birch appeared on the first two The Wounded Kings albums — as a duo with Mills – and the 2010 split with Cough, but then was out. Now, a few years later, he’s back and about to go on tour with the band for the first time. A strange circumstance, I’m sure, being the new guy as well as an original member, but The Wounded Kings have always benefited from an otherworldly sensibility, and I’m sure a little weirdness will only bolster that.

The tour starts Oct. 24 at the venerable The Black Heart in Camden Town, and will include stops at the Into the Void and Dutch Doom Days festivals. Full announcement of the run follows:

the wounded kings euro tour

This will be our first European jaunt in 2 and half years and our first ever with George back at the helm…it’s the heaviest the band has ever been and it’s so great to be able to play for the first time some of the older classics like Melanthos and Baptism of Atlantis!

We are also heading up to London and Birmingham at the beginning of October (4th and 5th) to play both Candlefest and Fearfest respectively.

Oct. 24 The Black Heart London UK
Oct. 25 Into the Void Festival Leeuwarden NL
Oct. 26 Helevete Oberhausen DE
Oct. 27 Zentralcafe Nurnberg DE
Oct. 28 TBC
Oct. 29 Trafik Klub Budapest HU
Oct. 30 Rockhaus Salzburg AT
Oct. 31 Falkendom Bielefeld DE
Nov. 1 Dutch Doom Days Festival Boroeg Rotterdam NL
Nov. 2 Glazart Paris FR

https://www.facebook.com/thewoundedkings/
https://twitter.com/TheWoundedKings
http://www.candlelightrecords.co.uk/

The Wounded Kings, “Melanthos” Live Sept. 5, 2014

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audiObelisk Transmission 039

Posted in Podcasts on August 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

This one’s a couple minutes shorter than the last few have been, but lacks nothing for substance, and particularly after YOB‘s “Marrow,” anything I put at the end would’ve just been filler to meet some imaginary obligation on my part. If you feel like you’re lacking the four minutes, give me a call and we’ll chat about records for the rest of that time. It’ll be a hoot. In any case, I think there’s plenty here to sink into — stuff that for a lot of people, myself included, will be on year-end lists and albums for which 2014 will be remembered when all is said and done. Two of my four current contenders for Album of the Year are featured, first and last.

Parts of this podcast are gorgeous, parts are ugly, but I think everything here holds up in terms of quality and listening back, I like the way this one gets immersive with a mix of longer tracks and shorter ones, slower and faster, etc. As always, I hope you enjoy, and I thank you sincerely for taking the time to check it out.

First Hour:
Lo-Pan, “Regulus” from Colossus (2014)
Steak, “Liquid Gold” from Slab City (2014)
The Well, “Mortal Bones” from Samsara (2014)
Orange Goblin, “The Devil’s Whip” from Back from the Abyss (2014)
Kvlthammer, “Hesh Trip” from Kvlthammer (2014)
Snailking, “To Wonder” from Storm (2014)
Earth, “From the Zodiacal Light” from Primitive and Deadly (2014)
Pallbearer, “Watcher in the Dark” from Foundations of Burden (2014)
Sorxe, “Her Majesty” from Surrounded by Shadows (2014)

Second Hour:
Humo del Cairo, “Tres” from Preludio EP (2014)
Joy, “Miles Away” from Under the Spell Of… (2014)
Megaton Leviathan, “Past 21” from Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell (2014)
Bong, “Blue at Noon” from Haikai No Ku – Ultra High Dimensionality LP (2014)
YOB, “Marrow” from Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)

Total running time: 1:53:47

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 039

 

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New Orange Goblin Album Back from the Abyss Due in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

orange goblin

Well, one of the few remaining questions I had about releases in 2014 was whether or not the new Orange Goblin was going to arrive before the end of the year, and it looks like Candlelight Records has taken care of answering that. London’s heavy rock forerunning stalwarts will have Back from the Abyss – I’ll just assume that’s not their statement on touring in the US — out this October, gunning for an autumnal addition to the year-end best-of lists and, I’m sure, getting it. I know I’ll be keeping a slot open. There’s a new track posted at Loudwire that I haven’t listened to yet, but I wanted to get the news posted right away because, well, it’s new Orange Goblin, and that’s kind of a big deal.

They’ll head out on tour in Europe with Saint Vitus immediately following the release. No doubt much boozy destruction will ensue.

The PR wire has it like this:

ORANGE GOBLIN’s New Album Coming This October

Candlelight Records today confirms October 7th as the North American release date for ORANGE GOBLIN’s new album, Back From The Abyss. Recorded earlier this year in London, the album reunites the band with producer Jamie Dodd. It was mastered at Turan Audio in late July. Back From The Abyss will be available for preorder via iTunes and Amazon beginning August 26th. Fans can begin to preorder the CD today via Candlelight’s official webstore and Bandcamp page.

Loudwire.com is celebrating the announcement with an exclusive North American stream of the album’s first single, “The Devil’s Whip.” Vocalist Ben Ward says, “This song is a real old-school banger stuffed full of riffs, sleaze, filth, and speed… just like the best metal should be! It’s Motörhead-style, outlaw-biker rock in all its glory, destined to get heads banging, fists pumping, drinks flowing and asses shaking. If you don’t find yourself breaking the speed limit to this song, desperate to find the roughest bar in town, start a fight and spending the night in a cell, then you are quite clearly already dead. Let’s ride, let loose, let’s rip… that’s right, you can’t escape ‘The Devil’s Whip.'”

Back From The Abyss follows the band’s most successful release, 2012’s A Eulogy For The Damned, and the recent reissue of their 2007 album Healing Through Fire. Featuring twelve new songs, it delivers the quartets now internationally respected heavy metal. Decibel Magazine calls the band’s sound, “maximum riffage and turbo doom.” Blabbermouth dubs them, “a big burly bag of rock goodness.” Rocking hard as fans have come expect, Back From The Abyss shows not only the band’s tried-and-true blues and doom but the high caliber of their musicianship.

ORANGE GOBLIN will kick off the Autumn with a European tour alongside doom legends St. Vitus. Set to begin in France on October 9th, the tour will work its way through thirteen countries before concluding in Germany on November 14th. On the tour’s announcement Ward said, “We are extremely excited to be going on tour with our good friends and long-time heroes St. Vitus. Vitus are one of the bands that inspired us to form ORANGE GOBLIN all those years ago and to be able to promote our new album and celebrate their thirty-fifth anniversary at the same time just blows my mind.”

American dates in support of Back From The Abyss are anticipated to start early in the new year. Details to be announced shortly.

Together since 1995, ORANGE GOBLIN has released seven full-length studio albums. A Eulogy For The Damned was the band’s first for Candlelight Records and closed a five year recording hiatus. The album was supported with the most live dates by the band in their history; touring that saw the band on North America soil first alongside Clutch then on a full-scale headline tour that found them on thirty-eight stages across the US and Canada. Two videos were filmed and released for the album, including “Red Tide Rising” and the special Scion A/V video for “Acid Trials.”

Back From The Abyss Track Listing:
1. Sabbath Hex
2. Ubermensch
3. The Devil’s Whip
4. Demon Blues
5. Heavy Lies The Crown
6. Into the Arms of Morpheus
7. Mythical Knives
8. Bloodzilla
9. The Abyss
10. Titan
11. Blood Of Them
12. The Shadow Over Innsmouth

ORANGE GOBLIN is vocalist Ben Ward, guitartist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard, and drummer Christopher Turner. The band are endorsed by Marshall Amplification, Orange Amplification, Fender Bass Guitars, Natal Drums, Meinl Cymbals, Vater Sticks, Remo Skins, Vans, Volcom, Boss Pedals, Rotosound Strings, and Jagermeister.

http://www.facebook.com/orangegoblinofficial
http://www.orange-goblin.com
http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com

Orange Goblin, “The Devil’s Whip” from Back from the Abyss (2014)

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Corrosion of Conformity Announce West Coast Tour with Bl’ast and Brant Bjork

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Now, if you read the interview that went up last Tuesday with C.O.C. bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, or at least took a look at the comments, you probably figured out it was Bl’ast and Brant Bjork that Corrosion of Conformity would be touring with on the West Coast, but it’s always nice to have confirmation anyway, and as the PR wire informs, Portland death-sludgers Lord Dying will be opening for the trek. C.O.C.‘s new album, IX (short review here), is out tomorrow on Candlelight after a manufacturing delay pushed  back the original June 25 release date.

The legendary North Carolinian trio also head to Australia and New Zealand in July. All dates and info below:

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY: North Carolina Crossover Icons Announce North American Live Assault

With the official release of their new full-length, fittingly titled IX, now just days away, North Carolina crossover icons, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, are very pleased to announce their first North American live assaults in support of the offering. The near two-week run will commence on August 20th in Spokane, and come to a close in Vancouver on September 1st. The band will be joined by Bl’ast!, Brant Bjork & The Low Desert Punk Band and Lord Dying!

The trek follows the band’s live takeovers next month in New Zealand and Australia. “We are really fired up to bring COC back to New Zealand and Australia for the first time in over a decade,” says vocalist/bassist Mike Dean. “I’ve been with Vista Chino and had a great experience on Soundwave and the shows on the side. Our set is shaping up to include songs from IX, Deliverance, the self-titled, and Animosity.”

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY:
7/18/2014 Kings Arms – Auckland, NZ
7/19/2014 Valhalla – Wellington, NZ
7/20/2014 Churchills – NZ
7/24/2014 Crowbar – Brisbane, AUS
7/25/2014 NSC – Sydney AUS
7/26/2014 Reverence Hotel – Melbourne AUS
7/27/2014 Enigma Bar – Adelaide AUS

w/ Bl’ast!, Brant Bjork & The Low Desert Punk Band, Lord Dying
8/20/2014 The Hop – Spokane, WA
8/21/2014 In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT
8/22/2014 Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
8/23/2014 Sister – Albuquerque, NM
8/24/2014 Club Red – Mesa, AZ
8/26/2014 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA
8/27/2014 The Roxy – Los Angeles, CA
8/28/2014 DNA – San Francisco, CA
8/29/2014 Catalyst – Santa Cruz CA
8/30/2014 Dante’s – Portland, OR
8/31/2014 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
9/01/2014 The Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, BC

Captured by the band alongside long-time friend and colleague John Custer, writing for IX commenced in the early months of 2013 with demoing and recording starting by Summer’s end. Completed in January, IX clocks in at nearly forty-five minutes. Sludge, doom, punk… it’s all in the grooves that fans have come to expect from CORROSION OF CONFORMITY.

The planned June 24th release date of IX was moved to July 1st with the 180-gram vinyl pressing expected later in the month. Fans that preordered the CD directly from Candlelight should be finding their copy in post boxes now as the eleven-song digipak continues to garner glowing reviews critics nationally.

http://www.coc.com
http://www.facebook.com/corrosionofconformity
http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com

Corrosion of Conformity, “On Your Way” from IX (2014)

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Coltsblood, Into the Unfathomable Abyss: The Whisperer in Darkness

Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Northern England trio Coltsblood launched last summer with the Beyond the Lake of Madness demo tape (review here) and immediately demanded attention via their crushingly slow, excruciatingly heavy, thoroughly doomed approach. That two track release, as though eaten by a larger undersea monster, has been subsumed into the three-piece’s Candlelight Records debut full-length, Into the Unfathomable Abyss, which furthers the brutal largesse of the demo, stretching out to nearly an hour’s runtime and finding some variety — in sound if not overall mood — by incorporating a few faster parts here and there. The album, which was recorded at Skyhammer Studios with Chris Fielding (Electric WizardConanPrimordial, etc.) and features nightmarishly detailed cover art by former Grief bassist/vocalist Eric Harrison, pits longer pieces like “Beneath Black Skies” (14:09) and “Abyss of Aching Insanity” (12:29) from the demo against shorter ones, those two together with the penultimate “Ulfeonar” (a paltry 11:31) forming an unholy trio of slow-cooking heft that provides atmosphere the way one thinks of water filling lungs. Shorter cuts are interspersed around them, though by the end of the record, the timing works out that even the “shorter cuts” have topped eight minutes, as the closer “Return to the Lake of Madness” (8:31) rounds out no less grueling than “Ulfeonar” before it. Still, earlier on, the noisy intro “Valhalla Awaits” (2:17) the faster “Blood” (2:20) and the building instrumental “Grievous Molestation” (6:52) are well placed to give a breath of air before the next dive back into the heart of the titular abyss, which at its grimmest could rival anything put forth by Ahab, but seems bent toward more sonic diversity. Comprised at the time of bassist/vocalist John McNulty (ex-Conan, ex-Black Magician), guitarist Jemma McNulty and drummer Steve Primeau – the latter since replaced by Jay Plested, also of Black Magician — Coltsblood affirm the potential of their demo while distinguishing themselves among the more extreme end of doom’s practitioners.

Play slow enough and things just start to sound like they’re falling apart. Nothing against that, but Coltsblood never quite get there, even as John‘s throaty shouts echo over the crawling earlier stretches of “Ulfeonar.” The intent is vicious, tectonic heaviness, but Into the Unfathomable Abyss still has a groove to it. One can hear shades of Conan‘s tonal dominance in the quicker parts of that song or “Blood” earlier on, but as the blackened scream about halfway through “Beneath Black Skies” and the bulk of Coltsblood‘s lumbering rollout shows, they’re on a different trip, even if they do manage to sneak a shuffle riff in there every now and again. The McNultys make a devastating pair, tonally, and when Jemma‘s guitar takes an airy solo over the steady rumble, the effect is more mournful than psychedelic, a noisy chaos emerging in the last two minutes of “Beneath Black Skies” to set up the blastbeaten charge of “Blood,” which is in and out in nearly one-seventh of the time but no less wretched-sounding — and yes, I mean that as a compliment. Even here, Coltsblood aren’t void of melody, but even that seems to have been twisted into something dark, a drawn out, plotted lead reminding of some of Nile‘s grandiose soloing. As a centerpiece, “Abyss of Aching Insanity” provides the album’s least compromised lurch, feedback and crash working in tandem to seer the consciousness before the next measure cycles through, Primeau more or less taking the opposite approach from “Blood” and playing as slow and open as possible. About halfway through, everything drops out but the bass, and for a moment, the album leaves you alone in the desolation, presumably to ponder how on earth you ever went so deep to start with. Jemma takes a layered solo when the guitars and drums return, but there isn’t really meant to be any release of the tension, and there isn’t.

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Corrosion of Conformity Interview with Mike Dean: The Power of Expression

Posted in Features on June 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Next Tuesday, July 1, is the release date for Corrosion of Conformity‘s aptly-titled ninth album, IX, which also serves as the band’s second full-length through Candlelight Records since their reboot with the trio lineup of bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woody Weatherman and drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin, following on the heels of their 2012 self-titled (review here) and subsequent, Scion A/V-sponsored Megalodon EP. The latter, which was also released in 2012, seemed to solidify many of the ideas of the former, and helped to affirm the grooves and the varied approach that C.O.C., now 30 years on from their first album, Eye for an Eye, would present. IX (short review here), is consistent in progressing this roughness of sound and steady, rolling feel, but as cuts like “Denmark Vesey” and “Tarquinius Superbus” show, C.O.C. never completely let go of their roots in hardcore punk. Knowing that at any point they could immediately take off at top speed adds an element of danger to the proceedings, and Dean, Weatherman and Mullin sound only too happy to revel in it.

The latter track, which appears deep into IX‘s side B sandwiched between the high-grade Southern heavy rock of “The Hanged Man” and “Who You Need to Blame,” is particularly interesting for how directly it plays one side off the other, its five-and-a-half-minute runtime split between raging forward motion and righteous nod. It serves to summarize what C.O.C. have done best since coming back as a trio, which is to foster an approach simple enough in its elements but based around a quality of songwriting that speaks to the band’s legacy both in albums like 1985’s Animosity and 1996’s Wiseblood while still forming something new from them. In both their style and how they’re developing within it, Corrosion of Conformity circa 2014 are geared toward a natural sound and focused on capturing a live feel in their recordings. As an album, IX not only succeeds in this, but shows the band sounding more comfortable and confident in their approach as well.

We were on a bit of a rough line in terms of connection, but in the interview that follows, Dean discusses how they’ve arrived where they are, including their longtime collaboration with producer John Custer, with whom Dean worked on this album as an audio engineer, the progression they’ve undertaken since the self-titled was put together, touring, and how finalizing material in the studio as it’s being recorded can help give a record a sense of spontaneity. Also discussed at the end is Dean‘s time in Kyuss-offshoot Vista Chino and what the future might hold there. After some drama with the booking, Corrosion of Conformity will head to Australia this summer, and they have plans in the works for a West Coast tour this fall and will no doubt continue to support IX for the foreseeable future, keeping their momentum going at a clip to match their speediest riffing.

Full Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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The Wounded Kings Announce Return of Vocalist George Birch

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The tenure of UK doomers The Wounded Kings — now approaching the decade mark — has been tumultuous to say the least. Multi-instrumentalist and founder Steve Mills has gone from working in a duo, to a full band, to a completely different full band, to being the lone founder, and today, to welcoming back his co-founder, vocalist George Birch, who sang on the band’s earliest studio recordings, including their 2008 Embrace of the Narrow House debut.

If I mention that album specifically, it’s because that album is specifically worth mentioning. It was the foundation point for the often bizarre, murky and cultish progression The Wounded Kings would subsequently undertake. Now, Birch rejoins the band as a replacement for frontwoman Sharie Neyland, whose eerie croon was key to the atmospheric complexities of 2011’s In the Chapel of the Black Hand (review here) and earlier-2014’s excellent Consolamentum (review here) full-lengths.

The Wounded Kings are slated to headline Dutch Doom Days at the end of October and have other touring commitments in the works, so it looks like Birch has his work cut out for him in coming back. The band announced Neyland‘s departure and his return thusly:

BAND STATEMENT:

As of now, Sharie Neyland is no longer a member of the band.
She has left for personal reasons. Obviously this came as a shock as we have show commitments and a European tour with dates to honour.
With all this in mind we knew we had to bring out the big guns…

ORIGINAL TWK VOCALIST GEORGE BIRCH IS BACK!
(Embrace of the Narrow House, Shadow over Atlantis and An introduction to the Black Arts Split 12”with COUGH)

If you wondered what George would have sounded like, what his take would have been on the new material, or you never got to see tracks like ‘The Baptism of Atlantis’ performed live… Well this is your chance!!!

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER…. OUR LIVE SET WILL FEATURE SONGS FROM ALL 4 OF OUR ALBUMS…….

SEE YOU THERE…………

Please share this with anyone you feel will be interested to know.

https://www.facebook.com/thewoundedkings
http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/site/

The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum (2014)

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Orange Goblin to Reissue Healing through Fire on June 10

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Presumably it’s Orange Goblin‘s plan to have their new album ready to roll out by the time they hit the road with Saint Vitus on the latter’s European tour celebrating their 35th anniversary. The kings of London’s heavy scene are currently in the studio making said album (as the pic above proves), and in the meantime, they’ve announced that Candlelight will reissue their 2007 outing, Healing through Fire, with bonus tracks on June 10 in North America and May 26 everywhere else.

Makes sense. Healing through Fire was a brilliant record that never got its due Stateside, considering its release was just around the time Sanctuary Records was imploding. After coming to the US to support 2004’s Thieving from the House of God, the four-piece never got back to support it either beyond an appearance at the 2009 Planet Caravan festival in North Carolina, and by then the album was already two years old. It’s been more or less begging for a reissue since, despite having been included in Orange Goblin‘s 5CD box set in 2011.

Nice to be mentioned in the press release below, so thanks to Candlelight for that, even though I’m not at The Aquarian anymore and the noted interview with Ben Ward appeared here in its full, unabridged form. I’ll take what I can get, I guess. Ward had some interesting stuff to say about Healing through Fire in that interview, so if you get the chance, it might be worth a look ahead of this reissue.

The PR wire takes it from here:

‘HEALING THROUGH FIRE’ TO BE RE-ISSUED!!

While fans await the new album from England’s ORANGE GOBLIN, Candlelight is set to reissue the misisng piece from the band’s stateside catalog. Originally released in 2007, the Mark Daghorn produced Healing Through Fire was issued via Sanctuary Records. The album closed a 3 year recording gap for the band (previous album Thieving From The House of God released 2004 via Rise Above Records) and would be the only album the quartet would release for Sanctuary.

Talking with The Aquarian Weekly’s JJ Koczan in 2011, vocalist Ben Ward noted, “it would have been nice to play for our US fans and promote Healing Through Fire, but for some reason or another, it just never materialized.” ORANGE GOBLIN would not return to America until 2011; the tour put together to promote the release of a limited 5-cd box set released by Rise Above/Metal Blade Records. It was during The Aquarian Weekly interview that Ward enthusiastically said, “we’re finally going to get the opportunity to play the material from Healing Through Fire for American audiences. We’re going to go out and play four or five songs off that record for the crowd.”

Lyrically inspired by The Great Plague and London ’s Great Fire of 1666, the band still considers it to be one of their best albums. Ward says, “this album has been very hard to find in recent times. We are glad that people can once again hear what I consider to be one of our finest albums. Songs like “The Ballad of Solomon Eagle,” They Come Back,” “Vagrant Stomp,” and many more that are regularly featured in our live set can now be heard again. As a band, we are delighted.”

Currently recording the follow-up to the mega-successful A Eulogy For The Damned, ORANGE GOBLIN are expected to return to the US to tear up clubs later this year. Working again with Jamie Dodd, bass guitar and drums have been tracked with guitars and vocals expected to be completed by May 17. The final mix is anticipated by early June . The band announced last week a full European tour with doom legend Saint Vitus. Set to begin in France on October 9, the tour will work its way through 13 countries before concluding in Germany on November 14. On the tour’s announcement Ward said, “we are extremely excited to be going on tour with our good friends and long-time heroes Saint Vitus. Vitus are one of the bands that inspired us to form ORANGE GOBLIN all those years ago and to be able to promote our new album and celebrate their 35th Anniversary at the same time just blows my mind. This tour is going to be awesome.”

The reissue of Healing Through Fire includes two live bonus tracks taken from the band’s studio performance at BBC’s famous Maida Vale studio in London for the Radio One Rock Show in August 2007.

ORANGE GOBLIN’s still untitled new album is anticipated for release in October.

Band
Ben Ward – vocals
Joe Hoare – guitar
Martyn Millard – bass
Chris Turner – drums

Tracklisting
1. The Ballad of Solomon Eagle
2. Vagrant Stomp
3. The Ale House Braves
4. Cities of Frost
5. Hot Knives And Open Sores
6. Hounds Ditch
7. Mortlake (Dead Water)
8. They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls)
9. Beginners Guide to Suicide
10. The Ballad of Solomon Eagle (live at the BBC, bonus)
11. The Come Back (Harvest of Skulls) (live at the BBC, bonus)

www.facebook.com/orangegoblinofficial
www.orange-goblin.com
http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/site/

Orange Goblin, Healing through Fire (2007)

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The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum: In the Time of the Fifth Moon

Posted in Reviews on January 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Consolamentum is the fourth full-length from increasingly progressive UK-based doomers The Wounded Kings and also their debut on Candlelight Records. It’s also their most consistent album-to-album lineup in the band since 2010’s The Shadow over Atlantis (review here) followed 2008’s Embrace of the Narrow House debut with just the founding duo of guitarist/keyboardist Steve Mills and bassist/vocalist George Birch, who was out following The Wounded Kings‘ 2010 split with Cough, An Introduction to the Black Arts (review here), as Mills constructed a more complete lineup of the band that would be able to play live. The third album, 2011’s In the Chapel of the Black Hand (review here), arrived with a markedly quick turnaround considering that apart from Mills it was entirely new players involved — vocalist Sharie Neyland, drummer Myke Heath, bassist Jim Willumsen and guitarist Alex Kearney – and particularly with Neyland‘s haunting vocal resonance, tapped into dark elements of cult metal to coincide with three extended pieces the doom of which was complete and encompassing. On Consolamentum, all parties but Willumsen return, and though it’s somewhat ironic that with largely the same group they’d also have their longest break between records to date (three years), with Al Eliadis on bass and Chris Fielding producing, The Wounded Kings have created an album that feels like their most band-oriented work yet, recorded live and brimming with atmospheric density.

Like In the Chapel of the Black Hand, Consolamentum finds The Wounded Kings working with and around an extended trinity of songs. Opener “Gnosis” is the longest of the bunch (immediate points) at 13:20, and its complemented by the centerpiece title-track at 9:08 and the penultimate “The Silence” at 12:14. All three work at the hypnotic crawl one might expect from The Wounded Kings‘ past work — though “Gnosis” picks up toward the end and each seems to offer a payoff of its own — but there’s development evident not just in how well the five-piece work together over the course of Consolamentum‘s 47 minutes, but also in where they go. Each of the longer works is complemented by a shorter one, and as “Elige Magistrum” starts with a pickslide that such a perfect port of that from the beginning of Black Sabbath‘s “Into the Void” that I wondered at first if it might be a sample (it isn’t), it becomes clear that not only are The Wounded Kings reveling in the bleak, deep-running murk of their own tones and the ritual elements that Mills brings to tracks like “Lost Bride” with long-held Hammond notes, they’re also having fun doing it. Completely instrumental, “Elige Magistrum” (1:29) is essentially the band jamming on a riff. It just so happens that when The Wounded Kings do it, it sounds like the end of the world. The subdued “Space Conqueror” (2:23) follows “Consolamentum” and while the actual sound of it is minimalist and arguably the most brooding stretch on the record, it’s also called “Space Conqueror,” so, you know, it’s not without a sense of levity.

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Coltsblood Sign to Candlelight Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Hearty congratulations to  UK trio Coltsblood on aligning themselves with Candlelight Records for the release of their upcoming debut full-length, Into the Unfathomable Abyss. They made it pretty clear on their Beyond the Lake of Madness demo tape (review here) that they were in it for a considerable slog, and with the LP recorded by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio, they’re likely to emerge with precisely that.

The announcement came through this morning, so by all means, dig in:

Candlelight Records sign UK monolithic doomers Coltsblood

Candlelight Records today announces the signing of UK monolithic doomers Coltsblood.

“Coltsblood is the sound of the past, the voices of ancestors, terrifying legends once roared with passion from around fires beneath open skies, fuelled by mead and ale; it is the darkest depths of the human mind and the great journey into the unknown of which we all face. Like Celts thundering into war, Coltsblood take up their weapons and summon colossal riffs loud enough for their ancient Gods to hear. Somewhere in the past, war drums thunder, there bellows a blood curdling cry, fires roar, terror resonates, there is freedom, death, life, meaning. Coltsblood feels the need to recreate the strength and power of these spiritual memories.

Coltsblood formed in Northern England in 2010 but did not surface until 2013 when a demo tape entitled ‘Beyond the Lake of Madness’ was self-recorded and released. Ulthar Records released this demo on vinyl soon after. Coltsblood spent months pillaging the lands, guzzling mead and sharing the stage with many greats within the UK underground as well as Indesinence, Vomitor and Watain. The band recorded and self-released another cassette tape, a four track split with Crypt Lurker which featured a cover of Celtic Frost’s ‘Procreation (Of The Wicked). During this time, the band earned a storm of reviews comparing the music with all genres from funeral doom to black metal and hailing Coltsblood as monolithic, crushing, filthy, bleak, melodic, devastating, other-worldly and horrific.

On the Full Moon of September 2013, Coltsblood entered Skyhammer Studio with Chris Fielding (Primordial, Winterfylleth, Napalm Death, Electric Wizard) and recorded its first full length entitled ‘Into The Unfathomable Abyss’ over the sacred Autumnal Equinox. The album was mastered by James Plotkin due to his extensive work with bands such as Khanate, SunnO))), Indesinence and Isis. Coltsblood was honoured to ask bassist/vocalist and artist Eric C Harrison to create exclusive artwork for the music due to a long time respect for the band Grief.

In 2014 Coltsblood sign to Candlelight Records for the release of ‘Into The Unfathomable Abyss’.”

“It is a sheer honour to sign to the mighty Candlelight Records and join an incredible roster featuring legends such as Orange Goblin and Emperor alongside many of the greatest bands in the UK and a diverse mix of extreme bands from all corners of the world, many of which we feel a real affinity with. Candlelight has been amazingly supportive and welcoming from the word go and we are looking forward to being a part of such a great label.”

http://coltsblood.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Coltsblood
http://www.candlelightrecords.co.uk/

Coltsblood, Beyond the Lake of Madness (2013)

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Corrosion of Conformity are Recording Their Next Album

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Last year, Corrosion of Conformity‘s Scion A/V-sponsored Megalodon EP continued to win the long-running North Carolina outfit favor in the wake of their 2012 self-titled (review here), their first album as a trio since 1985’s Animosity. As the studio footage of drummer Reed Mullin recording some vocal parts demonstrates, work on a follow-up is underway now.

It’s funny to think of a band who’ve been at it since 1982 — and who are back in their original lineup — as having something to prove, but with the C.O.C. audience contingent who can’t or don’t want to move beyond the fact that guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan isn’t in the band at this point and may or may not rejoin them at some future date (he’s in Down if you’re looking for him), the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Mike Dean (also Vista Chino), Mullin and guitarist Woody Weatherman seem to still be pushing against expectations born of their Deliverance era. I’m not going to argue that’s not a great, landmark record, but it was also 20 years ago, and you’re only cheating yourself if you miss out on the quality output from modern C.O.C. – who, again, are also the original C.O.C. – because of Keenan‘s absence.

My two cents. Check out Mullin belting out a new song below, followed by some PR wire info courtesy of the band’s label, Candlight Records and the link to the event page for their upcoming show at The Underworld in London on March 13:

C.O.C., Back in the Studio

Raleigh, North Carolina legends Corrosion Of Conformity are recording their next album, the follow-up to the well-received self-titled record issued via Candlelight Records in late February 2012, the reissue of their “Eye For An Eye” debut, and the released Scion A/V EP “Megalodon”. The forthcoming CD, untitled at this time, will again feature the trio of vocalist/bassist Mike Dean, guitarist Woodroe Weatherman, and drummer Reed Mullin. A new video clip from the studio can be seen below.

The initial work on the new album found the band not long out of the recording studio, having recently completed their “Megalodon” EP. The special EP was included free to all customers to the band’s official webstore. Dean said: “The EP was written, recorded, and released in two months’ time. It really challenged us in a good way.”

Formed in Raleigh in 1982, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY quickly transformed heavy music. Politically charged and socially aware, the band has influenced countless others and today remains humble about their accomplishments. With over 1.1 million albums sold in the United States, the band continues to find new fans via nonstop touring.

C.O.C. on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight Records on Thee Facebooks

C.O.C. at the Underworld event page

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The Wounded Kings to Release Consolamentum on Feb. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

That each album by UK doomers The Wounded Kings would sound different from the one before it makes sense — for the most part it’s been a different lineup on all of them. But it goes deeper than that. Founding guitarist Steve Mills has always brought a fervently progressive mentality to his songwriting, since the band’s 2008 debut, Embrace of the Narrow House, and it extended right up to 2011’s In the Chapel of the Black Hand (review here), which was the first LP from the band to feature frontwoman Sharie Neyland. Consolamentum will be the second, and with live-recorded production from Chris Fielding and Candlelight Records behind it, I can’t wait to hear how it’s turned out.

Here’s the release announcement, courtesy of the PR wire:

THE WOUNDED KINGS Deliver The Goods With Consolamentum

Candlelight Records today confirms February 25th as the North American release date of Consolamentum, the label debut from English doom metallers, THE WOUNDED KINGS. Produced by Chris Fielding (Electric Wizard), the album will be available for preorders via iTunes and other digital platforms beginning January 14th.

Discussing the album earlier this year, guitarist and band founder Steve Mills revealed, “this album will be our most expansive and heaviest.” Indeed it is. Consolamentum’s opening song, “Gnosis,” clocks in at a mammoth thirteen minutes. From there it latches on to your soul as it travels a dark and desolate sonic terrain. “The entire album was recorded and mixed in six days during the hottest week of the year in a studio miles from anything in the Cornish countryside,” shares producer Chris Fielding. “Recorded completely live, it captures the natural feel of the band. I find it to be a real step forward musically and very rewarding.”

Overcoming numerous lineup shifts since their formation in 2005, Mills and the KINGS have amazed audiences with their powerful stage personae. To date the Dartmoor-based five piece has released three full-length studio albums and a well-received split album with Richmond, Virginia’s Cough. The band has been finding a growing American audience since the release of their 2011 album, In The Chapel Of The Black Hand. It is the first to feature Neyland.

Consolamentum Track Listing:
1. Gnosis
2. Lost Bride
3. Elige Magistrum
4. Consolamentum
5. Space Conqueror
6. The Silence
7. Sacrifice

THE WOUNDED KINGS is guitarist/keyboardist Steve Mills, vocalist Sharie Neyland, guitarist Alex Kearney, bassist Al Eliadis, and drummer Myke Heath.

https://www.facebook.com/thewoundedkings
http://www.candlelightrecordsusa.com

The Wounded Kings, Live at Roadburn 2012

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