Earthless Announce Even More Touring in Support of Black Heaven

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Having just wrapped one European tour alongside Comet Control by playing as artists-in-residence at this year’s Roadburn festival — three sets of their own and guest spots with other bands — Earthless have announced another string of Euro dates to follow their US run that begins the end of this month. This time, they’ll play slots at SonicBlast Moledo 2018 (as previously discussed) and Lake on Fire 2018 among others, and do shows with the likes of Ruby the HatchetGraveyard and Pallbearer as they continue to spread the gospel of their latest offering, Black Heaven (review here), which as I think I’ve probably said upwards of 30 times at this point, is also their debut on Nuclear Blast.

I gotta say, however you might feel about Earthless putting vocals on a record or whatever, or however you might feel about the band generally, they’re doing an absolutely insane amount of touring thus far for Black Heaven, and between the work they’re continuing to put in and the massive influence they’ve had over an entire league of West Coast heavy — which also had a slot at Roadburn; yes, the whole league — it’s hard at this point not to think of them as one of the American underground’s most crucial bands.

Pure and simple, they’re killing it. All year. More and more.

Here are the dates as posted by the band on the social medias:

earthless tour poster

JUST ANNOUNCED: August Euro/UK headline shows + festival dates!!! Ruby the Hatchet will be supporting us in the UK and on a couple of Euro club shows, plus we’ve got two gigs with Pallbearer. And Graveyard and us will be teaming up at PALP festival Rocklette, which will be sweeet. Tickets available now for all dates, get yrs SOON! (killer flyer by Branca Studio)

29 July: Birmingham UK – Hare & Hounds Kings Heath %
30 July: Glasgow UK – The Classic Grand %
31 July: Leeds UK – Brudenell Social Club %
01 Aug: Brighton UK – The Haunt Brighton %
02 Aug: Amsterdam NL – Paradiso Amsterdam %
03 Aug: Beelen DE – Krach am Bach Festival
04 Aug: Waldhausen im Strudengau AT – Lake on Fire Festival
06 Aug: Primošten CR – SuperUho Festival
08 Aug: Budapest HR – A38 Hajó $
11 Aug: Moledo PT – SonicBlast Moledo
14 Aug: Bagnes CH – PALP festival Rocklette &
15 Aug: Winterthur CH – Gaswerk *

%: w/ Ruby the Hatchet
$: w/ Pallbearer
&: w/ Graveyard
*: w/ Pallbearer + Ruby the Hatchet

Previously announced tour dates:
EARTHLESS 2ND LEG BLACK HEAVEN TOUR:
May 31 Detroit, MI El Club
June 1 Nelsonville, OH Nelsonville Music Festival
June 2 Louisville, KY Zanzabar
June 3 Morgantown, WV 123 Pleasant Street
June 5 Asheville, NC The Mothlight
June 6 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
June 7 Spartanburg, SC Ground Zero
June 8 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub
June 9 Tallahassee, FL The Wilbury
June 10 Baton Rouge, LA The Spanish Moon
June 12 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall
June 13 Austin, TX Barracuda
June 14 Ft. Worth, TX Ridglea Room
June 15 Memphis, TN Growler’s

All U.S. non-festival dates with Here Lies Man except Detroit (Timmy’s Organism and The Octopus open)

August 3 Beelen, Germany Krach am Bach
August 10 Moledo, Portugal Sonic Blast

Earthless is Mike Eginton (bass), Isaiah Mitchell (vocals/guitar) and Mario Rubalcaba (drums).

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Earthless, “Volt Rush” official video

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Roadburn 2018 Day Two: Sessions of Light

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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04.20.18 – 11:25PM CET – Friday night – Hotel Mercure Rm. 224

You know what I did this afternoon before the show started? I slept. For about an hour. It was fucking crazy. A post-‘zine, pre-Roadburn-day-two nap. I’m not sure I can convey to you the novelty of such a thing. With a 3:10PM start to the day, it never would’ve been possible before, as I’d be folding copies of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. Yesterday, today and tomorrow that task is outsourced. Sunday will be folding penance. But damn I enjoyed that nap.

I also enjoyed an inhuman(e) amount of espresso today. You might say I’m sipping one right now. By the time Motorpsycho took to the Main Stage for their two-hour early-headlining set, I’d certainly had a few, and they came in handy in keeping up with the Norwegians’ semi-psychedlic heavy progressive rock. I will not at all pretend to motorpsycho (Photo by JJ Koczan)be an expert on the band — I saw the a few years ago in Eindhoven and they were doing a concept show or something and it didn’t really hit a nerve — but what may or may not still be their latest LP, 2017’s The Tower (review here), was a thrill, so to hear cuts from that like “In Every Dream Home (There’s a Dream of Something Else)” was likewise and as they settled in for the longest haul to feature today on the Main Stage, the crowd seemed to do much the same.

For anyone in the US who might be reading this, Motorpsycho are a huge deal over here. They are legends, legitimately. They’ve been at it for nearly 30 years, and they have a discography that at this point is nigh on insurmountable to which they continuously add releases. They’re relatively obscure in America compared to some other progressive rock-type outfits, but they’re the kind of band who can get on stage, play a song called “Starhammer” from an album called Heavy Metal Fruit and have a couple thousand people absolutely wrapped around their collective finger. Their material is enticingly complex, with ebbs and flows in energy and volume, and when they want to, they can be quite heavy, but while their delivery is technically precise, they’re not overly showy, and the sense of class with which they play holds firm throughout. They, and the response they got, were both a joy to watch.

There was, however, a reason I only stayed for an hour and 45 minutes of their full two-hour set, and that was because over at Cul de Sac, Toronto’s Comet Control were on next, and I was taking zero chances when it came to the potential of missing them. I showed up too late for Insect Ark yesterday and missed my shot. Getting to see Comet Control meant showing up as Ulsect were finishing and waiting the 40comet control 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan) minutes for them to load their gear in, set up, soundcheck, etc. Time well spent as far as I’m concerned, because as I think I’ve said several times by now, there was simply no way I wasn’t going to see them.

My vigilance in doing so was rewarded with a shit-eating-grin-on-my-face life-affirming set the likes of which I’ve only ever experienced at Roadburn. I stayed down the front of the Cul de Sac and stood in front of the stage the entire time. They were my first complete set of the weekend (and only one to this point) and were so good that I wanted to sit it down and explain it to them. Or write a letter. “Dear Comet Control: You guys and gal are fucking awesome. When you played ‘Blast Magic’ I thought my heart was going to explode.” They did that track and “Dig out Your Head” from their excellent 2016 sophomore full-length, Center of the Maze (review here), and were joined on stage by Mario Rubalcaba from Earthless who took over on guitar from Chad Ross for a song — holding the instrument upside down to play left-handed — before they dug back into Ross‘ and fellow guitarist Andrew Moszynski‘s former outfit, Quest for Fire, to play “Greatest Hits by God” and “Sessions of Light,” the opening and closing cuts from 2010’s Lights from Paradise (review here; discussed here).

That. Well. That. That kind of felt like a birthday present to the universe. Quest for Fire played Roadburn in 2011 in what was then called the Bat Cave. I remember standing there in the hallway of the pre-redo 013 and watching them through the door in the smallest of the then-three rooms in the buildingcomet control (Photo by JJ Koczan). Cul de Sac isn’t the smallest venue at Roadburn 2018 — that honor goes to Hall of Fame, up by the Kopelhal and the merch area — but it was an intimate, packed show all the same, and it was the only time so far this weekend that I pulled my earplugs even part of the way out of my ears during a set to let the loudness in. Ross‘ and Moszynski‘s guitars were a wash across two channels, and even though the skin on the kick drum broke, the band made it work. They were my one “must” of the day, and completely justified my anticipation. I sincerely hope this isn’t the only time I get to see them.

When they were done, I lumbered clumsily back to the 013 proper to check out Crowbar on the Main Stage playing Odd Fellows Rest in full as part of Jacob Bannon from Converge‘s curated day. They very much sounded like Crowbar, and that’s not a complaint. The New Orleans sludge purveyors are pro-shop the whole way through and their set was likewise. It’s always interesting to see who gets into the spirit of Roadburn and who plays it like another gig. Again, nothing against Crowbar, who’ve no doubt played European fests in front of tens of thousands of people, and it being a full-album performance, it was still something special to see, founding guitarist/vocalist Kirk Windstein thanking the crowd profusely as well as Jacob Bannon and Walter for having them back.

I dipped out to grab a quick bite for dinner — there’s this fish in like a lemoncrowbar (Photo by JJ Koczan) cream sauce kind of thing this year in the catering room backstage; I felt like I didn’t want to stop — and made it back in time to catch Crowbar play their cover of “No Quarter” and close out their set with a couple other tunes before Windstein said they were gonna “do that gay thing everyone does” and take a picture on stage with the crowd behind them. Pulled the wind right out of my enjoyment of seeing them. Like a balloon making a fart noise as the air escapes. Bummer. You can call me PC or whatever. I don’t give a fuck. Crowbar has ruled for a long-ass time, but that shit is lame. Moving on.

The delightfully punctuated Seinäjoki, Finland, progressive psych outfit Kairon; IRSE! were wrapping up in the Green Room around the same time, so I waddled in there and caught the end of their set from the balcony. The assembled masses before them were clearly loyal to the cause and it was easy to see why. Heady stuff. They’re on Svart, which is all the endorsement they need as far as I’m concerned, and I may yet pick up their albums in the merch area, where the label has a table all set up that I’ve now visited twice, but I was really in the Green Room to catch Minami Deutsch.

My thinking was that I owed it to myself to catch at least some of the Japanese Psych Experience while I was here — set up by Walter with the minami deutsch (Photo by JJ Koczan)label Guru Guru Brain in a similar kind of thing to the San Diego Takeover, only, you know, from Japan, with acts like Kikagaku Moyo, Dhidalah and Minami Deutsch playing — and I’d heard all along that Minami Deutsch were the mellowest of the bunch. That suited me just fine. I waited for them to go on and when they did, it was easy-groove spacial drift the whole way through and it turned out to be just the vibe I was looking for. I was not the only one, as the room was loaded with people all the way out the door. How many times in my life will I get to see them? I don’t know. Maybe twice if I’m lucky. Point is they were right on and especially as a part of the J-psych theme, a band I felt extra fortunate to be able to catch.

Speaking of possibly-once-in-a-lifetime experiences, up at the Koepelhal — which is on the other side of the train tracks from the 013 in what, with the weather so nice and all the people laying in the grass outside smoking, drinking, whatever, looked like the Roadburn Annex — it was nearly time for Earthless and Damo Suzuki to fuse their mind energies for a set of what I believe was fully improvised psychedelic wandering. There was a little time, so I hobbled next door to the Hall of Fame to watch Petyr play heavy ’70s covers for a minute or two, and perused the merch again, only making myself sad in the process on any number of levels. These are interesting days. Did I mention I ate dinner?

Anyhow, when it was time for Earthless and Damo Suzuki to play their set — which, once more, is the kind of thing that may or may not ever, ever happen again — the Koepelhal was absolutely rammed with bodies looking for a bit of psychedelic communion. As it happens, damo suzuki earthless (Photo by JJ Koczan)that is precisely what they got. The mood started out quiet and built up and came down, with Suzuki on mic, someone else playing another stringed instrument, and EarthlessIsaiah Mitchell, Mike Eginton and Mario Rubalcaba not quite playing the role of the backing band, but definitely giving Suzuki respect on stage and the space to do what he does in terms of proclamations largely indecipherable but completely in the moment. The whole thing, really. Completely in the moment. That seemed to be the entire point.

And maybe it was the heat, or maybe it was the humidity, or maybe it was just me being a sucker and remembering how good they were last time I saw them here in 2013, but something drove me back toward the 013 Main Hall in order to catch the start of Godflesh performing 1994’s Selfless in its entirety. I knew I wasn’t going to see the whole thing — writing to do — but I also knew there was no way I’d be able to consider the night complete without watching them at least for a while. So I did. I peeled myself out of Koepelhal and floundered back to the 013, wheregodflesh (Photo by JJ Koczan) Justin K. Broadrick — with hair, no less — and G.C. Green went on about 10 minutes past their allotted start time and only built on the tension that late start created with their dissonant, crushing industrial aggression.

Like few bands I’ve ever seen, Godflesh seem to have the power to just reach into your lungs and squeeze them until they’re all the way empty. It’s something to behold. Selfless had them beginning to experiment with melody, but the electronic beats and the intensity were (and still are) there to be sure, and Broadrick and Green captivated a full Main Stage area, spaced out across the stage just as they were when I saw them play their 1989 debut, Streetcleaner here in 2011. That was also an adventure in sonic brutalism.

After a while, the get-to-work itch started to become unbearable and I blundered my way back through Weirdo Canyon to the hotel where so-much-and-yet-not-enough coffee awaited. It had been another excellent day — it was hard to believe it was only the second one of the fest itself — but Roadburn 2018 picks up early tomorrow with Bell Witch playing Mirror Reaper in its entirety, and well, if I’m going to have my head cleaved open with doom, the very least I can do is be well rested in advance for it.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump and more to come tomorrow.

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Roadburn 2018 Day One: Gifted by the Wind

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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04.19.18 – 11:33PM CET – Thursday Night – Hotel Mercure Rm. 224

Long day. Great day. I saw more bands than I photographed, which was among my most essential goals for Roadburn 2018: Just watch music. Just enjoy it. Don’t sweat getting down the front. Don’t sweat anything. This is a good time.

That whole “not sweating” part? Pretty much impossible. It’s apparently Global Warming Week in the Netherlands, so while Waste of Space Orchestra — the first of the weekend’s two commissioned projects, with members involved from Finnish fest-veteran outfits Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising — were tearing the Main Hall to shreds with their avantdelic blackened swirl, outside the sun was shining brightly in a conceptual contrast that, to be perfectly honest, was almost too much to take. waste of space orchestra (Photo by JJ Koczan)Outside, the cafes of Weirdo Canyon were packed to the hilt with libation quaffers. Inside, the goal seemed to be who could be first to prove the human soul exists and then tear it apart.

Hyperbole, you say. Fucking a right. How’s this for hyperbole? Waste of Space Orchestra‘s set might have been some of the most forward-thinking music I’ve heard since BorisFlood. Maybe. I’d have to hear it recorded, which hopefully will happen in a Live at Roadburn-style context, if not an actual studio album — it seems to me the substance there is too great to be left as a one-time-thing-and-gone experience. The ebbs and flows from almost-nothing drones to full-intensity, dual-drummed madness set a scope worthy of its dream-based concept, and there did not seem to be a moment of it that departed from the central mission of exploration. The gorgeous derived from the hideous and vice versa. A laugh in the face of anyone’s expectations, my own included. A first “holy shit” moment for a span of days that promises many.

My brain already so much goo only kept from leaking out of my skull by my earplugs blocking the way, I galumphed in that American-with-a-sore-back kind of way over to Het Patronaat to watch Colorado’s Khemmis play their first European show ever. Imagine that. Your first show on the continent, and it’s at Roadburn. I hope anything else on the tour measures up, because they absolutely packed out the church, and the assembled congregation bid them much welcome once they got going following a moment of turns-out-this-isn’t-plugged-in technical difficulties. That is to say, the crowd knew them and knew their two albums, 2016’s Hunted (review here) and 2015’s Absolution (review here), so there was none of that awkward getting-to-know-you phase. Everyone dove right in.

In fact, that seemed to be the way it went all around, not just for Khemmis or even Waste of Space Orchestra. Sometimes it takes a day khemmis (Photo by JJ Koczan)or two for Roadburn to really dig in. Not this year. From the moment Sannhet started in the Green Room, the vibe was set. Whether they were inside watching the bands or standing in the open air having a smoke of this or that — did you know Europeans put tobacco in their joints? I’ve been coming to the Netherlands for a decade and that’s some shit I just found out today, which I guess tells you how concerned I am generally with the matter. Still, fascinating.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, the vibe. The vibe was right on. I don’t know if it was starting off the Main Stage with such a landmark performance, or the sense of gratitude that Khemmis had from the beginning of their set on, or just all these super-laid-back West Coast dudes walking around, but it was quick immersion in and about the 013 venue. The good times were immediate. The rooms were jammed right from the beginning, and in the best way possible, it felt way more like day three than day one. Again, I did my best to take it easy and just enjoy it, soak in everything I could.

That’s not to say there wasn’t a bit of back and forth to the evening. Plenty, actually, but I knew that Earthless were on my must-see list for the day. The forerunners of San Diego’s heavy rock boom are wrapping a European tour here supporting their new album, Black Heaven (review here). They had a decent portion of acolytes rocking out at the side of the stage, and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell casually noted that it had been 10 years since the first time they played the fest, which of course resulted in the now-legendary LP, Live at Roadburn (discussed here). He wished everyone a great weekend. My big question going into their Main Stage set was how their new material, specifically that with his vocals, would fit alongside the three-piece’s longform instrumentalism.

The answer couldn’t possibly be dumber:earthless 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan) It just does. It’s the same band. It absolutely works. After about 20 minutes of their set, and further, as they moved into “End to End” and “Gifted by the Wind,” I began to wonder exactly what the hell I thought was going to happen, like all of a sudden Mitchell would start singing and bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba would stop and be like, “Dude, what’re you doing?” in the middle of a song. It’s a big transition they’ve made with Black Heaven, but they 100 percent pulled it off on the record, and they did likewise live. Once they started playing, there was no doubt. They absolutely owned the stage and owned the room, the dynamic between each member of the band and the others making all of them utterly essential to the whole; a classic power trio with boogie enough to move thousands. I know. I saw it happen.

And while we’re on the subject, bonus points to Rubalcaba for wearing a t-shirt representing their tourmates Comet Control, who play tomorrow at Cul de Sac and are my absolute must-see band for the day. Like, not staying the whole time for Crowbar, missing Supersonic Blues‘ covers set, Panopticon and Kikagaku Moyo to see them. That’s how fucking essential I consider that. I also hope to get my own shirt.

My intended next stop after Earthless was Insect Ark, at Cul de Sac. I ran back to the hotel room to throw water on my face and drop off the issues I’d snagged of Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, but got back to the venue in Weirdo Canyon itself 20 minutes early and probably about 10 too late to get a spot down front. They went on and I stood in back nursing my regrets and my umpteenth espresso for the day that I picked up from the machine in the hotel lobby, then tweedledummed my way back to the Main Stage toearthless 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan) watch some of Converge playing last November’s The Dusk in Us.

I made it in time to catch the title-track, which frontman and Roadburn 2018 curator Jacob Bannon took a moment to explain was about depression and that if anyone “could relate,” the most important thing to do was survive. “Nothing is more important than you,” he said. I had to stop for minute as the song got going with its slow build and dramatic semi-spoken lyrics and realize that I’ve never felt that to be less true. I don’t begrudge Bannon the sentiment, but yeah. Not a chance, bro.

Harder to argue with Converge‘s on-stage delivery, though. They’ve been at it for nearly 30 years, and while I can’t claim to have seen them in 1990, the passion seems not to have dulled in the slightest. My stop in the Main Hall was temporary though, as I knew I wanted to head to the Green Room to catch Ex Eye, about whom I’ve been hearing more or less since I got to Tilburg yesterday. And actually much longer than that.

Somewhat telling that I walked into the Green Room with more than half an hour to go before the New York-based four-piece took the stage — they were soundchecking at the time — and still couldn’t get a spot to take a semi-decent photo. When they actually rolled in, Ex Eye represented the league of hyperprog better than anyone I’ve seen in a good long while. Guitar, sax, Moog, drums — though no shortage of low end. Instrumental experimentation turning metal into jazz and jazz into metal in a way that would have Cynic blushing and Colin Marston breaking out his Warr guitar to try and get in on the fun. Now I know what people who saw Blind Idiot God in 1989 must’ve felt like.

And I guess by that I mean outclassed by a decade or two. I’d never heard Ex Eye before — look at me, trying new things! — and they were as opaque as they were breathtaking, but it was clear they were on their own wavelength.ex eye (Photo by JJ Koczan) Is extreme prog a thing? If it is or it isn’t, they are.

Having some time before my last stop for the night, I popped up to the merch area to see what was what for shirts and CDs and the like. Part of my annual sojourn in the past has been catching up on Nasoni Records releases by buying a host of CDs, but there were none to be had. I consoled myself with some treasures from Svart — Talmud BeachGarden of WormKimi Kärki‘s solo record, Hallatar — and an old compilation on Hellhound that I’d never seen around before. Distros had a lot of vinyl, same as everywhere, and I usually allot myself one piece of it before the weekend is out. I may yet, but didn’t this time. I’m sure I’ll get there.

But as to that last stop for the day, it was Mirror Queen back at the Cul de Sac. A bit of New York to wrap up a day that spanned even more broadly in terms of style than I could’ve planned had I actually circled names on the schedule. If I could end every night of this fest with some good old fashioned heavy rock and roll, I think I could only call it a win. Mirror Queen brought exactly that: wholesome ’70s flavor with not an ounce of pretense to be found. They’d been on tour for a week alongside Lonely Kamel and were tight enough to make one believe it, and they pulled a good crowd supporting their new single “Inviolate” (video premiere here) and last year’s full-length, Verdigris (review here), which was likewise rife with classic heavy charm and a naturalist modern presentation.

Not my first time seeing them by any stretch, but in my experience there’s always a difference between seeing a band at Roadburn and seeing them anywhere else. Plus, this was my first time watching them play with guitarist Morgan McDaniel in the lineup alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Kenny Sehgal, drummer Jeremy O’Brien and bassist James Corallo. I saw McDaniel here a couple years back when he played bass in The Golden Grass, but he can and did shred on lead guitar and it was a pleasure to watch. He fit right in that band in a way that made me hope he stays.

After taking pictures down front, I made my way to the back of the room for a mirror queen (Photo by JJ Koczan)bit to catch my breath prior to heading out. It had been, as I noted at the outset, a long, great day, but the get-back-to-the-hotel-and-start-writing-you-jerk itch was making itself felt, so I eventually departed the boogie proceedings and lumped it down Weirdo Canyon and back here, where I remain, somewhat stunned by the news that Sleep are apparently releasing a previously-unannounced album tomorrow, on April 20. I would be very surprised if some clever venue DJ doesn’t have it playing somewhere here this weekend. What a way to end day one.

Up in the morning early to work on the ‘zine again, so I’ll leave it there for now. I’ve got some more pictures up after the jump if you get the chance to check them out. Thanks for reading either way. More to come.

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Earthless Announce More US Touring for May/June

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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Earthless — who are currently embroiled in a European run alongside Comet Control that should be called the ‘Fucking A, This Pairing is Awesome and Everyone Should Go See It’ Tour and will land the San Diego trio at Roadburn, where they’ll serve as artists-in-residence — have announced their next batch of US tour dates supporting their new album, Black Heaven (review here). The band recently wrapped a US stint with Kikagaku Moyo and JJUUJJUU, and as they go from May into June, they’ll be bringing along Here Lies Man for the majority of the dates who are — wait for it — also fucking awesome.

If you think your brain can handle the righteousness, the PR wire submits the following:

earthless tour

EARTHLESS ANNOUNCE NEXT LEG OF U.S. TOUR DATES

BLACK HEAVEN AVAILABLE NOW: http://nblast.de/EarthlessBlackHeavenNB

Earthless, who recently released their Nuclear Blast debut, Black Heaven, have added a second leg of U.S. tour dates, kicking off on May 31 at Detroit’s El Club.

“Our new album, Black Heaven, is out now and we’re super excited to get out on the road again to play the Nelsonville Music Festival plus a bunch of U.S. headline shows in spots we haven’t hit yet,” said Mario Rubalcaba. “Stoked to burn through some new tunes for you all! Tell your friends and hope to see you at the shows!” News of the U.S. outing comes as the band kicks off a European tour in support of the album, launching the three-week leg with a show tomorrow night in Belgium.

Continuing in a series of firsts, the San Diego-based outfit offered up their first ever music video recently as well, with the clip for “Volt Rush”. The video features mythical skateboarder T-Spliff (aka Taylor Smith) as he boards across San Diego and neighboring Oceanside, visiting a number of favorite hometown locales. “Volt Rush” was directed by skateboard/visual artist BB Bastidas.

EARTHLESS w/ COMET CONTROL:
Apr 5 – Manchester, UK @ The Deaf Institute
Apr 6 – London, UK @ Islington Assembly Hall
Apr 7 – Paris, FR @ Petit Bain
Apr 8 – Frankfurt, DE @ Zoom
Apr 10 – Munich, DE @ Feierwerk
Apr 11 – Berlin, DE @ Bi Nuu
Apr 12 – Copenhagen, DK @ Pumpehuset
Apr 13 – Oslo, NO @ BLA
Apr 14 – Gothenberg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska
Apr 16 – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
Apr 19 – Tilburg, NE @ ROADBURN 2018
Apr 20 – Tilburg, NE @ ROADBURN 2018
Apr 21 – Tilburg, NE @ ROADBURN 2018

EARTHLESS 2ND LEG BLACK HEAVEN TOUR:
May 31 Detroit, MI El Club
June 1 Nelsonville, OH Nelsonville Music Festival
June 2 Louisville, KY Zanzabar
June 3 Morgantown, WV 123 Pleasant Street
June 5 Asheville, NC The Mothlight
June 6 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
June 7 Spartanburg, SC Ground Zero
June 8 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub
June 9 Tallahassee, FL The Wilbury
June 10 Baton Rouge, LA The Spanish Moon
June 12 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall
June 13 Austin, TX Barracuda
June 14 Ft. Worth, TX Ridglea Room
June 15 Memphis, TN Growler’s

All U.S. non-festival dates with Here Lies Man except Detroit (Timmy’s Organism and The Octopus open)

August 3 Beelen, Germany Krach am Bach
August 10 Moledo, Portugal Sonic Blast

Earthless is Mike Eginton (bass), Isaiah Mitchell (vocals/guitar) and Mario Rubalcaba (drums).

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Earthless, “Volt Rush” official video

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Earthless Post “Volt Rush” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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Just how West Coast is it? Well, it’s West Coast enough to feature a professional skateboarder jumping over garbage cans dressed as a pizza-themed superhero, if that answers your question. Which it should. Sorry, that shit just doesn’t happen in Philadelphia.

San Diego heavy psych ambassadors Earthless issued their new album, Black Heaven (review here), last week via Nuclear Blast, and somehow, the clip below for “Volt Rush” strikes me as something of a victory lap to mark the occasion. Unlike much of the record, the track is instrumental, but it’s also only two and a half minutes long and so still represents some of the overarching change of approach that’s become so much of the narrative of the record — Earthless daring to not bask in their 20-minute, epic-as-all-hell instrumental songcrat and instead offer verses, choruses, and a piece like “Volt Rush,” which is there and gone before you even really have time to notice it’s Mad Alchemy doing the psychedelic lighting for the band’s show in the clip. Which, incidentally, it is.

As for the narrative, it looks like a hell of a day for Volt Pizza Man, played by pro skater Taylor Smith, and whatever cool tricks happen along the way — though I’ll give both the band and director BB Bastidas credit for not just making it look like a sponsor-me skate demo — the story ends (spoiler ahead) with Smith getting tossed on his ass out back of the Casbah, which my understanding is where it’s at when it comes to San Diego venues. That’s what I’m told, anyhow.

“Volt Rush,” though, lives up to its name, and the quick push through it makes it just right for the average YouTube attention span. Earthless are of course on tour now in the US and will head overseas next month to feature at Roadburn 2018 as artists-in-residence and leaders — suitably enough — of what’s been dubbed the “San Diego takeover,’ with JoyHarsh TokeArcticPetyr and others taking part.

Dates follow the clip below, as per the PR wire:

Earthless, “Volt Rush” official video

Earthless, who are in the midst of a North American tour in support of their new album Black Heaven, debut their video for “Volt Rush.”

The video, which is set in Earthless’ hometown of San Diego, as well as neighboring Oceanside, was directed by skateboard/visual artist BB Bastidas and features the famed SoCal skateboarder T-Spliff (aka Taylor Smith).

“Stoked to present to you the very first Earthless video, directed by artist BB Bastidas,” said drummer Mario Rubalcaba. “We were stoked to work with BB on this as he knows our background as a band and our close roots with skateboarding. His art is amazing and he also has a keen natural eye for film. Having Taylor Smith, aka T-Spliff, in it just makes it even sweeter. He is somewhat of a mythical figure of a skater, an amazing talent but chooses to shred at his own discretion. Those who know, know. This was a blast to be a part of and we hope you enjoy this short high energy rocker that cruises around our hometown of San Diego, and local club, The Casbah.”

Black Heaven is the band’s first release to feature a majority of songs with vocals and is also the trio’s first time working with producer Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal). Rubalcaba explains the impact the Joshua Tree studio had on the outfit’s new music: “This album represents yet another branch on the ever growing and now adolescent Earthless tree. I spent a good amount of time just gazing at the stars at night while we were out recording in the desert of Joshua Tree. I think this somehow lent itself to the title and feel of the album on some songs. This LP has a touch more of our classic rock roots showing, just stuff we grew up on and it’s great to finally utilize Isaiah’s lyrical talent and soulful voice. As cliché as it sounds – Black Heaven should be played LOUD.”

Earthless tour dates:
March 20 Washington, DC Rock’n’Roll Hotel
March 21 Richmond, VA The Broadberry
March 22 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge
March 23 St. Louis, MO Blueberry Hill
March 24 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
March 25 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
*All North American tour dates with Kikagaku Moyo and JJUUJJUU

April 3 Korkrijk, Belgium De Kreun
April 4 Bristol, UK The Fleece
April 5 Manchester, UK The Deaf Institute
April 6 London, UK Islington Assembly Hall
April 7 Paris, France Petit Bain
April 8 Frankfurt, Germany Zoom
April 10 Munich, Germany Feierwerk
April 11 Berlin, Germany Bi Nuu
April 12 Copenhagen, Denmark Pumpehuset
April 13 Oslo, Norway BLA
April 14 Gothenberg, Sweden Truckstop Alaska
April 16 Hamburg, Germany Molotow
April 19-21 Tilburg, Netherlands Roadburn 2018
*All European, non-Roadburn dates with Comet Control

June 1 Nelsonville, OH Nelsonville Music Festival
August 10 Moledo, Portugal Sonic Blast

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Earthless, Black Heaven: Gifts of the Wind

Posted in Reviews on March 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

earthless black heaven

There will be those who decry the stylistic changes that San Diego — and really, the West Coast as a whole — heavy psych forerunners Earthless make on their fourth album, Black Heaven, which, with its somewhat quizzical title, also marks the trio’s debut on Nuclear Blast after a longer term alignment with Tee Pee that ran right up to 2016’s Acid Crusher / Mount Swan split (review here) with jammy acolytes Harsh Toke. The use of vocals in a major way for the first time, the paring down of song structures as compared to the massive sprawling righteousness that Earthless‘ reputation has been built on to this point will be departures that no doubt will have some in their fanbase calling them sellouts. This position, in this instance as in at least 85 percent of all instances as regards underground bands, is dumb. When Earthless start doing infomercials for electric scissors, maybe they will have sold out.

Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell wants to sing on four out of the six tracks on a 40-minute record? That’s not selling out. That’s a simple shift in approach. And here’s the thing: I can just about guarantee that for every longtime Earthless follower who refuses to get on board with the hook of “End to End” or opener “Gifted by the Wind,” two new heads will be turned onto what they’re doing for the first time. They’re not selling out. They’re reaching out. And I know they’re not the first group to link up with Nuclear Blast and undergo a stylistic change — see also Witchcraft, Graveyard, Blues Pills and Kadavar modernizing their production methods away from their initial vintage sounds — but even if the label had a hand in making the shift take place, Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba do nothing but thrive in the context of these songs. Want to call it a sellout because it’s not what you’re used to? Not what they did on 2013’s From the Ages (review here)? Fine. But you’re the one who’s losing out, not the band.

Mitchell‘s voice will be familiar enough to anyone who’s experienced either of the two full-lengths he’s put out with his other band, Golden Void, and he largely keeps to the same approach here — classic rock in style, soulful but not overdone, tastefully and willfully imperfect in its execution. He sounds live in the tradition of early heavy rock as he tops the initial push of “Gifted by the Wind” and the ultra-catchy boogie of “End to End,” and in one of Black Heaven‘s greatest points of success, the album has managed to distill the vast spread of prior Earthless output — that feeling of every single second being the most awesome moment of the classic heavy rock jam; crescendo piled on top of crescendo in a hypnotic instrumental torrent — into structured songcraft. “Gifted by the Wind” is only six minutes long, “End to End” only five, and the subsequent side A closer “Electric Flame” is the longest track on the LP at 9:05, but it’s not about song length anymore; it’s about what Earthless do with that time. “End to End” opens atmospherically but soon crashes into a threatening wash of feedback and cymbals before launching after the 1:30 mark into its central riff, which is among the most memorable the band has ever produced and joyously raucous in its circular motion. In short, it sounds like they’re having a blast, and subtle layering in Mitchell‘s vocals only add to the Hendrixian spirit as a whole.

earthless

A couple verses belted out lead to a guitar solo and instrumental finish that one senses could probably keep going for as long as the band wants it to in a live setting, but is certainly enough to get the wah-soaked, ass-shaking point across, Rubalcaba turning in a particularly engaging performance. The aforementioned side A closer “Electric Flame” is immediately more subdued, but still takes off on a rush of its own shortly, the time spent in the intro heading toward a more straightforward groove that is graceful in its turns but still rough-sounding along the edges — a balance of danger and surehandedness that Earthless carry through an early jam before turning back to the verse at the halfway point and taking off shortly after five minutes in on the mostly-instrumental stretch that rounds out in fashion no less immersive than they’ve ever been, of course with Mitchell‘s unmitigated at the fore punctuated by Rubalcaba‘s drums as Eginton‘s bass provides the foundation to which they smoothly return near the finish. Like the best of its ilk, it sounds like it’s about to completely fly apart and never does.

The same applies for the sub-two-minute “Volt Rush,” which is essentially a quick, layered-solo embodiment of its title — fast, full-thrust, all-go. It’s the kind of thing Earthless might’ve done for 13 minutes or so on 2008’s Live at Roadburn (discussed here), but even in playing to their classic methods, they’re changing how that happens, emphasizing quickly the trio dynamic between Mitchell, Eginton and Rubalcaba that has made them the arguable godfathers and key influence of the crowded West Coast scene that has sprouted in their wake. As much as it takes “Volt Rush” 1:56 to remind of that, I doubt many will complain as the following nine-minute title-track puts further emphasis on the point. An instrumental push that starts and offers no letup, its bleed directly through to closer “Sudden End” ties what one might think of as the two sides of the band presented on Black Heaven together.

After the fervency of the title-track, “Sudden End” takes a more laid back, bluesy approach and holds to a mid-paced tempo, and the vocals return to top a cloudy-beach psychedelia that fascinates all the more because of the choice it represents on the part of the band not to cap with a blowout, but with a easier flow carried by Eginton‘s bass and a relatively simplified drum progression from Rubalcaba. I won’t say it’s the biggest surprise of the album, but it does bring to mind the notion that as far outside their comfort zone as Earthless reach here — let’s face it, they could’ve put out an hour-long LP of three extended instrumentals and been hailed as gods for it — there’s still farther they can go, and new modes of expression to yet be explored. Earthless have always been songwriters, but they’ve never brought that into focus like they do on Black Heaven, and while it’s certain to divide some of the band’s followers, their boldness and their level of craft both come through stronger than ever before here. An absolute contender for the best album of 2018.

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audiObelisk Transmission 065

Posted in Podcasts on February 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

aOT65

I recognize that saying so is the cliché equivalent to writing a song with the same bassline as ‘N.I.B.,’ but if this was December and not February and the year was about to end in a couple weeks’ time, would you really be able to complain about any lack of fantastic releases? It’s been two months and before the next one is out we will have seen and heard new offerings from Corrosion of Conformity, Monster Magnet, Earthless, Fu Manchu and literally hundreds of others. It’s been as awesome as it’s been impossible to keep up with.

This new podcast follows the same model as the last one, vis-a-vis using Spotify as the medium of conveyance. You can see the playlist in the player below, and you may accordingly wonder why I’ve bothered to type it out underneath as well. It’s because streaming sites disappear even quicker than they rise to dominance, and I’m not saying The Obelisk is going to outlast Spotify or anything, but just in case, I like to keep my own records. I appreciate the indulgence on your part.

Awesome mix this time around. No real theme other than it’s new stuff I’ve been listening to a lot and digging. I very much hope you enjoy it as well. 21 tracks. About two and a half hours long.

Thanks for listening and reading:

Track details:

Artist, Track, Album, Runtime
Earthless, “Black Heaven” from Black Heaven, 8:45
Sundrifter, “Targeted” from Visitations, 4:45
Psilocibina, “Acid Jam” from LSD / Acid Jam, 7:08
Blackwater Holylight, “Sunrise” from Blackwater Holylight, 4:51
Fu Manchu, “Clone of the Universe” from Clone of the Universe, 2:57
Green Lung, “Free the Witch” from Free the Witch, 5:55
Monster Magnet, “Mindfucker” from Mindfucker, 4:59
All Souls, “Never Know” from All Souls, 5:59
Red Lama, “Perfect Strangers” from Motions, 6:47
Blackwülf, “Sinister Sides” from Sinister Sides, 4:53
Fuzz Lord, “Worlds Collide” from Fuzz Lord, 6:58
Corrosion of Conformity, “Forgive Me” from No Cross No Crown, 4:06
Apostle of Solitude, “Ruination Be Thy Name” from From Gold to Ash, 6:37
Avon, “Space Native” from Dave’s Dungeon, 4:42
Psychic Lemon, “Exit to the Death Lane” from Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, 8:32
The Dry Mouths, “Catalonian Cream” from When the Water Smells of Sweat, 4:34
Insect Ark, “Windless” from Marrow Hymns, 8:38
Naxatras, “You Won’t Be Left Alone” from III, 11:17
Mythic Sunship, “Into Oblivion” from Upheaval, 13:56
King Buffalo, “Repeater” from Repeater, 13:40
Hound the Wolves, “Masquerade” from Camera Obscura, 13:10

If you’re interested, you can follow me on Spotify here.

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SonicBlast Moledo 2018: Earthless, Ufomammut, Purple Hill Witch, Atavismo and Ruff Majik Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sonicblast moledo 2018 banner

Set for Aug. 11 and 12 in Portugal, SonicBlast Moledo 2018 continues to build a lineup varied in sound but seemingly unified in vibe. That is to say, whether you’re locked into a hypnotic jam from Earthless or getting crushed by Ufomammut or Conan and doomed by Purple Hill Witch, lost in Nebula‘s desert rock bliss or the lush progressive psych of Atavismo, SonicBlast Moledo 2018 strikes as looking to deliver to those fortunate enough to attend a good time through and through. A band can be dark and grim, or coated in melodic sunshine to match what is no doubt a powerful Iberia-in-August heat — though maybe it’s cooler by the shore — and you’re still going to enjoy yourself. It’s okay to have fun. It’s okay to like things. You’re worth it.

I mean that.

And if you are lucky enough to attend what’s clearly a labor of love on the part of the organizers, I hope you do enjoy. I’ll be jealous.

Here’s the latest word from the PR wire:

SonicBlast Moledo 2018 – Second wave of announcements!

SONICBLAST MOLEDO 2018

Stoner Doom Psych Heavy – Sea Beach Camping Pool Surf Skate

With the dates settled for August 10th and 11th, the eighth edition of SonicBlast Moledo is stoked to announce Earthless, Ufomammut, Purple Hill Witch, Atavismo and Ruff Majik! They join the previously confirmed acts Kadavar, Nebula, Conan and Naxatras!

The mighty Earthless. The Heavy Psychedelic Rock masters. The cosmic instrumental warriors whose power influences generations and leaves any soul stunned. Dominating their instruments like no one, Earthless know how induce unique transcendental states of mind, inspired by the eclectic Krautrock, the exotic Japanese Heavy Blues Rock and the ever-lasting presence of musical guides like Jimi Hendrix or Black Sabbath. From their live shows, we can only expect demolisher minutes of acid and ecstatic vibrations, marked by an incomparable caliber, where we set our own astral space as destiny.

Hailing from the Piedmont region, Ufomammut are easily distinguished as the Italian masters of the Psychedelic Doom Metal. With their 8th album already released, the trio keeps demonstrating the power of their cavernous and massive sounds, employing intense riffs and profound ambiences to induce incessant trances.During their live shows, they are frequently supported by Malleus Collective’s multimedia art, creating a whole new visual impact allied to their music.

Coming out from the far way countryside of Norway lands, Purple Hill Witch follow the Sabbathian law of Doom, conjuring up the sheer excellence of proto heaviness with the swirling vibes of Psychedelic Hard Rock, sculpting a flawless presence. Following their 2014 self-titled masterwork, the trio arrives at Moledo with its successor “Celestial Cemetery”, presenting themselves at their full splendor.

Popular for their energetic live shows, the young trio Ruff Majik doesn’t hold back when it comes to rock n roll. Arriving all the way from South Africa, more precisely Pretoria, these three fuzzy souls are ready to brings a lot of Psych Blues Stoner riffs and many good times with them, touring on European soil for the first time ever.

Born from the ashes of well-known underground bands such a Viaje A 800 or Mind!, the Spanish Atavismo are famous for their Progressive Psychedelic Rock, carefully created by the aid of experimental space rock and atmospherical sensations. After releasing their great sophomore album “Inerte”, the band toured throughout Europe, arriving now at the shore of Moledo.

https://sonicblastmoledo.bol.pt/
https://www.facebook.com/SonicBlast-Moledo-242619262427066/
https://www.facebook.com/events/181938749070159/
https://sonicblastmoledo.wordpress.com/

Atavismo, Inerte (2017)

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