Holly Hunt Confirm Upcoming Tours with Mono and To Live and Shave in LA

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

holly-hunt

Far be it from me to tell you your business, but if you’re not listening to the heaviest thing possible right now, you might want to put on some Holly Hunt. The instrumental Miami two-piece of guitarist Gavin Perry and drummer Beatriz Monteavaro took a minute to confirm upcoming tours with To Live and Shave in LA and Mono, one almost right into the next, and that’s really all the excuse I’ve needed this afternoon to run through their Bandcamp and revel in the crash and tonal overload they proffer like some kind of forklift for riffs.

To wit, their 2014 split with likeminded onslaught specialists Slomatics, which you can hear below. You’re probably well hip to these cats, and that’s cool, but sometimes a reminder is just the thing, and this is hitting the spot for me, so hopefully your experience is similar. Dates, links and audio follow:

To Live And Shave In LA / Holly Hunt – tour 2015
Sat May 23rd – Atlanta @ 529
Sun May 24th – Nashville @ Betty’s
Mon May 25th – Dayton @ Canal Public House
Tue May 26th – Chicago @ CLVBRECTVM
Wed May 27th – Detroit @ Trinosophes
Thu May 28th – Cleveland @ Now Thats Class
Fri May 29th – Rochester @ Monty’s Crown
Sat May 30th – Boston @ Deep Thoughts
Sun May 31st – NYC @ Palisades
Mon Jun 1st – Philadelphia @ Vat
Tue Jun 2nd – Baltimore @ The Bank
Wed Jun 3rd – Richmond @ Auxiliary
Thu Jun 4th – Chapel Hill @ Nightlight

https://www.facebook.com/events/601600923307164/

Mono / Holly Hunt – North American Tour 2015
Jun 9, 2015 | Rock & Roll Hotel | Washington, DC
Jun 10, 2015 | Johnny Brenda’s | Philadelphia, PA
Jun 11, 2015 | The Ballroom at The Outer Space | Hamden, CT
Jun 12, 2015 | LPR – Le Poisson Rouge | New York, NY
Jun 13, 2015 | Middle East Downstairs | Cambridge, MA
Jun 14, 2015 | La Tulipe | Montreal, QC
Jun 15, 2015 | Ritual Nightclub | Ottawa, ON
Jun 16, 2015 | Lee’s Palace | Toronto, ON
Jun 17, 2015 | Majestic Cafe | Detroit, MI
Jun 18, 2015 | Bottom Lounge | Chicago, IL
Jun 19, 2015 | The Rave Bar | Milwaukee, WI
Jun 20, 2015 | Cedar Cultural Center | Minneapolis, MN
Jun 23, 2015 | Wonder Ballroom | Portland, OR
Jun 24, 2015 | Neumos | Seattle, WA
Jun 26, 2015 | The Independent | San Francisco, CA
Jun 27, 2015 | Troubadour | Los Angeles, CA
Jun 28, 2015 | Casbah | San Diego, CA
Jun 29, 2015 | The Crescent Ballroom | Phoenix, AZ
Jul 1, 2015 | Club Dada | Dallas, TX
Jul 2, 2015 | Red 7 | Austin, TX

www.facebook.com/events/1586169138320206/

https://www.facebook.com/HOLLYHUNT.LTD
http://hollyhunt.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/HollyHunt666

Holly Hunt & Slomatics, Split (2014)

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Ancient River’s Keeper of the Dawn out April 14

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

ancient river

Floridian psychedelic two-piece Ancient River are gearing up to release their sixth album, Keeper of the Dawn. A splatter platter pressed in black and white and gray with a cover that boasts an upside-down cross comprised of Navajo-skull polaroids, it will be out next month via Summer Moon, and the title-track is streaming now, all soaked in reverb vibe and laid back and molten and whatnot. It’s my first exposure to the band, who are already veterans of Austin Psych FestLiverpool Psych Fest and others — they’ll also appear at Milwaukee Psych Fest and the Reverence Festival this year — but the spaciousness the Gaineville duo offer argues well in its own favor.

I’d advise you to press play on the track at the bottom of the post so you can listen as you make your way through the info below, hoisted from the PR wire:

ancient river keeper of the dawn

Ancient River Share New Single + New LP News

Enigmatic southern-psych duo Ancient River announce their forthcoming album Keeper Of The Dawn by sharing the title track via SoundCloud today. Keeper Of The Dawn is dense with murmurs of psych prowess informed as much by their history (this is Ancient River’s sixth full-length, and eighth release since 2010) as their rich neo-psych influences.

Ancient River, the sonic brainchild of singer/songwriter James Barreto, is an ever-changing snapshot of rock n’ roll and psychedelia, flowing from the swampy roots of the American south to the far reaches of innerspace.

Veterans of the psych scene, Ancient River’s wall-of-sound barrage has been honed by extensive touring across the states and beyond–including appearances at Austin Psych Fest (2013-2014), Los Angeles’ Psycho De Mayo (2014), and the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia (2012), all the while sharing stages with the likes of Dead Skeletons, Rosco (Spaceman 3), Night Beats, Singapore Sling, Heartless Bastards, Lumerians & Ringo Deathstarr.

It all began in the dawn of the year 2000, as guitarist J. Barreto was making frequent trips to Gainesville to play with The Ohm, his instrumental psychedelic band which thrived on instant creation and a homegrown DIY ethic. Over the next few years they recorded several albums worth of material entirely on a 4-track tape recorder, with James collecting and refining the components of his burgeoning home studio along the way. Upon moving to Gainesville to start his own project, he began recording local bands, producing several albums while creating music for local independent films. It was out of this period of musical exploration that Ancient River was born. Barreto’s house soon grew into a fully-fledged home studio/rehearsal space, where like-minded musicians could be found tirelessly sharpening their wide range of sounds, encapsulating everything from noisy shoegaze to psychedelia to classic americana.

Locked away in the pursuit of his sonic vision, it wasn’t long before J. Barreto earned himself a reputation as a musical hermit, though it was a full two years before he took Ancient River to the stage, re-emerging as an impassioned singer/frontman while wielding his unmistakable space-rock guitar sound and creating a captivating live show accompanied by entrancing psychedelic visuals. With the addition of Alex Cordova in 2011, Ancient River encamped into J.’s home studio and after recording multiple albums filled with the sounds of timeless American fuzz rock and reverb-soaked garage-psych grooves, hit the road in 2014 for a heavy national tour.

Now the band find themselves on the eve of a new album release and traveling to some of their most highly anticipated performances to date. A pioneering and prolific act at their creative peak and still on the rise, Ancient River look to take their vision and unique sound to new heights in 2015. Let it flow!

Keeper Of The Dawn is out 4/14 on Summer Moon.

KEEPER OF THE DAWN TRACKLIST
1. This Is The Time
2. Keeper Of The Dawn
3. New Rising
4. Mother Of Light
5. The Next One
6. Stay With Me
7. Journey Into The Light Of Darkness
8. Desolation Song
9. Hallways And Mirrors
10. End Of Dawn

https://www.facebook.com/ancientriverband
https://twitter.com/theancientriver
http://www.ancientrivermusic.com/

Ancient River, “Keeper of the Dawn”

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Shroud Eater Premiere “Face the Master” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

shroud eater

Oh, it does feel good to hear Shroud Eater crushing it once again. The Miami-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Jeannie Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and newcomer drummer Davin Sosa will release a new single, Face the Master, April 7 on Primitive Violence. It’ll be the first new Shroud Eater since 2013’s murder-prone Dead Ends EP (review here), which of course followed 2011’s debut full-length, ThunderNoise (review here) and their 2009 demo (review here), and while it’s just two songs and done in under seven minutes, it reestablishes the three-piece’s momentum, which seemed to be building to a tipping point coming out of Dead Ends, before the lineup change. Some East Coast tour dates following the Face the Master release won’t hurt in that regard either.

But mostly, it’s just a joy to have Shroud Eater back, the efficiency of their neo-sludge on display in the 2:44 “Face the Master,” which culls its lyrical basis from the 1979 film adaptation of Stephen King‘s Salem’s Lot, shroud eater face the masterand moves swiftly from destructive thrash to a slowed-down, harmonized finish worthy of whatever ’90s comparison you’d want to attach to it. The subsequent “House of Endings” is a little longer and more straightforward h-e-a-v-y rock, but spacious and huge-sounding as it rolls into a drawling solo in the second half that leads to a grueling semi-deconstruction, the resonant rumble being the last remaining element to fade out. The hope, of course, is that Face the Master precedes more to come from Shroud Eater either later this year or in 2016, but even if this is it for now, I doubt many who take the time to listen will be complaining.

The video for “Face the Master,” which I have the pleasure of premiering, was put together by Valentine and, like the song itself, features retooled clips from Salem’s Lot asking whether or not your faith is enough.

So is it?

Shroud Eater, “Face the Master” official video

Miami, Florida’s SHROUD EATER will release their two-song EP, Face The Master, April 7th, 2015 on regular and special-edition cassette via Primitive Violence Records & Visual, as well as a digital download. In celebration of the EP’s release, the band will also be embarking on an eight-day trek up and down the east coast in support of the release.

SHROUD EATER continue to deliver crushing alms to the altar of heavy. Their newest two-song offering, FACE THE MASTER, which was recorded by Davin Sosa and Aric Meerbott at Guzu Recordings, Miami, Florida and mixed and Mastered by Jay Matheson at The Jam Room in Columbia, SC, is a face-ripping romp in vicious tones, gritty vocals, and unexpected turns that have come to define the scuzzy Shroud Eater sound. Riding high off 2013’s highly acclaimed EP Dead Ends and re-energized with a new lineup, Shroud Eater has borne comparisons to metal behemoths like Kylesa, High on Fire, and Acid King, all while forging their own dynamic sound in the metal landscape.

TOUR DATES:
4/22 – Savannah, GA @ THE JINX
4/23 – Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood
4/24 – Philly, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
4/25 – Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus
4/26 – Washington DC @ TBA
4/27 – Wilmington, NC @ TBA
4/28 – Charleston, SC – “Tunnel of Lust” House Show

SHROUD EATER is:
Jean Saiz: guitar, vocals
Janette Valentine: bass, vocals
Davin Sosa: drums, vocals

Shroud Eater on Thee Facebooks

Shroud Eater on Bandcamp

Shroud Eater’s website

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Torche Release Restarter Today on Relapse

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Torche

I’ve seen some pretty interesting reactions to Torche‘s Relapse debut, from people digging the return of their sheer sonic heft and melodic range, to being caught up wondering at the slower average pace of the material compared to some of what Torche have done before. Wherever you land on the subject, Torche‘s Restarter (review here) is out today and the response to its arrival seems generally positive. Fortunate since they’re about to spend probably the next 18 months on tour supporting it, and it’s already been hyped with, among other things, a video game, which I’m sorry to say I sucked at viciously. Like, horribly. Embarrassingly bad at it.

Today’s actually a pretty big release day, with stuff out from TorcheRuby the HatchetCrypt Sermon and others, so if you’ve got money to burn, there’s plenty of kindling around. The announcement of Restarter‘s materialization came down the PR wire thusly and brought with it a trailer for Torche‘s upcoming “Annihilation Affair” video, which you can find below:

torche restarter

TORCHE’S NEW ALBUM, RESTARTER, RELEASED TODAY

Torche release Restarter, the hard rock outfit’s fourth album and Relapse Record’s debut, today. The critically acclaimed collection is streaming in its entirety via Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/relapserecords/sets/torche-restarter).

The band will unveil an animated video for “Annihilation Affair” during the week of March 9. A teaser for the clip, which was directed by Phil Mucci (High on Fire, Monster Magnet, Stone Sour), can be seen here.

Restarter was recorded at the band’s Miami studio, Pinecrust, with bass player Jonathan Nuñez overseeing production and Converge’s Kurt Ballou once again returning to handle mixing.

Upcoming headlining shows from Torche:

March 4 Miami, FL Churchill’s Pub #
March 6 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
March 7 Birmingham, AL The Bottletree
March 8 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
March 9 Houston, TX Fitzgerald’s Downstairs
March 10 Austin, TX Red 7
March 11 Dallas, TX Club Dada #
March 12 Memphis, TN The Hi-Tone
March 13 St. Louis, MO The Firebird
March 14 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
March 15 Milwaukee, WI The Cactus Club
March 16 Columbus, OH Skully’s Music Diner
March 17 Cleveland, OH The Grog Shop
March 18 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
March 20 Detroit, MI The Pike Room
March 21 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
March 22 Montreal, QC Bar Le Ritz
March 23 Buffalo, NY Mohawk Place
March 25 Boston, MA Great Scott
March 26 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus
March 27 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
March 28 Richmond, VA Strange Matters #
March 29 Washington, DC DC 9 #

May 2 Leipzig, DE Taubchental
May 3 Wroclaw, PL Asymmetry Festival
May 4 Prague, CZ 007
May 5 Munich, DE Ampere
May 6 Milan, IT Lo Fi Club
May 8 Barcelona, SP Rocksound
May 9 Madrid, SP Boute Live!
May 10 Lisbon, PT Musicbox
May 11 Bilbao, SP Kafe Antzokia
May 13 Zurich, SZ Dynamo
May 14 Wiesbaden, DE Schlachthoff
May 15 Cologne, DE Underground
May 16 Berlin, DE Hafenklang
May 18 Nijmegen, NL Merelyn
May 19 Haarlem, NL Patronaat
May 20 Paris, FR Glazart
May 21 Antwerp, BE Kavka
May 22 London, UK Underworld *
May 23 Leeds, UK Belgrave Social Club *
May 24 Galway, IR Roisin Dubh
May 25 Cork, IR Craine Lane
May 26 Dublin, IR Grand Social
May 27 Belfast, IR The Limelight
May 28 Glasgow, UK CCA **
May 29 Manchester, UK Sound Control **
May 30 Bristol, UK Temples Festival
May 31 Nimes, FR This is Not a Love Song
June 1 Nantes, FR Le Ferrailleur

All U.S. dates w/Wrong; Nothing appears on all dates except when noted with a #

Fans of the band can try their skills at Torche vs. Robots: Annihilation Affair (www.torchevsrobots.com), a single-player game featuring each of the Torche band members as characters trying to save the city of Miami from destruction bent robots.

www.facebook.com/torcheofficial
www.torchemusic.com
www.twitter.com/torcheband
http://instagram.com/torche_band

Torche, “Annihilation Affair” video teaser

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Torche, Restarter: Calling Minions

Posted in Reviews on January 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

torche-restarter

While the title immediately evokes connotations for the band itself, the fact remains that Torche‘s Restarter could just as easily refer to an interpersonal relationship or someone who decides to go back and beat Super Mario 3 again. The lyrics for the song itself, which closes out Torche‘s 10-track/39-minute Relapse Records debut, are minimal and vague, just a couple lines amid nine minutes of steady riffing that carry the record to its finish. Like most of everything, it’s more likely not relegated to a single idea, but if the title provokes intrigue, so too does the album itself. Torche‘s fourth overall, Restarter follows 2012’s Harmonicraft (review here), which, while engaging as ever in Torche‘s blend of heavy tonality and melodic or harmonized vocals and irresistible hooks, was shortly and perhaps too easily upstaged by the subsequent single, Harmonslaught, which promised heavier things to come. It’s only been three years since Harmonicraft, but it feels like a long three years, with guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks having released the Oblation full-length (review here) in 2014 with the reactivated trio Floor and toured to support it and Torche guitarist/vocalist Andrew Elstner, bassist Jonathan Nuñez and drummer Rick Smith having also pursued other projects in the interim (ShitstormTilts). I wouldn’t say Torche were ever really inactive or too far from public consciousness, but between the members coming back together to make this record and the signing to Relapse — a fitting home for a group so respected and prone to extended touring — it’s an easy enough argument to make that they’re trying to make a fresh start.

If that’s the case, they’re in a tough position. Like many acts with such a distinctly individual, almost singular style — think SlayerNapalm DeathSunnO))), or even to a certain extend Torche‘s recent tourmates, Clutch — Torche can’t veer too far from their signature blend of pop and heft without coming across as a completely different band. Restarter has a few bolder steps in songs like the slower groove of the ultra-catchy call to arms “Minions” and the near-brooding “No Servants,” Smith using half-time drums to make the material sound even more spacious than the tones he’s punctuating, but the sound is still unmistakable for anyone who’s heard Torche since 2008’s Meanderthal sophomore outing, their process having been refined and tightened after a transitional (in bridging Brooks from Floor to Torche) but clarion 2005 self-titled debut, and while opener “Annihilation Affair” absolutely crushes and caps with about a minute and a half of vicious feedback and noise backed by plodding toms, once “Bishop in Arms” kicks in with Brooks and Elstner in harmony, Torche are very much Torche. Nonetheless, the variety and energy they bring to the progression here gives Restarter a particularly mature feel while still remembering to have a good time in the post-“Minions” midsection trio of “Loose Men,” “Undone” and “Blasted.” Three shorter tracks — Torche are no strangers to songs under three minutes — they’re a familiar but welcome rush of hooks, melody and dense riffing, “Loose Men” a hook-fueled blast, “Undone” a tonal push that presages “Barrier Hammer” still to come and “Blasted” a righteous showing of form that ends the side A on a high note both in mood and tempo.

torche

Side B is a different animal altogether. Where four out of the six tracks on Restarter‘s first half are under three minutes long, the second half breathes a little more, with “No Servants,” “Believe It” and the aforementioned “Barrier Hammer” hovering around four minutes each before the nine-minute closing title cut. A feedback-laden start brings about a grandiose stomp for “No Servants” that feels somewhat in conversation with “Minions” in its riff, but gives way to the even-bigger-sounding “Believe It,” which meshes understated vocals with one of the album’s more furious instrumental progressions, the contrast effective in conveying both a sonic and emotional lumbering, lead guitar getting the last word in a long-ish fadeout perhaps meant to lull the listener away from consciousness so that “Barrier Hammer” can thunder in with that much more impact. Frankly, it doesn’t hurt, but the song doesn’t need the help. In addition to being the best use of Brooks‘ bomb-tone guitar since “Tarpit Carnivore” from the 2007 In Return EP, the track brims with purpose and stews in its righteousness. Two verses, a quick, gruff recitation of the title line and they get out of the way and let the riff have its space. One imagines it would be a beast coming through a P.A. of decent size, but on Restarter, it also serves to pick up from “Believe It” and transition into the vitality uptick of “Restarter” itself, which is comprised only of one or two riffs and the already-noted minimal lyrics, but proves hypnotic in its extended repetitions and smoothly river-currents the record to its end without losing focus on the way to its own deconstruction, the last minute-plus given to feedback, sustained guitar echo and swirl.

It’s a gorgeous and somewhat surprising finish. Torche have had extended closers since Meanderthal, but again, there’s an edge to “Restarter” and its method that underscores the band’s success in giving fresh edge to their established modus. I don’t know if Restarter is meant in reference to the band starting over or not, but they’ve made a record that, if that were the case, would make for a solid (new) beginning. This year marks a decade since their first album was released, and they’ve accomplished no small amount in that time, but if Restarter signifies anything at all, it’s that Torche‘s creative progression is ongoing and that while there are elements that will always reoccur, we haven’t yet encountered the full dynamic breadth of what they have to offer.

Torche, Restarter (2015)

Torche on Thee Facebooks

Restarter at Relapse Records

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Torche Announce Headlining Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

torche

If Torche are hitting “restart” as the title of their impending fourth album and Relapse label debut suggests, they’re hitting it pretty hard. The four-piece will be on tour for what seems like a warm-up run with Municipal Waste for a few dates starting this weekend, and then in March, they pick up for headlining dates in the Midwest and on the East Coast with Nothing and Wrong, and then in May, it’s a full month in Europe including stops at the Asymmetry and Temples festivals. Meanwhile, the record’s out in Feb. and guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks is Euro-touring with Floor in April, so yeah, it’s a busy time. One can only assume they’ve got more to come as well.

For now, this looks like plenty:

torche march tour

TORCHE PLOT NORTH AMERICAN HEADLINING TOUR

RESTARTER OUT FEB. 24; PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW

Torche have announced a headlining tour in support of their forthcoming album, Restarter (Feb. 24, Relapse), which brings label mates Nothing out as support and kicks off on March 6 at The Masquerade in Atlanta.

Tour dates are:

March 6 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
March 7 Birmingham, AL The Bottletree
March 8 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
March 9 Houston, TX Fitzgerald’s Downstairs
March 10 Austin, TX Red 7
March 11 Dallas, TX Club Dada #
March 12 Memphis, TN The Hi-Tone
March 13 St. Louis, MO The Firebird
March 14 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
March 15 Milwaukee, WI The Cactus Club
March 17 Cleveland, OH The Grog Shop
March 18 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
March 20 Detroit, MI The Pike Room
March 21 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
March 22 Montreal, QC Bar Le Ritz
March 23 Buffalo, NY Mohawk Place
March 25 Boston, MA Great Scott
March 26 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus
March 27 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
March 28 Richmond, VA Strange Matters #
March 29 Washington, DC DC 9#

Nothing opens except where noted by a #

Previously announced shows:

Dates from Jan. 16 to 21 with Municipal Waste

January 16 Winston-Salem, NC Ziggy’s
January 17 Wilmington, NC Ziggy’s by the Sea
January 18 Tallahassee, FL Pug’s Live
January 19 Gainesville, FL The Atlantic
January 20 Ybor City, FL Crowbar
January 21 Miami, FL Grand Central

May 2 Leipzig, DE Taubchental
May 3 Wroclaw, PL Asymmetry Festival
May 4 Prague, CZ 007
May 5 Munich, DE Ampere
May 6 Milan, IT Lo Fi Club
May 8 Barcelona, SP Rocksound
May 9 Madrid, SP Boute Live!
May 10 Lisbon, PT Musicbox
May 11 Bilbao, SP Kafe Antzokia
May 13 Zurich, SZ Dynamo
May 14 Wiesbaden, DE Schlachthoff
May 15 Cologne, DE Underground
May 16 Berlin, DE Hafenklang
May 18 Nijmegen, NL Merelyn
May 19 Haarlem, NL Patronaat
May 20 Paris, FR Glazart
May 21 Antwerp, BE Kavka
May 22 London, UK Underworld *
May 23 Leeds, UK Belgrave Social Club *
May 24 Galway, IR Roisin Dubh
May 25 Cork, IR Craine Lane
May 26 Dublin, IR Grand Social
May 27 Belfast, IR The Limelight
May 28 Glasgow, UK CCA **
May 29 Manchester, UK Sound Control **
May 30 Bristol, UK Temples Festival
May 31 Nimes, FR This is Not a Love Song
June 1 Nantes, FR Le Ferrailleur

* – w/Part Chimp and Henry Blacker
** – w/Kings and Henry Blacker

Restarter will be released on CD/LP/Deluxe 2xLP/Cassette/Digital, with pre-orders available now with songs “Harmonslaught” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Mantasy,” will be included on deluxe editions. Digital pre-orders offer an instant download of “Annihilation Affair” and “Minions” (http://geni.us/RestarterDLX), Bandcamp (www.torche.bandcamp.com) and physically via Relapse (http://www.relapse.com/torche-restarter).

www.facebook.com/torcheofficial
www.torchemusic.com
www.twitter.com/torcheband
http://instagram.com/torche_band

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 30 of 2014

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-top-30-of-2014

Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t added your list yet, please do.

This was a hard list to put together. The top three have been set in my mind for probably the last month, but trying to work my way backwards from there was a real challenge — what’s a top 10 record, a top 20 record, a top 30, honorable mentions and all the rest. I’ve never done a full top 30 before, always 20, but the truth is there was just too much this year to not expand.

I’m still juggling numbers even as I put together this post, and I’m sure that by the time I’m done several records will have switched places. That’s always how it seems to go. What I’m confident that I have is a list accurately representing critique and my own habits, both what I gravitated toward in listening throughout the year and what I feel is noteworthy on a critical level. This site has always been a blend of those two impulses. It’s only fair this list should be as well.

Before we dig in, you should note this is full-length albums only. I’ll have a list of short releases (EPs, singles, demos) to come, as well as a special list of debut releases, since it seemed to be a particularly good year for them. And since I’m only one person, I couldn’t hear everything, much as I tried.

Okay. Here we go:

30. Orange Goblin, Back from the Abyss

orange-goblin-back-from-the-abyss

Released by Candlelight Records. Reviewed on Nov. 17.

The kings of London’s heavy scene offered more powerhouse heavy rock with their eighth album and second for Candlelight, and their rabid and ever-growing fanbase ate it up. Back from the Abyss proved yet again that few can attain the kind of vicious force that seems to come so natural to Orange Goblin, and made it clear their domination shows no signs of losing momentum.

 

29. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty

mos-generator-electric-mountain-majesty

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 14.

A darker affair from Port Orchard, Washington’s Mos GeneratorElectric Mountain Majesty still found its core in the songwriting led by guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed. They’re a band with some changes on the horizon, and I’ll be interested to hear what hindsight does to these songs. As it was, the hooks and downer vibes may have been in conceptual conflict, but the execution was inarguable.

 

28. Pilgrim, II: Void Worship

pilgrim-ii-void-worship

Released by Metal Blade Records. Reviewed on April 15.

Richer in the listening than 2012’s Misery Wizard debut, Pilgrim‘s II: Void Worship nonetheless held firm to the doomly spirit that’s made the Rhode Island outfit such a sensation these last couple years. Its longer songs, “Master’s Chamber,” “Void Worship” and the emotionally weighted “Away from Here,” were particularly immersive, and they remain a bright spot in doom’s future.

 

27. John Garcia, John Garcia

john-garcia-john-garcia

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed on July 7.

His long-awaited solo debut, John Garcia‘s John Garcia offered memorable tracks culled from years of songwriting from the former Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida and Hermano frontman, performed in the classic desert rock style he helped define. I’m not sure it was worth trading a second Vista Chino record for, but it was hard to argue with “The Blvd” and “All These Walls.”

 

26. Swans, To be Kind

swans-to-be-kind

Released by Mute/Young God Records. Reviewed on May 9.

An overwhelming two-disc barrage from a relentless creativity that, more than 30 years on from its first public incarnation, is still to be considered avant garde. I’m not sure planet earth realizes how lucky it is to have Swans running around unleashing all this chaos, but I hope they don’t stop anytime soon. To be Kind was brutal and beautiful in like measure.

 

25. Alunah, Awakening the Forest

alunah awakening the forest

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Oct. 14.

I initially made this list without Alunah‘s excellent third album and Napalm Records, but when it came down to it, not having the UK four-piece on here haunted me to the point where I had to come back in and swap them out with somebody else. Just couldn’t live with myself for not giving this record its due, which, to be frank, I’m still not since it should be higher on the list than it is. At least it’s here though, so the mistake is somewhat corrected.

 

24. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes

greenleaf-trails-and-passes

Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed on April 25.

The follow-up to Greenleaf‘s stellar 2012 outing Nest of Vipers (review here) brought lineup changes and stripped away many of the textural elements of the band’s sound — guest appearances, arrangement flourishes — in order to get back to a classic heavy rock sound and translate better to the stage. With guitarist Tommi Holappa‘s songwriting ever at the core, it would be unfair to call the process anything but a success.

 

23. Earth, Primitive and Deadly

earth-primitive-and-deadly

Released by Southern Lord Recordings. Reviewed on Sept. 9.

Most of the headlines went to the fact that Primitive and Deadly had vocals, where the generally-instrumental Earth had avoided singers for 18 years prior, but even putting aside Mark Lanegan and Rabi Shabeen Qazi, whose performance on “From the Zodiacal Light” was the high point of the record, presented Earth‘s always progressive tensions in a rawer, heavier production, and was a joy for longtime fans.

 

22. Ogre, The Last Neanderthal

ogre-the-last-neanderthal

Released by Minotauro Records. Reviewed on March 10.

Six years and one breakup later, Portland, Maine, doom trio Ogre returned with The Last Neanderthal, neither afraid to revel in Sabbathian traditionalism or rock out a more upbeat cut like opener “Nine Princes in Amber.” For bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham, guitarist Ross Markonish and drummer Will Broadbent, it was a welcome resurgence of pretense-free heavy riffs and grooves.

 

21. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum

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Released by Candlelight Records. Reviewed on Jan. 30.

Of course, at the time we didn’t know it would be the final outing from this lineup of UK doomers The Wounded Kings, whose guitarist/founder Steve Mills has now reunited with original vocalist George Birch, but Consolamentum was a hell of a closing statement anyway for this era of the band, showcasing their murky, increasingly progressive style still waiting for wider appreciation.

 

20. Floor, Oblation

floor-oblation

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed on April 22.

Wasn’t sure where to put Floor‘s reunion offering, Oblation, on this list at first, since I kind of fell off listening to it as the year went on, but I’ve gone back to it over the last couple weeks and it has held up to the revisit, whether it’s songs like the extended “Sign of Aeth” or shorter, catchy pummelers like “Rocinante” or “War Party.” Floor‘s 2002 self-titled holds an untouchable legacy in heavy rock, but I think the years will prove Oblation a worthy successor. Nobody knew what they had with Floor at the time either.

 

19. Druglord, Enter Venus

druglord-enter-venus

Released by STB Records. Reviewed on Feb. 14.

Little on 2011’s Motherfucker Rising (review here) or their 2010 demo (review here) prepared for the kind of assault that Druglord‘s Enter Venus brought to bear. Four stomp-laden slabs of tectonic crash and distortion, vocals buried under and calling up from the amp-bred fog. The Virginian trio were in and out on the 27-minute 12″ release, but had enough heavy for a record twice as long, and the tinges of darkened psychedelia made their songs like a lurking presence just on the edge of consciousness, a threat waiting to be unleashed.

 

18. Ararat, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

ararat-cabalgata-hacia-la-luz

Released by Oui Oui Records. Reviewed on April 4.

For the sheer variety of Ararat‘s third album in rockers like “Nicotina y Destrucción,” “El Hijo de Ignacio,” the experimentalism of “El Arca” and the piano-driven “Los Viajes” and the acoustic closer “Atalayah,” and the assured, flowing manner in which the Argentina trio pulled it all off, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz should be higher on this list than it is. Part of that might be my frustration at my apparent inability to buy a copy, but don’t let that take away from the quality of the material here, which is wonderfully chaotic, memorable and engaging, rushing in some places and stopping to weep in others.

 

17. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt

radio-moscow-magical-dirt

Released by Alive Naturalsound. Reviewed on May 29.

You won’t hear me deny that Radio Moscow‘s primary impact is as a live band, but their fifth album, Magical Dirt, managed to bring forth much of their psychedelic blues presence in “Death of a Queen,” “Before it Burns” and “Gypsy Fast Woman,” the blinding rhythmic turns and wah-soaked guitar supremacy of Parker Griggs front and center throughout. Together with bassist Anthony Meier (also Sacri Monti) and drummer Paul Marrone (also Astra and Psicomagia), Radio Moscow are hitting their stride as one of heavy rock’s most powerful power trios. One never knows what to expect, but hopefully they keep going the way they are.

 

16. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds

apostle-of-solitude-of-woe-and-wounds

Released by Cruz del Sur. Reviewed on Nov. 6.

Four years isn’t the longest time I’ve ever waited for a record to come out, but in the case of Indianapolis’ Apostle of Solitude, it felt like an especially long stretch. Their third full-length and first for Cruz del Sur, Of Woe and Wounds followed the anticipation-building Demo 2012 (review here) and a couple splits and brought aboard bassist Dan Dividson and guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay), who fit well with drummer Corey Webb and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown to result in a payoff worthy and indicative of the time that went into its making. Hands down one of the finest acts in American doom.

 

15. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean

stubb-cry-of-the-ocean

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed on Nov. 24.

Stubb‘s second long-player, also their debut on Ripple, gets a nod for the sense of progression it brought in answering the potential of the trio’s 2012 self-titled debut (review here), guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist Peter Holland and new drummer Tom Fyfe expanding the scope to include more heavy psych influence and soul along with the fuzz riffs and steady rolling while giving no ground in terms of the level of craft at work. Cry of the Ocean has become one of those albums where all I have to do is look at a title, be it “Cry of the Ocean Pt. I” or “Sail Forever” or “Heartbreaker,” and the song is immediately stuck in my head. With these tracks, that’s not at all a complaint.

 

14. Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Black Power Flower

brant-bjork-and-the-low-desert-punk-band-black-power-flower

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed on Nov. 10.

Brant Bjork has worn many hats, literal and figurative, over the years, whether it’s drummer in Kyuss or Fu Manchu, producer, solo artist or bandleader. With Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, he steps once again into the latter role, and with guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, presents not only on his heaviest record to date, but what could easily begin a sustainable full-band progression that can go just about anywhere his songwriting wants to take it. “Stokely up Now,” “That’s a Fact Jack,” “Controllers Denied” and “Boogie Woogie on Your Brain” made for some of 2014’s best in desert rock, and Black Power Flower was an stellar return for Bjork to his “solo” work.

 

13. Dwellers, Pagan Fruit

dwellers-pagan-fruit

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed on May 22.

An earlier version of this list had Pagan Fruit at a lower number, but I couldn’t live with it not being closer to the top 10. Salt Lake City’s Dwellers pushed deeper into laid back psych and blues on their second album, and in doing so, crafted an atmosphere entirely their own. From “Creature Comfort” down to “Call of the Hollowed Horn,” with triumphs along the way like “Rare Eagle,” “Totem Crawler” (“Ohh, my queen… To whom, I crawl…) and “Son of Raven,” Pagan Fruit became a staple of my 2014, building off their 2012 debut, Good Morning Harakiri (review here), but presenting their stylistic growth with a confidence and poise that can only come from a band who’ve figured out what they want to be doing and how they want to do it. Front to back, Pagan Fruit sounds like an arrival.

 

12. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass

the-golden-grass-the-golden-grass

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed on March 25.

What made Brooklyn trio The Golden Grass‘ self-titled debut such a special released wasn’t just that it was heavy, or that the tracks were catchy, or that guitarist Michael Rafalowich and drummer Adam Kriney could harmonize over Joe Noval‘s warm-toned basslines. That was all great, don’t get me wrong, but what really stood out about The Golden Grass was its irony-free positivity, the way it was able to capture an upbeat, sunshiny feel without having to smirk about it on the other side of its mouth. It was self-aware, to be sure — knew what it was doing — but the way I see it, consciousness only makes the stylistic choices more impressive. Add to that the nuance they brought to ’70s revivalism, and all that stuff about catchiness and the harmonies, and there just wasn’t a level on which the album didn’t work.

 

11. The Well, Samsara

the-well-samsara

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed on Sept. 22.

My appreciation continues to grow for The Well‘s Samsara, which successfully pulled together influences from garage doom and heavy psychedelia while crafting an identity for the Austin, Texas, three-piece at once raw and melodically accomplished, guitarist Ian Graham and bassist Lisa Alley sharing vocals to classic effect on “Refuge” while otherwise trading off lead position to bolster variety in the material. The high point might’ve been the eight-minute “Eternal Well,” on which GrahamAlley and drummer Jason Sullivvan conjured some of their grooviest demons, but the hooks of “Mortal Bones,” “Trespass” and the attitude-laced “Dragon Snort” were no less engaging. One of many strong releases from their label this year — Slow SeasonThe Picturebooks, etc. — they seemed to come ready to serve notice of a stylistic movement underway.

 

10. Montibus Communitas, The Pilgrim to the Absolute

montibus-communitas-the-pilgrim-to-the-absolute

Released by Beyond Beyond is Beyond. Reviewed on Dec. 4.

Peruvian psych adventurers Montibus Communitas more or less blew my mind when I heard their late-2013 offering, Harvest Times earlier this year, and the narrative, conceptual 2014 release, The Pilgrim to the Absolute, is even more of an achievement in its portrayal of improvised exploration, sonic ritualism and open creativity. The weaving of longer pieces against shorter ones with the various steps along the path as presented in the titles, some journeying, some arriving, some descriptive, almost all accompanied by nature in one form or another, gives The Pilgrim to the Absolute an almost impressionistic quality, so that even as you listen to it, you engage it as much as it carries you along its vibrant, breathtaking progression en route to the closing title-track, which is a destination every bit worthy of the journey. This is the most recently reviewed inclusion on this list, but Montibus Communitas‘ latest readily earns its place in the top 10. It is unique in its surroundings.

 

9. Fu Manchu, Gigantoid

fu-manchu-gigantoid

Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed on May 14.

Looking back at the last two Fu Manchu records, 2007’s We Must Obey and 2009’s Signs of Infinite Power, it seemed reasonable to expect the groundbreaking SoCal fuzz foursome to put out another collection of big-sounding riffs in a big-sounding production. Nothing to complain about, but probably not a landmark. By going the other way completely — stripping their buzzed-out riffing down to its punkish core thanks in no small part to recording with Moab‘s Andrew GiacumakisFu Manchu served up a raw reminder both of where they came from and how top notch their songwriting remains. Reissuing their earliest work and being on their own label might’ve had something to do with it, but whatever it was, the 35 minutes of Gigantoid was as efficient a heavy rock outing as one could hope from an already legendary band, whether it was the hook-prone opening salvo of “Dimension Shifter,” “Invaders on My Back,” “Anxiety Reducer” and “Radio Source Sagittarius” or the righteous ending jam “The Last Question.”

 

8. The Skull, For Those Which are Asleep

the-skull-for-those-which-are-asleep

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed on Nov. 5.

Given the origins of The Skull — ex-Trouble members Eric Wagner, Jeff “Oly” Olson and Ron Holzner joining with Lothar Keller and a series of other guitarists, finally Matt Goldsborough, working essentially as a tribute band to their former outfit — I think not only did the quality of the material and performance on For Those Which are Asleep surprise, as well as the classically doomed feel that resonates throughout the album, but the sheer heartfelt nature of songs like “Sick of it All,” “Send Judas Down” and the title-track itself. This wasn’t a cynical attempt to make a go of an already set legacy. It was an expression of appreciation both for what they accomplished as Trouble and a desire to continue that work. The Skull‘s whole thing has been that they’re “more Trouble than Trouble,” and in their lineup that’s been true since they brought Olson on board. For Those Which are Asleep demonstrated that the classic spirit of that band is alive and well, its address has just changed. Moreover, it’s the beginning of a new progression for that spirit, and I hope it continues.

 

7. Blood Farmers, Headless Eyes

blood-farmers-headless-eyes

Self-released on CD, LP on PATAC Records. Reviewed on March 24.

Nineteen years after releasing their self-titled debut, New York’s Blood Farmers contended for 2014’s comeback of the year with their sophomore outing, Headless Eyes — a morose, horror-obsessed six-track collection that on “Night of the Sorcerers” owed as much to Goblin as to Sabbath. The closing cover of David Hess‘ theme from The Last House on the Left, “The Road Leads to Nowhere,” was a late bit of melodic flourish to add depth, but how could the highlight be anything other than the 10-minute title-track itself, with its samples from the 1971 horror flick The Headless Eyes, bassist Eli Brown in a call and response with lyrics comprised of lines directly taken from the movie? That after playing shows the last several years, Blood Farmers managed to get a record out was impressive enough. That Headless Eyes turned out to be the year’s best traditional doom release was an entirely different level of surprise. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for their third, but Brown, guitarist David Szulkin and drummer Tad Leger gave plenty to chew on with Blood Farmers‘ second. It was better than would’ve been fair to expect.

 

6. Lo-Pan, Colossus

lo-pan-colossus

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed on Oct. 7.

A lot of what you need to know about Lo-Pan‘s fourth album you learn in the first five seconds of opener “Regulus.” There’s no fancy intro, no time wasted, nothing to take away from the directness of the song itself. Tones are crisp — the verse is already underway — and guitar, bass and drums are laser-focused in their forward movement. Even when vocalist Jeff Martin enters the song, roughly six seconds later, his arrival comes with no indulgence, no pomp. Colossus is easily Lo-Pan‘s most immediate work to date, and throughout, Martin, guitarist Brian Fristoe (since replaced by Adrian Zambrano), bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz retain that focus no matter where the material takes them, delivering a clinic in how to kick as much ass as possible at any given moment on cuts like “Marathon Man” and “Eastern Seas,” or even bringing in guest vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, who also designed the album cover, for a spot on “Vox.” They had a hard task in following up 2011’s Salvador (review here), but the Columbus, Ohio, unit stood up to the challenge and met it and everyone else head-on.

 

5a. All Them Witches, Lightning at the Door

all-them-witches-lightning-at-the-door

Self-released. Reviewed on Sept. 25.

What to do with All Them Witches‘ Lightning at the Door? The Nashville four-piece released the album last fall digitally, but it wasn’t until this September that it saw a physical manifestation. In fact, if you go back, it was included on the Top 20 of 2013 as well. Which is the release date? I don’t know. What I know is that in terms of the sheer amount of time spent listening, I put on Lightning at the Door more than any other record this year. From where I sit, that alone gets it a place in the top five. Yeah, it might be a cop-out to do a “5a,” but sometimes exceptions have to be made, and All Them Witches have proved to be nothing if not exceptional in their still relatively brief, jam-laden history, the psych-blues dynamic between bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Fender Rhodes specialist Allan van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler pushing them quickly to the fore of American heavy rock’s innovators, their natural, improv-sounding material feeling brazen and exploratory while reshaping the elements of genre to suit their needs. One can only see this dynamic developing further as they continue to grow as a live band, so Lightning at the Door may just be the start, and that’s perhaps most exciting of all.

 

5. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels

witch-mountain-mobile-of-angels

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed on Aug. 20.

A beautiful, stunning work made even more powerful by the honesty driving it. Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain completed a trilogy with the Billy Anderson-produced Mobile of Angels that brought about some of the best doom of this young decade, their 2011 return from a years-long hiatus, South of Salem (review here) serving as the foundation for a stylistic progression that continued on the following year’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and onto Mobile of Angels itself as the four-piece’s most accomplished album to date. The reason it feels like such a concluding chapter is because of the departure of vocalist Uta Plotkin, whose voice helped establish Witch Mountain both on stage and in the studio, leaving founders Rob Wrong (guitar) and Nathan Carson (drums) with the sizable task of finding a replacement. That situation will be what it will be, but Mobile of Angels remains a gorgeous, lonely testament. Plotkin gives a landmark performance on “Can’t Settle” and “The Shape Truth Takes,” which in the context of what was happening in Witch Mountain at the time ring with a truth that’s rare in or out of doom, and she seems to have left the band just as they were hitting their finest hour. So it goes.

 

4. Conan, Blood Eagle

conan-blood-eagle

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed on Jan. 22.

In all of heavy, there is no assault so severe as Conan‘s. With their second full-length and debut on Napalm Records, the UK trio solidified the two sides of the preceding 2012 outing, Monnos (review here), in constructing material that, fast or slow, short or long, retained an epic feel melded with their ungodly tonality and memorable songwriting. Their first recording at guitarist/vocalist Jon DavisSkyhammer Studio, it affirmed Conan‘s will to conquer in its two massive bookends, “Crown of Talons” and “Altar of Grief,” and in the High on Fire-worthy gallop of “Foehammer” — a bludgeon commandingly wielded by Davis, bassist/vocalist Phil Coumbe and drummer Paul O’Neil, the latter to of whom have since left the band to be replaced by longtime-producer Chris Fielding and Rich Lewis, respectively. What effect the changes might have on the band — except apparently more touring, which isn’t a bad thing — have yet to be seen, but Conan are already in the process of writing a follow-up to Blood Eagle, so it doesn’t seem like it’ll be all that long until we find out. With Davis still steering the band in songwriting and overall direction, one severely doubts they’ll be fixing what obviously isn’t broken anytime soon. None heavier.

 

3. Wo Fat, The Conjuring

wo-fat-the-conjuring

Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed on June 18.

Dallas riff-rockers Wo Fat have grown steadily over the course of their five albums, from the nascent heavy roll of 2006’s The Gathering Dark, to the hooks of 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), the jamming that started to surface on 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here) and was pushed further on 2012’s The Black Code (review here). And their approach has been as steady as the frequency of their releases. In making The Conjuring, the three-piece were simply engaging the next step in their progression, but the material on the five-track/48-minute outing goes further than just that. Putting aside (momentarily) the 17-minute closer “Dreamwalker,” the other cuts, “The Conjuring,” “Read the Omens,” “Pale Rider from the Ice” and “Beggar’s Bargain” each found a place for themselves in pulling together jammed-sounding elements with a memorable construction, and when guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter did kick into “Dreamwalker,” they hit on not only their longest piece yet, but their most accomplished showcase of the chemistry that has developed between them. That song is a beast unto itself, but as has been the case with Wo Fat each time out so far in their career, there’s nothing on The Conjuring to give the impression the band can’t or won’t continue to keep going on the path that’s worked so well for them on this point. They’ve spent the last eight years on the right track and have yet to waiver. The Conjuring should be played at top volume for anyone who contends there’s no life left in heavy rock and roll.

 

2. Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia

mars-red-sky-stranded-in-arcadia

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed on March 11.

Mars Red Sky‘s second LP and first for Listenable, Stranded in Arcadia was originally supposed to be recorded in the California desert, but visa problems kept the French trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz in Brazil, where they’d previously been touring. Thus, “stranded in Arcadia,” which is basically another way of saying “lost in paradise.” Can’t say the Bordeaux three-piece didn’t make the most of it, though. Songs like “The Light Beyond” and “Hovering Satellites” — not to mention the utter melodic bliss of “Join the Race” — took cues from their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) in terms of memorable songwriting and melodic craft, but added to that heft and tonal richness more of a psychedelic vibe, so that not only was there fuzz and wah, but a spacious world in which the songs took place. With Kinast on lead vocals, the sneaky boogie of “Holy Mondays” became a highlight, and the one-two swing ‘n’ stomp of “Circles” and “Seen a Ghost” were a perfect demonstration by the band of the various sides of their sound, particularly following after the dreamy instrumental “Arcadia,” an echoing jam distinguished by Pras‘ wistful guitar lead and coming before the closing “Beyond the Light,” which reprises the opener’s resonant unfolding. It probably wasn’t the record they intended to make, but Stranded in Arcadia became one of my go-to albums for 2014, and like the best of any given year’s output, I’ve no doubt it will transcend the passage of time and continue to deliver for years to come. Hell, I was barely done with the debut when this one came out.

 

1. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend

yob-clearing-the-path-to-ascend

Released by Neurot Recordings. Reviewed on Sept. 3.

“It’s time to wake up.”

Can’t imagine this is any great surprise. Not only did Clearing the Path to Ascend — YOB‘s seventh album and first for Neurot — produce my pick for song of the year in its sprawling, emotionally weighted 18-minute closer, “Marrow,” but in the three full-lengths the Eugene, Oregon, trio of drummer Travis Foster, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt have released since the latter reformed the band after breaking it up following 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived, all three have been my album of the year. The Great Cessation was in 2009, and Atma was in 2011. Consistency aside, I’ll point out specifically that each of the same three records has earned that position, perhaps Clearing the Path to Ascend most of all for its progressive feel, moving past genre even at its most raging moment, second cut “Nothing to Win,” the chorus of which proved that among everything else YOB could be, they could be anthemic. The cosmic, spiritual questing that has always been present in their songs, that feeling of searching, showed up in opener “In Our Blood,” but even there, it was evident YOB were pushing themselves beyond what they’ve done before, rewriting their own formulas incorporating lessons from their past in among their other points of inspiration. “Unmask the Spectre” could have easily been an album closer itself, with its patient exploration and feverishly intense payoff, but with the melodic progressivism of “Marrow” and the soul poured into every second of that track, every verse and chorus, solo and build — including the Hammond added to the last of them by producer Billy Barnett — YOB created a landmark both for themselves and the increasing many working under their influence. I’ve said on several occasions (bordering on “many” at this point) that YOB are a once-in-a-generation band, and it feels truer in thinking of Clearing the Path to Ascend than it ever has. Without a doubt, album of the year and then some.

 

 

Honorable Mention

First, special note to Colour Haze‘s To the Highest Gods We Know. I’ve decided to count it as a 2015 release since the vinyl will be out in Spring, but otherwise surely it would earn a place on this list. Blackwolfgoat‘s Drone Maintenance also deserves note.

A few other honorable mentions:

MothershipMothership II — It’s hard to argue with a classic heavy rock power trio kicking ass. I won’t try.

Sólstafir, Ótta — They were originally on the list proper but had to be moved to make room for Alunah. I didn’t really get to know this record in 2014 anyway.

Ice DragonSeeds from a Dying Garden — Boston experimental psych/garage doomers continue to defy expectation. May their weirdness last forever and continue to produce material so satisfying.

TruckfightersUniverse — I thought at some point I’d go back to Universe again, but never really did. A problem with me more than the album.

SteakSlab City — An impressive debut following two strong EPs.

GodfleshA World Lit Only by Fire — I never got a review copy, so I never reviewed it. Its name is here because I’m a fan of the band and glad they’re back.

ThouHeathen — Just recently purchased this and am only getting to know it, but a ridiculously strong album.

Corrosion of ConformityIX — Everybody who gets a boner whenever Pepper Keenan is mentioned in connection with this band has missed out. This record and the self-titled kick ass.

SpidergawdSpidergawd — Holy shit they’re over here! No they’re over there! No wait over here again! Oh my god I’ve just gone blind!

Monster MagnetMilking the Stars — I wasn’t sure what to do with this since technically it’s not a new album, mostly reworked songs from the last one. I still listened to it a ton though, whatever it is.

SlomaticsEstron — Another one I’m just getting to know, but am very much digging.

Electric WizardTime to Die — People seem to do this thing where Electric Wizard puts out a record, everyone slathers over it for a few months and then spends the next two years talking about how it sucked. I guess I’ll be on the ground floor with not having been that into Time to Die.

PallbearerFoundations of Burden — Had to put their name somewhere on this list or someone would burn my house down. Album of the year for many.

The list goes on: Monolord, Comet Control, Mammatus, Triptykon, Eyehategod, Fever Dog, Moab, Karma to Burn, Atavismo, Grifter, 1000mods, Megaton Leviathan, Wovenhand, Mr. Peter Hayden, Primordial, and many more.

Before I check out and go sit in a corner somewhere to try and rebuild brain power after this massive dump of a purge, I want to sincerely thank you for reading. If you check in regularly, or if you’ve never been to the site before, if you don’t give a crap about lists or if you’re gonna go listen to even one band on here, it’s fantastic to me. Thank you so much for all the support this site receives, for your comments, for sharing links, retweeting, whatever it is. I am a real person — I’m sitting on my couch at this very moment — and being able to do this and have people see it and be a part of it with me is unbelievable. I realize how fortunate I am. So thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

More to come as we close out 2014. I’ll have a list of short/split/demo releases, a year-end podcast, a list of the best debuts, a round up of the best live shows I saw, as much more as time allows. Please stay tuned.

And again, thank you. If I left anyone off the list, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments and contribute your own top albums, however many there are, to the Readers Poll.

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Floor Announce Spring 2015 European Tour with Minsk

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

floor

After delivering 2014 an elephantine boot to the ass with their much-anticipated reunion full-length, Oblation (review here), Floor are set to continue their run in 2015. The Miami trio will launch a European tour at Roadburn on April 9 and be joined by Minsk for shows in Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Austria, Belgium, Italy and a stop in London for Desertfest. It’s a stint that ends on April 25, which is just enough time to give guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks a breather before Torche‘s own recently-announced European tour kicks off on May 2 in Leipzig, where Floor will have been less than a month earlier for the Doom over Leipzig festival.

A cruel schedule for Brooks, perhaps, but sure to be time well spent in Floor alongside guitarist Anthony Vialon and drummer Henry Wilson meeting the riffy demands of a hungry public. If you need a refresher, Oblation can be heard in full under the PR wire news below:

floorminsktouradmatfinal

FLOOR announce European tour

Cult underground rock outfit FLOOR (Steve Brooks (also of TORCHE)- Guitar, Vocals, Anthony Vialon – Guitar, Henry Wilson – drums) have announced a European tour. The European tour, their first, sees them travel throughout a half dozen countries and play several European festivals, including Roadburn, Desert Fest London, Doom over Leipzig, and Solomacello Fest. Support on this tour comes from MINSK, and a full list of confirmed tour dates can be found below.

FLOOR are touring in support of ‘Oblation’, their first new album in over ten years. ‘Oblation’, which is available for purchase here, and for digital download here.

FLOOR Tour Dates:
(All dates with MINSK)
4/9 Tilburg, Holland @ Roadburn (FLOOR ONLY)
4/10 Leipzig, Germany @ Doom Over Leipzig
4/11 Hamburg, Germany @ Hafenklang
4/12 Berlin, Germany @ Cassiopeia
4/13 Warsaw, Poland @ Hydrozagadka
4/14 Prague, Czech Rep @ 007
4/15 Innsbruck, Austria @ p.m.k.
4/16 München, Germany @ Feierwerk
4/17 Bologna, Italy @ Freakout
4/18 Milano, Italy @ Lo Fi Club, Solomacello Fest
4/20 Paris, France @ Espace B
4/21 Nantes, France @ La Scene Michelet
4/22 Lille, France @ La Peniche
4/23 Dortmund, Germany @ FZW
4/24 London, UK @ Desertfest
4/25 Antwerp, Belgium @ Kavka

http://officialfloor.bandcamp.com/album/oblation
https://www.facebook.com/floorofficial
http://season-of-mist.com/

Floor, Oblation (2014)

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