Soon Premiere “Burning Wood” from Debut Album Vol. 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

soon-vol-1

[Click play above to hear “Burning Wood” from Soon’s debut, Vol. 1. Album out March 4 on Temple of Torturous.]

Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based four-piece Soon offer up their aptly-titled debut full-length, Vol. 1, on March 4 via Temple of Torturous. As 35 minutes/eight tracks, it is a substantial-enough long-player, but it covers a scope even broader than its runtime might lead one to believe, and while the group trace their lineage to more indie-minded outfits The Love Language, Bitter Resolve and Grohg, the explorations contained here, from the rolling groove of opener “We are on Your Side” to the drone ritual closer “Rise,” feel geared most of all toward establishing, developing and generally screwing around with a new sonic identity. That is to say, Vol. 1 is a varied collection of tracks that doesn’t feel hindered by genre one way or another, and a decent portion of its persona comes from that will to move beyond various sonic boundaries.

That Soon — the four-piece of guitarist/vocalists Stuart McLamb and Mark Connor, bassist/vocalist Robert Walsh and drummer/vocalist Thomas Simpson — do this while sounding natural in their songwriting and changes makes the debut all the more impressive. A couple plucked acoustic notes intro “We are on Your Side” before the full-toned electric guitar kicks in, and a shoegazing verse takes hold around a minute in to build tension before the chorus, which uses multiple singers and has a doom-pop anthem feel to it, tripping into late-’60s guitar soloing as if they hadn’t already melded enough styles together. After another verse and chorus, they end acoustic and the sub-three-minute “Burning Wood” takes chugging hold backed by keyboard and a driving riff that somehow still acts as a vocal showcase. The second cut is steadier and more stylistically settled, but “See You Soon” fleshes out a grungier side and makes it clear that Soon haven’t yet shown their full breadth. So it is that “Gold Soul” includes particularly impressive vocal harmonies and strings to add a post-Morricone vibe to its dense riffing and additional percussion behind its guitar solo in the second half, none of which sounds overly kitchen-sink or out of place.

soon

No small feat to create a mix deep enough to accommodate, but Soon have a decidedly tossoff feel to nearly everything on Vol. 1, like they plugged in that day and that’s what happened to come out. In fact, that may be true, but as “Gold Soul” gives way to the more stripped down, snare-heavy “Glass Hours,” another side of their blend of psychedelic sludge, thick tones and melodic consciousness comes to the fore, partially reviving the likes of “Burning Wood” and “See You Soon,” but also given a different context through the subsequent “Mauveine,” which also features a string arrangement but is centered around melancholy acoustic strumming and a wistful vocal line. The underlying sense of space keeps it cohesive with its surroundings, but “Mauveine” is a conscious departure from a lot of what Vol. 1 aims toward, and that’s very clearly the idea. It also sets up the closing tracks, “Datura Stramonium” and “Rise,” which are the two longest inclusions and wildly different from each other. Harmonized vocals again tie “Datura Stramonium” to the rest, but there’s a howl and sparkle in the guitar that I can’t seem to separate in my mind from U2 from when they were (allegedly) good, though atop a flurry of tom runs they deliver both a scorching psychedelic wash of noise and a satisfyingly weighted finish, which lets “Rise” round out the album with a six-and-a-half-minute drone/chant assault, marked out by sporadic turns in the guitar and a SunnO)))-style backing for choral melody.

I won’t say the pairing doesn’t work, because it does, but it’s a challenging finish nonetheless, and this too is quite obviously intentional. In combination with its surroundings, “Rise” serves to point out the sort of dual nature of Soon‘s debut, which is that it has these complex aesthetic ideas that it portrays as though they were the simplest thing in the world. Well of course you’d go from the acoustic downer into weighted alt psych-pop into the drone metal finish! It’s almost too obvious! Meanwhile, the listener’s head is left spinning after the band has capped “Rise” with immersive low end and finished the record cold. It is an ambitious first offering preceded only by a couple digital demos, and it seems to so easily accomplish what it sets out to do that it’s deceptive the first couple times listening, you have to go back and make sure you heard what you just heard. Fortunately, they make those return trips worthwhile in the richness of the album as a whole.

Soon on Thee Facebooks

Soon on Twitter

Soon at Earsplit Compound

Soon at Temple of Torturous

Temple of Torturous on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Horisont, Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Matushka, Tuna de Tierra, MAKE, SardoniS, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Moewn, El Hijo de la Aurora, Hawk vs. Dove

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-quarterly-review-fall-2015

Cruising right along with the Fall 2015 Quarterly Review. I hope you’ve been digging it so far. There’s still much more to come, and I’ve spaced things out so that it’s not like all the really killer stuff was in the first day. That’s not so much to draw people in with bigger names as to get a good mix of styles to keep me from going insane. 10 records is a lot to go through if you’re hearing the same thing all the time. Today, as with each day this week, I’m glad to be able to change things up a bit as we make our way through. Let’s get to it.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #21-30:

Horisont, Odyssey

horisont odyssey

Aside from earning immediate points by sticking the 10-minute title-track at the front of their 62-minute fourth album, Swedish mustache rockers Horisont add intrigue to Odyssey (out on Rise Above) via the acquisition of journeyman guitarist Tom Sutton (The Order of Israfel, ex-Church of Misery). Their mission? To rock ‘70s arena melodies and grandiose vibes while keeping the affair tight enough so they don’t come across as completely ridiculous in the process. They’ve had three records to get it together before this one, so that they’d succeed isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, but the album satisfies nonetheless, cuts like “Blind Leder Blind” departing the sci-fi thematics of the opener for circa-1975 vintage loyalism of a different stripe, while “Back on the Streets” is pure early Scorpions strut, the band having found their own niche within crisp execution of classic-sounding grooves that seem to have a vinyl hiss no matter their source.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Straphanger / Drone Monger Split

blackwolfgoat larman clamor split

I’ll make no bones whatsoever about being partial to the work of both Blackwolfgoat – the solo experimental vehicle of Boston-based guitarist Darryl Shepard – and Larman Clamor – the solo-project of Hamburg-based graphic artist Alexander von Wieding – so to find them teamed up for a split 7” on H42 Records is something of a special thrill. Shepard’s inclusion, “Straphanger,” continues to push the thread between building layers of guitar on top of each other and songwriting that the last Blackwolfgoat full-length, Drone Maintenance (review here), found him exploring, while Larman Clamor’s “Drone Monger” is an alternate version from what appeared on last year’s Beetle Crown and Steel Wand (review here) and “Fo’ What You Did” digs deep into the swampy psych-blues that von Wieding has done so well developing for the last half-decade or so in the project’s tenure. My only complaint? No collaboration between the two sides. Would love to hear what Shepard and von Wieding could do in a cross-Atlantic two-piece.

Blackwolfgoat on Thee Facebooks

Larman Clamor on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

Matushka, II

matushka ii

II is the aptly-titled second full-length from Russian heavy psych instrumentalists Matushka, who jam kosmiche across its four component tracks and round out by diving headfirst into the acid with “Drezina,” a 20-minute pulsation from some distant dimension that gives sounds like Earthless if they made it up on the spot, peppering shred-ola leads with no shortage of effects swirl. In comparison, “As Bartenders and Bouncers Dance” feels positively plotted, but it, “The Acid Curl’s Dance” before and the especially dreamy “Meditation,” which follows, all have their spontaneous-sounding elements. For guitarist Timophey Goryashin, bassist Maxim Zhuravlev (who seems to since be out of the band) and drummer Konstantin Kotov to even sustain this kind of lysergic flow, they need to have a pretty solid chemistry underlying the material, and they do. I don’t know whether Matushka’s II will change the scope of heavy psychedelia, but they put their stamp on the established parameters here and bring an edge of individuality in moments of arrangement flourish — acoustics, synth, whatever it might be — where a lot of times that kind of thing is simply lost in favor of raw jamming.

Matushka on Thee Facebooks

Matushka on Bandcamp

Tuna de Tierra, EPisode I: Pilot

tuna de tierra episode i pilot

If a pilot is used in television to test whether or not a show works, then Tuna de Tierra’s EPisode I: Pilot, would seem to indicate similar ends. A three-song first outing from the Napoli outfit, it coats itself well in languid heavy psychedelic vibing across “Red Sun” (the opener and longest track at 8:25; immediate points), “Ash” (7:28) and the particularly dreamy “El Paso de la Tortuga,” which closes out at 4:08 and leaves the listener wanting to hear more of what Alessio de Cicco (guitar/vocals) and Luciano Mirra (bass) might be able to concoct from their desert-style influences. There’s patience to be learned in some of their progressions, and presumably at some point they’ll need to pick up a drummer to replace Jonathan Maurano, who plays here and seems to since be out of the band, but especially as their initial point of contact with planet earth, EPisode I: Pilot proves immersive and a pleasure to get lost within, and that’s enough for the moment.

Tuna de Tierra on Thee Facebooks

Tuna de Tierra on Bandcamp

MAKE, The Golden Veil

make the golden veil

Much of what one might read concerning North Carolinian trio MAKE and their second album, The Golden Veil, seems to go out of its way to point out the individual take they’re bringing to the established parameters of post-metal. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but part of that has to be sheer critical fatigue at the thought of another act coming along having anything in common with Isis while at the same time, not wanting to rag on MAKE as though their work were without value of its own, which at this point an Isis comparison dogwhistles. MAKE’s The Golden Veil successfully plays out an atmospherically intricate, engaging linear progression across its seven tracks, from the cut-short intro “I was Sitting Quietly, Peeling back My Skin” through the atmospheric sludge tumult of “The Absurdist” and into the patient post-rock melo-drone of “In the Final Moments, Uncoiling.” Yes, parts of it are familiar. Parts of a lot of things are familiar. Some of it sounds like Isis. That’s okay.

MAKE on Thee Facebooks

MAKE on Bandcamp

SardoniS, III

sardonis iii

To an extent, the reputation of Belgium instru-crushers SardoniS precedes them, and as such I can’t help but listen to “The Coming of Khan,” which launches their third album, III (out via Consouling Sounds), and not be waiting for the explosion into tectonic riffing and massive-sounding gallop. Still the duo of drummer Jelle Stevens and guitarist Roel Paulussen, SardoniS offer up five tracks of sans-vocals, Surrounded by Thieves-style thrust, a cut like “Roaming the Valley” summarizing some of the best elements of what they’ve done across the span of splits with Eternal Elysium and Drums are for Parades, as well as their two prior full-lengths, 2012’s II and 2010’s SardoniS (review here), in its heft and its rush. A somewhat unanticipated turn arrives with 11:46 closer “Forward to the Abyss,” which though it still hits its standard marks, also boasts both lengthy atmospheric sections at the front and back and blastbeaten extremity between. Just when you think you know what to expect.

SardoniS on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Velvet Skin

lewis and the strange magics velvet skin

With their debut long-player, Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics answer the promise of their 2014 Demo (review here) in setting a late-‘60s vibe to modern cultish interpretation, post-Uncle Acid and post-Ghost (particularly so on “How to be You”) but no more indebted to one or the other than to themselves, which is as it should be. Issued via Soulseller Records, Velvet Skin isn’t afraid to dive into kitsch, and that winds up being a big part of the charm of songs like “Female Vampire” and “Golden Threads,” but it’s ultimately the chemistry of the organ-inclusive trio that makes the material hold up, as well as the swaggering rhythms of “Cloudy Grey Cube” and “Nina (Velvet Skin),” which is deceptively modern in its production despite such a vintage methodology. The guitar and keys on that semi-title-track seem to speak to a classic progressive edge burgeoning within Lewis and the Strange Magics’ approach, and I very much hope that’s a path they continue to walk.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records

Moewn, Acqua Alta

moewn acqua alta

Basking in a style they call “oceanic rock,” newcomer German trio Moewn unveil their first full-length, Acqua Alta, via Pink Tank Records in swells of post-metallic undulations that wear their neo-progressive influences on their sleeve. Instrumental for the duration, the three-piece tracked the album in 2014 about a year after first getting together, but the six songs have a cohesive, thought-out feel to their peaks and valleys – “Packeis” perhaps most of all – that speaks to their purposeful overall progression. Atmospherically, it feels like Moewn are still searching for what they want to do with this sound, but they have an awful lot figured out up to this point, whether it’s the nodding wash of airy guitar and fluid heft of groove that seems to push “Dunkelmeer” along or second cut “Katamaran,” which if it weren’t for the liquefied themes of the art and their self-applied genre tag, I’d almost say sounded in its more spacious stretches like desert rock à la Yawning Man.

Moewn on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

El Hijo de la Aurora, The Enigma of Evil

el hijo de la aurora the enigma of evil

Since their first album, 2008’s Lemuria (review here), it has been increasingly difficult to pin Peruvian outfit El Hijo de la Aurora to one style or another. Drawing from doom, heavy rock, drone and psychedelic elements, they seem to push outward cosmically into something that’s all and none of them at the same time on their third album, The Enigma of Evil (released by Minotauro Records), the core member Joaquín Cuadra enlisting the help of a host of others in executing the seven deeply varied tracks, including Indrayudh Shome of continually underrated experimentalists Queen Elephantine on the acoustic-led “The Awakening of Kosmos” and the penultimate chug-droner “The Advent of Ahriman.” Half a decade after the release of their second album, Wicca (review here), in 2010, El Hijo de la Aurora’s work continues to feel expansive and ripe for misinterpretation, finding weight in atmosphere as much as tone and breadth enough to surprise with how claustrophobic it can at times seem.

El Hijo de la Aurora’s website

Minotauro Records

Hawk vs. Dove, Divided States

hawk vs dove divided states

Dallas outfit Hawk vs. Dove recorded Divided States in the same studio as their self-titled 2013 debut (review here) and the two albums both have black and white line-drawn artwork from Larry Carey, so it seems only fitting to think of the new release as a follow-up to the first. It is fittingly expansive, culling together elements of ‘90s noise, post-grunge indie (ever wondered what Weezer would sound like heavy? Check “X”), black metal (“Burning and Crashing”), desert rock (“PGP”) and who the hell knows what else into a mesh of styles that not only holds up but feels progressed from the first time out and caps with an 11-minute title-track that does even more to draw the various styles together into a cohesive, singular whole. All told, Divided States is 38 minutes of blinding turns expertly handled and impressive scope trod over as though it ain’t no thing, just another day at the office. It’s the kind of record that’s so good at what it does that other bands should hear it and be annoyed.

Hawk vs. Dove on Thee Facebooks

Hawk vs. Dove on Bandcamp

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Make to Release Second Album The Golden Veil in July

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

make

If you look at the waveform of Make‘s “The Absurdist,” the first-revealed song from their second album, The Golden Veil, it gives a sense of the calculation at work in the audio itself, which builds from a quieter, ambient opening to a post-metallic crush of dense tones and growling vocals in a manner no less linear than it appears. The new full-length is the follow-up to Make‘s debut LP, Trephine, which the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, trio released in 2011. As to what the rest of the long-player might hold, given the breadth of “The Absurdist” as it makes its way from one end of that line to the other, I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

The PR wire invites digging:

make the golden veil

MAKE RETURN WITH TRIUMPHANT SECOND ALBUM

After a year-long hiatus, North Carolina’s doom-metal stalwarts MAKE return with their long-awaited second album.

‘The Golden Veil’ is the follow up to the band’s critically acclaimed ‘Axis’ EP and debut full-length ‘Trephine’ and is set for release on July 23.

Says bassist Spencer Lee: “’The Golden Veil’ feels at once more diverse and more concise. We’ve explored a few elements of our sound that had previously been something we’d only touched on briefly, or maybe even just hinted at by proximity. The space is spacier, the metal is heavier, and the concept (though in a sense more nebulous) feels more completely realized.”

Recorded at Legitimate Business, NC, with engineer and producer Kris Hilbert (The Body, Torch Runner) at the helm, the album was mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate, Phantomsmasher, Jodis) and is easily MAKE’s heaviest, most psychedelic, and most sonically lush release to date.

MAKE have played Hopscotch Music Festival, toured with Dragged Into Sunlight and shared bills with Unfomammut, Deafheaven, Alcest, Coffinworm, The Atlas Moth, Altar Of Plagues, Crowbar and many others, and are fixtures of North Carolina’s music scene.

The album will be available for download on July 23, followed by a limited edition 180gm vinyl version with deluxe packaging in September.

Pre-orders can be made here: https://thebandmake.bandcamp.com/album/the-golden-veil

MAKE are: Scott Endres (vocals, guitar), Spencer Lee (vocals, bass), Luke Herbst (drums)

www.facebook.com/thebandmake
twitter.com/thebandmake
thebandmake.blogspot.com

Make, “The Absurdist”

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audiObelisk: Caltrop Premiere “Blessed” From Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes

Posted in audiObelisk on March 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

It feels like cheating somehow to post the song “Blessed” from North Carolinian foursome Caltrop‘s new album, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes. I almost want to put out a spoiler alert with it — WARNING: THIS SONG CONTAINS AN ALBUM-DEFINING APEX.

Maybe that’s not the kind of thing that would fit on a government warning label, but it certainly applies to “Blessed,” which is the penultimate track on Caltrop‘s second full-length for Holidays for Quince Records. Like the rest of the tracks, it follows a blindingly creative direction that never lets go of its immediacy or tonal warmth, but really, to pick one song to premiere that represents Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes as a whole is impossible. The record is too varied, too progressively structured and too engaging as a single work to be so easily parsed.

So I picked what, to me, most feels like the culmination of it. We start off with winding, jazzy fuzz, but soon Caltrop — guitarist/vocalist Sam Taylor, bassist/vocalist Murat Dirlik (who also painted the butterflynoceros on the album cover), guitarist Adam Nolton, and drummer John Crouch — veer into the song’s proggy crux. Other parts of the record feel more informed by the band’s time on the road alongside Brooklyn post-metallers Hull, in what they’re playing more than how it actually sounds, but “Blessed” balances the same kind of tonal sweetness that made 2008’s World Class such a joy with neo-Southern lead work and an overarching build that sweeps you into it before you even realize you’re gone.

And then the warning above applies. “Blessed” has forward motion so subtle but so effective, I couldn’t help pick it to stream, and I hope you’ll agree when you enjoy it on the player below:

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

Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes was recorded and mixed by Nick Petersen in Chapel Hill, NC, and mastered by James Plotkin. The album will be available April 3 as a CD or download and can be pre-ordered through Holidays for Quince here. For more info, check out the band on Thee Facebooks or hit up their website.

Caltrop on tour:

04/12 Charleston, SC Tin Roof
04/14 Charlotte, NC Snug Harbor
04/20 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus w/ Hull
04/21 Richmond, VA Strange Matter “Year of Shit III”
05/19 Asheville, NC The Get Down
05/22 Harrisonburg, VA Blue Nile
05/23 Pittsburgh, PA 31st Street Pub
05/24 Columbus, OH Carabar

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audiObelisk: Black Skies Premiere New Song From Upcoming Album

Posted in audiObelisk on May 12th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

What’s that you say? You didn’t even realize North Carolinian trio Black Skies were recording a new album? Well, that just goes to show you how new this shit is. Information is minimal. I don’t yet know when this is coming out, or on what label, but the full-length is called On the Wings of Time, and it was recorded by Kyle Spence of Georgian avant doomers Harvey Milk.

You can hear that in the song, which is called “Valley of the Kings.” It has that high-ceiling-room sound in the drums that Harvey Milk make the most of on their own offerings, and a raw but still distinguished feel. Guitarist/vocalist Kevin Clark would seem to be in the lead across the track’s formidable nine-minutes, but that’s not at all to discount the groove that bassist/vocalist Michelle Temple and drummer Tim Herzog inject into the latter half’s long instrumental finale.

I’d go on, but I’m sure I’ll have more about On the Wings of Time to come, so here’s the song, followed by Black Skies‘ latest batch of tour dates. What an amazing coincidence that the tour kicks off tonight! You’d think these things were planned in advance or something…

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

Black Skies Live – May/June 2011:
05/12 The Milestone Charlotte, NC w/ Trade, Towering Pyre
05/13 The Crayola House Harrisonburg, VA w/ Backwoods Payback, Earthling, Trade
05/14 Strange Matter Richmond, VA w/ Backwoods Payback
05/15 Mojo Main Newark, DE w/ Backwoods Payback, Holy Dirt, Bubonic Bear
05/16 AS220 Providence, RI w/ Woozy, She Rides, Villainer
05/17 O’Brien’s Boston, MA w/ Phantom Glue, The Proselyte, Jack Burton vs David Lopan
05/18 Flask Lounge Portland, ME
05/19 Elm Bar New Haven, CT w/ Atrina
05/20 Acheron Brooklyn, NY
05/21 31st Street Pub Pittsburgh, PA w/ Rogue Vessel, Oktober
05/22 Carabar Columbus, OH w/ Prosanctus Inferi, Witchaven, Nocturnal, Locusta
05/23 The Green Lantern Lexington, KY w/ Stampede, Below
05/24 Southgate House Indianapolis, IN w/ Mala In Se, New Third Worlds
05/25 The Pilot Light Knoxville, KY w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers
05/26 The Get Down Asheville, NC w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers, Caltrop
05/27 King’s Raleigh, NC w/ US Christmas, Caltrop, Royal Thunder
05/28 Will’s Pub Orlando, FL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Druid Lord, Junior Bruce
05/29 C-Level Panama City Beach, FL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Death Before Dying
05/30 Siberia NOLA w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
05/31 Hi-Tone Memphis, TN w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
06/01 The Nick Birmingham, AL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
06/02 529 Atlanta, GA w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Sons of Tonatiuh
06/03 Caledonia Lounge Athens, GA w/ Caltrop
06/04 The Jinx Savannah, GA w/ Caltrop

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Black Skies to Play a Bunch of Dates, with a Bunch of Bands

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Because there’s roughly no money to be made on the road or anywhere else for that matter, longer tours are a rarity, so to see a band like North Carolinian outfit Black Skies hitting the road as hard as they are — before their album is even out — is encouraging. And they’re playing with some killer acts as well, so make sure you check out the slew of dates below and if they’re going to be where you are, show up and buy something. Hell, you know the drill by now.

If it’s news, it’s gotta be the PR wire:

Heavy North Carolina trio, Black Skies, are pleased to announce a near-month long US tour set to commence on May 12 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The trek will steamroll it’s way through 22 cities — including several East Coast locales they’ve yet to play — before drawing to a ceremonious close in Savannah, Georgia.

Said guitarist/vocalist Kevin Clark of the upcoming bout of live dates: “We are extremely pleased to be spending some time playing across the Eastern part of the country. The last several tours required us to make our way West as quickly as possible due to time constraints, so we haven’t been to some of the places we will be hitting on this tour in far too long. We are also thrilled to spend a good portion of the trek with some of our favorite bands and people: Backwoods Payback, Caltrop, Royal Thunder, and US Christmas. We hope to have a few more songs ready to go for this trip as well. Tim had just joined the band before the last tour — we literally had four rehearsals together before leaving on tour for a month — so we were limited to the same set pretty much every night. Since then, we’ve had time to rework some of those songs and write a few new ones. This will allow us to keep things fresh and interesting, while also being able to play songs we feel would be more appropriate to the audience’s energy at any given show.”

The band — Clark, Tim Herzog (drums) and Michelle Temple (bass, vocals, booking) — will be touring in support of their soon-to-be-issued new full-length, On the Wings of Time. The follow-up to 2008’s Hexagon EP, On the Wings of Time was recorded, produced and mastered by Harvey Milk‘s Kyle Spence at his own RJS studios in Athens, Georgia.

Black Skies Live – May/June 2011:
05/12 The Milestone Charlotte, NC w/ Trade, Towering Pyre
05/13 The Crayola House Harrisonburg, VA w/ Backwoods Payback, Earthling, Trade
05/14 Strange Matter Richmond, VA w/ Backwoods Payback
05/15 Mojo Main Newark, DE w/ Backwoods Payback, Holy Dirt, Bubonic Bear
05/16 AS220 Providence, RI w/ Woozy, She Rides, Villainer
05/17 O’Brien’s Boston, MA w/ Phantom Glue, The Proselyte, Jack Burton vs David Lopan
05/18 Flask Lounge Portland, ME
05/19 Elm Bar New Haven, CT w/ Atrina
05/20 Acheron Brooklyn, NY
05/21 31st Street Pub Pittsburgh, PA w/ Rogue Vessel, Oktober
05/22 Carabar Columbus, OH w/ Prosanctus Inferi, Witchaven, Nocturnal, Locusta
05/23 The Green Lantern Lexington, KY w/ Stampede, Below
05/24 Southgate House Indianapolis, IN w/ Mala In Se, New Third Worlds
05/25 The Pilot Light Knoxville, KY w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers
05/26 The Get Down Asheville, NC w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers, Caltrop
05/27 King’s Raleigh, NC w/ US Christmas, Caltrop, Royal Thunder
05/28 Will’s Pub Orlando, FL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Druid Lord, Junior Bruce
05/29 C-Level Panama City Beach, FL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Death Before Dying
05/30 Siberia NOLA w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
05/31 Hi-Tone Memphis, TN w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
06/01 The Nick Birmingham, AL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
06/02 529 Atlanta, GA w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Sons of Tonatiuh
06/03 Caledonia Lounge Athens, GA w/ Caltrop
06/04 The Jinx Savannah, GA w/ Caltrop

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Buried Treasure: Classy, Classy Caltrop

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 8th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Probably five years ago, a standard yellow padded envelope came across my desk with an elaborate predatory bird drawn on it in red permanent marker. I liked the drawing so much that I kept the envelope and still have it. Of course, it helped that Caltrop‘s 2006 demo, which was contained inside, was killer. The band struck a dirty blues-based sludgy note without going overboard in terms of the aggression, and I still take out that demo every now and then and listen to it.

I even included a track in the all-Southern podcast a couple months back, if you want proof.

In the intervening years between then and now, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, four-piece released their first full-length, World Class, through local imprint Holidays for Quince Records. That was 2008, and though I don’t really have any excuse for doing so, I completely missed the boat on the record. Hey, it happens.

I had planned on picking up World Class when Caltrop played Webster Hall in NYC with Batillus and Hull as the two closed out their tour together at the end of last month, but real life intervened in the form of homework and I didn’t get there. Nonetheless, enough was enough when it came to not owning the album. I dialed up Caltrop‘s website to see if they had a copy for sale, and when they didn’t, I went next to the label. Lo and behold, the package came in Wednesday’s mail.

The sweet Hendrixian fuzz of “Bloodroot” makes World Class worth the $12 I paid for it anyway, but there’s something humble about the vocals too. It’s the same quality that made Pennsylvania‘s Pearls and Brass such a delight to listen to when they were together. It’s folkish and rural, swampy and humid-sounding, but still edgy and better suited to the music than you might think. There’s no pretense in what Caltrop does to being sludge, or stoner, or whatever. They just play the heavy tones they want to hear. That comes through on World Class, and so, the record every bit lives up to its name.

Only shame about the whole thing is that I’m three years late on the album, but if you head over to the Caltrop page on Facebook, it looks like they recently did some recording, so maybe I’ll get my chance to be more timely sometime before 2011’s out. Either way, now that I know what I’ve been missing, I’ll be sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Horseback, The Invisible Mountain: Godspeed You! Black Metal

Posted in Reviews on August 3rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

With their issue of Horseback’s The Invisible Mountain full-length, Relapse gets a shot at exposing a vital and relative newcomer to a wider audience. First released through Utech Records last year, The Invisible Mountain is a stylistic amalgamation pulled off with striking poise by Horseback, the band moniker taken on by Chapel Hill, North Carolina, artist Jenks Miller, who combines ambient drone and the occasional bout of stoner riffing with harsh black metal vocals. The Invisible Mountain is Horseback’s second full-length (Miller also releases material under his own name), and with four tracks all over six minutes long, it’s an album that takes its time unfolding but has a sense of immediacy nonetheless.

In many ways, it’s saved by the mix. Were Miller’s vocals not relatively buried and were the ambient guitar layers not brought to the fore, The Invisible Mountain would be completely intolerable. As it is, fans of Grails and post-metal types will find plenty to latch onto with Horseback. I wouldn’t go as far as to call the music experimental, because Miller isn’t really doing anything that hasn’t been done in any of the styles he’s toying with and melding, but on a conceptual level, Horseback could be breaking new ground. Opener “Invokation” doesn’t seem to be anything special, just a doomy riffer with some thick bottom end and rolling drums, but when Miller comes in with the vocals, it gets obvious real quick that Horseback isn’t just another post-doom outfit. Think darker Wino guitars with Attila Csihar singing over them and you’ll have some idea of where “Invokation” is going.

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