Kirk Windstein to Release First Solo Album Dream in Motion in January

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hey, I’m down for a Kirk Windstein record. Why the hell not? After 30-plus years of sludging it out in Crowbar, I’d say the dude has well earned the right to give it a shot. And the title-track for Windstein‘s Dream in Motion is streaming now and it sounds cool a little bit more mellow kind of way than Crowbar has been for the most part over their last couple records, which have veered more toward an aggressive modern metal sound, but what I really want to hear is The Man Himself taking on “Aqualung.” I love that record. And who the hell wouldn’t want to hear Windstein‘s voice telling that story? That’s an anchor for the record right there, but I’m intrigued at the whole thing as well, of course. If the title-track is anything to go by, what started as an impulse to do an acoustic record clearly became something much more complex.

The PR wire brings details and that video:

kirk windstein dream in motion

Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein to Release Debut Solo LP, ‘Dream in Motion’, January 24, 2020

Revered Southern Metal Progenitor Unveils Music Video for Highly-Anticipated LP’s Title Track; Album Art and Track Listing Revealed

Kirk Windstein, the highly respected sludge metal pioneer and unmistakable earthmoving bellow of Crowbar, stomps forward as a solo artist for the very first time. On January 24, 2020, Entertainment One (eOne) will proudly release ‘Dream in Motion’, Windstein’s singular debut and a recording that sees the Dark Lord of the Southern Riff stretch his creative wings and strengthen his indelible legacy.

A first taste of what Kirk’s solo debut holds in store can be experienced now as Windstein drops a video for the record’s title track. Directed by Justin Reich (Black Label Society, Royal Thunder), “Dream in Motion” makes its debut via Consequence of Sound/Heavy Consequence. Watch Kirk Windstein’s “Dream in Motion” video at this location.

Recorded in Windstein’s native Louisiana over a period of two years between tours and over holidays, ‘Dream in Motion’ is a powerfully moving recording that pulls from every corner of the riff king’s three-decade-plus career. The LP owns a lyrical depth, emotional weight, and musical muscle forged from the fires of thousands of worldwide live shows, a well-earned reputation for creating the melancholic melody that has become synonymous with New Orleans heavy metal, and a reflection on a life well-lived. Windstein’s solo foray is a heartfelt throwback to album-oriented-rock supremacy, eschewing the predictable acoustic record route for a more straight-ahead guitars approach, albeit one that’s no less soulful or meditative than Crowbar fans expect. Kirk handled all vocal duties, guitars, and bass on the album, with drums and effects by longtime producing partner and collaborator, Duane Simoneaux (Crowbar, Down, Exhorder).

The idea to record a solo album started out as, ‘I’m going to do an acoustic record,’ but that’s just so cliché, you know?” says Windstein. “Nothing against that, but It’s been done a million times. But I had been thinking about doing something a little more mellow for some time. It’s something I wanted to do, I needed to do. It’s another side of my songwriting, my personality. It’s another side of me. It’s something I did for myself. It’s not even that this isn’t heavy, because there are bits and pieces that are very heavy. But even the heaviest riff on this is something I couldn’t really do in Crowbar. If some Crowbar fans don’t like it, I’ll understand. But I hope people dig it.”

The end result is simply stunning. Single note guitar work, simple power chords, clean tones, thundering five string bass guitar, and standard tuning with nary a “drop” to be heard. “Dream in Motion,” which opens the record, is a barn burning rock n’ roll song with just a taste of aggressive attitude. “Hollow Dying Man” is all vibe, with huge melodies and a hardscrabble blue-collar authenticity. The record closes with a faithful rendition of one of Windstein’s most enduring favorites: “Aqualung,” the title track of Jethro Tull’s 1971 conceptual masterpiece.

Track listing:

1.) Dream In Motion
2.) Hollow Dying Man
3.) Once Again
4.) Enemy In Disguise
5.) The World You Know
6.) Toxic
7.) The Healing
8.) Necropolis
9.) The Ugly Truth
10.) Aqualung (Jethro Tull cover)

Pre-order ‘Dream in Motion’ at this location.

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Kirk Windstein, “Dream in Motion” official video

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Quarterly Review: High on Fire, Ruff Majik, Merlin, Workshed, E-L-R, Sibyl, Golden Legacy, Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Burden Limbs, El Supremo

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Another day, another batch of 10 reviews on the march to 50 by the end of the week. Will we make it? Yeah, probably. I mean, I think there was once when I had to skip a day or something but even then I made up for it and there’s never been an instance where the Quarterly Review fell apart. The one quarter I decided to nix it (was it last year?) I made up for it by doing 100 reviews instead of 50 the next time out, so we got there eventually. It being Tuesday, the end of the week looks far off, but indeed we’ll ge there eventually, and there’s a lot of good music between now and then, so let’s hit it.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Bat Salad

high on fire bat salad

A limited vinyl EP released as part of Record Store Day 2019, High on Fire‘s Bat Salad comprises three songs: an original instrumental and two covers, one of Celtic Frost and one of Bad Brains. And I won’t take away from the “Rat Salad” Sabbath-does-blues-jazz-jam-except-it’s-HighonFire-so-it-sounds-nasty-as-hell spirit of “Bat Salad” at all, but the real highlight here is hearing Matt Pike‘s gravel-throated vocals take on “Into Crypts of Rays.” Celtic Frost have always been a central factor in what High on Fire were doing stylistically, so to have the band take them on directly seems long in the making. They approach Bad Brains‘ “Don’t Bother Me” with due reverence as well, careening through an intense three-minute burst of energy with the grit and underlying precision one has come to expect from these singular masters. Soon enough, bands will be covering High on Fire with the same spirit of fan homage. Doubly notable for being founding drummer Des Kensel‘s last recorded appearance alongside Pike and bassist Jeff Matz in the band.

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Ruff Majik, Tårn

ruff majik tarn

Guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday, bassist Jimmy Glass and drummer Ben Manchino return with Tårn, Ruff Majik‘s second album on a quick turnaround from their 2018 debut, Seasons (review here). Aligned with Lay Bare Recordings for the vinyl release, the deceptively quick and even more deceptively complex seven-track/36-minute offering finds Ruff Majik digging into dirt-caked tonality and classically punkish sneer in Holiday‘s vocals. There are moments where they sound like Queens of the Stone Age (“Speed Hippie”) and moments where they sound like Black Flag (parts of opener “Schizophrenic”), but as a roller like “Heretically Happy” or the earlier post-Zeppelin stoner sneak of “Gloom & Tomb” show, Ruff Majik are perhaps most interested in sounding like themselves. They’re gleeful as they toy with doomed vibes on closer “Seasoning the Witch,” and the seven-minute “I’ll Dig the Grave” earlier thrills with changes drawn together by a pervasive and righteous groove. With Tårn, Ruff Majik have found their wavelength, and it suits them.

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Merlin, The Mortal

merlin the mortal

Be it heretofore established that sax-laced Kansas City psych-doomers Merlin don’t give a fuck. They don’t give a fuck what you expect, they don’t give a fuck what everyone else is doing, they don’t give a fuck if they meme the crap out of their own band. They’ve got their thing and they’re doing it. And you know what? They’re right. The Mortal is their fifth full-length in six years, following as a sequel to early-2018’s The Wizard (review here), and with flourish galore in arrangements of organ, sax, flute, percussion, accordion, trumpet, etc., alongside the foundation of songcraft that comes through the guitar, bass, drums and always-theatrical vocals of Jordan Knorr, the band recount tales along a dark-magical mystery tour of gorgeously flowing and still-weighted psychedelic plunder. They have become a buried treasure of weirdo/geek rock, and whether it’s the peaceful drift of “Ashen Lake” or the cacophonous heavy riffing of “Basilisk,” the stage-setting prog of “Towerfall” or the consuming swell that carries out the apex of closer “The Mortal Suite” — King Crimson chase and all — Merlin‘s work has never sounded so masterful. Will there be a third installment in the tale? Nothing quite like a trilogy.

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Workshed, Workshed

workshed workshed

They’ve since added a third party in bassist Helen Storer (Fireball Ministry, among others), but Workshed‘s self-titled Rise Above Records debut LP was recorded as the duo of guitarist/vocalist Adam Lehan and drummer Mark Wharton. More than a quarter-century ago, both Lehan and Wharton played on Cathedral‘s pivotal first two albums, but in Workshed, and certainly there are some shades of doom on a stomper like “Anthropophobic” here, but the bulk of Workshed‘s nine-song/47-minute first offering is given to post-Entombed buzzsaw noise sludge, riffs crunched one into the next in an aggro, punk-rooted fashion that rife with a sense of willful punishment that comes through in sheer impact from front to back. Vocals call to mind Tom G. Warrior immediately and are suited to the social commentary of “If This is How it Is” and “This City Has Fallen,” while the grueling march of “A Spirit in Exile” leaves room for some atmosphere to eek through, which it does. They trash out in centerpiece “On Sticks of Wood” and chug their into a last fade on closer “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” but by then they’ve long since made their statement and left a trail of destruction behind them. Would they have been signed to Rise Above without the Cathedral connection? Probably not. Does the album earn their place? Absolutely.

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Rise Above Records website

 

E-L-R, Mænad

e-l-r maenad

With their first full-length, Mænad, Swiss post-metallers E-L-R cart a gorgeous and textured course through patient and progressive songweaving that lends itself to hypnosis through its churning rhythm as much as its overarching melodies seem to evoke other worlds. It is not without its sense of challenge and certainly plenty heavy in its tone and groove — at least where it wants to be — but it’s also rich and provides a level of depth to its mix that should have others in the genre asking how they did it. A transitional drone at the end of “Devotee” brings about the 10-minute “Above the Mountains There is Light” and a long contemplation begins, working from the ground up on a pilgrim’s path to the eventual payoff. The resonance there is something unto itself, but even as “Ambrosia,” “Lunar Nights” and “The Wild Shore” find the stylistic footing that opener “Glancing Limbs” and “Devotee” seemed to hint at earlier, E-L-R maintain both an ambient sprawl and a consuming sense of passion that makes their work here all the more thrilling. This is a debut, following only a single 2018 demo that had two of the same tracks. What that tells me is look out for this band, because this kind of potential doesn’t come along every day and when it does, you want to be there for the follow-up. The impeccable taste of Prophecy Productions pays dividends once again.

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Prophecy Productions website

 

Sibyl, The Magic Isn’t Real

sibyl the magic isn't real

Otherworldly doom rock marked by echoing vocals oozing out from deep in the mix and gotta-hear-it bass tone complemented by choice riffage and a fervent thud in the drums, even if the aesthetic of Richmond’s Sibyl is familiar enough, there’s plenty to dig about their debut EP — what one might’ve called a “demo” in eras past — The Magic Isn’t Real. The stylistic elephant in the room is RVA’s own Windhand, but Sibyl take a more psychedelic path to heavy oblivion, and with four tracks in the range of four to five minutes, The Magic Isn’t Real comes across as well focused in its songwriting despite the ethereal touches in the actual sound. Cool vibe, and as they work some noisy shuffle into “Spinning Webs,” they show themselves as being less restricted than otherwise might be the case if they were purely committed to doomed drudgery. I’ll give bonus points as well for naming the penultimate track “Sexpionage,” just on principle, but it’s in stretches like the subdued creeper opening of “Blood Moon” and the engrossing, still-somehow-moving wash of “Pendulums” that Sibyl really showcase their intention.

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Golden Legacy, Golden Legacy II

golden legacy golden legacy ii

London heavy noise duo Golden Legacy offer five tracks and 23 minutes of anti-genre, adrenaline rock to follow-up their 2016 self-titled EP. There’s a strong undercurrent of modern punk and indie to their sound, which is what gets them the “anti-genre” consideration, but it’s the energy of their delivery carrying them one way or the other as they drive through the harsh snare of “Cut and Crash” following the chunkier tone of opener “Moon” and just before centerpiece “Dirty Mouth” finds its way into grunge-style howling beastliness. Comprised of drummer/vocalist Lorena Cachito and guitarist Yanni Georgiou, the two-piece find winning momentum in “Salvation,” while closer “Thirsty” opens with a mellow drum progression gradually joined by the guitar and builds into more progressive and dramatic movement, casting off some of the rawness of the songs before it in favor of more complex fare. It still manages to soar at the end, though, and that seems to be what counts. They might be rawer now than they’ll eventually turn out, but that suits most of what they’re doing in adding to the emotionality on display in Cachito‘s vocals.

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Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Coven of the Ultra-Riff

saint karloff devils witches coven of the ultra-riff

Alright, look. I don’t even think I have the full thing, but whatever. Saint Karloff and Devil’s Witches came together to release the Coven of the Ultra-Riff split — it can be so hard to find the right coven for your family; have you considered the Ultra-Riff? — and they each play an original track and then they cover each other’s songs and then Saint Karloff introduce the progression of “Supervixen (Electric Return)” and Devil’s Witches take up the mantle and run with it on “Supervixen (Acoustic Return),” so yeah, it’s pretty awesome and kind of all over the place but whatever. Get your head around it and get on board with whatever version you can grab. Vinyl came out through Majestic Mountain Records and tapes were through Stoner Witch Records and I’m fairly certain it’s all sold out already and probably stupid expensive on Discogs, but do what you need to do, because this is what Sabbath worship in the year 2019 is supposed to sound like. It’s bombed out of its gourd and has long since dropped out of life. It’s exactly where and what it wants to be.

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Devil’s Witches on Thee Facebooks

Majestic Mountain Records BigCartel store

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Burden Limbs, There is No Escape

burden limbs there is no escape

I’m not going to pretend to have the grounding in post-hardcore to toss off the influences under which Burden Limbs are working, but to listen to the blast of noise in “How Many Times Must I Reset” and the near-industrial wash of noise they conjure in the subsequent “Hypochondriac,” it’s clear they’re working under one influence anyway. There is No Escape (released through Glasshouse Records) runs 24 minutes and carries four songs, but in that time the band around founding figurehead and guitarist/vocalist Chad Murray manage to challenge themselves and the listener alike to keep up with their turns and emotional resonance. Murray is joined by two bassists, another guitarist, keyboards/synth and drums, so yes, there’s something of a busy feel to it, but even echoing cavernous as they are, the vocals seem to draw the songs together around a central presence and add a human core to the proceedings that only makes them all the more affecting as would seem to be the intent.

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Glasshouse Records on Bandcamp

 

El Supremo, Clarity Through Distortion

El Supremo Clarity Through Distortion

Sometimes these things take a while, but El Supremo was formed by now-ex-Egypt bassist Chad Heille has a solo-project and released a self-titled demo in 2008, to which Clarity Through Distortion is the follow-up full-length. Now joined by guitarist Neil Stein (also ex-Egypt, and who also played some on the demo) and organist Chris Gould as well as bassist Cam Dewald who came aboard after the album’s completion, the instrumentalist full-band incarnation of El Supremo waste no time diving into dead-on tonal and riffy righteousness, taking classic heavy cues and running with them in modern production richness, sounding clear but natural as a jam like “Moanin’ & Groanin'” turns into a shuffler as it moves into its second half, or the mellow sway of the 14-minute “Supercell” at last runs head-on into the lumbering motion that will carry it through to the end. I don’t know how much clarity — at least of the existential sort I think they mean in the title — they might’ve found by the time the bluesy “Lotus Throne” rolls over into the shreddy “Outro” that caps, but if the method is distortion, they’ve certainly got that part down.

El Supremo on Thee Facebooks

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Lord Dying Announce Live Lineup; European Tour Starts Oct. 14

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lord dying

What do you do after you release one of the year’s most lauded metal records and crisscross the country promoting it? Well, you go to Europe, silly. So it is that Portland, Oregon, progressive metallers Lord Dying follow-up their late Spring jaunt across the US with a European run set to begin next month that includes stops at Into the Void, Desertfest Belgium, Dudefest, Darkhorse Festival and Damnation Festival heralding the formidable scope of Mysterium Tremendum (review here), their third album overall and debut release for eOne Heavy. Because that’s what you do.

It’s their first trip abroad since they toured with Voivod and Entombed AD in Europe circa 2016, following the willful aural gruel that was 2015’s Poisoned Altars (review here), and founding guitarists Chris Evans and Erik Olson — the latter also vocals — will welcome a new live lineup aboard as they go. The lucky rhythm section is comprised of bassist Alyssa Maucere (also Glory in the Shadows) and drummer Kevin Swartz (also Tithe and Serial Hawk), and the shows will begin Oct. 14, following Lord Dying‘s appearance at Northwest Hesh Fest this weekend, where they’ll be joined by original drummer Jonathan Reid (now also Glory in the Shadows, formerly also Megaton Leviathan) as a special one-off.

All sounds pretty badass, right? It is. Lord Dying are having that kind of year, much aided by the killer album. Funny how that kind of thing works.

Here are the tour dates:

lord dying euro tour

Lord Dying – Euro Tour

This tour is to promote the new record, “Mysterium Tremendrum”, put out only a few months back (on eOneHeavy). This EU tour is shared with the excellent and heavy-trippin Earth Ship (Berlin, DE), who will be LD’s main support throughout (*Earth Ship not playing)

Lord Dying will also be playing INTO THE VOID FESTIVAL leeuwarden, 18.10 , DESERTFEST* BELGIUM Antwerp 20.10, DUDEFEST Karlsruhe 31.10, DARKHORSE FESTIVAL Paris 01.11, and DAMNATION FESTIVAL* Leeds 02.11!

NorthWest Hesh Fest in Portland OR is this weekend and Lord Dying asked the original drummer Jon Reid to come back to do a ONE-TIME ONLY classic LD set, blasting out several bangers from their first record, “Summon The Faithless” and their following, “Poisoned Altars”. Jon is also drummer in Glory In The Shadows.

Lord Dying EU Tour with Earth Ship –
14-10 CH Bellinzona @ The Pit
15-10 DE Munich @ Backstage
16-10 DE Wiesbaden @ Schlachthof
17-10 DE Bochum @ Trompete
18-10 NL Leeuwarden @ Into The Void
20-10 BE Antwerp @ Desertfest*
22-10 ES Barcelona @ Sala Rocksound
23-10 ES Bilbao @ La Nube
24-10 CH Martigny @ Sunset Bar
25-10 DE Cologne @ MTC
26-10 DE Lubeck @ Treibsand
28-10 CZ Prague @ Club Fatal
29-10 DE Berlin @ Zukunft
31-10 DE Karlsruhe @ Dudefest
01-11 FR Paris @ Darkhorse Festival – Espace B
02-11 UK Leeds @ Damnation Festival*
03-11 UK Glasgow @ Audio
05-11 UK London @ New Cross In

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Lord Dying, Mysterium Tremendum (2019)

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High on Fire Announce Fall Tour Dates; Playing Psycho Las Vegas & Levitation Festival

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high on fire

After some canceled dates earlier this year in the wake of winning a Grammy for 2018’s Electric Messiah (review here), High on Fire will return to the road in the US this Fall with the likes of Power TripCreeping Death and Devil Master supporting. It’s arguably the most metal-centered American tour they’ve done since they were out with Goatwhore, though High on Fire are in the arguably fortunate position of being able to share the stage either with rock bands or metal bands and still stand out for their pummel and professionalism alike. I know Power Trip have been getting all kinds of best-metal-band-since-whenever this or that kind of accolades, and that’s super, since if they draw a younger crowd and that younger crowd gets to see Matt Pike play guitar for the first time, everyone is going to go home a winner.

High on Fire are of course also putting in an appearance this year at Psycho Las Vegas, as they will.

Here’s the latest from the PR wire:

high on fire power trip

HIGH ON FIRE ANNOUNCE FALL NORTH AMERICAN TOUR

POWER TRIP, DEVIL MASTER, AND CREEPING DEATH TO JOIN GRAMMY-WINNING METAL BAND ON MASSIVE FALL TOUR

BAT SALAD EP TO BE RELEASED DIGITALLY JULY 26

AWARD-WINNING LP, ELECTRIC MESSIAH OUT NOW

GRAMMY Award-winning metal band, High on Fire has announced a juggernaut North American fall tour with Power Trip. Dates kick off on November 7, 2019, at Levitation Festival, the 3-day music festival held in Austin, TX, now in its sixth year, and continue through the end of the year.

The tour will stretch from coast to coast, hitting major markets in North America and Canada before wrapping up in southern California in early December. Tickets are on sale Friday, July 26, 2019, at 10:00 AM LOCAL. Support on the High on Fire / Power Trip tour will come from rising stars and new label mates CREEPING DEATH.

High on Fire tour dates:
*All shows also include Power Trip and Creeping Death
November 7 – Austin, TX Mohawk (as part of 2019 Levitation Festival)
November 10 – Houston, TX @ Foamhenge
November 12 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
November 13 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
November 15 – Charlotte, NC @ Amos’ Southend
November 16 – Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry
November 17 – Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
November 19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
November 20 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes
November 21 – New York, NY @ Elsewhere
November 22 – New York, NY @ Elsewhere
November 23 – Hartford, CT @ Webster
November 24 – Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
November 25 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
November 26 – Detroit, MI @ The Majestic
November 27 – Chicago, IL @ The Metro
November 29 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater
November 30 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall
December 2 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
December 3 – Vancouver, BC @ The Rickshaw
December 4 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
December 6 – Berkeley, CA @ The UC Theatre
December 7 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent

Additionally, High on Fire will be performing at 2019 Psycho Las Vegas taking place August 16-18, 2019 in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort. Tickets are on sale now.

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High on Fire, “Electric Messiah” official lyric video

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Quarterly Review: Salem’s Bend, Motorpsycho, Sigils, Lord Dying, Sunn O))), Crimson Heat, Molior Superum, Moros, Glitter Wizard, Gourd

Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Today is Tuesday, I’m pretty sure, and hey, that’s nifty. I thought yesterday kicked off the Summer 2019 Quarterly Review really well, and any time I get through one of these without my head caving in on itself, I feel like that’s a victory, so yeah. Now we wade even deeper into what will ultimately be a 60-review plunge, with another 10 offerings of various stripes and takes on heavy. Some higher profile stuff in here, which is fine, I guess, but most of it is pretty recent, so if there’s something you haven’t heard yet, I hope you find something you dig, as always.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Salem’s Bend, Supercluster

salems bend supercluster

This is the sound of a band who’ve figured it out. Salem’s Bend have taken retroist boogie and modern tonalism, production and melody and turned it into something of their own. Supercluster (on Ripple) follows the Los Angeles trio of guitarist/vocalist Bobby Parker, bassist/vocalist Kevin Schofield and drummer Zach Huling‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), and with an uptick in the complexity of songwriting overall and particularly in the arrangements of dual-vocals, it is a marked step forward palpable as much in the hook of “Ride the Night” — and if you’re gonna call a song that, you better bring it — as the heavy crash ending “Heavenly Manna” and the languid, lucidly dreaming groove in “Infinite Horizon,” which appears ahead of the acoustic hidden track “Beltaine Chant.” That won’t be the last time these guys unplug, but whether it’s the raw Zeppelin vibe of “Show Me the Witch” or the crunching low-end nod of “Thinking Evil” or the leadoff thrust in “Spaceduster,” the message is clear that Salem’s Bend have arrived.

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Ripple Music webstore

 

Motorpsycho, The Crucible

motorpsycho the crucible

The latest in Motorpsycho‘s nigh-on-impossible-to-chart and ever-growing discography is The Crucible, issued through Stickman Records, and taking some of the heavy rock push of 2017’s The Tower (review here) and stretching out to more willfully progressive execution across three increasingly extended tracks. Running from shortest to longest, the album begins with “Psychotzar” (8:44) which resolves itself in maddening turns after fleshing through an energetic beginning, and rounds out side A with the 11-minute “Lux Aeterna,” with vocal harmonies and mellotron building into a graceful swell of volume before a headspinner solo and jam take hold, break to near-silence and finish in a burst of directly earliest-King Crimson majesty. This all before the 20:51, side B-consuming title-track crashes in with immediate tension and plays back and forth at releasing that through a course that is rife with melody and an emphasis on the mastery of Motorpsycho over their sound and direction. Onto the list of the year’s best records it goes.

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Stickman Records website

 

Sigils, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves

Sigils You Built the Altar You Lit the Leaves

Hypnotic and immersive heavy post-rock and metal becomes the genre tag well enough, but what New York’s Sigils do on their markedly impressive self-recorded, self-released debut album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves, is more soulful and emotive than “post-” anything generally conveys. With four tracks/38 minutes best taken as a whole, single listening experience, the band offer resonant depths of tone and vocal echoes centered around airy but still weighted guitar and consuming rhythms brought to bear with the patience of an organic Jesu. The ultimate triumph is in the melody and payoff of 13-plus-minute closer “The Wicked, the Cloaked,” which seems to manifest the haunting sensibility that “Samhain” and “Ritual” advocate on side A, but neither will I discount the chug of the prior “Faceless” or the underlying churn in those two leadoff tracks. Especially as a first album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves casts a sonic identity for itself that is striking and sees the band already beginning to push themselves forward. One hopes they continue to do so.

Sigils on Thee Facebooks

Sigils on Bandcamp

 

Lord Dying, Mysterium Tremendum

Lord Dying Mysterium Tremendum

Following 2015’s Poisoned Altars (review here), subsequent years of touring and a jump from Relapse to eOne Metal, Lord Dying‘s Mysterium Tremendum is enough of a stylistic melting pot that the best thing to do is call it progressive and just let it roll. Comprised of 11 tracks themed around death and the afterlife, the record takes the Portland, Oregon, outfit’s prior death-doom ways and expands them to incorporate an array of styles and melodies, like a vocoder-less Cynic or even Atheist, but more focused on the songs themselves. It’s being widely hailed as one of 2019’s best metal releases, and honestly I can’t speak to that because who the hell knows what “metal” even means, but it sees Lord Dying pull off a major sonic leap and if this is the direction they’re headed from now on, then I guess “metal” is going to be whatever the hell they want. So there. Expect to see a lot of Lord Dying t-shirts around in the years to come.

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Sunn O))), Life Metal

sunn life metal

The core of Sunn O)))‘s sound — that is, the drone-riffed tonality of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, has proven amorphous enough over the last two decades to either be orchestral, minimalist, impossibly bleak, or now, something brighter. The Steve Albini-recorded Life Metal is one of two purported Sunn O))) releases slated for this year, and it follows behind 2015’s Kannon (review here) in manifesting their project in a new way. It is 68 minutes long, comprised of four tracks — the first, “Between Sleipnir’s Breaths,” is notable for the inclusion of vocals from Hildur Guðnadóttir; the rest is instrumental — and while one wonders how much is the power of suggestion amid their colorful artwork and titular presentation, “life” as opposed to death metal, etc., their resonance throughout “Aurora” (19:07) and “Novae” (25:24) strips away much of the flourish that has engulfed Sunn O))) in their post-maturity years and reminds of the power at their center. They chose the right producer.

Sunn O))) on Bandcamp

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Crimson Heat, Crimson Heat

Crimson Heat Crimson Heat

With a handful of tracks of dirt-coated Sabbathian doom rock, Crimson Heat make their debut with a self-titled demo/EP in no small part defined by its lack of pretense. I’d buy the tape at the show. You’d buy the tape at the show. The download is free. Clearly this is a band figuring out what they want to do and trying to catch a few ears, but the sound is right on. Notable as well for the participation of Sam Marsh of Sinister Haze, tracks like “At My Door” blend Tee Pee Records-style skate vibes with darker traditionalist crunch, and the subsequent acoustic interlude “Firewood” indeed adds a bit of burning-stove smell to the procession ahead of doomed shuffler finale “Deep Red.” They might be new, but from the nod of “Premonition” and the double-layered guitar of “Fortune Teller,” they very clearly know where they’re coming from. What they do with that from here will tell the tale, but for now, selling the tape at the show isn’t nothing. Guess they better get on pressing some up.

Sinister Haze on Thee Facebooks

Crimson Heat on Bandcamp

 

Molior Superum, As Time Slowly Passes By…

Molior Superum As Time Slowly Passes By

The boogie runs strong in Molior Superum‘s first album in seven years, As Time Slowly Passes By… (on H42 Records), the title of which might just hint at the distance between their two full-lengths. Their debut was Into the Sun (discussed here) in 2012, and they answered that with 2014’s Electric Escapism (review here), but for a band who sound so energized on cuts like “Att Födas Rostig” and “Through Valleys of Wonder,” the time differential from one record to the next is curious. Still, no question the Swedish four-piece make the most of the 36 minutes they present on their sophomore offering, realizing classic vibes and fuzz tones through modern production that recalls the likes of GraveyardJeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus and even, on “Into the Grey,” Demon Head‘s doomier fare, with an overarching bluesy sensibility that remains exciting even in moments like the hypnotic midsection build of centerpiece “Divinity Blues.” Even the closing soft-guitar title-track has movement. They sound hungry in a way that suggests maybe it won’t be another seven years before a third LP arrives.

Molior Superum on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

 

Moros, Weapon

moros weapon

Just because Philly is leading the Eastern Seaboard in terms of psychedelic charge, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for the guttersludge extremity of a unit like Moros. The destructive three-piece’s first full-length, Weapon (on Hidden Deity Records), is vicious in its bite and downright nasty in its groove, abrasive from the static intro “(Vortexwound)” onward through “We Don’t Deserve Death” and “Devil Worshipper,” which recalls slower Napalm Death in its riff but is met with a harsh scream as well as shouts. The brutality continues through “Wizard of Loneliness” and into the outright pummel of “Death Nebula,” such that the locked-in nodder groove in the second half of “Every Day is Worse Than the Last” feels almost like a lifeboat, though there’s little salvation on offer in the closing title-track, which fades out on a noisy note in much the same way it faded in. Filthy, mean and heavy. The crust is real and it is thick.

Moros on Thee Facebooks

Hidden Deity Records website

 

Glitter Wizard, Opera Villains

glitter wizard opera villains

I was enticed to dig further into Glitter Wizard‘s Opera Villains (on Heavy Psych Sounds) by the recent video for opener “A Spell So Evil” (posted here), and it’s not a choice I regret. The San Fran-based weirdo collective are putting on a show, no doubt, but the quality of their songwriting on “The Toxic Lady” and the punkish underpinning of “Dead Man’s Wax,” etc., puts them in a classic rocking no man’s land in which they absolutely revel. The laser-strewn drama of “March of the Red Cloaks” and the organ- and flute-laced swing of “Hall of the Oyster King” embrace the grandiose in brazen fashion, and thereby make it that much easier for the listener to join them on this wavelength that is so thoroughly their own. Closer “Warm Blood” taps prog-of-old pomposity in its largesse while the earlier “Fear of the Dark” seems to do the same thing with just an acoustic guitar and some vocal harmonies. A record that knew exactly what it wanted to be and then became that thing. Awesome.

Glitter Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Gourd, Moldering Aberrations

gourd moldering aberrations

Ambient darkness is inflicted with only the cruelest of spirit throughout Gourd‘s Moldering Aberrations EP, the Irish two-piece alternating minimalist spaciousness with gurgling drone intensity, the extremity of which doesn’t so much come through in pummel or drive, but in the swell of volume and its contrast with the emptiness surrounding. Also the growls. Three tracks are offered up like monuments to pain, and through “Befoulment,” “Mycelium” and the title-track, they conjure a heft of atmosphere as much as one of low end, the claustrophobic feeling of their craft coming through even in the relatively peaceful opening of the last song. That peace, of course, isn’t so much moment of respite as it is precursor to the next plunge, and either way, Gourd work in grueling fashion over 23 minutes to dismantle consciousness and expectation with a grim, distortion-fueled chaos from which there seems to be no escape, until the rumble and noise leave “Moldering Aberrations” and there’s just residual hum and a cymbal crash left. Madness.

Gourd on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Monk Records on Bandcamp

 

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Lord Dying to Release Mysterium Tremendum April 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lord dying

I’m curious what’s in store for Lord Dying‘s new album, the title of which has been newly revealed as Mysterium Tremendum. And that seems fitting enough, what with the ‘big mystery’ alluded to in the title, but we’ll find out this Spring when the Portland, Oregon, extremists make their debut on eOne with the aforementioned LP. This news just came in, and I’m not currently in a place where I can hear the new track “Envy the End” that you’ll find at the bottom of this post, but rest assured I’ll be putting it on as soon as I’m able — i.e., when I’m back in the car or back home — to check it out, because for a band this unfriendly sounding to put out a record that will be so widely distributed doesn’t happen all the time. Not that one song will necessarily tell the whole tale, but it’s more to go on than I’ve currently got. And the cover art’s nifty too.

That and all the rest came from the PR wire:

Lord Dying Mysterium Tremendum

LORD DYING: Portland Metal Unit To Release Mysterium Tremendum Full-Length April 26th Via Entertainment One; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Portland heavy metal unit LORD DYING will release their anticipated third studio album Mysterium Tremendum worldwide on April 26th via Entertainment One (eOne).

Captured at Los Angeles’ West Valley Recording Studios in August of 2018 with engineer Mike Plotnikoff (Fear Factory, In Flames) and mastered by Howie Weinberg (Slayer, Nirvana, Pantera, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Mysterium Tremendum is a monolithic, riff-heavy concept album boasting eleven heaving tracks examining the many facets of dying and what may or may not exist in the afterlife.

An emotionally satisfying record, lyrically and musically Mysterium Tremendum’s exploration of death goes beyond the mere longing for it in order to see what lies beyond (“Lacerated Psyche” is about the death of Evans’ sister). There are many layers to it – you might even find parallels between the record’s concept and life itself. It’s a journey. And in their quest to pursue death, LORD DYING has themselves found new life.

LORD DYING’s Mysterium Tremendum will be released on CD, double LP, and digital formats. For preorder options go to smarturl.it/LordDyingMT.

Mysterium Tremendum Track Listing:
1. Envy The End
2. Tearing At The Fabric Of Consciousness
3. Nearing The End Of The Curling Worm
4. The End Of Experience
5. Exploring Inward
6. Severed Forever
7. Even The Darkness Went Away
8. Freed From The Pressures Of Time
9. Lacerated Psyche
10. Split From A World Within/Devoid Of Dreams/Death The Final Loneliness
11. Saying Goodbye To Physical Form

“We set out to write a record about life, and it ended up being about death,” says LORD DYING guitarist/vocalist Erik Olson about the band’s third studio album Mysterium Tremendum.

While the new record centers around death, it focuses more on what awaits us on the other side while also exploring our culture’s fear of dying, and the struggles with our own mortality. The ideas for the concept have been kicking around for some time, but it’s fitting that they’re only now coming to fruition.

At the core of these Portland, Oregon, heavy metal titans is Olson and guitarist Chris Evans, who’ve been making music together since fifth grade. They formed LORD DYING before they had a name or a record when another Portland powerhouse Red Fang beckoned them to open some shows for them in 2010. Two records and countless live performances – including tours with Voivod and Crowbar – followed.

Mysterium Tremendum is the record Olson and Evans have wanted to make since the band’s inception. It’s easily LORD DYING’s most musically diverse album, but one that could only be made following the band’s jackhammer 2013 debut Summon The Faithless, and 2015’s brooding Poisoned Altars. “It’s more along the lines of what we wanted to do early on,” says Evans.

LORD DYING was already beginning to expand its musical palette – including moodier interludes and Olson’s expanded vocal range – but Olson says once the decision was made to make a concept record, he and Evans pushed themselves to match the themes musically and vocally. You’ll hear it in songs like “The End Of Experience” and the floating “Severed Forever,” which sees Olson melodically doubling his vocals before returning to his trademark growl. Shorter interludes like “Tearing The Fabric Of Consciousness” and “Even The Darkness Went Away” are stunning and fragile, like nothing the band has ever done.

Olson and Evans worked tirelessly on the songs together over the course of a year-and-a-half, using programmed drum parts, and sending ideas back and forth. As Olson puts it, “It was the first time we were really able to put things under a microscope.” The songs were all but ready by the time they headed to Los Angeles’ West Valley Recording Studios in August of 2018 with engineer Mike Plotnikoff. L.A.-based bassist Matt Price and drummer Chase Manhattan jumped right in to bring these songs of death to life, and the results are huge and seamless.

https://www.facebook.com/LordDying/
http://lorddying.bandcamp.com/
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Lord Dying, “Envy the End”

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Crowbar Announce First Australian Tour Dates for July

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

crowbar (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Can it really be true that Crowbar have never been to Australia? They’ve been a band for nearly 30 years — longer if you count their time as The Slugs circa 1989 — and they’ve toured hard for much of that tenure. Not for Time Heals Nothing or Broken Glass? Damned odd.

But there you have it. The coming July stretch of three shows will reportedly be the New Orleans sludge kingpins’ first on Aussie soil, and having seen them less than a week ago as well as a few months back, I’ll happily note it’s a good time to catch Crowbar live. The band are locked in and the sets run a gamut from new material to old, and whether or not you think of Crowbar as a classic band, I guarantee by the time Kirk Windstein is done singing “Planets Collide,” you’ll be converted. Still pretty astounded they’ve never been there before, but hey, if the PR wire says it, who am I to argue?

Cheers to Your Mate Bookings on making it happen.

Dates follow:

crowbar tour poster

Crowbar – Australia Tour 2019

Your Mate Bookings in conjunction with Get on the Stage and Fuzz Factory Touring proudly present the Pioneers of Sludge Metal, all the way from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA…. CROWBAR.

With a career spanning close to 30 years of astonishing sorrow and heavy riffage, Crowbar will finally make their debut in Australia this coming July 2019.

Releasing 11 studio albums, coupled with singles and music videos on various labels across the globe, Crowbar are inarguably considered in the heavy metal world as the undisputed heavyweight kings of Sludge. Current members of Crowbar include the Beard of Doom himself Kirk Windstein (Ex-DOWN feat Phil Anselmo) on guitar and vocals, Matt Brunson (Ex-Kingdom of Sorrow) on guitar, Tommy Buckley on drums and Shane Wesley on bass.

With only three shows in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne at their respective venues this tour is sure to sell out and stand as one of the most monolithic doses of sludge Australia has ever witnessed.

Crowbar Australia 2019:
Thursday July 25th – Crowbar, Brisbane
Friday July 26th – Crowbar, Sydney
Saturday July 27th – Max Watts, Melbourne

Tickets onsale now from www.oztix.com.au

***VIP Tickets available***

Crowbar is:
Kirk Windstein – guitar/vocals
Matt Brunson – guitar
Shane Wesley – bass
Tommy Buckley – drums

https://www.facebook.com/crowbarmusic
https://twitter.com/crowbarrules
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Crowbar, “All I Had I Gave” Live in Oklahoma City, OK, Jan. 20, 2019

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High on Fire Won a Grammy for “Electric Messiah”

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high on fire dressed to kill

I don’t imagine this is breaking news at this point. My social media feed crapped its digital pants last night when High on Fire picked up a Grammy award for “Electric Messiah” and the rest of the heavy blogosphere already has its thinkpieces out there. I’m not really interested in adding to that. Pretending the Grammys care about metal or any other heavy music is like pretending metal or any other heavy music cares about the Grammys. It’s just two different worlds. But — and I said as much on the already-noted social medias this morning — if High on Fire make more money playing shows now and that can help Matt Pike with what are no doubt significant medical bills, then sure. Whatever gets High on Fire to keep doing what they do is a win for everybody. The rest is as irrelevant as the better part of the music industry it represents.

But basically here it is for posterity, the PR wire news about High on Fire‘s Grammy. Well earned, certainly:

high on fire grammy

HIGH ON FIRE WINS GRAMMY FOR BEST METAL PERFORMANCE

High On Fire took home the GRAMMY for “Best Metal Performance” last night at the 61st annual Grammy awards ceremony in Los Angeles, the music industry’s only peer-recognized accolade and highest achievement.

This was the band’s first nomination and first win. HIGH ON FIRE was nominated for “Electric Messiah,” the title track off their 2018 album of the same name. The band, now as winners, join the ranks of past winners such as Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Metallica and Slayer.

“We never really needed an award for doing what we love,” says frontman Matt Pike. “Twenty-one years later, we finally got this. Thank you to the Academy.” Pike went on to thank producer Kurt Ballou among others. Bassist Jeff Matz sent out a heartfelt shoutout to long-time manager and friend Nick John who passed away last year and who was an instrumental figure in the band’s success.

High On Fire will be performing at 2019 Psycho Las Vegas taking place August 16-18, 2019 in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort. Tickets are on sale now, click here for more info.

HIGH ON FIRE features Matt Pike (guitar, vocals), Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://www.instagram.com/highonfireband/
www.highonfire.net
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High on Fire, “Electric Messiah” official lyric video

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