Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
I have no problem admitting to feeling overwhelmed looking at the full lineup and individual day splits for Desertfest London 2017. I mean, seriously. Look at that poster. What a way to spend a weekend.
Likewise, I have few grand reflections to offer in light of that overwhelming feeling, except perhaps to take a step back and be massively impressed at how much this event has grown in just six incarnations. Along with Desertfest Berlin, the London edition has become an anchor not only for the UK heavy rock underground — which is well represented here as ever in Elephant Tree, Black Spiders, Stubb, Vodun, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Terminal Cheesecake, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, and so on — but for bands from abroad as well. You’ll note the three headliners: two American, one Norwegian, and the next line down on the poster is two Swedish, one American. Desertfest London 2017’s reach feels wider than ever. Staring at the final lineup, it’s clear just how much of a big fucking deal this festival has become.
Wish I could be there to see it.
Here’s the announcement of the individual day lineups from their website:
DESERTFEST 2017 DAY SPLITS AND DAY TICKETS ARE HERE!
Finally, the Desertfest 2017 day and stage splits are here, along with individual day tickets. It’s the point of the year where you can start planning the weekend, you can imagine the sets in your head and you can curse those god damned clashes.
Last things first, let’s get straight to that insane Sunday main-stage. To celebrate The Roundhouse joining the Desertfest family, we made their debut appearance something special. Not only will stoner doom icons Sleep be topping the bill, but the Roundhouse hosts a full bill of huge acts. Candlemass, with over three decades of underground acclaim to their name, bring the epic doom metal. USA’s Wolves in the Throne Room bring the atmospheric black metal. Traditional doom metal stalwarts Saint Vitus bring the classic riffs. And how about this for a ‘curtain jerker’? Bongzilla bring the raw weed metal for their second show of the weekend; more on the first later.
It’s not just about the Sunday though. Friday’s stage at the Electric Ballroom is headlined by returning heroes Slo Burn whose short run in the mid 90s furthered the then fledgling stoner rock scene. One band they surely had an impact on is Lowrider, who play Europe’s finest stoner rock alongside them. Ukraine’s Stoned Jesus celebrate their resonant album Seven Thunders Roar, and 1000Mods and Pontiak round up the main stage on the Friday.
The Electric Ballroom on Saturday will be swarming with Turbojugends as death-punk grandmasters Turbonegro turn Camden into party central. John Garcia sticks around for a solo show, sure to feature classics from his years of nonstop mastery in the stoner rock scene. Sheffield’s rock and roll five piece Black Spiders visit London for one last time on their farewell tour, with Satan’s Satyrs and Avon rounding up the main stage.
As ever though, it doesn’t stop at the main stages. Our regular partners have delivered three stages with diverse lineups. Human_Disease_Promo and When Planets Collide take over The Underworld on Saturday in a bill headlined by Bongzilla with a special set celebrating the band’s early work. The Quietus stage is led by synth wavers Zombi, and Nightshift Promotions bring an eclectic mix led by Hungary’s Apey & the Pea. To be honest, just stick a pin in the lineup poster and you’re guaranteed a good time.
For those who can’t make the full weekend, we have a limited number of individual day tickets. Priced at £40 for Friday tickets, £40 for Saturday tickets and £45 for Sunday tickets, links are below.
So there we have it. Our final lineup for Desertfest 2017. We hope you’re as excited as we are to get back to Camden this April and riff London to the ground.
DESERTFEST LONDON 2017 Final Lineup: SLEEP SLO BURN TURBONEGRO CANDLEMASS WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM SAINT VITUS JOHN GARCIA BAND BONGZILLA LOWRIDER SCISSORFIGHT BLACK SPIDERS SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT THE PICTUREBOOKS STONED JESUS SATAN’S SATYRS INTER ARMA WEAR YOUR WOUNDS 1000MODS STEAK AVON DEATH ALLEY DEAD LORD BOSS KELOID PONTIAK YURI GAGARIN HARK VODUN CHRON GOBLIN PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS THE WELL MAMMOTH STORM CELESTE STUBB MONOLITHIAN WUCAN VENOMOUS MAXIMUS BRUME APEY & THE PEA ELEPHANT TREE GRAVE LINES IRON WITCH EARTH SHIP BACKWOODS PAYBACK WIZARD FIGHT BRULE CLOSET DISCO QUEEN GRAND MAMMOTH CHUBBY THUNDEROUS BAD KUSH MASTERS MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD SAMAVAYO WELCOME BACK DELTA DEAD LETTUCE MONSTERTONE LEDFOOT ZOMBI TERMINAL CHEESECAKE KHÜNNT BASK BRUXA MARIA
Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.
Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.
So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.
Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.
And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.
Here we go:
The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016
1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP
An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.
Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″
Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.
At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.
I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”
To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.
Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.
One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.
This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan
You were either there or you’re an imaginative sort, so I don’t need to tell you what a joy it was to see Lowrider when they played Desertfest London in 2013 (review here). They were also recently announced for Desertfest Berlin (info here), so to have them return to Camden Town for Desertfest London 2017 isn’t necessarily a huge surprise in the grand scheme, but I’m quite sure they’ll find fervent welcome when they get there, and rightly so. It’s been a long time speculating about whether or not they’ll do another record, and they may yet get there, but either way, the fact that they’re still actively playing out on choice gigs like this one is encouraging.
Also announced today? Oh, only Swedish doom legends Candlemass, Texans Venomous Maximus heading abroad for a trip that — and I’m not exaggerating — will likely triple their fanbase because that’s how good they are live, fellow Texans The Well, with whom I wouldn’t be surprised if Venomous Maximus were traveling, London heavy highlights Stubb, jammers Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Greek forerunners 1000mods, plus Wucan, Black Spiders and Grave Lines. Kind of hard to believe Desertfest London 2017 is only two rounds into lineup announcements, but like I said, you’re imaginative, so I’m sure you can picture some of the awesomeness still to come as we get closer to April.
Here’s word from the fest:
CANDLEMASS, LOWRIDER AND MORE JOIN DESERTFEST 2017
DESERTFEST LONDON is pleased to announce the second batch of bands who will be joining the likes of Turbonegro, Samsara Blues Experiment, Yuri Gagarin and Vodun on April 28-29-30th, 2017 in Camden. Ever-growing diversity alongside a solid selection of grass-root acts, has helped cement Desertfest as the go-to festival for doom, stoner rock, psych and all its subsidiaries, with a sixth edition set to be the most eclectic and heavy to date.
First up, we are honoured to welcome a band that needs no introduction: legendary doom metallers CANDLEMASS. Encompassing the ethos of what Desertfest has meant since its inception, Candlemass are one of the most influential and celebrated doom bands in not only Sweden’s musical history, but in heavy music history as a whole. Pure, unapologetic, true doom metal that’ll never disappoint.
A second offering from the Swedes comes in the form of stoner rock stalwarts LOWRIDER. Back in 2013, their momentous reunion after a 10-year hiatus took place exclusively at Desertfest London. It’s a privilege to once again host the return of the riff-ready heroes, who have been bringing their desert-sound to revellers since the late 90s. Also on the bill are UK party boys BLACK SPIDERS, whose fast-paced, high voltage lunacy will rattle out the cobwebs. Despite having recently announced a hiatus, these rock’n’roll maniacs will come back at Desertfest for one last blowout.
1000MODS will too be bringing their psychedelic vibrations to 2017’s line-up. Their unique commitment to a vintage sound, held up by playing with classic instruments, undoubtedly makes them a must-see act on any bill. Underground heroes PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS also make a welcome addition, with their loud and exciting blend of psych, noise and post-rock. Austin based trio THE WELL are jumping over the pond to thrash out their progressive take on heavy rock, taking that classic nostalgia and twisting it with a hearty laden of adrenaline.
London’s very own STUBB will lay out their fuzzy blues at Desertfest – greatly influenced by the 60 & 70s trio’s of the same genre, they’ve gained respect as a sold live act. Germany’s WUCAN describe themselves as “Topsy-Turvy Higgledy-Piggledy Folk-Blues-Psych-Stoner-ProtoMetal-Soul, with a pinch of confusion” – which may sound like all-over chaos, but they have truly honed their style thanks to an expert fusion of 70’s drenched goodness.
Final acts to join Desertfest London 2017 are metal killers Austin’s VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, newcomers GRAVE LINES – one of the most exciting bands to come out of London – trust us, you’ll want to be there, as they are soon to become one of those acts everyone claims they heard first.
We are proud and excited for what next year has in store. But this is only the tip of the iceberg as there is much, much more to come. Stay tuned!
– DESERTFEST LONDON 2017 – 28th to 30th April in Camden, London Weekend passes are availableHERE
First bands announced: TURBONEGRO, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, THE PICTUREBOOKS, SATAN’S SATYRS, VODUN, YURI GAGARIN, MAMMOTH STORM, ELEPHANT TREE
Second bands announced: Candlemass, Lowrider, Black Spiders, Venomous Maximus, Wucan, Stubb, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, 1000mods, The Well, Gravelines
Who’s ready for another round of 10 reviews in The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review? I know I am. We gotta hit 50 by Friday, and there’s still a lot — a lot — of ground to cover. Yesterday was all over the place style-wise and today has some of that going as well, but there’s a lot of quality in both, so hopefully you get to check some of it out. Today is the all important QR Hump Day, wherein we pass the halfway mark on our way to the total 50 reviews. If you’re wondering, it’s Lord Vicar who do the honors this time around at #25. Just kind of worked out that way, but I’ll take it. Down to business.
Quarterly Review #21-30:
Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare
Probably fair to call Mirrors for Psychic Warfare an offshoot of Corrections House, since its two members – Scott Kelly (also Neurosis) and Sanford Parker (producer extraordinaire/also Buried at Sea) – are also in that group, but the feel of their Neurot Recordings self-titled debut is substantially different, rawer and at times harsher. Parker handles beats and electronics, creating at times a wash of abrasive noise as in the culmination of “CNN WTZ,” the centerpiece of the five tracks, and elsewhere providing an industrial backdrop for Kelly’s voice for a gothic feel, as on “A Thorn to See.” Unsurprisingly, nothing about Mirrors for Psychic Warfare makes for particularly easy listening – though opener “Oracles Hex” has some commonality with Kelly’s solo work and his voice is resonant as ever – but as they round out the album with “43,” the keys, synth and guitar find some common ground, which leaves distorted shouts from Kelly to do the work of taking listeners to task. We already knew these two worked well together, and the partnership once again bears fruit here.
The four-song Death Thy Lover EP (on Napalm) is the first new studio offering of original material from Swedish doom legends Candlemass since their 2012 album, Psalms for the Dead (review here), marked the end of the tenure of vocalist Robert Lowe, also of Solitude Aeturnus. His replacement is the person who nearly had the job in the first place, Mats Levén (formerly Therion), who has a kind of stateliness to his presence in opener “Death Thy Lover” but suits the plod of “Sleeping Giant” well. Of course, at the center of the band is bassist/songwriter Leif Edling, whose style is unmistakable in these tracks, whether it’s the late-Iommi-style riffing of “Sinister ‘n’ Sweet” or “Death Thy Lover”’s chugging its way toward the hook. Candlemass save the most grueling for last with “The Goose,” as guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson intertwine a chugging rhythm and extended soloing over dirge-march drums from Jan Lindh to give the short release a darkened instrumental finale.
Talk about scope. Oh, only a country’s entire cultural history is fair game for Skuggsjá, the brainchild of Norwegian artists Ivar Bjørnson (also Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (also Wardruna) that crosses the line between black metal and Norse traditionalism probably better than anyone has ever done it before. A Piece for Mind and Mirror is the studio incarnation of the work the two composers and a host of others did as commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, and though it’s broken into 10 movements for the album, it flows together as one orchestral entirety, the gurgle of Grutle Kjellson (Enslaved) recognizable in the eponymous track amid choral backing and a richly textured blend of traditional folk instruments and metallic thrust. The lyrics are Norwegian, but whether it’s the blowing horn of “Makta Og Vanæra (I All Tid)” or the lush melodies in the march of “Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing,” the sense of pride and the creative accomplishment of A Piece for Mind and Mirror ring through loud and clear.
Two years after making their self-titled debut, Baltimore heavy bluesfuzz trio Black Lung come swaggering back with the spacious vibes of See the Enemy (on Noisolution), which takes the establishing steps the first album laid out and builds on them fluidly and with a clear direction in mind. At eight tracks/45 minutes produced by J. Robbins, the album was clearly structured for vinyl, each half ending with a longer cut, the psych-jamming “Nerve” on side A, which resounds in an ending of scorching guitar from Adam Bufano atop the drums of Elias Schutzman (both of The Flying Eyes), and the closer “8MM,” on which Bufano, Schutzman, guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier and Robbins (who also contributes bass) roll out the record’s most massive groove and cap it with an impenetrable wall of noise. While the songs are striking in their cohesion and poise, there are moments where one wants Black Lung to really let loose, as after Trevor Shipley’s keyboard stretch in “Priestess,” but they have other ideas, feeding the title-track directly into “8MM” with no less a firm sense of control than shown earlier. All told, an excellent follow-up that deserves broader consideration among 2016’s finer offerings.
Offered through The Church Within Records as a paean to classic doom, Lord Vicar’s third LP, Gates of Flesh, nonetheless almost can’t help but put its own mark on the style. The Turku, Finland, outfit’s first album in five years, it finds guitarist Kimi Kärki (ex-Reverend Bizarre, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, etc.), vocalist Chritus (also Goatess, ex-Saint Vitus, Count Raven, etc.), and drummer Gareth Millsted (ex-Centurions Ghost) — who, along with Kärki, also contributed bass after the band parted ways with Jussi Myllykoski and prior to adding Sami Hynninen as a temporary replacement — bold enough to shift into minimalist spaciousness on “A Shadow of Myself,” and really, they’re not through opener “Birth of Wine” before Kärki executes a gorgeous dual-layered solo. Trace those roots back to Trouble if you must, but there’s no question to whom the lurch of centerpiece “Breaking the Circle” or the sorrowful 10-minute closer “Leper, Leper” belongs, and the same holds true for everything that follows, be it the quiet start of “A Woman out of Snow” or the swinging second half of “Accidents.” Lord Vicar enact the doom of ages and take complete ownership of the sound, thus only adding to the canon as they go.
Like the stench of rotting, Dakessian’s The Poisoned Chalice provokes a visceral and physical response. The long-in-the-making debut release from the Portland-based duo of vocalist Kenny Snarzyk (also Fister) and multi-instrumentalist Aaron D.C. Edge (Lumbar, Roareth, so many others) had its music recorded back in 2013, and the vocals were added earlier this year, throat-searing screams and growls that top the noisy, claustrophobically weighted tones from Edge’s guitar. The onslaught is unrelenting, both longer songs like “Demons” and “Ten Double Zero” and shorter cuts “Nothing Forever” and the sample-laced opener “Choose Hate” brim with aggressive misanthropy, the will against. Even the penultimate “Baerial,” which offers a glimmer of melody, continues to crush, and starting with a slow drum progression, closer “Cosmic Dissolution” barely tops two and a half minutes, but it brings thorough reassurance of the project’s destructive force before its final drone rounds out. One never knows with Edge if a given band will ever have a follow-up, but as ever, the quality is consistent. In this case, brutally so.
Actually, if you want to get technical about it, Gypsy Chief Goliath are citizens of Ontario, but you’d never know it from listening to their third album, Citizens of Nowhere, which if you had to pin a geographic locale on it might be more of a fit for New Orleans than Canada. The Pitch Black Records release sees the triple-guitar-plus-harmonica six-piece outfit dug deep in Southern metal grooves, marked out by the burl-bringing vocals of frontman/guitarist Al “The Yeti” Bones, formerly of Mister Bones, Serpents of Secrecy and The Mighty Nimbus and the chug-and-churn of cuts like “Black Samurai” and the shuffle of “We Died for This.” The title-track winds its central riff with thickened-up ‘70s boogie, while “Elephant in the Room” and “The Return” space out a bit more, and the closing Black Sabbath cover “Killing Yourself to Live” (a CD bonus track) plays it loyal structurally while dude’ing up the original like it was on hormone therapy.
Hard-touring Richmond genre-benders Inter Arma are due for a landmark release. Their 2014 single-song EP, The Cavern, was wildly well received and earned every bit of praise it got. Their follow-up to that is Paradise Gallows, their third album and second for Relapse behind 2013’s Sky Burial (track stream here). Is Paradise Gallows that landmark? Hell if I know. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mikey Allred, who also guests on trombone, bass violin, organ and noise, Inter Arma’s third brings an expansive 70 minutes of bleak progressivism, conceptually and sonically broad enough to be considered brilliant and still weighted enough that the prevailing vibe is extremity in their blend of sludge, doom, black metal, post-metal, atmospherics, and a moody acoustic closer. The only real danger is that it might take listeners time to digest – because it’s a lot to take in, all those twists and turns in “Violent Constellations,” particularly after the plod of the title-track – but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find Inter Arma inhabiting any number of year-end lists for 2016. Once again, they earn it.
Virginian bruisers Helgamite manage to cover a deceptive amount of sonic ground on their second LP, Hypnagogia (on CD through Lost Apparitions with vinyl soon on Flesh Vessel), spending plenty of time in dense-toned sludge metal but using that as a foundation for a wider range of explorations, winding up in blastbeats by the time 13-minute side B finale “The Secret” comes around, but by then having torn through the aggro-thrash of “Origins,” lumbered through the mosher “Æstrosion” and topped off “Shaman’s Veil” with math-metal guitar fits melded to a saxophone arrangement. Growls from vocalist William Breeden and Jonah Butler’s drums tie it all together as guitarist Casey Firkin (also sax) and bassist Matthew Beahm pull off intermittently jazzy runs, but impressively, Helgamite never sound in danger of losing sight of the songs they’re serving, and Hypnogogia is stronger for its unwillingness to waste a second of its runtime, even in the aforementioned “The Secret” or its 10-minute side A counterpart, “Snowdrifter.”
Get it? Children of the Chron? I’ll admit it took me a second. While I was thinking about it, Allston, Massachusetts, duo Mollusk doled out sludge-punk-metal beatings via raw tones and shouts and a general sense of checked-out attitude, “Glacier” reminding of earliest, least-poppy Floor, but cuts like “Demon Queen” and “When You’re Gone” finding guitarist Hank Rose using a purposefully monotone vocal approach that works well over slower parts. Rose is joined in Mollusk by drummer Adam O’Day, and though I’ve already noted that the 11-track album is raw, their sound wants nothing for impact in the low end or any other end for that matter. Rather, the harsher aspects become part of the aesthetic throughout Children of the Chron and the band successfully navigates its own mire without getting lost in either its own “Torture Chamber” or “Zombie Apocalypse,” which like opener “Ride the #9,” is almost certainly a song about life in the Boston area.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
In the fine tradition of, well, last year’s Psycho fest, 2016’s Psycho Las Vegas has announced an overwhelmingly impressive initial group of acts for its lineup, including some of the finest North America has to offer and choice imports. Notable in that category are Candlemass, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Colour Haze, Mars Red Sky, Belzebong, Øresund Space Collective and The Cosmic Dead, and they’re joined by returning figureheads Sleep and Pentagram, who headlined the 2015 Psycho California fest, along with YOB, Down, Mudhoney, Acid King, Fu Manchu and a whole host of others listed below.
The truly insane part about Psycho Las Vegas is that, like last year with Psycho California, the lineup is staggered, so this isn’t it. On Valentines Day, the festival will announce its full lineup of acts, which I’m just going to go out on a limb and assume includes everyone else on earth, and then after that, in March, they’ll follow up again with the headliners. So what we learn today is that 2015’s headliners will have someone playing over them. I don’t know who, or how that could be possible, but you can bet your ass I’m anxious to find out.
All the details so far unveiled about Psycho Las Vegas, as well as the link to purchase tickets, appear below:
PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2016
Neon Knights arrive and ignite the the city of light in a sleepless celebration of heavy culture. High rollin’ low lifes will low roll the high life at the world famous Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in “Sin City”, Las Vegas. For three straight days, from August 26th through the 28th, born losers win as Psycho Las Vegas holds a rock steady hand of bands, performance artists, tattoo artists, art exhibits, a black light chamber, custom van and chopper show, pinball arcade, and much more.
Psycho Las Vegas sins and grins two blocks south of the strip at the expansive Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The high-octane Rock ‘n’ Roll-themed casino resort hosts three stages; The Joint, which is a main stage, Vinyl, the rock club and out under the desert night sky is the second main stage, The Pool Stage. Experience live music, 24 hours a day.
In between bands and bets, ride outside to the venue’s open lot and witness the most bitchin’ rides this side of Death Valley at Psycho’s first ever custom van and chopper show!
Psycho Las Vegas features some of the most revered screen printed poster artwork with an exclusive exhibition from commissioned Psycho Las Vegas artist David D’Andrea. D’andrea, who returns to Psycho for a second year, created all the official festival artwork. Attendees will be able to eternally commemorate the event on their own walls with signed, limited edition works from D’Andrea.
Psycho Las Vegas acts and events were co-curated with music scene stalwart Sean “Pellet” Pelletier. (“Last Days Here” documentary) “Thief Present’s ‘Psycho’ festivals are visionary and have consecutively been the number one music event I’ve want to attend since they’ve started”, said Pellet. “I’ve been dreaming about putting on a cool culture and music festival for quite some time and I jumped at the chance to help us all go psycho in Las Vegas! The event is a celebration of subculture and a spiritual gateway for all of us into sonically connected sub-genres of heavy rock that hopefully, some of which, may be new to our senses. I’m booking bands that I’ve always personally wanted to see and have requested setlists that we’ve all wanted to hear.”
Among the first string of live acts announced will be hard rock legends, BLUE OYSTER CULT with a set heavy on their early songs that have inspired so many great bands over the years. Mark Arm and Steve Turner, also both of Green RIver-fame, will remind us why MUDHONEY are heralded as essential grandfathers of grunge. English psych rock pioneer, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN returns to America with a performance sure to highlight where groundbreaking artists such as Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Ghost may have gotten some of their ideas. We’ve reunited proto-metal masters TRUTH AND JANEY who will appear for an exclusive live set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their underground classic debut, “No Rest For The Wicked”! “A Band Called Death” documentary film stars DEATH, pulsate the pool stage and will show us why they are finally considered one of the first Detroit punk bands. Germany’s top psychedelic stoners COLOUR HAZE have chosen the festival for a rare US manifestation that’s sure rise us all high above the neon. Swedish doom metal ministers CANDLEMASS come crushing in yet another one of Psycho Las Vegas’s special performances. Stay tuned for the announcement of even more acts, over 60 in total, over the next few months.
Thief presents Friday, August 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM – Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 12:00 AM (PDT) Las Vegas, NV
SLEEP BLUE ÖYSTER CULT CANDLEMASS DOWN THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN MUDHONEY COLOUR HAZE PENTAGRAM FU MANCHU ACID KING DEATH (Detroit) YOB BELZEBONG ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE DANAVA TRUTH AND JANEY GOLDEN VOID JUCIFER BONGRIPPER MARS RED SKY A STORM OF LIGHT CAVE OF SWIMMERS THE COSMIC DEAD
ACCOMMODATIONS Join the bands and crew at the Hard Rock Hotel & use the code: Psych16 at checkout to recieve 30% off your rooms.
I don’t think there’s any measure by which Candlemass‘ 1987 sophomore outing, Nightfall, doesn’t rate as a doom classic. On a sheer album level, in terms of what I grab off the shelf when I want to listen to the band, I’ll admit to a preference for the Stockholm unit’s 1986 debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, with Johan Längquist singing,but Nightfall is an LP of undeniable force, and it was their first to be fronted by Messiah Marcolin, beginning what some would argue is the most pivotal era in their tenure. It’s fair to argue that Epicus had its epic side, but Marcolin‘s voice brought a new theatrical element to bassist Leif Edling‘s songwriting, and while it would continue to develop over the band’s next two albums, 1988’s Ancient Dreams and 1989’s Tales of Creation — as with a lot of classic metallers, the ’90s were not especially kind to Candlemass — one can already hear the grandiosity taking hold in the band’s approach on songs like “The Well of Souls,” “Samarithan,” and “At the Gallow’s End.” Peppered with instrumentals and interludes, Nightfall wanted nothing for atmosphere, and in a time when doom and metal could hardly have been considered as separate entities, it opted for a more poised, classical character.
That’s not to say it didn’t also spawn the cult-classic video for “Bewitched,” just that musically and vocally it was shooting for something more sophisticated than either thrash or the by-then-waning NWOBHM. Or at least that’s how it sounds 28 years later. Marcolin left the band in 1991 and was replaced by Thomas Vikström and then Björn Flodkvist. After a dissolution following 1999’s From the 13th Sun, Candlemass reformed in 2005 with Marcolin once more up front with Edling, guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson, and drummer Jan Lindh, but by the time 2007’s King of the Grey Islands surfaced, it was Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus in the vocalist role; a position he’d hold through 2009’s Death Magic Doom (review here) and 2012’s Psalms for the Dead (review here), also earning the distinction of being the singer for Candlemass‘ first-ever US tour. Though they’ve threatened retirement several times, Candlemass are still active, with former Therion vocalist Mats Levén as their frontman and Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, also Kamchatka) on keys. The last few years have seen numerous compilations and live album released, including the Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Live at Roadburn 2011 LP (review here) that reunited them with Johan Längquist for the first time since he sang on the debut.
Hope you enjoy it.
Lot of posts this week. Like a lot. The least any day had was five, two days had six (that includes today) and yesterday I think there were seven. Madness. I got a note yesterday from someone on Thee Facebooks who said The Obelisk was one of his “favorite news sites,” which was interesting to me because that’s not really how I think about what I do. I guess the news posts are cool and it’s nice when people share the links and all that and I try to keep up as best I can — I’m already behind for Monday, so you can see how well that goes — but the reviews take so much more time and thought. Can’t fight City Hall, though. News it is. A fascinating glimpse at an identity for a project that’s been in flux more than six years now. One day I’ll settle into something.
Tonight I’m going to see Elder, Mos Generator and Magic Circle in Providence, so expect a review of that on Monday. Next week is The Patient Mrs.‘ Spring Break, and we’ll be traveling — to Maryland; woo. — so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to get posted on any given day. One imagines less than seven posts. Fucking madman. But anyway, Monday will bring a full-album stream from Black Rainbows and I’ve got a special Wino Wednesday premiere booked for a Wino & Conny Ochs track from their forthcoming Freedom Conspiracy release, so keep an eye out for those. Other stuff is in the works too. Very hush-hush. Hopefully by the end of the week the new Acid King and Blackout records will have been reviewed.
Spring Break, woo!
At least baseball’s back on.
Hope you have a great and safe weekend and that you dig the Candlemass. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Over the last couple years, the number of Roadburn‘s fest-exclusive releases has been quietly growing. In 2013, one could pick up vinyl from Dread Sovereign and The Obsessed, and this year, no less than the grind royalty of Napalm Death put together an EP. Add to that live records from YOB and Candlemass and you have a bit of a series going. Or Burning World Records has a bit of a series going, anyway.
Today the label has put the word out that they’ve culled all the leftover vinyl and instead of hording it all to themselves, holing up in a corner somewhere with their arms wrapped tightly around Our Pain is Their Power, they’ve decided to make it available to the buying public who maybe didn’t get the chance to pick the stuff up at the fest itself. In addition, Burning World has made Elder‘s Live at Roadburn 2013 — which I’m told has one or two of my photos in the layout — available as a pay-what-you-want download, which if nothing else is generous. Elder‘s on tour now in Europe with Hull, so that ties together nicely.
Burning World sent the following down the PR wire:
Roadburn Festival exclusive vinyl
We managed to get our hands on these exclusive and limited Roadburn Festival 2014 only vinyl releases:
Napalm Death – Our Pain Is Their Power – The Roadburn Festival EP Yob – The Unreal Never Lived live at Roadburn 2012 2LP Candlemass – Live At The Marquee 1988 2LP
Free Elder Live at Roadburn download
Download Elder Live At Roadburn 2013 from Bandcamp. As usual with the Roadburn releases this download is free (or more exact ‘pay what you want’). If you need more you can pre-order the album on cd (in digipack with artwork) here (vinyl is sold out, get it on tour with the band).
As somebody who was in that room when it happened, I don’t so much want to listen to this vinyl as build an altar to its graces. It was Candlemass‘ 25th anniversary show at Roadburn 2011, celebrating a quarter-century since the release of the seminal Swedish doomers’ debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. To mark the occasion, they reunited for the first time with original signer Johan Längquist, who had never really even played with the band or done much more with them than sing on that record, and I tell you in all honesty, it was one of the best sets I’ve ever seen a band — any band — play, at Roadburn or otherwise. The Main Stage room at the 013 in Tilburg was jammed with people waiting to see what was billed as an early headlining set.Candlemass was the first act to go on that day, and they had originally been scheduled to appear in 2010, but for the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption and subsequent disrupting of European airspace. So there they were, a year after the fact, fronted by Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus and running through a string of hits, when Lowe takes a bow and moves off stage to make room for the arrival of Längquist.
Svart has done the moment justice on this 2LP set. It is a gatefold, limited to 800 copies — 400 black, 400 white — thick stock package and vinyl, three sides of music with side D an etching of the LP art, interpreted from the original Epicus cover by Erik Rovanperä. In look and in sound, it is a reverential artifact of that set. Two songs appear on each of the three sides, with the recordings helmed by Astrosoniq drummer and habitual captor of Roadburns Marcel van de Vondervoort as well as Robi de Lorijn, running in the standard album order, and live photos are included from in front of the stage, the band donating brief quotes of memories about playing along the bottom of the gatefold, bassist and principle songwriter Leif Edling going so far as to remark that he hopes one day to release a DVD of the performance as well. I wouldn’t mind that either. Looking at it on paper beforehand, it had seemed questionable whether Längquist, who hadn’t performed with Candlemass in so long, would be able not just to pull off the material, but match presence and fit with the rest of the band — Edling, guitarists Lars Johansson and Mats “Mappe” Björkman and drummer Jan Lindh — and by the time they hit the first chorus of “Solitude,” it was clear there was no issue.
Obviously those questions are long-since answered, but to hear that version of “Solitude,” as well as “Demon’s Gate,” “Crystal Ball,” “Black Stone Wielder,” “Under the Oak” and “A Sorcerer’s Pledge” — each a classic, each essential — so clearly and crisply on this vinyl only underscores how righteously Längquist stood in for the performance. It wasn’t just special, it was also good. Of course, 25 years later, the voice changes, and the highs in “Solitude” were left there in favor of something more attainable, but Längquist‘s voice had power enough not just to step in for Lowe, but to own those songs, which other singers had been working to make their own for over two decades. By the time I get to trading out the first LP for the second to hear them close out with “Under the Oak” and “A Sorcerer’s Pledge,” the little differences between the studio versions and the live ones stand out, how Johansson tackles the solos, the pacing differences, etc., and in both spirit and presentation, it’s Candlemass playing arguably their most classic outing, front to back, celebrating their legacy in what if I’m not mistaken has been a one-time-only fashion — that is, I don’t think they’ve done it again since. Whether you saw it or not, what doomed soul wouldn’t want to bear witness to such a thing?