Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh: Sinister Wind Blowing

Posted in Reviews on April 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Wo Fat Midnight Cometh

There are few if any US heavy rock acts going who can match the consistent quality of Wo Fat‘s output over the last half-decade. The Dallas fuzz riffers have grown into a distinct and distinguished outfit that is always identifiable from release to release, but never fails to grow. This is true as well of their sixth studio LP, Midnight Cometh — also their first for Ripple Music after issuing 2014’s The Conjuring (review here) and 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here) on Small Stone — in that its six songs/49 minutes bring the band’s sound another step forward, as shown in adding percussion elements to opener “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” in the vocal confidence of guitarist Kent Stump and in the overarching fluidity of the trio’s jams, of which there are many, and the poise with which they blend the catchy hooks of “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” “Riffborn,” “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Le Dilemme de Detenu,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” — yes, all six tracks — with the more open and improvised-feeling stretches.

In some ways, Wo Fat aren’t doing much different than they did on earlier outings like 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here) or 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), in that they blend a swamp boogie atmosphere with memorable songcraft, a jam-ready sensibility and strong chemistry between Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter, but they leave little room as to the question of whether or not that basic pattern has been refined, and while The Conjuring felt like a landmark in their ascent to the fore of the American heavy underground — it was the record that took them to Europe, for example — Midnight Cometh once again reaffirms that their position is well earned.

It does not fix what wasn’t broken in their sound, but neither is it stagnant. In much the same way Wo Fat‘s sound has become more identifiable over the last decade since their 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark, so too has it progressed. They begin at a tumult with “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” but soon hammer out an upbeat groove over which Stump slides in a solo before a percussion-laden verse and are into the chorus before the two-minute mark, wasting no time in setting the table for much of what will follow and build on the Southern voodoo blues atmosphere represented in David Paul Seymour‘s cover art and which “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” would seem to address directly while second track “Riffborn” and side B opener “Le Dilemme de Detenu” take their focus elsewhere.

wo fat

The split between the two halves of Midnight Cometh is of particular note, since it’s something of a departure from The Conjuring, which wrapped with its 17-minute jam-minded title-track. Here, Wo Fat give each portion of the record a grand finale, in “Of Smoke and Fog” and “Nightcomer,” respectively, and the effect is to make the listening experience focused less on any individual piece than on the affect and the flow of the album as a whole. I wouldn’t argue with either methodology, particularly since while there are commonalities between songs mostly in the structuring of choruses, the band takes care to shift here and there in vibe, whether it’s the more stripped down “Riffborn,” which is faster and jams its way through its second half and out having long since left its hook behind, or the mega-swinging “Le Dilemme de Detenu” (“the dilemma of the detained”), with swagger enough for a full-length on its own, never mind the ultra-fluid hypnosis they’ve just enacted across “Of Smoke and Fog.”

That track — “Of Smoke and Fog” — emphasizes a lot of what Wo Fat have come to accomplish at this stage in their progression. It moves easily through hooks and jams and even trips out psychedelic around eight minutes in, but never lets go of its sense of purpose, and while it’s also the longest cut on Midnight Cometh at 10:47, it puts that time to use summarizing the album’s course. At the end of side B, “Nightcomer” works in a similar vein, but with a darker feel and bigger chorus, with Stump and Walter offering some vocal harmonies before the final jam. Prior to that, the penultimate “Three Minutes to Midnight” showcases the comfort level the trio feel in pushing out a faster hook and more straightforward songcraft — yet another stuck-in-your-head hook — while also bringing back some of the percussive elements of the opener, and the fact that their structures are no less molten than their jams, able to be manipulated to suit the purposes of a given track, is among Midnight Cometh‘s most engaging aspects.

Whatever the pace or trajectory, Wo Fat play like a band six albums deep. They know what they want their sound to do, they know how to make it happen, and they know that to keep it interesting for themselves and their audience, they need to continue to challenge beyond what they’ve done before. Stump has emerged as a frontman and sounds in command of the material here, and together with Walter and Wilson, they’re more of a power trio able to bring their live dynamic to a studio recording without sacrificing fidelity to the cause of a superficially organic sound. Midnight Cometh comes across as full and natural, and continues Wo Fat‘s streak of highlight outings, making it all the more apparent just how much they need to be in the conversation of the best currently active fuzz purveyors, within Texas or without. They’ve long since come into their own, but they’re reshaping what “their own” is, and it’s a joy to watch for those lucky enough to be paying attention. One of the year’s best in heavy.

Wo Fat, “Three Minutes to Midnight”

Wo Fat on Thee Facebooks

Wo Fat on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Chron Goblin, Slabdragger, Jupiter, Izo, Cultist, Haoma, Spaceslug, Slush, Menimals, The Linus Pauling Quartet

Posted in Reviews on April 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

Thus ends another successful Quarterly Review. And by successful I mean I survived. There were a few minutes there when I actually thought about spreading this out to six days, doing another batch of 10 on Monday, but then what happens? Then it’s seven days, then eight, then nine, and before I know it I’m just doing 10 reviews every day and it’s more of a daily review than a quarterly one. Next week we’ll get back to whatever passes for normality around this place, and at the end of June, I’ll have another batch to roll with. Maybe the beginning of July, depending on time. In any case, thank you for reading this week. I hope you’ve found something in all this that you’ve dug, and that this final round offers something else that resonates.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Chron Goblin, Backwater

chron goblin backwater

Calgary party rockers Chron Goblin pay homage to Seattle with a song named after the city on their third album, Backwater (on Ripple Music), but they continue to have way more in common with Portland, Oregon. The follow-up to 2013’s Life for the Living (review here) pushes into psychedelic groove early in its title-track and gets bluesy for most of the subsequent “The Wailing Sound,” but it seems even that song can’t resist the urge to throw down and have a good time by the end, and cuts like “Give Way,” the galloping opener “Fuller” and the requisite “Hard Living” reaffirm the band’s commitment to heavy riffs and positive vibes. The stylistic elephant in the room continues to be Red Fang, but as they’ve done all along, Chron Goblin work in shades of other influences in heavy rock – if they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d call it Roadsaw – and put a stamp of their own on the style.

Chron Goblin on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music

 

Slabdragger, Rise of the Dawncrusher

slabdragger rise of the dawncrusher

“Mercenary Blues” is near-immediate in telegraphing the level of heft Slabdragger will emit across their second album, Rise of the Dawncrusher, which tops an hour in five tracks (one of them four minutes long) and shifts between clean vocals, screams and growls from bassist/vocalist Yusuf Tary and guitarist/vocalist Sam Thredder as drummer Jack Newham holds together tempo shifts no less drastic. The shorter cut, “Evacuate!,” is an extreme take on heavy rock, but as Slabdragger move through the extended “Shrine of Debauchery” (12:23), “Dawncrusher Rising” (15:16) and “Implosion Rites” (17:20), their methods prove varied enough so that their material is more than just an onslaught of thickened distortion. I wouldn’t call it progressive exactly, but neither is it lunkheaded in its intention or execution, as the chanted melodies buried deep in “Shrine of Debauchery”’s lumber, derived perhaps in part from Conan and Sleep but beholden to neither so much as its own righteous purposes.

Slabdragger on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records

 

Jupiter, Interstellar Chronodive

jupiter interstellar chronodive

Finnish heavy psychedelic rockers Jupiter take a decidedly naturalist position when it comes to their style. Yeah, there are some effects on the guitars throughout Interstellar Chronidive, the trio’s second album behind 2014’s Your Eccentric State of Mind, but it’s more about what the three players can accomplish with dynamic tempo and mood changes than it is creating a wash, and that gives songs like “Stonetrooper” and “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” a classic feel despite a decidedly modern production. “Premonitions” provides raucous fuzz worthy of any next-gen stoners you want to name, and the 14-minute “In Flux” answers its own initial thrust with and expansive, liquefied jam that’s all the more emblematic of the organic core to their approach, Hendrix-derived but not Hendrix-emulating. Bright guitar tone, rich bass and swinging drums aren’t necessarily unfamiliar elements, but the touches of space rock narration on “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” and the consuming nod of closer “Vantage Point” assure there’s no shortage of personality to go around.

Jupiter on Thee Facebooks

Jupiter on Bandcamp

 

Izo, Izo

izo izo

Also stylized as IZ? with a long accent over the ‘o,’ Izo is the self-titled debut from Italian double-guitar instrumental four-piece Izo, who bookend four flowing and densely weighted progressions with an intro and outro to add to the atmospheric breadth. Rather than choose between heaviness or ambience, Izo – guitarists Paolo Barone and Maurizio Calò, bassist Francesco de Pascali and drummer Luca Greco – play both into each other so that a song like “Hikkomori” is as engaging in its heft as it is hypnotic. That might be easier to do without vocals, but it’s essential to Izo’s approach, and something that, for their debut, sets up future expansion of post-metal and psychedelic elements. I’m not sure if there’s a theme or narrative for the album, but consistent use of Japanese language and imagery ties the material together all the same, and Izo emerge from their first album having shown a clearheadedness of purpose that can only continue to serve them well.

Izo on Thee Facebooks

Acid Cosmonaut Records

 

Cultist, Three Candles

cultist three candles

Cultist made their introductory statement in the early hours of 2016 with Three Candles, a five-song EP from the social media-averse Cleveland, Ohio, trio featuring members of Skeletonwitch, Mockingbird and Howl. In the wall of fuzz they construct, the swing injected into their rhythms and the use of multiple vocalists, there’s a strong undercurrent of Uncle Acid to “Path of the Old One,” but “Consuming Damnation” distinguishes itself with a more aggressive take, rawer in its melodies, and the creeping closer “Eternal Dark” is up to something entirely more doomed. How this balance will play out with the more familiar riff-patterning in “Follow Me” is the central question, but for their first tracks to be made public, Cultist’s Three Candles offers fullness of sound and the realization of an aesthetic purpose. Yes, there’s room to grow, but they already have a better handle on what they want to do than a lot of bands, so it should be interesting to keep up.

Cultist on Instagram

Cultist on Bandcamp

 

Haoma, Eternal Stash

haoma eternal stash

Ultra-thick, ultra-dank, Haoma is the work of Swedish duo R (bass/vocals) and S (drums), and the three-tracker Eternal Stash is their second self-released EP. The offering takes its title from the opener and longest track (immediate points), and wastes no time with subtlety in getting down on molten Cisneros-style stoner-doom grooves. Sleep meets Om isn’t a huge divide to cross, but there’s a blown-out sensibility to the vocals as well that speaks to some element of Electric Wizard at play, and the overarching roughness suits Haoma’s tonal crunch well. Even when they break to wah bass in the second half of “Eternal Stash” to set up the ensuing jam, this underlying harshness remains, and “Unearthly Creatures” and “Orbital Flight” build on that, the latter with a march that feels more decidedly individual even if constructed on familiar ground. Heavy, raw, unpretentious celebration of groove is almost always welcome by me, and so Haoma’s Eternal Stash is likewise.

Haoma on Thee Facebooks

Haoma on Bandcamp

 

Spaceslug, Lemanis

spaceslug lemanis

Another boon to Poland’s emerging heavy rock scene, Wroclaw’s Spaceslug slime their way out of the ground with their debut long-player, Lemanis, a seven-cut paean to weighted tone and laid back roll. Vocally, the trio seem to take a cue from the Netherlands’ Sungrazer, but their riffs are far more dense and while the penultimate interlude “Quintessence” and the earlier “Galectelion” demonstrate a sense of spaciousness, the context in which that arrives is much more weighted and, particularly in the second half of “Supermassive,” feels culled from the Sleep school of Iommic idolatry. No complaints. The record clocks in at 43 minutes all told and in no way overstays its welcome, rounding out with the nine-minute title-track, an instrumental that’s probably not improvised but comes across as exploratory all the same. The CD version is out through BSFD Records, but don’t be surprised when someone picks it up for a vinyl issue, as both the front-to-back flow and the artwork seem to be made for it.

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

 

Slush, American Demons

slushies american demons

An element of twang that seems present even in the most uproarious moments of SlushAmerican Demons tape comes to the fore with the brief “Leshy,” a quick, fleetly-strummed bit of slide guitar the follows highlight cut “Bathysphere” and precedes “Death Valley,” both of which bask full-on in the garage shake, proto-punk vibe and anything goes swagger the Brooklynite trio have on offer throughout their third EP. That countrified twist plays well alongside the drawling skate rock of “In the Flesh,” which seems to take on some of The Shrine’s West Coast skate vibes with a twist of New York fuckall, and the quick crotchal thrust off “Silk Road,” which serves as Slush’ most purely punkish moment. “Death Valley” closes out with a tale of drugs and the desert, the vocals somewhere between Misfits and early Nick Cave, drenched in attitude and accompanied by fuzz that seems to be likewise. Bonus points for the silver tape and copious included art and info.

Slushies on Bandcamp

Lean on Bandcamp

 

Menimals, Menimals

menimals menimals

Strange spirits are afoot throughout MenimalsMenimals, the maybe-debut from the Italian troupe who engage wantonly in the proliferation of post-Mike Patton creepy darkjazz across five cuts of sparse, spacious weirdness. Issued through Phonosphera/Riot Season, it’s a work of high atmospheric density but ultimately more about mood than sonic impact, evoking complex shapes – dodecahedrons, tetrahedrons, octahedrons – as a mirror for its own quizzical mission. The kind of record that those who don’t spend time trying to figure it out are going to have more fun with, it makes its most effective impression on “Transitioning from a Cube to the Octahedron” on side B, evoking minimalist drone rock atmospheres as whispered vocals tie it to the rest of Menimals’ bizarre vibe. That’s not to take away from the noisy finish of closer “Bird on the Wind as a Hinge,” which follows, just to note that Menimals manage to somehow find balance in all the subdued seething and resonant experimentalism.

Menimals on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records

Phonosphera Records

 

The Linus Pauling Quartet, Ampalanche

the-linus-pauling-quartet-ampalanche

By way of a confession, I wanted to end this batch of 50 reviews with something I knew I dug, and that distinction goes to Houston rockers Linus Pauling Quartet, whose latest full-length, Ampalanche, is released via the label wing of Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum. An album that offers some of the most pretense-free rock flute I’ve ever heard on “Slave to the Die,” it’s a down-home weirdo rocker that might, at a moment’s notice, plunge full-on into psychedelia in “Sometimes” or, say, include a 49-minute echoing space-drone “Vi, de Druknede (We, the Drowned)” as a download-only bonus track, and the fact that Linus Pauling Quartet can always be relied on for something different but consistent in charm and the quality of songwriting is not to be taken for granted, whether it’s the Midwestern noise rock of “Brisket” or the fuzzy roll of dreamy album-closer “Alive.” Yeah, I was doing myself a favor by finishing with Ampalanche. I have absolutely zero regrets. Linus Pauling Quartet continue to be woefully underappreciated.

Linus Pauling Quartet on Thee Facebooks

Vincebus Eruptum webstore

 

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Wo Fat Announce Midnight Cometh Release Date; Stream “Three Minutes to Midnight”

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

wo fat

Texas fuzz forerunners Wo Fat announce a May 20 release date for their upcoming album, Midnight Cometh, through Ripple Music and stream the new track “Three Minutes to Midnight.” The band announced the “Texas Takeover II” with Mothership back in November, but the unveiling of the new song should be of particular note to longer-term followers of the band. The penultimate of six included tracks, it’s a swirling, fuzzed out Wo Fat jam playing off one of heavy metal’s best-known hooks with an identity all its own. As representation for the album, it speaks to the chemistry in the trio and their growth intuitively knowing where each member is going to be at any given moment within the song. I could go on. I’ll save it for the review. Point is you should check out the track.

The following just came in from the PR wire:

wo fat midnight cometh

WO FAT confirm EU tour and release date for new album Midnight Cometh | Share brand new song ‘Three Minutes To Midnight’

Midnight Cometh by Wo Fat will be released on 20th May 2016 through Ripple Music

After slinging their Texas-sized psychedelic blues doom for over a decade, Dallas legends Wo Fat are thrilled to announce that this May will see the official release of their brand new studio album, Midnight Cometh on Ripple Music.

Throughout their sonic odyssey spanning five studio albums, a live album, and two splits, beginning in 2006 with The Gathering Dark, they have stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wails from within and have continually forged their riffs with a primal groove. Going stronger and rocking harder than ever before, the band are currently readying their next chapter – and first with Ripple – with the release of Midnight Cometh. Looming on the horizon and due for release on 20th May 2016, this newest slab of riffage is easily their most daring and psychotropic exploration of heaviness to date.

“We are thrilled to be working with our brothers in the riff at Ripple for this new record!” says vocalist Kent Stump. “We’ve been friends with Todd and Pope for a while and have always had a lot of respect for them personally, as well as the label itself, and we just kinda realised, that, hey, we should be working together. They are passionate about the music they release, they make really good choices when it comes to signing bands, they’re all about treating artists fairly and trying to help this scene grow, and they’re also a label on the rise.”

“We’ve been huge fans of Wo Fat and their maniacal brand of riff-heavy psychedelic grooves,” explains Ripple Music’s Todd Severin. “And they never fail to be one of the most mesmerizing bands we’ve ever seen on stage. We’re beyond thrilled to welcome them into the Ripple family.”

The critical success of their albums, most notably 2009’s Psychedelonaut, which truly solidified the Wo Fat name in the Stoner Rock community and secured them world wide recognition, helped land the band appearances at the legendary Roadburn Festival, Desertfest, Freak Valley Festival, Psycho California Festival and Sylak Open Air Festival as parts of a number of successful international tours.

Midnight Cometh will be released on 20th May 2016 and will be supported by a European tour (see dates below), which will also include appearances at Desertfest in Berlin and London and Hellfest, France.

Live Dates – Texas Takeover Tour II Europe 2016
18 April – Mephisto – Hannover, Germany
19 April – Schaubude – Kiel, Germany
20 April – TBA
21 April – Pokalen Pub – Oslo, Norway
22 April – Loppen – Copenhagen, Denmark
23 April – 1000FRYD – Aalborg, Denmark
24 April – Rock Café – Hamburg, Germany
25 April – The Vortex – Siegen, Germany
26 April – Feierwerk – Munich, Germany
27 April – Arena – Vienna, Austria
28 April – Desertfest – Berlin, Germany
29 April – Doornroosje – Nijmegen, Netherlands
30 April – Pre-Roadkill Festival Party – Waarschoot, Belgium
1 May – Desertfest – London, UK

https://www.facebook.com/wofatriffage/
https://wofat.bandcamp.com/
RIPPLE-music.com

Wo Fat, “Three Minutes to Midnight”

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Friday Full-Length: Wo Fat, Psychedelonaut

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 15th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Wo Fat, Psychedelonaut (2009)

[Please note: For consistency’s sake, I’m using a YouTube embed above. The album is available direct from the band on Bandcamp here.]

I distinctly recall getting and reviewing Wo Fat‘s sophomore outing, Psychedelonaut, in 2009. It was an easy record to dig, so full in tone, so unabashed in its groove, but I don’t think it was possible to appreciate at the time just how pivotal the Dallas trio would become, not just to Texas fuzz, but to the breadth of US heavy in general. Seven years later, they stand tall among the finest and most accomplished heavy rock acts the nation has to offer — and does offer; they have a couple Euro tours to their credit and more to come — and on many levels, Psychedelonaut was the nexus point for what they’d go on to accomplish, blending swamp blues, ultra-stony fuzz tone and heavy psychedelic jazz-jamming into a sound that’s only become more their own as they’ve gone on. Granted, that’s a lot of context to expect to be able to pull out of one record seven years before any of it has started to unfold, but listening back to Psychedelonaut now, whether it’s the riff-chanting of “The Slow Blade,” the vicious, still-infectious hook of “Analog Man,” the slide on “Shake ’em on Down” or the ranging jam in closer “The Spheres Beyond,” which pushes the album past the hour and 70-minute marks with complete abandon, a lot of what the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter would go on to accomplish sonically got its start here.

That’s not to take anything away from the underlying sense of blues-monster threat in 2006’s debut, The Gathering Dark, but there’s a self-awareness that bleeds through Psychedelonaut — the idea that Wo Fat knew who their audience was and how to reach them — that particularly in hindsight only makes it seem more masterful. It was an essential step in an ongoing development that would see them sign to ultra-respected German purveyor Nasoni Records for 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here), and then Small Stone for the subsequent two outings, 2012’s The Black Code (review here) and 2014’s The Conjuring (review here), before linking up with Ripple Music for the forthcoming Midnight Cometh, but even taken on its own level, its songs deliver an already-shaped identity and lyrical wit — references to Hendrix and Parliament in “Enter the Riffian,” lines like “Vacuum tube voodoo” in “Analog Man,” the entirety of “Two the Hard Way” (also another Funkadelic reference there for good measure) — as well as an instrumental chemistry demonstrated across “Not of this Earth” and “The Spheres Beyond” that was the true point of potential. Even seven years ago, Wo Fat could jam. Some bands have to grow into that. These cats came in ready to roll.

And again, it’s easy to know that now, but as Wo Fat get ready this spring to unleash the next stage of their progression — the aforementioned Midnight Cometh — it’s worth taking the time to fuzz out on how what they’ve done in the years since really started to take shape, or at very least to get lost in the percussive hypnosis of “The Spheres Beyond.” If that’s how you want to go with it, that’s cool too.

Either way, I hope you enjoy.

My original plan for this weekend was to put together my Most Anticipated Albums of 2016 list to go up early next week. Gotta push that back. My living room is full of t-shirt boxes, and those things need to get gone as soon as humanly possible. So instead of writing tomorrow and Sunday (well, I’ll still be writing on Sunday), I’ll be filling out address forms and packing up hoodies to ship out across the planet. This is all happening as quickly as it can possibly happen. Please be aware I work full-time, so it’s not like I’m sitting on my ass with your money not fulfilling orders. I’m doing the best I can.

Next week, reviews of Mammoth GroveConan and Mars Red Sky (their new EP). This week was in-fucking-sane for news. Six posts a day. Seven posts a day. And more coming in all the time. I have news stories slated for Tuesday, never mind Monday, and Monday’s already a seven-post day. Today was six. Yesterday was seven. Apparently everyone decided this was the week to send out their press release. Fair enough, but give me a minute to catch my breath or, I don’t know, earn a living. Have been feeling way, way overwhelmed by everything.

That said, I appreciate all the kind words and support upon hitting 7,000 posts earlier this week (for example: that was Wednesday and this is post #7,016). There’s an anniversary coming up in a couple weeks that has occupied a goodly portion of my consciousness of late, but I guess we’ll talk about that when we get there. Announcements coming through for the Obelisk All-Dayer at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn on Aug. 20 as well in the next week or two. So, so much to do.

For now though, that’s taking Sharpies to envelopes. Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Wo Fat and Mothership Announce ‘Texas Takeover II’ Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

wo fat mothership tour banner

By the time Ripple Music labelmates Wo Fat and Mothership hit the shores of Europe together next April, they’ll both have new records out. In the case of Wo Fat, that will be Midnight Cometh, their first full-length for the label — they also have a limited self-released split 7″ out in Dec. on which they cover Betty Davis‘ “They Say I’m Different”; already sold out — and for Mothership, it’s the Live over Freak Valley LP due Jan. 15 that captures their last voyage abroad. In any case, it will no doubt be a trip to remember, including as it does stops at Desertfest Berlin and London and world-famous venues in Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere.

You might recall the first Texas Takeover with Wo Fat and Mothership, in addition to Mothership‘s impending live album, also resulted in Wo Fat‘s Live Juju at Freak Valley (review here). We’ll see if 2016’s tour is similarly productive.

Announcement follows:

wo fat mothership tour poster

We are pleased to announce the tour dates for our 2016 Texas Takeover II Tour with our Texas Riff Brothers, Mothership. Dig the rockin’ poster from David Paul Seymour.

Throughout their sonic odyssey spanning five studio albums, a live album, and two splits, beginning in 2006 with The Gathering Dark, Wo Fat have stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wail from within and have continually forged their riffs with a primal groove. Going stronger and rocking harder than ever before, the band are currently readying their next chapter – and first with Ripple – with the release of their brand new album Midnight Cometh. Looming on the horizon and due for release in Spring 2016, this newest slab of riffage lurking in your future is easily their most daring and psychotropic exploration of heaviness to date.

Since 2013 Mothership has traveled non-stop, playing live across the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe; taking to festival stages, nightclubs, and under the sun at whatever motorcycle parties they could find. They are for all intents and purposes a heavy rock juggernaut that has only just begun to tear a hole in the cosmos. And guess what? They have no plans of slowing down for anyone.

WO FAT & MOTHERSHIP: Texas Takeover II Tour:
04.18 Mephisto Hannover DE
04.19 Schaubude Kel DE
04.20 TBA
04.21 Pokalen Oslo NO
04.22 Loppen Copenhagen DK
04.23 1000Fryd Aalborg DK
04.24 Rock Cafe Hamburg DE
04.25 The Vortex Siegen DE
04.26 Feierwerk Munich DE
04.27 Arena Vienna AT
04.28 Desertfest Berlin DE
04.29 Dornrosje Nijmegen NL
04.30 Pre-Roadkill Festival Party Waarschoot BE
05.01 Desertfest London UK

https://www.facebook.com/wofatriffage
http://wofat.net/
https://www.facebook.com/mothershipusa
http://www.mothershiphaslanded.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Wo Fat, “They Say I’m Different”

Mothership, II (2014)

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Mothership to Release Live over Freak Valley in January

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

mothership

They toured in the spring, they toured in the summer, and Texas trio Mothership are touring in the fall too. Big difference when you’re doing it with C.O.C.Saviours and Brant Bjork though. I said I’d be plugging these dates multiple times, and I also said I’d be happy to do it. I am. In the case of Mothership, I’ve no doubt they’re going to turn a lot of heads on this tour — the biggest they’ve done to date in the States — and the January release date for their live album, Live over Freak Valley, should be well timed to keep their momentum going into the New Year.

Though by then they’ll probably have more tour dates announced too. That’s kind of how they do. If you’re remembering when the live record was first announced, it was supposed to be this month. I’m just going to assume it’s a pressing plant delay and leave it at that. Seems to be the situation with everybody doing vinyl these days.

But yeah, if it’s January, it’s January. They’ve got a live version of “Serpent’s Throne” streaming now, and as you can hear below, it’ll be worth the wait:

mothership live over freak valley

MOTHERSHIP hit the road with Corrosion of Conformity | New live album released in January on Ripple Music

Mothership Live Over Freak Valley released 15th January 2016 on Ripple Music

After the rerelease of their momentous second album and a storming start to 2015, Mothership – the hard rocking supersonic/intergalactic Texan trio – are pleased to announce the arrival of Mothership Live Over Freak Valley this Janaury on Ripple Music.

Recorded at their debut European appearance at the iconic German rock festival, brothers Kyle and Kelly Juett along with Judge Smith have captured their steaming hot stew of UFO and Iron Maiden inspired metal; southern Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top swagger, and deathly Sabbathian doom. A concoction that should by all accounts prove too heavy to handle on record, but as fans will soon discover, Mothership Live Over Freak Valley will deliver the filth and fury of the full Mothership live experience.

Since 2013 the band has travelled non-stop, playing live across the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe; taking to festival stages, nightclubs, and under the sun at whatever motorcycle parties they could find. They are for all intents and purposes a heavy rock juggernaut that has only just begun to tear a hole in the cosmos. And guess what? They have no plans of slowing down for anyone.

All this month Mothership embark on a US tour with Corrosion of Conformity, Brant Bjork and Saviours where the band will have CDs of Mothership Live Over Freak Valley on sale ahead of its official vinyl release on Ripple Music in the New Year. To catch them live and for the full list of dates see below.

Mothership is Kelley Juett (guitars/vocals), Kyle Juett (bass/vocals) and Judge Smith (drums).

Mothership Live:
11/16 – Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock
11/17 – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom
11/18 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
11/19 – Vancouver, BC – Venue Nightclub
11/21 – Seattle, WA – Neumo’s
11/23 – Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
11/24 – Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
11/25 – Minneapolis, MN – Mill City Nights
11/27 – Racine, WI – Route 20
11/28 – Cleveland, OH – The Odeon
11/29 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts
12/01 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
12/02 – Flint, MI – The Machine Shop
12/03 – Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar
12/04 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
12/05 – Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
12/07 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
12/08 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
12/09 – Virginia Beach, VA – Shaka’s Live
12/10 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theatre

http://www.mothershiphaslanded.com/
https://www.facebook.com/mothershipusa
https://twitter.com/mothershipusa
https://www.youtube.com/user/MOTHERSHIPUSA
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/

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Wo Fat Sign to Ripple Music; New Album Midnight Cometh in 2016

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

wo fat

Seems to take more and more these days to catch me off-guard, but Wo Fat signing to Ripple Music has done just that. The Dallas trio have emerged as forerunners of American heavy rock, and as they stand on the precipice of a return trip to Europe in 2016 to support their newly-announced album, Midnight Cometh, they do so as prime exports, confirmed for appearances already at Desertfest in London and Berlin and Hellfest, doubtless with more to come.

This is big news. Not just because they’ve become such a pivotal act, but also because of what it means for Ripple Music and what it means for Small Stone, their now-former label. Commented Small Stone‘s Scott Hamilton, “Small Stone is going through a big nasty distribution switch and it did not line up for the time frame that Wo Fat wanted their new album released.”

Wo Fat commented thusly: “Our time with Small Stone Records has been awesome, but because of a switch in distribution that they are working through at the moment, they weren’t able to meet the time frame we needed for this release and since we’ve been friends and had a great deal of respect for the Ripple guys and their label for a long time, it made a lot of sense to release this with them. Below is a preview of the super bitchin’ art from David Paul Seymour.”

It’s a sizable move either way, and I think it’s fair to say Wo Fat are among the biggest acts on Ripple at this point:

wo fat midnight cometh 1

WO FAT announce signing to Ripple Music, Desertfest & Hellfest Appearances and new album Midnight Cometh for Spring 2016

After slinging their Texas-sized psychedelic blues doom for over a decade, Dallas legends Wo Fat are pleased to announce that they have signed to the California-based label Ripple Music.

“We are thrilled to be working with our brothers in the riff at Ripple for this new record!” says vocalist Kent Stump. “We’ve been friends with Todd and Pope for a while and have always had a lot of respect for them personally, as well as the label itself, and we just kinda realised, that, hey, we should be working together. They are passionate about the music they release, they make really good choices when it comes to signing bands, they’re all about treating artists fairly and trying to help this scene grow, and they’re also a label on the rise.”

Throughout their sonic odyssey spanning five studio albums, a live album, and two splits, beginning in 2006 with The Gathering Dark, they have stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wail from within and have continually forged their riffs with a primal groove. Going stronger and rocking harder than ever before, the band are currently readying their next chapter – and first with Ripple – with the release of their brand new album Midnight Cometh. Looming on the horizon and due for release in Spring 2016, this newest slab of riffage lurking in your future is easily their most daring and psychotropic exploration of heaviness to date.

“We’ve been huge fans of Wo Fat and their maniacal brand of riff-heavy psychedelic grooves,” explains Ripple Music’s Todd Severin, “And they never fail to be one of the most mesmerising bands we’ve ever seen on stage. We’re beyond thrilled to welcome them into the Ripple family.”

The critical success of their albums, most notably 2009’s Psychedelonaut, which truly solidified the Wo Fat name in the Stoner Rock community and secured them world wide recognition, helped land the band appearances at the legendary Roadburn Festival, Desertfest, Freak Valley Festival, Psycho California Festival and Sylak Open Air Festival as parts of a number of successful international tours.

Midnight Cometh is slated for release in Spring 2016 and will be supported by a European tour, which will also include appearances at Desertfest in Berlin and London (www.thedesertfest.com), and Hellfest, France (www.hellfest.fr).

Wo Fat Discography
The Gathering Dark (2006, Red Menace Records)
Psychedelonaut (2008, Brainticket Records)
Noche del Chupacabra (2011, Nasoni Records)
The Black Code (2012, Small Stone Records)
The Conjuring (2014, Small Stone Records)
Live Ju Ju: Wo Fat At Freak Valley (2015, Fuzz Lab)

https://www.facebook.com/wofatriffage/
http://wofat.net/
https://twitter.com/HouseOfWoFat
https://instagram.com/wofatriffage
http://ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/

Wo Fat, Live in Paris, Aug. 9, 2015

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

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

the-obelisk-quarterly-review-fall-2015

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

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #21-30:

Horisont, Odyssey

horisont odyssey

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

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Straphanger / Drone Monger Split

blackwolfgoat larman clamor split

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

Blackwolfgoat on Thee Facebooks

Larman Clamor on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

Matushka, II

matushka ii

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

Matushka on Thee Facebooks

Matushka on Bandcamp

Tuna de Tierra, EPisode I: Pilot

tuna de tierra episode i pilot

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

Tuna de Tierra on Thee Facebooks

Tuna de Tierra on Bandcamp

MAKE, The Golden Veil

make the golden veil

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

MAKE on Thee Facebooks

MAKE on Bandcamp

SardoniS, III

sardonis iii

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

SardoniS on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Velvet Skin

lewis and the strange magics velvet skin

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

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records

Moewn, Acqua Alta

moewn acqua alta

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

Moewn on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

El Hijo de la Aurora, The Enigma of Evil

el hijo de la aurora the enigma of evil

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

El Hijo de la Aurora’s website

Minotauro Records

Hawk vs. Dove, Divided States

hawk vs dove divided states

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

Hawk vs. Dove on Thee Facebooks

Hawk vs. Dove on Bandcamp

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