Posted in Reviews on May 25th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I had almost forgotten the glorious trials that NYC traffic could provide. The opportunities to see oneself as being on a great, grueling journey, near-Homerian. A quest undertaken on foot, dragging a cart on your back, covered in shit and mud, sweltering in the sun. Maybe an extreme vision, but the A/C in my car was on the fritz, and it’s summer south of the wall, so it wasn’t exactly an easy drive. Got to Brooklyn in time to have a burrito at the Acapulco Deli next to the Saint Vitus Bar, however, ahead of the start of a four-band bill with Albany five-piece Hush (also stylized as Hush., with the punctuation), Portland, Oregon’s Black Pussy, German duo Mantar and UK destroyers Conan, the latter two wrapping up a coast-to-coast tour that also included stops for Conan at Psycho California and, just the night before, at Maryland Deathfest.
Brooklyn was the second to last stop on the tour, with Philly the next night and then flights out, but I didn’t get a sense of any post-MDF comedown from the band. The Vitus Bar has enough of a reputation at this point that it has become a destination in itself for bands on tour, and for me, seeing Conan there was no less an event. This was their first time in the States, and while I had an advantage in having seen them twice at Roadburn (in 2012 and in 2014) and at Desertfest London in 2013, the prospect was still exciting, not the least because it was a new lineup. I parked myself near the front a couple minutes before Hush went on:
One could probably call Hush.‘s style death-doom, but I always ascribe a certain sense of emotional drama to that, and the Upstate fivesome were light on that and heavy on just about everything else. More megasludge than death-doom, but plenty extreme one way or another. Vocalist C. Cure set up in front of the stage, and no wonder. Space was at a premium with the mountain of amps backlined, and Hush.‘s own contributions to that pile of equipment were as considerable as the tones that emanated from them. Slow-sounding even in their faster stretches, their lurch was pervasive and Cure‘s growls met the tide head-on, spit or some other manner of regurgitation flying out of his mouth as he headbanged near the front of the stage such that I thought it might be hitting guitarist Jeff Andrews (also of heavy rockers Ironwweed) in the leg. If he did, Andrews gave no sign of it. With an emphasis on tonal crush running throughout, they tossed in some new material along with “We Left Like Birds” from last year’s Unexist debut full-length, and while they were somewhat unipolar in their overall affect — that is, all heavy, all the time — they gave the evening a vicious, intense start and bludgeoned ferociously as if throwing down a gauntlet to anyone who might dare pick it up, earning their punctuation all the while.
To be perfectly honest, I was kind of dreading seeing Oregon’s Black Pussy again. Not because they suck. Actually, just the opposite. If they sucked, fine. You write them off as a shitty band with a shitty attention-grab of a name and you move on. But because they’re actually good, and because they put so much attention into the details of their presentation — from drummer Dean Carrol‘s near-manic smile as he plays to the all-Sunn backline, to bellbottoms and vintage shirts on guitarist Ryan McIntire, organist Chief O’Dell and bassist Aaron Poplin, to guitarist/vocalist Dustin Hill‘s sunglasses and apparent unwillingness to keep his tongue in his mouth while he sings — you can’t just ignore them. I decided early in the set that from here on out I’d refer to the band as Five White Dudes in a Band Called Black Pussy, and so I will. Five White Dudes in a Band Called Black Pussy were solid, and I recognized several tracks from earlier-2015’s Magic Mustache (review here), the Queens of the Stone Age-style bounce and warm but still heavy roll, but you pretty much have to put a douchebaggery-filter on to watch them and get any sense of enjoyment out of it. At least if they’d called themselves White Cock you’d be able to say it was vaguely subversive. As it is, they’re just a bummer, and the more I see of them, the more that becomes a palpable reality. Don’t think it’s a racist or sexist name? Think it’s cool and ironic and not at all reinforcing white supremacy or the colonization of black bodies? Think the internet is populated by overly PC “social justice warriors?” Fine. You’re wrong and I don’t give a fuck. Think for a second about what you’re defending. Or don’t. Start your own website instead, and pine for the days when white people could be blatantly racist without being told they should feel bad about it. Have fun with that.
Hamburg duo Mantar — vocalist/guitarist Hanno and drummer/vocalist Erinc — arrived in Brooklyn having already made an impression on this tour. I’d heard from several people in other cities who’d been pleasantly surprised by the two-piece’s blend of thickened doom tone and raw metal. They had some technical difficulties at the beginning of the set, something about the power cable into the D.I. box, but once they started, they were zero-to-100 almost immediately, Hanno spitting his lyrics at Erinc from across the stage while the drummer, arranged with his side to the crowd, crashed and slammed away a propulsive course. There were elements of Celtic Frost at their roughest, and a touch of High on Fire and the Melvins in “Astral Kannibal,” but wherever they went sonically, the core of what they were doing was the punishment of their delivery, veins popping out on Hanno‘s neck as he shouted up to his microphone. With just the two of them on the stage, there was plenty of room to thrash around, and Hanno took advantage, switching between different channels in the backlined rig, Orange heads and cabinets set up on both sides of the stage, revealed when Five White Dudes in a Band Called Black Pussy removed their Sunns — it was an evening of expensive-looking gear — used to get both bass and guitar tones out of the guitar. It was unfortunate that their set got cut short and they were visibly frustrated, but assured the room they would be back and would hopefully be able to play longer next time around. I couldn’t imagine it had been an easy tour with routing that basically took them across the country and back, but Mantar did well in the direct-support slot and the punk-rooted dynamic between Erinc and Hanno was evident even as I was relatively unfamiliar with the band.
Word was that at least some of those Orange stacks had been used in Sleep‘s recent Atlanta show. To have them subsequently carried by Conan on their first run through the US — it surely won’t be their last — seems a fitting inheritance. Conan guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis is the sole remaining founder of the band, and over the course of 2014, he brought on bassist/vocalist Chris Fielding, also producer for not only Conan but also the likes of Electric Wizard, Primordial, etc., and drummer Rich Lewis, so while Conan released their second album last year in the form of their Napalm Records debut, Blood Eagle (review here), they’re essentially a new band. Lewis, who is a man of many cymbals, is the latest addition, but they’ve toured with this lineup before, and coming toward the end of this stint as well, they were duly crisp in their delivery of what has developed into one of the heaviest aesthetics in the world. Hyperbole? Yes, but Conan warrant speaking in absolutes. Opening with “Crown of Talons,” they immediately set the place to a steady rumble and did not relent for the duration of their time on stage, Blood Eagle cuts like “Foehammer” and “Total Conquest” joined by “Hawk as Weapon” from 2012’s Monnos (review here) and “Satsumo” from their landmark 2010 Horseback Battle Hammer EP (review here), as well as a new song that worked in a middle pace to further the overbearing impression of their riff-led pummel. Davis and Fielding traded shouts, the latter almost with a Godfleshy burl, and managed to cut through the tones while Lewis nailed the snare work and quick changes in “Foehammer.” My usual modus is to hang out up front for a couple songs, take pictures and then fall back and enjoy the rest of a set from in back of the crowd, but Conan held me front and center for the duration, headbangers to the left of me, drunken staggering to the right, volume over top and crushing down. It was a brutal push through some of the highlights of their growing catalog, but their set also got cut short on curfew accounts. They wrapped up amid calls for one more song, thanked the crowd, said they’d be back, and took centerstage for a quick photo to mark the occasion, urged by some jerk who’d been taking pictures the whole time.
Speaking of, I owe a particular thanks to respected videographer Frank Huang. At the start of the show, I turned on my camera only to find I had no memory card in it, and Frank came to my rescue by letting me borrow a spare. When the show was over, I immediately dumped the photos onto my laptop, which I had in my car because I was slated for a post-gig two-hour drive to Connecticut, where I’d be crashing for the night to continue to Massachusetts on Saturday. Epic in a whole different way. I got in around 3AM with the lumbering “Crown of Talons” still stuck in my head, where it has remained since.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you feel the ground shaking for the next couple weeks, don’t sweat it. That’s just Conan on their inaugural US tour. Just hang out and wait for your eventual destruction. They’ll get there sooner or later. Unless you live in Boston. Ha.
The tour starts tonight, which seems like an occasion worthy of note, given just how badly the US is in need of the ass kicking that Conan is about to deliver upon it. Support comes from Mantar and Samothrace, and includes stops at Psycho California and Maryland Deathfest. Conan are of course supporting last year’s pummeling Blood Eagle (review here), a record the devastation of which is still being tallied. If you haven’t heard it yet, shame on you. Have you learned nothing from all the hyperbole?
Tour dates follow here. One can only hope that when they find the ruined cities left in Conan‘s wake, future archaeologists give credit where its due:
CONAN North American Tour Starts Today – New Dates Added
Support Coming From Samothrace and Mantar
Latest Album Blood Eagle Available Now on Napalm Records
The English CONAN follows the ideals of their namesake and continue their path without compromises. The second album Blood Eagle is a Doom Drone Metal monument filled with monolithic riffs, hypnotic melodies, brutal drumming and an archaic atmosphere. Blood Eagle was released last March in North America via Napalm Records. The album can be ordered iTunes and Amazon.
CONAN will be kick off a North American headline tour tomorrow May 6th in Atlanta, GA and will wrap up May 23rd in Philadelphia, PA. Support on the tour will come from Samothrace and Mantar. Additional dates have been added in so be sure to check out the entire list below. Support on the tour comes from Samothrace and Mantar. Press opportunities are available at all shows!
CONAN 5/6: Atlanta GA @ The Earl # 5/7: New Orleans LA @ Siberia # 5/8: Austin TX @ The Lost Well # 5/10: Ft. Worth, TX @ Lola’s % # 5/11: Denver CO @ Marquis Theater % # 5/12 Salt Lake City UT @ Area 51 % # 5/14: Oakland CA @ Oakland Opera House % # 5/15: Santa Ana CA @ Psycho CA, The Observatory 5/16: Tempe AZ @ 51 West % # 5/18: Oklahoma City OK @ The Conservatory % # 5/19 Memphis TN @ Hi-Tone % # 5/20 Johnson City TN @ The Hideaway % # 5/21: Baltimore MD @ Maryland Deathfest # 5/22: Brooklyn NY @ Saint Vitus Bar # 5/23: Philadelphia PA @ Kung Fu Necktie % #
% with Samothrace as direct support # with Mantar (direct support on dates without Samothrace, 1st of three on dates with Samothrace)
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Oh, America. You’re not even going to know what hit you, and before I get put on (another) government watch list, I’m talking about Conan‘s tone. I could tell you how long I’ve been waiting to write the words “Conan Announce US Tour Dates,” but suffice it to say, it’s been a long fucking time. The UK trio arrive on US shores a powerhouse, frontman Jon Davis running his own studio and label — Skyhammer and Black Bow Records, respectively — with new material in the works for their second album on Napalm behind last year’s destructive Blood Eagle (review here) to be recorded, presumably, later this year if they haven’t already started, longtime producer Chris Fielding now also playing bass in a revamped rhythm section that also includes drummer Rich Lewis, also of Cardiff’s Intensive Square.
And yeah, to answer your next question, I did put up these same tour dates yesterday when Samothrace announced them, but let it stand as an example of just how fucking important I think it is that Conan are coming to the States to tour that I’m using their announcement as well. They’ll be out with Samothrace and Mantar, and in addition to venerated East Coast rooms like the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn and Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, they’ll also appear at Psycho California and Maryland Deathfest.
CONAN Announce North American Tour
The English CONAN follows the ideals of their namesake and continue their path without compromises. The second album Blood Eagle is a Doom Drone Metal monument filled with monolithic riffs, hypnotic melodies, brutal drumming and an archaic atmosphere. Blood Eagle was released last March in North America via Napalm Records. The album can be ordered iTunes and Amazon.
CONAN will be heading to North America this May on a headline tour. The tour kicks off May 6th in Atlanta, GA and is currently scheduled to run through May 23rd in Philadelphia, PA. Support on the tour will come from Samothrace and Mantar. Additional dates are expected to be added soon.
CONAN 5/6: Atlanta GA @ The Earl # 5/7: New Orleans LA @ Siberia # 5/8: Austin TX @ The Lost Well # 5/11: Denver CO @ Marquis Theater % # 5/14: Oakland CA @ Oakland Opera House % # 5/15: Santa Ana CA @ Psycho CA, The Observatory 5/16: Tempe AZ @ 51 West % # 5/18: Oklahoma City OK @ The Conservatory % # 5/21: Baltimore MD @ Maryland Deathfest # 5/22: Brooklyn NY @ Saint Vitus Bar # 5/23: Philadelphia PA @ Kung Fu Necktie % #
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve been hearing rumors going around of Conan doing US tour dates between their stops at Psycho CA and Maryland Deathfest, and I think they’d have been hard pressed to find a band as suitable to tour the US for the first time with as Seattle’s Samothrace, whose own tones carry plenty of crush. The difference is Samothrace‘s material on their last album, 2012’s Reverence to Stone (review here), stretched out and unfolded gradually, a full atmospheric soundscape that also happened to be punishing as hell. Good matchup, in other words. I would not expect any venue they played to remain standing.
The PR wire tells it like it is:
SAMOTHRACE Confirms May Cross-Country US Tour Dates With Conan and Mantar; New Material In The Works
Seattle’s quintessential, exploratory doom metal quartet, SAMOTHRACE, has broken their live silence with another round of national tour dates for this Spring, today announcing their upcoming cross-country May tour with UK doom/stoner outfit, Conan, and German sludge act, Mantar. On the slow, steady, international tour campaign in support of their 2012-released Reverence To Stone LP, SAMOTHRACE has toured Europe twice since the album’s release — once for Heavy Days in Doomtown III in 2013 and again for Roadburn Festival in 2014, with additional tour dates surrounding both festivals — yet the band has not had an opportunity to tour heavily in their native country for quite some time.
Enticed to get back into stateside touring again, SAMOTHRACE will begin dredging their slow-motion, organic, tonal exodus across the US for the first half of May, beginning as they rendezvous with the then-ongoing cross-country Conan and Mantar tour on May 11th, in Denver, Colorado. From there, the unstoppable caravan will cut a line from the Southwestern Rockies realm out to the West Coast, down through the Southwest and up through the lower Midwestern states to the Northeastern lands, while each band boasts specific and exclusive one-off performances throughout the trek. SAMOTHRACE will then execute a return headlining performance at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar on May 24th, and then end their portion of the journey with a stop in Colorado Springs to play as part of What’s Left Presents Seven-One-Grind Fest alongside a list of carnage including Capitalist Casualties, Weekend Nachos, Theories, Connoisseur, Destroyer Of Light, Hummingbird Of Death, Primitive Man, and many others. The first round of dates have been released and another batch will follow in the coming days.
SAMOTHRACE Tour Dates: 5/11/2015 Marquis Theater – Denver, CO w/ Conan, Mantar 5/14/2015 Oakland Opera House – Oakland, CA w/ Conan, Mantar 5/16/2015 51 West – Tempe, AZ w/ Conan, Mantar 5/18/2015 The Conservatory – Oklahoma City, OK w/ Conan, Mantar 5/23/2015 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA w/ Conan, Mantar 5/24/2015 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY 5/30/2015 Seven-One-Grind Fest – Colorado Springs, CO w/ Capitalist Casualties, Weekend Nachos, Primitive Man, more
In addition to more tour plans in the works, SAMOTHRACE is writing and prepping for not only a yet-to-be announced split release with some good friends from down South, as well as their next LP to be recorded later this year.
In the meantime, a SAMOTHRACE Live at Roadburn 2014 LP is now available for preorder through Burning World/Roadburn Records, the platter limited to 300 copies. The band will have a limited supply in-hand by the beginning of the tour but they are not expected to last long. The band will also have the repress vinyl editions of Reverence To Stone as well as their debut LP, Life’s Trade, and several new merch items on tour with them, which are also available now on the SAMOTHRACE Bandcamp pageHERE, and the vinyl via 20 Buck Spin as well, rightHERE.
Posted in audiObelisk on March 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It is always a pleasure to play host to the live sets from Roadburn. This batch — the sixth to come from last year’s fest at the 013, Cul de Sac and Het Patronaat venues in Tilburg, the Netherlands — includes a couple particularly choice acts from the fest. I caught some of Papir through the door and they were awesome even being outside the room, and Sourvein kicked off the festival with a sludgy immediacy that let the Main Stage crowd know they were in for a hell of a weekend to come. That’s not to take anything away from Tribulation, Momentum, Promise and the Monster or Scorpion Child, but I can only go by what I saw.
And in that regard, I’m not sure any band who played Roadburn last year killed it quite as hard as did Conan at Het Patronaat. Having previously witnessed their Roadburn debut in 2012 (review here), it was something particularly special to see them come back and destroy in Roadburn‘s church, the stained glass windows rattling from the density of their low end, one tectonic riff feeding into another with explosive energy and ferocity unmatched in doom. They could’ve easily been on the Main Stage, but somehow it was even more appropriate in that venue. Fit for worship and then some.
They played the same day as Sourvein and Corrections House, and several of these others if I’m not mistaken. Oh, and if that pic of Sanford Parker looks familiar (it won’t, but I’m mentioning it anyway), it came from the review of their first show at the Saint Vitus Bar back in 2013. Good times.
As always, thanks to Walter for allowing me to host the streams and to Marcel Van De Vondervoort of Torture Garden Studio for busting his ass to record it all.
Conan – Live at Roadburn 2014
Corrections House – Live at Roadburn 2014
Momentum – Live at Roadburn 2014
Papir – Live at Roadburn 2014 (Saturday)
Promise and the Monster – Live at Roadburn 2014
Scorpion Child – Live at Roadburn 2014
Sourvein – Live at Roadburn 2014
Tribulation – Live at Roadburn 2014
For the other batches of audio from Roadburn 2014 — there’s some stuff worth digging for — click here, here, here, here, and here, and to read the coverage from last year’s fest, click here. For all Roadburn 2015 updates, click here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not to take credit where I shouldn’t or anything like that, but last month, I was talking about Ufomammut and Conan being in the US around the same time for Maryland Deathfest and how a tour with the both of them would be the heaviest thing in the universe and blah blah blah. Now here we are just weeks later and Ufomammut is teaming up with Conan for the release tour celebrating the arrival of their new album, Ecate, on Neurot Recordings — and it’s happening in Europe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to be anywhere on a planet where this kind of thing comes together, but it sure would be neat to have that bill on the same continent where I live. Call me crazy.
Sound of Liberation sent word of impending destruction:
SOUND OF LIBERATION PROUDLY PRESENTS UFOMAMMUT “ECATE” RELEASE TOUR
APRIL 18TH TO 30TH 2015
Few days ago, UFOMAMMUT unveiled details about their upcoming 7th album “ECATE”, which is due out on MARCH 30TH 2015 via Neurot Recordings! Here is their PR company statement, in case you missed it:
“The Italian power trio, known for their almightily heavy capabilities and psychedelic prowess, have as many discernible similarities as they do differences to their formative roots. Never pandering to the easy classification of doom, UFOMAMMUT charge their sludgy output with inimitable energy and wild, wayfaring ambition which is matched by the tightknit musical understanding that flows telepathically between the three members; Poia, Urlo, and Vita.
On their latest album, UFOMAMMUT take a confident step forward with their craft, orchestrating atmospheric processions that take the six songs on the album to places as of yet uncharted, the only guide being that of Ecate (Hecate in English), the three-sided goddess who moves between the realms of the living, the dead, and the gods.
Traditionally associated with matters of the liminal (statues of her can be found at crossroads and city walls, where she would be believed to either bless or curse travellers), she represents the link between the past, the present and the future in a way which resonates true with Ufomammut, and with the name of the band, too.”
Given that, and knowing that you are so looking forward for more information, we are thrilled to present UFOMAMMUT’s “Ecate Release Tour”, from APRIL 18TH to 30TH 2015, highlighted by appearances at both Desertfests!
On many shows, they will be supported by Liverpool’s brain crushers CONAN, for what is going to be incredibly heavy events! Check-out the dates, and be there!
Watch also below the first two in a series of video trailers for the album, which we shall be revealing over the course of the next few weeks. These short videos offer a chance to explore the story behind the recording of the album and the roots of their sound, re-affirming the band’s DIY approach to everything they do.
Posted in Features on January 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is the longest list of anything I’ve ever done, and it might be the longest I ever do. The truth is, when I started keeping track of things coming out in 2015, back around October/November, I had no idea what I was getting into. More and more names just kept getting added to the list, and between solid release dates, bands entering the studio, writing sessions underway and the usual round of vague “they’re due”-type speculation, it kept growing. Even now, I’m quite sure that by the time I’m finished with this, I’ll add something else, and 90 will become 91, and then someone will point out something glaring I forgot and 91 will become 92, and so on.
I don’t think I could reasonably expect anyone to read 90 complete entries, so I’ve broken it down somewhat. There are 52 weeks in a year, so my thinking is that if you buy one record per week, I’ve got recommendations to carry through till December (with the acknowledgement that we’re already a couple weeks into 2015) and then more beyond that. Even asking you to skim 52 entries is a lot, but hell, we’ve got 12 months until 2016, so there’s plenty of time. We’ll do 52 entries and then list the others, both alphabetically.
Thank you in advance for reading.
1. Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
If this was my year-end list instead of my year-start list, Acid King‘s Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere would be my album of the year. Best album of 2015 about 20 days into it? Maybe. The Oakland trio’s first outing in nearly a decade is a joy of languid riffing and heavy spaceout, songs like “Coming down from Outer Space” and “Center of Everywhere” reminding of just what it is we’ve been missing about Acid King all these years. They’ve continued to play live all that time, of course, and Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere, which is due April 14 on Svart, plainly demonstrates that they’ve lost none of the potency for years absent from studio work. More to come. Acid King on Thee Facebooks, Svart Records.
2. All Them Witches, TBA
The Nashville four-piece blew up following the 2013 digital release of their second album, Lightning at the Door, which saw a physical pressing last year (review here), and with a growing public at their heels and a salivating underground press anxious to hear what they come up with next, All Them Witches hit the studio this month to put together their third full-length. They’re on tour in Feb., and it seems reasonable to expect they’ll be trying out new material on the road, but as free-flowing as Lightning at the Door was, it’s hard not to consider the follow-up one of 2015’s most anticipated records, whenever it arrives and whatever shape(s) it takes. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, official website.
3. Anthroprophh, U.F.O.
Guitarist/vocalist PaulAllen, formerlyof TheHeads,teamed up with Jesse Webb and Gareth Turner of the duo Big Naturals as his rhythm section for 2014’s Outside the Circle (review here), and for his new release under the Anthroprophh moniker for Cardinal Fuzz, Allen centers around different U.F.O. abduction reports from the UK between 1954 and 1978, each of the eight tracks taking its name from the date and location of a reported incident. Sound fucking awesome? Yeah, I agree. Expect raw psychedelic experimentation, heavy swing and interpretive instrumentalism galore on the two-sided release when it gets declassified on Feb. 2, pressed in an edition of 500 copies. Anthroprophh on Thee Facebooks, Cardinal Fuzz.
4. Arenna, TBA
Spanish heavy psych outfit Arenna will release the follow-up to their 2011 Nasoni Records debut, Beats of Olarizu (review here), and they just this week posted the 10-minute opener “Butes” from their sophomore outing (listen here). The first album earned them a hearty following, and it’s been four years since it came out, but somehow I doubt Arenna will have much trouble picking up where they left off in their wide-open, jam-heavy sound. They mark a decade together in 2015, and they seem to just be getting started, so I’m particularly interested to learn how the European heavy underground takes to their second LP, which is due to be mastered next month and released sometime thereafter. Arenna on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
5. The Atomic Bitchwax, Gravitron
New Bitchwax? Sold. The stalwart New Jersey three-piece — now featuring two members of Monster Magnet — will release Gravitron on April 21 via Tee Pee Records, just in time to make a stop a few days later at Desertfest London 2015. They toured Europe last summer as well, and I think the fact that they’ll be over that way when they put Gravitron out speaks volumes to their priorities at this point, but who can blame them? Perpetually underappreciated in the US, they’ll follow-up 2011’s The Local Fuzz (review here) in grand form at Desertfest (they play Berlin as well), finally getting their due even if they have to get on a plane to get it. The Atomic Bitchwax on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.
6. Black Cobra, TBA
Hints were dropped back in November that raging two-piece Black Cobra were working on material for a new album. Whenever it arrives, this year or next, it will be their sixth and first since 2011’s Invernal (review here), which I don’t think I’m alone in counting as their finest moment to-date. They’ll also be at Desertfest for a return appearance, and wherever they go, devastation follows. They posted this week that their tour van has passed the 300,000-mile mark, which is emblematic of the workout they’ve given it over the last decade-plus, and I’d expect no slowdown, tempo or itinerary-wise, from them in 2015, regular oil changes notwithstanding. Black Cobra on Thee Facebooks, Southern Lord Recordings.
7. Black Rainbows, Hawkdope
There are 90-someodd bands included in this feature, all told. Might be over 100. I’m not sure anybody beats Italian trio Black Rainbows in the album-title department, however. Hawkdope, man. Hard to mess with that. Guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori continues to keep his finger on the pulse of European heavy rock with his Heavy Psych Sounds imprint, and while I haven’t heard Hawkdope yet, it seems likely they’ll continue the push toward heavy psychedelia that 2013’s Holy Moon EP (discussed here) and their inclusions in last year’s four-way split (review here) spoke of, but of course, they can always throw down some top notch fuzz riffing as well. Black Rainbows on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
8. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
Six years after the arrival of their demo (review here), Brothers of the Sonic Cloth will make their self-titled debut through Neurot Recordings on Feb. 17. Immediately notable for being the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist Tad Doyle (ex-TAD), bassist Peggy “Pegadeth” Doyle and drummer Dave French, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth pushes plodding heavy into seething aggression with a lumber only made more potent by Billy Anderson‘s production. It’s been a while in the making, true, but the album’s execution leaves no room for argument in its lung-deflating tonal density. Justifies the wait and then some. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
9. Chiefs, Tomorrow’s Over
With vinyl to follow in May on Battleground Records, Arizona/SoCal heavy rockers Chiefs will release their debut LP, Tomorrow’s Over, via Roosevelt Row on Feb. 24. Its striking cover art by David Paul Seymour offers immediate intrigue, as did Chiefs‘ inclusion on their 2014 split 7″ with Fuzz Evil (streamed here). The song from that, “Stone Bull,” won’t be featured on the album, but all four cuts from Chiefs‘ 2013 Buffalo Roam demo will, which should give you some indication as to how much the trio got it right the first time around. The title-track of the demo opens, and the album takes its name from one of the demo tracks as well, so it all ties together. Chiefs on Thee Facebooks, Battleground Records, Roosevelt Row Records.
10. Clutch, TBA
Clutch‘s Earth Rocker (review here) was the undisputed high point of 2013, and the long-running Maryland four-piece have returned to the Machine Shop studio (now located in Texas) to record the follow-up to it. They’ve been playing new material live for a while now, as they’ll do, and while they always manage to change things up from album to album, the fact that they’ve going back to work with Machine again makes in plain that they’re where they want to be at this point sound-wise. As if there was ever any doubt. Their forever-tour will continue, but it’s good to know they’re taking a little break from the road to put together another slab for their always-expanding, always-frothing fanbase. Clutch on Thee Facebooks, Weathermaker Music.
11. Conan, TBA
I’m not sure if it will be out before the end of 2015, but whenever it arrives, the next Conan should be a much different affair than we’ve yet heard from the UK thunderplodders, whose 2014 Napalm Records debut, Blood Eagle (review here), further established their dominance among the heaviest bands in doom. Since that album hit, guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis has traded out two-thirds of the trio, bringing in producer Chris Fielding on bass/vocals and new drummer Rich Lewis. Davis‘ riffs have always been at the core of what makes Conan the beast they are, so I wouldn’t expect much fixing of what isn’t broken, but don’t be surprised if some different personalities emerge in Fielding and Lewis as well. Conan on Thee Facebooks, Conan’s webstore.
12. Colour Haze, To the Highest Gods We Know
Yeah, I’m sneaking this one in here. Sorry, but frankly, I think Colour Haze deserve more than a toss-it-out-there mid-December album release date, so instead of the CD release, which was last month, I’m choosing to think of the impending Feb./March vinyl issue as the official one for To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), which is both a fascinating and fitting answer to Colour Haze‘s 2012 outing, She Said (review here). Feels strange so early in the year to start calling out end-of-year highlights, but between this and Acid King, I feel like two of my top five are already set in stone, and that’s a pretty good start to any year. Colour Haze are one of the most important heavy rock bands of their generation, and they continue to expand their form and the genre as a whole. Colour Haze’s website, Elektrohasch Schallplatten.
13. Corrections House, TBA
Their totalitarian fetishizing well intact, the it’s-a-supergroup-but-don’t-call-it-a-supergroup Corrections House announced back in November that they’d have a sophomore effort out this year to follow their 2013 debut, Last City Zero. The returning lineup of guitarist Scott Kelly (Neurosis), vocalist Mike Williams (Eyehategod), saxophonist Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and keyboardist/programmer Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea, etc.) is enough to warrant attention in itself, and while their industrial tinged output isn’t really my thing sound-wise, they’re not an assemblage easily ignored. Hopefully a recently canceled round of tour dates doesn’t derail the new release plams. Corrections House on Thee Facebooks, at Neurot Recordings.
14. Corsair, One Eyed Horse
Virginian dual-guitar classic heavy rock/metallers Corsair are now three years removed from their Shadow Kingdom Records self-titled debut (review here), and their new album, One Eyed Horse, arrives with a striking-almost-disturbing cover and a refined progressive edge. Their melodic sensibility has never been in question, and guitarists Marie Landragin and Paul Sebring, bassist Jordan Brunk (who, like the guitarists, contributes vocals) and drummer Michael Taylor will look to expand their reach even further with the eight new vinyl-ready tracks. One looks forward to the album and hopes for a tour in equal measure. Corsair’s website, Shadow Kingdom Records.
15. Crypt Sermon, Out of the Garden
Classic doom bleeds through the cover of Philly five-piece Crypt Sermon‘s debut full-length, Out of the Garden. Set to release Feb. 24 on Dark Descent Records, I’d expect Out of the Garden to be an early highlight for the year in doom despite being Crypt Sermon‘s first outing. Their Demo MMXIII (review here) found them well schooled in the tenets of the downtrodden, and while the record may end up a sleeper, it’s one that no doubt will find its way to the right ears; namely those of the old school doomers tired of psychedelic idolatry, who want something dark, beaten and grueling without concern for genre-melding or novelty. So, doom on. Crypt Sermon on Thee Facebooks, Dark Descent Records.
16. Ecstatic Vision, TBA
Also based in Philadelphia, heavy psych troupe Ecstatic Vision signed to Relapse on the strength of a demo and an apparent willingness to hit the road — they’ll do so this spring alongside YOB and Enslaved — and as just about any band who’s ever sent that label a rough recording will likely tell you, that’s no small feat. I was fortunate enough to catch them in Brooklyn last month (opening for YOB, as it happened), and the appeal was easy to see in their space rock jamming, lighting effects and propensity for deceptively quick rhythmic turns. A debut offering is reportedly due this year, and as it will come after they spend a month on the road, I expect it will be something to behold. Ecstatic Vision on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
17. Elder, Lore
What to say about Elder? They’re a bright spot in the hope for the next generation of heavy rock, but they were that already. What really distinguishes their third album, Lore, is the fiercely progressive bent of the tracks, songs like “Compendium” (streamed here) taking the hypnotic rhythms of 2012’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here) and refining what Elder — the trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto — do with a newfound clarity of purpose and precision execution. They make well-thought-out songs sound exciting front to back, and if you’ve ever dug anything they’ve done, you’re going to shit a brick when you hear the title-track of Lore. Elder on Thee Facebooks, Armageddon Shop, Stickman Records.
18. Enslaved, In Times
I make no bones or apologies about being an Enslaved fan. The Norwegian progressive black metallers strip down their presentation with In Times, the follow-up to 2012’s Riitiir (review here), solidifying some aspects of their approach while nodding at the brutality of yore in a still-somehow-forward-thinking manner. They never fail to deliver, and they’ve long since hit a stride where they can deliver album after album and come up with ways to advance their sound each time out. Recording themselves has only made them bolder over their last couple records, and In Times benefits from this in its brought-to-fruition experiments as well. It would take a lot for these guys to do wrong in my eyes. Enslaved on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast Records.
19. Eye, TBA
They’re the Midwest’s inadvertent answer to the West Coast’s Moog-prog vibing, and Ohio’s Eye want for nothing in comparison to any of their coastal contemporaries. The photo above was taken recently in the studio — I’ll just assume the room is actually that color when they record and that that is not, in fact, an Instagram filter — tracking their third record and follow-up to 2013’s brilliant-yes-brilliant Second Sight (review here), which rightfully garnered attention far and wide. No release date yet for the new one from what I’ve seen, but the album is reportedly done, so hopefully it won’t be too long before it sees release, most likely on vinyl since that seems to be where the band’s heart lies. Eye on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
20. Freedom Hawk, TBA
After an appearance last year at Roadburn and confirmation of a return trip to Europe this spring for Freak Valley in Germany, Virginia’s Freedom Hawk would seem to have considerably expanded their reach. Last year saw them lose guitarist Matt Cave and transition from a four-piece to a trio, and they were in the studio in the fall to record their second album for Small Stone behind their 2011 label debut, Holding On (review here), and while I’m not sure if it’s finished or if it will be out in time for the band’s sojourn abroad, one assumes it will be out sooner or later. Their late-2013 Live at the Jewish Mother download makes a decent stopgap if you’ve got a hankering, but they’re due for a new one for sure. Freedom Hawk on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
21. Glowsun, Glowsun
In a recent discussion about finally picking up Glowsun‘s 2012 outing, Eternal Season, I said I wasn’t going to miss their next record, so I guess you could call this me holding myself to that task. The French heavy psych outfit have a new one, apparently self-titled — though of course I could be wrong; I’m just going by the album art — due out for release this Spring. I haven’t seen an official date from Napalm for when it’s due, but it’s not one I’m going to let slip by one way or another as I did for far too long with Eternal Season. Some mistakes don’t bear repeating, and Glowsun‘s output is of a quality that demands immediacy. At least now I know it. Ha. Glowsun on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
22. Goatsnake, TBA
Rumors abound about a new Goatsnake. They’re in the studio, this is done, that isn’t done, they’re over here, over there. They’re headlining Freak Valley and playing Psycho California, and they headlined Southwest Terror Fest III last fall, but the last official word I saw about a new album — it would be their first since their 2004 Trampled Under Hoof EP — was last Sept., when word came down that it was happening at all and that Southern Lord would put it out. A timetable on when would be convenient, but maybe that’s asking too much and I should be grateful it’s even being discussed. They remain on my bucket list of bands to see before I die. One of these days I’ll get there. Southern Lord Recordings, Southern Lord on Thee Facebooks.
23. Gozu, TBA
Probably the biggest change for Boston’s Gozu since the 2013 release of their second album for Small Stone, The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), is the solidification of their lineup. As they enter into the process for their third Small Stone outing, they’ll do so with bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Mike Hubbard. Grotto played on part of Fury, but Hubbard (ex-Warhorse) is a new presence entirely in the band. They’ve also experimented with a third guitarist, so they might not be so solidified, but they’ve got a monster of a core four-piece to work with in Grotto, Hubbard, guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney and guitarist Doug Sherman, and they seem poised to get the most out of the chemistry they’ve busted their collective ass to develop. Gozu on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
24. High on Fire, TBA
I feel like a new High on Fire record isn’t even just an event for heavy rock at this point but for metal as a whole. The Matt Pike-fronted three-piece hit the studio this month (this week?) after a quick tour up the East Coast, returning to Massachusetts to work with Converge‘s Kurt Ballou at his Godcity Studios, where they also busted out 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here). For anyone who heard that record, it should be plain why they’d want to work with Ballou again — even enough to go to Massachusetts in January — and whenever their next one shows up, no doubt it will do so as one of 2015’s most anticipated offerings. I’m not sure what to expect other than “heavy,” but that’s enough to go on for now. High on Fire on Thee Facebooks, eOne Metal.
25. Hollow Leg, TBA
My interest was piqued early last year when Floridian sludgers Hollow Leg issued their God-Eater single and spoke of it as the beginning of a change in direction. The change? More melody, a less outright aggressive style, more of an emphasis on thickness rather than rawness. As a starting point, the song “God-Eater” seemed to bode well, and I’m hoping in 2015 that Hollow Leg follow through at least partially on its promise. Not that the viciousness of 2013’s second LP, Abysmal (review here), left me particularly wanting, just that they seemed to be following a fulfilling new-ish path, and I thought the sound was one worth pursuing. They’ve said their third will be out this year, so I’ll take it. Hollow Leg on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
26. Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh
Australian four-piece Horsehunter made an impression a few weeks back with the 16-minute “Stoned to Death,” the opening track from their Magnetic Eye Records debut LP, Caged in Flesh, and it stands to reason why. Crushing tones, brutal vibes and hints of psychedelic wash abounded on what was a gripping sample of the album, which the band had recorded, scapped because it wasn’t heavy enough and then recorded again. There are four songs on Caged in Flesh, so “Stoned to Death” is literally just the beginning for Horsehunter, whose foreboding atmospherics come across no less punishing than their most weighted of tones. Horsehunter on Thee Facebooks, Magnetic Eye Records.
27. Kind, TBA
I’ve been lucky enough to see Boston four-piece Kind play twice, the lineup of vocalist Craig Riggs (also Roadsaw), guitarist Darryl Shepard (also Black Pyramid, Blackwolfgoat, etc.), bassist Tom Corino (also Rozamov) and drummer Matt Couto (also Elder) taking shape visibly from one show to the next. Their debut full-length is in progress now at the Riggs-owned Mad Oak Studios in Allston, and while I don’t think I can say yet what label it’s coming out on (it’s not Small Stone), the latest word I’ve gotten is that a summer release is booked. Definitely interested to hear how the jams I’ve seen live translate to a studio recording, and how Corino‘s tone comes through Mad Oak‘s board. Kind on Thee Facebooks, on Soundcloud.
28. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy
So, you’d think the pic of Kings Destroy bassist Aaron Bumpus above is from some recent studio shot while they’re tracking their third album, right? Nope. The self-titled’s been in the can for months. It’s out in April on War Crime Recordings. What Kings Destroy are doing now is working on album number four, and I bet before it comes out, they’ll be on number five. Fiercely creative. I’ve had the KD record for I don’t know how long at this point, and it’s the best thing they’ve done yet. I can’t even pretend to feign impartiality after being asked to tour with them twice last year — a fucking blessing both times — but it’s the closest they’ve come to their live sound so far and that progress suits them remarkably well. Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks, War Crime Recordings.
29. Lamprey, TBA
The two-bass Portland trio Lamprey‘s recent stop-motion video for “Iron Awake” served due notice of their impending album, as yet untitled, and while it’s the shortest track on there by a considerable margin, it nonetheless represents the big-crash, big-impact severity of the outing as a whole. Not sure through what label it will surface if one at all or on what media it will be pressed — the word burning above, which I hope is the album cover, may or may not be — but the full-length seems poised to establish them as a force after 2012’s The Burden of Beasts EP (review here) brought their sometimes-plodding, sometimes-sprinting heavy rock into focus. Also, one of the songs is called “Lament of the Deathworm,” and that just rules. Lamprey on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
30. Lord Dying, Poisoned Altars
The hard-touring Portlanders teamed up with Dark Castle drummer Rob Shaffer for their sophomore outing for Relapse Records, Poisoned Altars (review here), and though he’s since out of the band, his presence bolsters the songs in Lord Dying‘s blend of High on Fire-style thrash and Crowbar-loyal sludge. A pervasive sense of simplicity helps the material achieve maximum force, but the hard-won nature of Lord Dying‘s cohesion isn’t to be understated or underappreciated — they did about 18 months of touring in support of their first effort, Summon the Faithless. At least they know their time wasn’t misspent. Seems likely they’ll continue to pound the pavement throughout 2015, so keep an eye open. Lord Dying on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
31. Magic Circle, TBA
Rest assured, I’ve seen zero confirmation that a new Magic Circle album is under way. There’s been no word from the by-now-notoriously secretive Massachusetts-based band or their label, Armageddon Shop, on the subject of a follow-up to their 2013 self-titled debut (review here). This is rampant speculation. Their first 7″ was recently re-pressed, though, so there’s activity in their camp one way or another. They also made their way out to Seattle in October to open for Satan, which only emphasizes the fact that you never really know when they’re going to show up until they do. Ditto that their next album, I suppose. Hopefully this year it happens. Armageddom Shop website, on Thee Facebooks.
32. The Midnight Ghost Train, Cold was the Ground
Riotous Southern heavy rockers The Midnight Ghost Train have outdone themselves with their Napalm Records debut, Cold was the Ground, taking the rager blues of 2012’s Buffalo (review here) to new heights of manic push. After several years of steady touring, the Kansas-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss, drummer Brandon Burghart and bassist Mike Boyne are an explosive live act, and as the recent video premiere for “Gladstone” showcased, their third album reaps the rewards of their labors. It’s due to release March 10 in North America, but I really don’t need to note the date, because you’ll hear it coming a mile away like the freight train that it is. The Midnight Ghost Train on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
33. Minsk, TBA
A new Minsk full-length is an utterly fascinating thought. Sorry if that sounds cold or overly clinical, but it’s true. Consider that it’s been six years since the Chicago post-metallers last released an album. That record, 2009’s With Echoes in the Movement of Stone (review here), hit at what was arguably the pinnacle of post-metal’s stylistic movement, the waters having since receded in no small part because Minsk wasn’t around to push forward creatively. Now, with slots booked at Roadburn and Desertfest, they’ll make a return to the studio as well, and I have absolutely zero idea of what to expect from them. A partially-revamped, Sanford Parker-less lineup only adds further intrigue. Minsk on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
34. Mondo Drag, Mondo Drag
This is one of I think two or three releases on this list that’s already out. The self-titled Mondo Drag (review here) nonetheless warrants inclusion for its heavy psych boogie concoctions and natural-toned spirit, not full-on retro but still well-indebted to the heavy ’70s in its use of organ and guitar and the swing of its rhythm section. That rhythm section? Zack Anderson and Cory Berry, who, fresh out of Radio Moscow, stepped in to record with fellow Iowans Mondo Drag in 2012 before founding Blues Pills. A shortlived moment in Mondo Drag‘s history, perhaps, but they got a killer record out of it, and while the recordings are already three years old, they’re well worth the time to appreciate. Mondo Drag on Thee Facebooks, Bilocation Records.
35. Monolord, Vaenir
Swedish trio Monolord won over hearts and minds bigtime with their 2014 RidingEasy Records debut, Empress Rising, earning a spot on the 2014 Readers Poll right between Eyehategod and Mastodon. That’s rather significant company to keep — and all the more so for a band’s first record — and with Vaenir, we’ll get to hear how the intervening year has seen them progress. They’ve already proven a favorite among the converted, and they’ll tour in Feb./March with Salem’s Pot ahead of an appearance at Roadburn prior to Vaenir‘s April 28 arrival date, so it looks like they’ll keep their momentum moving forward through the release and most likely beyond. Monolord on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.
36. Neurosis, TBA
Okay. I don’t know that Neurosis‘ next album will be out in 2015. It’s just not a thing I know. What I know is that the ultra-seminal five-piece are getting together to write in Feb., and that they’re a no-bullshit band when it comes to writing and recording, so the timing works that, if they make new songs happen this winter, their record would probably be ready for release sometime in the summer or early fall. That’s what I’m going on. It might be that they write half the album now and half in 2016, but from what I hear they’re planning on doing some more significant touring this year, so it would stand to reason they’d want to do it with a follow-up to 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) under their collective belt. We’ll see what we get. Neurosis on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
37. Pentagram, TBA
I saw Pentagram play 20 shows last year. Believe me when I say the pairing of frontman Bobby Liebling and guitarist Victor Griffin has never seemed stronger musically, and with bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley, Pentagram head into the making of their next album firing on all proverbial cylinders. Metal Blade, who also issued their 2011 comeback album, Last Rites (review here), seems the likely outlet for the yet-untitled offering, which the band will herald with a headlining performance at Psycho California alongside Sleep and Cult of Luna on May 15-17, and which will no doubt dig deep into Pentagram‘s long history of doom for a trove of classic-style riffs. Pentagram on Thee Facebooks, Metal Blade Records.
38. Ruby the Hatchet, Valley of the Snake
A not-so-subtle Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats influence permeates Ruby the Hatchet‘s Tee Pee Records debut, Valley of the Snake, which is something the Philly-based band seems to acknowledge willfully on “Vast Acid,” frontwoman Jillian Taylor crooning “I’ll cut you down” toward the end of the song in a call-out of one of the UK outfit’s most resonant hooks. Otherwise, the organ-laced five-piece get down on more psychedelic vibes, though the heavy ’70s swing in the drums could be taken as another common factor, if you really wanted to stretch it. Either way, a laid back, less murderous atmosphere persists, and that suits me just fine. Out Feb. 24. Bonus points for the gorgeous Adam Burke cover art. Ruby the Hatchet on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.
39. Saturnalia Temple, To the Other
The entire meaning of being a “cult” band has changed since Sweden’s Saturnalia Temple released their UR demo in 2007, but after their 2011 debut, Aion of Drakon, hit with such a low-end wash of psychedelic obscurity, I’m intrigued to hear what they’ve come up with on To the Other, the cover’s foreboding darkness, consuming swirl and bizarre patterning seeming a fit for their sonic methodology. To the Other is out April 7 on The Ajna Offensive, and features Tim Call of The Howling Wind and Aldebaran on drums alongside Saturnalia Temple guitarist/vocalist Tommie Ericksson and bassist Peter. Saturnalia Temple on Thee Facebooks, The Ajna Offensive.
40. Six Organs of Admittance, Hexadic
I’ll make no claims toward understanding the theoretical basis driving the latest outing from the Ben Chasny-helmed project Six Organs of Admittance, which in its 17-year history has gone from bedroom folk and avant electronics to the far-ranging heavy psych jamming of 2012’s Ascent (review here). Chasny, joined by members of Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound and Deerhoof on the album — which is due out Feb. 17 on Drag City — seems to have developed a compositional method based around a system involving playing cards and varying tonal intensities. No idea what the hell any of it means, but it sounds like a freakout to me, so I’m in. Six Organs of Admittance website, Drag City Records.
41. Snail, Feral
Come on, Snail. Even if Feral‘s not coming out until later in the year, you can send it to me. I won’t tell anybody if you don’t want me to. I can keep it to myself. Hell, I won’t even review it until I get word that it’s cool to do so, I just want to hear the damn thing. Alright, Snail, have it your way. I’ll just sit here and remember how awesome Terminus (review here) was when that came out in 2012, and Blood (review here) before that in 2009 back when I did snarky headlines for reviews. That’s cool. I’ve waited this long for your Small Stone debut to make its way into my ears, I guess I’ll just keep waiting until it shows up. Which it would be awfully nice if it did as soon as possible. Today works. Now works. Snail on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
42. Sourvein, Aquatic Fanatic
At the risk of being sincere, I’ll say it warms my cold, doomed heart to know that Sourvein‘s next album is going to be released by Metal Blade Records. After trudging the Southern sludge underground for, what, 20 years?, the Cape Fear-based outfit led by T-Roy Medlin (whose lineage goes back to Buzzov*en, lest we forget their role in establishing the sound) are finally poised to get their due, and I think it’s fucking awesome. Mike Dean‘s producing the thing, and you know Sourvein are going to tour the hell out of it because that’s what they do whether they’ve got a new record or not. I’m calling it the feelgood story of the year, which is perfect since the music will most likely be utterly scathing. Sourvein on Thee Facebooks, Metal Blade Records.
43. Spidergawd, II
Just stop reading and go fucking listen to Spidergawd. Here, I did a track premiere a little bit ago for the song “Tourniquet.” It rules. Go listen to that. For the life of me I have no idea why this band’s name isn’t on the lips of every boogie-loving heavy rocker in the universe. Stickman has the new album, Spidergawd II, sold out in the special edition preorders, but there’s a regular version still available and apparently en route from the plant, and for the love of all things riffed, it’s glorious. So get on it. I implore you. And no, I don’t have any idea what’s going on with the album cover, so don’t ask. No time for questions anyway. Get listening. Spidergawd on Thee Facebooks, Stickman Records.
44. Stoned Jesus, The Harvest
Ukrainian heavy rockers Stoned Jesus posted the opening track from their third album, The Harvest, a while back on their Bandcamp page, and my goodness it does swing. They’ll make their way to the US for the first time in support of The Harvest, appearing at the Psycho California fest and hopefully elsewhere, and they do so having built up a steady following with their first two long-players, 2010’s First Communion (noted here) and 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), their most stonerly of names spread far and wide ahead of the latest offering’s early March arrival following 2013’s jams collection, The Seeds, Vol. 1. Stoned Jesus on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
45. Torche, Restarter
I haven’t heard it yet, but Torche‘s awaited Relapse Records debut, Restarter, is due out Feb. 24 and the band are kicking into gear once again to mark its coming. They’ve already announced US and European tours to carry them through June, and I don’t imagine there are many markets they’ll leave un-hit by the time they’re through. Their last album, 2012’s Harmonicraft (review here), was a solid showing of what’s come to be expected of them in terms of hooks, upbeat heaviness and melodies, but especially with the ambitious title, the new label and the energized-seeming schedule, I’m hoping that Restarter gives the band the same kind of boot to the ass they’ve been to delivering the heavy underground for the last decade. Torche on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
46. Ufomammut, Ecate
Very, very much looking forward to hearing Ecate, the newest outing from Ufomammut and their “second” album for Neurot Recordings behind the 2012 two-parter Oro (reviews here and here). Why is kind of a silly question — new Ufomammut is its own excuse for anticipation — but truth be told, they’ve always managed to get bigger-sounding and more expansive with each LP, and after having to break their last album in half and release the two pieces months apart from each other, I’m dying to know where they go with Ecate, what shifts in their sound the last couple years — including last year, which was their 15th anniversary — have brought and where in the cosmos they might be headed now. Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
47. Valkyrie, TBA
During what I guess we’ll call Valkyrie‘s original run, the Virginia two-guitar four-piece released a pair of albums, 2006’s Valkyrie and 2008’s Man of Two Visions — both of which were reissued through MeteorCity in 2010 — before guitarist Peter Adams, who founded the band with his brother, guitarist/vocalist Jake Adams, got signed to Relapse with his other group, Baroness. Now back with Earthling‘s Alan Fary on bass and drummer Warren Hawkins, they’ve got their new LP recorded with Sanford Parker and reportedly in the can for an early 2015 release, also through Relapse. They’ll no doubt be greeted as heroes when they play the Maryland Doom Fest in June, and understandably so. Valkyrie on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
48. VA, Electric Ladyland Redux & The Best of James Marshall Hendrix
Magnetic Eye Records launched a Kickstarter campaign last fall with the ambitious aim of paying homage to Jimi Hendrix by having current heavy rock artists (Elder, Earthless, Wo Fat, Gozu and more; full list here) re-record Electric Ladyland in its entirety. The project, on track to be released this year to coincide with what would’ve been Hendrix‘s 73rd birthday in November, expanded to include a tribute best-of collection as well, and has grown in repute ahead of its actually being issued to stand as a gathering of some of the finest the underground has to offer playing some of the best rock and roll ever crafted. From the idea to the impending reality of it, there’s really no arguing with this one. Magnetic Eye Records on Thee Facebooks, Magnetic Eye webstore.
49. Wino & Conny Ochs, Freedom Conspiracy
When Scott “Wino” Weinrich entered rehab late last fall, he mentioned in a public statement several projects in the works. Spirit Caravan‘s reunion is ongoing. Saint Vitus are due for a next album, but he also noted the second release for his collaboration with German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs, Freedom Conspiracy, as being in early 2015. Particularly after the ultra-intimate, solo feel of Wino‘s 2010 acoustic debut, Adrift (review here), the first collaboration with Ochs, 2012’s Heavy Kingdom (review here), was an unexpected expansion of the form that paid sonic dividends in both the songwriting and performance of both players. A second installment should benefit from the chemistry they built on the road for the debut. Conny Ochs on Thee Facebooks, Exile on Mainstream.
50. Wizard Eye, TBA
Heard it. Slays. Actually, I’m not sure if the version of Wizard Eye‘s sophomore full-length I got was final, but the songs were killer either way, and the Philly stoner-toner three-piece will have the album out on vinyl later this year through a newcomer label that I don’t think I’m supposed to mention yet so I won’t. Either way, they’re included here because the more heads they reach the better, their blend of rolling grooves, sludged out vocals and the occasional bout of theremin is just right for the riff-loving purist in all of us. Their recent live outing, Riff Occult Live (review here) says it better than I could, so make a note to yourself to dig into that at your next convenience. It’s name-your-price on Bandcamp. Wizard Eye on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
51. Wretch, TBA
Listed as the “bastard spawn” of The Gates of Slumber, Wretch finds that band’s guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon teamed with bassist Bryce Clark and drummer Chris Gordon, the prior outfit having been laid to rest in 2013 after what seemed like an excellent return to form in 2011’s The Wretch (review here) and subsequent Scion-sponsored EP. I haven’t heard the new band yet, but some demos have made their way out thus far, and you’d have to figure it won’t be too long before Simon, Clark and Gordon make their proper debut as Wretch and start a new chapter in one of modern traditional doom’s most pivotal legacies. Wretch on Thee Facebooks, Tone Deaf Touring.
52. Zun, TBA
Early in 2013, a song called “Come through the Water” (review here) appeared as the first audio from a new project helmed by guitarist Gary Arce of Yawning Man called Zun. It was to be used as Zun‘s portion of a split with Fatso Jetson and while I’m not sure that ever materialized, it drew immediate attention for the collaboration between Arce and vocalist Sera Timms of Ides of Gemini and Black Mare, also formerly of Black Math Horseman. A significant duo for sure. With Bill Stinson (also Yawning Man) on drums, they’re set to debut later this year on Small Stone with their first album, and if Timms and Arce aren’t enough to draw your attention so late in the feature — the hazards of alphabetics — the one and only John Garcia is set for a guest appearance on the record. Dig that, desert rockers. Yawning Man on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
Going Into Overload…
So, okay. At this point, you could literally buy a different record each week of this year and hear something that, unless there’s some disaster between the idea of the album and the actual thing itself, is most likely worth your time. That’s not too bad. But we’re not at 88 yet, so with those 52 already set, I’ve got 36 more that you might want to keep on your radar.
Some of these are solidly lined up, some are slated to be recorded, etc., so the same rule of “things don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to” applies. With that caveat:
53. Abrahma, TBA — Their second album for Small Stone is due sometime this year.
54. Bedroom Rehab Corporation, Fortunate Some — From what I hear, the Connecticut twosome have their second record in the can.
55. Black Black Black, TBA — Brooklyn outfit featuring former members of Disengage should have a sophomore album out in 2015.
56. Black Pyramid, New 7″ — The trio will release a new single to coincide with their Euro tour that includes a stop at Desertfest.
57. Bright Curse, New 10″ EP — It was mentioned the new lineup would record an EP before taking on their next album.
58. Camel of Doom, TBA — Was announced in December there’d be a new Camel of Doom along with a vinyl of their last album.
59. Cherry Choke, Raising the Waters — Should be out this month on Elektrohasch.
60. La Chinga, TBA — Vancouver group’s Small Stone debut is reportedly being mixed.
61. Curse the Son, TBA — I’m hoping this one gets out by the end of the year. It will be the CT trio’s first with their new bassist.
62. Egypt, Endless Flight — North Dakota’s favored sons will return with a new full-length this summer. Album trailer posted with a clip of the new song “Tres Madres.”
63. Enos, TBA — Not sure where they’re at with it, but worth keeping an eye out.
64. Foghound, TBA — The Maryland rockers have finished tracking their new album with Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity at the helm.
65. Funeral Horse, TBA — They’ve been full of surprises on their first two releases and they work quick, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something new showed up.
66. Fuzz Evil, TBA — Interested to see where they go on an LP after their split with Chiefs.
67. The Glasspack, Moon Patrol — A snippet clip has been posted that bodes well. Supposed to be done recording in the spring. They’re currently sorting out label whatnots.
68. Graves at Sea, TBA — Yeah, it’s been more than a decade since their demo, but a split and an EP into their reunion, they just signed to Relapse, so now might be the time a debut album shows up.
69. House of Broken Promises, TBA — Should be a change from the first album after swapping out bassist/vocalists. They killed live last I saw.
70. Ice Dragon, TBA — No solid word of a new release from the Boston garage doom forerunners, but they’re always up to something.
71. Killer Boogie, Detroit — The debut from this Black Rainbows offshoot is out this month on Heavy Psych Sounds.
72. Krautzone, TBA — German synth-heavy prog-jammers have hit a groove and hopefully they continue to ride it as well as they have thus far.
73. Leeches of Lore, TBA — Wishful thinking on my part? Maybe. Got my fingers crossed, though.
74. Legion of Andromeda, Iron Scorn — They’re about as extreme as extreme doom gets. Album out next month.
75. Lord Fowl, TBA — I think they’re writing. Might be 2016 before it gets here, but I’ll take it whenever it comes. They’re worth a mention either way.
76. The Machine, TBA — Been a minute since we last heard from the Dutch heavy psych jammers. They were on this list last year as well.
77. Mirror Queen, Scaffolds of the Sky — Should be out in April on Tee Pee, and that suits me just fine. Choice grooves for springtime.
78. Mountain God, Forest of the Lost — A single-song EP from the Brooklyn post-sludgers is out in Feb. with a release show booked.
79. Om, TBA — I’ve yet to see solid evidence that a new Om is in the pipeline, but no one knew that Sleep single was coming last year either.
80. Planes of Satori, Planes of Satori — Dug their single, hope the full-length follows suit.
81. Pombagira, Flesh Throne Press— Their sixth album and Svart debut is due on March 23 as per this week’s announcement.
82. Righteous Bloom, TBA — My understanding was the Beelzefuzz offshoot are writing. Would be good if they can pick up where the prior act left off.
83. Royal Thunder, Crooked Doors— The Atlanta outfit’s second album for Relapse is due out April 7.
84. Sandrider/Kinski, Split — Don’t know much about Kinski, but new Sandrider is enough to sell me on it. Out Feb. 17 on Good to Die.
85. SardoniS, TBA — Expect big lumbering riffs from this Belgian duo, always. A new album is en route, last I heard.
86. Sun Voyager, TBA — Didn’t get to hear their last tape, but a five-song EP is due out sometime soon.
87. Sweat Lodge, Talismana — Not much word since they signed to Ripple, but they said this year, so until I hear otherwise…
88. Throttlerod, TBA — A teaser clip of new riffage came out over this past weekend. New Throttlerod is never something to complain about.
89. Venomous Maximus, Firewalker — When they signed to Shadow Kingdom in November, they gave it the ol’ “sometime in 2015.”
90. Weedeater, TBA — After a whole series of reissues, their Season of Mist debut is due.
91. Wight, Love is Not Only What You Know — Alphabetically last but not at all last in my heart, Germany’s Wight have their third record in progress. More in the comments.
92. Wo Fat, Live Juju at Freak Valley— Wo Fat‘s live set from the 2014 Freak Valley fest in Germany is due to release on vinyl March 17 in an edition of 500 copies.
Others to Keep an Eye On…
Guitarist Ian Gerber of Indianapolis’ The Heavy Co. has a couple side-projects going, but new stuff from his main band doesn’t seem unlikely either. New York’s Geezer might also have something new before December in addition to Ripple‘s CD version of their Gage release, and labelmates King Buffalo are continuing their relationship with STB Records via a new spit next month, so hopefully a debut LP follows that. Let it Breathe should make their debut on the label too in 2015.
Recently streamed trio Wake up Lucid release their EP on March 31. Last I heard The Body had a new one coming too in collaboration with Thou. Sixty Watt Shaman have plans to record tracks for a split due out later this year, and they’ll reissue their first album, 1998’s Ultra Electric, as well. Look out for Godhunter‘s split/collaboration with Amigo the Devil, and the second offering from Black Moon Circle is on the way. Balam‘s full-length should also be out sometime this year, and I anxiously await news of a solid release date for the third Clamfight record.
Murmurings abound also for new ones from Graveyard, Greenleaf, The Sword, Vhöl and others.
Plus, Sleep still exist and that simple fact probably makes them worth more of a mention than this quick aside. Their 2014 single The Clarity was an offering of pure Iommic idolatry. A sign of things to come? Who the hell knows.
If you don’t have enough to go by yet, labels like Sulatron, Tee Pee, El Paraiso, Ripple, Small Stone, STB, Napalm and so on are always worth a keen watch what’s next. There’s always something.
Which I guess is the point of this whole thing. I’m sure, even as huge as this list is, someone is going to drop a comment immediately that will make me slap my forehead and wonder how I ever forgot whatever it is. It’s always something. It looks like it’s going to be a tremendous year, so if you’ll pardon me, I’ll cut out quick and get started making my way through it.
No doubt I’ll add to this post over the next couple days, so if the numbers change, don’t be surprised. In any case, if you made it this far, thanks again for reading. May your 2015 be filled with excellent music and even better times.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
True to their word, it’s Jan. 15 and Psycho California 2015 has announced the headliners for what looks like the best American festival lineup I’ve seen since the days of Emissions from the Monolith. That’s not to take away from the hard work anyone else is doing, but just look at the list of bands. It’s unreal. You’d want to be everywhere at the same time to see all of it. Absolutely wild.
Sleep and Pentagram were pretty clear choices to headline. Not only for being legends in the heavy underground, but for also being just about two of the only bands left. Sweden’s Cult of Luna were something of a surprise, but for a festival already showing a European reach in bringing aboard the likes of Samsara Blues Experiment and Stoned Jesus, they make sense. Hell of a bill. Kudos to anyone who actually gets to go to the thing.
Announcement follows, courtesy of the PR wire:
PSYCHO CALIFORNIA ANNOUNCES HEADLINERS: SLEEP, PENTAGRAM AND CULT OF LUNA
WEST COAST METAL FESTIVAL HAPPENING MAY 15, 16 & 17 AT THE OBSERVATORY IN SANTA ANA
FIRST WAVE OF ARTISTS ANNOUNCED INCLUDED KYLESA, EARTH, OM AND RUSSIAN CIRCLES
Psycho California, the west coast’s first annual metal festival and a must see for fans of doom, heavy psych and sludge, has announced the headliners for this year’s event: Cult of Luna (May 15), Sleep (May 16) and Pentagram, who will perform First Daze Here in its entirety (May 17).
“2015 is going to be a slow year for Cult of Luna. However as much as we are musicians we are also fans,” said Cult of Luna’s Johannes Persson. “Evaluating if the offer to play Psycho California was worth dusting off our instruments was not hard after looking on the line-up. Being on the same bill as Pentagram, Sleep and a festival packed with the best bands around is a privilege in itself and we’ll try to live up to that honor.”
The lineup for Psycho California is: Sleep, Pentagram, Cult of Luna, Kylesa, OM, Earth, Russian Circles, Bedemon, Conan, Wrench, Eyehategod, Indian, Earthless, Pallbearer, Stoned Jesus, Old Man Gloom, Cave In, Acid Witch, Truckfighters, Tombs, Bang, Electric Citizen, Coffinworm, SubRosa, Eagle Twin, Mammatus, True Widow, Anciients, Bellwitch, Dead Meadow, Lord Dying, Death By Stereo, Radio Moscow, Ancient Altar, Samsara Blues Experiment, Atriarch, Elder, Mothership, The Well, Deathkings, Wo Fat, Rozamov, Destroyer of Light, Highlands, Bloodmoon, Slow Season, Goatsnake, Crypt Trip, Wrench, Lords of Beacon House, Tumbleweed Dealer, Sinister Haze, Blackout, Red Wizard, Banquet and Loom.
Festival interludes will be provided by Housecore Records’ artist Author & Punisher and vinyl DJ set from Bob Lugowe (Relapse Records) and Sean Pellet (Last Daze Here).
Previously announced early bird tickets sold out immediately. Tickets for the festival are on-sale this morning with both a 3-day pass ($149.50) and a 3-day VIP pass available ($256.66)
VIP packages include a 3-day festival pass, a signed screen print concert poster by David D’Andrea, express entry via artist check-in booth, access to artist VIP lounge, a limited edition Thief X Obey festival tee, a Psycho record bag and patch as well as access to a complimentary craft tequila bar, premium microbrews and artisan snacks.