Green Druid Post “Ritual Sacrifice” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

green druid

Anyone remember WinAmp? I’d say I’m at the risk of dating myself, but the truth is I don’t care if you know how old my sorry ass is. Anyway, WinAmp was an audio program that was pretty popular before iTunes came in and swallowed the planet and subsequently gave way to the likes of Spotify and YouTube and Bandcamp and whatever else people use now. It was handy for playing those mp3s you just downloaded off Napster and were going to brag about on you MySpace page. You get the point.

WinAmp had a visualization feature, and golly gosh, the new video from Denver’s Green Druid reminds me an awful lot of what might happen if you set Winamp’s visualization to “cause a seizure” and let it loose. The clip is for “Ritual Sacrifice,” which comes from Green Druid‘s recently-issued Earache Records debut, Ashen Blood and sees release ahead of the band’s performances this May at Brant Bjork‘s Stoned and Dusted fest in Joshua Tree and Electric Funeral Fest in Denver this June. The be-robbed riff worshipers have a couple other dates as well that you can see below, courtesy of the PR wire.

The is, of course, if you make it that far without your head pounding from the flashing lights. Good luck with that.

And enjoy:

Green Druid, “Ritual Sacrifice” official video

GREEN DRUID worships at the feet of the monolithic amplifier and performs holy communion with the tremorous onslaught of murky tones that emanate from its maw. “While our first EP and foray into the world of doom could be viewed as us learning the ins-and-outs of the genre, Ashen Blood is where we really started to hone in on our own voice,” issues the band. “Taking influence from the dark fantasy landscapes of games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, we strove to create a truly doomed psychedelic experience.”

GREEN DRUID will play a handful of area performances including an appearance at Stoned And Dusted and Electric Funeral Fest III with additional shows to be announced soon. See all confirmed dates below.

GREEN DRUID:
4/20/2018 Lion’s Liar – Denver, CO w/ Necropanther, Ghosts of Glaciers
4/26/2018 Bar Bar – Denver, CO w/ Thorr Axe, Giardia
5/26/2018 Stoned And Dusted – Joshua Tree, CA w/ Brant Bjork, The Obsessed, Nebula, more
6/29/2018 Electric Funeral Fest – Denver, CO w/ Speedwolf (reunion show), Spirit Adrift, Aseethe, R.I.P., more

Green Druid on Thee Facebooks

Green Druid on Twitter

Green Druid on Instagram

Green Druid on Bandcamp

Earache Records website

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Green Druid, Ashen Blood: Altar of Stone

Posted in Reviews on February 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

green druid ashen blood

Green Druid are not quick to show off complexity in their debut release, Ashen Blood. If anything, just the opposite. Comprised of seven tracks and running a brazenly unmanageable 74 minutes, the full-length presents itself with a purposeful drive toward lunkheaded lumber, the plod of opener “Pale Blood Sky” pulling directly from the Sleep miieu of riff worship, thinking specifically of “The Druid” from Sleep’s Holy Mountain as a touchstone. It’s not until you dig in a bit that the complexity begins to show itself. The melodic callout to “Sweet Dreams are Made of This” early and airy solo late in “Pale Blood Sky” melting together doom and stoner impulses. The droning breadth that accompanies the tonal rumble of the subsequent “Agoraphobia.” The slow devolution into noise on the 18-minute album centerpiece “Cursed Blood” recalling Electric Wizard even as the drums of Ryan Sims stay clear in their thud as the final sustained element.

There is no shortage of low-end cinderblock-on-the-chest heft to the proceedings, as bassist Ryan Skates and guitarists Graham Zander and Chris McLaughlin (the latter also vocals) revel in the thickness of their own potent brew, but the periodically-enshrouded four-piece dig deep enough and voraciously enough into stonerism that it becomes kind of an atmosphere unto itself, not necessarily so separate at times from the murk conjured by Windhand, but definitely evolving its own direction, as the psychedelic flourish of guitar in “Rebirth” so readily puts on display. Oh, and just in case the point hasn’t yet gotten across: it’s really, really fucking heavy.

It does not seem at all like a coincidence that Green Druid have been plucked from an emergent underground in Denver, Colorado, to release Ashen Blood on Earache Records. One of heavy metal’s most historically celebrated imprints has a history of landmarks in terms of riffy fare — the aforementioned Sleep’s Holy Mountain chief among them but by no means the only one; albums from Cathedral, Iron Monkey, Fudge Tunnel, Deadbird and Hour of 13 come to mind — and even if it’s not the style for which Earache is chiefly known, Green Druid represent well the core values of modern stoner-doom idolatry, a nodder like “Dead Tree” rolling itself forward slowly but not without a fluid drive.

green druid

And surrounded as they are in their hometown by the likes of the pure onslaught of Primitive Man, the emotive doom of Khemmis, the unbridled boogie of Cloud Catcher, and so on, Green Druid succeed via the tortured string pulls and wails of “Cursed Blood” in finding a blown-out space of immersive rhythm and Iommic rollout, each righteous-for-righteousness’-sake riff helping to sculpt a niche for the band that, by the time they get around to the three-minute noise finale “Nightfall,” they’ve made their own and thoroughly dominated. Whatever it might seem to accomplish superficially, Ashen Blood proves deceptive in its ambition in displaying the band’s sheer will to overwhelm their listeners with viscous tonality, obscure shouts and jarring thud and crash. It should be considered nothing less than a joy to the already converted, and as they present their mystical lyrical themes with a bent more toward fantasy literature than cultish posturing, there’s a classic sensibility drawn from the metal of old that only makes Green Druid seem all the more human in their approach. They’re fans too. Clearly.

Four of Ashen Blood‘s seven tracks, including the knife-sharpening three-and-a-half-minute atmospheric finale “Nightfall” — not that one necessarily expected a Blind Guardian cover, but it might’ve been fun — appeared on Green Druid‘s 2015 EP, and they appear here presented in reverse order. That is, “Nightfall” opened that short release and “Cursed Blood” closed it, with “Ritual Sacrifice” and “Rebirth” in between. Forward or backward, up and down, side to side, Green Druid‘s Ashen Blood is like a long staircase down into some dark cavern that, as you go, even the torch you’re carrying — because of course you’re carrying a torch — seems to lose is light. Riffs are immersive to the point of hypnosis, the grooves varied and the ambience almost universally darkened in stretches of “Dead Tree” and the crash wash of “Ritual Sacrifice,” and none of it feels like happenstance.

If one regards “Pale Blood Sky,” “Agoraphobia” and “Dead Tree” perhaps as newer material than the four tracks that follow — and mind you, I don’t know what was written when; the album may or may not have been compiled from two EP-length releases — a narrative emerges already of creative development on the part of the band, more confident in cleaner vocal sections and showing just a tinge of The Wounded Kings-style theatricality in “Agoraphobia” while staying patient overall in their execution and turning the songs themselves into the rituals in question rather than just a means of describing same. One wouldn’t call it innovative in either its outcome or intention, but that’s not the point here so much as Green Druid establishing their place in the sphere of heavy within and without of the borders of their hometown. I’d gladly argue Ashen Blood accomplishes that, and puts out a showing of potential especially in its moments of flourish and detail that lets its listeners know the band has by no means finished growing or becoming what they will ultimately be. Yes, it’s true. Things could get even more massive from here.

Green Druid, “Dead Tree” official video

Green Druid on Thee Facebooks

Green Druid on Twitter

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Green Druid Announce Debut LP Ashen Blood Due in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

green druid

On March 16, Denver four-piece Green Druid will release Ashen Blood, their debut full-length, via Earache Records. The label is quick to break out the reminder that once upon a quarter-century ago it stood behind a relatively unknown riffy band called Sleep, and neither is the comparison moot in terms of the various influences under which Green Druid might be working, though the harsher screaming that emerges in the now-streaming-hey-there-it-is-at-the-bottom-of-this-post-amazing-how-these-things-work-sometimes-isn’t-it video for “Dead Trees” speaks to sludgier and more extreme vibes, and if you listen hard enough, there’s some Electric Wizard poking through as well.

As Denver’s heavy underground has bloomed in the last couple years around varied bands like Primitive ManThe MunsensCloud Catcher and events like The Decemburger and Electric Funeral Fest, the city is quickly developing a reputation for quality alongside its quantity, and nothing I hear so far from Green Druid — Earache has a couple tracks posted and the band released a self-titled EP in 2015 — should do anything to change that. Isn’t it funny how weed gets legalized and then all of a sudden there are a bunch of killer bands coming up? The damnedest thing.

Just kidding, obviously. I don’t want to go around making assumptions about anyone’s lifestyle or anything.

Info from the PR wire:

green druid ashen blood

GREEN DRUID: Psychedelic Stoner Doom Collective To Release Ashen Blood Debut Full-Length Via Earache Records This March; Album Details Revealed Plus New Track Streaming

Psychedelic stoner doom collective GREEN DRUID will release their debut full-length Ashen Blood via Earache Records this March. Brooding, atmospheric, and isolationist with weighty riffs summoning the Lovecraftian horrors of the cosmos, GREEN DRUID’s music entrances listeners with tales of the Old Blood and of dismal worlds too soon forgotten.

From the label that brought you Sleep… welcome to the stage Green Druid. Brooding, atmospheric, isolationist… with weighty riffs summoning the Lovecraftian horrors of the cosmos, Green Druid’s psychedelic doom entrances listeners with tales of the Old Blood and of dismal worlds too soon forgotten.

Hailing from the land of Denver, Colorado – the first US city to legalize marijuana – GREEN DRUID worships at the feet of the monolithic amplifier, and performs holy communion with the tremorous onslaught of murky tones that emanate from its maw. Written during ‘the most chaotic and depressing of circumstances’ Ashen Blood is over an hour and fifteen minutes of crushing Psych-Doom.

“While our first EP and foray into the world of doom could be viewed as us learning the ins-and-outs of the genre, Ashen Blood is where we really started to hone in on our own voice,” issues the band. “Taking influence from the dark fantasy landscapes of games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, we strove to create a truly doomed psychedelic experience.”

Ashen Blood will descend upon the ears of the worthy on March 16th on CD, LP, and digital formats. For preorder bundles, go to THIS LOCATION.

In related news, GREEN DRUID will rumble the stages of several venues in the coming weeks with additional performances to be announced soon. See all confirmed dates below.

GREEN DRUID:
2/02/2018 3 Kings Tavern – Denver, CO w/ Palehorse, Palerider, Weathered Statues
2/09/2018 Bar Bar – Denver, CO w/ The Hazytones, Green Mountain, Pennysick
2/22/2018 Bar Bar – Denver, CO w/ Ghosts of Glaciers, Kenaima, Vexing

Ashen Blood Track Listing:
1. Pale Blood Sky
2. Agoraphobia
3. Dead Tree
4. Cursed Blood
5. Rebirth
6. Ritual Sacrifice
7. Nightfall

GREEN DRUID:
Graham Zander – guitar
Chris McLaughlin – guitar/vocals
Ryan Sims – drums
Ryan Skates – bass

http://www.facebook.com/greendruidband
http://twitter.com/GreenDruidBand
http://www.instagram.com/greendruidband
https://greendruid.bandcamp.com/
http://www.earache.com
http://www.facebook.com/earacherecords

Green Druid, “Dead Tree” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Cathedral, Forest of Equilibrium

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Cathedral, Forest of Equilibrium (1991)

As lauded as they were during their time — from their stint touring with Black Sabbath in the ’90s to impact at MTV, influence on doom in and out of their native UK, etc. — I still think that for the actual quality of the work they did, Cathedral are underrated. While much of their legacy would be set on subsequent offerings like 1993’s The Ethereal Mirror (reissue review here) and 1995’s The Carnival Bizarre, paying a much-needed revisit to their 1991 Earache Records debut, Forest of Equilibrium (reissue review here) only demonstrates the powerful nature of the band from their very beginnings.

I don’t think the story needs to be recounted here of vocalist Lee Dorrian growing weary of punk following his time in Napalm Death and finding himself in the company of guitarist Gaz Jennings to found Cathedral and move in a decidedly different, more Sabbath-influenced direction. On Forest of Equilibrium, the lineup would be Dorrian, Jennings, guitarist Adam Lehan, bassist Mark Griffiths and drummer Mike Smail (Dream Death), and with additional flourish of keyboard and flute, they’d run through a CD-era-runtime set of seven songs and 54 minutes of raw but deceptively complex, grueling doom that, even 27 years later, remains striking in both how ahead of its time it was is arriving, how progressive the underpinnings of Cathedral‘s sound were even at that point, and how assured they seemed to be of what they were doing even as they flew in the face of trend in both punk and metal.

Cathedral didn’t invent modern doom by any stretch. Trouble had been around for more than a decade by the time Forest of Equilibrium came out, and others like Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Candlemass had been lumbering the earth for some time as well. But they did represent a different, more loyalist aspect of the generation up and coming in England at the time. Consider what Cathedral did with songs like “A Funeral Request,” “Comiserating the Celebration” and “Ebony Tears” in terms of concurrent groups like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Pagan Angel, who’d later become Anathema. While not emotionless and not without its own sense of drama at times — looking at you, “Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain” — Cathedral‘s songs took from punk a sense of bare scathe, and their material was less about theatrics and drama than it was about the basic impact of their plod and wretched atmospheres. As the intro “Picture of Beauty and Innocence” leads into “Comiserating the Celebration” (the title of which just screams grindcore in its alliterative construction), Cathedral were very clearly on their own wavelength separate from the emerging death-doom movement. Throughout their career, they would never quite fit in. Forest of Equilibrium was the crucial beginning point of that.

The band seemed to know it. Not necessarily that they’d go on to release 10 LPs and have one of doom’s most storied tenures before calling it quits after 2013’s The Last Spire (review here), but just that they were right to be so firm in their sonic convictions. Even in its faster moments — the centerpiece “Soul Sacrifice” or in the later reaches of “A Funeral Request” — Forest of Equilibrium maintains its viscous tonality and ambience, and Dorrian‘s harsh, morose vocal approach only adds to the way in which the riffs of the chugging “Serpent Eve” and the nod-ready dual-guitar-highlight semi-title-track “Equilibrium” seem to ooze from the speakers even these many years later. It would be rare for a band making their debut to be so confident in what they were doing in any case, but to have Cathedral emerge from the UK’s primordial doom soup as cohesive in their purposes as they were continues to be striking. Plenty of acts talk about going against the grain. Far fewer have lived out that particular cliche and stood as tall in doing so as Cathedral.

Not only that, but listen to the acoustics and flute at the outset in “Pictures of Beauty and Innocence” as they foreshadow the flute and keys to be included as “Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain” rounds out, and you begin to realize just how little of Forest of Equilibrium was an accident, and that, however much its primary statement is made with excruciating tempos and/or a take on doom informed in part by what was happening in extreme metal at the time, there was also so much more behind the band’s approach as a whole. That’s easier to read in hindsight than it would’ve been at the time, but even so, it is one more element at play that makes the first Cathedral long-player one of the boldest doom releases certainly of the 1990s, if not ever. They knew what they were doing, they knew how they wanted to do it, and they were brazen enough to make it expansive as well as loaded with sonic grit. It would be improper to consider that anything less than a triumph of sound and aesthetic.

Of course, Cathedral‘s career would be marked with several of those along the way, but Forest of Equilibrium holds a special place as the first of them, and while they’d develop through phases more indebted to heavy rock and a kind of middle-ground traditionalism before 2010’s The Guessing Game (review here) made their most progressive statement and the aforementioned 2013 swansong found them coming full circle in a return to darker fare, their position as stylistic forerunners never wavered, and in their latter material or their earliest work, they’re defined ultimately by the same relentless creative drive, and yeah, as much praise as they’ve gotten over the decades, that’s still underappreciated.

I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

So uh, this week was the Quarterly Review. Did you notice? It seemed like it was pretty quiet. A few of the bands shared links and whatnot, and that’s always appreciated, but by and large it was kind of a muted response. Fair enough, I guess, but I still hope you managed to find something you dug in that batch of 50 records. I found a few, to be sure.

I guess the week was up and down in general, though. “Iron” Al Morris fucking died. “Fast” Eddie Clarke fucking died. A new YOB record was announced. I got to premiere a video from The Obsessed. So yeah, lows and highs. I end the week today with a trip to the dentist to follow-up on the root canal I had a couple weeks ago and a couple festival writeups, so yeah, even that: hits and misses.

Next week The Patient Mrs. goes back to work. The semester is starting up, classes start Wednesday and she’s teaching Wednesday night. Her schedule means that I’m home with The Pecan for stretches at least on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it — not the least because the kid still won’t take a bottle from me. We’ve been through like five different brands at this point and he just wants no part of it. Before he came along, I was nervous about changing diapers. I’d never really done it before. Hell. I’ll change diapers all fucking day. I don’t care. You wanna rocket-ass poop all over the place? Whatever Pecan, I can clean it up. But a miserable kid who’s hungry and over-tired and screams inconsolably when you try to feed him? Yeah, that’s way rougher. Shit everywhere if you want, but save me from that fucking bottle.

We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, my food issues continue. I have an appointment Monday afternoon with a nutritionist whose position, I expect, will be something along the lines of, “Um, eating disorders are bad, m’kay?” and for that I will have driven probably an hour each way because that’s how long it takes to get just about anywhere from where I live. I’ve had one meal so far in 2018 (actually since Xmas) not comprised of protein powder. It was garlicky cloud bread with pesto. I think on the 8th? Somewhere around there. The Patient Mrs. also made me low-carb scones that I inexplicably gained four pounds from eating and haven’t been able to get rid of since. The rest is shakes, coffee and fake peanut butter, though even the fake peanut butter now seems like too much food to me and I don’t eat it every day. I’d just about take a human life if the tradeoff was a guarantee I could have a cheeseburger and not put on three pounds from it. I don’t even need a bun.

You don’t give a fuck. Save it for your therapist. Get back to the riffs, bro. Riffs. Fair enough.

Here’s what’s in the notes for next week:

Mon.: Somali Yacht Club review/track premiere.
Tue.: Wolftooth review/track premiere; Ozone Mama track-by-track/full-album stream.
Wed.: Clamfight review/full-album stream.
Thu.: Manthrass track premiere/review.
Fri. Six Dumb Questions with Atala.

All subject to change, addition, subtraction, etc., but that’s the plan. It’s a considerable amount of stuff for what’s a busy week otherwise, but hell, I did 50 reviews this week, have a two-month-old baby kicking around the house and basically starve myself as much as I possibly can and still manage to live through the day. Ain’t nothing that hard. The track premieres will get done. Ha.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m going to sleep late tomorrow, which is a thing I’m very much looking forward to doing, and then some family is coming up from CT on Sunday into Monday, which I also expect will be enjoyable. Beyond that, maybe some reading, new Star Trek on Sunday night, protein shakes and coffee. Good times will be had, no doubt.

Thanks for reading. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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Friday Full-Length: Iron Monkey, Iron Monkey

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 11th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Iron Monkey, Iron Monkey (1997)

One could look at any number of sludge or sludge metal acts coming out of the UK these days and point to the continued impact of the relatively short tenure of Nottingham’s Iron Monkey. The dual-guitar deconstructionists issued two full-lengths in their time — 1997’s Iron Monkey and 1998’s Our Problem — through Earache and hooked up with Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records for the We’ve Learned Nothing EP, also released as a split with Church of Misery in 1999. They split up that same year, and in 2002, the live album Ruined by Idiots: Live and Unleashed surfaced, compiling material from shows between 1995 and 1999 in memory of vocalist Johnny Morrow, who died of heart failure in June 2002. By the time they were done, they’d traded out both guitarists who appear on the self-titled, Jim Rushby and Steven Watson (Ravens Creed) for Dean Berry (ex-Capricorns) and Stuart O’Hara (ex-Acrimony, now Sigiriya), which left Morrow, bassist Doug Dalziel and drummer Justin Greaves as founding members. Dalziel would go on to play in The Dukes of Nothing with Berry and O’Hara, while Greaves did time in Electric Wizard and Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine, among others, before founding Crippled Black Phoenix, with whom he remains to this day.

But if Iron Monkey‘s legacy has tentacled its way into a sort of varied pedigree, the music on the self-titled is almost entirely more singular in its purpose. Topped with Morrow‘s uniform throat-ripping rasp, it is a more active, upbeat thrust than, say Grief‘s Come to Grief, released a few years earlier in 1994, but similar in its attitude and consuming fuckall. From the crawling “Fink Dial” through the chaos-minded mega-chug of “666 Pack” — just in case you doubted a punker lineage — Iron Monkey remain as crusty as Bongzilla but uniformly pissed off. Their tones were thicker and their approach more refined than Buzzov*en — for whom being stripped down meant peeling flesh from bone — but they were perhaps even more vicious. You felt every single second of the self-titled. It’s still not an easy record to get through. It remains more geared toward destruction than a good time.

And disaffection. Woof. “Web of Piss.” “Big Loader.” The lurching “Shrimp Fist.” These songs would be anthems if everyone who ever said “fuck it” to life had any interest in picking a rallying cry. The above version of Iron Monkey includes a bonus track cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Cornucopia” from Earache‘s 1997 Masters of Misery tribute CD, which also included the likes of Sleep, Godflesh and Cathedral — it’s a good one if you can find it. There have been a few reissues of the album over the years, 1999, 2012 on vinyl, a 2009 boxed set with Our Problem (review here), etc., so it’s not exactly a lost classic, but at the same time, the better part of two decades later, it still feels like Iron Monkey are underappreciated for just how furious they actually were.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Not exactly disingenuous, but in some ways I feel like closing out the week with Iron Monkey is at very least in opposition to my current mood. I’ll spare you the effusiveness and just break it down to a list of thanks:

THANK YOU to the nearly 200 people who’ve contributed so far to the 2015 Readers Poll.

THANK YOU to those who’ve placed the 30-plus orders for The Obelisk merch, hoodies and t-shirts. That response is more than I could’ve dreamed of. It’s on sale till next Friday, so if you want to get in on it, please do so.

THANK YOU to everyone who’s as psyched as I am for the Obelisk All-Dayer next August at the Saint Vitus Bar. I’ve got one open slot left in the lineup and will start making announcements early next year.

THANK YOU to everybody who has shared a link, left a comment, retweeted, etc., the lists and other posts this week. It’s been hugely appreciated.

THANK YOU to The Patient Mrs. for continuing to take care of me as my ankle heals up.

And THANK YOU to Kings Destroy for the invitation to join them on their Australian tour with Radio Moscow in February, which I’m going to make every effort to do.

It’s been a wild week and I feel like this is really just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re reading this, thank you.

Next week, maybe we start off with the year-end podcast? Seems reasonable, right? Maybe I’ll shoot for putting that together on Sunday. I’m going to try to get a writeup done for the Borracho/Geezer split, which I’m sure is long-since sold out by now, and I have a stack of tapes that I’d love to get through before the month ends. Working on it. Also look out for the Top 20 Debuts of 2016 and if I have time, a revisit of that massive 2015 Most Anticipated List that went up in January.

Gonna start on the Quarterly Review as well, because it occurs to me that the weekend before it starts –when I would be writing it — is Xmas. Whoops. Maybe we’ll push that one back to the start of next month? We’ll see how it goes.

Again, thank you all so much for the support, for reading and hopefully digging what goes on in this space. Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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Sleep Should be Making Money on Sleep’s Holy Mountain

Posted in The Debate Rages on December 2nd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

sleep sleep's holy mountain

Riff legends and Iommic scholars Sleep launch an Australian tour this coming weekend. The other night, I saw they posted the following on their Thee Facebooks page. I guess they had been getting requests — probably daily, if not hourly — for a reissue of 1992’s ultra-classic Sleep’s Holy Mountain, and this was their response:

For those asking…

Sleep cannot re-issue Holy Mountain on vinyl. Or CD. Or MP3.

Nor can Sleep print t-shirts or posters, etc with the original Holy Mountain artwork.

All rights to that album (and any related art) are owned by Earache records. Forever.

…and no, Sleep doesn’t make a dime from that record and hasn’t since the early 90’s.

Bands: Please be very careful what you sign.

My immediate reaction is, “Really, Earache?” and that seems as good a place to begin as any.

With landmark back catalogs from Napalm DeathEntombedGodfleshCathedral and many, many others, UK imprint Earache Records has one of the most enviable discographies in heavy music. Formed in 1986, it’s seen trends come and go and like few others — Metal Blade comes to mind first as a comparison — it has managed to thrive. Is Earache well within its rights to hold onto Sleep’s Holy Mountain and use that property for all it’s worth? It would seem so. They reissued it on CD in 2009 (review here), still press t-shirts with the cover art (or at least they did last time I bought one), and the above indicates that Earache owns copyright on the music and art for the record into perpetuity and there’s nothing the band can do about it.

Not a great contract if you’re Sleep.

The answer for the trio — bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and then drummer Chris Hakius (now drummer Jason Roeder) — at first seems like an easy one. Bootleg it. Fuck it. They’ve done it before, as the initial, unofficial self-release of Jerusalem with its righteous Arik Roper cover showed. Not as simple to do now as it was in 1998, however. Look at the response they got to the new single “The Clarity” (review here) this year. Granted, it wouldn’t be the same for a reissue as for the first new music to come from them in over a decade, but still. Sleep are a much higher-profile band than they were in the late ’90s, and if they were to just press up a bunch of copies of Sleep’s Holy Mountain, even to sell at shows, they’d probably catch hell for it one way or another, probably with litigation.

A pretty great contract if you’re Earache.

I won’t pretend to know the circumstances of the label’s wares, that is, how much of its back catalog it owns as thoroughly as it seems to own Sleep’s Holy Mountain, and neither will I give into some doomer-hippie impulse and say something like, “Oh man, they should just give Sleep the rights because it would be the cool thing to do and art for artists and whatever blah blah.” That’s naive as shit and not in any way reflective of the world in which we live. Earache has the rights, Sleep signed that deal. Bam. Done. The label is under no obligation to let the band have anything, so if they don’t want to, that’s their prerogative.

No question Sleep’s Holy Mountain is one of the most pivotal records in heavy rock and doom. What PikeCisneros and Hakius crafted has spread through influence the world over, to bands from Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. They’re as close as an underground band can be to being a household name, and their work helped define a generation of heaviness. It is timeless, integral, and essential. They deserve to be making money from it.

People don’t like to talk about money and its effect on creativity, as though art and commerce are church and state, but in practice, they’re no more separate. Sleep probably do well at this point in terms of their take-home from shows, but it took them 20 years and success in other bands — OmHigh on Fire — to get there, and they don’t tour 100 gigs a year. I don’t know if they have dayjobs or not, and I highly doubt any income earned on Sleep’s Holy Mountain would be life-changing in that regard one way or another, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it.

But “deserve” is irrelevant. Sleep “should” earn money from Sleep’s Holy Mountain? So what?

It seems to me there’s some opportunity for middle ground somewhere between “label gets all” and “band gets all,” whether that’s a licensing fee Sleep pay to Earache or something like that — hell, I’m sure if Earache were to put the rights up for sale, the band could crowdfund just about any price named and not even have to go out-of-pocket — or like a rent-to-own deal on the publishing. I’m not going to call Earache dicks for not coming to the table if there’s been any discussion of a discussion, they’re a business acting like a business needs to act in order to survive, but if Sleep were able to work Sleep’s Holy Mountain again in some way mutually beneficial to themselves and the label, I don’t see where anyone loses.

Doesn’t matter if Earache doesn’t want to budge and if they’re still able to sell those shirts with the cover on it or repress the album every so often. An unfortunate situation for a band that have earned their place in the pantheon of heavy and managed to, like the label, remain vital where so many others haven’t, but as they say, be careful what you sign. Too bad that’s a lesson that had to be so harshly learned, and too bad a record so warmly loved by fans has to carry such baggage for the band themselves.

Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1992)

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Friday Full-Length: Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 1st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1993)

An obvious pick, maybe, but I’m thinking of it more as correcting the oversight of never having closed a week with it before than taking the easy way out, so if that’s how you want to roll with it as well, I’m cool with that. Or if you don’t give a crap and are happy to have an excuse to groove on Sleep’s Holy Mountain on this late Friday evening/early Saturday morning, that works too. Either way you want to slice it, Sleep‘s second album, released in the US in March 1993 — it’s almost legally old enough to drink, and who wouldn’t buy this record a beer on its birthday? — is among the most influential slabs of Sabbath-worship ever crafted. Not one week goes by that I don’t get hit up by some band playing essentially these riffs in a different order. Sometimes in the same order. It has made gods of Sleep, and helped solidify the second generation of heavy rock and roll in the ’90s, giving a true and loyal update on the potency of the band’s ’70s forebears.

Most importantly, it has earned every bit of the legend around it. To listen to “Evil Gypsy/Solomon’s Theme,” the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and drummer Chris Hakius sound as blitzed out of their minds as they probably were, and as much of Sleep‘s legacy is tied to the legend of Dopesmoker and the band taking their major label advance and spending it on weed and amps and whatever, Sleep’s Holy Mountain is the right album to have come from its time and place, and more than 20 years on, I think we’re still in the process of understanding its impact.

Also it fucking rules. Please enjoy.

I’ve had “day” enough for three days, so I’m going to keep this brief, but please let me say how humbled I was and how heartwarming the response to the fifth anniversary post was. As it happened, I wrote that in a hospital waiting room while a member of my family was having surgery (all seems to be well), and it was a show of support that was even more appreciated in that context. Deeply, deeply appreciated. Again, more than I can say.

We came down to Jersey last night ahead of that procedure — that’s also why there weren’t so many posts today; that premiere for The Socks I wrote late last night to publish this morning — and tomorrow we’ll head back north to Massachusetts after breakfast. I’ve got a lot of email to answer and a lot of stuff to listen to, but I’m going to try to do another roundup this coming week like the one I did this past Monday — though I’m going to do it on Tuesday, because Monday is enough of a pain in the ass without it — and I know I’ll have a review of the Valley of the Sun record, but I’m honestly sure what else at the moment because I’m just not home. Maybe The Warlocks.

Oh, and I’ll have the Alcest interview, finally. Little late on that one, but still. Time to get it posted, so that’ll be up.

I said I was going to keep it short, so I am, since even though I’m not all the way through Sleep’s Holy Mountain yet my eyes are starting to close, but before I go, please, thank you again so much for all the support and encouragement and kind words and thoughts. Five years of this has been fantastic, and I know there’s a lot of really awesome stuff coming in the next few months, with the Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast tour — fuck I can. not. wait. to go on tour with those dudes — in February and more excellence on tap for the spring. Stay tuned, is what I’m saying.

Alright. Have a great and safe weekend, and please hit up the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Chad Davis Updates on Status of Hour of 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

No strangers over their years “together” to tumult, Hour of 13 seem to be entering into their next phase. Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Chad Davis provides a glimpse of where the band is at, its continued turbulent relationship with vocalist Phil Swanson (also Vestal Claret, Seamount, etc.) and what the future might hold for the band, which released its third album, 333, in 2012. For more from Davis, he’s interviewed here.

Here’s the latest:

Chad Davis / Hour Of 13 official press release 5-3-2013:

I am grateful for all of the support everyone has shown for Ho13, and honored to have been able to bring everyone quality music to a very thriving and revitalized movement. It has been extremely trying over the years, the constant interchanging of personnel, missing out on great opportunities to move the band further to all of you in a live setting, internal strife and conflicts of interest. But, in hindsight, things happened the way they have, and it is pointless to dwell on the past. The future is now…

I am glad to announce that new material will be created to carry the Ho13 namesake into the next phase of its existence. A much needed break and rest from all of it was a good source of medicine, healing the mind and allowing me to be able to refocus energy back into this musical force. Ho13 has always been an amazing outlet for me, a magnificent way to incorporate all of the influences that had helped me sharpen my craft.

A recent interview with Phil Swanson that was posted on a rather small blog, in which he made some very bold statements. I am not here to defend myself or counteract anything he may feel towards Ho13 or myself directly. His point of view is entirely his own prerogative. In an attempt to not discredit his persona, his ideas are quite far from reality. My reality. So, with that said, I wish him nothing but the best in any musical endeavor he may embark on. A talented vocalist he is, but he is NOT the be-all-end-all of Ho13.

In closing, the only thanks I can extend is once again to all of you. The fans. You have helped us more than anything. The music is for you. And I am extending to you guys the longevity of this band until the finality comes. Thank all of you!!

Regards,
Chad Davis

Hour of 13, “Who’s to Blame?” official video

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