Posted in Reviews on October 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Eight album’s deep into one of doom’s highest-profile careers, Electric Wizard don’t leave much room for middle ground. Indeed, the massively-influential Dorset forebears seem to delight in dividing listeners, and since their return in 2007 with Witchcult Today, they’ve continued to refine a cultish, horror-obsessed approach to malevolent stoner noise that can be taken one of two ways: It’s either brilliant or it’s terrible. To be fair to the band, who are joined on their latest outing, Time to Die (released on Spinefarm Records after a well-publicized schism with longtime label Rise Above), by original drummer Mark Greening, they’ve gamed the system pretty well. For the last seven years, Electric Wizard have pushed toward a style of doom that drives to be the noisiest, the most threatening, the filthiest, rawest-sounding mess possible. So if records like Time to Die or the preceding 2010 full-length, Black Masses (review here), come across as a wash of wah swirl marked out by samples and the abyssal moans of founding guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn, well, you have to give it to them — that’s exactly what they were going for. Sure enough, Time to Die is fuckall incarnate. At nine tracks/66 minutes, it’s the longest album Electric Wizard has ever done — 2000’s landmark Dopethrone was their only other outing to pass an hour — and however you might feel about the band, that they’re genius or that they’re hacks, it’s likely only to affirm your position. Recorded by Liam Watson with additional tracking by Chris Fielding, it’s the next stage in Electric Wizard‘s destructive progression, and it carries all the ultra-fuzz, sexualized violence and devil worship that those who follow or abhor the band have come to expect.
I’ll say that in the argument between genius or bullshit, the former perspective makes Time to Die a lot more fun. As Oborn and fellow guitarist Liz Buckingham seem to reference “The Phantom of the Opera” in the central riff of 10:45 opener “Incense for the Damned,” the vibe is immediately familiar for its darkness and for the hateful wash that fades in from the Sabbathian sampled rainfall. Of course, half the appeal of Electric Wizard particularly since Witchcult Today has been their ability to balance these chaotic atmospheres with a catchy bounce, and “Incense for the Damned” follows suit in that — bass on the album seems to have been handled by Clayton Burgess of Satan’s Satyrs and someone going by Count Orlof — as does the subsequent title-track and the penultimate “Lucifer’s Slaves,” but if there’s progress to be heard anywhere on Time to Die it’s in how much Electric Wizard have managed to blend their rhythmic hooks with freakouts of bleak, grainy psychedelia, songs like “I am Nothing” and the zombie-incantation “We Love the Dead” leaning to one side or another as the well-constructed overarching flow of the album plays out. “Funeral of Your Mind,” which opens the second platter of the 2LP release and the CD follows the well-placed samples topping the otherwise instrumental “Destroy Those Who Love God,” is the most effective at bringing together these various elements, and though it’s not as memorable as “Time to Die,” it’s a demonstrative high point (low point?) of Electric Wizard‘s ever-purposeful stylistic plunge. The guitars, forward in the mix as ever, ring out depravity in every swirl and Greening‘s drums stomp a far-back snare to ground Oborn‘s vague, effects-laden croon, which leads a gradual descent into the goateed mirror universe evil twin of what might otherwise be called a jam.
Ultimately, how much further Electric Wizard can push their current pursuit before it winds up sounding watered down or loses its visceral edge is a debate for another time. As the band’s third installment of the Oborn/Buckingham era, Time to Die is invariably a sequel to the two most recent albums before it, but though it continues some themes from Black Massesand Witchcult Today – closer “Saturn Dethroned” echoes “Destroy Those Who Love God”‘s gloomy instrumental approach, ending with a return to the rainfall that began “Incense for the Damned,” but the prior two LPs also had titles referring to Saturn — there is a personality on display in its darker, more vicious take, and where Black Masses was more of Electric Wizard‘s psychedelic party record, Time to Die is more twisted and relentless in its mood. Even the shorter, more relatively straightforward “SadioWitch” resides in a pervasive tonal murk, and its feel characterizes much of where the band is at throughout. There may be a formula at work here, but it’s not stagnant, and whether or not Electric Wizard have actually reached bottom is something that only subsequent offerings can tell. For now, their downward-minded progression is ongoing even as their notoriety continues to spread, and though they’ve contributed two generational landmarks over the course of their career in Dopethrone and Witchcult Today, very little on Time to Die seems to indicate they’re ready to live up to the title. For their legions of converted, the album will be another gospel of bleary-eyed triumph, and the rest will likely remain unpersuaded. Doesn’t look to have hurt the band any. It might be time on their next full-length for them to cut a new path or at least branch further off the one they’ve been on for the last seven years, but wherever Electric Wizard go, many follow.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
As I’ve tried not to do since I started making podcasts again, I kept away from a consistent theme this time around, but I wanted to at least get a blend of bands you’ve probably heard and bands maybe you haven’t. Of course the new Sleep was a given, and new cuts from Electric Wizard and Karma to Burn felt like they needed to be there as well, so they are. But there are a few corresponding inclusions of stuff I’ve been digging that I haven’t had the chance to write about yet — looking at you, USA out of Vietnam, Lewis and the Strange Magics and Deamon’s Child — and while I’ve no doubt you’re already down with those and the rest of what’s included here because you’re on it like that, putting them in here seemed a good way to feature them for anyone not yet exposed who might be interested in checking them out.
If that’s you, please enjoy. The second hour, as usual, is consumed by longer songs, but there are a few in the first hour as well (that Electric Wizard track is over 10 minutes, and the Sleep is close to it), but of the podcasts I’ve put together in the last few months, this one easily flows the best. It was pretty late as I was putting it together last night, so I had the headphones on and was working totally without distraction. I know it’s an unrealistic expectation to think anyone will be able to listen in that manner, but if you get the chance or if you don’t, I hope you have a good time.
Sleep, “The Clarity” from Adult Swim Singles Series (2014)
Electric Wizard, “I am Nothing” from Time to Die (2014)
Lewis and the Strange Magics, “Cloudy Grey Cube” from Demo (2014)
USA Out of Vietnam, “You are a Comet, You are on Fire” from Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes (2014)
Serpent Venom, “Lord of Life” from Of Things Seen and Unseen (2014)
Deamon’s Child, “Lutscher!” from Deamon’s Child (2014)
Rabbits, “Reek and Ye Shall Find” from Untoward (2014)
Karma to Burn, “Fifty Seven” from Arch Stanton (2014)
The Heavy Co., “One Big Drag” from Uno Dose (2014)
Wolf Blood, “Dancing on Your Grave” from Wolf Blood (2014)
Frown, “Harpocrates Unborn” from The Greatest Gift to Give (2014)
Merlin, “Lucifer’s Revenge” from Christ Killer (2014)
Causa Sui, “Incipiency Suite” from Pewt’r Sessions 3 (2014)
Presented with their usual fuckall, Electric Wizard‘s new video for “I am Nothing” simply takes the song from their upcoming Spinefarm Records debut — eighth LP overall — Time to Dieand puts it to a psychedelic oil lightshow. The band doesn’t appear, there’s no discernible budget, but it’s a way of getting the song out and no matter what the UK stoner doom kings do at this point, people are going to find it and pay attention. So if nothing else, the fuckall is well justified.
Time to Dieis out Sept. 30 on Spinefarm and marks a new stage in Electric Wizard‘s development, departing some of the smoothed out, psychedelic cultisms of 2010’s Black Masses(review here) and the preceding 2007 return, Witchcult Todayin favor of something dirtier and more wretched sounding. It’s not really a return to the raw druggery of their early work, but something different blending that side of the band with their more recent era. Bottom line, it sounds like Electric Wizard, which try though they might, is something no one else seems to be able to pull off.
Wake up, baby. It’s time to die:
Electric Wizard, “I am Nothing” official video
TIME TO DIE, THE NEW ALBUM FROM ELECTRIC WIZARD, TO BE RELEASED SEPT. 30
OFFICIAL “I AM NOTHING” VIDEO CLIP UNLEASHED
ALBUM/BUNDLE PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE
Electric Wizard have revealed that their forthcoming studio album, Time To Die, will be released on Sept. 30 via Spinefarm Records; Time To Die is the eighth full-length offering from the masters of aural punishment, and is testament to the fact that Electric Wizard continue to be the most uncompromisingly heavy, genuinely twisted and evil band in the world.
This will be their first album release since signing a worldwide deal with Spinefarm Records.
EW guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn has said if the track, which harnesses the dark underground death metal spirit of 1984:
“It was the year I became a metal-head. It was heavy shit for real – there was no way you were ever going to get a decent job. So I became a Satanist, I dug up a grave, I got into tape-trading, I had a one-man noise/black/death metal band called Regurgitated Guts, and there were loads of documentaries on TV warning us not to listen to the devil’s music…”
All official Electric Wizard pre-order bundles are now live on www.ElectricFuckinWizard.com, featuring limited numbers of vinyl, CD, T-shirt, back-patch and pin badge packages.
Electric Wizard, who have just played headline slots at a number of European festivals, including Hellfest (France), Roskilde (Denmark) and Sonisphere (UK), have the following appearances lined up for 2014, with more shows to be added:
August 16 London, UK Jabberwocky (The Excel Centre) September 12 Portugal Reverence Valada (headline with Hawkwind) October 10 Antwerp, Belgium Desertfest
Posted in Features on July 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Before I even start, let’s get one thing out of the way. I want a new Sleep album too. My not including them on this list isn’t due to the fact that I don’t think a new Sleep album is a good idea, but just because I haven’t seen anything about it being recorded or released in the next five-plus months. If it hits on Jan. 1, 2015, I’ll be the happiest Baby New Year you ever saw, but that’s a different list altogether.
Ditto that Om and High on Fire. The latter were writing as of May, and I know Om did some recording way back in January, but I’ve yet to see solid word of new records at all, let alone before the end of the year. Either or both or all three may happen, but until I see some hint of it, all I can go on is the info I can find.
Seriously though, how badass would it be if all three put out albums before the New Year? That excitement is kind of what this list is about. Some of these records I’ve heard, but most I haven’t, so it’s just basic speculation about what I think could be some of the best releases in the next couple months. You’ll note that while there are plenty of dates TBA, nothing listed arrives in November, so as 2014 winds down, there’s bound to be even more quality stuff than appears here.
In fact, I struggled to take things out to get it down to 30. And it still goes to 31! I figured no one would mind. They’re numbered, but the list is in alphabetical order.
If I left something out you’re dying to hear, please let me know in the comments.
Thanks in advance for reading:
1. Alunah, TBA (Sept.)
Birmingham’s Alunah, like several others below, are a holdover from the Most Anticipated Albums list back at the start of the year. The difference between now and then is that, while its title still hasn’t been revealed so far as I know, their Napalm Records debut has been recorded, mixed and mastered, the latter by Tony Reed, the former by Greg Chandler of Esoteric, and given a September release date. Two years after Alunah made riffy doom sound easy on their sophomore outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I look forward to hearing how they’ve grown and shifted in their approach to warm-sounding tones and memorable hooks. They’ve set a pretty high standard for themselves. Alunah on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
2. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds (Oct.)
These guys. I don’t mind telling you it was a thrill when Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude were announced as having signed to Cruz del Sur to release their third album, Of Woe and Wounds, this fall. Their second outing, 2010’s Last Sunrise (review here), didn’t get the attention it deserved, but the handful of songs they’ve made public since have shown much promise, and as the first Apostle of Solitude full-length to feature guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay) in harmony with guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown — the band is completed by bassist Dan Davidson and drummer Corey Webb — this is definitely going to make for a doomly autumn. Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks, Cruz del Sur Music.
3. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance (Aug. 26)
Recorded late last year at Amps vs. Ohms in Boston, the third album from Maple Forum alum Blackwolfgoat — the prog-drone alter ego of guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Roadsaw, etc.) — is the project’s most expansive outing yet, and it seems Shepard is moving more in a song-based direction, rather than some of the building loops of the past two offerings. Of course, there will be plenty of those as well, but watch out for some acoustic guitar, and deep-in-the-mix vocals, as they could easily hint of things to come. Or Darryl could turn it on its head and do a calypso record. Either way, I’m on board with no pretense of impartiality. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp, Small Stone’s Bandcamp.
4. Blues Pills, Blues Pills (Aug. 5)
The much-heralded Swedish/French/American psych-blues conglomeration Blues Pills will make their self-titled debut (short review here) next month, and while it’s probably going to be a bigger deal in Europe than in the States — at least until Nuclear Blast brings them over here for a tour, then the country is going to go apeshit for them — the songwriting and soulful execution of their tracks justifies the hype. There’s a bit of retro posturing to what they do, some Graveyard shuffle (it feels inevitable at this point with a ’70s-influenced band), but the grooves are easy to dig into and the potential is basically limitless for where they want to go. It’s scary to keep in mind, but this is just the beginning. Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.
5. Bongripper, Miserable (July 7)
You may notice something strange about the date above for a list of upcoming albums in that July 7 was yesterday. Well, Chicago’s Bongripper posted their new three-track full-length monster Miserable on their Bandcamp for stream and download ahead of the vinyl’s arrival, and it was just too righteous to leave out. Those seeking landmark riffing need look no further than the 19-minute centerpiece “Descent,” which meters out stomp enough that future “scientists” will study its footprint, and closer “Into Ruin” (28:25) is guaranteed to be the heaviest half-hour you’ll spend today. Miserable feels like a no-brainer, but maybe that’s just because Bongripper have such a propensity for pounding skulls into mush. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, Miserable on Bandcamp.
6. Botanist, VI: Flora (Aug. 11)
I feel like I missed a couple numbers from San Francisco-based environmentalist black metal unit Botanist along the way, but they’ll nonetheless issue VI: Flora on The Flenser next month, furthering their marriage of destruction and beauty and insistent percussive expression. The spaces Botanist — a one-man project from Robert Martinelli — create feel ritualistic without the dramatic posturing that pervades much of the genre, and sound, somewhere between raging and mournful, is hypnotic. Whatever your expectation might be, Martinelli seems pleased to use it to their advantage, and ultimately, defy it. Post-human, hammered dulcimer-laden black metal. It would be harder for Botanist to not be unique. Botanist on Thee Facebooks, The Flenser.
7. Brant Bjork, TBA (TBA)
When Brant Bjork‘s next album might show up, I don’t know. I know he’s signed to Napalm, and I know the photo above was snapped as he finished some vocals before going on tour with his Low Desert Punk band that includes guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, but whether or not the album they made is the funk-inspired Jakoozi that’s been in the offing for a while, or another collection of songs, and if Napalm will get it out before the end of the year remain a mystery. I do find it interesting that for his first “solo” outing post-Vista Chino (that band being on hiatus), Bjork has assembled a new band to work with rather than record multiple instruments himself, but no matter who’s involved, when it’s Brant Bjork writing the songs, it’s gonna be high rock from the low desert. Can’t wait to dig into whatever comes. Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
8. Earth, Primitive and Deadly (Sept.)
The headline for Earth‘s new album is it’s the one where they experimented with vocalists. And hey, if you’re going to toy around with the idea, you might as well get Mark Lanegan involved. The former Screaming Trees frontman is one of several singers appearing on Primitive and Deadly, due in September on Southern Lord, and it would appear that Earth‘s sound — always evolving, always somehow changing — is about to take another considerable turn. Fortunately, the Seattle band, led by guitarist Dylan Carlson and now approaching their 25th year, have long since proven worthy of trusting with their own direction. Earth will never be huge, by the simple nature of what they do, but their influence resounds and the quality of their output is unmatched. Earth on Thee Facebooks, Southern Lord Recordings.
9. Electric Wizard, Time to Die (Sept.)
“Wake up baby/It’s time to die.” So goes the title-track hook of Electric Wizard‘s new album and Spinefarm Records debut, Time to Die. As ever, it’s simple, hateful, drenched-in-fuzz misanthropy, and Electric Wizard revel in it accordingly. Their witchcult continues to grow in their native UK and abroad, and while their last two records have divided some listeners, they’ve invariably gained more ground than they’ve lost. A legal dispute with Rise Above finds them on the new label, and if there’s even the slightest chance that change will bring them to the US for a tour, I’ll take it. Expect 66 minutes of glorious filth. Electric Wizard on Thee Facebooks, Spinefarm Records.
10. Fever Dog, Second Wind (TBA)
Palm Desert youngsters Fever Dog have been kicking around the last few years finding their sound in varying elements of heavy rock and psychedelic experimentation. Most recently, they impressed with the single “Iroquois” (review here) taken from their new album Second Wind, and in looking forward to the full-length, I’m eager to learn how their style has solidified and what sort of vibes they conjure over its course. They’ve shown plenty of propensity for jamming in their prior work, so hopefully there’s a bit of that on hand as well. I’ve said before they’re a trio of marked potential, and nothing I’ve yet heard has dissuaded me from that impression. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, Fever Dog on Bandcamp.
11. Goat, Commune (Sept. 23)
Somehow, a band from Sweden who dress up in tribal costumes (problematic) and play Afrobeat psychedelia became a very, very big deal. I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to, and I won’t try, but I know that when Sub Pop releases Goat‘s second album, Commune, it’s going to be to a flurry of hype and heaps of critical fawning. It would be tempting to call Goat a novelty act, but their 2012 debut, World Music (discussed here), showcased a legitimately creative musical approach to go with the visual aspects of their presentation, and I find the fact that I have no idea what to expect from Commune to be refreshing. Goat on Thee Facebooks, Sub Pop Records.
12. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren (Aug. 11)
UK heavy rockers Grifter will make a welcome resurgence on Ripple Music with The Return of the Bearded Brethren, an album that builds on the straightforward, catchy sounds of their 2011 self-titled label debut (review here) and takes their infectiousness to new places lyrically, such as exploring issues of aging via an ode to Princess Leia from Star Wars. That particular brand of humor and is writ large on Grifter‘s second Ripple outing, and the trio set to work refining their take without losing the engaging feel of their self-titled. It feels like a long three years since that record hit, and I’ll be glad to have a follow-up in-hand. Grifter on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
13. Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz, New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future (TBA)
Unclear at this point whether Boston outfits Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz collaborated on New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future, or if it’s a split. Either way, the prolific acts make a sound pairing. Both are vehemently creative and exploratory, psychedelic and progressive each in their way, and if what’s presumably a single finds them working together, all the better, but even if not, new material from either is nothing to balk at, particularly when topped off by such gorgeous artwork. Neither act is ever long from putting something out, so to have them come together one way or another makes a weird brand of sense, which I’m relatively sure the songs will as well. Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks, Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks.
14. Ides of Gemini, Old World New Wave (Sept. 16)
Ides of Gemini‘s 2012 Neurot Recordings debut, Constantinople (discussed here), established the three-piece as freely inhabiting either side of the imaginary line between ambience and heaviness, J. Bennett and Kelly Johnston providing sometimes minimal, sometimes consuming foundations for vocalist Sera Timms (ex-Black Math Horseman, also Black Mare) to cast ethereal melodies. What Old World New Wave will hold sound-wise, I don’t yet know, but Ides of Gemini‘s otherworldly resonance and ultra-patient approach makes it well worth finding out. Ides of Gemini on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
15. John Gallow, Violet Dreams (Aug. 4)
Frontman of Blizaro and Orodruin guitarist John James Gallo adds a ‘w’ to his last name and steps out solo on the I, Voidhanger Records release, Violet Dreams, the title hinting at some of his on-his-sleeve affinity for Italian psych-doom master Paul Chain and Swedish legends Candlemass. Gallo‘s work in Blizaro has a tendency to lean toward the progressive and cinematic, but as John Gallow, the focus is more on classic doom riffing and darkened metallurgy. As one would expect, he’s well in his element on the hour-long album, and I hope he decides to call the next one Ancient Theatre. Also note the incredible artwork of Costin Chioreanu. John Gallo on Thee Facebooks, I, Voidhanger Records.
16. John Garcia, John Garcia (Aug. 5)
A long-discussed solo debut for the former Kyuss frontman following a stint alongside Brant Bjork in Vista Chino, John Garcia‘s John Garcia (review here) finds the singer right in his comfort zone, topping desert rock riffs with his trademark guttural vocals. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’d trade a second Vista Chino outing for it if given the choice — that band seemed to be on course for a sound of its own, separate from Kyuss‘ legacy, and that struck me as worth pursuing — but these songs have a similar enough production style that it’s easy to think of the one as an offshoot of the other, and of course Garcia calls his shots well throughout. John Garcia on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
17. King Buffalo, TBA (TBA)
Including King Buffalo here was pretty speculative on my part, but I dig the Rochester, NY, outfit and didn’t want to leave the prospect of their STB Records debut long-player out. It probably won’t land until 2015 — the future! — but their demo (review here) still gets regular plays around these parts, and I’m very much looking forward to catching them with similarly-minded Nashville blues rockers All Them Witches when they tour together next month. Whatever King Buffalo‘s recording/release plans might be, they’re definitely one to keep an eye on in the back half of this year. King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.
18. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy (TBA)
Love these guys, love this band. I make no bones about it. Their third record, self-titled and produced as the last two were by Sanford Parker, is as close as they’ve yet come to capturing their live sound, and while they’ve yet to nail down an exact release date, they have a couple very cool tours in the works for this fall, including dates next month with Eric Wagner‘s Blackfinger, that will make a fitting lead-in to their best outing yet. I’ve heard this and had the chance to see some of the material live, and they’ve outdone themselves again, which, considering the esteem in which I continue to hold their 2013 sophomore full-length, A Time of Hunting, is really saying something. Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks, War Crime Recordings.
19. The Kings of Frog Island, V (Fall)
Easily one of the LPs I’m most eager to hear over the next few months, and specifically on vinyl. The Kings of Frog Island have shown themselves to be so dedicated to the format that their early-2013 album, IV (review here), was presented as two bundled sides even digitally. They recently gave a taste of what their fifth album will in-part hold via a video for “Sunburn” and I’m told more jamminess ensues elsewhere to complement that track’s easygoing flow and platter-ready hook. All the better. The Kings of Frog Island on Thee Facebooks, The Kings of Frog Island on YouTube.
20. Lonely Kamel, Shit City (Sept. 9)
I’d be lying if I said part of my immediate interest in Oslo heavy rockers Lonely Kamel‘s fourth record wasn’t due to the cheeky title, but it’s been three years since the Napalm Records four-piece released their last album, Dust (track stream here), and as they’ve put in plenty of road-time, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to go into this time around with elevated anticipation. I’m not sure you could get away with calling an album Shit City unless you meant business. Got my fingers crossed that’s precisely the case with Lonely Kamel. Lonely Kamel on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
21. Lo-Pan, Colossus (Oct. 7)
Fucking a. Doing the research for this list was the first I’d seen the Jason Alexander Byers cover art for Lo-Pan‘s fourth album, Colossus, or its Oct. 7 Small Stone release date. I haven’t heard the tracks yet — they recorded in Brooklyn back in March, and while I got 2012’s Salvador (review here) pretty early, the Columbus four-piece seem to be keeping a tighter lid on the follow-up — and I can’t help but feel like that’s my loss. Judging by what I’ve heard of the material live, Lo-Pan have dug further into their individual brand of riff-led soulful heavy, and I’ve got a high wager that a few months from now, Lo-Pan‘s latest will make an appearance on another list. More to come. Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
22. Novembers Doom, Bled White (July 15)
One of doom’s most fascinating and largely ignored progressions is that of Chicago melancholists Novembers Doom, who, when they started out 25 years ago, did so largely as a death metal band, and then moved on to pioneer an American interpretation of what’s commonly thought of as European doom, until, over their last several records, as they’ve started to move back to a more extreme, double-kick-drummed style. Bled White, on The End Records, continues along this path, but especially in the cleaner vocals of frontman Paul Kuhr there remain shades of the morose emotionality that typified what’s now become their mid-period doom idolatry. Unheralded, Novembers Doom keep exploring deeper, darker terrain. Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks, The End Records.
23. Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (Aug. 19)
Foundations of Burden is unquestionably among the second half of 2014’s most anticipated albums. Arkansas-based doom four-piece Pallbearer will mark its release with extensive European and North American tours, and where their 2012 Profound Lore debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), came out and caught listeners off-guard with its unabashed emotional core, their sophomore outing finds them positioned at the forefront of American doom. Already the hype machine is rolling out the red carpet for the Billy Anderson-produced Foundations of Burden, but no one can say these guys haven’t put their work in, and the record is indeed one to look forward to. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.
24. The Skull, TBA (TBA)
For The Skull to put out an album of original material is a unique challenge. Their earlier-2014 first single (stream/review here) found them standing up to it on the new song “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” but at least half the point of the band since its inception has been to pay homage to legendary doomers Trouble, from whence vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson come. For their Tee Pee Records debut full-length — yet untitled and hopefully out before 2015 — it’ll be most interesting to see how guitarists Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram) and Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) rise to the occasion of building off some of doom metal’s most celebrated tones. Fingers crossed on this one. The Skull on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.
25. Snail, Feral (TBA)
Nothing has been formally announced yet, but on Small Stone Records‘ website, they list Snail‘s Feral among their upcoming releases. It would make a suitable pairing, the West Coast riffers having previously worked with MeteorCity on their 2009 post-reunion outing, Blood (review here), prior to independently releasing 2012’s Terminus (review here), and Small Stone seems like a good home for their fourth overall record and return to form as a trio, which was their original incarnation before their original dissolution circa 1994. How they expand on the heavier crunch of Terminus remains even more a point of fascination, and surely their cult following will be glad to find out. I know I will. Snail on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
26. Steak, Slab City (Sept. 9)
After two strong EPs in 2012’s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013’s best-title-ever-boasting Corned Beef Colossus (review here), it’s time for London stoner rockers Steak to step up their game for their Napalm Records debut full-length. The four-piece headed to the Californian desert to record Slab City, and so it’s fair to think some of that atmosphere may have worked its way into the material. Would be an awfully long way to go, otherwise. In either case, Steak have showcased considerable songwriting chops already, now it’s just a matter of sustaining it for a full album’s runtime and keeping enough variety in their approach. I have no doubt they’re ready for this next step. Steak on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
27. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean (TBA)
It is with simple, unabashed warm feelings that I look forward to hearing Cry of the Ocean, the second long-player and Ripple Music debut from UK riffers Stubb. They’ve traded out drummers since 2012’s self-titled (review here), bringing aboard Tom Fyfe with guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, but I’m excited to hear what changes and shifts in sound Cry of the Ocean might have in store to match its provocative title. Goes without saying the photo above isn’t the final artwork, but instead Tony Reed‘s mastering sheet from back in May when he worked on the tracks. No solid release date yet, but hopefully soon. Stubb on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
28. Torche, TBA (TBA)
Torche‘s new album and Relapse Records debut was originally slated for the end of the summer. Given that no official word has come out about a title or anything like that and the members of the band have been busy with other projects, it seems unlikely as of now that they’ll hit that target, but after something of a break so frontman Steve Brooks could focus on the resurgent trio Floor, Torche are in fact getting going again, beginning with their first tour of Australia this fall. Maybe their LP will be out by the time they go and maybe it won’t, but word on the street is that whenever the thing arrives, it’s gonna be heavy, which I have no problem believing. Torche on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
29. The Well, Monomyth (Late Summer)
I’ve been waiting since the March announcement that Austin trio The Well signed with RidingEasy Records for further word of their debut full-length, Monomyth (pretty sure that’s not the cover above), but thus far to no avail. Their 2012 single, Seven (review here), was a repeat-listen thriller, and anticipation abounds for what sort of psychedelic garage riffing they’ll conjure up for the album itself. It’s been a couple months at this point, and maybe it’ll be 2015 before Monomyth gets out, but screw it, a boy can hope. The Well on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.
30. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels (Sept.)
Please note: The original cover art with this post was not final and has been replaced with the above band photo.
Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain have spent much of the two years following their 2012 third LP, Cauldron of the Wild (review here) on tour in the US and abroad, playing fests, headlining, supporting, but generally putting in a lot of time. As such, Mobile of Angels, which will be out on Svart in Europe and Profound Lore in North America, comes as the end product of a considerable touring cycle. Has all that gigging worn Witch Mountain into the ground, or will they rise above it with metal-loving doom-blues supremacy? They’ve got a vinyl-ready 38 minutes on tap for September and if they’ve ever been in a position to make their case, it’s now. Watch out for the killer sway in “Can’t Settle,” the title of which seems a fitting theme for the band. Witch Mountain on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.
31. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend (Sept. 2)
Yet again — as was the case back in January — alphabetical order forces me to end with YOB, whose seventh full-length and Neurot debut might just be my most anticipated of all on this list. The recently-unveiled Orion Landau cover speaks to a brooding sentiment, and from the one time I was fortunate enough to hear it to-date, the four-track album from the Eugene, Oregon, natives corresponds to its visual side in being a more aggressive push than was 2012’s Atma (review here), but also more exploratory and contemplative in its approach. Now statesmen in American doom and the forebears of a cosmic-minded sound, YOB stand ready to showcase a creative progression that has yet to find its end point. YOB on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
Other Notable Mentions
Just a couple of these I’d be remiss if I didn’t note. Some were carried over from earlier this year, others just come up along the way. Not sure on all the release dates, but these are worth keeping an ear out for:
Acid King — Were listed in January, but their record has a Feb. 2015 release date.
Bright Curse — Second album recorded at Skyhammer Studios.
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth — My understanding is the album is done and they’re waiting to secure a label. Seems like a good occasion for Southern Lord to step forward, if not Profound Lore or Neurot.
Eggnogg — Not sure if it’s their full-length, You’re all Invited, or something else that’s coming, but whatever. More stoner-funk riffing needs to be had.
40 Watt Sun — There was some word of this early in the year, but nothing since.
Godflesh — Their first in 15 years, A World Lit Only by Fire, will be out Oct. 7. A fuckup not including them on the list proper.
It’s Not Night: It’s Space — Eagerly awaiting the Small Stone debut from this instrumental outfit, but it might be next year.
Karma to Burn — New album, Arch Stanton, out in August. I emailed for a review promo and never heard back. Always a great feeling.
Larman Clamor — Solo-project from Alexander von Wieding has a new one in the can, but I’m not sure on the release schedule.
Lowrider — They’re working on it, but don’t hold your breath to have it out by December.
The Machine — Kind of a slow year for Elektrohasch, but the new one from these Dutch fuzzers would be a nice way end up.
Nachtmystium — Century Media releases their final album, The World We Left Behind, on Aug. 5.
Orange Goblin — Seriously debated putting them on the list, since I know they’ve recorded, but they seem to be promoting a recent reissue of 2007’s Healing through Fire and their upcoming European tour with Saint Vitus rather than their new album, so unless news comes out about it like this week from Candlelight, I wouldn’t expect it until early in 2015.
Pink Floyd – Believe it when I see it, but I honestly couldn’t care less either way if I tried.
Ruby the Hatchet — Their full-length Tee Pee debut is due sometime in the next couple months.
Sun Voyager — Upstate NY youngsters had hinted at new recordings.
Again, if I forgot anything — and I’m sure I did — please let me know in the comments.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
What’s going to happen between now and when Electric Wizard‘s new album comes out before the end of the year is that information is going to continue to piecemeal out. Before, it was the fact that it’s coming out on Spinefarm. Today it’s the album title and the artwork. Soon will be the official release date and tracklisting. Then you get into stuff like track premieres — which will go to namebrand places like your NPRs, your Pitchforks or whoever — and then an album stream before the release. If there’s stuff like a lyric video, that will be worked in there too, but it depends on the label and the band, when the tour dates are, etc.
Maybe I should be a publicist. Either way, what it goes to show is that the anticipation is high enough for Electric Wizard‘s new album, Time to Die, that every bit of info is considered precious and worth the focus of its own press release. I can’t argue with the approach. Impatient as I might be in the give-it-to-me-now sense, it’s the smarter play to build the buzz leading up to whenever the record actually hits. And sometimes waiting is fun anyway.
From the PR wire:
ELECTRIC WIZARD UNVEIL TIME TO DIE AS TITLE OF FORTHCOMING STUDIO ALBUM
OFFICIAL ARTWORK REVEALED
Electric Wizard have announced Time to Die as the title of their forthcoming studio album. Time to Die is the eighth full-length offering from the masters of aural punishment and is testament to the fact that Electric Wizard continue to be the most uncompromisingly heavy, genuinely twisted and evil band in the world.
This will be the band’s first album release since signing a worldwide deal with Spinefarm Records.
Says Electric Wizard founding member, Jus Oborn:
“All of our albums in the past have had a theme — revenge, drugs, black magick — and the theme of this one is death. Of course, death to us really means rebirth, so this album is a manifestation of a very primal occult belief in the final sacrifice. We have gone full circle — it was inevitable, but we had to do it. We had to kill the band so we could be reborn. It was the only way to ensure we could come back even stronger.”
The artwork, once again created by Oborn, is an extension of that theme; this is further solidified by the LP gatefold image, which will be revealed soon.
Electric Wizard, having just played Hellfest in France, have the following festival appearances lined up for 2014, with more shows to be added:
July 3 Roskilde, Denmark Roskilde Festival (Arena Stage) July 4 Knebworth Park, UK Sonisphere (Stage headline) August 16 London, UK Jabberwocky (The Excel Centre) September 12 Valada, Portugal Reverence Valada (headline w/Hawkwind) October 10 – 12 Antwerp, Belgium Desert Fest
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Rumors have been kicking around for a while of Desertfest extending its brand and its reach beyond the confines of London and Berlin. No reason not to, when you think about it. Heavy rock is universal, and there’s really no pocket of Planet Earth where it doesn’t make sense, sonically if not geologically. Even as Desertfest 2014 gets ready to launch this weekend in its two home cities with the likes of Clutch and Spirit Caravan headlining in Berlin while Spirit Caravan, Boris and Kvelertak treat the London crowd to what’s what, the announcement has come through that the fall will bring Desertfest Belgium 2014 — the first incarnation of the festival beyond its initial two locales.
And not only does Desertfest Belgium 2014 exist, but it exists in a big way. Electric Wizard are confirmed to headline — they’ll likely have a new album out by then, having recently inked a licensing deal with Spinefarm — and Swiss instrumentalists Monkey3 and Nashville psychedelic blues upstarts All Them Witches have been added, the latter who will arrive in Europe for the first time after playing Scion Rock Fest in May on the heels of 2013’s stellar Lightning at the Door full-length. That Desertfest Belgium 2014 would start out with such an eclectic and far-reaching lineup only bodes well for what’s to come as more bands are added. Here’s looking forward.
Desertfest Belgium 2014 is set for Oct. 10-12 at Trix in Antwerp. Preliminary info and links follow below, hoisted from the fest’s Thee Facebooks:
Desertfest – the ultimate heavy/rock/psych/doom meeting, expands once more. After previous annual stints in Berlin and London, Desertfest will expand its territory to Antwerp! The ceremony will be held on the 10-11-12th of October at the notorious TRIX!
Expect the world’s best heavy bands, spread over three unique stages drenched in that underground atmosphere we all love. Beware of the sandstorm!
ELECTRIC WIZARD (UK) – New album out later this year on Spinefarm Records. MONKEY3 (CH) ALL THEM WITCHES (USA)
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hard to tell if I’m happier to see this news because it means Electric Wizard will be able to take advantage of Spinefarm‘s worldwide distribution network, or just because it’s solid proof of a forthcoming album, but either way, the Dorset doom legends aligning themselves to Spinefarm via their own Witchfinder Records imprint isn’t a bad thing if it allows them to keep more control over what they do. The title of their next album hasn’t been unveiled yet, but the four-piece have a number of festival appearances coming up, including headlining slots at Hellfest in France and Reverence in Portugal.
Here’s the update, fresh off the PR wire:
ELECTRIC WIZARD FORGE WORLDWIDE ALLIANCE WITH SPINEFARM RECORDS
NEW LP SET FOR RELEASE VIA SPINEFARM, IN LEAGUE WITH THE BAND’S ‘WITCHFINDER RECORDS’ IMPRINT
Visually intoxicating, uncompromisingly heavy and revered for making music and lifestyle one, Electric Wizard have completed work on their new studio album, title to be confirmed; the album will be the band’s first release through Spinefarm Records.
Formed by vocalist / guitarist Jus Oborn in 1993, Electric Wizard (based in the UK’s South-West) have thus far released seven studio albums – an increasingly influential body of work recorded on vintage analogue gear with as little technology as possible intruding on the signal (“Protools is for pussies!”).
Result: some of the heaviest, dirtiest, most evil-sounding audio ever put to tape, and more importantly to vinyl, with both Come My Fanatics (1997) and Dopethrone (2000) being lauded as landmark releases.
A cultural as well as a musical force, Electric Wizard have left an indelible mark on a host of different genres, the likes of doom, stoner and sludge; at heart, however, they stand as an iconic British metal band, cast in the great tradition, with lyrics and artwork reflecting the hypnotic weight of the music, and subject to the same intelligence and detail.
Wreathed in occult ritual and drug-culture references, with classic ’70s horror an inspirational seam, Electric Wizard are poised to turn a page; there’s the new deal with Spinefarm Records, plus – after a nine-year hiatus – the return of Mark Greening (the drummer on Dopethrone), who completes the line-up of Oborn, US guitarist Liz Buckingham, a key member since 2003, and new bassist Clayton Burgess (Satan’s Satyrs).
Fueled by strong emotion and the harder sounds of late-’60s Detroit, the remodeled line-up – isolated by choice, giant stacks glowing red – set about crafting an eighth studio album to both rival and exceed the milestone recordings of the past, with Buckingham keeping things suitably monolithic and the band generally looking back to some of their earliest influences.
Toerag Studios in London was once again charged with capturing ‘The Sound’, and (encouragingly) words like “raw”, “hateful” and “sickeningly heavy” are being traded.
Says Oborn: “Our master plan is this. Real metal!! We stand for rebellion, we are with the kids; we fight, puke, smoke weed, etc… Electric Wizard is an entity, with its own history, its own symbols, its own iconography, and with this new album, we wanted to return to basic values. It’s primitive. We needed to claw it back down to the evil core – sex, drugs, violence, revolution… to go back to being a band that hung out and jammed hard. No teaching songs, just feeling them out. If you jam enough and you are on the same level – artistically, musically, whatever, you gotta be committed – then good music will happen. I totally believe that…”
Electric Wizard will make the following festival appearances in 2014, with more shows to be added:
May 2 Temples Festival, Bristol, UK (headline) June 20 Hellfest, Clisson, France (Valley Stage headline) July 3 Roskilde Festival, Roskilde, Denmark (Arena Stage) July 4 Sonisphere, Knebworth Park, UK (stage headline) August 16 Jabberwocky, The Excel Centre, London, UK September 12 Reverence Valada, Portugal (headline with Hawkwind)
ELECTRIC WIZARD are: Jus Oborn – lead vocals, guitars | Liz Buckingham – guitars | Mark Greening – drums, percussion | Clayton Burgess – bass
Established in 1990, Spinefarm Records is an international rock and metal label with dedicated offices around the globe. Working with Caroline under the Universal banner, Spinefarm marries the ethos of the independent to the clout of the major, developing signature artists worldwide.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
This won’t be the first time I’ve used a European festival for a bit of mental escapism, but a September weekend in Portugal sounds awfully nice, and it’s hard to argue with the initial lineup for the Reverence Festival, which will be held Sept. 12-13 in Valada, just a bit north of Lisbon. From Hawkwind and Electric Wizard through Naam and Spindrift, it’s going to be a spacey time in Valada. I wouldn’t argue.
Lineup info and a bit of the philosophy of the fest follow, cortesia de PR wire:
HAWKWIND // ELECTRIC WIZARD // PSYCHIC TV // RED FANG // CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX // SWERVEDRIVER // RINGO DEATHSTARR // MAO MORTA // THE WYTCHES // WHITE HILLS // ASIMOV // THE COSMIC DEAD // EXIT CALM // NAAM // SUNFLARE // BLACK BOMBAIM // WHITE MANNA // AIR FORMATION // KEEP RAZORS SHARP // THE QUARTET OF WOAH! // THE OSCILLATION // KILLIMANJARO // THE TELESCOPES // MURDERING TRIPPING BLUES // SPINDRIFT // JIBOIA
On the 12th and 13th September Reverence Festival celebrates the best in psych, stoner, shoegaze, doom, prog, garage and beyond, with some sixty bands playing over two days on four stages, including the hugely influential spacerock titans Hawkwind – performing in Portugal for the very first time.
The resurgence of far out, heavy rock-based music and a booming live music network across Europe has given rise to huge demand, with Reverence already causing a stir online amongst fans bustling with anticipation and excitement.
Reverence offers the chance for like-minded heads from across the world to congregate at one of the biggest and most ambitious events of its kind, one that features a unique line-up of revered titans and rising talent.
The heady, hazy and tripped-out sounds will make for the perfect outdoors summer soundtrack to the balmy and picturesque setting of Valada. When the sun sets, kaleidoscopic lights and psychedelic visuals will adorn the stages, adding an aesthetic accompaniment to the mind-expanding aural delights, which will run all night.
Blazing a trail from the 60s right through to today with unparalleled status, Hawkwind are spiritual and sonic godfathers, whose influence has permeated through hundreds of bands over five decades, not least many of those sharing the bill at Reverence. Formed in 1969, their trademark single ‘Silver Machine’ was a huge hit that brought the band to the attention of the wider public, with albums like ‘Warrior On The Edge Of Time’ and ‘Masters Of The Universe’ lauded as classics.
Joining them at the top of the bill and bringing their own brand of heavy cerebral stoner/doom to the stage are Electric Wizard – writers of some of the most important records of the genre like ‘Come My Fanatics’, ‘Dopethrone’ and ‘Black Masses’.
The bone-crushingly heavy Red Fang fit perfectly with the reverence ethos, along with ambient doom collective Crippled Black Phoenix as bands that have gained cult following for refusing to compromise – an attitude also held by Reverence itself.
More talent comes from local heroes, Mao Morta, arguably one of the most important Portuguese alternative rock bands on the scene, with a career spanning back to the mid-eighties. If all that wasn’t enticing enough, Psychic TV, the respected experimental art and music group fronted by pioneer and visionary Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, will be making an appearance. Not to mention Oxford shoegazers Swervedriver who split in the late 90s only to be met with huge success when they re-emerged in 2008.
Reverence’s powerful line-up is strengthened by their choice to include some of the biggest names in the current shoegaze and garage revival such as dark garage rockers The Wytches, ambient kosmische drone combo Telescopes and motorik spacerockers White Hills.
Many bands that have secured positions on the prestigious line-up have highly respectable followings in their own right, in particular the MBV-style Ringo Deathstarr (who inadvertently got the festival kick-started by inspiring the partnership of Cartaxo Sessions and Club AC30), along with baggy space rockers Exit Calm, psychedelic maestros The Oscillation (featuring Fanfarlo’s drummer) and sludgers Asimov.
Aiming to capture the spirit of early, pre-branded and pre-corporate events, Reverence harks back to the golden age of free spirited festivals, where the music comes first. The choice of said music makes it abundantly clear that Reverence is a festival with integrity, that isn’t a box-ticking exercise where bands from every genre are booked in a ‘throw it all against the wall and see what sticks’ approach, but a labour of love.
The festival features a variety of cult bands that have been bought together not purely for profit, but because a group of promoters wanted to bring something to Valada for the fans. They’re pulling together what they see as the best bands from all over the world, because it’s what the fans want to see and, being fans themselves, what they want to see too.
The event takes place in the relaxed surroundings of Parque de Merendas, which runs along the banks of the Tejo river and includes a fluvial beach, picnic areas and coffee shops. Traditional Portuguese food and drinks including vegan and vegetarian will be available, as well as camping facilities adjacent to the festival site with toilets and showers.
Valada is a small picturesque village, famous for agriculture and wine production. Located approximately 60kms inland from Lisbon and 550km from Madrid, easily accessible via train from Lisbon where shuttle buses will be running from nearest station Reguengo to the festival site.
Reverence is a collaboration between Cartaxo Sessions, Camara Municipal do Cartaxo, Lovers & Lollypops, Club AC30 and Lisbon Club Sabotage.
Early bird 2 day passes: €55.00 // after June 30th: €70.00 // Daily Ticket: €38.00
The Patient Mrs. and I were walking around Ikea tonight, basking in the mediocre consumer hell that is our 30s and looking for a shelf I can put LPs on, since apparently I have enough now to warrant one — also a lamp because with the time change it gets dark in my office before I’m done working — and I couldn’t get Electric Wizard out of my head. They seem to be an immediate go-to association for those moments when you most want to say fuck everyone and everything and drop completely out of society. Ikea on a Friday night will do that.
Then we went to the Costco.
Suburbs, man. Some harsh shit.
I’ve always hated Ikea, and I feel like the worst part is I can’t really complain — we got both a lamp and a shelf, as well as a whole load of oh-yeah-we-totally-need-this bargain bulk crap at Costco. If we get snowed in tomorrow and are stuck until June like in The Shining, I’ll have enough deodorant to get me through. That’s not really something I worry about, but unit prices exist whether you want them to or not and I’m not in a position to be throwing money around willy nilly to not stink. There are bills to pay.
So although we were listening to the much more peaceful Papermoon Sessionscollaboration between Papir and Electric Moon — which I’ll be reviewing next week along with Lumbar, or EYE, or Corrections House or whatever it is I find myself wanting to hear because god damn it that’s how I pick records these days — the Wizard were on my mind and I figured Dopethronewas a decent enough cap to the evening. So far so good.
Other than the big box surroundings in that, which was the early going, it was hardly an unpleasant night. I feel lucky when I get to spend real time with The Patient Mrs. that isn’t me working at my desk and she working at hers or the two of us too tired to have an actual conversation, and we got dinner afterwards — she called me interesting! — and I’m looking forward to a relatively low key weekend ahead of what will be a busy week to come, with shows on deck from Blaak Heat Shujaa and Devilto Pay and maybe High on Fire, at least two, maybe three nights in a row.
On that subject, toward the end of next week I’ll probably have few posts up, since Postman Dan – you may recall my travel partner out to Days of the Doomed or know him because he’s generally awesome and seems to know everyone anyway — is flying in on Thursday from Michigan. It wouldn’t really do to be like, “Hey dude, glad you’re here, but I gotta go review some shit for like three hours so I’ll talk to you later. Good to see you though.” Not that I doubt he’d be fine on his own, it’s just rude.
Plenty with which to stay busy through all that though, and I’ll probably find some room in there to talk about some records, tapes, CDs, whatever format it might be. When the Deadbolt Breaks also have a new video that I’ll be posting and there’s a lot of other stuff to come as well, so please stay tuned.
And in the meantime, as always, have a great and safe weekend. Enjoy the Electric Wizard (I know I am), and please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Features on April 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
04.20.13 — 00.52 — Saturday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
I was early to Het Patronaat for the start of day two of Roadburn 2013. Stupid early, as the kids might say. Dread Sovereign – the new and doomly trio from Primordial vocalist Alan Averill and drummer Simon O’Laoghaire, also with Bones on guitar — were going on until 14.00, and I rolled up to the old church roughly an hour before. It was in time to catch their soundcheck, as it happens, which I watched from the door into the upstairs of the venue as a prelude to their actual set, which followed a much-needed cup of coffee. I had thought of bringing a book to read and ultimately decided against it. Can’t say it was the right choice, but there you go.
Averill handles bass in Dread Sovereign as well, and dialing his stage makeup back to some eyeliner but keeping the hood — Bones had one as well — his stage presence was a far cry from what it had been the night before, less interaction with the crowd, less rousing to fit with the music, which in turn was less rousing. There’s a 12″ they’re selling here, limited, whathaveyou, that I’ve had my eye on for two days now, and watching Dread Sovereign live did nothing to dissuade a purchase. Bones was a ripper on guitar, thrashing out like the kids do while he tossed off lively solos to counteract the songs’ marked plod. For his part, Averill‘s vocal style was roughly the same as in Primordial — after a point, you’re going to sing how you’re going to sing, no matter the context — but he had room to breathe between lines for the slower tempos.
Less adrenaline all around, then, but that was to be expected, and there were still a couple flashes of more uptempo groove to be had. “Pray to the Devil in Man” may have beat out its anti-Christian miseries, but “13 Clergy to the Fire” had some swing to it, with a chorus pattern distinctly in Averill‘s sphere that was immediately memorable. Solid beginning as it was, though, even Dread Sovereign‘s fastest stretch was little indicator of what German retro rockers Kadavar had on offer, playing songs from their two albums, 2012’s self-titled debut and the brand new Abra Kadavar (review here). I think for lack of material, as they’re a pretty recent band, Dread Sovereign ended their 45-minute set early, so there was a break in between, but as soon as Kadavar started checking their sound, it was clear things were about to take a turn in a much different direction.
One thing about the German three-piece: They’ve got the look down. Also the sound. Between two songs early into their set, someone in back shouted out, “Hair metal!” and received a couple boos. I can see the point of the critique, that Kadavar are so much leading with their aesthetic, the vintage production, the shirts, necklaces, beards, the bellbottoms and so on, and I guess if they sucked, it would be an issue, but they clearly take it seriously, and they’d more or less melted Het Patronaat by the time they were through their third song. Wolf Lindemann‘s vocals were spot on, and Tiger (drums) was responsible for a good bit of the energy they exuded from the stage. Say what you want about their haircuts, a drummer who can headbang like that to his own rhythms is something special to watch. They had a fill-in bassist, but once they got going, there was really no stopping their momentum.
The drums were set up toward the front of the stage, off the riser, so I don’t know how it looked from the back, but from where I was, people ate up “All Our Thoughts,” “Doomsday Machine” and Abra Kadavaropener “Come Back Life,” and rightfully so. In their tones, in Lindemann‘s vocals, in Tiger‘s riotous playing, Kadavar delivered an early highlight to the day and rounded out with a massive jam, bringing up DJ/filmmaker/psychedelic manipulator/etc. Shazzula Vultura – who was also showing a movie in Stage01 at 013 today — to add swirl via a Theremin run through a Moogerfooger. Shit got real wild real quick, and it was a stretch that brought to mind the later moments of Abra Kadavar. True to the record, they held it together live as well and crashed to a finish as crisply and vibrantly as they’d started, having played their full hour.
At that point, I’d been standing in the same spot at the front of the stage for about two full hours, but I knew I didn’t want to move until I got to watch at least part of Witch Mountain, who were playing Europe for the first time and on the road for four weeks with Cough, who played later tonight. It was another abrupt change in vibe, but neither did Witch Mountain disappoint. The abundance of talent in that band is nigh on ridiculous, and between drummer Nate Carson‘s work with Nanotear Booking (he’s giving a master class tomorrow on touring the US, which he knows both ends of, having done it a few times himself at this point as well as sending others on their way), guitarist Rob Wrong‘s history of reviewing albums for StonerRock.com and penchant for counteracting lumbering riffs with shredding solos, vocalist Uta Plotkin‘s intense range as she varies from growls to soaring, clean high notes (while actually hitting them; I don’t know if she’s a trained singer, but she certainly sounds like one) and bassist Neal Munson‘s tonal heft and nod-out rhythms, it’s hard not to root for them both here and in general.
“The Ballad of Lanky Rae” and “Beekeeper” from last year’s Cauldron of the Wild(review here) and the extended build of “Aurelia” were welcome, and as they seemed really glad to be playing, there resulted the kind of wholesome atmosphere that emerges when doom gathers to celebrate itself. I dug it, which was doubly fortunate because watching Kadavar and Witch Mountain meant missing out on Dream Death. There was some strategy involved in this, as staying at Het Patronaat instead of going over to the 013 Main Stage for Dream Death freed up scheduling conflicts to come and I’ll be able to catch Dream Death in June at Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin — most assuredly about as “in their element” as they’re going to get. So I felt bad for missing out on Dream Death, but will make up for it later. Every Roadburn brings hard choices, and every attendee has to carve out his or her own path through the crowded lineup. You know, like life.
Already at Het Patronaat the temperatures were reaching unseasonable highs. Witch Mountain had started early on account of this, and it was largely the thermostat that had me split partway through their set — still fun to start today with two full sets, as opposed to yesterday with all the running around early on — to head across the alleyway to the 013 and check out the “The Electric Acid Orgy” curated lineup by Electric Wizard guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn. The Wizard‘s own set was still a ways off, but as I walked in, the Green Room was just starting to fill up for upstart doomers Witchsorrow, who soon came on with their peculiarly British kind of traditional crushing riffage. At some point I’m going to have to sit down and really hammer out the differences between British trad doom and American trad doom and see what I can come up with, but watching Witchsorrow after Witch Mountain underscored how wide the margin between two doom acts can be, however similarly witchy their names might wind up.
They too seemed glad to have been asked to play — who wouldn’t be? — and the Green Room did indeed pack out for them, guitarist/vocalist Nick Ruskell craning his neck upwards to a high microphone as though to invoke Lemmy’s occult powers and further drive the band’s Cathedral-inspired take into wretched oblivion. And so on. Ruskell, bassist Emily Witch and drummer David Wilbrahammer also had a limited-edition cassette for sale over in the merch area to mark the occasion of playing Roadburn 2013, but I didn’t see it over there when I went today to pick up the new Toner Low CD from the Exile on Mainstream table (one of these years, I’ll introduce myself to Andreas from the label, but frankly, people with taste in music that good intimidate me) and must have missed my shot at one. Too bad, but I’m glad I got to catch them for a bit before I headed into the Main Stage area for the start of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.
It was plain even before they played one note that Uncle Acid were a major draw for the day, and in the five Roadburns that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend, I can think of very few times that room has been that crowded. Sleep last year, Saint Vitus in ’09, and oh yeah, Electric Wizard later in the evening. Usually there’s somewhere to go in the Main Stage area, whether it’s up front in a corner on the floor, or up in back on one of the raised steps, or even up on the balcony, but not for Uncle Acid. There was just no corner that didn’t have someone already there. I knew that a lot of people were looking forward to seeing them play, and so was I, but I suppose I hadn’t realized how that would translate to the actual numbers. They had their work cut out for them in living up to expectation.
But that, they didn’t fail. Opening with “I’ll Cut You Down” from their landmark 2011 sophomore outing, Blood Lust, they had the place immediately in their grip, the song’s psychotic verse swing and chorus hook delivered by both of the UK four-piece’s guitarists, Uncle Acid himself front and center, with backing in the chorus and here and there throughout from the bassist. People watched from out the side door as “I’ll Cut You Down” led to “Mt. Abraxas” from their third album, Mind Control(review here), the stomp in the finish winning favor readily even though the record is still pretty recent, as is, I’m told, the drummer. “Valley of the Dolls” provided a slowdown and “Death’s Door” was a highlight, the band playing mostly in the dark but for a few flashes here and there. I guess as regards the light show, I expected Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to come bathed in psychedelic purples, oranges and pinks the whole time — they were for flashes in the beginning — but they did just as well in hair-down-lights-down blue and there was little I could’ve reasonably asked for that they didn’t deliver. My one per year, I stood on the side of the stage to watch for a few minutes. Not too long, but long enough.
From there, I popped out to grab a quick bite to eat — roasted chicken, potatoes au gratin and a couple piece of fried fish; I’ve always been a cheap date — and figured I’d get a spot for Moss in the Green Room after. No such luck. By the time I got there, not only was the room itself full, but the space in the hallway outside where one would be able to see the band through the open doorway was also full. My loss, this Moss. They also had some tapes for sale. I should’ve bought everything. Didn’t. Hazards of doing a Roadburn sober, it seems. Back to Het Patronaat, then, my mind still reeling from the Uncle Acid set, to catch the start of French post-black metallers Les Discrets. Roadburn 2013 artist-in-residence, Neige of Alcest, played bass alongside guitarist, vocalist, visual artist and principle songwriter Fursy Teyssier and in comparison to Les Discrets‘ albums, of which I’ll make no bones about saying I’m a fan, the live incarnation was much heavier. This could just as easily be a byproduct of the house P.A., or of Neige‘s bass along with Teyssier and the second guitar, but it added to the dynamism of the band’s already dynamic material.
Also, but for Witch Mountain‘s Plotkin, Les Discrets also had the best vocals I’ve heard so far into the fest, Teyssier harmonizing with his fellow six-stringer and resting just under the lush wash of melody in the guitar and bass. It was gorgeous. Painfully so. I thought the mix on last year’s Ariettes Oubliées(review here) was stronger than that of their 2010 debut, Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées (semi-review here), but even the heaviest moments on record didn’t really prepare me for seeing them live, and while they may share a lot in terms of style with Alcest, it was never quite so apparent as it was watching them how different the two acts actually are and just how much of himself Teyssier puts into his work. I was really, really glad I got to see them, which as usual was becoming kind of a theme for the fest as a whole.
By the time they were really dug in, I could feel the day starting to wear on me, so I came back to the hotel for a few minutes to regroup, take my shoes off, drink a bottle of water, etc., so that when I got back to the 013 for Electric Wizard, I was good and ready. There was some hubbub about the band saying they didn’t want any photographers or something, an email sent to some people apparently, but there was still a decent population in the photo pit by the time the headliners started. I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway at this point, though I was worried Jus Oborn would stop the set and tell everyone to get the fuck out for breaking the rules. I tried to ask him while he was setting up his gear, but if he heard me, there was no indication.
Once more, Oborn had curated the day, so it was only fitting that Electric Wizard should headline — it would be fitting anyway, honestly — and the chance to see them for the first time was a considerable percentage slice for why I came. They toured the States over a decade ago (speaking of hubbubs, I seem to recall something about the Oborn‘s pants? I don’t know), but I didn’t see them then, so they were a must and a major cross-off for my must-see-before-I-die-in-a-fiery-plane-crash list. Yes, I have one, and it’s shorter by one band following Electric Wizard‘s set, which they launched with “Come My Fanatics,” Oborn stepping right into the cult leader role that he more or less legitimately is now, considering how many bands have followed in his drugged-out horrordelic footsteps. Joined by guitarist Liz Buckingham, returned drummer Mark Greening, who came back to the band following the dissolution of Ramesses, and bassist Glenn Charman, Oborn led the way through “Witchcult Today,” “Black Mass,” “Drugula,” “Legalise Drugs and Murder” as the packed crowd willingly went into something like a simultaneous nod trance, chanting lyrics back as screams entered the fray with extended verses and endings for the songs. I stood by the far-left side of the stage and watched riff after pot-addled riff met corresponding clouds of smoke in the crammed-in audience. I didn’t, but if you were ever gonna, this would’ve been the time.
I managed to get back to the other side of the stage by something I’ll just call “Roadburn magic” and ran by the Green Room to watch a few minutes of Finnish weirdo acid rockers Seremonia. Perhaps because everyone was either in the Main Stage space or over at Het Patronaat anticipating the arrival of Goat, the Green Room wasn’t overly crowded and I was able to walk right in. Kind of a bummer spot for Seremonia to have, competing with stoner legends and fascinating newcomers at once, but at least they were here. They just have one record out and from what I saw, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if they made another appearance down the line sometime. Their self-titled debut (track stream here) is better than people seem to have caught on to yet, perhaps intimidated by the many syllables of the Finnish lyrics. Couldn’t say for sure.
And though I wanted to stay and bask in the sort of folksy traditionalism of Seremonia, Goat beckoned. The Swedish outfit will apparently release a new 7″ on Sub Pop in the US in June, so somebody’s taken note following the critical tornado of fuckyessery that surrounded their 2012 World Musicdebut. Fine. I’m still not sure I’m really down with Goat. Maybe this is an all-too-American perspective, but you’ve got a bunch of people in masks running around playing psychedelic Afrobeat flailing arms and shouting whooping chants, I guess my big question as regards the band is what part of it isn’t minstrelsy. Obviously Sweden doesn’t have the history of troubled race relations that the US does, and I’ll be straight, I liked the record for what it was musically, it’s the theory behind it that has so far left me scratching my head.
Nonetheless, I ended the day same as I started it — standing in the doorway of Het Patronaat — only this time it was because the room was so full that there was nowhere else for me to go. The line to get in to see Goat stretched out the door and down the alley, and security was letting people in as others came out, so clearly the band was a major lure. Again, they’re good at what they do — I’m not saying they’re not — it’s all the other stuff besides the music I’m talking about. That said, judging by the smiles on the faces of those around me and the expectant/impatient looks of those waiting on line outside (far more wanting to go in than coming out), they probably made quite a few peoples’ day.
Late-night Tilburg echoes with the throb of the dance club across from the Mercure and drunken aus uur blijfts on the street below my open window. It’s just past four in the morning as I finish this post and if last night is anything to go by, it’ll be another two hours sorting photos [actually it was only an hour and a half!]. So be it. Roadburn 2013 day three kicks off tomorrow at 14.30 and I’ll be there.
Thanks (again) for reading. More pics after the jump.
I’m sure that in your lifetime you’ve heard a line so catchy that you wanted to make a whole song out of it. Well, Electric Wizard have too. The only difference is they actually wrote the song with the catchy line in the first place as well. So what you get with “Legalise Drugs & Murder” is some of the most stripped down Electric Wizard to date, the seminal UK doomers referencing themselves lyrically — the title being taken from a verse in “The Chosen Few” from 2007’s landmark Witchcult Todayfull-length — even as they continue to reference a slew of horror flicks, Sabbath, and, of course, the devil.
The Dorset mainstays released “Legalise Drugs & Murder” as a 7″ single earlier this year through Rise Above, coupled with the track “Murder & Madness.” Decibel magazine included a new 2012 demo of the track “Satyr IX,” which originally appeared on 2010’s Black Masses. And ever ones for outdoing themselves, the Jus Oborn-led troupe (of which I believe the picture above is outdated in terms of rhythm section) culled together those three songs as side A of a cassette EP called, of course, Legalise Drugs & Murder, that’s included exclusively with the Oct. 2012 issue of Terrorizer, the cover story of which — well look at that — also just happens to be on Electric Wizard.
So it’s an exclusive, limited Electric Wizard tape, that they’ve released to go with this one issue of Terrorizer and then it’s gone, off into catalog completist obscurity. Should go without saying I was dying to get my hands on one. I put word out on Thee Facebooks that if any kind soul in the UK could help me out, I’d gladly pay for the mag, shipping, etc., and it wasn’t five minutes before a hero emerged. Huge thanks go out to Phil Steventon of Stafford for taking it upon himself to send me a copy of the mag and the tape. It’s been kicking ass all over the tape players in my car and office since.
The song itself emphasizes the best parts of Wizard‘s do-a-lot-with-a-little ethic, cycling its title line as a chorus a chant while peppering in a few verses for good measure and rounding out with hypnotic repetition of the line “children of the grave.” I had thought maybe they’d include a “Satan’s slaves” to complement, since that’s how it worked in “The Chosen Few,” but they don’t even go that far, just letting the sleepy groove and malevolent fuzz carry the song out. “Satyr IX” is a grittier version of the original and “Murder & Madness” is five and a half minutes of horror atmospherics, nodding low end and whispering creepiness — a decent setup for the perversions that ensue on side B.
One might recognize “Patterns of Evil” from Black Masses, but not by much. The remix Electric Wizard – Oborn is credited as producer/mixer, though guitaristLiz Buckingham shares songwriting credit — have given the song has made it altogether rougher-sounding than it was on the album, and if they weren’t pleased with the original version, I can only wonder what that might mean for the sound of their next record, if they’re thinking that far yet. “Lucifer (We’ve Gone too Far)” is darkly psychedelic as was “Murder & Madness,” though more manic, with repetitive incantations of either one portion of its title or the other amid samples and a bizarre rush, and though the closer “Our Witchcult Grows…” is no less referential than the track “Legalise Drugs & Murder,” the song itself actually has little in common with the Witchcult Todaytitle-cut from which it’s derived.
Instead, they close out the Legalise Drugs & Murdertape with strange, effects-laden chanting. It might be filler, but if so, it’s effective on the level of mood, keeping the cult horror vibe at the fore to end of an already strange listen. If this tape is any indication of where Electric Wizard are headed with their next full-length, then things could be taking a turn for the weird any minute now. Of course there’s no sure guarantee that it is or isn’t a sign of their direction overall, but it’s fun to speculate, and Legalise Drugs & Murdermay just end up as a blip on the band’s discography, but it’s a cool listen and something I was glad to get while the getting was good.
It had been a while since I’d been to the Second Saturday Record Show in flood-prone Wayne, NJ. In fact, relatively speaking, my load of CD acquisitions has been light of late, a combination of pricing myself out of the market, saving cash to move, being annoyed at digital promos, etc. But Saturday was the record show and I happened to be in the state, so I wasn’t going to miss it.
The Wayne Firehouse, which is where the show has been held since before time began, was as packed as I’ve ever seen it, and with more vinyl. Believe the hype, I guess. People were pushing through the aisles at crowded tables, and even though I was working under my self-imposed limit to CDs and tapes, I wavered when I happened upon an original LP of the first Goatsnake record. I didn’t buy it, because it was $75, but I came close.
Treasures persisted though. Here’s a quick rundown.
Among the CDs, the self-titled Electric Wizard was the highlight, no doubt about. Original jewel case issue on Rise Above. I’d only had the reissue before that paired it with Come My Fanaticsand the digipak that came out even later, so to get the first version was a treat. Of course the album rules, but I already knew that going into it.
Tapes were three for two bucks at one seller’s table, so I grabbed the Dio, Sacred Heart, and Black Sabbath, Mob Rules and Born Againtapes from him, as well as the three-tape set of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks‘ The 2,000 Year Old Man, which is a classic. The Ozzy tape came from his as well, which threw off the three-for-two thing, but it was worth the extra 50 cents anyway. I think actually I only wound up paying $2.50 anyhow. Fucking awesome.
The Hendrix tape in the top right corner I bought off a different dude for a buck. It’s a dub of “Top Gear”/BBC stuff (click here to pop up the full tracklist), and yeah, it’s probably all been officially released at this point, but it fucking rules anyway, front to back. 1967. Gorgeous.
The 1996 debut by Canada’s Sheavy was in the same bin as the Electric Wizard (and some Death SS, which I picked up as well), but might have been an even bigger surprise, if only because it was so random. I’ve never been really hooked by the band — though they do take Sabbath worship to a different level entirely and there’s something inherently admirable in that — but the record’s cool and it’s got a handmade-looking foldout included detailing the bonus tracks and even a little pyramid-shaped piece of paper that seems to be a kind of mail-order catalog:
And here’s the foldout, when folded out:
Pretty cool that that stuff would be with the album after all these years, and in impeccable shape at that. The CD was obviously well loved, kept out of sunlight, and so on. Hard not to appreciate stumbling on something like that, no matter how attached to Sheavy‘s work I may or may not be.
One of my main reasons for going in the first place, however, was the hope of picking up a turntable on the cheap. I’ve invested about as much time and effort into trying to repair the one at my office as I care to, and it’s time to move on. They didn’t have any at the record show, which was a bummer, but en route to other errands, The Patient Mrs. found a $40 Best Buy gift card that’s apparently been in my wallet since 2009. Could only be providence, right?
We shot over to the local big-box — a desert of outdated technologies (which actually gave it a certain charm in my eyes) — and grabbed the floor model of one of those “put your LPs on your iPod” turntables for what turned out to be $24 after the gift card was applied. Brought it to the office this morning, and of course it didn’t work. Now I’m 0-2 and I’ve got two busted record players one on top of the other on top of my office shelf unit, which I think makes me some kind of warped reality redneck.
Some you win, some you lose. I’ll try to return it and see if I can give it another go, and I’ve got plenty to keep me busy in the meantime. If nothing else, the growling and howling in “Hound Dog” on that Hendrix tape has the little dog Dio eyeballing the speaker curiously, and that’s bound to be hours of entertainment. Rock and roll.
A couple weeks ago, I asked the question above: “What are the 10 greatest stoner rock records?” It was kind of just something I was throwing out there to see what came back. Nothing scientific, pretty vague on what “stoner rock” actually meant as a genre designation. Basically just trying to get a spur-of-the-moment response, like an inkblot test for riffs. First thing that comes to mind.
The response was awesome, so before anything else, thank you to everyone who contributed a list to the original post. I was taken aback by the number of replies that came in — a total 73 comments — and the resultant breadth of records named reads like a wishlist of the damned. Some people were pretty orthodox in their definition of the genre, and some more open in the bands they included, but working from everyone’s lists, I tallied up the votes, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the choices personally (I added my own list as a comment to the initial post, so I won’t bother reprinting it), it was a blast to see what emerged on top. The people have spoken.
I tried to be as fair as I could in the tallying. There were some comments left that were individual songs and not albums, and those I didn’t count, but everything else went in, even if it was only mentioned once, and when someone said, for example, “Melvins – all,” I actually added a tally to everything by the Melvins that everyone else had said. Again, it’s not really a scientific thing polling demographic data, but it was a lot of fun.
Okay, here’s the list:
The Top 10 Greatest Stoner Rock Records Poll Results:
1. Kyuss, Welcome to Sky Valley (41 votes)
2. Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (27 votes)
3. Black Sabbath, Master of Reality (19 votes)
4. Kyuss,Blues for the Red Sun (18 votes)
5. Monster Magnet,Spine of God (15 votes)
5. Sleep,Dopesmoker(15 votes)
7. Electric Wizard, Dopethrone(14 votes)
7. Fu Manchu, In Search Of… (14 votes)
9. Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age (12 votes)
10. Fu Manchu, The Action is Go (10 votes)
As you can see, some real classics in there, and Welcome to Sky Valleywas far and away the winner, picked by 41 out of the 73 people (myself included), with Sleep and Black Sabbath behind. There were two ties at numbers five and seven, but beyond that, it’s a pretty clear picture of where people are at with their favorites.
What about everything else? Well, it was all counted. I broke all the entries down by number of votes and listed them by artist with albums in chronological order.
This is kind of how I know we, as a people, have it too easy. Not even that you can in the span of 30 seconds click onto a website and look up Electric Wizard‘s complete studio discography, but that in another two seconds, you can also find the video of all their splits, EPs and singles as well. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying it’s really fucking easy. Almost too easy. I haven’t been through the full seven and a half hours of the clip above, but something so easy, you’d almost have to suspect it’s a trap and that three hours in, the floor will drop out and you’ll fall into a dungeon.
I know I’d said the Scott Kelly interview would be up this week. I did say that. That interview was supposed to happen Tuesday and it got moved to Friday at 4PM, so it was obviously going to be too late to get it up. Joe Axler of Samothrace was an awesome conversation though, so hopefully you dug that. The Scott Kelly interview was a good one. It’ll be up this week coming, as soon as I can transcribe it.
Audio too this week from Order of the Owl. Monday or Tuesday I’ll have their new EP, In the Noon of the After Day, streaming in full, and it’s pretty killer stuff from the trio, which features former Zoroaster bassist/vocalist Brent Anderson. Definitely worth sticking around for. There will also be a giveaway for some copies of their Cocaine Super Demon7″, so that’ll be fun as well, and I’ll have reviews of the new Om and Enslaved albums, among others. Eggnogg is playing in Brooklyn tomorrow night at Goodbye Blue Monday, and I have some family-type stuff that requires my presence, but if I can get there afterwards, I’d very much like to. We’ll see how it goes.
In the meantime, I’ve got an interview slated with Chad Davis of Hour of 13 tomorrow (he also plays in Tasha-Yar, which I will no doubt ask about) and a bunch of work to do between now and then, so maybe listening to seven-plus hours of Electric Wizard in a row will be good for productivity. I can’t imagine any scenario in which that will actually turn out to be the case, but what the hell, it might be fun to try.
See you on the forum and back here Monday for another album of the summer of the week and more riff-led good times.
Posted in Features on January 26th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s hard to discuss Electric Wizard, the spearheads of an occultic movement within modern doom, and not get lost in either hyperbolic praise, devil references or ’70s horror imagery. Indeed, if you look at the bulk of what’s been said about the Dorset group’s seventh studio album, Black Masses (by myself as well), you’ll find it can be classified in one or all of those categories. Perhaps the best thing I can say about that is that neither the imagery nor the hyperbole are unearned on the band’s part.
Because Electric Wizard are, in fact, one of the most important groups in doom today. Their earlier works like 1997’s Come My Fanatics and 2000’s landmark Dopethrone have an influence that pulsates throughout the genre, and even their most recent outings, Black Masses and its 2007 predecessor, Witchcult Today, have been responsible for setting much of the course thematically for a growing crop of bands. As founder, guitarist and vocalist, Jus Oborn has become the very sort of cult figurehead so many of Electric Wizard‘s songs describe.
Joined in the current incarnation of Electric Wizard by American expat guitarist Liz Buckingham (ex-13, ex-Sourvein), tattoo-covered bassist Tas Danazoglou and hi-hat shunning drummer Shaun Rutter, Oborn stripped down the ultra-fuzzed style of Witchcult Today for the latest album, putting a special focus on the interplay of his and Buckingham‘s guitars and the strength of the songwriting. Since both records were put to tape at Toe Rag Studios in London by Liam Watson, it’s that much clearer that the efforts of Oborn and the band have paid off.
The simplistic brilliance of the opening title-track, the revelatory psychedelic horror of “Turn Off Your Mind,” the misanthropic “Scorpio Curse” and the sexually-charged “Venus in Furs” all seethe with an attitude and atmosphere undeniably Electric Wizard‘s own. And of those who would pretend to their Satanic majesty (see first sentence above), it’s becoming increasingly clear that none of them can capture terrors quite as vivid. There’s only one Electric Wizard, and they didn’t happen overnight. Their demented anthems are unparalleled.
In the interview below, Jus Oborn — a week under the weather with the flu at the time of our conversation — discusses the songwriting process behind Black Masses and some of his more surprising points of influence, as well as the prospect of much-demanded touring in the US, the challenges in crafting memorable choruses, and much more.