Posted in Whathaveyou on May 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Still no word on exactly where the second Vultures of Volume festival will take place, but the lineup is taking shape nicely. One assumes it will be held somewhere in Maryland, since that’s where the first was, but you never really know. Stoner Hands of Doom traveled for many years, going as far West as Arizona, and Eye of the Stoned Goat operates similarly, having shifted around the Northeast between Delaware, Massachusetts, Brooklyn and, next month, Long Island. Doesn’t mean Vultures of Volume II will do the same — as a matter of fact, I think it won’t — but I’m interested to find out.
Until that word arrives one way or another, bands continue to join the lineup. The first announcement last month brought with it the promise of a Solace reunion and sets from Righteous Bloom and Disciples of Doom, a new band fronted by Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus and formerly of Candlemass, and this time around it’s Elder, Pale Divine and Wasted Theory who’ve come aboard for the festival, which is set for Sept. 4 and 5, right before Labor Day.
Seems likely Elder will be among the headliners for the two-day event, their ascent at that point continuing after the release earlier this year of their third album, Lore (review here), and Wasted Theory meanwhile will be riding high after the vinyl release this month of their 2014 album, Death and Taxes (review here) while Pale Divine make their second appearance at Vultures of Volume, also sharing guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey with Righteous Bloom.
The fest announced the additions as follows:
We’re just going to lay this on you all at once because of its enormity! Vultures of Volume Fest II (Sept. 4th and 5th) is elated to announce the addition of Delaware stoners Wasted Theory, Pennsylvania doom legends Pale Divine, and Massachusetts’ mighty riff lords Elder! Spread the word! More bands to be announced very soon!
Posted in Reviews on May 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was a little more touch and go than I’d prefer as to whether or not I’d make this one. Car trouble, money trouble — the mundane bullshit that too regularly keeps us from the things we actually want in life — but ultimately, I found myself driving into Brooklyn from Connecticut to catch the Kings Destroy record release show for their third and what I think is their best album yet. Joined on the bill by Clamfight, Apostle of Solitude and Elder, even before I walked in, I had little doubt it would be one of the best nights of my year, and after ti was over my suspicions were only confirmed. I left the Saint Vitus Bar with more energy than I had when I walked in, having spent a night among great friends and great bands and enough volume to fill a month’s quota. There simply was no way to stop from smiling, and I had little interest in trying.
What started out as a good crowd only got more packed in as the night went on. I turned out to be just a couple minutes late to catch the start of Clamfight, but if my evening was to start in medias res, somehow it seemed even more fitting that I should walk in and immediately feel like I was coming home. To that end, I’ll say that I’m probably the exact wrong person to be reviewing this show — there wasn’t one band of the four playing of which I’m not at least a fan, let alone decade-long friendships, working together on prior record releases and things of that sort — but what the hell. Impartiality is a myth. Let’s have some fun.
Went a little bit like this:
Three songs from the Philly heavy thrashers — who just a couple months ago were said to have slaughtered the same venue supporting Eyehategod — two of them newer than their second album, the Maple Forum-released I vs. the Glacier. The four-piece were in the midst of “Stealing the Ghost Horse,” the closer from that riffy rampage of an outing, when I walked in, and after finding out it was their first song, I immediately wondered where they’d go from there. I mean, that song finishes the record for a reason and it’s closed live sets for a while now, but Clamfight — guitarists Sean McKee and Joel Harris, bassist Louis Koble and drummer/vocalist Andy Martin — are in a transitional period and have been for about the last two years, pushing back against stylistic convention and growing musically in line with a corresponding uptick both in stage presence and volume. Growing up? Maybe, as much as one might realistically ask of a band called Clamfight, but it’s produced some fascinating sonic turns. To wit, “Taco Bees,” which followed “Ghost Horse,” is a more straight-ahead rocker and they finished out with a sprawler — Martin introduced it as a “doozy,” which was accurate — called “The History of the Earls of Orkney,” which could probably just as easily open their next record as close it. McKee‘s guitar leading the way through initial verses en route to a multi-movement, multi-build instrumental push, it boasted groove, blastbeats, and ambition in kind, and was exciting to watch both because of how well the band pulled it off and because it was as though they’d said, “Well, now we have this sound and what the hell do we do with it?” and as the answer to that question, it bodes exceptionally well. They’re recording more this summer, and I hope to have updates on their progress soon.
Apostle of Solitude
The Apostle of Soli-dudes released one-third of an unfuckwithable triumvirate of US doom albums last year in the form of their third outing and Cruz del Sur debut, Of Woe and Wounds (review here) — the other two were from Blood Farmers and The Skull, if you’re wondering — and it had been way, way too long since I last got to see the Indianapolis outfit to start with, so I was excited for their set to say the least. It had been since Days of the Doomed II (review here), nearly three full years, and that would prove to be too much. To undersell it, they did not disappoint. With guitarists Chuck Brown and Steve Janiak sharing vocals, bassist Dan Davidson in center stage with drummer Corey Lee behind, they ran through some of the new record’s most intense tracks, beginning with the opening salvo of their intro, “Distance and the Cold Heart” and moving into the first three from Of Woe and Wounds in order, “Blackest of Times” a particularly righteous launch backed by “Whore’s Wings” and “Lamentations of a Broken Man,” with Janiak in the darker corner of the Saint Vitus Bar stage taking the lead vocally for the verses only to be joined by Brown for a chorus both hair-raising in its effect and of headbang-worthy sonic heft. “The Messenger” from 2008’s debut, Sincerest Misery, was on the setlist but got cut for time, which meant everything they played came from Of Woe and Wounds. Fine by me. Their set was a quick lesson that they’ve only gotten better over the last few years, Janiak and Brown nailing harmonies onstage as fluidly as on the record throughout “Lamentations of a Broken Man” and the galloping “Push Mortal Coil,” which led into a driving take on “This Mania” for a finisher, and I’ll say honestly it gave me a whole new appreciation for that track. I revisited Of Woe and Wounds today just because the songs were still stuck in my head and it was enough to make me want to drive to Philly tonight to see them again with Clamfight, but I sated myself with the knowledge that I’ll hopefully be able to catch them among the headliners at the impending Maryland Doom Fest next month. In any case, it won’t be another three years before Apostle of Solitude and I cross paths.
It was Kings Destroy‘s party, we just all happened to be invited. No joke, for a band I quite literally saw more than 20 times last year to get on stage and still offer something exciting, I felt it only underscored how special a group these guys actually are. From the solid low-end foundation of bassist Aaron Bumpus to Rob Sefcik‘s rolling grooves in plunderers like “W2″ and the verses of “Smokey Robinson” from the album they were there to celebrate, their self-titled (review here) on War Crime Recordings, guitarist Carl Porcaro‘s malevolent smile as he tears into the leads of “Blood of Recompense” from 2013’s A Time of Hunting, vocalist Steve Murphy‘s stepping down from the stage for the ending of the same song, or guitarist Chris Skowronski seeming to address the whole of Yankee Stadium in singing along to “Mr. O,” which finished out the set, watching them play was the great time that I knew would justify the drive and they still exceeded my expectations. At this point, I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum on Kings Destroy shows, but they were positively on fire and it was a thrill to behold. They’d prove to be the loudest band of the night amid stiff competition, and to hear them dig into a more upbeat song like “Green Diamonds” coming out of “Embers” from the new album was a killer turn, the two songs appearing in opposite order on record to what they were live, completely reversed in their function but no less effective. No “Mytho” or “Time for War,” but otherwise they played all of Kings Destroy on the day of its release, and added the oddity of “Turul” from A Time of Hunting, which is always a strange kind of delight on the Saint Vitus Bar stage, so brazenly weird and undefinable as to be the primary characteristic of the album from whence it comes. “Mr. O” followed, again, the closer, and was downright riotous, the five-piece pushing through at full speed and still shoving each other around on stage and piledriving the song as much as performing it, the primary takeaway remaining how much truer to their live experience the self-titled is than anything they’ve done before, and how much stronger it is across the board for that fact. They played a gig worthy of the record that served as its impetus.
One could very easily make a case for Elder being among the most pivotal American heavy rock acts going. Their third and latest offering through Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records, Lore (review here), stands objectively with the best that 2015 has yet brought, and after recently spending a month on the road touring that material, they were tighter at the Saint Vitus Bar than one could have reasonably asked, the Boston/Providence/Brooklyn trio standing on the edge of a West Coast tour that will be followed next month by a return trip to Europe as their ascent continues. How essential is Lore? They opened their set with “Spires Burn” from the 2012 Spires Burn/Release EP (streamed here) and it seemed like a warmup before guitarist Nick DiSalvo launched into the initial leads that start “Compendium,” the opening track from the new album. Released just in February, the record’s progressive take, flowing movements and clear-headed tonality came through smoothly throughout the remainder of Elder‘s set, and they seemed to still be in tour-mode, less concerned with the evening’s event itself than the raw delivery of their own material, drummer Matt Couto seeming to stare down the drums borrowed from Kings Destroy as he used it to enact New England’s finest swing and bassist Jack Donovan stomping his foot to the march of “Compendium,” completely immersed in the track and the barrage of complex, engaging heavy that followed. To say they owned the room is understating their on-stage command at this point, but they did anyway, and it was the Lore material that most got the room going, something of a mosh breaking out later on. For a group who were playing this show ahead of getting on a plane the next morning to fly out west and go on tour with the likes of Electric Citizen and Stoned Jesus, it would’ve been understandable if Elder weren’t even there mentally, but while they had a bit of that touring-act thousand-yard-stare working, their delivery was every bit as passion-fueled as it had been at the Lore record release back in March, and one could only stand hypnotized as Elder reshaped the confines of genre to suit their creative progression. The most terrifying thing about them is they feel like they’re still only getting started, and maybe they are.
I had to stop for cash on my way out of Brooklyn since I think EZPass canceled my account owing to some unpaid tickets. “Your tag comes up as invalid,” the cop had told me at the toll on my way into the city. Whoops. If I wanted to get through the Midtown Tunnel, I’d have to do it the hard way, so I swung around to a gas station with my one functioning headlight, hit an ATM and sped down the familiar Routes 46 and 80 headed west to crash for the night in my former river valley, landing at around 1:30 and still taking some time to come down from the show, which I feel like I still haven’t really managed to do, my head a whirlwind of riffs, hugs from good friends and the most killer of times.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rock specialists Mos Generator will have a new 7″ out on Stickman Records in conjunction with their recently-announced European tour alongside Elder. The A side is a cut called “Wroomb” penned by guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed in 1994, and the B side, which has just been posted and which you can hear below, is a cover of Chelsea Wolfe‘s “Tracks (Tall Bodies).” Recorded as a duo with Reed and bassist Sean Booth, Mos Gen‘s take keeps the melodic drama of the original intact but adds a weighted plod, and of course a solo from Reed never hurts either.
I’ll have more on Mos Generator next week as well, but for now here’s the tour announcement and the track. Cover art for the 7″ is “Entangled Cosmic Deities” by Coffeelips:
*ELDER / MOS GENERATOR EURO TOUR 2015*
We are thrilled to announce our European Tour with Mos Generator this summer!! This is by far our most extensive trip at home or abroad, and we’re excited to share LORE with all our European friends.
We’ll be making some stops along the way at Hellfest Open Air Festival, Riff Ritual Festival, Fuzztastic Planet Festival, Free & Easy Festival, Lake on Fire and Stoned from the Underground – Festival, Stick and Stone festival as well as playing a special Stickman Records showcase with the legendary Motorpsycho. In short: this is one for the books!
More shows to be added and confirmed… we will keep you posted. Full dates below:
VIBRA Agency, Stickman Records, Listenable Records, SLAM Magazine and Visions present: ELDER / MOS GENERATOR – Live in Europe 2015 20.06.2015 F – Clisson, Hellfest 2015, (only ELDER) 22.06.2015 ESP – Madrid, Wurlitzer Ballroom 23.06.2015 ESP – Barcelona, Riff Ritual Fest Sala Boveda 25.06.2015 CH – Luzern, Sedel 26.06.2015 GER – Kloster Weil, JH 27.06.2015 GER – Siegen, Vortex 29.06.2015 UK – Cardiff, Moon Club 01.07.2015 UK – Edinburgh, Bannermans 02.07.2015 UK – London, Garage, 03.07.2015 UK – Bristol, The Louisiana 05.07.2015 B – Leuven, Sojo 08.07.2015 GER – Hamburg, Hafenklang 10.07.2015 GER – Erfurt, Stoned From The Underground Festival 2015 11.07.2015 A – Nikolsdorf, Stick & Stone Festival 2015 12.07.2015 HUN – Budapest, Dürer Kert 13.07.2015 A – Vienna, Arena 15.07.2015 ROM – Bucarest, Fabrica Club 16.07.2015 I – Milano, Lo fi Club 17.07.2015 I – Prato, No Cage 20.07.2015 F – Paris, Glazart 21.07.2015 F – Nantes, Club tba 23.07.2015 A – Salzburg, Rockhouse 24.07.2015 GER – Beelen, Krach Am Bach Festival 2015 25.07.2015 GER – Dresden. Chemiefabrik 26.07.2015 GER – Nürnberg, Zentralcafe 27.07.2015 GER – Munich, Backstage, Free & Easy Festival 29.07.2015 GER – Wiesbaden, Schlachthof 31.07.2015 B – Waarshoot, Roadkill Festival 2015 01.08.2015 GER – Bielefeld, Forum, Stickman Records showcase 02.08.2015 GR – Drama, Fuzztastic Planet Fest 2015, (only ELDER) 04.08.2015 NOR – Oslo, Pokalen 05.08.2015 DK – Copenhagen, Pumpehuset 06.08.2015 GER – Berlin, Cassiopeia 08.08.2015 A – Nepomukteich Waldhausen, Lake on Fire Festival 2015
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Golly, I sure would like to go to this. All of it. The Psycho California festival, the shows leading up to it just announced with Elder, Stoned Jesus and Electric Citizen, at which the likes of Dead Meadow, Earth and True Widow will be putting in appearances. There’s really no way to lose here. It’s just all fucking unbelievably good. The you go ahead and get to the lineup of Psycho California 2015 itself and I just have to hang my I-have-no-dollars head in shame at missing it. Yeah. What a bummer.
If you’re going, and I hope you are, I also hope it’s awesome. Here’s the info on the “Road to Psycho” shows, courtesy of the PR wire:
PSYCHO CALIFORNIA ANNOUNCES THE ROAD TO PSYCHO FEATURING ELDER, STONED JESUS AND ELECTRIC CITIZEN
WEEK OF SHOWS LEAD UP TO WEST COAST’S PREEMINENT HEAVY MUSIC FESTIVAL (MAY 15 – 17)
Psycho California, the west coast’s preeminent heavy music festival which runs May 15 to 17 at The Observatory, has announced The Road To Psycho, a week of shows leading up to the three-day, fifty plus band event.
The Road To Psycho features the buzziest new bands in the world of doom and heavy music including Elder, Stoned Jesus and Electric Citizen with Dead Meadow joining the line-up in San Diego and both Earth and True Widow playing the Pappy & Harriet’s outing.
The Road to Psycho schedule: May 7 Los Angeles, CA Harvard & Stone May 8 San Francisco, CA Milk Bar May 9 San Luis Obispo, CA Sweet Springs Saloon May 10 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick + May 12 Fullerton, CA The Slidebar May 13 Laguna Beach, CA The Marine Room May 14 Pioneertown, CA Pappy & Harriet’s *
Special appearances by: Dead Meadow + Earth and True Widow *
Tickets for The Road to Psycho dates are on-sale now. Individual day tickets have sold out with a limited number of 3-day passes remaining at www.psychoca.com.
May 15 performers: Cult of Luna, Russian Circles, Eyehategod, Old Man Gloom, Bedemon, Cave In, Conan, Bell Witch, Wrench, Cough, Atriarch, Samsara Blues Experiment, Radio Moscow, Death By Stereo, Destroyer of Light, Bloodmoon, Crypt Trip, Ancient Altar, Blackout, Loom
May 16 performers: Sleep, Kylesa, Earth, Pallbearer, Dead Meadow, Subrosa, Sourvein, Eagle Twin, True Widow, Rozamov, Mammatus, Lord Dying, Anciients, Electric Citizen, Acid Witch, Sinister Haze, Highlands, Banquet, Lords of Beacon House
May 17 performers: Pentagram, Om, Earthless, Indian, Tombs, Coffinworm, Elder, Truckfighters, Bang, Stoned Jesus, Deathkings, Wo-Fat, Mothership, Tumbleweed Dealer, The Well, Slow Season, Red Wizard
Festival interludes will be provided by Housecore Records’ artist Author & Punisher and vinyl DJ set from Bob Lugowe (Relapse Records) and Sean Pellet (Last Daze Here).
Posted in Reviews on March 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was the release show for Elder‘s third album, Lore (review here), put out and put on by Armageddon Shop, but also the launch for the Massachusetts trio’s tour with Mos Generator, bringing a new incarnation of the long-running West Coast heavy rock outfit east for the first time. With Magic Circle taking a break from recording their forthcoming second album to open the show with plenty of material of their own to unveil, newness was a sort of running theme for the night. Parking near AS220, however, was not. After chickening out on a spot in front of a hydrant — kudos to whoever took it — I wound up in a pay lot before making my way into Providence’s foremost tour-stop for the first time.
Sandwich orders named for playing cards — Jack of Clubs, Queen of this or that, etc. — were shouted out from a counter opposite the bar, and the place was packed. It sold out, but I was early and managed to get in. Doors opened at 9PM and already there was a decent amount of people who showed up. Magic Circle can be pretty elusive, and by that I mean they’re not on Thee Facebooks, so the chance to see them on such a sans-filler bill wasn’t one to pass up. Armageddon Shop labelmates of Elder‘s, though much more entrenched in doom, they got going maybe a little after 9:30 and it was easy enough to see why AS220 was the kind of place where out-of-towners play. It’s a decent-sized room that still gives an impression of intimacy, with a wide stage, lights if you want them — Magic Circle frontman Brendan Ratigan asked almost immediately that they be turned down — and what seemed like full sound going through the house P.A. Standing in front, I wasn’t in the best place to judge the latter, but the two guitars of Magic Circle came across well if that’s anything to go by.
Their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) brooked little argument in cuts like “Winter Light,” “Rapture” and “Scream Evil,” which were aired, and since the last time I managed to see them was their first show, just over three years prior, their presence on stage had evolved markedly, Ratigan‘s theatrical movements timed to the changes from drummer Q and bassist Justin DeTore, or the riffing of guitarists Chris Corry and Dan Ducas, which seems to have gotten even more in line with traditional/classic metal on their newer songs. They didn’t give a name for the second record, but “The Damned Man,” “Lightning Cage” and set opener “Journey Blind” were distinguished by faster tempos offsetting doomed riffs and an aggressive — in the case of “Lightning Cage,” almost thrashing — rendering. That might have been a symptom of the live setting, or it might be Magic Circle tapping into their Boston hardcore roots. In any case, they made it work and having gotten a taste, I’m even more intrigued to find out what the whole of their sophomore outing will bring upon its arrival later this year.
They had new material. Mos Generator had a new band. Founding guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed swapped out drummer Shawn Johnson and bassist Scooter Haslip for Scotty VanDweller and Sean Booth, respectively, earlier this year, and as I understand it, at least part of the reason why was to facilitate touring. Reed announced from the stage that it was Mos Generator‘s first time on the East Coast in many years, and AS220 gave them due welcome as they ran through songs mostly from 2012’s Nomads (review here) and last year’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), making highlights of “Beyond the Whip,” the slower “Early Mourning” and the title-track of the latter, which offered the evening’s most unabashed boogie. “Lonely One Kenobi” and set-finale “This is the Gift of Nature” featured from Nomads and provided a fitting showcase for the burgeoning dynamic between Reed, Booth and VanDweller. They had been playing more or less nightly since the middle of February, and if I’m not mistaken, had driven two days from Minneapolis to Providence for this gig, so while one might’ve gotten the sense of this version of the band being a recent advent — and mind you, if I didn’t know that going in, I’m not sure I would have — they’d already had a couple weeks to start smoothing rough edges, and it showed.
And since it’s worth specifically pointing out, I stood in front of Booth‘s bass amp for the set and his tone was an absolute delight. VanDweller had more than enough swing to carry across Mos Generator‘s classic influences, and Reed made a charismatic frontman — the only other time I’ve seen him on stage was with Stone Axe, in which he played guitar and handled backup vocals — goading the crowd after each song and reminding the room “We’re working hard up here!” before laughing at how long he’s used that line, but in true West Coast form, Booth fed his bass through a Verellen Meat Smoke preamp, and at least from where I was positioned, there was a good part of the set that played out like a commercial for the thing. Obviously that’s not all there is to developing a tone, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Mos Generator will be back on the Eastern Seaboard this summer for the Eye of the Stoned Goat 5 after finishing out this tour and, if I’m not mistaken, hitting Europe, and I’ll look forward to checking out how the intervening time on the road has brought them together.
So we’ve gone from new material to new band, and with Elder, it’s a new album. Lore turned plenty of heads in the weeks leading up to its Feb. 24 release through Armageddon Shop (Stickman Records in Europe), and positioned as the evening’s headliner, drummer Matt Couto, bassist Jack Donovan and guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo gave the album its due, playing it front to back for the packed-out AS220. No doubt the room would’ve been more familiar with the record a little further down the line, but it’s hard to call it a release show two months later, and “Compendium,” “Legend,” “Lore,” “Deadweight” and “Spirit at Aphelion” had no trouble winning the crowd over. Though it was upwards of 20 degrees and still very much winter outside as the sheets of ice and piles of dirty frozen snow on the sidewalk could attest, up near the stage it was broiling hot, and it’s not exactly as if Elder‘s winding riffs are simple or like the spiraling prog-rock apex of “Legend” requires little effort. Like Reed and company before them, Elder were also working hard up there.
For a good cause, though. Elder will spend most of the rest of this month on tour, hitting SXSW, the Midwest and of course the East Coast, and while they’ve done strings of dates in Europe before, and while they’ll play Psycho California this May ensuring at least a little time out west, their arrival as a “touring band” feels due. They could complete this run, do the Psycho CA fest, and not book anything else for the rest of the year. That’s entirely possible, but I don’t think it’s the way things are going to play out, and the vitality they showed on stage looked sustainable. That is to say, Elder seemed ready at AS220 for the task they’d set for themselves. Their sound has progressed from the stoner roots of their 2008 self-titled through 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here) and the subsequent 2012 EP, Spires Burn/Release (streamed here), and Lore is a fitting snapshot of where their creative evolution is now: Clear-headed, crisp in its delivery and the beneficiary of some of the best elements of their prior work. I missed the extra Mellotron-esque guitar layers in what on the record is the highlight moment of the title-track, I’ll be honest, and there were some kinks to iron out in changes elsewhere, but their enjoyment of the songs felt earnest, and they played like a band hitting their stride, which is more than one could feasibly ask for the first night of a tour.
One could see it even in the visual continuity on stage between DiSalvo, Couto and Donovan, their comfort with each other’s style. Right down to how they stood, with Donovan turning to face the others, completing a sort of semi-circle with DiSalvo also angled slightly inwards and Couto in the middle, facing out, they looked like a professional band who had sorted out what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. Their sound was the same way, and though they’d played for an hour, when they were done and the house lights came up, people were still shouting for more. Rightfully so. On a night where each act had something fresh to offer the room, Elder not only presented their third album to mark the occasion of its release, but stood on the precipice of a new era for themselves, and jumped, loudly, into its beginning.
More pics after the jump. Thanks to you for reading, to John Pegoraro for the company and to Fred Struckholz for the poster.
Posted in Reviews on February 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are really two approaches one might take in considering Lore, the third full-length from Massachusetts trio Elder, released in the US by Armageddon Shop and in Europe on Stickman Records. The short way is to say they’ve turned from the deep-toned heavy psych style of their 2011 sophomore outing, Dead Roots Stirring (review here), and used that as a basis for a more clear-headed, progressive approach to riffing. The long way is to sit and map out every turn Lore‘s five included tracks make over the course of their combined 59 minutes, every change, every moment where sprawl meets crunch, every soundscape, melodic impression, rhythmic pivot, etc. Frankly, neither approach does the album justice. The former cheats the songs — “Compendium” (10:39), “Legend” (12:31), “Lore” (15:57), “Deadweight” (9:27) and “Spirit at Aphelion” (10:32) — of their due consideration on an individual level, and the latter wrongly discounts the impression of Lore as a whole, which is how, despite its 2LP length, it is best experienced. One hopes, then, to find some middle ground, as the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo (also keys), bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto have done on the Justin Pizzoferrato-produced outing, which follows 2012’s two-song Spires Burn/Release EP (review here) and seems to be pushing further along those stylistic lines. That’s no surprise. Each Elder release has built on the last — Dead Roots Stirring was a leap from the band’s stoner-riffed 2008 self-titled debut (interview here), released on MeteorCity, and Lore is likewise a leap from that second album — and it seems that if they don’t have something to say, Elder aren’t interested in putting out a record every year just for the sake of doing so. Their musical progression is that much easier to trace for the stretches between outings, and Lore, as was Spires Burn/Release, as was Dead Roots Stirring, as was Elder, is their defining work to date. A landmark.
Those who worshiped at the altar of Dead Roots Stirring might be surprised on first listen at just how clean Lore sounds, the beginning guitar taps of “Compendium” a clarion both of the proggier feel that pervades and of the clarity of the production that follows suit. It’s not, however, as simple as the band jumping ship from one style to another — much of DiSalvo‘s style of riffing remains the same, and Donovan‘s basslines still circle around the guitar only to land back at the root just at the right moment, and Couto‘s swing and crash is as prevalent as ever — it’s just what they do with these signature elements that results in the impression of growth. In “Compendium”‘s airy midsection, in the snare work under the guitar solo in the second half of “Legend,” in “Lore”‘s post-break Mellotron-inclusive triumphant swell of crash cymbal, guitar and bass, and in the energetic, circular riffing to which it leads, in “Deadweight”‘s atmospheric opening and more straightforward, linear framework, and in the running acoustic lines that begin “Spirit at Aphelion,” one finds some standout factor or moment in each of Lore‘s individual pieces, but the evolution of the band is as evident in how well songs feed into each other as it is in the songs themselves. On a linear format (CD, digital), Lore is an encompassing front-to-back listen, and while the side-flips of a 2LP allow for more focus on each track — not to mention a fuller, frame-worthy view of Adrian Dexter‘s stunning artwork — being carried along the record’s sundry builds and cascades uninterrupted is a markedly satisfying way to experience it. The ground they cover across “Compendium,” the shiver-down-the-spine launch and turns of “Legend” and “Lore” — each longer than the last until the 16-minute title-track takes hold as the centerpiece and most expansive inclusion — would be enough for most full-lengths on its own, let alone the building riffs of “Deadweight” and some of the leftover Colour Haze influence they show in that track, or the stomping pre-fadeout finale “Spirit at Aphelion” provides, its deep-mixed keyboard line (that might be plucked guitar) the theme holding it all together.
Still, in taking Lore as a whole, it’s hard to discount the singular achievement of the title-track and the textures DiSalvo, Donovan and Couto craft across its span, from its immediately heavy opening, melodic verses, through the guitar-guided ambient break in the middle and the heights to which they build from the ground up in the second half, the song pulsing back to life at about 10 minutes in with a wash of mellotron, crash and guitar, before heading off at a full-run an on instrumental psych-prog exploration, topped here by a solo, shifting there into single hits before unfurling the massive-sounding, insistent riff that provides the apex before acoustic and electric guitar intertwine over the fadeout. Its transitions alone make for a remarkable accomplishment, but how well the song flows between its parts easily stands in for how well Lore, the album, shifts between its movements, “Deadweight” picking up from that fadeout quietly at first to hypnotize for two minutes before kicking into the lead-topped introduction of its meaty verse riff. After “Compendium,” “Legend” and “Lore,” it would be easy to think of “Deadweight” as a stylistic pullback before “Spirit at Aphelion”‘s early psych-folkish resonance — an impulse that one hopes Elder will continue to build on — and later adrenaline surge of a finish, but it’s not. It’s really just a kind of introductory track those who’ve made their way past “Lore” and onto side D know that Elder‘s story isn’t as simple as a phrase like “gone prog” could encapsulate. Their argument for a slot at Duna Jam? Maybe. If so, it’s a solid case. Either way, Lore brings new context to Elder within heavy rock, as they emerge not so much as a band taking influence from others, but one whose shifts, flow and songwriting are all the more dizzying for the sense of control behind them. Anyone still longing for a short version might take comfort in “Elder have matured,” but the truth of Lore is more than that, and the album distinguishes the trio from just about everybody in American heavy one might otherwise consider their peers, standing as their most individualized statement to date and one that seems poised to have a lasting influence of its own in years to come. For now, I’ve no doubt it will be counted among 2015’s best albums. Recommended.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
If, say, you’ve spent the better part of the day today figuring out why there’s water coming from the kitchen ceiling and chasing down busted baseboard leaks owed to poor insulation, you might take great comfort in knowing that Planet Earth is just a little bit closer to the arrival of Electric Ladyland [Redux], the compilation revisiting some of Jimi Hendrix‘s most essential material, as well as its companion, The Best of James Marshall Hendrix. The David Paul Seymour gatefold cover — click above to enlarge it — has been unveiled and is flat-out beautiful, and the tracklisting is iron-clad both in terms of who’s involved and which songs they’re taking on. It may not dehumidify the guest room, but god damned if it won’t at least make the place sound better.
Magnetic Eye Records, whose ambition in this undertaking isn’t to be discounted in the slightest, sent an update down about some presales they were doing through Bandcamp, where previously Electric Ladyland [Redux] was only available to those who contributed to a Kickstarter, but even more than that, I’m just happy to have another chance to stare in awe at the tracklisting of the 2LP, which I think you’ll agree is a stunner.
Behold the latest:
Project Update #41: Electric Ladyland [Redux] by Magnetic Eye Records
Just a quick update for February, we have a lot of tracks that have been submitted for both Electric Ladyland [Redux] and the stretch goal bonus LP ‘The Best of James Marshall Hendrix’. What a treat this project and these records are turning out to be. We have received nearly 1/2 all the tracks for Electric Ladyland [Redux] and nearly all the tracks for the Best of record.
All I can say is I am being blown away right now by All Them Witches version of Voodoo Chile. DAMN! Happy Valentine’s Day all you heartless bastards. You probably really, really need to pre-order Electric Ladyland [Redux] for you and/or your sweetie. This double gatefold tribute of Jimi’s masterpiece includes tracks from Open Hand, Elephant Tree, Summoner, Earthless, Superchief, Mothership, GOZU, Elder, The Budos Band, Claymation, Origami Horses (filling these dudes in for the The Phuss – sorry Phuss fans, they’ve bowed off the LP), King Buffalo, Mos Generator, TUNGA MOLN, Wo Fat.
Electric Ladyland [Redux] Classic Black Double Gatefold 180g 12″ 2xLP
Side 1 1. Elephant Tree – And The Gods Made Love 2. Open Hand – Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) 3. Superchief – Crosstown Traffic 4. All Them Witches – Voodoo Chile
Side 2 5. Origami Horses – Little Miss Strange 6. The Budos Band – Long Hot Summer Night 7. Earthless – Come On (Let The Good Times Roll) 8. Wo Fat – Gypsy Eyes 9. Mos Generator – Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
Side 3 10. Gozu – Rainy Day, Dream Away 11. Summoner – 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) 12. Claymation – Moon, Turn The Tides… Gently, Gently Away
Side 4 13. Mothership – Still Raining, Still Dreaming 14. King Buffalo – House Burning Down 15. Tunga Moln – All Along The Watchtower 16. Elder – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Who’s gonna argue with some live Elder? Not me. The first time I saw the Massachusetts trio on stage was a revelation, and as we stand on the cusp of the Feb. 28 release of their third album, Lore, through Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records, the band are also staring down the barrel of their most comprehensive tour itinerary to date, beginning March 6 in Providence, Rhode Island, alongside Mos Generator, taking them to and through SXSW and back northeast to end on their home turf at T.T. the Bear’s Place in Cambridge, MA. From what I hear, they head to Europe shortly thereafter, then are back in the States to head west for the Psycho California festival, where they’ll join Boston cohorts Rozamov and a ton of others. From there, who knows.
Ending the SXSW run at T.T. the Bear’s seems especially poignant, since the three-piece — guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan, drummer Matt Couto — will more or less bookend the tour with hometown shows. After the band’s return from a few month’s hold last September, they played a handful of regional shows as they prepared to hit the studio and record Lore with Justin Pizzoferatto as the follow-up to 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here) and the Spires Burn/Release EP (review here) that followed in 2012, and one of those shows happened to be this past October at T.T.’s. The full set was taped by Stephen LoVerme of Treebeard Media (also of Olde Growth, Sea and Leafcutter), and today I’m fortunate enough to be able to host the premiere of the show in its entirety. The setlist was as follows:
Five songs that, put together, made for an hour of time on stage. You’ll note “Compendium” (also streamed here) makes an appearance ahead of its arrival on Lore, and the opening duo from Dead Roots Stirring appear in order at the start of the set. Round it out with “Spires Burn” as a centerpiece and “Release” as a closer — covering the two songs on that 2012 EP, and it’s a killer show from Elder the video for which showcases not only their psychedelic side, but the chemistry they’ve established on stage, and their emerging progressive tendencies that one can hear on the new album. Thanks to Elder and LoVerme for letting me host the clip. Please find the show in its entirety on the player below, followed by Elder‘s tour dates.
Elder, Live at T.T. the Bear’s Place, Oct. 16, 2014
Elder on Tour
03/06-14 with Mos Generator
03/06 Providence RI AS220 03/07 Peterborough NH Wreck Room 03/08 Rochester NY Bug Jar 03/09 Pittsburgh PA Gooski’s 03/10 Columbus OH Ace of Cups 03/11 Indianapolis IN 5th Quarter 03/12 Chicago IL Reggie’s 03/13 Texarkana TX Silver Dollar 03/14 Dallas TX Double Wide 03/16 Austin TX Beerland 03/20 Austin TX The North Door 03/21 Austin TX The Lost Well 03/23 Houston TX Mango’s 03/24 New Orleans LA Siberia 03/25 Atlanta GA 529 03/26 Charlotte NC Tremont Music Hall 03/27 Richmond VA Strange Matter 03/28 Baltimore MD Metro Gallery 03/29 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie 03/30 Boston MA TT the Bear’s Place