Live Review: Deville, Ichabod, Bedroom Rehab Corporation and Four Speed Fury in MA, 06.12.14

Posted in Reviews on June 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Swedish four-piece Deville had played in Boston on Tuesday night, but having such a favorable impression of Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester from this year’s Eye of the Stoned Goat fest, I decided to see them there instead. An extra 40 minutes or so on the road, but they were playing with Ichabod and Connecticut’s Bedroom Rehab Corporation, so I was up for it. Ralph’s runs what it calls “Metal Thursdays” that, from what I’ve seen and been told, are usually way more metal, and some of the crowd at this show had that look. I figured them for Thursday night regulars, playing the safe bet they’d get to show up and see something heavy. Fair enough.

It was a four-act bill, with Hanson-based (which is a town I know because it’s five minutes from me) newcomers Four Speed Fury opening. Fronted by former Ichabod vocalist Kenneth MacKay, it was their third show, second with the same five-piece lineup, so one adjusted expectations accordingly. To their credit, they didn’t say as much from the stage, I heard it in the crowd — bands making excuses is perennially lame, and really, they had nothing to make excuses for. While they were clearly getting their bearings in that post-Milligram/Roadsaw balance of groove and aggression, the band named after a car and suitably motoring, they still presented the beginnings of a solid songwriting process, particularly on “Stranger,” which closed and found them at their most comfortable. Comprised of MacKay, guitarists Robb Lioy and Keith Genest, bassist Bruce Wahl and drummer Shawn McIverthey found room in their set for a take on KISS‘ “God of Thunder” and were a decent start to a night of bruising rock.

Connecticut duo Bedroom Rehab Corporation followed. I recalled the work of bassist/vocalist Adam Wujtewicz and drummer Meghan Killimade from their 2013 full-length Red Over Red (review here), and I had been impressed last year with the variety the duo brought to their recorded output, but frankly, I was caught off guard by how cohesive and commanding they were live. In front of Wujtewicz on stage was a sprawling pedal array that turned his bass — pumped through an Orange Terror Bass head; those things are adorable — into a fuzzed-out echo buzzsaw or a wash of noisy feedback, and the set was impeccably constructed for maximum impact. His dynamic with Killimade impressed, and both players impressed individually as well, Killimade singing along with the songs as she stomped her way through them.

Their grooving instrumental “All Hands” made an excellent centerpiece before the more brooding “S.O.S. (Son of Siren),” and the starts and stops in “No Payment for the Boatman” only underscored how much more tonally creative and full-sounding Bedroom Rehab Corporation were, Wujtewicz showboating a bit on vocals but selling it well. There was a point at which I had to step back and tell myself that if they keep going the way they are in five years they’ll be completely unfuckwithable. Flourishes of Melvins-style weirdness that didn’t come through on the record made them seem all the more volatile, and that only worked in their favor. They’ll play Boston in the fall as well and I expect I’ll look forward to seeing them again.

I’ve seen Ichabod three times now in three months (reviews here and here), so I kind of knew what to expect, but “Baba Yaga” and “Huckleberry” from 2012’s Dreamscapes from Dead Space made an enticing opening salvo, guitarists Dave Iverson and Jason Adam, bassist Greg Dellaria, vocalist John Fadden and drummer Phil MacKay wasting little time in brutalizing the assembled post-burger Ralph’s masses with their riffy extremity and Fadden‘s vicious screams. Any day that dude opens his mouth is “Metal Thursday,” I don’t care if it’s Sunday afternoon. Later into the set, they brought up Ken MacKay – also Phil‘s brother — to guest on “Sleeping Giants,” the opening track from 2009’s 2012, on which he originally sang, and he and Fadden traded parts while the band loosed various furies behind, closing out — fittingly — with the newer “Squall” from the forthcoming Merrimack LP and reserving perhaps their most brutal moment for last, an atmospheric jam providing momentary respite from an onslaught for which my respect only seems to increase.

By then it had already been a long night. It was after midnight as Deville got on stage, but the four-piece came all the way from Malmö to play, and even if they hadn’t crashed with The Patient Mrs. and I the night before, sticking around seemed like the bare minimum effort to make. A big part of why I wanted to see them in Ralph’s was for the good lighting, and I had my “well of course” moment when guitarist/vocalist Andreas Bengtsson asked the sound guy to turn the lights down and put them in red. The full O’Brien’s experience, only further away. Fortunately, Deville‘s set itself was a reminder of how killer professional-grade heavy rock can be, the double-Andreas/double-Markus lineup of Bengtsson , fellow guitarist/backing vocalist Andreas Wulkan, bassist Markus Åkesson and drummer Markus Nilsson building an irresistible momentum as they ran through cuts from their 2013 Small Stone debut, Hydra (review here), like “The Knife,” “Lava” and the savagely catchy “Iron Fed,” all of them weightier in tone live — Wulkan joined the band after Hydra was released as well, so that could be a factor — and delivered with energy that spoke to a genuine sense of performance. They could’ve been on stage at a European festival, from the look of them, and carried themselves just as well.

That level of professionalism, again, can be heard on Hydra, but the active engaging of the crowd and the four-piece’s vigor in conveying the material went a long way. Deville were seven shows into their first US tour, and coming from having an off day on Wednesday, so I expected they’d be pretty tight, but they outdid my expectations with apparent ease, and reminded me of what I dig so much about European heavy rock and particularly Swedish heavy rock: that a band can be so heavy and so raging and still craft a quality song. The largesse of the riff in set-closer “Rise Above” — also the cap to their 2007 debut, Come Heavy Sleep, recently reissued by Heavy Psych Sounds (bought the vinyl) — was among the most satisfying I’ve heard since Wooly Mammoth’s “Mammoth Bones” and they took it for everything it was worth, jamming it out to give the show a huge finish that brought the audience all the way forward and extended even the reissue’s newly-recorded version’s eight-minute runtime.

During that finale, I had a moment where it suddenly didn’t seem that unreasonable to drive two hours to see them again tonight in New Haven, and while I don’t think that’ll actually happen, the impulse was there. For a band like Deville to come and try to break ground with a US audience is an undertaking of considerable personal sacrifice, but aside from being admirable on that level, they absolutely killed it on stage, and my only hope is that this tour proves worth their while enough for them to plan another one at some point. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess. The rest of the dates are here. They didn’t make it easy on themselves, but as they showed on stage last night, hey’re obviously willing to put in some effort.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Deville Announce First-Ever US Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Deville are in for a slog. The Malmö, Sweden, native heavy rocking four-piece have announced the first US tour dates in their decade-long existence, and they’re not exactly taking it easy on themselves. To take it easy would be the West Coast, go out, do 15 shows in the Northwest and down the coastline into California, maybe cap with a few in the desert somewhere or in Texas or the like. Deville are going the other way — starting in the Midwest and coming east to play venues in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. They’ve given themselves one day off and are playing four shows to cap the run in Ohio. It’s not going to be easy, but I guarantee whatever tour they do next time in the States is going to seem that way by comparison.

Kudos to the band for the undertaking. I’ll look forward to seeing them at the Worcester gig and hope they get to have some good times along the way. The US needs more European bands touring here, and the better stories Deville go home to tell, the more likely someone else is to come over too. So show up and buy merch.

Here are the tour dates:

The dates are up for the US tour! Check it out! Starting next week!

Jun 5, 2014 Madison, WI – Wisco
Jun 6, 2014 Detroit, MI – Trumbullplex
Jun 7, 2014 Altoona, PA – Pellegrin’s
Jun 8, 2014 Buffalo, NY – TBA
Jun 9, 2014 Burlington, VT – Nectars (Metal Mondays)
Jun 10, 2014 Boston, MA – O’ Brien’s
Jun 12, 2014 Worcester, MA – Ralph’s Rock Diner
Jun 13, 2014 New Haven, CT – Three Sheets
Jun 14, 2014 New York, NY – Northside Festival
Jun 15, 2014 Atlantic City, NJ – The Boneyard
Jun 16, 2014 Philadelphia, PA – J.R.’s
Jun 17, 2014 Columbus, OH – Cafe Bourbon St.
Jun 18, 2014 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
Jun 19, 2014 Dayton, OH – Blind Bob’s
Jun 20, 2014 Cincinnati, OH – Mainstay Rock Bar
Jun 21, 2014 Chicago, IL – Grand Bar

https://www.facebook.com/devilleband
https://www.deville.nu
https://www.reverbnation/devilleband
https://www.youtube.com/devilleband
http://smallstone.com/

Deville, “The Knife” official video

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Deville Run the Edge in “The Knife” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Following up on a Heavy Psych Sounds reissue of their 2007 Come Heavy Sleep debut, Swedish heavy rockers Deville have a new video for the song “The Knife.” The track comes from the Malmö four-piece’s 2013 full-length, Hydra (review here), which was also their first release on Small Stone Records. As timing would have it, Deville head out on a European tour this week, having finalized the dates at the start of April, and “The Knife” makes a solid argument for showing up to see them if you happen to be in that part of the world. One doubts they’ll be playing on top of a giant guitar or that there will be huge spinning blades — probably for the best — but as Deville stand in a fine tradition of their country’s heavy rock without bowing to the retro pressures of the current scene, they only make themselves more individualized for their efforts.

Between that conceptual appeal and the actual fruit of Deville‘s songwriting, it doesn’t seem like a way to lose out. “The Knife” was among the most memorable cuts on Hydra, so whether you caught wind of the album or not last year, it’ll be worth either the refresher or the initial exposure to check it out. Rock and roll:

Deville, “The Knife” official video

Music video by Deville performing The Knife.
Taken from the album “Hydra” Small Stone Records 2013.
Directed by: Henrik Christoffersson
Filmed by: Henrik Christoffersson & Peter Tarpgaard
Edited by: Henrik Christoffersson

Europe spring tour is up! New dates added!

25/4 GER Duesseldorf-Pitcher
26/04 CH Lugano TI/STREET/ART Festival
27/04 IT Pescara-Orange Rock Cafè
28/04 IT Roma-Sinister Noise
29/04 IT Santa Croce Sull’ Arno-Rock City
30/04 IT Montecchio Maggiore-E20
01/05 IT Piacenza-Cuncertass Festival
01/05 IT Seregno-Sala Malasangre
02/05 CH St Gallen-Rumpeltum
03/05 IT Torino-Cafè Liber
04/05 FRA Lyon-Le Moko
05/05 FRA Draguignan-Bucephale
06/05 IT Padova-Sotterranei
07/05 FRA Besanqon-Les passagers du Zinc
08/05 BEL Hasselt-Carpe Diem
09/05 GER Munster-Rare Guitar
10/05 GER Berlin-Jaegerklause

Deville on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

Heavy Psych Sounds’ Bandcamp

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Deville Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

After a gig-heavy 2013, hard-rocking Swedish crowdpleasers Deville are getting set to head out on another European tour in support of 2013’s Hydra (review here). The four-piece also reportedly have a video in the works for “The Knife” from that album — it’ll be their second behind “Lava,” which you can see below — and in December, they issued a re-recorded version of their 2007 Buzzville Records debut, Come Heavy Sleep, through Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds.

Good to stay busy, I’m told. The PR wire has tour dates:

Deville, European Spring Tour

Deville will hit the road again and these are the spring dates for Europe!

April25 2014 Dusseldorf,Germany-Pitcher
April26 2014 Lugano,Switzerland-TI/STREET/ART Festival
April27 2014 Pescara,Italy-Orange Rock Cafè
April28 2014 Roma,Italy-Sinister Noise funeral mantra
April29 2014 Santa Croce Sull’ Arno,Italy-Rock City
April30 2014 Montecchio Maggiore,Italy-E20
May12014 Piacenza,Italy-Cuncertass Festival
May2 2014 St Gallen,Switzerland-Rumpeltum
May3 2014 Torino,Italy-Cafè Liber
May5 2014 Draguignan,France-Bucephale
May6 2014 Padova,Italy-Sotterranei
May7 2014 Besanqon,France-Les passagers du Zinc
May8 2014 Hasselt,Belgium-Carpe Diem
May9 2014 Munster;Germany-Rare Guitar
May10 2014 Berlin,Germany-Jaegerklause

http://www.facebook.com/devilleband
http://soundcloud.com/devilleband
http://www.deville.nu
http://smallstone.com/
http://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/

Deville, “Lava” official video

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Stoned from the Underground 2013 Lineup Finalized — Lowrider, Acid King, Earthless and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I really, really don’t have a spare grand-plus lying around at this point, but golly that’s a cool lineup posted for Stoned from the Underground this year in Erfurt, Germany. It seems Lowrider‘s reunion — they were a highlight of the London Desertfest in a one-two punch of Swedish awesomeness completed by a set from Dozer immediately following — continues, which is unmistakably good news, and along with the likes of Earthless, Acid King, Troubled Horse, The Gates of Slumber, Pelican and the many others listed below, it seems like it’s going to be a killer weekend July 11-13. The kind of weekend I’d like very much to see, let’s say with a camera and laptop in tow. One of these years, maybe.

Indulge a bit of escapism with me, won’t you?

Welcome to the Mother of all German Stoner Rock Meetings

July 11th , 12th & 13th – Alperstedter Lake near ERFURT

Festival founded in 2001 and located in the very geographical center of Germany, in the area of Erfurt (Thuringen): Stoned From The Underground grew from a one day indoor event with 400 visitors in 2001 to a 3 days outdoor event with 3000 visitors last year !

Located a few kilometers away from the city, in a nest of nature bordered by the Alperstedter Lake, the festival is the perfect location for a very first relaxing summer weekend !

Whether you want to sit in the grass, puffing up clouds of smoke, sipping a beer while checking out the best Rock & Stoner acts of the moment,

Or whether you want to chill out laying on your belly on the sand of the beach with your toes cooling down in Lake’s water…..

STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND is the place where all your dreams will come true.

LINE- UP 2013:
EARTHLESS ( Usa)
MUSTASCH (Swe)
POTHEAD (Ger)

TRUCKFIGHTERS (Swe)
THE GATES OF SLUMBER (Usa)
BEEN OBSCENE (At)
LOWRIDER (Swe)
HORISONT(Swe)
TROUBLED HORSE (Swe)
ISOPTERA (Ger)
LORD VICAR (Fin)
MIRROR QUEEN (Usa)
ACID KING (Usa)
PELICAN (Usa)
THE OPERATORS (Ger)
THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (Usa)
FIVE HORSE JOHNSON (Usa)
SARDONIS (Bel)
HYNE (Ger)
DEVILLE (Swe)
BLACK BOMBAIM (Por)
HERKULES PROPAGANDA (Ger)
TRECKER (Ger)

Stoned from the Underground 2013 Trailer

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Deville, Hydra: The Birthing of Battles

Posted in Reviews on March 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Even before Hydra is a heavy rock album, it’s a rock album. The third full-length from Malmö, Sweden’s Deville and first for their new label, Small Stone Records, has its roots in Foo Fighters as much as, if not more than Kyuss, and it’s a difference of presentation and method that runs deeper than one might initially think. A lot of the trad stoner tonality that showed up on Deville‘s first two studio offerings, 2007’s Come Heavy Sleep and 2009’s Hail the Black Sky, has dissipated, but if you listen to those two albums in line with the 11 tracks of Hydra, the latest still seems a logical extension of their methods, if one driven in a more straightforward, less fuzz-reliant direction. The band recorded themselves, with drummer Markus Nilsson handling the engineering, so one imagines they knew what they were doing and that the clean, crisp, professional sound they wound up with on these songs wasn’t an accident. Even in terms of the songs themselves, one can see a difference. Not troubling itself with intros, outros or interludes, Hydra also finds Deville tightening the structures of their material, so that in its varied array of moods, there’s only one song reaching over five minutes long — the penultimate “Imperial,” at 6:31 — where each of the prior two offerings has had four. That’s probably not a conscious decision on the band’s part, that is, they likely didn’t sit down and say, “Okay guys, time to write shorter parts,” but it’s another example of Deville departing their stonerly beginnings in favor of a more straightforward take, skirting the lines between hard and heavy rock an an almost track-by-track basis.

Clocking in at a vinyl-ready 44:35, Hydra makes a strong opening statement in its first three tracks, “Lava,” “Iron Fed” and “In Vein.” Each is opened by Nilsson‘s drums and finds vocalist/guitarist Andreas Bengtsson leading the band with guitarist Martin Hambitzer and bassist Markus Åkesson contributing to the momentum. Right away, the band carries across their sonic shift — again, not so drastic that if you heard Deville before you wouldn’t guess you were listening to them again, but still a marked change from the first two records — but if Hydra‘s first volley proves anything, it’s that the tradeoff comes in the band being tighter performance-wise and clearer in their intent. “Iron Fed” chugs through its verse en route to one of the album’s finest hooks, something mid-period Dozer would’ve been proud to hang their hats on, and keeps motion central even in its lead break, which hits right where it should at the end of the second third of the track, right before the chorus comes back in, once and then again with more feeling. Hardly a slowdown, “In Vain”  sees Åkesson come forward in the mix, joined by a guitar swell in the chorus, as Bengtsson pulls back on the vocal thrust to ride the groove kept active by Nilsson‘s upbeat snare. It’s in line structurally with most of the rest of Hydra, but “In Vain” also serves as the first signal that Deville have more to offer in terms of mood than the driving rock they’ve so far presented.

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Deville Announce European Tour in Support of Hydra

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Leading to a performance at this year’s Desertfest in London, Swedish heavy rockers Deville have announced a run of shows that will take them around Western Europe in support of their new album, Hydra. Their debut on Small Stone (third album overall), Hydra also reportedly has a vinyl issue coming from the Detroit imprint, which sent over the dates and info below:

Sweden’s Deville will be hitting the road starting April 9th in Berlin Germany @ White Trash. The three week tour will also include stops in Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, and a UK date at Desertfest London on April 26th. In the meantime, do yourself a favor an go get their brand new album Hydra, It is rather fantastic. And yes, there will also be 180g ltd vinyl version available in a few months, but the cd and digital download versions are now available.

Deville on tour
04/09 Berlin, Germany White Trash
04/10 Vienna, Austria The Shelter
04/11 Hohenems, Austria ProKonTra
04/12 Sull’arno, Italy Santa Croce Rock City
04/13 Vercelli, Italy Officine Meccaniche
04/14 Treviso, Italy Punkyreggae pub
04/15 Torino, Italy United Club
04/16 Bologna, Italy Distilleria
04/17 Pescara, Italy Qube
04/18 Milano, Italy Ligera
04/19 Lyon, France Trokson
04/20 Aix-en-Provence, France Le Korigan
04/21 Barcelona, Spain Rock Sound
04/22 Madrid, Spain Sala Barracudas
04/23 Iluntz Taberna Guipuzcoa, Spain
04/24 Paris, France Le KLub
04/25 La Louviere, Belgium La Taverne du Theatre
04/26 London, UK Desertfest UK
04/27 Den Helder, The Netherlands De Engel

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Deville’s New Album Hydra Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Well, Small Stone certainly seems to have taken Bandcamp by the proverbial horns. The venerable Detroit imprint will issue the label debut from Swedish heavy rockers Deville come March 26, and though that’s still more than a full two months off, Hydra is streaming in its entirety now on the player below. Maybe Small Stone wanted to get the word out on the record early in advance of Deville performing at the annual Small Stone SXSW showcase this coming March — a gig that will hopefully come surrounded by a run of US shows that also includes a NY-area date. Likely more on that in the weeks ahead and I’ll have a review of the album at some point before it’s released as well.

Till then, guitarist/vocalist Andreas Bengtsson sends word about the stream and some of the band’s doings for 2013:

Small Stone Records streaming new Deville album!

Hi! Small Stone Records are streaming the new Deville album “Hydra”!

Here: http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/hydra

Out 26th of March!

Deville signed to Small Stone Records and are confirmed for SXSW Austin, Texas, Desertfest London 2013, SFTU, Erfurt among other festivals and tours.

During 2011 and 2012 Deville have been stuck in the studio most of the time except for some european festivals and random shows. After two full length albums and a couple of hundred shows all around Europe the new record is a product of that. Trying to take this experience of what the band does best and what works live this new record is more wide than previous releases.

best regards!
Andreas/Deville

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Deville Sign to Small Stone Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 29th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kudos to Swedish heavy rocking four-piece Deville on their signing to Small Stone. The Detroit label, who’ve already had so busy a 2012 that I haven’t been able to keep up with reviewing everything, seem not to be slowing in the slightest as 2013 comes on, and Deville — who answered Six Dumb Questions here about their last album, 2010’s Hail the Black Sky – will join the ranks of Five Horse Johnson and their countrymen in Mother of God as an early 2013 Small Stone release.

So again, well done to the band. The announcement from Small Stone was quick and to the point:

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sweden’s Deville to their new home here at Small Stone. Their new album tentatively titled ‘Hydra’ will be coming out in early 2013.

There you have it. I know I’ve posted it before, but here’s Deville‘s video for the song “Lava,” which is nothing if not worth another look.

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2012 Adventure, Pt. 6: Death into Prophecy (Desertfest Day 2)

Posted in Features on April 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

04/07/12 — 23.00 — Saturday — Hotel

Today was the day I decided to have it all. Maybe it was walking up High Street circa noon to hit Music and Video Exchange and buying a ham and cheese crepe for breakfast to go with my cup of coffee. Maybe it was the simple fact that for all the drinking I did yesterday, I wasn’t hungover in the slightest. Maybe it was just the entire galaxy of good music playing out the middle day of this fest. Whatever it was, I was on board today. All the way. Let’s go.

And go I did — or, I guess I went. Whatever. The schedule was packed today. Really. From the time I rolled into The Black Heart to the time I left The Black Heart — digging a certain symmetry in starting and ending each day at Desertfest‘s smallest venue, definitely — it was basically nonstop. Whereas yesterday I got to basically park myself at The Purple Turtle, at the expense of seeing Ancestors, but still, there was none of that happening this afternoon and evening. As the day wore on, in fact, it only got busier.

My major question was how the hell I was going to see everything I wanted to see. Orange Goblin, Black Pyramid, and Grifter all went on in 25-minute succession of each other, in that order. All three bands — and after a full day of rock. It wasn’t going to be easy.

As far as starts to the day go, however, I couldn’t have asked for something more mellow than an acoustic set from Deville. Frontman Andreas Bengtsson took the stage on his own, just him and a guitar. He was plugged in — Desertfest: “Where Even the Acoustic Guitars Run through Orange Stacks” — and he ran through a charming set of reworked Deville tracks, including “Lava,”  which I recalled from their recently posted video for the song. Roadsaw frontman Craig Riggs and I would have an interesting conversation later about how much videos matter again now, but watching Bengtsson perform, there was clearly more to his songwriting than a funny video could convey. I don’t know the name of the last song he played, but it was a classic Kyuss riff, and hearing it through an acoustic was like finding a copy of Paranoid in a museum. Read: just right.

There was a 40-minute break between Bengtsson and the next band at The Black Heart, which was Steak, so I made use of the time and went across the street to The Underworld to check out some of Shrine ’69‘s set. They were young, but heavy, and no one told me, but apparently giant embroidered v-necks are the new t-shirt and jeans. Fair enough. I was more into the UK natives than I thought I’d be just going by their name, and I picked up their CD to give it a listen later on, figuring no time like the present, and contrary to what I told the French lady who sold me my breakfast, it’s not every weekend I’m in London. Shrine ’69‘s crowd knew them better than I did, and I was glad to default to the judgment of the masses on this one. Helped, I suppose, that I agreed with them. Another quality UK band to add to the seemingly endless list.

Also local, Steak drew a large crowd back at The Black Heart. I had bought their EP yesterday without knowing who they were, and only later found out that the band includes Dan and Reece from DesertScene, who organized the fest. They were solid heavy rock, self-aware stoner, and they proved yet again one of the things I’ve always most enjoyed about this kind of music — the people who are into it, do it. Seeing these dudes made me wish I didn’t live in the asshole of the world, considering the raw passion for what they do and the time and effort they were willing to put into putting Desertfest together across three venues in busy Camden Town, 50-plus bands over three nights. They’ve made it really easy for someone outside of this geographic scene (like I am, despite having people in it I consider friends), to be jealous of it, and they rocked besides. Can’t ask for more than that.

I’d seen the Roadsaw dudes around, shot the shit for a while with drummer Jeremy Hemond, bassist (and Obelisk columnist) Tim Catz, the aforementioned Mr. Riggs and guitarist Ian Ross, and I was looking forward to their set at The Underworld. Not because I’ve never seen them before, but because I knew this was a special show. It was special for me just being here, so I figured being that dudes from basically the same region I’m from (at least relative to London), who flew out just for this show and then were set to fly back home, they’d be really into it, and Roadsaw did not disappoint. Awesome to look by the side of the stage and see the Orange Goblin guys showing respect, and awesome to see Roadsaw throw down. They played a couple tracks off their Desertfest EP, which they were also giving away on CD free of charge — I took two — and “Thinking of Me” and “Long in the Tooth” off the self-titled (review here) were highlights. I’ll have to see if they’re playing at all in Boston come June or July, because as I stood and watched them tear through these songs, it occurred to me that I’ve never seen them on their home turf, and that’s something I should probably get on remedying. They did New England proud.

Sungrazer was on next, so I stayed put at The Underworld. This was my second time seeing the Dutch natives, who were a highlight of Roadburn last year and who I really consider to be the future of fuzz. Sander Haagmans‘ Rickenbacker rules all. If Sander Haagmans‘ Rickenbacker was running for US president as a republican, I would go against my beliefs and vote for it, because it’s just that awesome. But you know what? Sander Haagmans‘ Rickenbacker wouldn’t run as a republican, because it’s warm and inviting and progressive and doesn’t give a shit if gay people want to get married. It’s fucking great, is what I’m trying to say. His and guitarist Rutger Smeets‘ tones were dead on. They opened with “If” from their 2010 self-titled (review here) and went directly from there into “Octo” from last year’s fabulous Mirador (review here), but what I was really hoping for came later, with the new song “Dopo.” When I saw them last, they played a couple Mirador tracks, and with the acknowledgement that one live listen is no real basis for judgment, I’ll say it seems like they’re going even further into their meandering heavy psych, leaving behind some of the Colour Haze-type influence and doing more of their own thing. Maybe that’s me reading into it, but that was the impression I got, anyway, and it made me excited to hear what they do on their next record. They finished with the Fu Manchu-worthy fuzz of “Common Believer,” which of all the songs I heard today from all the bands I saw, is the one still stuck in my head.

There was a little time before Alunah were set to go on at The Black Heart, but I made my way over there early to get a spot up front. Grabbed a beer and bought a copy of Alunah‘s Call of Avernus before they took the stage, which they did following some technical difficulties with bassist Gaz Imber‘s amp. The troubles were short-lived, though, which I suppose is one of the benefits of having your fest sponsored by Orange — an awesome-sounding replacement for whatever’s broken is never far off. They were cool, unpretentious riffy doom. Vocalist/guitarist Soph Day had the crowd eating out of her hand, and the whole band seemed right at home both with the audience and in the venue. I’m still reminded of Acid King by Day‘s echoing vocals, but that’s hardly a complaint in my mind. Their next record, which will be their first for PsycheDOOMelic — apparently titled White Hoarhound — is one to look forward to. Like Grifter who would play later, Alunah seem to be coming of age as a band and it was exciting to watch. Valient Thorr was on at The Underworld, and I heard later they were great, but seeing Alunah play under their psychedelic lighting effects, I felt like I was right where I needed to be.

This is where things got really tricky. I’d worked out the rest of the evening so that the order of bands was going to be as follows:

Truckfighters at The Underworld (18.30-19.15)
Dopefight at The Purple Turtle (19.15-19.45)
Church of Misery at The Underworld (19.45-20.30)
Orange Goblin at The Underworld (21.00-22.15)
Black Pyramid at The Purple Turtle (21.25-22.25)
and Grifter at The Black Heart (21.50-22.50)

I wouldn’t get to see Serpent Venom or Slabdragger, but this way I felt like I was maximizing the amount of bands I’d see, catching the headliners where last night I didn’t, and still getting back to the hotel in decent time to write about this massive fucking day. Obviously I didn’t see everyone’s set front-to-back, and there was one point where I left The Underworld after Church of Misery thinking Black Pyramid was going on immediately only to find I wasn’t that far into the schedule yet, but basically this plan worked, which I guess is why I felt so victorious as I started this review.

Though I guess it would be hard not to be stoked on any night watching Truckfighters. Yes, it was my third Truckfighters show in a month’s time (see here and here), but as soon as Dango started up the “Desert Cruiser” riff, The Underworld went off. Heads were banged, fists were pumped, fuzz was thick, and where they had been relatively subdued in Manhattan, the Swedish trio pulled no punches for Desertfest. It was intense, heavy desert rock. They followed “Desert Cruiser” with “Monte Gargano,” and at that point, there was no turning back. Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm showed no wear for the set he did last night fronting Greenleaf at The Purple Turtle, and as ever, their energy was infectious and they brought the crowd along with them via killer grooves and some of the finest stoner riffing to be found the world over. Desertfest was perfect for them and they were perfect for Desertfest.

It killed me to leave, but Dopefight awaited. The British trio were one of the native bands I was most excited to see (seems like I say that for every native band, but it’s true), especially after their debut, Buds, found such favor late in 2010. Knowing their modus of “slow riffs first, then punk out with vocals,” I assumed it would take them a little while to get going, and it did. They played an instrumental intro before unleashing a few cuts off Buds and a new song from their upcoming split with Gurt. Good times were had. Much like Alunah and Steak earlier in the day, the crowd knew Dopefight and had pretty clearly seen them before. I hadn’t, and they killed. “Specimen” and “Nob. Nod. Noi.” made sure I didn’t go anywhere for the duration of their time on stage, though I’ll admit to getting a Newcastle and moving to the back of The Purple Turtle, as the day was beginning to wear on me. Nonetheless, Dopefight were every bit worth sticking through. I hope this isn’t the last time I see them.

Rumors were around that Japan’s Church of Misery had a new singer and guitarist, the latter coming on as a replacement for Tom Sutton, but lo, when I got back to The Underworld for the start of their set, there was Sutton himself. They did have a new vocalist since the last time I caught them, but as ever, Church of Misery delivered, Tatsu Mikami wearing his bass characteristically low-slung as he stood on the stage monitors. I don’t know who the new singer was — or, come to think of it, if it wasn’t in fact Hideki Fukasawa. He had the noisemakers going and the songs they played off 2009’s Houses of the Unholy (review here) sounded right on, but the stage presence was different, less manic and frantic. Less fake-shotgunning the crowd. It didn’t matter to the crowd, who were dead into it from the outset. It seemed like they didn’t play long, but I guess it just went quick. Either way, they’re touring Europe this month, playing Roadburn next week, and then heading to the States for a cross-country run that includes a stop at Maryland Deathfest at the end of May. Whoever’s in the band, they seemed ready.

Hometown heroes, Orange Goblin made for an especially cool headliner for the first Desertfest Saturday night because in no small way they’re responsible for influencing the current British scene. From Grifter, with whom they’re touring, to the likes of Desert Storm who play tomorrow, Orange Goblin — on the road supporting this year’s excellent A Eulogy for the Damned (review here) — are the statesmen of this scene, and though they’re as raucous as ever, they play the role well. The setlist was amazing. “The Fog” and “Stand for Something” off the new one, plus “Scorpionica” for an opener, “Some You Win, Some You Lose” and a rendition of the anthemic “The Filthy and the Few” that they brought out Craig Riggs from Roadsaw to join Ben Ward on vocals. I know it hasn’t been that long since they were last on my home shores, but I really hope Orange Goblin get to do a US tour for this album. The songs are so tight and crisp, but still rougher live than they are on the record. I’d love another shot at checking them out. You’ll note the headline for this post comes from “The Ballad of Solomon Eagle.” No coincidence there. Orange Goblin were a high point of the weekend.

In fact, I probably stayed at The Underworld longer than I should have, because by the time I got back down the road to The Purple Turtle — a 10-minute walk, basically — Black Pyramid was already well into “Mercy’s Bane” and the room was full. I’d heard a lot of people say they specifically wanted to see them, and I guess since the whole of Desertfest was running a little early, I just mistimed it. I stayed for a little while and grooved out for a couple minutes, and was glad for their success here as I was last year seeing a different incarnation of the band kill it at Roadburn, but soon enough I was back out the door and on my way north (was it north? Felt like north, but it was uphill, and I’m no judge, so take that for what it’s worth) to round out the night at The Black Heart, not before buying a copy of Serpent Venom‘s Carnal Altar album from their merch table in its awesome weirdo packaging. My camera bag was starting to weigh down my shoulder from the heft of the day’s acquisitions, but if the worst that comes of it is my arm falling off, I can’t really say I lost out.

Though by the time Grifter were getting ready to roll, I was tired and I could feel myself being tired. For a soundcheck, the three-piece jammed out a bouncy, low-key riff — it reminded me of something Asteroid might have extended for another six or seven minutes the night before in the same room — and inadvertently hooked the crowd, so that when they stopped, the room erupted in cheers. It was awesome, though kind of a bummer they didn’t just pick up from there and keep going. There were still a couple minutes before their set actually began, but when it did, it was worth the wait. Like last year’s Ripple Music self-titled full-length (review here), the live show showed them as a no bullshit heavy classic rock band. They played a couple older songs off their first EPs, which were well received, and were a cool way to finish up the night. I think a lot of people had gone off to the pub or decided to call it quits on the evening, but those who stayed for Grifter were definitely rewarded for the effort. I did, anyhow. Their set was like the destination I’d been running to all day, and I suppose it was. I’ll be honest: I didn’t make it through the whole thing, with time wearing on and knowing this was going to be the giant slab of probably typo-laden copy it has turned into. As as been the case many times so far this weekend, though, I was glad I saw what I did.

Tomorrow’s Easter — Happy Easter, if that’s your thing — and I think the whole town has the day off, but Desertfest rolls on. It’s the last day, and way more relaxed than was today (no doubt in my mind that was a purposeful move on the part of the DesertScene crew), but I’m still looking forward to seeing the likes of Wiht‘s last show ever, Leaf Hound and Samsara Blues Experiment, so as soon as I can, I’m going to crash out. It’ll probably be another hour or two of putting together the photos for this post [NOTE: No such luck. Post went up at 04.58), but whatever. I got takeout Indian food for dinner and am feeling strong as a result. Days like today, if they happen once, you’re lucky. I’m exhausted, and sore, and I don’t know if I’d call myself “lucky” — something about doing so just makes me think a piano will immediately fall out of the sky and land on my head — but “fortunate” definitely applies.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

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Deville: A Glimpse at Life through the Drummer’s Eyes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 2nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

No one ever shows the drummer in videos, right? Singers, guitar players, bassists, they’re all up front. Meanwhile, the ones holding the entire song together? Yeah, they’re stuck behind a “meaningful” shot of half the vocalist’s face during the chorus.

It’s an injustice that Swedish rockers Deville set out to correct in their new video for the track “Lava.” The song comes off their yet-untitled third album, due out this summer (teaser here), and the clip gives us a look at a day in the life of drummer Markus Nilsson, who seems to be having quite the evening before he finally gets to jamming out with the other dudes in the band.

Check it out:

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Deville Post Teaser for New Album

Posted in audiObelisk on February 2nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t know when Swedish rockers Deville will have their new record out, or even what it’s called, but the band has posted two minutes of audio from it on their Soundcloud page, so I figured I’d share. Let unpretentious European heavy reign:

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Six Dumb Questions with Deville

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on October 8th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Next week, Swedish rockers Deville head out on a 10-day tour with Dutch counterparts Sungrazer (dates here or on the flier below). In honor of this, I thought maybe I’d hit up Deville guitarist/vocalist Andreas Bengtsson with some dumbass questions about his band, in case maybe some of you reading, like me, were unfamiliar with them and their work.

Bengtsson — who’s joined in Deville by guitarist Martin Hambitzer, bassist Markus Åkesson and drummer Markus Nilsson — was happy to oblige, and below, he discusses some of the four-piece’s history, their album, Hail the Black Sky on Buzzville Records, the upcoming tour, and about three other things. Hey, it’s only six questions.

Enjoy:

1. You guys have been together for seven years. How has the band changed in that time? What do you remember now about when you first got together?

If you can call it natural progress, I think we’ve done that. We started because of a love for heavy riffing and grooves. We played for a couple of years before in different constellations but were searching for more power and heaviness, which we didn’t know then but is obvious now since this has been a nice ride so far. Looking back on the records we made, I think we found ourselves pretty good, even though we always have the dilemma between doing hit-riffing and slow, longer more spaced out songs and that has followed us since we started. We have the passion for both so our dream is to combine it. When we started we just wanted to riff as much we could, tired of playing all the other stuff we’d done before, and during the years since, we have been trying to look for some other paths also.

2. How was the reaction to Hail the Black Sky, and how has it been working with Buzzville Records?

It feels like it was a bigger buzz around our first record, Come Heavy Sleep, releasing our debut and all, but after we toured a lot on that record we had more people coming to the shows and interest on the Hail the Black Sky record and touring. It was kind of an opposite to the first record since that one took very long time to get together recorded during different periods of time. Hail the Black Sky was recorded during two weeks and mixed and mastered during two weeks so its more like a rock ‘n’ roll record. The reviews has almost been better on this one, you never know why because you always keep getting surprised what the reviewers think. Working with Buzzville is quite simple; it’s a small label doing it for the love of the music. They put out bands they like and as you can understand in these downloading times they don’t do it for the money.

3. How did you hook up with Sungrazer for the tour this month?

We have the same booker for Holland and we did some gigs together last year and earlier this year and it worked out really well, so when the idea came up it was no question to try to get it together since this package could be a really good combo. And another good thing is that they are really nice guys so its gonna be a 10-gig long sweet party!

4. Do you consider yourselves a stoner rock band?

I would like to describe ourselves as ‘70s rock for the 21st Century. Being influenced by Sabbath and the founders of early stonerrock and many other heavy rock bands in metal and rock like Soundgarden, etc., we try to take this and do something for this time of period, even though timeless. Riffs never get old, haha!

5. I’m a great admirer of the Swedish heavy rock underground. Who are some of your favorite countrymen bands, and are there any newcomers we should know about?

Yes, many bands have quite good reputation and I think it’s a pretty high standard here. I really couldn’t say I listen to Swedish bands in this genre that much. I don’t know why really, maybe it doesn’t feel interesting enough. For the newcomers, it’s always interesting when so-called stoner bands try to take it to another level and make something new themselves, then I think it can be really good. One cool band to check is — not from Sweden though but close; Norwegians — The Zoids who have a new record out soon. Really talented guys!

6. Is there anything planned yet to follow up Hail the Black Sky? Do you know where/when you’ll be recording again?

We have already started to write on the next record and will start to demo soon. We got access to a great studio just outside Malmö where we live and can work there as much as we need so there are all possibilities to make it all that we want. There might be a bigger thing coming up for this release but nothing set yet so I can’t say that much. We plan to release it someway late-Winter/early-Spring 2011 and then try to tour on places we haven’t been before like the States and Australia, but also where we have been before.  If you would like to bring us over, get in touch!

Deville on MySpace

Buzzville Records

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Deville and Sungrazer to Tour Europe Together

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

One can only assume it’s as romantic as it sounds: Two relative newcomer acts taking in the sites across nine days in Europe, hitting Germany, The Netherlands, France and Switzerland along the way. What a blast. I wish both bands all the best and hope the shows are killer.

You’ll notice the dates are day first, then the month. I’m throwing a bone to anyone in Europe who checks out this site and has to see it the wrong way all the time. Plus that’s how they came in and I’m too lazy to change them. A rare collision of convenience and courtesy. Here’s the news from Deville and Sungrazer:

Swedish heavy riffers Deville and Dutch stoners Sungrazer will head out in Europe together in October!

15-10 Vortex Siegen (DE) with Baby Woodrose
16-10 Die Twee Wervershoof (NL)
17-10 De Engel Den Helder (NL)
18-10 L’Excalibur Reims (FR)
19-10 Le Klub Paris (FR)
20-10 Gaswerk Winterthur (CH)
21-10 Thunderbirdclub St. Etienne (FR)
22-10 Le Poulpe Reignier (FR)
23-10 Volume Nice (FR)
24-10 Yukon Bar Collombey (CH)

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