Six Dumb Questions with The Roller

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on November 16th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

You know, I just sat here and wrote out a whole angry rant about how the dude from The Roller couldn’t be bothered to even finish the email interview for this Six Dumb Questions feature, all “Next time I think it’s a good idea to take an hour out of my work day…” blah blah blah. But now, looking over the responses vocalist Mike Morowitz sent back, I don’t necessarily think it was a malicious thing that he basically blew off the interview. I think he might have just been stoned. They kind of read either way, and since I’m a bitter fuck, I automatically go for the negative, but yeah. The explanation might be that he was really, really high at the time. Hazards of the trade, dude.

The Roller is Morowitz, guitarist Theron Rhoten, bassist Miguel Veliz and drummer Jeremy Jenkins, and the below Q&A has been corrected for spelling and grammar/formatting. I also added capital letters to the beginnings of the sentences, because I couldn’t stand looking at them the other way. I left the last question blank because that’s how it came back to me.

One thing: they’re definitely a sludge band. There. I said it. Call it an internet flame war scandal and maybe I’ll get some more hits for the site.

1. Wasted Heritage sounds a lot darker than the self-titled. Was there anything specific in the songwriting or recording that might have brought that out of the band?

The only thing darker about us is our bass player’s skin. We got a new bass player. Theron wrote more of this record than the last. Bands grow over time, no one wants to put out the same album twice. Unless you are AC/DC or The Ramones.

2. How did you decide to make this release vinyl-only? I thought the art for the CD last time was killer. No chance of doing that kind of thing again?

Cyclopean Records is an all-vinyl label. It isn’t our decision but we are okay with it. We have limited edition screenprinted tour CDs with us on the road. We are really happy with the new album cover. We liked the old one too but who wants to keep recycling the same thing?

3. Texas Beer Battle: Shiner Bock vs. Lone Star. Who wins and why?

Whatever is cheapest? I am a Pearl man myself. Texas’ oldest brewery.

4. I’ve only ever seen Austin during South by Southwest, and I hear the town is completely different during the other 360 days of the year. What’s the sludge scene like down there, and how is non-SXSW Austin different?

We are just a metal band. We don’t consider ourselves “sludge.” Austin is an eclectic city with a lot of good bands in all different genres and everyone is friends. SXSW is fun for a week-long party, but who wants 80,000 extra assholes in their city? A week is long enough.

5. How’s the West Coast tour going? Any especially killer shows or road stories you want to tell? Anything you’re looking forward to seeing that you haven’t yet?

Yeah. We plan on touring any and everywhere that will have us. As long as our van and amps are working, we will be too.

6. Anything else in the works for touring? How long do you think you’ll stay on the road to support the album?

The Roller on MySpace

Cyclopean Records

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The Roller’s Trashed Ancestry

Posted in Reviews on November 10th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

As I sit here to write this review, I’ve false-started no less than four times, because my real question when it comes to Austin, Texas, sludgers The Roller is what to say first. Sure, they’re heavy, sure, they’re riffy, and sure, their second album, Wasted Heritage (Cyclopean) is four tracks/39 minutes of only the nastiest kind of nasty nastiness, but I think even more than all of that, what strikes me about The Roller is how uncompromising this material is. To imagine these guys coming from the same place as disparate acts like Dixie Witch and The Sword; it’s like the town has multiple personalities. More than that, it’s hard to imagine a place that sees so much sunshine throughout the year could produce music so hateful.

My chief comparison point for The Roller’s 2008 self-titled debut on Monofonus Press was Sourvein, and the same holds true for Wasted Heritage, but The Roller sound even meaner here, more grim, more foreboding, with an atmosphere that has more in common with Darkthrone than Eyehategod. The album is structured meticulously and with vinyl in mind: two longer tracks sandwiching two shorter ones, so that the opener and closer are over 10 minutes apiece and the middle two under seven. Still, it’s the sound that seems most thought out. Wasted Heritage was recorded by Bryan Richie (The Sword), and the guitars of Theron Rhoten sound positively filthy, cutting a jagged buzzsaw through opener “Candle Black” and managing even to dirty up the atmospheric beginning of 14-minute closer “White Wing.”

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New The Roller Album Coming in November

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I think what I like best about the news of The Roller‘s impending second album, Wasted Heritage, is that there are only four songs listed and nowhere does the press release even think about calling it less than a full-length album. We can only hope that one of the four songs is two minutes long and the rest are 13 or more. Hey, I like long songs.

What I remember about The Roller‘s debut: Cool art, sounded like Sourvein. Figure if they keep those two things up, it’s a win. Here’s the news off the PR wire:

Austin hesh-masters The Roller have been creating and honing their craft of riff mongering since the beginning of 2006. The band recorded their first demo that year and replaced their original guitarist Matt Sodeman with Theron Rhoten shortly after. The debut LP was released in 2008 and was praised by reviewers and metalheads alike. This year marks the release of their new LP, Wasted Heritage, an offering of earth-shaking, uncompromisingly grim doom metal.

With the edition of Miguel Veliz (Graves at Sea, Sub Oslo, Sourvein) in 2009, the band set out to write a follow up to 2008’s well received debut LP on Monofonus Press. After playing steadily in their hometown and across the country for the next two years, The Roller was ready to begin writing their new record. What came about is a massive, lumbering beast of an album. Four new songs spanning 40 minutes, recorded by Bryan Richie (The Sword) and dedicated to a limited vinyl pressing of 500 gatefold LPs.

Wasted Heritage is a ritual in abrasive meditation, an arrangement of riffs that become keys to a new dimension, for those seeking a heavier trip than most.

Wasted Heritage tracklist:
1. Candle Back
2. Of Feather and Bone
3. Passage
4. White Wing

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Sungod and What Matters First

Posted in Reviews on September 16th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Somewhere, at some point in time, somebody gave one of the two members of Austin, Texas, psychedelic newcomers Sungod a copy of Nebula’s To the Center, and it’s a good thing they did. The duo (doesn’t anyone have a bassist anymore?) have taken this heavy, grooving influence and stretched it out as far as it’ll go, abandoning for the most part the aforementioned band’s penchant for catchy choruses in favor of wide-breadth atmospherics on their Cyclopean Records debut, First Matter. The album’s five tracks follow a reverse-parabola structure, starting long, getting shorter in the middle, then longer again at the finish, but there’s more to the flow than nifty toying around with the track list. Sungod worship at a number of altars and their sound — in no small part thanks to liberal guitar layering — is surprisingly full for an act without a full-time bassist.

Comprised of string-section Balentine and drummer Sharp, Sungod traffic in a heady, open-spaced instrumental heavy psych, marked by guitar passages so lyrical I had to go back and double check there weren’t vocals on them. Nine-minute opener “The Key is No Key” starts with striking feedback and hard-pounding rhythms. Balentine takes this as a basis for layering reverbed guitar explorations, but keeps a solid foundation underneath. Sharp’s playing is strong whether during these freakout jams or the more straightforward intervals from which they’re birthed, and on the acoustic-led “Under the Golem,” the organic ambience of the song is only enhanced by the various bells and chimes present. On the centerpiece title-track (also First Matter’s shortest song at 3:46), the drums go on a half-backwards tape loop Dale Crover spree of intermittent hits punctuating feedback from Balentine, drones and noises of several other shapes and sizes, so you get some sense of diversity in listening to the album in more than just basic sonics.

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