Posted in Whathaveyou on October 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ohio sludge! The nastiest of the nasty, Cleveland-based Fistula have a new record out called Northern Aggression, and to support it, they’re hitting the road starting tonight, Oct. 19, at The Foundry in their hometown. You’ll notice they’ve also got a house show scheduled in Lansing. Could it be the Postmansion? I’ve seen a couple choice gigs there myself.
Wherever you catch them — I’m considering hitting Brooklyn on Tuesday; Cleanteeth and Generation of Vipers make that a bill worth crawling out from under my rock to see at The Acheron – make sure you do so and consider it a litmus test for how much abrasive sludge you can stand in a live setting. Fucking a.
The PR wire cometh:
FISTULA: Cleveland Sludge Henchmen Release New LP And Take It To The Streets
Cleveland’s long-running sludge kingpins FISTULA have just filthified the planet with their latest dose of resin-coated low-end antagonism.
One of the most constantly productive bands of the modern sludge scene, FISTULA have tortured live audiences abroad and boast a lengthy discography of LPs, EPs, demos, split releases and more since their 1998 inception. Recorded in May and June with Eric Braunschweigerat Rogue Mobile Recording in Massachusetts (the vocals were recorded with Big Metal Dave at Broken Back Studios in Cleveland), the band’s latest caustic crusher, Northern Aggression, is out now via PATAC Records. The LP version of the offering is loaded with eight ceaselessly brutal anthems — including an album-closing cover of The Mentors’ “Going Through Your Purse” — while the CD version includes a bonus of FISTULA’s 2010-released six-song Loser EP, adding an additional 28-minutes to the aural beating. For ordering info, point your browser HERE. For limited vinyl and merch pre-orders, go HERE.
In commemoration of the album’s release, FISTULA will take to the streets this week on the Northern Aggression 2012 tour. The melee begins Friday October 19th (today!) in Lakewood, Ohio and will roll through Indianapolis, Chicago, Brooklyn and Cambridge, along the way sharing the stage with Vulture, Coffinworm, Black Goat, Cleanteeth (ex/members Goes Cube, Hull), Generation of Vipers (members of US Christmas) and more.
FISTULA’s Northern Aggression Tour 2012: 10/19/2012 The Foundry – Lakewood, OH w/ Vulture, Mockingbird, Deathcrawl, Pissmongrel 10/20/2012 Indy’s Jukebox– Indianapolis, IN w/ Coffinworm, Black Goat of the Woods, Conjurer 10/21/2012 Double Door – Chicago, IL w/ Coffinworm, Drug Honkey, Cog 10/23/2012 Acheron – Brooklyn, NY w/ Cleanteeth, Generation of Vipers 10/24/2012 Cambridge Elks – Cambridge, MA w/ Nachzherer, Insult
Aside from the fact that even my weekend was full of work-type work (as opposed to this-type work), I wanted to let that Ed Mundell interview breathe a bit as well as the top of the page, so I didn’t post anything to close out last week either yesterday or Saturday night. Also, the only thing I’d have been able to say either Friday night or Saturday was “blah blah blah fuck everything,” and I figured that wouldn’t help.
So instead, we’ll open this week with a trio of tracks from Ohio classic heavy obscurios — yes, a portmanteau of “obscure curios,” and you’re welcome — Granicus, who released their self-titled album in 1973. That was the Zeppelin-esque five-piece’s only record until 2010, when they reformed and released Thieves, Liars and Traitors independently. If you’re interested in reading more about them, their site is here. Basically I stumbled on these tracks and thought they warranted further investigation. I’ll but Granicus on my ever-growing list of heavy ’70s records I need to buy right next to the self-titled Jamul album.
To come this week: reviews of new records by Torche and Candlemass, as well as a MASSIVE slab of audio from the almighty Bong, and that much-delayed interview with Caltrop. Today we’ll be taking a look at Michigan-based weirdo rockers BerT, and if there’s time, we’ll rock out to British instrumentalists Thorun. Wednesday we’ll have the next installment of Woody‘s column, and I also hope to start the aforementioned “Canon of Heavy” series before Friday, though that’s a maybe at this point. Time and post-office permitting, I also want to take a special look at the catalog of Roadsaw, which especially after the Where to Start Small Stone piece last week seems all the more ripe for a bit of worship.
Much fun ahead and a decent chunk of ’70s riffing is never a bad way to start a week, so enjoy your Granicus and I’ll get to work on the above. I hope you had a great, safe and supermoon-filled weekend and that your week follows suit. Thanks as always for checking in, both here and on the forum. Good times all around.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Cleveland doom rockers Venomin James, who lost drummer Jared Koston to cancer in 2010, are looking to release their third full-length, Unholy Mountain, on vinyl, as well as work out physical a repress of their second offering, Crowe Valley Blues. To aid the process, they’ve asked their rather considerable fanbase to chip in via Kickstarter.
We are Venomin James, a doom metal band from Cleveland, Ohio, and we need your help to bring our vinyl dreams to life!
We are nearly finished with the recording of our third album, Unholy Mountain. This Kickstarter campaign will help us raise enough scratch to press vinyl of Unholy Mountain along with our second album, Crowe Valley Blues.
We are a band that truly embraces DIY, but sometimes we need a little help… maybe it’s you!
He’s been in and around the Cleveland, Ohio, sludge scene for about as long as it’s been there for him to be in and around it, and as guitarist in bands like Fistula, Ultralord, King Travolta, Necrodamus, Sollubi (in which he played bass), Bibilic Blood and Morbid Wizard, Scott Stearns has helped shape the misanthropic, vitriolic sound of the Midwest. Seated on the left in the picture above of his latest band, Morbid Wizard, Stearns has also contributed album art to both his comrades’ bands and to those outside Ohio‘s borders, and his graphic style is as manic and terrifying as the music.
Credited occasionally as Wizard or Wizardfool or some derivation thereof, Stearns is also intensely prolific. This year, Morbid Wizard made their debut in the form of Lord of the Rats (review here) and his duo Bibilic Blood released their third album in three years, Blood Butterfly (review here). Though the projects are vastly different — the one a who’s who of Ohio sludge players and the other a nightmarish horror-psych two-piece — Stearns brings something unique to both in his playing and his art. There’s no bullshit in either. No compromise of form. No play to accessibility. Any one of his visual works on your notebook would get you immediately expelled from high school, and his music is all viciousness and disaffection — the stuff of landmark sludge.
His mastery of underground forms notwithstanding, I wanted to hit up Stearns with Six Dumb Questions to talk mostly about how Morbid Wizard came together around musicians from Fistula, Rue, Sollubi, Accept Death and others — those being drummer Corey Bing, guitarist Bahb Branca, bassist Mike Duncan and vocalist Jesse Kling — but there was room as well to discuss the terrifying nature of Bibilic Blood and his work with bassist/vocalist Suzy Psycho in that band, as well as his development as a designer and artist. Even so, this is really just the beginning of Stearns‘ portfolio, and for more, you should check out his website at stearnsdog.com.
Please note too that the art accompanying the Q&A is all by Stearns and that any images can be enlarged by clicking on them. Hope you enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:
1. Morbid Wizard brings in members from many different projects. How do you all find the time to get together and how did the band form in the first place. Is Morbid Wizard the priority for everyone involved?
MorbidWizard was formed by me and Corey Bing. We had gotten together and jammed a couple times but hadn’t really done anything for a while. The last band we were both in was called Blackwell that was a hardcore band with LarryGargus from DonAustin on vokills. Blackwell recorded an album and then fell apart but me and Corey were always trying to get something going over the winter and finally we just said fuck it and booked two days at SUMA Studios with PaulHamman. SUMA is an awesome studio where GrandFunk recorded their first albums, Bloodrock, Shok Paris, Destructor, Integrity and a lot of other classic bands. Paul let us use some of his vintage Marshall cabinets and a HiWatt head, I also used my SICK head and the plan was to just get completely retarded with high volume. Corey got Bahb from Fistula to play second guitar, Mike Duncan from Black Mayonnaise on bass and noise, and Jesse from Sollubi on vokills and noise. MorbidWizard is not really a priority for anyone, it’s just something we are going to keep trying to do when we get the chance. Everyone has their main bands that they are dedicated to. We are working on new material, so hopefully we will get it done and have an EP or another record out next year.
2. Talk about the sludge scene in Ohio. It seems like there’s a really dedicated group of people (many of whom are in Morbid Wizard) who’ve been in bands with each other for a while now. Did it really all start with Sloth and Nunslaughter? What’s the area like, and where do the best shows happen? How did it begin for you, and what do you think allowed the community of bands that’s there now to develop?
I got into it in the ‘80s when I was in high school. I was into punk at first, like BlackFlag, G.B.H., The Bad Brains, X, Suicidal Tendencies, DeadKennedys, and I would go to punk shows but then I started getting into metal and thrash bands like Metallica, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, Exodus, Venom, Voivod, Hellhammer, CelticFrost. My favorite local bands were Destructor and FalseHope. Destructor is still playing today and some of the guys in FalseHope went on to play in Keelhaul and some other good bands.Nunslaughter has been around playing death metal since the ‘80s. I think the people that have been around forever have a true love for making heavy metal, punk, noise, sludge, whatever.
My first band that I played guitar for was DieHard, with AaronMelnick, Dwid, ChubbyFresh and Stork, that was the band before they became Integrity. We recorded an album in 1989 called Looking Out for Number One.
I think my first Introduction to sludge metal was doing artwork for Sneak from ShiftyRecords. He gave me a whole bunch of awesome CDs: Fistula[‘s] Hymns of Slumber, Church of Misery, Weedeater, Abdullah, Cruevo, RUE, Sofa King Killer, Mugwart, Rwake, Beaten Back to Pure. Then I met CoreyBing around 2002 when Fistula played a festival with Weedeater, SoulPreacher, Bongzilla, Red Giant, Boulder, and Mastodon before they were really big. I was playing guitar in MadmanMundt, which I loved but I also wanted to do something much slower so we recorded the first Necrodamus EP at Rock Solid Studio in Cleveland and I called up Corey and asked if he would be interested in singing on it. Then after that, we recorded the first Ultralord record, Act 1.
I live about 30 miles east of Cleveland. Lake Erie is two blocks down the street from where I live. Most of the people are just regular working stiffs, there are a good amount of mutated Chernobyl fallout hillbillies around here but they keep it interesting and give it a creepy 1950s small town feeling. The best place to see bands is at Now That’s Class over on the west side of Cleveland. Peabody’s also has some good big-name metal bands that come through Cleveland and the Beachland and Grogshop have some good bands closer to where I live.
3. Your art graces many of the covers for these releases and of course others as well. How did you get your start as an artist and what can you say about the development of your style? Is there something behind your decision to use color for one piece and not another?
Growing up I was very heavily into comic books, Dungeons and Dragons, Heavy Metal and Epic magazines, FrankFrazetta, H.R. Geiger, and H.P. Lovecraft. Then I went to high school with some of the guys in FalseHope and did flyers for them. It wasn’t until a couple years after that Dr. Maxar Berezium from 100,000 Leagues Under My Nutsack asked me to do the cover of his first album Welcome to the Fold. He was a big influence because he was always asking me to do artwork for t-shirts and stickers and posters. He would go all over the country and Europe putting up stickers with my art. Then other people would ask him about the artwork and if they could get me to do something for them.
I have just recently started to experiment with color using Photoshop. Trying to figure out how to do it has taken a while but I think I’m getting better now. For the Bibilic Blood records I used color because SuzyPsycho specifically wanted the alien on the first cover to be green and we liked it a lot so we decided to make them all color.
4. How did you get involved in Bibilic Blood, and how does that compare to the other bands you’ve been in? There’s something so horrifying about Bibilic Blood’s music. Not that I think there are animal sacrifices or anything, but what’s the atmosphere like when Bibilic Blood is writing songs? Where does this stuff come from?
Bibilic Blood is mine and Suzy Psycho’s band, we started out by just making noise on a 4-track, then started recording on a digital 8-track. Bibilic Blood is different because our studio is set up in our living room so we can practice and record whenever we feel like it. We don’t do any animal sacrifices because we love all the furry little creatures that live in the woods, but it is very easy to imagine some of the weirdos that live around us are doing some animal or human sacrifices right now in their living rooms. Part of the atmosphere is that we are always aware that the outside world is full of horrific nightmare people and places, so we are just grateful that we can hang out and have a good time and play music together. We have a black light we turn on, then Suzy comes up with some riffs and we jam them out and record it when we get something we like. Then Suzy does her vokill tracks and then I will do the guitar parts a little at a time over the next couple days.
5. Do you see yourself as bringing something consistent across the board to the many different bands you’ve played with, or do your contributions depend on the other players involved? How does your visual art play into that? Is it harder making covers for a band you’re in or someone who’s hired you from the outside?
Yeah I think all the bands I’ve played in are mostly about coming up with a couple good heavy riffs and tying them together. I always look to my favorite bands for inspiration Slayer, BlackSabbath, IronMaiden, MercyfulFate, DIO, Ozzy, Venom, CelticFrost, CirithUngol, SuicidalTendencies, BlackFlag, SaintVitus. I am always happy to do art for the bands I play in because for me the artwork is a really important part of the band. There is some more pressure doing art for other bands because I always want it to be as sick as possible especially when it’s a band I am a really big fan of.
6. Any other plans, new releases or closing words you want to mention?
We are working on new MorbidWizard songs for hopefully a 2012 EP or album, BibilicBlood is going to have two new songs on the SLUDGESAPIENS tape compilation put out by Quagmire located in the barbarian Russian wastelands, and we are working on new AncientSickness.
Posted in Reviews on October 24th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
The dudes that comprise Cleveland dirt-worshiping sludge outfit Morbid Wizard have long been kicking around the Midwestern underground in bands like Fistula, King Travolta, Sollubi, Bibilic Blood, Ultralord and Rue. Drummer Corey Bing, for example, has been in all of those bands and others. Vocalist Jesse Kling was/is also in Pennsylvania Connection and helms Land o’ Smiles Records, whose anti-CD stance is heartfelt enough to relegate Morbid Wizard’s debut, Lord of the Rats, to a self-release, and guitarist Scott Stearns provides artwork here for the DVD case and has also lent his manic style to several of the bands listed above as well as to Centinex, Nunslaughter and others. It is an impressive, if self-contained, pedigree, and speaks volumes of the dedication of the members of Morbid Wizard – which is rounded out by guitarist Bahb Branca (all the bands above save Bibilic Blood and Pennsylvania Connection) and bassist Mike Duncan (ex-Fistula) – and if Lord of the Rats is anything, it’s the latest installment in an ongoing series of visceral sludge releases from these players. One could obviously consider it coalesced in some way, since the five-piece are obviously familiar with each other’s work but have now emerged in this form, but that doesn’t necessarily speak to the seven songs that comprise the album itself, which bear the stylistic fuckall typical of this scene and so sound loose, harsh in their production and adherent to any number of prescription pharmaceuticals as well as the lessons passed down from Grief, Buzzov*en, Crowbar (who especially shine through on the title-track) and the ever-present Eyehategod.
At its heart, Lord of the Rats is of its genre, but Morbid Wizard inhabit the nastiest, most abrasive corners of sludge. There’s no bringing in elements from other extreme metals, no real fucking with the formula unless you want to count varying the pace from the lethargic (see opener “Choked Out by the Hand of Doom”) to the vaguely less lethargic (see the later “Death Sun”), but they have a habit of incorporating shredding solos over the chugging riffs, and that does well to break up the monotony and present an illusion of motion. Kling adds periodic samples and noises, as on the near-12-minute closer “Incantation” and unrepentantly plodding “Puke God,” not so much offsetting his vicious unipolar screams as adding to the overall fucked up sensibility of the record. As a rhythm section, Duncan and Bing are relatively straightforward – the former sticking mostly to the riff for guidance and the latter grounding some of the more horrifying material on Lord of the Rats by keeping time on the bell of his ride cymbal – but at no point is any other approach warranted or even appropriate. A song like “Mutilation,” which follows the opener, is so simple in its basic undulations that to doll it up with indulgent technicality could only detract from the effect on the listener. Like the best of sludge, the bulk of Lord of the Rats is basically punk rock played at quarter speed by misanthropes. Both “Mutilation” and “Death Sun” (the two shortest cuts, hovering on either side of three minutes) stick to one central riff, and even where Morbid Wizard offer some versatility in the relatively fast tempo “Lord of the Rats” takes on toward its end, the vibe is so consistently wretched and ugly that it’s over before you notice it. Or maybe that’s the pills kicking in.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I can barely figure out how to work a WordPress back end, but — ever ones for innovative releasing techniques — Ohioan rockers Threefold Law have just announced a new app for their latest album, Revenant (review here, interview here), that features the music of the band, the written story from guitarist/vocalist J. Thorn, and probably a dozen or so other technological wonders my luddite ass will never understand. Way to go.
In addition, they’ve got (what I’ve just learned is called) a QR code, which you can scan with your fancy phone and go to a special version of their website with exclusive clips and more. Check it out:
Threefold Law, Cleveland’s doom pioneers, announce the launch of their new mobile website and Revenant app for the Droid. Go to http://www.threefoldlaw.com or scan the QR code from any mobile device and get automatically routed to a customized version of the full website with streaming music, live performances, and album reviews.
In addition, ThreefoldLaw present the Revenant app for Droid users. With an intuitive interface and clean design, stream the entire album, read the story, and more. Users of the iPhone, Blackberry, or any handheld device can access Revenant through the mobile site.
It’s hard to get a handle on Cleveland doom rockers Threefold Law. Embroiled in a curious mysticism, and not exactly forthcoming in the totality of their thematics, the four-piece seem old school in more than just their sound, working to restore some of the mystique to bands that social networking and immediate accessibility have undone. Their latest (and recently-reviewed) release, Revenant, went so far away from today’s lack of emphasis on physical product as to include a printed novella by guitarist/vocalist J. Thorn.
But there’s more to Threefold Law than just reaction against trend and interesting packaging. The music of Revenant, broken up into five tracks named for the classic elements (earth, air, fire, water) with an interlude splitting the middle, follows a surprisingly varied course. Their shifts in sound are subtle, but Thorn and his cohorts — none of whose names are a matter of public record — unfold a gradual growth in complexity so that, by the end of the album, the beginning is far less recognizable.
There’s a lot to ask an outfit like Threefold Law, about why they do what they do and why they do it how they do — or even just who they are — but I figured this would be a good place to start. J. Thorn was more than accommodating, as you can see, and I hope you enjoy the following six dumb questions.
1. Tell me about how you were exposed to the concepts behind Threefold Law? What is your relationship to wicca? Did the band come together around those ideas, or were you playing first and the themes came later?
We relate to many Wiccan themes, such as the Rule of Three. It basically says that whatever you do comes back to you three times over, a variation on the “Golden Rule.” The idea that we’re accountable for our actions, good and bad, is really a universal concept. Wiccans recognize it as a rule of the universe, sort of like gravity.
2. What inspired the story for Revenant? Do you do a lot of fiction writing? How do you feel the story complements the music and vice versa?
A relative of mine passed away last year and we were cleaning out his attic when I came across a dusty copy of Omar Khayyam’s The Rubaiyat. I could tell the book was pretty old and saw that someone scribbled “1904” on the inside cover. I sat on the floor and read it from start to finish. Edward Fitzgerald translated the poem in Victorian England and it has this flowery, epic tone that really drew me in. I immediately began formulating a concept around the piece, which in turn inspired the music. When I brought the idea to the band, they ran with it. At that point, Revenant took on a life of its own. The story and the music are intricately tied together. The vision was to have our fans read the story while listening to the album, from start to finish. It’s a throwback to the days when bands tried hard to create a piece of art instead of a single for iTunes. If you remember reading liner notes while listening to a band’s new record, you’ll appreciate Revenant. We’ve included the entire album and story on our website which is free to listen and read. You can purchase it from our merch page.
In addition to ThreefoldLaw, I write novels. I currently have one novel on Amazon.com in their Kindle store titled The Seventh Seal. I have five more that I’m in the process of formatting for the ebook readers. My writing tends to fall into two general genres. The Seventh Seal and my new novel, Preta’s Realm (coming Fall 2011) are both contemporary horror/suspense stories in the style of Stephen King or RichardLaymon. My other novels are epic fantasy (three of which are a series) that have the same vibe as Revenant.
Like music, I’m a compulsive writer. An addict. After sending dozens of queries to agents with the hopes of having a publisher pick up one of my novels, I abandoned the idea. Agents and publishers want mass appeal. I write what I love to read, and that’s a highly specific target audience and it ain’t soccer moms or beach paperbacks. With the demise of booksellers (Borders just announced it’s closing all stores), I felt it was time to embrace the future and prepare to sell my novels directly to readers in an electronic format. I know who they are and I don’t need a publicist or an agent to find them.
3. Between the CD/book combo and the double-EP collection/USB key, you’re building quite a catalog of special editions. What’s the appeal of that for you? Are you a collector yourself?
We’re really thoughtful about everything we do. The blessing of the mp3 age is that anyone can get music directly to fans. That’s also the curse. There is no question that the music is the priority, and it has to be killer. But there are a lot of bands making killer music. We want to create an experience for our listener, something that will resonate, something that connects. By offering releases that are all “special editions” we’re providing a unique product in an otherwise oversaturated market.
I own over 1,500 CD’s, cassettes, and albums. I’m a collector and purchasing the “special editions” has always been a blast. I remember searching record stores for import versions of my favorite albums, just for that bonus track or different artwork. One of my favorite release mediums was the “box set.” I own the first edition LedZeppelin box set and the original Live Shit: Binge and Purge released by Metallica in the early ‘90s. Even though it was shitty Black Album-era Metallica, the box set has live performances of early Metallica and tons of cool extras in it.
4. What was behind structuring Revenant with the titles of the four elements? How did that play thematically into the story (acknowledging that the story was also broken into chapters that way), and how closely related were the lyrics of the songs to those elements?
Again, the Rubaiyat gave us a loose structure for Revenant, but we created our unique take on it. There isn’t anything directly connected to the elements in Khayyam’s work, but we felt it lent a signature vibe to each track. “Earth” and “Fire” are heavier, more grounded tunes while “Air” and “Water” have a lighter, more fluid feel. “Interlude” gives the listener context and something very different from everything else we’ve recorded. We care greatly about dynamics. I get fatigued by a recording that is 10 tracks of double-bass drum at 180 bpm. The elements in the story, as chapters, help to push the themes through different written dynamics as well.
5. Any chance you’ll reveal the identities of the rest of the band? Is there a philosophy behind keeping proper names out of it?
6. What’s next for the band? Any more recordings this year or anything else you want to mention?
We’ve been writing material for our next record, which we’d like to have done by the end of 2011. We have a concept, but we haven’t fully developed it yet. We’re also in the process of scoping out studios in Cleveland. Chances are we’ll track the next record in a commercial studio.
As your readers are probably aware, we won the Soda Shop/Heavy Planet March Bandness contest this past spring. “Earth” is featured on the second SodaShopCompilation coming out soon. We’ve just struck a deal with a Swedish distributor who is getting our product into over 1,400 record shops in Europe, and we’ve had interest from one of Cleveland’s finest metal bands to collaborate on a project in the near future. This fall we’re considering a regional tour with another killer Cleveland band that could take us through Chicago, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Eventually we’d love to head east through Pennsylvania and into the New Jersey/New York metro area. I used to live in your neck of the woods and know there is an appreciation for heavy music in the GardenState.
Posted in Reviews on July 15th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
When last heard from, Cleveland, Ohio, double-guitar four-piece Threefold Law released their EP compilation, MMX, on CD and USB key (review here), effectively bridging the gap between the desire for physical media and the movement forward into the digital era. MMX, for all its innovation, was roughly produced in the manner of digital recordings – everything clear, but flatly mixed – and the same could be said of the outfit’s follow-up effort, Revenant. Like MMX, Revenant is self-released, and also like its predecessor, it is available either on disc or USB. Where the two find their major difference is that the special edition of Revenant also includes a professionally-bound short story by Threefold Law frontman J. Thorn – essentially a pocket-sized book with a glossy cover – as well as the CD version of the five-track Revenant release.
The story is set in ancient Persia and tells the story of an unnamed traveler (appropriate enough, since Thorn is the only one whose name the band makes public) dying of thirst who, after smoking hashish, meets the ghost of a sultan and discusses the afterlife he’s soon to see. Thorn’s writing is rife with description and epically-toned language – on page 17 we get, “The man’s sunburnt face spread into a reluctant smile,” and on 30, the sultan declares, “You will now hear of my journey and of the circumstances that brought us together.” It’s a tone fitting of the tale, but as the dialogue of gods and kings wears on, it feels weighted by the extraneous language. Still, the most powerful moment in the story is reserved for the ending, and as the written piece is broken, like the Revenant disc proper, into sections surrounding the four classicist elements – “Earth,” “Air,” “Fire” and “Water” (on the album, an interlude splits the middle between “Air” and “Fire”) – it only speaks further to the band’s highly conceptual nature. Threefold Law, it seems, don’t do anything without a big idea behind it.
That’s admirable enough in itself, but where Revenant most succeeds is in translating those ideas into the music of the five audio tracks. For the most part, it’s a similar blend of influences as heard on MMX – the classic doom of Trouble and Black Sabbath filtered through a modern dual-guitar approach – but Threefold Law also inject Eastern influences into Revenant to match their stated theme. “Interlude” introduces raga percussion and Eastern scales, but even before that, “Air” has an open feel to its riffing, and Thorn offers a gentler touch on his vocals than on the gruff, chugging opener “Earth,” reminding a bit of a more doomed-sounding Against Nature in the process. “Earth” establishes the course of Revenant nicely, reaching well over eight minutes with an extended intro and solo work that hints at the scope of the Persian concept. There are several solos on “Earth,” and room for them in the song’s runtime, but the variance in atmosphere between “Earth” and the more spacious “Air” is remarkable. Listening to Revenant, it sounds like Thorn and Threefold Law are really trying to embody the titular elements while also telling the story.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 17th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
On Friday, March 18, while most of us are nursing our post-St. Pat’s hangovers, by, uh, drinking more, doomly Cleveland rockers Threefold Law will be hitting the radio at local college station WJCU for an interview and to premiere music from their upcoming new album, Revenant.
If that seems really quick since their last release, it is. Their double-EP USB The Rede and The Burning Timewas reviewed back in January. If I was Bill Peters of the show Metal on Metal, I’d ask them how the hell they managed to turn around new material so quickly.
Here’s the info, direct from the band:
Tune into WJCU 88.7 FM this Friday to hear Threefold Law in the studio with Bill Peters on Metal on Metal in advance of their show at the Grog Shop on Saturday night with Ohio Sky and Mechanics of Things.
For those outside of the Cleveland area, listen to a live stream of Metal on Metal at http://www.wjcu.org/. Angus and J. will talk with Bill on the air and debut a new song from Threefold Law, the first cut off of the new album, Revenant, due to release in late April. The band plans to present a token of appreciation to fans listening on Friday.
Posted in Reviews on January 10th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
In an age where the dominant question concerning media is whether or not physical product is necessary anymore – i.e. CDs/vinyl vs. mp3 and other common formats – Cleveland, Ohio, metallers ThreefoldLaw have pulled off a rare feat and found a happy medium with their new double-EP release, MMX. For curmudgeonly CD collectors like myself who just can’t let go of the little plastic discs, MMX is presented over the course of two component EPs, The Rede and The Burning Time, each in its own jewel case with separate and complete artwork (you also get downloadable versions of the tracks when you buy from the band). The digital version of MMX comes on a custom-designed USB key and features a host of bonus material, from video clips and WAV files to an actual Threefold Law tarot card and embedded artwork. Maybe it’s not so much a compromise between the two sides of the issue as much as it’s Threefold Law covering their bases, but it’s interesting in that either way you tackle MMX, the band has managed to maintain some semblance of control over how you hear their material.
For me, I have to put on a separate disc to switch from The Rede to The Burning Time, but even if I loaded all the files into my iTunes or some equivalent clunker of a media player, I’d still have two separate covers and contexts to tackle with MMX. I’m not sure why Threefold Law would want to put out their material this way – though I’ll admit there are thematic differences between the two EPs that make it easy to read in a few reasons – but they’ve done a good job of it nonetheless. And the music, which is ultimately what matters on this or any other release, is quality traditional doom with nods to Trouble and a C.O.C.-type tone in the double guitars that only adds to the already-satisfying low end. Each EP has an appeal of its own. The Rede closes with “Old Dominion,” a heady jammer with Threefold Law’s best bass performance (though “The Serpent King” from The Burning Time offers stiff competition), where The Burning Time has the memorable cuts “Rankin” and “Killer of the Sultan.” What unites the two EPs and ultimately draws MMX together is the riffing and the consistent vocals, which lead almost exclusively throughout the tracks. There are a few excellent guitar solos – they feature in layers on the title cut from The Burning Time — and overall the material should sit well with fans of American traditional doom and/or the darker, heathen side of stoner metal.
Posted in On the Radar on September 21st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Doom grooves and stoner vibes: You can’t beat ‘em, so don’t even try. Hailing from the post-industrial wasteland known as Cleveland, Ohio, the four-piece Threefold Law (you’d expect a trio, but no dice) combine what’s best about the genre of stone with a love of classic doom acts like Trouble and Cathedral. On their MySpace, you can hear the song “The Burning Time,” which tops out at over eight minutes and was included on Stoner Rock Ohio‘s Blowin’ Smoke compilation.
“The Burning Time” is aptly named just about any way you want to take it. Threefold Law go where the riffs take them, making the most of young Pepper Keenan-style vocals and bass lines I’d love to hear in better-than-MySpace quality. The track has plenty of space to develop, and if anything, sounds like it could have been even longer, since it fades away in the middle of a jam. Playing till the tape runs out? Maybe. Threefold Law seem to have both ends covered — the rocking and the rolling — so it wouldn’t surprise me to hear them push a groove into temporal overdrive.
They aren’t exactly what you’d call “experimental” when it comes to originality, but Threefold Law do well enough to take what’s already established and make it their own. Their only release to date, a 2009 EP called Killer of the Sultan seems to be sold out (I can’t find it on their website), but maybe we’ll get lucky and hear more from these dudes soon. For now, eight minutes of “The Burning Time” will have to do.
Posted in Reviews on August 24th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Red Giant’s first album in six years finds the Cleveland four-piece come down to earth. Where 2004’s Devil Child Blues — and even more so their earlier albums, Ultra Magnetic Glowing Sound and Psychoblaster and the Misuse of Power – was spacier, looser, more open, the newer output on Dysfunctional Majesty (their second offering through Small Stone) is tight, rigid, professional-sounding. The tracks are not given to exploration, but rather, follow the guitars right through to the kind of straightforward heavy groove rock that has become synonymous with Small Stone’s name the last several years.
You wouldn’t know it by their level of output, but Red Giant mark two decades of existence in 2010. On Dysfunctional Majesty, guitarist/vocalists Alex Perekrest and Damien Perry and bassist Brian Skinner (all three original members) are joined on drums by Eric Matthews (ex-Pro-Pain), and while it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from Red Giant, the maturity of the band still shines through in contrast to Devil Child Blues. Nothing against that album – it rocked plenty hard and plenty fast – but Dysfunctional Majesty is a different level entirely. The ease with which Red Giant channels labelmates Dixie Witch on “Million Point Buck” and “It Doesn’t Seem Right” speaks to the level of consciousness in the songwriting. The woman-as-car metaphor on “Season of the Bitch” may be overdone and cliché, but at least Red Giant do it well and know it’s the riffs that really matter in driving the song home.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 11th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Look, I’ve been back and forth for the last month-plus with Masakari‘s The Prophet Feeds (spelled The Profit Feeds on the CD itself), trying to decide whether or not to give it a review. It’s on Southern Lord, which is enough of a connection to doom that I probably could make it fit if I wanted — it was enough for the Black Breath EP — but the fact is, I don’t want to.
I feel bad in a way, because I know the Cleveland outfit probably put a lot of work into the record — it certainly sounds like they did — but I need to draw the line, and I think this might be where I’m drawing it. The Obelisk was conceived to cover stoner, doom, psych, prog, and the relevant subgenres thereof, because that’s what I enjoy listening to and writing about. I’m not a hardcore fan or expert, and I’d rather not write a shitty review of a record that’s just not my thing from the get-go.
Yes, Masakari have a song about the horrors of dog fighting with lyrics written in the vaulted language common to their genre, discussions of “loyalty,” “honor” and so forth, so there’s plenty to talk about, but that doesn’t mean I’m interested in doing so. When Southern Lord decided black metal was the new “it” thing — and I would argue their decision was a big part of making that true — I went along with it. Fine. When SunnO))) put out Black One, I thought it was cool. But man, if Greg Anderson wants to explore his hardcore roots, that’s great, I wish him all the success in the world, but I’m not on for this ride.
It would be disingenuous for me to pretend to dig on The Prophet Feeds just because Southern Lord put it out when there’s a ton of other albums out there that sound just like it that I can’t and won’t be bothered with. So I’m not going to. I’d rather keep this site honest and true to what it is meant to be than follow the shifting tide of trend, and I’m not saying that to be self-righteous, but rather, because I’m a fan of Southern Lord and what Greg Anderson has presented in the past, and I don’t want to cheapen that. So, to the label and the band, I’m sorry (I’m pretty sure both parties will survive), but this one is going to have to be a pass.
Posted in Reviews on December 14th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
One of the objects of the sludge aesthetic has always been to push the limits of what?s listenable and challenge the audience to keep up with a given band?s gross audio manipulations. Born of crusty hardcore and stoner metal, it is among the ugliest forms of music out there today, and purposefully so. Cleveland, Ohio trio DeathCrawl show a keen knowledge of and respect for sludge?s mission on their self-released debut, The End is Not Near Enough. Not only is it heavy as balls, but the damn thing?s a marathon.
Weighing in at a more than considerable 74 minutes, moments of The End is Not Near Enough lived up to the title. Guitarist Damon Gregg, bassist Jason Luchka and drummer Dave Johnson, all three of whom also handle raw-throated screaming vocals, offer a sound for which their band is perfectly named, pushing agonizingly slowly through the material while speeding up on occasion only to produce a face-melting contrast. And again, they do so for 74 minutes.
Some of The End is Not Near Enough?s strongest sections are when Gregg, Luchka and Johnson mellow out in an intro or interlude. The opening of ?Valley of the Kings? or the bass-led first two minutes of the instrumental ?A Moment of Fear? have a creepy ambience to them that makes the heavy that inevitably follows all the more crushing. The only issue is that, among all this musical swampery, this is easily glossed over without a second thought.