Wino Wednesday: Wino, “Shot in the Head” from Adrift

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Not exactly the most uplifting message ever put into a song, but Wino‘s take on Savoy Brown‘s “Shot in the Head” was nonetheless a highlight of the 2010 acoustic debut, Adrift. That record (review here) came out four years ago this month, and had its fair share of melancholy, with songs like “Whatever” and “Old and Alone,” but despite its foreboding title, “Shot in the Head” was actually more upbeat — frustration rather than depression — and its road-weary lyric fit Adrift‘s personality well, Wino taking the lines, “I’ve had enough of getting shot in the head/I’ve had enough and I wish I was dead,” and presenting them not with a downer woefulness, but something closer to the bluesy humor of the original.

The track opened Savoy Brown‘s 1972 full-length, Lion’s Share, which was the British outfit’s ninth album in six years. Understandable at that point why they might’ve “had enough,” but it’s worth noting that guitarist/vocalist/founder Kim Simmonds has toured and released music ever since, working with well over 60 musicians in various Savoy Brown lineups since starting out in 1967 — up to and including this year’s Goin’ to the Delta – so apparently he was still a ways off from his fill. Wino isn’t quite there in the number of people he’s worked with, though if you count both bands he’s been in and bands with whom he’s guested, he’s got to be over 40, but it’s plain enough to see a correlation there, and he seems to have a good time with the song, doubling his vocals to create a kind of one-man blues chorus and sneaking a plugged-in solo into the second half.

I looked for a live version of “Shot in the Head,” but came up empty. Could’ve sworn I saw him do this song at some point, but there doesn’t seem to be video to back that up. The album version’s plenty raucous, and I hope you enjoy it and have a happy Wino Wednesday:

Wino, “Shot in the Head” (Savoy Brown cover)

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audiObelisk: Beehoover Premiere “My Mixtapes Suck Big Time” from The Devil and His Footmen

Posted in audiObelisk on October 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Like their third album, 2010’s Concrete Catalyst, the newest outing from German bass/drum duo Beehoover – titled The Devil and His Footmen and out Oct. 22 through Exile on Mainstream – traffics in sounds both large and peculiar. The two-piece of Ingmar Petersen (bass and vocals) and Claus-Peter Hamisch (drums, recording and mixing) tap into tonal thickness and hairpin turns at any given moment, giving their songs a progressive, unpredictable feel. You never quite know when Petersen is going to switch from his Faith No More-style clean vocal delivery into a searing scream or gruffer shout, or when Beehoover might turn a seemingly straightforward heavy groove like that of “Rooftop” on its head with a barrage of start-stop noise rock.

It’s this very aspect, of course, that makes The Devil and His Footmen such a satisfying listen and gives it its pervasive sense of originality. Petersen and Hamisch have a decade of experience behind them, so as they move from Helmet-style crunch to oddly atmospheric low end on “Boy vs. Tree” or delight in playing tempos off each other in “My Mixtapes Suck Big Time,” their songs remain fluid and the album never loses its step. Ultimately, Beehoover hit on a particular balance of engaging and challenging that’s using familiar methods — complex drums, weighted tones, alternately harsh and clean vocals — in a manner almost entirely their own. It might take a few listens for the full impact ofThe Devil and His Footmento sink in, but once you’ve been through it a couple times, the elements that at first seem unsettling become exactly what keeps you coming back for more. Even as you’re trying to figure out what’s going on at a given moment, the songs are working their way into your subconscious.

And while that sounds like a warning, the results are undeniably positive. Today I have the pleasure of hosting “My Mixtapes Suck Big Time” for streaming in advance of the record’s release, and it’s a song that exemplifies how well Beehoover are able to craft a linear feel throughout weirdo choruses and a tension that seems to build even as it’s paying off. Unless you spend the rest of your day listening to Beehoover, chances are you won’t hear anything else quite like it.

Check out “My Mixtapes Suck Big Time” on the player below, and please enjoy:

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The Devil and His Footmen by Beehoover is out now in Europe and will be available in North America on Oct. 22 via Exile on Mainstream Records on CD and vinyl (limited to 500 copies). More info at the links below:

Beehoover’s website

Exile on Mainstream

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Wino Wednesday: Acoustic “Manifesto” in Vienna, Austria, 2010

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Hard to determine what’s my favorite thing about this clip of Wino performing the song “Manifesto” live at Substance Record Store in Vienna on his 2010 European tour. He laughs as he breaks a string about two minutes in, and that’s pretty enjoyable — probably less for him at the time — and he takes his guitar and walks out into the crowd, troubadour-style, toward the end. Plus the song itself, which lives up to its name in continuing Wino‘s penchant for socially conscious lyric-writing — something that arguably was most present in the word of The Hidden Hand but has been a factor all along — while the quick acoustic strumming provides a kind of tension that usually comes coated in fuzz where his songwriting is concerned.

Either way, it’s a winner, and for me, even more interesting in context. Toward the end of last year, I posted a video shot on the same tour of the same song, and he did basically the same thing — out into the crowd and all that. That video was shot in Belgium on Oct. 10. This one was Vienna just 10 days earlier, and what’s really great about it is Wino, fresh off a tour with Premonition 13, had been on the road for about two weeks at the time, so basically you get to see him become more comfortable with the idea as you go from the earlier video (this one) to the later one. Maybe that’s me putting a narrative to it, or just a bit of super-nerdery, but it’s pretty cool to see, either way, since by the time October rolled around, it was a spirited protest-song bit of populism and here it’s getting there, but not quite as triumphant yet.

Keep your eyes open for that and the broken string, and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Wino, “Manifesto” live at Substance Record Store, Vienna, Sept. 30, 2010

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Obelyskkh to Release Hymn to Pan this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

German doomly foursome Obelyskkh left an impression with last year’s White Lightnin’ sophomore full-length (track stream here), and the band just announced the quick turnaround on a follow-up. Titled Hymn to Pan, the third Obelyskkh album is set for release in August in the band’s native Germany and September in Europe and the US. If the last record is anything to go by, Exile on Mainstream (who will be handling this release as they did the last) aren’t kidding when they say it’s “nodding time.”

Get ye informed:

OBELYSKKH thunder growls on the horizon !!!!!

Retrieving their sound in a much more thronging way than ever before Obelyskkh seem to be picking up speed and urgency. And this not only musically but also in their pure existence. Of course, parts are still there – the bridging leads sit enthroned on swarm-like riffage, vocals meander between cutting serenity and harsh shrieks, giving the music enough time to breathe and adding an unusual element to what you would expect from a band coming out of the Sludge/ Psychedelic Rock scene. So far so familiar. But it doesn’t end here. Obelyskkh manage the impossible at ease: maintaining a trademark while simultaneously adding another complexity, another approach, another dimension and thus reaching freedom in a stunning way. It’s a rare treat nowadays and a venture to unbuckle yourself from expectations and strictly focus on an organic creation – especially for a band existing only for a few years (but already having 3 albums under their belt).

Theory aside – beware of a fucking riff-fest! This album contains enough for any other band live on for 10 years. Nodding tyme!

Release Dates:
30 August 2013 (Germany)
2 September (Europe + UK)
24 September (USA)

Hymn to Pan Tracklisting
01 Hymn To Pan
02 The Ravens
03 The Man Within
04 Heavens Architrave
05 Horse
06 Revelation: The Will To Nothingness

The album is released on CD, digital and 2LP, containing 3 sides. Side D is a blank mirror and gives a great tool to adjust your vinyl player’s antiskating properly.

Obelyskkh, “Abysmal Desert Cavern” Live in Leipzig, 2013

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Wino Wednesday: “Green Speed” from Adrift

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Yesterday the announcement came down the wire that Wino would be opening for Clutch‘s holiday tour this coming December. It’s the kind of news I like to get. If you missed the dates, here they are:

WINO w/ Clutch, Mondo Generator, Saviours:
12/26/2012 9:30 Club – Washington DC
12/27/2012 The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
12/28/2012 Buster’s Billiards & Backroom – Lexington, KY
12/29/2012 Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH
12/30/2012 Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
12/31/2012 The Palladium – Worcester, MA

It’s a pretty killer bill, and Wino will be performing solo acoustic to open the shows, as the PR wire confirms:

Following the ongoing Saint Vitus North American tour, his thriving recent tours of Europe and North America alongside his comrade Conny Ochs in support of their collaborative album Heavy Kingdom, preceded by several tours with close friend and Shrinebuilder bandmate Scott Kelly in support of their split 7” release last year, today the legendary SCOTT “WINO” WEINRICH confirms his latest round of live performances, as the man will bring his solo acoustic set to the road once again, this time in support of the almighty American rock machine Clutch.

WINO has supported Clutch on tour in recent years, with both his backing band as heard on his 2009-released Punctuated Equilibrium album as well as solo as his 2010-released debut acoustic album Adrift. On this special run of year-end dates WINO will join Mondo Generator and Saviours supply opening support for Clutch, with a six-show run from Washington DC up the East Coast and ending in Worcester, Massachusetts on New Year’s Eve. Tickets for this short but incredible tour will go on sale this Friday, September 21st.

Given all that newsly awesomeness, I thought it was a good time to take the opportunity to revisit Wino‘s 2010 acoustic debut, Adrift (review here). That record seems a long time ago now, but it’s only long in terms of all the stuff Wino has done since, with Saint Vitus, Premonition 13 and the Wino & Conny Ochs collaboration — not to mention touring for those projects and playing live with The Obsessed for the first time in more than a decade — and one track that has continued to stand out from it is the closer, “Green Speed.”

It helps that it’s a wailing heavy rock song — whatever kind of guitar it’s played on — with an uptempo chugging riff and buzzsaw-sharp electrified solo, but what really gets me in listening are the vocals, with have that seething underpinning of righteous anger that’s unmistakably his own. “Green Speed” was kind of buried at the end of Adrift, and sure enough, was different from a lot of the rest of the album, but it’s a cool track nonetheless, and seemed to me easily worth highlighting in honor of the upcoming tour.

Enjoy and have a happy Wino Wednesday:

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audiObelisk: German Doomers Obelyskkh Premiere “Mount Nysa” from White Lightnin’

Posted in audiObelisk on September 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

The band is Obelyskkh, not to be confused with The Obelisk, which is the site you’re on right now, and the song is “Mount Nysa,” which comes from the German psych doomers’ new album, White Lightnin’, not to be confused with their prior full-length, which was also called Mount Nysa, and which was released last year. Everybody on board?

Well, you probably should be, because the track is some heavy shit. Obelyskkh brew up a potent cask of doom and heavy psychedelia, crafting ambience as weighted as the lumbering riffs they use to offset it. In its six and a half minutes, “Mount Nysa” builds to a massive, apocalyptic apex with blown-out vocals that remind of some fanatical chanting — never far from a sense of ritual, but still grounded in sludge — like if your totalitarian nightmares came true. But there’s still room for melodic complexity as well, and the guitars of Crazy Woitek Broslowski and Stuart “The Whiz Kid” West display that with a fluidity that in no way contradicts the riff-led groove at the core of the song.

Deadpan vocals highlight the monotony of the plod following the ethereal beginning, and as they gradually join in, bassist Dirty Dave (not to be confused with Dirty Dave of The Glasspack) and drummer Steve “The Krusher” Paradise both underscore and thicken the lumbering root appeal. Excellent and engrossing.

I count myself lucky to be able to host “Mount Nysa” from White Lightnin’ for streaming on the player below. The album is due out Sept. 28 in Germany, Oct. 8 in the rest of Europe and Oct. 16 in the US. More release info (courtesy of the label) follows the stream.

Please enjoy:

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Available on CD in a high-glossy varnished 4panel digifile and on 180 g Double LP in a gatefold LP cover  (LP is limited to 500 copies)

LP contains download coupon for the whole album incl. the non-LP tracks “The Enochian Keys” and “Abysmal Desert Cavern”

“White Lightning” is a monstrous pound of sonic heaviness, psychedelic approaches and emotional riffage – ingredients that, if mixed together with love for the music can bring stunning results. Like here. OBELYSKKH fear no boundaries and no flavour of the heavy: “White Lightning” draws from pure sludge filth through psychedelic soundscapes into postrock and back. Sure, this album is heavy and massive but it also breathes some kinda repetitive mantra-like ambition, which clears the air here and there and thus declines total negativity.

„White Lightning“ was recorded, mixed and mastered in winter 2010/2011 by BILLY ANDERSON (Sleep, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Eyehategod, High On Fire, Melvins – to name a few) providing the record a raw live sound that gives you a hint to what an immense experience it is to witness OBELYSKKH live – clearly something you shouldn’t miss.

01 The Enochian Keys (CD only)
02 Elegy
03 The White Lightning
04 Mount Nysa
05 Amphetamine Animal
06 Abysmal Desert Cavern (CD only)
07 Invocation To The Old Ones

Obelyskkh on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream

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Wino Wednesday: Wino & Conny Ochs Perform New Song “Crystal Madonna” in Los Angeles on Current Tour

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 15th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday

This week’s Wino Wednesday clip comes courtesy of one Andrew Lusby, who along with sending in a few much appreciated kind words about the site, included a link to some HD video of Wino & Conny Ochs performing their new song “Crystal Madonna” on their current US tour in support of their debut collaboration, Heavy Kingdom. His story to tell, so let’s let him tell it:

I recently saw Wino & Conny Ochs in L.A. and I was blown away. I happened to record most of their set and the quality came out pretty good. They played a new song titled “Crystal Madonna” which I think sounds great. Figured you might want to use it for a Wino Wednesday or at least enjoy for yourself. I’m guessing it will show up on the next album which Conny told me was definitely going to happen…

Besides playing most of Heavy Kingdom and some of Wino’s solo material they also played some great covers including “Hellbound Train” (Savoy Brown), “Hotel Vast Horizon” (Chris Whitley), and “Isolation” (Joy Division).

Badass. Thanks to Mr. Lusby for the clip and the info. The complete list of Wino & Conny Ochs tour dates is here.

Have a great Wino Wednesday:

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Darsombra’s Climax Community Due in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Continually fascinating drone outfit Darsombra — which started as the one-man project of ex-Meatjack guitarist Brian Daniloski and is now a duo featuring visual artist Ann Everton — have signed to Exile on Mainstream and will release their new album, Climax Community, on Oct. 16. The following news was sent down the PR wire yesterday, so apologies if you’ve already seen it around, but I’ve dug Daniloski‘s work in the past and wanted to feature the notice in advance of the album.

So here goes:

DARSOMBRA: New LP Set For Autumn Release Via Exile On Mainstream

Following a multitude of releases on labels including At A Loss, Public Guilt and Underradar, in addition to self-released recordings, Maryland’s ultra-eclectic transcendental/drone rock unit DARSOMBRA have signed with Germany’s Exile On Mainstream for the release of their new full-length album, Climax Community.

Set for North American release on October 16th, the three tracks on Climax Community traverse forty five minutes of DARSOMBRA’s unique, slow-building, organic transcendental rock, and explore realms of the musical cosmos not present on their previous releases.

Climax Community Track Listing:
1. Roaming The Periphery
2. Green
3. Thunder Thighs

DARSOMBRA are currently embarked on an East Coast U.S. tour, with plans of hitting Europe in October as well in support of the release of the new album. More tours and live actions will be confirmed and announced in the coming weeks.

DARSOMBRA East Coast tour [remaining dates]:
8/11/2012 Beaumont Where?house – Philadelphia, PA w/ Wally, Tapeworm, Hulk Smash
8/12/2012 Blue Nile – Harrisonburg, VA w/ Degollado

If we can invent the term “transcendental rock”, then let’s apply it to DARSOMBRA, Brian Daniloski and Ann Everton’s audiovisual music project. Daniloski, a veteran of heavier, sludgier, grittier rock bands such as Meatjack and Trephine, controls the sound of DARSOMBRA, alternating between mammoth vocal swells and soundscapes and searing guitar riffs, leads, loops, and samples. Take one part metal, one part psychedelic rock, one part experimental, and a dash of prog and krautrock, and you begin to have an idea why DARSOMBRA, as music, needs its own genre. But there is more than just Daniloski’s sonic world at play here as video artist Everton takes his work to the next level by bringing her DARSOMBRA-induced visions to the stage through her kinetic psychotropic video projections, creating a constantly shifting backdrop to Daniloski’s live performances.

Climax Community, DARSOMBRA’s 2012 release on Exile on Mainstream Records, brings Daniloski’s familiar epic arrangements, with a different feel of dynamics and speed than his previous efforts – but don’t be mislead: with three songs and clocking in at forty-five minutes, this is a record to dive into and exist within.  The first track, “Roaming the Periphery” is a twenty-three-minute opus of vast vocal swells and guitar pilgrimages, a full meal in itself, leaving the listener stimulated and soothed – this sort of psychedelic experience doesn’t recreate the effects of drugs; the music is the drug. “Roaming the Periphery” induces in a perfect state for absorbing the following acoustic track, “Green”, and the final, 18-minute, mind-melting, wordlessly-storytelling, and furious-in-5/4 track, “Thunder Thighs”.  The inclusion of “Green”, the short, earthy, acoustic piece between the two time-giants of the record, is a wise one: it reminds the listener that this isn’t the great mountain-monster from Fantasia’s “Night on Bald Mountain” creating these aural sagas – but rather, a man with a practice, on his guitar, everyday, from now to the horizon.

A climax community is “a biological community of plants and animals which, through the process of ecological succession — the development of vegetation in an area over time — has reached a steady state,” says good old Wikipedia. Climax Community is a record by DARSOMBRA, built and hewn from time, practice, and re-arrangement of one’s life for the love of creative journey to other planets through music.

Both LP and CD versions of Climax Community will be released with a direct link to the visual part of this project which shall be watched while listening to the album.

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audiObelisk: Stream Black Shape of Nexus’ New Album, Negative Black, in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on June 1st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Next Tuesday, June 5, marks the North American release of German atmospheric sludge outfit Black Shape of Nexus‘ third album, Negative Black. It’s their first outing through Exile on Mainstream and follows four years after its predecessor, 2008’s Microbarome Meetings. The delay is fascinating enough — since it was only a year before that B.SON, as they’re acronymically known, released their debut — and I’d love to speculate on what perhaps might have caused it, but it seems my skull has suddenly been pummeled by a massive sledge of inhuman tonal weight and darkly hopeless ambience.

I guess that means I’m listening to Black Shape of Nexus, because while they’ve put huge effort in the past into their aesthetic presentation — releasing albums in golden tin boxes, etc. — the density of their atmosphere has always been at the fore, and it remains so for Negative Black. The record is a confounding 80 minutes long and takes the churning malevolent tempest of rhythm that NeurosisThrough Silver in Blood so readily conjured and marries it to an expansive and vicious experimentalism that’s indebted and irreverent in like proportion. Atop a bed of abrasive electronics and noise, the riffs of a song like “60 WV” make the listener feel all the more doomed.

And for an intro? Well, how’s six minutes of punishing-as-fuck feedback set to a crawling drumbeat? The Mannheim post-sludge six-piece have no problem working in indulgent spheres, but Negative Black, ultimately, is immersive the way you think of an undertow as something that consumes, and the more it plays out, the further into your skin it seems to be burrowing. That’s not mixing metaphors (well, it is, but it’s on purpose). It’s in you as you’re in it. Communion.

You’ll find the monolith in its entirety streaming on the player below, followed by the release info from Exile on Mainstream. Please enjoy:

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Available on CD in a matte-varnished six-panel digifile and on 180g double LP in a ultra-heavy gatefold cover (LP is limited to 500 copies).

Awaiting a new release hasn’t been that unnerving ever, as EOM signed B.SON four long years ago and since then the band has been working to get this new album done. They underwent numerous lineup changes, short-term hiatusses, phases of utter productivity and periods of calm as well as those of energy. This all has been channeled into an album drawing a true emotional landscape of current Black Shape of Nexus. We hope you enjoy it. It’s a task! 80 minutes long!!! Yes, you read that right. 80 minutes of pure sonic assault!

Recorded in the mild winter of 2011/12 and twisted into shape at the mighty Tonmeisterei studio this album marks a new step for Black Shape of Nexus, postulating a path into their foreseeable future. We don’t need to rave about the fact that this is their best recording to date and we have never heard anything better from them or any other band in the entire known universe, do we? You wouldn’t find this band on this label if we wouldn’t be 120 percent convinced that these guys can save the world. Or tear it down. Whatever…

For more, including tour dates, check out Black Shape of Nexus‘ website, or hit them up on Thee Facebooks. Exile on Mainstream is online here. Special thanks to the label and to Earsplit PR for letting me feature the album.

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Wino & Conny Ochs, Heavy Kingdom: Days of the Highway Kind

Posted in Reviews on February 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

There are few punches pulled, no real instances of trickery, and more than anything else, the crux of Heavy Kingdom seems to be the joy of the collaboration between Scott “Wino” Weinrich and Conny Ochs. Perhaps the most elaborate thing about Heavy Kingdom is the gorgeous foldout artwork in which Exile on Mainstream has encased the CD. That’s not a criticism of the album itself. Rather, the first joint offering from Wino & Conny Ochs seems to be purposefully geared toward as natural a presentation as possible, which if anything only feeds into the narrative of how the project came about – that it was born of Weinrich touring Europe with the German native Ochs supporting his first acoustic album, Adrift, that the two played together on the road and decided a joint release was in order. Ochs, whose aptly-titled album, Raw Love Songs, was released by Exile on Mainstream early in 2011, is clearly comfortable in the role of singer-songwriter, and the several instances where he takes the fore on Heavy Kingdom prove it. Songs like “Dust,” “Traces of Blood” and “Here Comes the Siren” probably won’t be what draw Wino devotees to Heavy Kingdom, but offer some of the record’s strongest material nonetheless, and as the balance between the two players shifts throughout the 11 tracks, it only feeds into the natural feel. Layering is minimal – some electric guitar makes its way into “Here Comes the Siren” and the earlier “Vultures by the Vines,” as well as elsewhere – and really, it’s just about two songwriters who wanted to work together working together. It’s as unpretentious as that.

It’s a relatively short outing too at 38 minutes, and between that and the vocal tradeoffs and duets between Weinrich and Ochs, Heavy Kingdom asks little indulgence of its audience and gives much melody in return. Opening with one of its strongest choruses in “Somewhere Nowhere” – a hard strum makes the song stand out aside for more than its being the longest inclusion on the album – the collaboration feels immediately rooted in folk, and comes across as less staid than was Adrift, as though Weinrich internalized the lessons of touring acoustic for the first time alongside both Ochs and Scott Kelly. Arrangements are relegated mostly to two acoustic guitars, but there are flourishes here and there, and more active moments such as the title-track (also reportedly the first song the two wrote together) show a kind of rocking energy underlying the pace. Likewise, there are parts – the chorus of closer “Labour of Love” or “Vultures by the Vines” – that feel informed by an intensity (certainly the latter with its distorted solo) purely Weinrich’s, but the patience in “Dust” or the gorgeously melodic “Traces of Blood” offsets that side of the album with serenity and emotionally complex melody. Some of the most effective parts of Heavy Kingdom come about when Weinrich and Ochs work to complement each other in the songwriting, be it Ochs backing Weinrich in the chorus of “Dark Ravine” or Weinrich doing the same on “Dust” or “Here Comes the Siren,” which with its added sense of foreboding is an exceptional outing in and of itself.

Read more »

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Enter Now to Win Rising’s To Solemn Ash CD From Exile on Mainstream!

Posted in Features on February 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

[NOTE: This giveaway is now over. Thanks to everyone who entered.]

You might recall a couple weeks ago when I posted the stream of Danish metallers Rising‘s debut full-length, To Solemn Ash, in its entirety. Well, the album got a pretty killer response from people saying they dug it, so I beat down the doors at Exile on Mainstream and begged for some copies to give away.

Lo and behold, sitting on my desk right now are a whopping FIVE digipak CDs, just waiting to go out the door. If you want one — and I think you do — just leave a comment to this post.

Now, if you’re wondering where the entry form is that I used for the last few times, I’ve spent this whole week deleting an onslaught of spam from the King Giant contest. Safe to say the robots know we’re here. So in an effort to avoid some of that, Slevin suggested comments instead.

You don’t have to say much of anything in the comment, just make sure your email is included with your name so I have a way to tell you you’ve won. If you want to leave your address there, you can, but if you’re iffy about it, that’s fine too. Doesn’t affect me picking the winner either way.

And if you need an immediate refresher course as to Rising‘s potent blend of heavy riffs and melodies, I’ll kindly refer you to the Bandcamp player below:

Winners will be picked next Wednesday, Feb. 15. Happy commenting, and thanks to Rising, Earsplit PR and Exile on Mainstream for making this happen. To Solemn Ash is available now. For more info, check out Rising‘s website or the label’s website.


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Wino Wednesday: EXCLUSIVE Premiere of New Track From Wino & Conny Ochs Collaboration!

Posted in audiObelisk on January 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday.For this week’s Wino Wednesday, I have the absolute thrill of hosting the first track premiere from Heavy Kingdom, the new collaborative album from Wino & Conny Ochs. Ochs, a German singer-songwriter whose aptly-titled Raw Love Songs was released last year by Exile on Mainstream, toured with Wino following the issue of his own acoustic debut, Adrift, and the two reportedly hit it off creatively as well as personally. As is often the case when it comes to Wino, an album was imminent.

And Heavy Kingdom, which will be out on Exile on Mainstream Jan. 30 in Europe and March 13 in North America, captures the emotionality in both songwriters’ work. Most of its tracks are pretty bare-bones, however, so there’s an element of rawness that seems to convey the basic nature of the collaboration. They wrote them together, they play them together. Wino & Conny Ochs, as a unit, isn’t about showing off the prowess of one player or another, but about two artists who respect each other working in tandem to create something new and whole.

The album succeeds in that, and is at times almost embarrassingly honest. As a representation of the material as a whole, it’s fitting to unveil the title-track first, since it hones both that honesty and the rawness of approach that so much of Heavy Kingdom is built on. Like the collaboration itself, it deals in duality and effectively bridges seemingly disparate elements into something natural and engaging.

Please enjoy Wino & Conny Ochs‘ “Heavy Kingdom” on the player below:

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Heavy Kingdom is due out Jan. 30 in Europe and March 13 in North America on Exile on Mainstream. Special thanks to Earsplit PR and Exile on Mainstream for letting me host the track. For more on the release, check out the label’s site here and Wino‘s official page. If you’d like to see a bigger version of the cover, click here. Happy Wino Wednesday.

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audiObelisk: Rising Stream Debut Album To Solemn Ash in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on January 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

The album came out last autumn in Europe, but is just today finally seeing its North American release, and to celebrate, Danish metallers Rising and their label, Exile on Mainstream, have been kind enough to let me stream the band’s debut full-length, To Solemn Ash, front to back. It’s a record that runs the gamut of modern heavy, sounding on a song like “Passage” as the poppiness of Mastodon‘s The Hunter might have had it not been so overly processed and reminding of Entombed‘s deathly grit on “The Vault.” The 10 tracks are catchy and heavy in equal proportion, balancing brutality and melody with precision and a feel that is neither amateurish nor contrived.

Interplay between bassist/vocalist Henrik W. Hald and guitarist/backing vocalist Jacob Krogholt is a central source of melody, the latter bolstering the rough, lower register of the former with harmonic shouting that fits well alongside the subtle complexity of the arrangements. Later track “Heir to Flames” works in Leviathan-esque acoustics, but by the time closer “Seven Riders” thunders its stop-start riff upside your skull, even the Torche-worthy chorus feels like one more tool serving to enhance the crushing sound.

Rounded out by Jacob Johansen‘s steady pulse on drums, Rising‘s first record is remarkably assured in its aesthetic, heavy as fuck and delivered with authority. Please feel free to find that out for yourself by streaming To Solemn Ash on the player below.

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Introducing the band and the album, Hald says:

“Hello everyone! We are Rising, a heavy metal three-piece from Denmark. Back in October, we released our debut album To Solemn Ash in Europe via Exile On Mainstream. Now the time has come to make it available to the States. We are super excited about our album being released on another continent and hope to follow up with a tour one day. You can stream the entire album right here on The Obelisk. Enjoy and stay heavy on the heavy!”

Rising‘s To Solemn Ash is available now from Exile on Mainstream. For more info, check out the band’s site or the label’s store.

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Wino Collaboration with Conny Ochs Due in 2012

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 16th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Okay, so maybe my timing on Wino Wednesday was a little off, or I might have gotten this press release in time to make it coincide with that, but what the hell. I’m pretty sure no one’s going to moan about it when the news is that Wino has a new record coming out. It’s a two-man collaboration with German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs, with whom Wino toured in Europe for his acoustic album, Adrift.

One can only hope that, like that album, Exile on Mainstream decides to do a wood-box edition of Heavy Kingdom. No details yes or no on that yet, but here’s what the PR wire has to say:

The folks at Germany’s avant-rock source Exile on Mainstream Records are thrilled to report that the final master for Heavy Kingdom, the anticipated collaborative album by Wino and Conny Ochs has arrived at label headquarters, and the final details on the album’s release are being finalized.

The legacy of Scott “Wino” Weinrich in the world of heavy music is indisputable and ever evolving, and here he teams up with Conny Ochs, a songwriter so pure and honest in his output that he seems to be the perfect partner for the straightforward Weinrich. The two met for the first time in 2010 when Conny was supporting Wino on his acoustic solo tour promoting his acclaimed solo album, Adrift. Through music they discovered a very similar approach to life and art, and a shared wisdom in creating music. It really seemed like two souls becoming one after they got to know each other. Together the two wrote, performed and recorded an incredible set of soulful tunes that speak for themselves, as well as a Townes Van Zandt cover. The artwork contains drawings by both Weinrich and Ochs, and follows the dedicated and deeply personal approach of the whole album.

Heavy Kingdom Track Listing:
1. Somewhere Nowhere
2. Heavy Kingdom
3. Dust
4. Vultures by the Vines
5. Dark Ravine
6. Traces of Blood
7. Heavy Kingdom Jam
8. Highway Kind
9. Dead Yesterday
10. Here Comes the Siren
11. Labour Of Love

Heavy Kingdom will be released throughout Europe on Jan. 27, 2012 and in North America sometime in March, a final release date to be confirmed in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned for tracks from the record to be released in the near future, as well as the details on a month-long European tour being finalized for March and April.

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The Winchester Club, Negative Liberty: Caught in the Trap

Posted in Reviews on August 18th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s virtually impossible to make it through Negative Liberty, the second full-length by five-piece instrumentalists The Winchester Club, without a Godspeed You! Black Emperor comparison coming up somewhere along the line. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, as there are certainly worse bands out there to take inspiration from, and to their credit, The Winchester Club put a particularly British grayness into the mood of the five component tracks of Negative Liberty, and they don’t sound like they’re ripping anyone off, but the influence is there and is fairly prominent. That said, the sprawl of the opening three cuts on Negative Liberty – which encompasses 40 of the album’s total 51 minutes – is bound to be driven by the various personalities of the players involved, and it is. That, coupled with the two-guitar/two-bass, xylophone-inclusive arrangements The Winchester Club have on offer, indicates that the push of a song like “R.D. Laing (Little Chemical Straightjackets)” isn’t so much to exorcise influences as to explore a sonic space. Other tracks, working in a scope that’s impressive despite being largely consistent atmospherically, follow suit, and Negative Liberty proves more than a collection of aimless instrumental jams or extended builds.

By way of an example, opener “Fuck You Buddy” reaches its apex approximately halfway through its 12:58 runtime, and the last five and a half minutes of the song are more of a contemplative investigation of the after-effects of that apex. Xylophone notes launch the track and album, but it soon takes on a different live, incorporating a Londoner’s melancholy in its striking bass work from Harry Armstrong (also guitar/vocals in End of Level Boss) and/or Elana Jane, both of whom are credited in the album’s liner. The latter also shares xylophone duties with drummer Tim Spear, who founded The Winchester Club along with guitarist and Chineseburn bandmate Jerry Deeney and guitarist Jonathan Morgan. Guitars are prominent but not really dominating throughout Negative Liberty – that is, nothing on the album is exclusively riff-led – and as “Fuck You Buddy” bleeds into the acoustic start of “The Lonely Robot” (12:41), I’m more drawn to the warmth in the bass sound than to the loneliness of the guitar notes, however melodically engaging they might be. Like all the material here, “The Lonely Robot” takes its time developing, but ultimately hits its high point even earlier into the proceedings than did “Fuck You Buddy.” That’s not a critique or putting down the structures The Winchester Club are working in. Quite the opposite. As someone who hears a lot of instrumental bands, it’s refreshing to have one come along not hell-bent on marching to the heavy part, instead getting it out of the way so the music can breathe. With the humming undercurrent of amp noise in the later parts, “The Lonely Robot” sounds full and complete, but still manages to hold onto that walking-alone ambience.

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