Posted in Reviews on May 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Almost nothing is certain, and when it comes to doubly-drummed Georgian progressive sludgers Kylesa, even less than that. Yet when it comes to approaching their sixth full-length and second for Season of Mist, the 11-track Ultraviolet — or really any new Kylesa album — the one thing the listener can be sure of going into it is that it will be a step beyond its predecessor. At this point, I don’t think the band would release a record that wasn’t. Ultraviolet‘s predecessor was 2010′s Spiral Shadow (review here), which changed their course from jagged, crunching sludge to a more smoothed out and progressive sound — a shift that they’d built toward on 2009′s Static Tensions (review here) in some ways but come nowhere near materializing as completely — and one that, as ever, divided their fanbase into those who could get on board and those who couldn’t. This seems to happen on a nearly per-album basis with the Savannah natives.
While we’re talking about expectation, I’d anticipate no less for Ultraviolet in the long run, but Kylesa have never had a problem picking up new fans along the way to fill the spots of those who couldn’t get past one period or another of their ongoing progression; they’ve maintained a reputation as a hard-touring band for years and rightly so. Rooted in the work of guitarists/vocalists Phillip Cope (also theremin and production) and Laura Pleasants, there are consistencies of sound to be heard between full-lengths, and sure enough between Spiral Shadow and Ultraviolet as well, but save for very few moments throughout the latest, the band would be all but unrecognizable to anyone who jumped from 2005′s To Walk a Middle Course or 2006′s Time Will Fuse its Worth right to it, and no doubt that’s the intent: Progress. Joined by drummers Carl McGinley and Eric Hernandez and bassist Chase Rudeseal (the latter of whom may or may not have actually played on the recording), Pleasants and Cope have never failed to draw a distinct line from one outing to the next, and though it’s an outgrowth of elements from Spiral Shadow like the pop hook of “Don’t Look Back” or the dreamy ambience underlying “To Forget,” that’s no less true of Ultraviolet than it has ever been.
Single-word titles on five of the 11 cuts on the 39-minute album — namely opening trio “Exhale,” “Unspoken,” “Grounded,” and closing duo “Quicksand” and “Drifting” — would seem to hint at some stripped-down sensibility or simplicity of approach, but the fact is Kylesa have never been so melodically switched on or engaged. Cope and Pleasants trade vocal parts immediately and effectively on the insistently-riffed “Exhale,” chugging distortion creating a jabbing tension topped by call and response shouts before a swirl takes hold that the drums(s) underscore with a thud less frantic than it has been in the past, but still indicative of two players at work. I suppose on a structural level, Ultraviolet‘s opening salvo is somewhat simplified, but the atmosphere becomes more complex as “Unspoken” opens with subdued guitar and a wash of effects, Cope coming in as the song kicks off with a semi-spoken line that Pleasants — whose ascent as a vocalist continues unabated — answers back with layered melodies. The most memorable stretches of Ultraviolet are still to come, but the momentum “Unspoken” helps create and its prog-toned guitar solo in the second half act as a precursor to some of the album’s most intriguing moments, giving way to the familiar winding structure of “Grounded”‘s central riff, readily accessible to anyone who’s followed the post-Mastodon course of Southern US heavy metal, Pleasants handling the verse and Cope taking what probably would be the ensuing chorus if it was ever repeated. Instead, they build on the instrumental for a bit and round out with layers of Pleasants‘ vocals, ending with just her voice to set up the shift to the more thickly toned and aggressive “We’re Taking This.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Atlanta sludgers Sons of Tonatiuh have announced a run of shows between now and July that’ll see them sharing stages with Torche, Hooded Eagle and more. Their last album, Parade of Sorrow, came out last year on Hydro-Phonic and was recorded by Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk. Their 2010 self-titled debut was reviewed here, and the only bummer about the list of shows is that they’re not coming north again. Maybe next time, but for anyone in the Southeast, dates are below courtesy of the PR wire:
SONS OF TONATIUH: Down-Tuned Sound Savages Announce Spring Tour Dates
Down-tuned sound savages SONS OF TONATIUH will bring their bottom heavy sludge back to the streets this Friday beginning with a show in Atlanta alongside Torche. The band will then writhe its way through the Southeast on a round of weekend shows through July with additional dates to be added in the coming weeks. The tour showcases the band’s new and improved powerhouse lineup of guitarist/vocalist Dan Caycedo and new recruits Twitch on bass and Josh Lomanto on drums.
Comments Caycedo, “The Mayans were wrong… SONS OF TONATIUH are here to show you the way. Through a heavy, dark road of despair and retribution we will pummel our way through the Southeast and beyond with plans to embark on the great big metal bird to the old world, Europe, by the end of 2013. Anyone crazy enough to stand in our way can either join our ranks or have their heads split open from the molten goodness of our tunage. See you on the killing floor.”
SONS OF TONATIUH Tour Dates 2013 5/10/2013 529 – Atlanta, GA w/ Torche 5/11/2013 The Atlantic – Gainesville, FL w/ Hot Graves 5/12/2013 Burro Bar – Jacksonville, FL 5/24/2013 Slim’s Downtown – Raleigh, NC w/ Old Codger (ex-Man Will Destroy Himself) 5/25/2013 Reggie’s 42nd St Tavern – Wilmington, NC 6/01/2013 Star Bar – Atlanta, GA w/ Degradations (ex-Withered) 6/07/2013 The Jinx – Savannah, GA w/ Humungous 6/08/2013 Tin Roof – Charleston, SC w/ Hooded Eagle 7/20/2013 529 – Atlanta, GA 7/21/2013 The Owl Farm – Nashville, TN 7/22/2013 Poison Lawn – Knoxville, TN
SONS OF TONATIUH will be touring in support of their current full-length Parade Of Sorrow issued via Hydro-Phonic Records last Summer.
Posted in On the Radar on April 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
They call it an EP, but the self-titled debut release from Rossville, Georgia, duo Alabama Church Fire tops 39 minutes, so it’s pretty much an album from where I sit. Let’s compromise on “demo.” That categorization may be up for debate, but what comes through much clearer is an rich affection for the tenets of Southern sludge. The seven-track affair makes an immediate show of its overarching tonal weight with “Smokevision,” a plodding riffer that sets guitarist/bassist/vocalist Chris Lamb and drummer/vocalist Jerry Wooldridge to work showing Stars ‘n’ Bars — turns out it’s both: history and racism! — and pot leaves in kind in an underproduced wash of stoner distortion.
What sets Alabama Church Fire‘s Alabama Church Fireapart, then? The creepy atmosphere that pervades. Recorded differently, I don’t know that there’d be much throughout the demo to distinguish the twosome from a lot of the post-Down II Southern riffers — certainly a cut like “Definifiniliate” draws on that influence — but as it stands, the muddiness in Lamb and Wooldridge‘s presentation gives the whole release a sense of malevolence even apart from its heaviness, so that the standalone guitar on “Trainsong” that Woodridge meets with far-back plod issues an indirect threat before it fades out about two-thirds of the way through the track, giving way to mournful and metallic guitar and bass contemplations upon return.
Covers of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Creedence Clearwater Revival close out, the former becoming a minimalist acoustic ballad and the latter slowing down and beefing up an already dark arrangement and stretching past nine and a half minutes as the longest track Alabama Church Fire have on offer. The multiple vocal layers — not sure if it’s Lamb and Wooldridge or just one of them recorded twice — bode well for future experiments the outfit might try, as does the meld of acoustic and hairy, distorted guitars, and if they can keep the buried-alive ambience they elicit here while continuing to develop these ideas, it’s easy to see them growing into something vicious down the line.
For now, the demo has its ups and downs, but gives some notion of where Alabama Church Fire might be headed. Check out the clip below for “Smokevision” to get a feel:
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bringing with them the diverse bill of mystic doomers Blood Ceremony, cult psych heroes White Hills, and Atlanta-based instrumental spazzoids Lazer/Wulf, Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa are starting what will most likely be a lengthy tour cycle in support of their new album, Ultraviolet. Expected May 28 on Season of Mist, Ultraviolet is Kylesa‘s first record of new material since 2010′s Spiral Shadow, which saw them greatly expand their melodic reach and progressive sensibilities.
As much as I’ve been looking forward to hearing the LP, Kylesa have always been an excellent live act, so it’ll be great to catch the Ultraviolet songs in-person as well. The PR wire has info and the rather considerable list of dates:
KYLESA ANNOUNCE SPRING TOUR
ULTRAVIOLET PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW
Kylesa kick off their first North American tour in support of Ultraviolet (May 28, Season of Mist) on May 10 in Gainesville, Fla. at the High Dive.
“It’s been a while since we’ve done a headlining tour in the US or Canada,” explained singer/guitar player Laura Pleasants, referring to the near two-year gap since the Savannah band’s last run. “We are looking forward to doing a proper tour supporting Ultraviolet. It will be good to see friends and fans (old and new) and hit these once familiar landscapes again. “
Spin premiered “Quicksand,” a new song from the 11-track album, earlier this week (http://www.spin.com/articles/kylesa-quicksand-ultraviolet-stream) describing the song “joins the melodies of ‘90s shoegaze with the churn of modern sludge.” Ultraviolet pre-orders are available now via Season of Mist’s e-shop (http://e-shop.season-of-mist.com/en/predefined-search/37879).
Tour dates: April 19 Savannah, GA The Dollhouse (Free show) May 10 Gainesville, FL High Dive May 11 Orlando, FL Backbooth May 12 Miami, FL Churchhill’s May 13 Tampa, FL The Orpheum May 15 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jack’s May 16 Houston, TX Walters May 17 Dallas, TX Trees May 18 Austin, TX Mohawk May 20 Albuquerque, NM Blackwater May 21 Denver, CO Marquis Theater May 22 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge May 24 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst May 25 San Francisco, CA Slim’s May 27 Portland, OR Star Theater May 28 Seattle, WA Chop Suey May 29 Vancouver, BC Electric Owl May 31 Calgary, AB Dickens June 1 Regina, SK The Exchange June 2 Winnipeg, MB The Pyramid June 3 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock Social Club June 4 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s Oasis June 5 Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge June 6 Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme June 7 St. Louis, MO The Firebird June 8 Columbus, OH Ace of Cups June 9 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlies June 11 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace June 12 Ottawa, ON Maverick’s June 13 Montreal, QC Il Motore June 14 Brooklyn NY Northside Fest (Music Hall of Williamsburg) June 15 Albany, NY Bogie’s June 16 Boston, MA Middle East Downstairs June 18 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts June 19 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel June 20 Asheville, NC Asheville Music Hall June 21 Atlanta, GA The Earl June 22 Savannah, GA The Jinx
Opening for Kylesa will be Blood Ceremony, White Hills and Lazer/Wulf. “I think the package will deliver the goods as well; a little mix in the stew for everyone who digs our sound,” commented Pleasants. Tickets are available next week.
Considering that Atlanta trio Zoroaster‘s third album, 2010′s Matador (review here), followed about 16 months after their second, 2009′s Voice of Saturn (review here), a three-year break before a follow-up to their E1 Music debut seems like kind of a long stretch. Granted, in that time, the band had to replace a third of its lineup in switching out Brent Anderson — whose subsequent band, Order of the Owl, released their In the Noon of the After Day last year (streaming here) — for Mike Morris, and they did plenty of touring for Matador with Morris on board (reviews here and here), but even so, they’re about due for a new one.
It’s encouraging, then, to see Zoroaster in the studio putting together demos for a fourth album, and hopefully it won’t be too long before one materializes. The audio here boasts some of the most complex melodies I’ve ever heard from the band, so for still being in the beginning stages, they seem like they’re off to a good start.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This one should be interesting. It’s been three years since Savannah, Georgia, metallers Kylesa released Spiral Shadow (review here), their first album for Season of Mist and easily their most progressive outing to date, pushing their intricate, dually-drummed arrangements further than ever while also showing periodic affinity for a strong pop chorus. What will Ultraviolet bring three years later? As I haven’t yet had a second to check out the new track “Unspoken” via the link below, I haven’t the foggiest, but with this as the first word that the album is coming May 28, I’m excited to find out.
One thing about Kylesa records though is that no two are ever the same. Not knowing what to expect only makes it more fun.
The PR wire takes it from here:
Kylesa is set to release Ultraviolet, one of the most anticipated hard rock releases of the year and the follow-up to their critically-acclaimed album Spiral Shadow, on May 28 via Season of Mist (May 24 in Europe).
“Whereas Spiral Shadow was a warm album suggesting concepts of hope, Ultraviolet is a bit colder and darker,” explains songwriter/guitar player Laura Pleasants. “All of our studio albums have their own unique identity and we’ve always been a band who strives for something different than what current fads suggest. With Ultraviolet, we took a step inward and wrote music that we felt we had to write; this album centers around the multiple themes of loss and you can feel it in the music. Everyone goes through it during their lifetime and this record reflects that experience.”
The Savannah-based quintet recorded Ultraviolet at The Jam Room in Columbia, SC with the band’s guitar player/songwriter, and sought-after producer, Phillip Cope (Baroness, Black Tusk) once again overseeing production.
Kylesa released a rarities collection in November titled “From The Vaults, Vol. 1,” which featured unreleased, new and alternate versions of songs spanning the band’s catalogue as well as one new song titled “End Truth.” Cope and Pleasants spent over a year going through their archives preparing the release.
Kylesa will return to the road in May with more details forthcoming.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Atlanta-based sludgers Sons of Tonatiuh released their second album, Parade of Sorrow, in June on Hydro-Phonic Records, and to follow up an East Coast run they did over the summer, they’re headed west to take part in the Southwest Terror Fest in Tuscon, Arizona, next week (more info here) and share the stage with a slew of other cool bands before and after. The tour starts tonight with a house show in Tennessee, as all great tours must.
Check out the dates and further info-matics below:
SONS OF TONATIUH Fall Tour Kicks Off TODAY!
Following a short run of live dates at the close of the Summer, SONS OF TONATIUH will again bring their slow-roasted sludge sorcery to the stage as the Parade Of Sorrow Tour 2012 lives on! Set to commence October 11, 2012 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the band will drag their audio ruckus through 15 cities including a stop on the Southwest Terror Fest, a two-day auditory assault organized by Arizona sludge terrorists Godhunter.
SONS OF TONATIUH unearthed their Parade Of Sorrow full-length through Hydro-Phonic Records this Summer. Recorded in Athens, Georgia by Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk, the record continues to harvest praise from fans and critics alike for its raw, angst-stricken method of dirge.
SONS OF TONATIUH Tour 2012: 10/11/2012 Frankie Avalon Place (house show) – Murfreesboro, TN w/ Sovereign 10/12/2012 Cusammanos – St. Louis, MO w/ Jack Buck, Everything Went Black, Rowsdower 10/13/2012 The Lightbulb Club – Fayetteville, AR w/ Dirtmother, Dying, Crankbait 10/14/2012 Jackpot Muisc Hall – Lawrence, KS 10/15/2012 Aqualungs – Denver, CO w/ In the Company of Serpents, Western Ritual 10/16/2012 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT w/ Nevertanezra, Athena Score 10/17/2012 Yayo Taco – Las Vegas, NV 10/18/2012 The Shakedown – San Diego, CA w/ Pigeonwing, Hull 10/19/2012 Blue Cafe Underground – Long Beach, CA w/ Spilth*!%, Hull, Pigeonwing 10/20/2012 Southwest Terror Fest @ The Rock Club – Tucson, AZ w/ Pigeonwing, 16, Hull [INFO] 10/21/2012 The Lovesprout – El Paso, TX w/ Communion of Thieves, Resin Cum 10/22/2012 Headhunter’s – Austin, TX w/ VBT, Bearded Ox, Prison Moon 10/23/2012 Toppers – Watauga, TX w/ Enormicon, Diseased 10/24/2012 Bucaneer – Memphis, TN 10/28/2012 5 Spot – Atlanta, GA w/ Hull, Mortals, Order of the Owl
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t know about you, but for me, the news that Savannah, Georgia, progressive sludgers Kylesa will release a new collection called From the Vaults Vol. 1 begs more questions than it answers. I mean, I didn’t know Kylesa had vaults. How many vaults do they have? Are they man-sized like Dick Cheney‘s was? What do they keep in them? Are they room temperature or refrigerated?
While we wait for the answers to those questions and one or two others, here’s this from the PR wire:
Kylesa Rarities Collection, From The Vaults, Vol. 1, Set For Nov. 20 Release Via Season Of Mist
Twelve-Song Release Features One New Song, Previously Unreleased And Alternate Versions Of Songs From Band’s Catalogue
Kylesa is set to release From The Vaults, Vol. 1, a twelve-song collection featuring unreleased, new and alternate versions of songs spanning their catalogue including one entirely new song (“End Truth“) as well as the band’s legendary cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” on Nov. 20 (Nov. 16 in Europe).
“This project has been a labor of love,” explained guitarist/singer/producer Phillip Cope. “We have spent over a year going through old songs, covers, etc. and collected those we felt went well together; remixing and finishing them up. We didn’t want to release something just thrown together so we put a lot of thought and time into it. I am really happy about how this came together. I think it is a good representation of Kylesa’s different styles from early on to present day.”
The Savannah-based band recently wrapped up a European tour, which included stops at the Wacken Open Air and Area 4 Festivals, and will enter the studio to begin work on a new album for 2013. Kylesa’s most recent release, 2010′s Spiral Shadow, was revered by fans and critics alike as a “record that trashes everything you might expect from the genre” (Pitchfork) and is “as sweaty as a south Georgia summer” (Spin). Singer/guitarist Laura Pleasants was recently featured on the cover of Decibel Magazine‘s inaugural Women in Metal issue.
From The Vaults, Vol. 1 track listing: 1. Intro ** 2. Inverse ** 3. 111 Degree Heat Index *** 4. Between Silence and Sound II *** 5. Paranoid Tempo ** 6. End Truth * 7. Bottom Line II *** 8. Wavering ** 9. Bass Salts ** 10. Drained ** 11. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun ** 12. Drum Jam **
* New ** Previously unreleased/limited availability *** Alternate Version
Posted in Reviews on August 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Atlanta-based outfit Telestrion specialize in a seemingly bygone nuance within psychedelic rock. On their latest, vinyl-only EP, Molecule(self-released through Electric Mind Records), the core duo of guitarist/vocalists Andy Samford and Brian Holcomb – both of whom also handle synth and a variety of other effects and swirls – are joined by the since-ejected rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Jonathan Lee and drummer Dwayne Jones for just under 33 minutes of classic-style stoner psychedelia. The release gets progressively more tripped out, but at the heart of Telestrion’s presence is a sense of simply structured songwriting that remains accessible no matter what is subsequently layered over it. On a basic level, the songs are immediately familiar, but by sticking to a more ‘90s style of neo-psych (I do a double-take every time I see an act reference Kula Shaker as an influence), the band is actually going against the modern trend within the genre, which is typified by elements of Americana and noisy indulgences more than dreamy Beatles melodies and lines like, “Neon spaceships flying across my mind,” from the opening title-track of Molecule, the album art of which features the chemical construction of mescaline. Situation depending, I’m not sure I’d state a preference one way or another, but Telestrion more certainly align themselves to the kind of psych proffered by VALIS than fellow Atlantans Zoroaster, at times even reminding of those times when The Atomic Bitchwax slows down their riffy assault to ride out a killer groove. Their roots, however, lead them down a different path toward the pastoral, and Moleculemakes its way gradually toward the sonically ethereal, the second half of the release being dedicated to farther and farther ranging jams.
Beginning that progression, then, “Molecule” makes an appropriate owner for the EP that shares its name. It’s probably the most straightforward of Telestrion’s originals here, and unquestionably the best chorus. Centered around a memorable, driving riff, it remains psychedelic and laid back despite being carried across with considerable energy, in no small part thanks to a compressed-sounding production and subdued melodic vocals. Neither Samford nor Holcomb is showy on guitar, but both come together to serve the song well, and as it’s been five years since they released their self-titled debut full-length – the band came together in 2007 in the wake of disbanding the guitarists’ prior unit, Qualone – that’s probably a good way to go. “Molecule” ends with an engaging lead nonetheless, and that sets up the extra percussion of the three-minute instrumental “Tunnel in the Sky” well. One might consider the song a jump in a less grounded direction, but even as the guitars veer into effects noise and swirling leads, Lee and Jones (the latter also a veteran of Qualone) hold down a solid rhythmic foundation. The song also finds companion brevity-wise in the 2:11 “Slightly Sideways,” which opens side B of the vinyl, so there’s some structure to be found on an album level there as well. Before flipping the platter, however, Telestrion break out a cover of Black Sabbath’s A National Acrobat. They slow it slightly, but the Tony Iommi riff is unmistakable, and given its due by Holcomb and Samford, who play the starts and stops well off each other and effectively capture the Ozzy “You’ve gotta believe me/I want you to listen!” yell, echoing out into the musical space their atmosphere has created. It’s not a bold cover, but it’s a sincere cover, and that honesty goes a longer way than it might had Telestrion tried to out-obscure their audience in their selection. As the pace picks up for the lead section in the last minute and a half, the extent of the band’s sincerity becomes clear, and it feeds into the overarching charm of Molecule. 6:52 well spent.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last week, it was announced that Atlanta, Georgia’s heavy rocking upstarts Royal Thunder — who are so hard to pin to a single genre that one has to resort to vague phrases like “heavy rock upstarts” to describe them — were hitting the road in September alongside Pallbearer and Samothrace for a tour dubbed “Paths to Oblivion.” No other way to say it, these are three killer bands, riding at the top of their game — all of whom have released killer albums this year (Samothrace‘s is out shortly) — and this is the kind of tour that years from now you look back on and say, “I saw these bands when…”
Check out the dates on the poster below (click to enlarge):
To mark the occasion, Relapse Records — which put out Royal Thunder‘s second album, CVI, late in May — has offered up two free copies of that full-length for me to giveaway.
Couldn’t be more stoked on that fact, as CVI‘s always-consistent but resoundingly amorphous sonic scope ties the band no more to Baroness than it does to Neurosis, no more to Mastodon than Fleetwood Mac, no more to Kylesa than Alice in Chains. Between sprawling nine-minute epics like “Shake and Shift” and “Blue,” aggressive bursts like that of the riffy “Whispering World,” the Americana atmospherics of the later “Minus” and the nigh-on-miraculous flow of all these elements which in less capable hands would be disparate and not in the slightest cohesive, it’s a perfect example of the genre-bending mindset that seems to be driving the next generation of US Heavy. Makes a good freebie, in other words.
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post. Make sure to fill out the email address in the form so I can get in touch with you if you win. I’ll pick winners next week and the albums will come from Relapse. If you want to say thanks, I’d recommend hitting up their Thee Facebooks.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 5th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some updates are about tours, some updates are about videos, but it takes some real overachievers to give an update that’s about both a video and a tour. Leave it to Atlanta sludge upstarts Sons of Tonatiuh to go the extra mile. Sometimes one just isn’t enough.
Here’s the video for “Consumed,” followed by some into that’s maybe cooled off, but still fresh from the PR wire:
Atlanta-based sludge collective, Sons of Tonatiuh, recently unleashed a video for “Consumed,” the third track off their self-titled debut full-length. The video was produced by Apocalypse Productions on their home turf.
Commented drummer Tim Genius: “Do yourself a favor: When making a video, don’t choose the longest possible song you might have…. unless you plan to test your audience’s attention span. That said, we are pleased to announce that our new video for ‘Consumed’ turned out rather awesome. It’s minimalistic and we like it that way. At the very least, it’s now more clear that a Sons of Tonatiuh show does not involve little children and traditional Mexican folk-dance — not always, anyway. Mission accomplished!”
In related news, the band is set to embark on a stretch of spring and summer shows. Confirmed dates thus far include:
05/13 Drunken UnicornAtlanta, GA w/ Primate, Javelina
05/27 Memphis Hates You Fest @ Hi ToneMemphis, TN
05/28 TBA Jackson, MS
06/02 529Atlanta, GA w/ BlackSkies, Royal Thunder
06/24 Little HamiltonNashville, TN w/ Across Tundras
06/25 GutfestJackson, TN
The band is also working on new tunes for their as-yet-untitled, sure to be pulverizing next full-length which is tentatively slated to be recorded in Athens, Georgia courtesy of Harvey Milk’s resident drum bludgeoner/knob tweaker, Kyle Spence.
Said Genius: “It’s sure to be our best yet! Rest assured that while Kyle is conjuring the ghost of JohnBonham, we will be bringing our best Keith Moon to the fine folks of Athens.”
Posted in Reviews on May 4th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Subtle only when it comes to revealing their lineup info (their Facebook page refers to them as “some dudes”), Atlanta, Georgia, five-piece Wizard Smoke emit caustic riff-driven sludge underscored with elements of guitar psych and more extreme metal. They made their debut with 2009’s giveaway EP, Live Rock in Hell (review here), and they now follow that with their first full-length cassette/vinyl/download, The Speed of Smoke. In case you’re wondering, smoke moves pretty slow for the most part, and so do Wizard Smoke, who explore familiarly riffy and familiarly Southern ground on these six mostly-extended tracks (the shortest is “Butcher” at 5:29). Fans of Weedeater will recognize a lot of the band’s tonality – Orange and Hiwatt amps put to good use – but the vocals, rather than a sludgy scream, are far back and echoed in a kind of black metal cackle that sets Wizard Smoke apart from the scores of other newcomers to the genre. The parts of The Speed of Smoke that are more directly culled from the band’s influences are still interesting and well done enough to make them worth paying attention to, and with formidable rumble underscoring the dirty guitars and throat-wrenching vocals, there’s plenty about Wizard Smoke that’s their own as well.
It’s a vinyl and cassette release, so naturally The Speed of Smoke is broken into halves with three tracks on each side. “Dead Wood” opens the record and sets the tone of heavy groove and extreme vocals that much of the rest follows. The guitars have a grit to them that’s less fuzzy than some of what’s to come, most particularly on “Butcher,” the next cut, but a few Geezer Butler-style fills add charm and thickness that would otherwise be very much absent from the recording. It’s a rudimentary production, but for a self-release, I’m not going to hold that against Wizard Smoke. Mostly it’s an issue with the snare drum, which cuts through the mix too high while the cymbals don’t sound so much open and vibrant as they do buried behind the guitars. A mixing thing. It comes out more with headphones, but even through speakers, the same applies. It wouldn’t be a problem at all but that it distracts from the riff, which especially in “Butcher” is clearly what we listening are supposed to be following. After “Dead Wood” and “Butcher,” one might thing Wizard Smoke don’t have much in store change-wise, or that The Speed of Smoke is bound for redundancy, but the eight-minute Side A closer “Weakling” puts clean vocals through a vocoder for several verses and it not only shifts the sound, but changes the momentum of the whole album. Screams are included, of course, but even just by moving away as they do from that approach for a while, Wizard Smoke show they’re not going for a Bongzilla-type single-mindedness, and it goes a long way.
Plus, it’s way stoner, which – if the name Wizard Smoke or the album title The Speed of Smoke didn’t already tell you – the band are too. So it works on that level as well. Which is nice.
Posted in Features on April 7th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
According to that great purveyor of all interwebular knowledge whose name I don’t even need to mention because you all know it, it’s at least 12 hours in a car to get from Gainesville, Georgia, to Chicago, Illinois. Taking into account that that’s the trip drummer Mike Duffy had to make every time he wanted to show up to band practice, it’s kind of understandable why it’s taken American Heritage six years to issue Sedentary, the follow up to their 2005 Translation Loss debut, Millenarian.
Not only that, but the then-three members of the band — Duffy and guitarists Scott Shellhammer and Adam Norden — also had to deal with the issue of a bassist. As in, they didn’t have one. Most bands would either hit up Craigslist or go without, but perhaps in an effort to contradict the album’s title, American Heritage decided to call upon a host of players, from Bill Kelliher of Mastodon to Sanford Parker, who also recorded the bulk of the record.
So on top of their drummer’s hellacious commute, they wound up with the task of chasing down a bass player for each track on Sedentary, while also recruiting Erik Bocek to fill the role full-time. Oh, and Norden — who also handles vocals — completely reinvented the way he sings, moving from gruff hardcore growls to a semi-melodic cleaner approach, still rooted in shouting, but infinitely more decipherable than on the last album.
Come to think of it, maybe six years between releases isn’t that bad. I’d go on about the record, but you can read the review here if you’re so inclined. Better to get right to the Q&A with Norden, since there was a lot to talk about, including the lyrical thematics at play on the songs and the roots of the band’s choice of Sedentary as the album’s title, the sonic changes American Heritage has undergone in the last six years, the process of rounding up all those bassists and much more.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Atlanta‘s extra-capital-letter-fied MonstrO (who were On the Radar’ed just over a year ago, if you’ll recall) have signed with Vagrant Records, the label responsible for such stoner rock gems as Senses Fail and Thrice. Yeah, I know Vagrant‘s grown up a bit in the last couple years (putting out the likes of Murder by Death and… Rammstein?), but it’s still kind of a surprise to see MonstrO — featuring Juan Montoya, ex-Floor/Torche, and former members of bloodsimple — get picked up by them.
Whatever. More importantly, MonstrO‘s new album is due out late in the summer and will be produced by William DuVall from Alice in Chains. Should be interesting. I guess you never know what the PR wire will bring on a given Wednesday afternoon:
MonstrO, the highly pedigreed atmospheric hard rock four-piece from Atlanta, Georgia, have signed with Vagrant Records to release their debut album. Formed in early 2009, MonstrO is bassist Kyle Sanders (bloodsimple), drummer Bevan Davies (bloodsimple, Danzig), guitarist Juan Montoya (Torche) and vocalist/guitarist Charlie Suarez.
MonstrO entered a studio in Atlanta earlier this week with producer (and Alice in Chains vocalist) William DuVall.
“We’ve been collectively writing and recording for two years now and thanks to Vagrant we’re finally recording our first proper full-length,” said Sanders. “We’ll be locked up for the next month recording and mixing with our good friend William DuVall at the helm. These songs have taken on a life of their own and we’re all extremely thrilled to lay them all down and begin the journey.”
Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t remember the last time I looked forward to a tour the way I looked forward to the Irving Plaza, NYC, stop of Metalliance. Usually, I’ll get down with a couple bands on a bill, maybe even three or four on a great night, but this lineup was insane. Helmet playing Meantime, Crowbar, Saint Vitus, Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl and The Atlas Moth. Even the bands I was ambivalent about seeing I wanted to see. It’s been a while since that was the case for a single show.
The difference, I suppose, is that Metalliance is essentially a traveling festival. That means shorter sets — 20 minutes each for The Atlas Moth, Howl and Red Fang, then gradually more for Kylesa, Vitus, Crowbar and Helmet — but still, the thought of seeing this many bands on one bill made the show an absolute must. It’s been on my calendar for months. Whatever else happens, Metalliance.
There was a meet and greet before doors and I was invited for that, so I went and chatted awkwardly for a couple minutes with the bands, mostly the dudes in Red Fang about bassist/vocalist Bryan Giles‘ recent interview, but also got my picture taken with Wino, which was cool despite the lengths at which I’ll protest about hating that kind of thing (both having my picture taken and my picture taken with dudes in bands). The conversation steadily fizzled and everyone, myself included, went about their business. I grabbed the first of the evening’s several $8 Guinnesses, made my way upstairs to stake out a spot. It’s Irving Plaza instinct. I’ve seen more shows from that balcony than I can remember to count.
It was early, though. The Atlas Moth didn’t go on for maybe another 20 minutes, and the place was still basically empty, so the beer went fast. When they took the stage, I went downstairs to take the first of the evening’s many, many photos, and check out their set. I had been served a digital promo of their Candlelight Records debut, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, when it came out, but it must have slipped through the cracks. They were post-metal, and apparently down one of their three guitarists, but not terrible. They said from the stage that they’ll have a new album out in the fall. Maybe I won’t have my head up my ass about it this time. No promises, but it could happen.
If I’m not much familiar with The Atlas Moth, I’m a little more directly “take it or leave it” on Howl. The Rhode Islanders don’t really do it for me musically, but even they put on a good show, and I heard from several showgoers over the course of the night how much they enjoyed their set. They were heavier than I recalled them being, but just tipped to the far side of the doom/metal equation, and watching them made me feel old. Think I’d be used to that by now.
Part of my “meh” factor for Howl‘s set might also have stemmed from anticipation for Red Fang. Having never seen them before and so thoroughly dorked out over their forthcoming Murder the MountainsRelapse debut (second full-length overall), I was more or less dying to see their set. They opened with a couple tracks from their self-titled, and hit the new single “Wires” before closing with “Prehistoric Dog.” I felt justified in my excitement by their performance, as they more or less ripped through the material — not in the sense of rushing it — just making it all sound meatier and meaner. They were the first of the night’s several killer acts.
As I mentioned, with Kylesa, the set-times began to lengthen, but even a half-hour of stuff from them seemed short. Bathed half in darkness by the projected art of their Spiral Shadow album, the dually-drummed five-piece were also much heavier than the production on their record might lead you to believe. “Running Red,” from 2009′s Static Tensions, was a particularly welcome inclusion, and though the vocals were high in the mix, everything still came through well enough.
With the double-guitar/double-vocals of Laura Pleasants and Philip Cope, it’s probably really easy for some of Kylesa‘s complexity to become a wash in a live setting (I’ve seen them before but not yet on this touring cycle owing to January’s ridiculous snowfall) depending on who’s working the sound. I think they got a decent treatment at Irving Plaza and was glad to get the chance to have “Don’t Look Back” from Spiral Shadow injected straight into my head from the amps as opposed to the CD. I also got a new appreciation for bassist Corey Barhorst, who I think is a much bigger part of what makes Kylesa so damn heavy than anyone gives him credit for, myself included. I know they tour like bastards, but I was glad to see them this time around, especially after enjoying the album so much.
What can I possibly say about Saint Vitus? I felt like life was doing me a personal favor by their reuniting at Roadburn 2009, and I’ve seen them twice now since then, and I feel the same way. “Dying Inside,” “Born too Late,” “Clear Windowpane” — they were all fucking fantastic. The only challenge I had was trying to decide which I was most into (I finally settled on “Dying Inside”), but the whole set was earth-shakingly heavy. I don’t know how Crowbar felt about having to follow them, let alone Helmet, but I know I certainly wouldn’t want to. They also played the new song “Blessed Night” from the impending whatever-they’ll-put-out, and it was even better in-person than on the YouberTubes clips of it I’ve seen.
I’ve done plenty of worshiping at the altar of Saint Vitus before, but it’s worth noting that even just in terms of the chemistry between the members of the band, they’ve got it down. Even since I saw this lineup — Scott “Wino” Weinrich, vocals; Dave Chandler, guitar; Mark Adams, bass; Henry Vasquez, drums — in Brooklyn late in 2009, their time on the road has made them tighter as a group, and the songs sounded all the more killer for it. Vasquez, who came aboard as a replacement for founding drummer Armando Acosta owing to the latter’s failing health (Acosta died last Thanksgiving), does an excellent job driving the material, and watching Adams, Chandler and Weinrich on stage is like calculating a geometrical proof to discover why the word “legendary” so often appears directly before the band’s name.
If they’d been the only band of the night, I still would have made the trip into the city for the show, but to then have Crowbar follow them was when things really got surreal at Metalliance. It’s like one of those “But wait — there’s more!” infomercials, except that instead of useless, easily-broken shit you get high-grade metal. Crowbar were in sludgy fashion, and the guitar sound, which I bemoaned after their set at the Championship Bar and Grill in Trenton this past December, was much improved coming through the Irving Plaza P.A. They ran through a smattering of the highlight cuts from their career, offering a post-”Planets Collide” mini-encore in the form of latest single “The Cemetery Angels,” from their first album in six years, Sever the Wicked Hand.
It was interesting to compare the Saint Vitus and Crowbar sets in that the two long-running (admittedly Vitus longer running than Crowbar) acts have very different stage presences. Crowbar guitarist Kirk Windstein is clearly the star of the show. It’s his band all the way through, he’s the last of the founding members, the only songwriter and not to disparage the contributions of his band, because they sounded good, but you could probably have any number of musicians up there filling those roles. In terms of presence, Chandler is one of two very strong focal points in Saint Vitus, the other being Wino. Bassist Mark Adams, while a founding member of the band, is overshadowed personality-wise by the guitarist, and from the look of it this past Friday, that suits him just fine, but still, Saint Vitus — even apart from the aura their decades of influence carries with it — are more of a total band experience, where with Crowbar, it’s Windstein‘s gig and everyone knows it.
What that rounds out to, at least as regards Metalliance, is two unmistakable, diverging roads leading to a killer set. The place cleared out a lot after Crowbar with Helmet still to go, but those who stayed were ultimately rewarded for their effort. The truly unfortunate thing about Helmet is how their dissonance got bastardized in the later part of the ’90s by the nü-metal movement. That’s not to say their own burgeoning commerciality didn’t have a role to play, but the sound they became known for fostering wasn’t necessarily the way they actually played. As Meantime nears its 20th anniversary (originally released June 23, 1992) and Helmet has become a more melodically-centered band — the staccato riffing of guitarist/vocalist Page Hamilton taking a back seat — the songs themselves remains eerily relevant.
Hamilton is without a doubt the central figure, though, even more so than Windstein is to Crowbar. Though he’s had roughly the same band with him since 2006, Helmet is his band. All the same, their rendition of the Meantime album was welcomed by those who stuck around to see it, and an appropriate salvo to the evening’s unbelievable gait. When I left, it wasn’t yet 11PM, but I was already dead tired. Six hours of show will do that to you.
Feels redundant to even say it, but if Metalliance hasn’t hit where you are yet, you need to cancel whatever it is on your plate and go. As I noted previously, I took over 2,100 photos at the show, and most of them were crap. About 280 weren’t, and if you want a small sampling of that batch, click the “Read More” link below. Special thanks to Steve Seabury for making the night happen.