The Obelisk is Five Years Old Today

Posted in The Numbers on January 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t think when this site was launched five years ago today I had any idea of what was going to happen with it. The Obelisk started basically because I was newly out of work and didn’t know what to do with myself in the wake of that. I wanted to write. Since the start, I’ve never really known what’s next, and that has continued to be the case over the last half-decade. As milestones have come up, things like adding the forum, adding the radio stream, etc., it’s really only been after the fact that I’ve been able to sort of step back and realize that any sort of shift has taken place. This is one of those times.

You know what’s coming, and though I say it with some regularity, I never quite feel like it’s enough. The internet is built on anonymity. If I’m lucky enough that your eyes are seeing this somewhere around the world, whether it’s Jersey or New Zealand, there’s a decent chance we’ll never meet. If we do, that’s awesome — please  say hi and I’m sorry in advance for being an awkward weirdo — but I know how it is to read a site like this one and have the author be an abstract, shapeless beyond the text presented, not really a consideration. I’m not saying everyone who looks at this page needs to know who I am or anything like that, just that I hope that if you’ve ever read this site before or if this is your first time here, you know that there’s a human being on the other end who is incredibly grateful to you for doing so.

The Obelisk has become a huge part of my life and a huge part of my every day, and five years on, it’s not only an outlet for writing, but a big piece of how I think about my own identity. I never anticipated that, but I’m not sorry it’s happened. I’m proud of this site, what it has managed to accomplish in its time, and I’m thrilled to be able to continue to develop it. I’m amazed at the passionate community that’s developed on the forum, and I think for the five bucks a month I spend to host it, the radio stream is worth the cash for my enjoyment alone, never mind anyone else’s. Thank you. Thank you so much. For checking in every now and again, for reading however often you might, for posting on the forum, listening to the radio, correcting my spelling on somebody’s name or offering suggestions for bands to check out, or to check out your band. For clicking Like or retweeting. All of it. Huge thanks to The Patient Mrs. for her years of rolled-eye indulgence, and to Slevin for his near-constant help in every technical aspect of running the site, from installing WordPress to designing the forum to finding the host for the radio to helping me size the header properly. There are days where The Obelisk is the reason I roll out of bed — over the last five years, more than a few — and I know that would not be the case without the kind of support I have received on every level. Once again, thank you.

I look forward to continuing to say thanks for as long as this lasts, however long it might be, wherever it might go from here, and wherever we might be headed. I’ll probably never be able to convey just how much your support and your involvement is appreciated, but please, please know that it is.

All the best,
JJ Koczan

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk

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Wino Wednesday: Saint Vitus, Mournful Cries in Full

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Granted, when it was released in 1988, Mournful Cries had a damn near impossible task in following 1986’s Born too Late, but no matter how you want to look at it, the two are very different records. The eye-catching bright pink of the earlier album cover is replaced by a grand dragon unfolding its wings, guitarist Dave Chandler shows a budding interest in getting on the mic, and instead of the inward-looking judgments of “I was born too late/And I’ll never be like you,” songs like “Dragon Time” and “Shooting Gallery” turned their eye outward, storytelling rather than describing. Maybe that’s simplifying it — certainly there were tracks on Born too Late that examined the world around them and told stories (“The War Starter,” to an extent) — but Mournful Cries wound up with a vibe much changed from its predecessor for coming only two years later.

It was the second of three full-lengths (the Thirsty and Miserable EP arrived directly after Born too Late, in 1987) in Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s first tenure as the band’s vocalist, and with Born too Late on one side and 1990’s V on the other, Mournful Cries is very much the middle child. Vitus was moving away from the simplicity at root in their approach, and the songs were less grounded musically and lyrically as a result. “Dragon Time” is a good example of this — what did Vitus know about a medieval thematic? — but even if it or “The Troll” were intended as metaphors, the simple fact that metaphor was used at all was a step forward, though again, “The War Starter” touched on some of that idea without going quite as far. V would combine both approaches successfully, resulting in landmark Vitus cuts like “I Bleed Black” and “Angry Man,” but Mournful Cries brought elements at work in the band’s sound to the fore that never were there before and never were there again in quite the same way.

I don’t think Mournful Cries gets the kind of acclaim as Born too Late or V, and part of that is down to the lack of an outsider-epic like “Born too Late” or “Angry Man” — “The Troll” is probably as close as the LP gets, and Vitus still play the song live — but it’s got its place in the Saint Vitus canon and for both how it relates to the rest of the discography and what it has to offer on its own level, it’s easily worth another listen.

Please enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Saint Vitus, Mournful Cries (1988)

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Mist, Demo 2013

Posted in Radio on December 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

There are a number of bands out there using the moniker Mist, or one derived from it, but the newcomer Ljubljana five-piece probably have the market for Slovenian doom sewn up. The double-guitar/standalone-vocal traditional doom outfit began in Summer 2012, and last month their two-song debut, Demo 2013, was self-released digitally and on limited CD with artwork and logo design by drummer Mihaela Žitko, who’s joined in the band by vocalist Nina Spruk, lead guitarist Nina Grizoni?, rhythm guitarist Ema Babošek and bassist Neža Pe?an, each of whom aligns to her position to prove the universal natural of doom. Anywhere you go, there’s doom. Spruk sings in English as well, and both “Phobia” and “The Living Dead” prove as accessible in their themes as in their riffs. It’s doomer’s doom for sure, but the riffs are there and the songs lock in dark atmospheres that feel dead set on classic metal adherence.

I don’t you’d call either “Phobia” or “The Living Dead” revolutionary, but they’re well done for being the fivesome’s formative work. With backing whispers from Babošek, Spruk tops a straightforward lurch plays out like half-speed Judas Priest, giving a bleak viewpoint sonically while creating a memorable impression in Grizoni?‘s lead work and the vocal delivery. Mist sound like they’re just getting their start — and indeed they are — but this brief document of their first year finds them already knowing what they want out of their doom, and touching on nuance in how the solos are integrated, such as in the second half as a first-noodling-then-bluesy lead takes over and carries “Phobia” to a feedback drenched section to which Spruk adds some final lines before a quick Saint Vitus-style noise barrage leads the A side to its finish. “The Living Dead” is more upbeat, with a stronger hook that rounds out with the line, “You are the living dead!” calling to mind any number of doomly zombie fixations, among them Scott Reagers‘, though the production has a more modern feel than persistent Vitus comparisons might lead one to believe. I guess throwing Pentagram into the mix wouldn’t help that expressing-modernity cause either, but there’s some of that as well going on in the riffing for “The Living Dead.”

As Mist continue to get their bearings on their approach to the ways and rites of doom — maybe these tracks get pressed as a 7″? — it seems only proper to have them added to the it’s-on-all-the-friggin’-time playlist of The Obelisk Radio. You can check “Phobia” and “The Living Dead” out in that stream or take a listen via the Bandcamp player below. Either way, doom on:

Mist, Demo 2013

Mist on Thee Facebooks

Mist on Bandcamp

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Top 20 of 2013 Readers Poll is Now Open!

Posted in Features on December 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks. The Top 20 of 2013 Readers Poll is now open! Submit your list of your favorite records from this year using the form below, and at the end of the month, the results will be counted up and a final, overall Top 20 will be had!

There are no restrictions on bands, genres, types of albums, vinyl-only, tape-only, whatever. Anything you want to put on your list, whatever you feel deserves your vote, is welcome. We’re doing things a little different this year in that all the lists will be published along with the results of the Top 20, so that everyone’s picks, however obscure or whatever they might be, can be seen and enjoyed by everybody when the time comes.

The polling is also different in that where an album is placed on your list counts too, not just the raw votes. It requires more math, but it’s for a good cause and should hopefully make the final tally even more accurate.

Fill our your picks below, click Submit, and you’re good to go. Happy voting:


As is more or less the case with this whole site, the 2013 Readers Poll wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and coding brilliance of Slevin. It’s his database and his design for the polling itself, and without it, I’d be using an abacus to tabulate results. If you see him at the bar, please buy him a beer and give him a hearty “Thank you sir.”

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Happy Thanksgiving

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re in the States, today is Thanksgiving. Like a lot of American holidays, it’s based around some truly strange and generally unlikely myths, but the ensuing consumerist rampages aside, it’s not nearly as exclusionary as Xmas or as war-culture-celebratey as the Fourth of July, so yeah. It’s also just about the only thing in the fabric of American society that encourages gratitude, and I guess that’s not bad either.

The point I want to make is that if you’re reading this, whether you’re in the U.S. or not, then you have my thanks for supporting this site and being a part of what it’s turned into over nearly the last half-decade. I appreciate it, and in the spirit of the day, I’m thankful for it. I feel both like I say it all the time and like I don’t say it enough, but I continue to be amazed at the level of encouragement, whether it’s someone liking or sharing a post on Thee Facebooks or Twitter, leaving a comment, sending an email, whatever it might be. It’s astounding and it means a lot to me personally. Thank you.

Likely I’ll have one or two posts up tomorrow — at least one to close out the week — but whatever weird semi-historical narrative they have at their base, the next couple days are basically to enjoy family and friends, so I’m going to do that. If you’re celebrating or not, I wish you all the best.

JJ Koczan
Holiday Pursuant Taskmaster

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Paradise Lost Release Tragic Illusion 25 Compilation of Rarities

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Hard to mess with Paradise Lost re-recording “Gothic.” Not that the original was in need of a revamp — frankly I think it still works even if it sounds dated — but it’s not like they’re saying there’s something wrong with the first version by making a new one. Amazing to think the places that Paradise Lost have gone sonically over their career, from their earliest days helping define gothic metal with the aforementioned song and album of the same name, to setting a course that a generation of European doom would follow alongside the likes of My Dying Bride and Anathema, each of whom has undertaken a varied journey as well.

A quarter-century on, Paradise Lost have hit on a solid balance of the elements that have shown up throughout their career. Their last two albums for Century Media, 2009’s Faith Divides Us — Death Unites Us and last year’s Tragic Idol, have been more than solidly executed, and they continue to refine what makes them who they are even as they seem to bask in the now-classic nature of their own atmospheres.

In other words, they like being gloomy and that’s just fine. To mark 25 years as a band, they just released the Tragic Illusion 25 compilation of rarities, remixes, and re-recordings. The PR wire has the details:

PARADISE LOST releases 25th anniversary compilation, ‘Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)’, today in North America

Gothic-doom metallers PARADISE LOST have released their 25th anniversary compilation, Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities), today in North America! To purchase Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities), please visit iTunes for a digital copy or CM Distro for a mint green 10″ vinyl (USA exclusive color; limited to 300 copies) with a CD insert.

Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities) track-listing:
1. Loneliness Remains*
2. Never Take Me Alive (SPEAR OF DESTINY cover version)
3. Ending Through Changes
4. The Last Fallen Saviour
5. Last Regret (Lost in Prague Orchestra Mix)
6. Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (Lost in Prague Orchestra Mix)
7. Cardinal Zero
8. Back On Disaster
9. Sons Of Perdition
10. Godless
11. Missing (EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL cover version)
12. Silent Heart
13. Gothic 2013*
14. Our Saviour 2013*
*=tracks that appear on the limited 10″

PARADISE LOST “Tragic Illusion 25th Anniversary” EU Tour w/ LACUNA COIL and KATATONIA
Nov. 6th – Herford, Germany – Club X
Nov. 7th – Aschaffenburg, Germany – Colos Saal
Nov. 8th – Dordrecht, Netherlands – Bibelot
Nov. 10th – Utrecht, Netherlands – Tivoli Oudegracht
Nov. 11th – Nuremberg, Germany – Hirsch
Nov. 12th – Vienna, Austria – Arena
Nov. 13th – Solothurn, Switzerland – Kofmehl


Paradise Lost, “Gothic 2013″ from Tragic Illusion 25

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Wino Wednesday: Saint Vitus, “I Bleed Black” Live in Germany, 2009

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

By the time Saint Vitus did a weekender tour of the East Coast in October 2009 (the Brooklyn show was killer), they’d replaced drummer Armando Acosta with Henry Vasquez, who was brought on board having worked previously with Vitus guitarist Dave Chandler‘s Debris Inc. project in addition to front-drumming his own band, Blood of the Sun. Earlier in the year, however, Vitus played both a warmup show in New Orleans and debuted their reunion at the Roadburn festival in the Netherlands before embarking on a European tour. Blown away as I was by actually getting to see Saint Fucking Vitus play for the first time — somewhere there’s a picture of a very drunk me with a very drunk Chandler afterwards — you could tell looking at Acosta that he wasn’t healthy.

It would  be more than a year later, in December 2010 that Acosta passed away, and of course the Saint Vitus reunion was in full swing then and continues now as the band moves past their 2012 release, Lillie: F-65, and on to the prospect of a second full-length for Season of Mist. The lineup of Chandler, Vasquez, bassist Mark Adams and vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich have been back and forth to Europe a couple times at this point, and toured across the States as well, so although their original drummer didn’t live to see it, the continued success of the Vitus comeback I think says something about the timelessness of his work in the band, as well of course as that of the band overall.

Chandler spoke about his relationship with Acosta in an interview early in 2010 and about bringing Vasquez in as a replacement. It was a big deal at the time because although Vitus had been through a couple singers — Scott Reagers, Wino, Chritus Linderson — those were really the only lineup changes since they started out in 1978 as Tyrant. Subsequent touring and his work on Lillie: F-65 would prove Vasquez was indeed perfect for the drummer role — really all you had to do was watch him on stage with Adams and Chandler – but it was a surprise at the time nonetheless. Acosta‘s last tour with Vitus was that which followed Roadburn in 2009, and it’s from that run that this week’s Wino Wednesday clip comes.

Filmed in Cologne, Germany, by at the Underground club, “I Bleed Black” is among Saint Vitus‘ most potent anthems. Originally appearing on the 1990 album V, it’s right up there with “Born too Late” and “Dying Inside” as some of Chandler‘s best lyrical declarations of the band’s first Wino-fronted era. Acosta sounds pretty rough here, but the band as a whole delivers an awesome rendition of the song anyway.

Enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Saint Vitus, “I Bleed Black” Live in Cologne, Germany, April 27, 2009

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audiObelisk: Second Grave Stream “Drink the Water” from New Antithesis EP

Posted in audiObelisk on September 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The new two-songer from Second Grave is something of a beast. In right about 18 minutes, the Massachusetts-based four-piece sum up the machinations of their prior self-titled full-length debut (review here) and also push the bounds of their emerging aesthetic, frontwoman Krista van Guilder (ex-Warhorse) belting out memorable choruses for both “Mourning Light” and “Drink the Water” as the two songs on Antithesis seem to lock in stylistic combat with each other. Meeting on the line between doom and metal, “Mourning Light” and “Drink the Water” each offer no questions as to their allegiances, but more importantly, as they make their way through, Second Grave sound consistent and confident playing to whichever end they so choose.

To wit, the marauding riff of “Mourning Light” runs at a faster, NWOBHM gallop — van Guilder and Chris Drzal‘s guitars winding around the pace set by Chuck Ferreira‘s drums and the bass of Dave Gein (also of Black Pyramid/The Scimitar) — while “Drink the Water” offers more morose fare, thoroughly doomed with a classic, Euro sensibility about it, heavy, lumbering, but with a tinge of emotional drama underpinning. Looking at the comparative runtimes for the two, “Mourning Light” at 6:38 and “Drink the Water” at 11:41, there’s an immediate understanding that Second Grave have a varied methodology, and the pairing of one right with the next brings that all the more into relief, but at no point do Second Grave sound like they’re putting on airs or cloying at sonic diversity for the sake of pretense.

With “Drink the Water” especially, the natural balance in the band’s sound comes out in the fluid tempo changes and the catchy hook, both of which give way to crushing, slow-paced crash topped with vicious screams emphatically delivered by van Guilder. Feedback-soaked madness ensues, and if nothing else, Second Grave finish out Antithesis on some of their darkest and most oppressive atmospherics yet.

Antithesis was recorded by Clay Neely at Black Coffee Sound and mastered by John Brenner of Revelation. Second Grave will support the Oct. 31 Pariah Child Records release (limited to 500 10″ vinyl copies) with a slot at Stoner Hands of Doom XIII at Strange Matterin Richmond, VA, on Nov. 9.

Enjoy “Drink the Water” on the player below:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Second Grave on Thee Facebooks

Second Grave’s website

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Pilgrim to Support Windhand on European Tour

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

As they make ready to enter the studio to record the follow-up to their 2012 Misery Wizard full-length debut, Rhode Island doom upstarts Pilgrim have announced that they’ll join Windhand on a Fall 2013 European run. The two bands are no strangers, having done US dates together last year, and of course, Pilgrim played at Roadburn in 2013 as well, so this will be their second time on the continent this year. Still, good news all around for the band and for anyone who might find themselves in their destructive path.

Sayeth the PR wire:

PILGRIM coming back to Europe in November to support WINDHAND for a full tour!

Ready to enter studio next month!

Rhode Island Doom disciples PILGRIM have made an astonishing impact with the release of their debut album Misery Wizard and their European shows including a slot at this years Roadburn festival.

PILGRIM will return to Europe in November for a full tour with Windhand. Comments vocalist/guitarist The Wizard: “THIS IS GOING TO BE A TOUR WORTHY OF SONG AND LEGEND. Not only is it our first lengthy European venture, but we get to share it with our incredibly talented friends WINDHAND (whose music we worship). This is honestly a dream come true for us. We are will be featuring a new bass player for the excursion, whose identity shall remain a mystery for the moment. Unfortunately, we had planned to be supporting the release of our new record this tour, but due to various complications with our studio we were not able to meet our deadline. However, we just confirmed today that the recording of our second record will begin next month at Moonlight Mile Studios! And with that, so begins the next chapter of our pilgrimage. We have worked UNFATHOMABLY hard to make this tour come together. Blood, sweat, and tears. DO NOT MISS THIS TOUR!”

01/11/13 BE – Ghent – Charlatan

02/11/13 NL – Venlo – Mudfest
03/11/13 FR – Paris – t.b.a.
04/11/13 UK – Birmingham – Asylum
05/11/13 UK – Manchester – Star & Garter
06/11/13 UK – London – Our Black Heart
08/11/13 ES – Barcelona – Rocksound
09/11/13 ES – Madrid – Rock & Pop
10/11/13 ES – Bilbao – Sentinel Rock Bar
11/11/13 FR – Clermont Ferrand – t.b.a.
12/11/13 FR – Strasbourg – t.b.a.
14/11/13 NL – Groningen – t.b.a.
15/11/13 DK – Aalborg – 1000 Fryd
16/11/13 SE – Gothenburg – Truckstop Alaska
17/11/13 DK – Copenhagen – KB18
18/11/13 DE – Hamburg – Rote Flora
19/11/13 DE – Berlin – Cassiopeia
20/11/13 DE – Leipzig – Zoro
21/11/13 AT – Wien – Vrena
22/11/13 DE – Günzburg – Donaustüble
23/11/13 DE – Köln – MTC
24/11/13 NL – Amsterdam – Occii

Pilgrim, Misery Wizard (2012)

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Argus Set Oct. 1 Release Date for Beyond the Martyrs

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’m not sure what exactly lies “beyond the martyrs,” but I look forward to finding out when the third album from Pennsylvania doom merchants Argus drops. Cruz del Sur will release Beyond the Martyrs on Oct. 1 in North America, and as their last outing, 2011’s Boldly Stride the Doomed (discussed here) was such a classic-tinged thriller, it’s a date you might want to write down. Get a pencil. I’ll wait.

Hope to have more on this one soon. Till then, in case you missed it, artist Brad Moore talks about creating the Beyond the Martyrs cover here.

This from the PR wire:

ARGUS: Beyond the Martyrs Coming This October on Cruz Del Sur Music

Cruz Del Sur Music will release Beyond the Martyrs, from US doom metal outfit ARGUS, on October 1st in North America and October 7th release in the UK.

Beyond the Martyrs starts where their 2011’s release Boldly Stride the Doomed had left us…at the Ruins of Ouroboros. In between these two releases ARGUS has tested its strength and valor in several live shows both in their homeland and in Europe, receiving high praises from fans and from the record industry. Although a sense of impending fate marks again their compositions, the characteristic doom metal elements which were a distinguished trademark of ARGUS’ past releases have now given way to what is primarily to a genuine heavy metal approach, its nature rooted in the most classic environment of Heavy Metal tradition.

1. By Endurance We Conquer
2. No Peace Beyond The Line
3. The Hands of Time Are Bleeding
4. Trinity
5. Four Candles Burning
6. The Coward’s Path
7. Cast Out All Raging Spirits
8. Beyond The Martyrs

ARGUS’ third album is sure to force metal heads everywhere to raise horn-crested fists to the sky. Beyond the Martyrs contains the hallmarks of their previous works – twin guitars, soaring vocals, and a driving rhythm section; it is heavy, melodic, epic, and brooding all at once. After their successful shows at festivals such as Hammer of Doom in 2011 and Dublin Doom Days in 2012, the band will hit again the European soil with a proper tour in October 2013 in order to promote Beyond the Martyrs.

Butch Balich – vocals
Jason Mucio – guitar
Erik Johnson – guitar
Andy Ramage – bass
Kevin Latchaw – drums

Argus, “At the Gallows End” (Candlemass cover) Live at Days of the Doomed II, 2012

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Elliott’s Keep Finish Recording Nascentes Morimur

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

With their eyes on a Fall 2013 release, Dallas doomers Elliott’s Keep have finished recording their third album, Nascentes Morimur. Last we heard from the trio, they were starting to record in May, so as the record is being mixed, they’re on track to have it out as planned. J.T. Longoria (whose considerable credentials you can see below) will be handling the mix, and while it’s probably not up there with the highest profile outings he’s worked on, Elliott’s Keep‘s mission of honoring their fallen comrade with heavy-as-hell trad doom continues to impress with both its sincerity and its metallic heft.

The band sent an update down the PR wire:


ELLIOTT’S KEEP, the Dallas metal doom trio have completed the recording of their third full-length album, entitled Nascentes Morimur, which is scheduled for a fall 2013 release.

As with their first two releases, ELLIOTT’S KEEP recorded again with J.T. LONGORIA (Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Absu, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Volbeat). Primary recording was completed again at Nomad Studios in Carrollton, Texas. Drums were tracked at Empire Sound Studio in Carrollton, Texas.

Nascentes Morimur is currently being mixed by J.T. LONGORIA, with GARY LONG of Nomad Studios again mastering. In keeping with the band’s use of Latin titles, Nascentes Morimur means “from the moment we are born, we begin to die.”

Song titles for Nascentes Morimur are as follows:

Waves of Anguish
Days of Hell
Now Taken
Feanor’s Bane
Tale of Grief
Gates Beyond

In Medias Res was released in November 2008 on Brainticket Records. Sine Qua Non was released in September 2010 on Brainticket Records.

Elliott’s Keep, “Days of Hell” practice recording

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The Body’s Master, We Perish EP Due April 30

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 are available 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

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Duuude, Tapes! Blut, Drop Out and Kill

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on February 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

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 Kill laudable 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 Kill and 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 Dopesmoker taken 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 Kill even 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.

Blut’s Blogspot

Major Destroyer Records

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Vestal Claret’s Bloodbath CD Available Now

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

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Five Reflections on Two Months Sober

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.

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