Posted in Whathaveyou on March 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Just when you thought you might get through April without buying yet another record, here come Portland-by-way-of-Providence malevolent doomers The Body with a new EP. The duo-plus will deliver their latest work, Master, We Perish, through the venerable At a Loss Recordings on April 30 — which is sure to be a dark day for humanity and a good day for the doomed.
The PR wire has the grim and gory details:
THE BODY: New Scourge From Apocalyptic Duo Set For Release Via At A Loss
In an ongoing pilgrimage towards the apocalypse and perpetual hatred for humankind, earthmoving doom duo THE BODY will dispense their latest scourge upon the masses in the coming weeks.
The newest wave of abhorrence from the nomadic family, Master, We Perish shows THE BODY’s nihilistic audio terror ever-forward with three new tunes sure to cause birds to fall from the sky and traumatize nonbelievers, once again recorded at Providence, Rhode Island-based Machines With Magnets (Battles, Daughters, Lightning Bolt, Chinese Stars). Blackened bursts of noise-drenched, low-fi doom are fueled by percussionist Lee Buford’s hypnotic, tribal rhythms via thunderous macaroni drums, the melee infiltrated by guitarist/vocalist Chip King’s penetrating vocal screech. The clan also recruited Leslie Weitz (Otesanek), Chrissy Wolpert (Assembly Of Light Choir) and Reba Mitchell (Whore Paint) for vocal contributions throughout the torrid endeavor adding an array of eerie dynamics to the songs. Saddened confessions of mental anguish are ended with a pump of a shotgun, a sludgy foreshadowing of the coming explosion of tortured screams. Feedback and noise erupt into the slow crush and the bellowing of an end to beliefs and an end to these truths…
With mangled-human cover art by Manifester, Master, We Perish is to be released as a 12” EP, CDEP, cassette and digital download on April 30th. The new hymns are to be disbursed once again by At A Loss Recordings, the group who also claimed responsibility for previous attacks from THE BODY including last year’s reissue of the band’s self-titled LP, their collaborative release with Braveyoung, and most notoriously, their revered and feared 2010-released All The Waters Of The Earth Turns To Blood. Preorders of all formats areavailable here.
Stay tuned to your trusted media sources for further updates as transmissions from THE BODY and their latest endtime message are broadcasted in the coming weeks.
Master, We Perish Track Listing: 1. The Ebb And Flow Of Tides In A Sea Of Ash 2. The Blessed Lay Down And Writhe In Agony 3. Worship
It’s a bleak psychedelic dronefest and nobody’s invited when you press play on Blut‘s Drop Out and Kill tape. The UK duo of N.B. and S.M. have released pretty much everything they’ve done on cassette, and listening to the Major Destroyer Records release of this album, which was originally reviewed on CD, I can hear why. The band’s unremittingly extreme tin-can gnarl comes across even nastier through the analog compression, finding the Dorset-based outfit even more straddling the line between blackened lo-fi and stone-drone sludge, like Electric Wizard‘s misanthropy played at half speed somewhere down the block. Sometimes all you get it low-end rumble and malevolent echoing.
On headphones, with the volume up, the effect is even more grating. Blut‘s underlying drum groove is there — straightforward and slow — somehow managing to cut through a mountain of tonal lurch on opener “Aeon Long Death/Alcoholic on Cloven Hoof,” their anti-you-and-everything-else stance apparent from the very first second of the song. I said when I reviewed the CD that the band were probably unfit for just about any human ears, and I stand by that, since they push extreme sludge to what I consider new heights of fuckall. Whether or not one puts on Blut as the soundtrack to their sunny-day barbecue is irrelevant — they’re genuinely pushing the boundaries of what’s come before them and I consider Drop Out and Killlaudable just for that. That Blut have developed a clear sense of purpose over the last couple of years and releases like Grief and Incurable Pain(review here) and Ritual and Ceremony(review here) and turned spite into aesthetic is where I think they have most succeeded. The farther out they go, the less listenable they get, the better they become. They’re getting closer to (at least what I see as) their goals for the band.
If I’m overthinking it, well, I’m supposed to overthink it. Still, the foreboding drone of “Murder Hallucination” and “Skulls.Coffins.Nails” isn’t happening in a vacuum, and as much as Blut are casting off elements of traditional songwriting — verses, choruses, etc. — they are working in an established sonic sphere of extreme drone doom. Noise aficionados would probably hear Drop Out and Killand call it straightforward because it has guitar and bass, but when I put on this tape, I hear the roots laid down by SunnO))) and Sleep’s Dopesmokertaken to vicious, dark, new places. That Blut include a side-two cover of Boston outfit Nightstick‘s “Ultimatum” — they call it “Ultimatum (Yog-Sothoth)” — only demonstrates their awareness of their own lineage. It also evens up the sides and gives Drop Out and Killeven more horrifying audio, but yeah, the other thing too.
Fact is, whatever level you want to approach them at, Blut aren’t about to make it easy for you. What they’re going to do — on tape or any other format — is crash and drone and scream and emit some of the most fucked up noise I’ve ever heard. That’s their thing, and whether you hear it on CD or on cassette, if you consider yourself a fan of the sonically abrasive, you should probably hear it. Tapes have the advantage of being cheaper and sounding fucked up. That suits Blut well.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Polish imprint Nine Records sends over word of the long-awaited CD release of Bloodbath, the first full-length outing by Connecticut-based doom trio Vestal Claret. Thee Claret‘s lineup is an impressive assemblage, with frontman Phil Swanson (Hour of 13, Seamount, Upwards of Endtime, etc.) joined by guitarist Simon Tuozzoli (King of Salem) and drummer Michael Petrucci (Curse the Son), and their last release was the Virgin Blood 7″ in 2011 (review here).
Both tracks from that release — opener “Hex of Harm” and the penultimate “Allowance of Sin” — show up on Bloodbath as well, which according to the info below was recorded back in 2006. Long-awaited indeed. The band must be relieved to get it out. Text, links and music follow:
While this release stands in many ways as Vestal Claret’s official debut, Vestal Claret have in fact been releasing EPs, splits and demos as early on as 2006 with its actual formation in 2005 predating just about everything being heard in the current “occult” fashion genre at this time. There is no influence or inspiration from anything of the past two decades that provoked this release or its ideas and concepts. The material on this album was all written in 2006, but with contract in hand Vestal Claret was unable to release these recordings until now.
Most of you have probably already heard this stuff on the vinyl version released in 2011 by Cyclopean Records. Vinyl contains a “Bloodbath’s” guest-version, but here you are dealing with a “Bloodbath’s” band-version. It’s over 70 minutes of classic heavy metal. Meet the Beast himself!
1. Hex of Harm 2. Devil’s Daughters 3. The Correlation 4. Ritual of Revival 5. Missing Girl 6. Blood Oath 7. The Templar’s Idol 8. Tales to Those Forgotten 9. Endurement to the Heirs of Shame 10. Submissive to Evil 11. Allowance of Sin 12. A Call to Satan
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve been a drinker for over a decade. Maybe not every day, but let’s say three days a week on average, at least three drinks, wine or beer. I did some time with whiskey years back, but decided I’d rather keep my pants on. It’s not the healthiest lifestyle, but neither is it something A&E wants to do a show about.
The week of Dec. 7 had been particularly drunk, and since I’d gotten into a pattern of late of saving my boozing and my hangovers for the weekend, I thought I’d change it up. A sober weekend. Well, two days has turned into two months now. It’s without a doubt the longest stretch I’ve had since I could drink legally, and probably since before that as well.
I had thought maybe of writing about it after one month, but it just didn’t seem like enough time, and since I don’t know how long I want to keep this up — it’s not something I entered into with a plan like, “I’m never gonna drink again” or even “I’m taking six months off” — I thought I’d share a few of my observations about sobriety. Can’t do anything these days without keyboarding about it later.
So here are five reflections on two months. Hope you dig:
1. It sucks
It’s true. Being sober is way harder than being drunk. I won’t lie, I’ve done a decent amount of problematic boozing in my day. You have a shitty late night at work, come home, five beers, bed. You have family drama, seven beers, bed. Maybe on a Monday night you come home from work, have 10 beers over the course of seven hours and make a night of it because you’re miserable and you’re having one of those, “every decision I’ve ever made in my life has been wrong” kinds of days.
Drinking to alleviate some inner turmoil or self-directed dissatisfaction — or at very least escape from it — isn’t healthy, but it sure is easy. Being sober and actually having to face the chasm head on, on the other hand, is hard. You begin to see your patterns for coping, but the kicker is that seeing them doesn’t do anything but make you feel worse. And you know how you don’t get to deal with feeling worse when you’re sober? By drinking. It’s been an interesting cycle of force-fed miseries.
2. I’m still awkward
Some of the best drinking in my life I’ve done to cope with a social situation. I’m a weirdo by nature, the kid in the corner my whole life, and to this day, I’m a piss-poor conversationalist, well-suited to spending my days in front of a laptop screen. Drinking never made me Mr. Cool or gave me abs like Budweiser’s marketing specialists would have me believe, but at least with three beers in me, I can fool myself into thinking I’m doing alright.
Sober? Well, there ain’t a moment of facepalm-worthy awkwardness that gets by Sober Me. Sober Me catches it all, internalizes it, and although a given conversation may still be progressing, I’ve already marked it as a failure. And so it ends. Weirdly.
3. Booze is expensive
If there’s an upside — and I’m not yet convinced there is — it’s that hooch costs money and not spending money on hooch allows you to spend money on other things. Like records. Or camera lenses. Or more records. And where The Patient Mrs. stood ready to remind my ass of just how broke we actually were at a moment’s notice when I was blowing $200 a week on fancypants beer and wine, now there’s a novel laissez-faire attitude when it comes to things like swinging through a record shop when I should be on my way to work. From my end, it’s just good to know I’m irresponsible no matter what.
Should I accidentally manage to save some money as well, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but primarily, it’s just nice to have a little more cash to work with on the day to day and not have to feel like I’m breaking the bank stopping for iced tea in the morning.
4. I still feel like crap all the time
This one might be the biggest bummer of all. I’ve got friends who take time off drinking or who have stopped altogether on a permanent basis and what you always hear is, “Oh, I feel so much better!” all in that breathy weight-has-been-lifted tone of voice. Screw that. I still wake up three days a week with a headache. I’m still sore. I don’t feel like I’ve been through some cleansing process and come out on the other end a better person. I feel like crap. And I can’t even drink about it!
Granted, the fact that I get an amount of exercise close enough to zero to be statistically insignificant might have something to do with it (see “laptop screen,” above), but still. I’m not thinking I’m going to stop drinking and two months later be as active as, say, the elderly couples in AARP commercials. But give me something! You would think that if you spent a decade poisoning yourself and then you cut it out there would be some discernible difference. Somebody get me a bowl of ice cream.
5. I’m in no way an alcoholic
I’m glad to know. Alcoholism is a real disease that effects scores of people the world over, and I’m not one of them. After however long developing a drinking habit, it’s been way too easy to be like, “Yeah no thanks” and just drop the whole thing. I don’t think someone with a genuine dependency gets to do that.
Hell, I had four separate Xmas celebrations this year (five if you count the office party). If I can make it through that without a drop, I can do anything. In the last two months I’ve been rejected for mortgages, had to put a dog down, been to shows, had more than a decent share of shit-tastic days — all occasions that would seem to warrant a few beers if not a full sixer — and still, nope. That’s not me bragging. I’m still as much of a wreck and as incapable of dealing with my existence as ever. I just apparently don’t have the illness that makes me drink to cope with it. Thanks, science.
There you have it. I don’t know how AA would feel about this list, but that just what I’ve noticed. And if you take something away from it, take away the fact that even realizing all this crap, I’m still not having a beer. On some level, I think it must be worth it. That, or I really like having the cash. Ha.
Posted in audiObelisk on February 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Clocking in at over 19 minutes of multi-movement progressive doom exploration, Pombagira‘s “Maleficia Lamiah” is essentially an album unto itself, with a complete linear flow and fully realized psychedelic mysticism. The band’s fifth album, Maleficia Lamiah,is now available for pre-order from Black Axis Records ahead of its March 18 release date.
Maleficia Lamiah is the follow-up to 2011′s single-track full-length, Iconoclast Dream, so they’re no strangers to long-form work, and their wanderings seem to find direction even as they get willfully lost along the way. The title cut opens with a few minutes of layered feedback, and then the husband/wife duo of Pete (vocals and guitar) and Carolyn (drums) smoothly introduce and work their way through varied presentations of thickened, darkened ritual psychedelia. Their drone-ready sprawl is given just as likely to open space rocking as it is to doomly crush, and in its peaceful moments, “Maleficia Lamiah” enacts some of its greatest threats.
The album can be pre-ordered in three different versions from Black Axis. A limited black and yellow marble swirl 2LP also includes a t-shirt and three bonus tracks, and there’s also a regular vinyl edition and the CD. Rest assured, all three contain Pombagira’s gloriously heavy wash and richly progressive take. It’s my extreme pleasure to host “Maleficia Lamiah” for streaming in advance of the record’s release. Some who’ve encountered Pombagira‘s rawer past works may be surprised at some of what they’re doing here, but rest assured, their sound remains their own.
Please find the track below and enjoy the trip:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve been waiting for British doomers Pombagira to release a new album to basically give myself an excuse to finally get acquainted. It’s a name I’ve seen kicked around for more than the last couple years, and it’s high time I got to know the band better. Their fifth album, Maleficia Lamiah, is set for release in March on Black Axis Records with preorders going up the first week in February.
The PR wire has details. One more to be stoked on:
Pombagira to release profoundly epic new album Maleficia Lamiah
Pombagira have emerged from the gloom with their most profoundly epic album to date MALEFICIA LAMIAH.
Comprising two songs ‘Maleficia Lamiah’ and ‘Grave Cardinal’, their fifth album in as many years pushes the very boundaries of experimental, psychedelic, down-tuned, mind-expanding music. The album was recorded in June 2012 at Foel Studio and then finished at their favourite recording haunt Earthworks in Sept 2012. Maleficia Lamiah finds the band in a paisley ebullient mood given their success at breaching the suffocating expectations associated with belonging to a single genre.
No longer being sharply defined as a doom band, Maleficia Lamiah reflects a certain maturity which comes from Pombagira’s intent on concentrating solely on composition rather than playing live shows. While their retreat into silence, although missed by many, may have initiated whispers of disbandment, Pombagira have steadied their intent to unleash something so monstrous and so exciting, that many will be surprised if not shocked when they hear this new tome.
Although the departure from previous releases will be evident, there are of course the anchor points to ease the listener into their new epic corpse-scape style. Amps rage and soar with a focussed endeavour to draw the crossroads onto your flesh while the drums breathe a new life, reviving the Haitian cascading rhythms which nail the point for your ingress into their world.
Pombagira have drawn on their deep respect for the past. By acknowledging their influence to bands like Amon Duul II, Pink Floyd and Caravan this album stands as a testament to their ability to embody and innovate these past masters. For embedded within both ‘Maleficia Lamiah’ and ‘Grave Cardinal’ there rest tales of journeys into the world of the Pombagira as witch, while ‘Grave Cardinal’ asserts the majesty of their critical mass as a moment of transgression where the dead meet the living. But this is no Hammer House of Horror ‘cheap trick’ reference, rather a reflection on Pombagira’s involvement with the occult, academic writing on history and otherness, while also providing insight into the hypnogogic world where dreams and reality merge.
Resplendent in its intent, vibrant in its intensity, beautiful in its introspection, Pombagira may this time have really found the portal between the visible and invisible worlds. A magnificent psychedelic down tuned progressive behemoth Maleficia Lamiah will after due process expand your mind. Pombagira’s fifth album deserves to be acknowledged as one of the greatest progressive feats in the last decade or more. As a result the band don’t promise an easy ride through their paisley tinged sound scape, but like anticipating a gathering storm, the gradual shifts and turns build to a crescendo before Maleficia Lamiah finally makes landfall on your body.
It’s a journey fraught with trepidation but it does ensure that once you step aboard you will never be able to depart from their vision again.
Released on 18 March on Black Axis Records. The LP version is limited to 500 copies will be available for pre-order at www.blackaxisrec.co.uk from 5 Feb. This version will contain three extra bonus tracks.
Posted in Features on January 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last year was a monster. You might say I’m still catching up on reviews for records that came out in October. Yet here we stand in 2013. It’s a whole new year and that means instead of looking back at some of the best releases, it’s time to look ahead and nerd out at what’s to come. Frankly, either way is a good time, but with some of what’s included on this list, 2013 has the potential to be yet another incredible year for lovers of the heavy.
Across a range of genres and subgenres, there are bands big and small, known and unknown, getting ready to unleash debuts, follow-ups and catalog pieces that by the time December rolls around, will have defined the course of this year. It’s always great to hold an album in your hands, to put it on and listen to it for the first or 19th time, but part of the fun is the excitement beforehand too, and that’s where we’re at now.
Some of these I’ve heard, most I haven’t, and some are only vague announcements, but when I started out putting this list together, my plan was to keep it to 10 and I wound up with twice that many because there was just too much happening to ignore. The list is alphabetical because it doesn’t make any sense to me to rate albums that aren’t out yet, and I hope if you find something you’d like to add, you’ll please feel free to leave a comment below.
Thanks in advance for reading, and enjoy:
Acid King, TBA
We begin with only the basest of speculations. Would you believe me if I told you that 2013 makes it eight years since the heavier-than-your-heavy-pants San Francisco trio Acid King released their last album, III? Of course you wouldn’t believe me. You’d be like, “Dude, no way,” but it’s true. Eight friggin’ years. They’ve hinted all along at new material, toured Europe and played fests in the States like Fall into Darkness, but really, it’s time for something new on record. Even an EP. A single! I’ll take what I can get at this point, so long as it’s Lori S. riffing it.
Chances are, the above isn’t the final art for Argentinian Los Natas-offshoot Ararat‘s forthcoming III, but frontman Sergio Chotsourian has posted a few demos over the last several months and the logo image came from that. Either way, with as far as last year’s II(review here) went in expanding their sound, I can’t wait to hear the final versions of the tracks for the next one. They’re still flying under a lot of people’s radar, it seems, but Ararat are quickly becoming one of South America’s best heavy psych acts. Do yourself a favor and keep an eye out.
Brooklyn trio Bezoar‘s 2012 debut, Wyt Deth, might have been my favorite album that I never reviewed last year, and needless to say, that’s not a mistake I’m going to make twice. The new songs I’ve heard the three-piece play live have ruled and an alliance with engineer Stephen Conover (whose discography includes Rza and Method Man) is intriguing to say the least. I’m sure whatever Bezoar come out with, the performances from bassist/vocalist Sara Villard, guitarist Tyler Villard and drummer Justin Sherrell will be as hard to pin down as the debut was. It’s a record I’m already looking forward to being challenged by.
Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era
Due out April 9, Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s The Edge of an Era will mark the full-length debut for the ambitious trio (now based in L.A.) on Tee Pee Records following on the heels of the impressive The Storm Generation EP (review here). From the Scott Reeder production to the band’s engaging heavy psych/desert rock blend, this one seems bound to win Blaak Heat Shujaa a lot of new friends, and if the advance EP is anything to go by, The Edge of an Eracould prove to be aptly-titled indeed.
Black Pyramid, Adversarial
No release date yet, but so far as I know, Adversarial, which is Massachusetts doom rockers Black Pyramid‘s third album and first to be fronted by guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard, is recorded, mixed and mastered. Song titles include “Swing the Scimitar,” “Onyx and Obsidian,” “Issus,” “Bleed Out” and “Aphelion” (the latter was also released as a limited single in 2012 by Transubstans as a split with Odyssey), and having seen the band live with this lineup, expect no less than a beheading. Also watch for word from the recently announced side-project from Shepard and bassist Dave Gein, The Scimitar.
Black Sabbath, 13
There was a bit of a shitstorm this past weekend when the title of Black Sabbath‘s first Ozzy Osbourne-fronted album since 1978 was revealed in a press release. Nonetheless, 13is set for release in June and will feature Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine on drums in place of Bill Ward, who last year was engaged in a well-publicized contract dispute with the band. Bummer though that is and as crappy and generic a title as 13 makes — especially this year — let’s not forget that Heaven and Hell‘s The Devil You Know also had a crap title and it was awesome. I’m not sure if I’m willing to stake anticipation on the difference between the vocals of Ronnie James Dio circa 2010 and Ozzy Osbourne in 2013, or Rick Rubin‘s production, but hell, is Geezer Butler playing bass on it? Yes? Well, okay then, I’ll listen. The world can do a lot worse than that and another batch of Tony Iommi riffs, whatever else may be in store.
Clutch, Earth Rocker
It’s a ripper. With Earth Rocker, Clutch reunite with Blast Tyrant producer Machine and the results are a record varied enough to keep some of the recent blues elements of the past couple albums (“Gone Cold”) while also showcasing a reinvigorated love of straight-up heavy rock numbers on tracks like “Crucial Velocity,” “Book, Saddle & Go” and “Cyborg Betty.” Longtime Clutch fans can expect a bigger guitar sound from Tim Sult, killer layering and much personality from vocalist Neil Fallon and yet another stellar performance from the best rhythm section in American heavy, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. No doubt in my mind it’ll prove one of the year’s best when 2013 is done. Once more unto the breach!
Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse
Last month, I hosted a Devil to Pay video premiere for the Indianapolis-based rockers’ new track, “This Train Won’t Stop,” from the 7″ single of the same name that precedes the release of their Ripple Music debut full-length (fourth overall), Fate is Your Muse. If the 575-plus Thee Facebook “Likes” are anything to go by, anticipation for the album is pretty high. Reasonably so. When I saw Devil to Pay at last year’s SHoD fest, the new material was killer and the band seemed more confident than ever before. Stoked to hear how that translates to a studio recording and how the band has grown since 2009′s Heavily Ever After.
Egypt, Become the Sun
Technically speaking, Become the Sun is the full-length debut from North Dakota doomers Egypt. The band released their self-titled demo through MeteorCity in 2009 (review here), were broken up at the time, and reassembled with a new guitarist for Become the Sun– which is the only album on this list to have already been reviewed. I don’t know about a physical release date, but it’s available now digitally through iTunes and other outlets, and however you do so, it’s worth tracking down to get the chance to listen to it. Underrated Midwestern riffing, hopefully with a CD/LP issue coming soon.
The Flying Eyes, TBA
Currently holed up in Lord Baltimore Studios with producer Rob Girardi, Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes are reportedly putting the finishing touches on the follow-up to 2011′s immersive Done So Wrong, an album full of young energy and old soul. Along with Blaak Heat Shujaa above, I consider these dudes to be right at the forefront of the next generation of American heavy psych and I’m excited to hear what kind of pastoral blues works its way into their tracks when the album finally gets released. They’re a band you’re probably going to hear a lot about this year, so be forewarned.
Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man
The melodicism of Boston-based Gozu‘s second Small Stone full-length, The Fury of a Patient Man (I swear I just typed “The Fury of a Patient Mrs.”) is no less striking than its album cover. I’ve had this one for a while, have gotten to know it pretty well and my plan is to review it next week, so keep an eye out for that, but for now, I’ll just say that the sophomore outing is a fitting answer to the potential of Gozu‘s 2010 debut, Locust Season (review here) and marks the beginning of what already looks like another strong year for Small Stone. I never thought I’d be so into a song called “Traci Lords.”
Halfway to Gone, TBA
What I’d really like to see happen is for Halfway to Gone – who are high on my list of New Jersey hometown heroes and who haven’t had a new LP out since their 2004 self-titled — to put out a new record in 2013, for it to lay waste to everyone who hears it, and for the band to finally get the recognition they’ve long since deserved. I’ve been charged up on revisiting their three albums since I saw them at the Brighton Bar this past July and after a long wait, rumors, breakups, makeups, etc., I’ve got my hopes up that this year is when these dudes pull it together and make a new one happen. It’s been too long and this band is too good to just let it go.
Kings Destroy, TBA
Confession time: I have the Kings Destroy record. I’ve had it for a bit now. It rules. I don’t know when you’re gonna hear it, but it’s strange and eerie and kind of off the wall stylistically and it doesn’t really sound like anything else out there. Last I heard they’re looking for a label, and whoever ends up with it is lucky. I use a lot of descriptors for bands and their albums, but rarely will I go so far as to call something unique. This album is. If you’ve had the chance to check out songs like “The Toe” and “Turul” live, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, then stick around because with all the sessions I’ve had with the tracks, I still feel outclassed by what these guys are doing. Shine on, you doomed weirdos.
The Kings of Frog Island, Volume IV
I keep going back to the video for “Long Live the King” that Leicester, UK, fuzz rockers The Kings of Frog Island put up back in October. No, really, I keep going back. It’s a good song and I keep listening to it. Just about any other details regarding their fourth album and first without guitarist/vocalist Mat Bethancourt (Josiah, Cherry Choke), Volume IV, are nil, but periodic updates on the band’s Thee Facebooks have it that progress on the recording is being made, and in the meantime, I don’t seem to have any trouble paying return visits to “Long Live the King.” Hopefully Elektrohasch stays on board for a CD release, and hopefully it happens soon.
Several times over the last couple months I’ve had occasion to say it to people and I’ll say it here as well: I think Lo-Pan are the best American stoner rock band going right now. I was interested to see how they handled the bigger stage for their opening slot for High on Fire and Goatwhore (review here), and as ever, they killed. I haven’t the faintest idea what their recording plans might be, if they’ll even sit still long enough to put an album to tape in time to have it out in 2013 — I suspect it depends on what tour offers come up in the meantime — but new songs “Colossus” and “Eastern Seas” bode well for their being able to continue the course of momentum that the excellence of 2011′s Salvador(review here) and all their hard work before and since has put them on.
Queens of the Stone Age, TBA
It probably wouldn’t be fair to call the upcoming Queens of the Stone Age album a reunion between Josh Homme and Dave Grohl since the two also played together in Them Crooked Vultures and Grohl only drummed on Songs for the Deaf, but it’s exciting news anyway and could mean good things are coming from QOTSA, whose last outing was 2007′s comparatively lackluster Era Vulgaris. The big questions here are how the time apart from the band may or may not have affected Homme‘s songwriting and where he’s decided he wants to take the Queens sound. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Sungrazer & The Machine, Split
With the Strikes and Gutters tour already booked to support it (dates above; or here), Dutch upstart heavy psych jammers The Machine and Sungrazer have teamed up for a split release as well that’s bound to feature some of the year’s best fuzz. The two bands have a lot in common, but they’re pretty distinct from each other sonically too, and with The Machine guitarist/vocalist David Eering helming the recording, you can safely bet it’ll capture the live, jammy feel both groups share. Latest word has it that the mastered tracks are in-house, so watch for more to come as we get closer to the Valentine’s Day launch of the tour.
The Swedish fuzz juggernauts’ fourth album overall, this will be Truckfighters‘ first with new drummer McKenzo alongside the core songwriting duo of Dango and Ozo. They’ve been teasing recording updates and threatening song clips, but as soon as I run into something concrete, I’ll share. I’m especially looking forward to the Truckfighters album since it means they’ll likely come back to the US for another tour, and since 2009′s Mania (review here) was so damned brilliant. Not sure on a release date, but it’s high on the list of necessities anyway, however low it may appear alphabetically.
Valley of the Sun, TBA
All I’m going on in including Ohio-based desert rockers Valley of the Sun on this list is a New Year’s message they put out there that read, “Happy New Year, Brothers and Sisters!!! You can count on a Valley of the Sun full-length in 2013.” Hey, I’ve relied on less before, and even if you want to call it wishful thinking, the Cincinnati trio are due a debut full-length behind 2011′s righteous The Sayings of the Seers EP (review here). Even if it doesn’t show up until November or December, I’ll basically take it whenever the band gets around to releasing. Riffs are welcome year-round.
Well, I mean, yeah. Right? Yeah, well, sure. I mean. Well. Yeah. I mean, sure. Right? It’s a supergroup with YOB‘s Mike Scheidt on vocals, John Cobbett of Hammers of Misfortune on guitar, Sigrid Sheie of Hammers of Misfortune on bass and Aesop Dekker of Agalloch and Worm Ouroboros on drums. Album’s done, set for release on Profound Lore. So, I mean, you know, yeah. Definitely. No music has made its way to the public yet — though that can’t be far off — but either way, sign me the fuck up. Anywhere this one goes, I’m interested to find out how it gets there.
Vista Chino, TBA
After that lawsuit, it’s not like they could go ahead and call the band Kyuss Still Lives!, so the recently-announced Vista Chino makes for a decent alternative and is much less likely to provoke litigation. But still, the Kyuss Lives! outgrowth featuring former Kyuss members John Garcia, Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork along with guitarist Bruno Fevery is of immediate consequence. I’m not sure what the timing on the release is, but they’ve already been through enough to get to this point that one hopes a new album surfaces before the end of 2013. What I want to know next is who’s recording the damn thing.
Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You
Not much has been said in the time since I interviewed Gary Arce, guitarist and founder of influential desert rock stalwarts Yawning Man, about the 2LP Gravity is Good for Yourelease (the Raymond Pettibon cover for which you can see above), but the band has been confirmed for Desertfest since then and they’re playing in L.A. on Jan. 25, so they’re active for sure and presumably there’s been some progress on the album itself. It remains to be seen what form it will take when it surfaces, and the lineup of the band seems somewhat nebulous as well, but when there’s a desert, there’s Yawning Man, and there’s always a desert. 2010′s Nomadic Pursuits(review here) was a triumph, and deserves a follow-up.
Anyone else notice that the “20 Albums to Watch for” list has 22 albums on it? Maybe I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Maybe I can’t count. Maybe I just felt like including one more. Maybe I had 21 and then added Vista Chino after someone left a comment about it. The possibilities are endless.
So too is the list of bands I could’ve included here. Even as I was about halfway through, a new Darkthrone track surfaced from an album due Feb. 25 called The Underground Resistance, and news/rumors abound of various substance concerning offerings from YOB, Eggnogg, When the Deadbolt Breaks, Mars Red Sky, Asteroid, Apostle of Solitude, Windhand, Phantom Glue, the supergroup Corrections House, Kingsnake, Sasquatch — I’ve already made my feelings known on the prospect of a new Sleep record — news went up yesterday about Inter Arma‘s new one, and you know Wino‘s gonna have an album or two out before the end of the year, and he’s always up to something good, so 20, 22, 35, it could just as easily go on forever. Or at least very least the whole year.
If there’s anything I forgot, anything you want to include or dispute, comments are welcome and encouraged.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
As if you needed an excuse to with you could be in Europe this spring, Saint Vitus are headed over for a three-week round of dates with Mos Generator. The connections between the two bands are manifold, with Mos Generator leader Tony Reed having produced Vitus‘ 2012 full-length, Lillie: F-65 (review here), and worked with drummer Henry Vasquez in his other band, Blood of the Sun on their own 2012 outing, Burning on the Wings of Desire (review here), so if nothing else, you can bet the vibes will be cordial.
All the better for Mos, whoseNomads(review here) is still fresh on the consciousness. Hard to imagine even the doomiest of Vitus devotee couldn’t be won over by their ultra-catchy heavy rocking. Here’s the poster for the Vitus tour, followed by a couple other dates Mos Generator will be playing between now and then. Dig it:
UPCOMING SHOWS MOS SHOWS 2013
1/12 coo coos nest – port angeles 1/18 rendezvous – port orchard 1/19 ash st. – portland 1/ 25 filling station – kingston 1/26 acme – tacoma 2/1 flights pub – everett 2/9 the breakroom – bremerton 2/23 club 21 – portland 3/1 chop suey – seattle
March 2013 – SAINT VITUS & MOS GENERATOR 5th Cologne, Germany @ Underground 6th Berlin, Germany @ C-club 7th Dresden, Germany @ Beatpol 8th Arnhem, Holland @ Willemeen 9th Paris, France @ La Maroquinerie 10th Vosselaar, Belgium @ Biebob 11th Brighton, England @ The Haunt 12th Southampton, England @ The Cellar 13th Birmingham, England @ O2 Academy 2 14th Glasgow, Scotland @ The Cathouse 15th Newcastle, England @ Northumbria Uni 16th Pwhelli, Wales @ Hammerfest 17th London, England @ The Garage 18th Rouen, France @ Le 106 19th Esch-sur-alzette, Luxembourg @ Kulturfabrik 20th Lyon, France @ Le Ninkasi Kao 21st Winterthur, Switzerland @ Salzhaus 22nd Vienna, Austria @ Szene 23rd Bologna, Italy @ Zr 24th Milano, Italy @ The Tunnel 25th Nürnberg, Germany @ Rockfabrik 26th Aschaffenburg, Germany @ Colos-sal 27th Hamburg, Germany @ Logo
Posted in The Numbers on January 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been a hot minute since I last posted the monthly numbers around here. The ego of it started to get to me. Shrug. But with the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, I wanted to take a second and mark the occasion of the year passing and most especially to say thanks to everyone who made the ridiculous figure above a possibility. In 2012, The Obelisk had a whopping 2,117, 104 page views. It’s the kind of number that makes me want to say “golly” in the high-pitched voice of some scamp from a ’50s sitcom.
That rounds out to over 176,000 page views per month, and that’s about where we’ve been (December was right around 166k). Not bad for some rinkydink one-man operation, and I’m even more stoked that things like the forum have managed to stay consistent and that The Obelisk Radio has been getting a solid response. I genuinely had no idea what it would turn into when I started this site, but even up to the fact that just under 300 people took part in the 2012 Readers Poll, I’ve been consistently amazed and humbled by the response and support.
So this is the part where I announce I’m quitting and moving to the Riviera, right? Nah. Fact is I’m hooked into this thing now and I don’t think I could stop if I wanted to. My biggest complaint with the site these days (aside from the fact that the sidebar is too close to the main posts) is that I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to with it. Man’s gotta work. I hold down two jobs in addition to this, and do the best I can with the time I’ve got. If you sent me a CD and I didn’t get to review it, I’m sorry. If you emailed me and I sucked at getting back, I’m sorry. I’m trying and it’s a work in progress.
Let’s run down some numbers real quick:
The unfuckingbelievable 2.1 million page views came from an astonishing 185 countries around the world. The US accounted for just under half of the total traffic to the site, with the next five countries being the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia and France, in that order. In America, the top five states were California, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas, with New Jersey and Oregon close behind, and NYC, L.A., Portland, Seattle and Chicago were the top cities. Makes me want to get out to the Pacific Northwest even more than I did already.
On the forum, there are currently 1,175 registered users, and 78,929 posts in 5,939 topics. Wild times continue to ensue. Meanwhile, The Obelisk Radio now has more than 15,000 songs in its playlist, doubling the original amount contained on the K666 drive when I got it. I’m going to keep pushing that and updating as much as I can, and hopefully expand it over the course of this year and beyond, ideally with things like weighted playlists (i.e. more Kyuss) and maybe even a live show once a week or something like that. In the meantime, thanks for checking out the stream if you have and if you haven’t had the chance yet, no time like the present.
While we’re here, some other business:
The Maple Forum: Please don’t forget that Clamfight‘s I vs. the Glacieris coming out Jan. 22. I’ve got the boys at work on a track-by-track for the album and hope to have that posted by the time presales go out next week. Stay tuned for much more as we get on release time, and if you’re in town, they’re playing their release show this Friday in Philly with Kings Destroy, Thee Nosebleeds and Wizard Eye. More info on that here.
Features: Much to come here too. I’d still like to do a Top 10 EPs/Demos list for 2012 if I can get a chance in the next week or so, and the annual Top 5 I Didn’t Hear is imminent as well. Interview wise, I owe emailer questions to Pleasure and Wight, among others, so I’ll get on that hopefully this weekend, and I’ve got that Arthur Seay Q&A in the can waiting to be transcribed. Sometime in the next couple weeks, expect a Looking Forward To 2013 list — I’ve started compiling it and it’s getting near the 20 mark. Lots of lists, but it’s that season.
Reviews: Well, I don’t want to forecast a whole year ahead, but there’s some great stuff coming up in both the near and far. Tomorrow I’ll be posting my review of the Clutch show in Allentown the other night, and then I’m headed out to see the three opening acts from that gig — Mondo Generator, Saviours and Wino — at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn, so I guess there’s no real slowdown in shows. Hell, Neurosis and Graveyard are rolling through. It’s a great time to be alive.
Radio: I’m pleased with the reaction it’s gotten so far. I know I’m about a decade behind on the whole internet radio thing, but I hope you’ll take a listen if you can and hope you get to hear something you might not otherwise. Ain’t no Weltraumstaunen on Pandora, last I heard. I’ve got another 50 records ready to go up tomorrow and I’ll keep up with the Add of the Week too. Check the update page for the latest.
Columns: Much love to Tommy Southard and Tim Catz for their work on “Drinking with the Devil (Dick)” and “70 RPMs,” but I think it might be time to find a couple new columnists. I understand dudes get busy, and it ain’t like I’m paying. So yeah, look for a couple new columns to come this year, maybe on these topics, but certainly on others as well. I’ve been back and forth with Ron from Ice Dragon about starting a horror-worship column and hopefully that will come to fruition, and Andy Clamfight‘s an archeologist when he’s not destroying his drums, so it might be fascinating to hear about that too. It’ll come together over time. I’m not looking to force anything, but if you have any suggestions or comments, I’d love to hear them.
Canon of Heavy: Expect more to come with this as well. So help me gawd. It’s too cool an idea to waste.
Alright y’all, I think we should be just about caught up. Huge megathanks again to everyone who joined in on the fun this year one way or another, and to everyone who will be along in the next 12 months, I hope you get some use out of it. Killer.
Wishing you the best in 2013 and beyond, JJ Koczan Humpty Phrumpty Taskmaster
Bless their black hearts, Witchcoven is a new doomly duo from multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis, of Hour of 13, Tasha-Yar and many others. In Witchcoven, Davis is joined by vocalist Etienne “Hellscream” Chelleri, also of Slovenian black metal outfits Bleeding Fist and Naberius and whose lyrics on the demo track “House of Death” reference Black Widow‘s “Come to the Sabbath” with their insistent cadence. Not a bad place to start, and Davis‘ cult credentials are well in order. I can’t imagine it’ll be more than 15 or 20 minutes before Witchcoven is signed, so I figured I’d post the above clip of “House of Death” on the same day it went live so I could claim later I got in on the ground floor. Always thinking, this one.
The story this week is pretty much the same story as last week: Lots to write, not enough time, work to do, so on. You know the deal by now. Including this one, I put up seven posts today, and I guess that’s pretty good productivity. While I’m thinking of numbers, here are a few that stuck out to me from this week:
Wild stuff, and of course huge thanks to everyone who’s shown there support here on the blog and on the forum as well. It means more to me than I can say and every time someone reaches out with an email to say thanks, or to say, “Hey, you should check out this band,” or drops a comment, or likes a post, or tunes in to hear YOB or Kyuss or whatever happens to be playing at that second, it’s huge. I’ve spent a lot of time over the better part of the last four years doing this — you might say I’m spending my Friday night doing it right now — but I really never had any idea this site would turn into what it has and if you’ve been digging it for a while or if this post is the first thing you’ve ever seen, I deeply, deeply appreciate your being a part of it.
Alright, enough feelings. I always get mushy when the doom is on. Hope you enjoyWitchcoven, hope you have a great and safe weekend. I hope to get to kick around the forum for a bit as it was kind of a nutty week and I have a lot to catch up on, so if you get a second and want to say hey, that’d be awesome. I’ll also be adding records to the radio station, so keep your eyes out. If there’s anything you want to hear, I’m happy to take requests and fulfill them to the best of my ability.
Next week, reviews of Blaak Heat Shujaa and Dali’s Llama, more year-end wrap-type stuff (I guess that Kadavar post was a hit if the Thee Facebooks likes are anything to go by), and I’ll finally get that Bell Witch interview posted — transcribing it is on my weekend to-do list, right next to attending my four-year-old nephew’s Xmas pageant at his school tomorrow. It’ll be an afternoon of extremes. Looking forward to it and looking forward to seeing you back here Monday. Cheers.
The alarm went off three times this morning. Each one was more painful than the last. Even as I type this, I’m still burping last night’s wine. So of course, when it came time to pick a track for this week’s Wino Wednesday, “Dying Inside” by Saint Vitus was an obvious pick. The song’s a little more tragic than I feel about it — I got my standard greasy breakfast sandwich, took some ibuprofen, drank some coffee and the recovery is well under way — but I wasn’t far off from “I have ruined my soul” when I hit snooze for the second time.
This footage was filmed in 2010 in Hamburg, and I’ve posted other clips from the same show before, because they kick ass and because they’re pro shot. “Dying Inside” comes off 1986′s ultra-classic Born too Latealbum and is just one of that record’s several anthems, along with the title-track and “The War Starter.” And, you know, all the rest. The lyrics make it a standout, though, written with Dave Chandler‘s classic no-bullshit ethic and delivered — in this clip and every time I’ve seen them play it — with visceral conviction by Wino.
So yeah, while I continue to get my head together and face the rest of this afternoon, please enjoy “Dying Inside” and have a happy Wino Wednesday:
Posted in Reviews on December 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Unpretentious as they are, Abbot are still the kind of band who make you want to describe everything with “thee.” Thee debut 7″ Into the Light has been released by thee label Red Sky, and finds thee Finnish four-piece rolling along classic doom grooves, etc. All of that applies to the two tracks of Into the Light, by the way. The single-guitar outfit – JP Jakonen provides standalone vocals and harmonica, Jussi Jokinen guitar, Tapio Lepistö bass and Antti Kuusinen the drums — recorded “Into the Light” and the B-side “Beyond the High Rise” in their rehearsal space in 2010, so they’ve had a little time to sit on them, and while their Oct. 2012 cassette, All andEverything (limited to 100 copies), is based around the life of Greek philosopher G. I. Gurdjieff — he of the waking sleep — Into the Lighthas no such abiding thematic. That leads me to think that the later release, which is the 7″, was recorded first, and the rudimentary nature of “Into the Light” and “Beyond the High Rise” bear that out.
The 7″ is limited to 300 copies on black vinyl in a cardboard sleeve, and boasts artwork by Daniel Matsui, and its opener is the longer of the two pieces at just under six and a half minutes. Immediately the riff leads the way. Jokinen‘s guitar is the guiding force throughout the entirety of Into the Light, and the rest of Abbot follows the course he sets with the riffs. Even Jakonen’s vocals align themselves to the guitar’s patterns, working in subtly doomed melodies not so far from the spirit once conjured by Reverend Bizarre but neither totally attached to it. “Into the Light” works at a slow march, enough so there’s movement within it, lumbering though it may be, but still in no general rush. Kuusinen‘s drums keep the plod pretty simple as well, moving from the bell to hard-hit fills that call out transitions between the verse and the chorus movement. The hook of the song is largely in the riff, but that’s enough to carry it across anyway, since the ideas are fairly simple, and the harmonica that appears to donate a solo to a (relatively) shuffling blues jam bridge provides a shift just where one is most needed before the verse resumes prior to the four-minute mark. A long outro movement has Jakonen experimenting with vocal effects over suitably stoned guitars for a semi-psychedelic feel, and though one feels as though Abbot could probably get another six or seven minutes out of that riff — nothing seems to be preventing them from doing exactly that, save perhaps for the limited capacity of the 7″ record — “Into the Light” comes to an abrupt end with as little ceremony as it arrived.
Beginning with a jarring tape noise and a quicker, more immediate stoner bounce, “Beyond the High Rise” is catchier than the A-side and so makes a formidable complement. The natural, Sabbathian vibe of the preceding cut is retained, and Jokinen‘s guitar is still definitely running the show, but the band as a whole seems more comfortable in the uptempo context, and they move deftly from the harmonica at the beginning to the swirling “lead” in the second half without any upset of flow or sacrifice of structure. There’s a mini-build about three quarters of the way through the total four-minutes, of which Jakonen‘s harmonica is a charming part, and though “Beyond the High Rise” ultimately shares “Into the Light”‘s lack of flourish arrangement-wise, it also shares its engaging riffs, thick tones, organic vibe and — considering it was recorded in a rehearsal space — surprisingly solid production. Into the Lightmay prove a one-off for Abbot, considering the concurrent tape is reportedly one of a series of cassingles, but the songs prove their worth no matter how representative they either do or don’t wind up being of where Abbot are headed conceptually and stylistically. Either way, Into theLight,as a first physical manifestation of Abbot‘s output, goes to show that Pori, which also produced experimentalist improvisers PharaohOverlord,might not be done contributing to the heavy underground yet. Fair enough. Both “Beyond the High Rise” and “Into the Light” show an affinity for the landmarks of doom and a desire to make their own stamp on the sound. For a debut release, that’s about all one can ask.
Posted in Features on December 3rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hard to believe we’re at this point already, but it’s December, so it’s time to find out what were the best albums of the year. Any genre, any band, any album. So long as it came out in 2012, it’s fair game.The last 12 months were full of intensely fascinating releases, and I’ve been really looking forward to seeing what people choose.
The idea is basically the same as last year. Everyone submits their picks over the course of this month, and then once 2013 hits, we’ll unveil the master list of what got the most votes. You can submit up to 12 albums, and from that, a list of 20 will be compiled using a complex mathematical formula known as “counting.” At least I think that’s how it’s spelled.
Fill out your picks in the form below, click submit and we’re off and running:
[THIS POLL IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED!]
Once again, special thanks to Slevin for setting up the database and making this whole thing work behind the scenes. History will sing songs of his generosity and technical cunning.
Posted in Features on November 21st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Their third new studio album since getting back together as Revelation and issuing 2008′s Release on Leaf Hound, Inner Harbor is an album that bleeds authenticity. After a while and the work that the Baltimore trio of John Brenner (guitar/vocals), Bert Hall, Jr. (bass) and Steve Branagan (drums) have also done as the concurrent act Against Nature, one almost comes to expect a level of musical humanity in the sound, but Inner Harbor(review here) takes the unpretentious progressive elements in Revelation‘s approach and pushes them further, evoking the melancholy in which they’ve always trafficked without sounding like a put-on or over-the-top in any sense that might apply.
Yet I wouldn’t call Inner Harborreserved. In the interview that follows, Brenner talks about the process of paring down the six tracks to fit them on the LP version of the album (released by Pariah Child Records, as opposed to the CD on Shadow Kingdom or the free download available through the band’s own Bland Hand imprint), and it seems like a process involving little if any restraint, resulting in an album that went from 60 minutes to 35. Tracks like “Jones Falls” and “Terribilita” aren’t likely to overwhelm with a sonic assault, but both convey effectively the raw emotional aspect that’s at the heart of classic doom.
Because Revelation are a constantly evolving process, however,that emotionality comes with some stylistic shifts that anyone who heard either Releaseor 2009′s follow-up, For the Sake of No One(or the earlier records, for that matter), could be easily surprised by — most notably the extensive incorporation of progressive synth alongside the guitar, bass and drums. Revelation have never been about expansive arrangements or overly indulgent explorations, instead finding effective conveyance through relatively simple, traditional means and tones, but on a song like the closing “An Allegory of Want” or “Rebecca at the Well,” they’re showing more of a classic prog influence — i.e. Rush — and making it work within the context of their long-since-proven ability for songcraft.
The changes might not be so devastating for anyone who’s followed Revelation since they got back or Branagan, Hall and Brenner‘s work in Against Nature, but the Rush influence was something I specifically wanted to explore in the back and forth with Brenner, along with the evolution of their self-recording process and the differences that have emerged between Against Nature and Revelation over the last few years. Brenner, an admitted introvert but no less sincere in his answers than he is in the music he writes, was especially poignant in discussing the meaning behind the title Inner Harbor, and how important the interpretations of individual words is to him both in the band and in general.
And maybe those parts are specifically worth a look, but honestly, the whole thing makes for a good read. You’ll find the complete 5,500-word Q&A after the jump.
I’ve got 300 of these bad boys on their way from Skillit, and whatever else I do with them, I know they’ll be included with pre-orders of the Clamfight CD. More info about that next week, but until then, check out the sticker design, once again courtesy of Skillit — who if I haven’t said it enough times by now — is the fucking man: