Live Review: Backwoods Payback, Set Fire and Owl Maker in New London, CT, 07.21.18

Posted in Reviews on July 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Backwoods Payback (Photo JJ Koczan)

Right down the block from where the El ‘n’ Gee used to be — the space is still there, with a new name and a line outside waiting to get in — is 33 Golden St., a classic rock and roll basement bar that feels immediately like home. It’s not dirty in that hey-it’s-rock-and-roll-so-we-never-need-to-sweep kind of way, and the room is warm and welcoming and they play Sabbath over the P.A., so somebody clearly has their head on straight. My guess is that would be the owner, Craig, though I didn’t get to meet him to tell him so.

The occasion for the trip to New London was to see Backwoods Payback, who’d so recently laid waste to Maryland Doom Fest 2018 in Frederick, MD, as part of heralding their new album, Future Slum, and the purpose for the long weekender was much the same. Joining them on the intended bill were Set Fire from Boston and Southern Connecticut’s Owl Maker, as well as Witchkiss, who dropped off at the last minute owing to a family emergency. Without the fourth band, it was an easy atmosphere to the evening. Three bands, cool vibe, stage tucked into the corner at the end of the bar. The place reminded me of what O’Brien’s in Boston might be with a little upkeep.

Owl Maker led off and were not entirely unknown to me, having checked out their March 2018 EP, Paths of the Slain (review here), Owl Maker (Photo JJ Koczan)from which they played a couple songs including “Freya’s Chariot” and “99.” Led by guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli, also of Vestal Claret and UP Recording Studio, the trio was completed by the punch of Jessie May‘s bass and the metallic-style drumming of Chris Anderson.

Deadpan humor and NWOBHM-inspired riffing — also a more direct line, with a cover of Iron Maiden‘s “Wrathchild” — ensued, and he had a few good ones, but I think my favorite song intro from Tuozzoli might’ve been, in full metal voice, “This song is one less than 100. This is ’99’!” Good fun. Formed in 2016, they’re still feeling out where they want to be sonically, but their pursuit of that is well-directed and they played 33 Golden with a solid idea of who they are as a band and how they want to get where they’re going. They have a new collection on Bandcamp called Summer Singles and I’ll look forward to hearing what they do next.

A couple familiar faces in the trio Set Fire, who played next. Three, actually. Drummer Rob Davol was a bandmate of guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey‘s in the trio Shatner and used to play in drunken rockers Cocked ‘n’ LoadedHealey of course featured in Black Thai and We’re all Gonna Die in addition to Shatner and various others along with his resonant singer-songwriter solo work. And keyboardist/synthesist Jess Collins used to play in Mellow Bravo, so all three members have significant roots in Boston’s fertile if insular rock underground. Along with the bands, Healey also helps put together the Grub, Sweat and Beers festival, which was held this weekend, and which Set Fire and Backwoods Payback would both play the night after this show.

Got all that? Despite their incendiary moniker, which to my mind

Set Fire (Photo JJ Koczan)

seems to foretell harsher noise rock, Set Fire‘s style is dug deep into classic straightforward heavy, shades of Soundgarden — the second cover of the night there, in homage to Chris Cornell — and other ’90s acts coming through as filtered through the distinctive vocals of Healey and Collins, either of whom could easily front a band on their own. Together, they make Set Fire a melodic powerhouse, and Collins‘ keys and Korg and Healey‘s double-neck guitar filled out the space a bassist might otherwise occupy such that there was no loss of presence either in the low end or on stage in general. They were encouraging to watch and clearly enjoyed the collaboration between the three of them. I did likewise.

I’ve all but stopped wearing a watch, so my sense of time isn’t what it used to be, but I know it definitely wasn’t early when Backwoods Payback took the stage. Maybe 12:30? Something like that. The West Chester, Pennsylvania, three-piece are absolutely locked in. Brutally locked in. More locked in than they know, and they know they’re locked in. And a band like that, you want to see as much as you can. So while it’s been mere weeks, I knew I wanted to catch them at this gig. They’d had van trouble leaving Long Island after the show the night Backwoods Payback (Photo JJ Koczan)before and managed to catch the last ferry across the Long Island Sound to New London, so perhaps guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson were a bit harried, but though they brought the culprit component on stage with them and at one point hoisted it like a slain beast to show the room, tubes flailing this way and that, their actual performance didn’t suffer in the slightest.

The highlight was the short, grunge-derived roll of “Big Enough” from Future Slum, but anytime Backwoods Payback want to show up and play “You Don’t Move” from 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), you won’t hear me complain. Air tight and still dangerous, their dirt rock aesthetic has matured but is especially propulsive with Larson behind the kit, each player challenging the others to play better, be stronger on stage. The result is a kind of torrent that’s weighted emotionally as well as tonally. When it moves fast it absolutely burns, as on “Generals” from the new record, or “Snakes,” which closed out, and when it grooves, as on “Day to Day” or the ultra-catchy “Dirge” from the last album, it holds a tension and a nod that seems ready to break out at any second. They’re in utter control, however, and as much as Fire Not Reason showed the force of this Backwoods Payback (Photo JJ Koczan)lineup, Future Slum shows how remarkably well they can wield that force.

They didn’t start early, so they didn’t finish early either — funny how that works — but the ride home wasn’t nearly as bad as some I’ve had in my time, and the show was easily worth giving up a bit of my otherwise rigid schedule to see. I didn’t even wake up the baby when I got in, so bonus. Great night all the way around, from arriving at the venue for the (overdue) first time to hanging out after, and one all the more worth appreciating for the infrequency of its caliber.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Entierro Premiere “Cyclonic Winds” Lyric Video; Self-Titled LP Due in September

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

entierro

A little heavy metal now and then never killed anybody, unless we’re talking about a pipe falling on your head or something. Fortunately, we’re not, and instead we’re talking about thrash-inspired Connecticut four-piece Entierro, who will issue their self-titled debut full-length this coming September. They’ve given a first look and listen to the long-player’s wares in a new lyric video for “Cyclonic Winds,” and its darkened, thrashy gallop feels indicative of the band’s style overall. That’s not to say the album won’t have anything else going on, just that when it does, it’ll probably still bear the razor-sharp tones and tight delivery that “Cyclonic Winds” foretells. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing two other tracks from the record in the more straightforward rocker “Dybbuk” and the slower, forward-building momentum bringer “Turn out the Lights,” and while both of those have something distinct from “Cyclonic Winds” to offer, both also hold true to the metallic tonality and aggressive execution of this lead single.

As for “Cyclonic Winds,” it tells a tale of an apocalyptic weather event ravaging a shoreline, and somehow in my head I can’t seem to divorce that from the fact that the band hails mostly from New Haven, which sure enough is on the shoreline of Connecticut. Whether they were thinking specifically of the destruction of their hometown owing to climate change or not, they present the hook of “Cyclonic Winds” in more general terms, with clean and shouted vocals and a mounting sense of urgency that leads them into a slowdown in the song’s second half and a redux of the chorus to suit the new tempo. No less catchy, it bridges a gap between “Cyclonic Winds” and the earlier going of “Turn out the Lights,” and no doubt ties in with other material on Entierro‘s Entierro as well.

And by the way, if you’re saying to yourself, “but dude, didn’t you already review a self-titled Entierro tape in 2014?,” first of all, that’s eerily specific of you to remember, and second, yes, I did. It was an EP. This one is a full-length. Different beast. Also, in addition to being the band’s first album, it’s also the lineup debut with guitarist Victor Arduini (also of Arduini/Balich and Fates Warning) alongside Christopher Beaudette, Dave Parmelee and Christopher Begnal, whose progressive style fits well with the heads-down grooves proffered by the others.

A sampling is provided in “Cyclonic Winds,” which you can stream and view on the player below, with more info from the PR wire beneath that. Please enjoy:

Entierro, “Cyclonic Winds” lyric video

Entierro adds former Fates Warning guitarist to line-up

Releases lyric video for Cyclonic Winds.

New album to be released September 2018

Connecticut Heavy Metal titans Entierro are proud to finally announce the addition of Victor Arduini (Fates Warning, Arduini/Balich, Freedom’s Reign) to its ranks. Arduini will be joining Christopher Beaudette (Jasta, Kingdom of Sorrow, Nightbitch), Christopher Begnal and Dave Parmelee (One Master, Nightbitch) to round out the group. While the newly cemented unit has been performing sporadically around Connecticut, the quartet have spent most of their time over the last year together hard at work on their first full length record to be released in September of 2018. The release illustrates a new chapter in the evolution of the band who, while pushing further into new sonic territory, still maintain a sound steeped in traditional heavy metal.

When asked what led to his joining up with the band in early 2017 Arduini stated “They were the one band from my area I was really digging. Their sound was true old school metal that just had some really cool heavy riffs and songwriting. Chris is a great frontman and after going to see them play a few shows I learned one of their guitarists was leaving and I was asked if I’d be interested in joining them. The timing was perfect. After finishing the Arduini/Balich album I pretty much needed a break from all that writing/producing I did and this allows me to just be a part of a band again without it all falling on my shoulders. With the great writing skills of the others I can focus on putting my style over what they come up with and occasionally add a riff or two when needed. It helped keep me actively playing and I’ve just been having a blast playing these songs with such awesome musicians.

The band has been working steadily over the last year at Dexter’s Lab Studios in Milford, CT with Nick Bellmore once again at the helm. The first single, “Cyclonic Winds,” shows some of the many facets of Entierro from the pummeling opening riff to the slow and low groove that closes the number. The lyric video was created by video production company YOD Multimedia.

Their first single Cyclonic Winds and album pre-order is currently available at entierro.bandcamp.com.

Entierro on Thee Facebooks

Entierro on Bandcamp

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When the Deadbolt Breaks Sign to Sliptrick Records; New Album Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Connecticut’s leading purveyors of lurching sonic malevolence When the Deadbolt Breaks have announced a deal to release their next album through Sliptrick Records sometime in 2018. The long-player has been given the ellipsis-inclusive title Angels are Weeping… God has Abandoned… and finds founding guitarist/vocalist/fetish photographer Aaron Lewis joined by bassist/backing vocalist Mike Parkyn and drummer Randall Dumas. The band’s last full-length was early 2015’s double-album Drifting Towards the Edge of the Earth (discussed here), which had been years in the making, and I’d assume the situation with Angels are Weeping… God has Abandoned…. Good nightmares take time.

I’ve been a Deadbolt fan for a long time and always think of them as being persistently underrated for their drone, atmosphere, tonal weight and intensity. Will this be the record that finally gets them their due recognition? I guess we’ll find out when we get there.

Sliptrick Records announced the signing thusly via the PR wire:

when the deadbolt breaks

Sliptrick Welcome Psychedelic Doom Rockers WHEN THE DEADBOLT BREAKS

Joining the ranks at Sliptrick Records this week are US group When The Deadbolt Breaks. Of special note, the band played The New England Stoner & Doom Festival this weekend which is an absolute must for fans of the genre.

Established in the winter of 2004, When The Deadbolt Breaks is a psychedelic doom band from the backwoods of eastern Connecticut. The music they produce invokes the feeling of fearful suspense brought on by an intense horror film… begging the question, what happens when the deadbolt breaks?? Aaron Lewis, Mike Parkyn, and Randall Dumas create a psychedelic, down-tuned, fuzzed-out wall of doom-laden riffs that transport the listener to another space.

14 years and 5 albums later, When The Deadbolt Breaks is set to release their 6th record on Sliptrick Records later in 2018.

Angels Are Weeping… God Has Abandoned… | Released TBA, 2018 on Sliptrick Records

When The Deadbolt Breaks are:
Aaron Lewis – Guitars/Vocals | Mike Parkyn – Bass/Backing vocals | Randall Dumas – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/WhentheDeadboltBreaks/
https://whenthedeadboltbreaks.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/Deadbolt6669
https://sliptrickrecords.com/when-the-deadbolt-breaks/
https://www.facebook.com/sliptrickrecords/
https://twitter.com/sliptrickrds
https://www.instagram.com/sliptrickrecords/

When the Deadbolt Breaks, Until it all Collides (2016)

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New England Stoner and Doom Fest Adds Earthride, Scissorfight, Curse the Son and Banth to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Quintessential Maryland doomers Earthride just wrapped up a tour with unhinged sludge mavens Buzzov*en, and their new single, Witch Gun is available now through Salt of the Earth Records. Next Spring, that same Connecticut-based imprint will also be presenting its inaugural New England Stoner and Doom Festival on April 20 and 21, and though I think if you cut them open — not literally; not advocating anyone try it — Earthride would bleed the waters of the Chesapeake River, wherever they go, doom righteousness follows and no doubt they’ll find due welcome among the other three acts announced today — Scissorfight, Curse the Son and Banth.

Frankly, I’m not sure you could legally put on something called a New England Stoner and Doom Fest and not have Scissorfight take part, though of course it’s worth noting Salt of the Earth put out the band’s reunion EP, Chaos County (review here), in 2016. So that probably helps. Likewise, Curse the Son and Banth will represent the underrated home-state sphere of Connecticut riffing when the fest kicks off at Altones in Jewett City, CT, next Spring.

Proud to have The Obelisk involved in sponsoring this one. I’ve known fest-organizer Scott “Grandpa” Harrington for at least a decade at this point and his passion for heavy music and vigorous support for same has never wavered. He’s going to put together a killer event. First announcement follows, and of course there’s much more to come:

new-england-stoner-and-doom-fest

We were going to announce the first band officially playing NEW ENGLAND STONER AND DOOM FESTIVAL today, but instead we decided it would be more fun to announce four!

So New England, make no mistake about it..
Shits about to get real heavy….

**SCISSORFIGHT
**EARTHRIDE
**CURSE THE SON
**BANTH

All performing at the
NEW ENGLAND STONER AND DOOM FESTIVAL 2018

More bands TBA soon!

https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandStonerAndDoomFest/
https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/

Earthride, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2017

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Six Dumb Questions with Arduini / Balich

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

arduini balich

When I finally got to sit with it and give the respectful listen it deserved, I had the most powerful oh-shit-this-is-the-real-deal moment with Arduini / Balich‘s Dawn of Ages (review here) that I’ve have with any single record in 2017. Released by Cruz del Sur Music, the 78-minute full-length is rife with an energy born of classic and progressive metal, and while it earns immediate interest owing to the pedigree of its core duo of vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich (formerly of Penance, currently of Argus) and guitarist/composer Victor Arduini (formerly of Fates Warning and Freedoms Reign, currently of Entierro), it’s the poise and righteousness of the six originals and three bonus covers that make Dawn of Ages stand among 2017’s finest debuts and finest albums overall.

Granted, it’s an undertaking with the aforementioned 2LP runtime — even without the covers it tops an hour — but to listen to extended pieces like “The Wraith” (13:44) and “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27), one finds Arduini / Balich capturing the essence of a place somewhere between progressive and power metal, the Connecticut-based guitarist and Pennsylvania-based vocalist, as well as drummer Chris Judge (a bandmate of Arduini‘s in Freedoms Reign), bringing out highlight performances as crisp in their execution as they are complex in their construction as they are worthy of a neck-breaking headbang session on “Forever Fade.” There are flashes of traditional doom throughout “Into Exile,” opener “The Fallen” and the brief instrumental “The Gates of Acheron,” but while that darker side of the metal spectrum is acknowledged in a take on Black Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead),” that cover is no less an appropriate inclusion on Dawn of Ages than Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” or The Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune” in emphasizing the vast swath of ground Arduini / Balich traverse across their original material.

In terms of composition, recording process and the potential for Arduini / Balich to continue forward as an ongoing project, there was a lot of fodder for discussion here, and fortunately, Victor Arduini was happy to oblige, even going to far as to address each of the questions-within-the-questions individually, taking on the whole thing and leaving nothing out. That effort is deeply appreciated, to be sure, and as I dig in once again to Dawn of Ages (which you’ll also find streaming at the bottom of this post) for what I suspect won’t nearly be the last time, it’s great to know that at some point in the future there just might be a sophomore outing to come.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

arduini balich dawn of ages

Six Dumb Questions with Arduini / Balich

Tell me how the Arduini / Balich project got started. What was the impetus behind writing these songs? How did they come together and when did Butch and Chris become involved? What was it you wanted to do differently coming off of Freedoms Reign?

I began writing new music towards the end of Freedoms Reign’s promotional tour. I was already moving on emotionally from what that band was about and had my “10 seconds as a singer” out of my system. I just wanted to get back to playing guitar and focusing on creating some riffs that would challenge me as a guitarist and musician. I told the guys I was going to do a solo-project where I could allow myself the freedom to produce an album where I could be free to let my ideas breath without any restrictions.

It was all an emotional connection to the music I was getting back into after some years away from my roots in Fates. With social media, YouTube and internet radio, I was like a sponge soaking up so much new music that I didn’t know existed. I was becoming inspired by learning there were so many great bands and artists out there still putting out some very cool music.

I would come up with riffs at home and present them to Chris to see how he would interpret them. Usually we would jam on them and other ideas would naturally follow. We spent about six months working stuff out and Chris was able to put down his drum tracks to the basic structure. I spent the next year writing and recording all the guitars and creating layer upon layer of music that transformed the songs into what became the music for the album. I found it difficult to find a singer who had the right voice and wound be into the music I created.

I originally was going to have a singer from Brazil but found it too difficult to work out. Brian and I knew each other from doing some shows together and he literally reached out the day I let the other singer go. We talked and he was really into the music I shared. It took some time with our schedules but Brian took the songs one by one and wrote some incredible lyrics along with some very emotional and power vocals which I think are the best he’s ever done.

I wanted to create music that spoke from my soul without worry or restrictions to style, length or sound. I knew it would be heavy and dark and as Chris and I worked them out it became progressive as well with the different time signatures and complexity of the arrangements.

What was the timeline like from start to finish on Dawn of Ages? How long were you recording the songs and how were they pieced together? How much did the material develop in the studio as opposed to being plotted out beforehand?

It took a little over two years from start to finish. There were times it had to be put on hold which helped me relook at things and make adjustments along the way. I don’t think it would have been as complex if it was completed sooner as I ended up adding a lot of ideas when there was nothing else to do with it.

The demo phase lasted about six months where I’d take home the ideas from rehearsal and piece things together until we had a rough structure from start to finish. Chris did his drum tracks pretty quickly but from there it was over a year of layering various sounds, solos, etc. “The Wraith”’s drums are actually from a rehearsal which I was able to piece together and utilize for the final album.

[The material developed in the studio] Quite a bit. I mean I’d create riffs which became the structure but from there I had no idea of all the layers that would end up over it. There were many nights of just messing around and every so often some magic would come out of it. Some stuff I still don’t know where it came from. I guess that’s a blessing from being in a creative moment which I’ve always admired from The Beatles in their later recordings.

Talk about self-producing in this new context. How was your working relationship with Nick Bellmore? How did it compare to your time in the studio with Entierro or Freedoms Reign?

To me [self-producing] was what made the album so personal. I took the time to work out the arrangements and trying out different sounds, approaches and ideas get what was in my head onto tape. I love working in my studio and would try out all kinds of mixes and reevaluating until I was happy. Producing your own music works if you have a strong idea of what you want from it and you don’t care to please anyone but yourself. Making music is a passion and having the ability to put together such a project was very special and rewarding to me.

Nick is so good at what he does. As a drummer he helped me get some great tracks down and always could create the sound and mood I was looking for. I did just about all the guitars at home including the sounds I wanted but he always was there as an extra ear and helped me ensure it was always sonically as good as it could be. He is just a great guy and teaches me along the way which ends up helping us both do bigger and better things together. Nick actually played drums on “Forever Fade,” and two of the bonus tracks, “Sunrise” and “After All (The Dead).”

When I recorded with FR it was the typical format of everyone laying down their individual tracks as they had worked them out for rehearsal. With A/B, it was mostly experimentation with no restrictions. I could make any decision without running it by others which is why one is called a band and this was a true solo-project.

Tell me about writing “Beyond the Barricade.”

That song took on a life of its own. There was no previous idea of writing such an epic. I just took the song piece by piece and it seemed to build upon itself at rehearsal. Week after week we would jam what we had and new riffs and ideas flowed which we always got onto tape. I’d take it home and work stuff out maybe writing something new and when we played again it just kept evolving. The cool thing is we were able to play the basic structure from start to finish. It was just all the layers and sounds which took it to another level. Again I was at a creative peak during that time and it was easier than you’d think.

What was behind the decision to include the three covers, and how were each of those tracks chosen?

We had the opportunity to do a 2LP vinyl but when laying it out we really had three sides so Brian and I started throwing ideas out to cover. “Sunrise” was something I wanted to do since I saw Brian earlier in the year and heard him sing to it in his car. “After All” was something I always felt Brian could nail and I love playing Sabbath. Brian brought “Wolf” to my attention and I was mesmerized by its beauty and ode to the trippy ‘60s vibe. It was one of the toughest songs to interpret and record.

Will you do more as Arduini / Balich? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I think so. Brian and I are very proud of this album and thoroughly enjoyed the process of making it and working together which is first and foremost why we do it. We’ve discussed doing the next one which I hope will happen but there’s no timeline. What I enjoyed most about doing this one was the natural creativity that inspired it and the joy of its process. I became so emotionally attached to it and I need some time to move away for a bit. I just don’t want to force anything and would like to come back to it all when I feel there’s something new to say. Most likely by early next year I’ll messing around and we’ll go from there.

I just want to say to anyone who’s checked it out how thankful I am that you did so and appreciate your support and interest. We were both pretty floored by the response and it’s cool when someone breaks it down and you can tell they really listened and got what we were trying to achieve. Thanks so much.

Arduini / Balich, Dawn of Ages (2017)

Arduini / Balich on Thee Facebooks

Arduini / Balich on Bandcamp

Cruz del Sur Music website

Cruz del Sur Music on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: High Brian, Arduini/Balich, Audion, Grey Gallows, Smoke Mountain

Posted in Radio on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

If you’re a regular denizen of The Obelisk Radio, you’ve probably already guessed by the massively expanded playlist that we’re back on the main server at this point. It’s been months on the backup, and while anyone is still reading, let me just say out loud how much I owe to the hard work Slevin has put into the back end of making this thing happen. From a huge file-recovery operation to yesterday turning the thing back on after I moved a bunch of files and screwed it up yet again, the dude is just unbelievable. Seriously. This site is coming up on nine years old, and Slevin has made it happen every step of the way from a technical standpoint. I am in awe of his prowess and generosity of spirit.

So now that we’re back up and running at full capacity, the only thing to do is to keep building it going forward. And here we are.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 13, 2017:

High Brian, Hi Brain

high-brian-hi-brain

Though they start out with the post-Queens of the Stone Age shuffle of “Liquid Sweet,” the crux of Austrian rockers High Brian‘s playfully titled debut long-player, Hi Brain, lies in classic psychedelia, unafraid to directly make a Beatles reference or two in “Aquanautic Smoke” or name a track after Jefferson Airplane‘s Surrealistic Pillow. That song, “Surrealistic Pillow,” turns out to be one of Hi Brain‘s catchiest, but hooks about throughout the nodding “All but Certainty” and the later, Stubb-style raucousness of the pair “The Conversion” and “Blood Money” as well, while centerpiece “All the Other Faces” and the aforementioned “Aquanautic Smoke” engage effects-laden drift and poised fluidity, resulting in an overarching sense of within-genre aesthetic variety that moves easily throughout the vinyl-ready 44-minute offering. They close with the molten roll of “Time,” their longest cut at 5:52 and a bolder melodic take, as if to signal a potential direction of their growth on their way out. There are plenty of encouraging signs before they get there, certainly, but hey, one more never hurt. An impressive introduction to a project that one hopes continues to develop and expand its approach.

High Brian website

Stone Free Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory

 

Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages

ARDUINI BALICH DAWN OF AGES

Words like “powerhouse” are invented for releases like Arduini/Balich‘s Dawn of Ages. The Cruz del Sur release brings together Fates Warning guitarist Victor Arduini (who also produced) and Argus vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, and while I’ll confess that on first listen I went right to their cover of Sabbath‘s “After All (The Dead)” — fucking righteous; and there aren’t a lot of people I’d trust to take on that song or anything from the Dio era — extended pieces like “Beyond the Barricade” (17:27) and “The Wraith” (13:44) offer listeners a deep push into a heavy metal that’s progressive, powerful and doomed all at the same time, executed with a clarity and a purpose that shimmers with class and just the right balance of patience and aggression. Rest easy, traveler, for you are in the hands of masters. Rounded out by drummer Chris Judge, Arduini/Balich is what happens when heavy metal goes right, and from the doomly unfolding of opener “The Fallen” through the 2LP’s three concluding covers of Beau Brummels‘ “Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” Uriah Heep‘s “Sunrise” and the already noted Dehumanizer highlight, there isn’t one moment where they relinquish their hold on either their craft or their audience’s attention. It’s the kind of outing that might cause a last-minute revision to best-of-the-year-so-far list, to say the least of it. Not to be greedy, but I’ll take a follow-up as soon as possible. Thanks.

Arduini/Balich on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

 

Audión, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-historia-de-abraham

If the driving Motörhead-onic thrust of the title-track to Audión‘s La Historia de Abraham rings familiar, it might be because the rhythm section of the Buenos Aires trio consists of bassist Gonzalo Villagra (also vocals) and drummer Walter Broide (also backing vocals), both formerly of Los Natas. Honestly, that pedigree would probably be enough for me to get on board with the 10-track/49-minute self-released full-length, but then you get into the roll and drift of the subsequent “Llegaron Sordos” and the fluid cascade of “Colmillo Blanco,” and guitarist Dizzy Espeche makes his presence felt tonally and vocally throughout to add a new personality to whatever familiar aspects might persist. “Lesbotrans” dives into a ’70s-style swing and the blown-out “Diablo vs. Dios” follows it with the age-old question of what might happen if The Who went garage punk, but there’s flourish of psychedelia on the interlude “Para Rosita” before “El Carancho” and “Queruzalem” round out with some of La Historia de Abraham‘s weightiest impacts. I think it’s fair to say Audión have some tinge of Los Natas‘ style to them, but their first outing shows them working toward building something new from that as well, and that makes their arrival all the more welcome.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Grey Gallows, Underlord

grey-gallows-underlord

Not that it isn’t plenty malevolent on its surface, but there’s an even more extreme threat lurking beneath “Underlord,” the nine-minute opener, titular and longest track (immediate points) on the debut full-length from Phoenix, Arizona’s Grey Gallows. It doesn’t take long for that sense of extremity to manifest in a blackened sensibility that pervades both in the riffs of a song like “Belladonna” — the middle cut of the five included — or the overarching spaciousness that finds its way into the grime-coated “West of Hell,” which follows. With a depth of guitar worthy of filling one’s lungs, “West of Hell” churns in a manner faster and somewhat sludgier than the alternately nodding and atmospheric “Priestess” showed the Opoponax Records outing to be earlier, six-stringers Joe Distic and Cat weaving noted lines and crunch riffs around each other for seven densely grooved minutes amid low-end push from bassist Lee, adaptable and creative drumming from Shane and Zue Byrd‘s vocals, which hit in form no less distorted in the back half of “Priestess” than they are punker drawled in closer “Buzzard Dust.” Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. That’s basically what the math works out to on the 35-minute outing, but it’s worth noting that even on their first album, Grey Gallows demonstrate a ready willingness to balance various stylistic impulses off each other in such a way that’s only going to make their sound richer as they proceed. Richer, and even nastier. So be it.

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Opoponax Records webstore

 

Smoke Mountain, Smoke Mountain

smoke-mountain-smoke-mountain

The first EP from this Floridian three-piece does precisely what it’s supposed to do: introduces a newcomer band with three unpretentious tracks of dirt-fuzz riffing. The immediate vibe of opener “Demon” is early Acid King as the vocals follow the riff in classic stonery fashion, but the three songs get longer as they go and “Violent Night” proves immediately more spacious en route to the eponymous march of “Smoke Mountain.” What would probably be called a demo in a prior age, Smoke Mountain‘s Smoke Mountain makes its primary impression tonally but shows potential in its songwriting as well, and as a quick sampling of what the band are getting up to in their first stages, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of it, particularly as “Smoke Mountain” hammers home its chorus in a balance of clean vocal melody and absolutely filthy guitar, bass and drum crash. That duality, should they maintain it as they move forward into whatever might come next, can only serve them well. One to keep an eye on.

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Smoke Mountain on Bandcamp

 

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Landing Announce Tour Dates & Taeppe EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

landing

Connecticut heavy psych drifters Landing are heading out at the end of June and into July for a tour that will take them as far west as Utah and all the way down to Atlanta in a matter of about two weeks’ time. The three-piece issued the full-length Third Sight (review here) last year through respected purveyor El Paraiso Records, and as they make ready to hit the road they’ll do so with a new, limited, tour-exclusive cassette in tow.

Titled Taeppe and presumably pronounced “tape,” the new offering will be a one-time pressing and only available at gigs, so if you don’t happen to make it out to a show, I guess tough luck, though maybe if we start a letter-writing campaign or something they’ll put a couple up on Bandcamp. They’ve got preorders up now ahead of an official June 27 release with a streaming track — also called “Tape” — that you can check out at the bottom of this post, beneath the tour announcement and some more PR-wire-type background.

Dig it:

landing tour

We’re hitting the road!

To coincide with the tour, we’re releasing a limited edition cassette EP titled “Taeppe” that will only be available at the shows. Pre-order link here: https://landing.bandcamp.com/album/taeppe-ep

June 27- Red Cross House, Northampton, MA
June 28- This Ain’t Hollywood, Hamilton, ON
June 29- UFO Factory, Detroit, MI
June 30- State Street, Indianapolis, IN
July 1- Foam, St. Louis, MO
July 2- Kitty Kat Club, Minneapolis, MN
July 3- Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, IA
July 5- Diabolical Records, SLC, UT
July 8- Cheer Up Charlie’s, Austin, TX
July 9- Gasa Gasa, New Orleans, LA
July 10- 529, Atlanta, GA
July 11- Neptune’s, Raleigh, NC
July 12- TBA, Lynchburg, VA

Hope to see you out there!!

Bio:

Connecticut’s Landing have specialized in a mild and rural kind of psychedelia over the course of nearly two decades. Recent releases have seen them closer to post-punk and shoegaze territory than ever, but Third Sight – recorded specifically for El Paraiso Records’ Impetus series – builds on the hallucinatory soundscapes of the band’s earliest days.

And despite releasing one brilliant album after another the band remains appalingly under-appreciated. Perhaps because the tryyps Landing take are rooted in self-exploration. As trends in krautrock, drone, folk, and psychedelia ebb and flow, Landing remain unfazed. The door to Landing’s world is open, but there isn’t a flashing neon sign above it. These guys are far removed from the hustle and bustle of geographic cultural bubbles, both physically and spiritually.

Landing lineup for Taeppe EP:
Adrienne Snow • Vocals
Daron Gardner • Bass/Drones
Aaron Snow • Guitar/Synth/Drums/Bass/Vocals
Kryssi Battalene • Guitar on Side A
John Miller • Drums on “Together”

https://www.facebook.com/Landingtryyps
https://landing.bandcamp.com/
http://landingsite.net/
http://elparaisorecords.com/artists/landing
https://www.facebook.com/elparaisorecords/

Landing, Taeppe (2017)

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Curse the Son Post “Isolator” Video; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

curse the son

Though they haven’t been known over the course of their three albums for being a touring band, Connecticut’s Curse the Son are getting out a bit more over the next few months as we head into Spring and Summer, and they’re sharing the stage with some awesome acts along the way. Not to take anything away from playing with The Obsessed, Karma to Burn and Lo-Pan in Hamden or Sea of Bones and Come to Grief in Wallingford — both CT shows and awesome bills — but it’s awesome to see the three-piece heading down to Brooklyn to meet up with Eternal Black, or out to Ohio for a gig with Pale Grey Lore, to Philly with Wasted Theory or to Maryland for the Sludgement Day Festival. It’s not a five-week stretch across Europe, but I have absolutely no doubt they’ll turn heads their way at each and every one of those shows, and of course that’s what it’s all about.

Curse the Son will release their 2016 album, Isolator (review here), via Ripple Music and The Company Records on April 7. To mark its (re-)arrival, they’ve got a video for the title-track playing now. I had occasion recently to pick up a copy of their 2009 demo, Globus Hystericus, and listening to that and then revisiting the latest offering, the growth the band has undertaken in the years between them — across 2011’s Klonopain (review here), 2012’s Psychache (review here), and most pointedly on Isolator — is palpable.

Really, take the five minutes to dig into the “Isolator” video and then think about how clear-headed the song is in its purpose. It knows exactly what it wants to accomplish in vibe and structure and it goes about the business of that free of drama, needless indulgences and bullshit. It offers hook, tone, groove and melody and in that, it perfectly represents the album from whence it comes.

These guys are and have been a well-kept secret of the New England underground for years now. Maybe as they start to show up in some new places in 2017, they’ll finally get some of the wider attention they’ve long since been due.

Enjoy the video below, followed by the live dates off the PR wire:

Curse the Son, “Isolator” official video

Filmed and Directed by Billy Freeman for Surge Unlimited. From the album “Isolator” available through Ripple Music.

Released in 2016 and easily Curse the Son’s best album to date, Isolator showcases a band ready to push the limits of the stoner/doom genre, yet still revel in all of its gloomy goodness. Taking their song writing talents up a gear while simultaneously connecting on a spiritual level with their audience, Isolator was met with an overwhelming response by both critics and fans alike and on 7th April will get an official, worldwide release via Ripple Music (CD/Digital)/The Company (Vinyl).

Tour Dates:
4th May – Buzzbin Shop, Canton OH (w. Pale Grey Lore & Goosed)
5th May – Howlers, Pittsburgh, PA (w. Brimstone Coven)
6th May – TBA
19th May – The Outerspace Ballroom, Hamden, CT (w. The Obsessed, Karma to Burn and Lo Pan)
1st June – Ralph’s Rock Diner, Worcester, MA
2nd June – Shakeen, Manchester, NH (w. Thunderhawk and more TBA)
3rd June – TBA
20th June – Lucky 13, Brooklyn, NY (w. Eternal Black, Clouds Taste Satanic and Mantis Mass)
21st July – Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia, PA (w. Wasted Theory, The Age of Truth and Goat Wizard)
22nd July – Guido’s Speakeasy, Frederick, MD (Sludgement Day Festival)
25th August – Cherry St. Station, Wallingford, CT (w. Sea Of Bones and Come to Grief)

Curse The Son:
Ron Vanacore – Guitars, Vocals
Michael Petrucci – Drums
Brendan Keefe – Bass

Curse the Son on Thee Facebooks

Curse the Son on Bandcamp

The Company Records BigCartel store

The Company Records on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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