Rodeo Drive, Morbid Beauty: Setting the Balance

Posted in Reviews on July 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Stoner rock.

According to the liner panel of the digipak, Morbid Beauty, the debut full-length from Berlin-based DIY heavy rockers Rodeo Drive, was recorded in “October 2014.” Certainly anything’s possible, and if the album does indeed hail from the near-future, it’s got a modern take on fuzz and flourishes of heavy psychedelia to match what one might expect. Featuring Samsara Blues Experiment‘s Hans Eiselt on bass and vocals and recorded by Richard Behrens, formerly of the same outfit and currently handling low end in Heat, Rodeo Drive hit on classic power trio methods and present them with a newcomer act’s intensity of purpose. Joined in the band by guitarist Friedrich Stemmer and René Schulze on drums/synth, Eiselt takes some cues in patterning vocals from his main outfit — one might recognize throaty, echoing shouts from Samsara Blues Experiment‘s earlier days — but on the whole is more stylistically geared toward straightforward, traditional stonerisms. Stemmer leads the charge throughout most of Morbid Beauty‘s eight tracks/41 minutes, but moments of adventurousness shine through and Rodeo Drive show a bit of boldness in their choices throughout, like opening with “Stoner of Mass Destruction,” a six-minute instrumental that, until closer “Snuff Eater,” also proves to be their jammiest stretch. Even there, however, what Rodeo Drive most specialize in their first time out is establishing a riff, working around it, and then returning to it in bigger, sometimes slower form. “Stoner of Mass Destruction” does this effectively, as do “All in Vain,” “Poultry Bro,” “Vlansch” and “Snuff Eater,” though the moods of these tracks vary around a consistent, jazzy chemistry between Eiselt and Schulze and the varyingly psychedelic and dense tonality in Stemmer‘s guitar.

Particularly with Eiselt‘s vocal delivery, the recording captures a live feel, and that proves all the better for the deft rhythmic changes that begin to show up on “Stoner of Mass Destruction” and continue into the shorter “All in Vein” (tied with “Poultry Bro” for the briefest here at 2:38) and well beyond. The second cut has less space for jamming out, but serves to demonstrate early the diversity in Rodeo Drive‘s approach, which continues to shift as Morbid Beauty progresses, whether it’s to the extended drum solo intro to “The Void,” which unfolds with a Songs for the Deaf-style thrust, or “Poultry Bro,” with its circular vibe and intricate boogie feel, Schulze running back and forth on toms to build a tension that opens to a wide-strummed chorus. If one was to divide Morbid Beauty into sides, “Vlansch” would likely end the first (the back cover of the CD supports this), and it does so playing slow psychedelic blues off bigger-riffed nod, keeping the tempo down, especially in relation to “Poultry Bro,” out of which it emerges, and the mood wistful even as Stemmer‘s winding lead opens to jammier wah-shuffle. It’s not long before they’re back to the turned-on downer vibe, Eiselt‘s voice raw without sounding like a put-on, and the lumbering riff from whence they came, building it to a finish that fades its rumble out before the grunge guitar opening of “Earth Dark Diseases” begins the album’s second half, which isn’t necessarily more stylistically adventurous than the first, but differently arranged, with three tracks instead of five, “Earth Dark Diseases” (7:35) and “Snuff Eater” (7:55) being the longest songs with the instrumental “Aggrestic” (4:37) between.

I took this screen cap when I posted the video and they wound up using it as a press shot. Fair enough.  A little dark, maybe, but otherwise alright.

As noted, “Snuff Eater” is where Rodeo Drive are at their jammiest, and though it reaches similar lengths, “Earth Dark Diseases” has a different personality. Eiselt‘s vocals are almost a growl over Stemmer‘s plus-sized riff, and while it opens up in the middle, there’s a moody sensibility maintained even during the instrumental build, coming to a head just before the five-minute mark when the guitar and drums drop out and the bass leads back into the progression that will serve as the foundation for the next two minutes’ groove. The bass also starts “Aggrestic,” though Eiselt‘s soon joined by Stemmer and Schulze, and what seems like another jangly sort of rush is offset temporarily by noodling and subsequent forward motion. It ultimately adds little the album hasn’t already put in Rodeo Drive‘s wheelhouse, but as a precedent and a break between the two longer cuts, an entirely instrumental track isn’t a bad thing to have. And though it reaches nearly eight minutes long, “Snuff Eater” doesn’t lose track of where it’s headed, and the immersive jam pulls back to the verse/chorus structure before the song is over, as if to remind listeners that Rodeo Drive haven’t forgotten. As the first public offering of their songwriting, that’s good to know, and like the bulk of Morbid Beauty, “Snuff Eater” sets the trio on a path from which to progress from here on out. They’ve reportedly been a band for eight years, so I don’t know what kind of pace they’re working with in terms of releases, but Morbid Beauty establishes a chemistry worth a follow-up and provides a strong front-to-back level of quality in the meantime. I’ll take it on its own if that’s how it’s coming, but I’d much rather see Morbid Beauty as a sign of things to come when Rodeo Drive get to the actual near future.

Rodeo Drive, Morbid Beauty (2014)

Rodeo Drive on Thee Facebooks

Rodeo Drive on Bandcamp

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Heat to Release Labyrinth on Aug. 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Thee band.

Formerly aligned to Electric Magic for the CD release of their first album, Heat/Old Sparky (review here), Berlin heavy rockers Heat have announced they’ll issue their second offering, Labyrinth, via This Charming Man Records on Aug. 29. Preorders are available now for the CD or LP editions from the semi-retro five-piece, which features Samsara Blues Experiment bassist Richard Behrens, who also recorded the first outing. Charlie Paschen seems to have helmed Labyrinth, but the sound remains warm and natural in line with Old Sparky, as you can hear on the new song “Siamese Smile” below.

To support the new record — the cover art for which was handled by Adam Burke – the band will head out on a European tour beginning Sept. 4, and This Charming Man will have a reissue of Old Sparky with new art as well. All confirmed dates listed below with the album info, fresh off the PR wire:

Thee album.

Hard rockers HEAT announce release of new album Labyrinth

Berliners to release second full length via This Charming Man Records, along with reissue of debut on 29th August 2014

Following on from the success of their 2012 self-titled debut, This Charming Man Records is pleased to announce the release Labyrinth, of the second album by the Berlin-based hard rock outfit.

Heat are unmistakably taken with a time when all great records came adorned with monochrome swirls and elaborate sleeves depicting worlds of necromancy, witches and cosmic encounters.

Featuring former members of The Hara-Kee-Rees, Samsara Blues Experiment and Grandloom their self-titled debut on Electric Magic Records was a heavy-blues driven journey into the very heart of the 1970s. Which, regardless of your particular predilection for classic rock saw the Berlin five-piece strike every chord.

On their follow up – much like Swedish hard rock revivalists Graveyard and Horisont – Heat continue to revel in the buzz of audacious twin guitar solos, Hammond organs and telepathic band jams.

Driving tracks like ‘Siamese Smile’, ‘Free World’ and ‘Barbarossa’ pack unabashed guitar spectacles atop big drum fills, rolling bass lines and Patrick Fülling’s strutting vocal front, often over extended compositions that run the gamut of twentieth century rock history. Bursting with shuffling bluesy boogies and dark, introspective moments that owe a sizeable riff or two to Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash, Atomic Rooster and Jerusalem Labyrinth is an unstoppable force for fans of British prog, hard US rock and NWOBHM.

Labyrinth will be officially released on 29th August, along with the reissue of the band’s debut (with exclusive new artwork) via This Charming Man Records

LP pre-order

CD pre-order

iTunes pre-order link – http://snip.ftpromo.net/heat

Heat:
Marcus Töpfer – Drums
Ingo Börner – Guitar
Marco Rischer – Guitar
Patrick Fülling – Vocals
Richard Behrens – Bass

Tour Dates:
23/08/14 – Sala Teatru Brama, Goleniow, Poland
4/09/14 – Record Release at Austerclub, Berlin, Germany
5/09/14 – Sky High Festival, Frankfurt, Germany
6/09/14 – TBA
7/09/14 – TBA
11/09/14 – Monster Records, Hannover, Germany
12/09/14 – 1000Fryd (w. Jex Thoth), Aalborg, Denmark
13/09/14 – KB18, Kopenhagen, Denmark
14/09/14 – TBA
15/09/14 – Hafenklang, Hamburg, Germany
16/09/14 – Waldmeister, Solingen, Germany
17/09/14 – Heretic Club (w. Aqua Nebula Oscillator), Bordeaux, France
18/09/14 – San Sebastian, Spain
19/09/14 – Hard Club, Porto, Portugal
21/09/14 – TBA
22/09/14 – Rocksound, Barcelona, Spain
23/09/14 – Brin de Zinc, Cambery, France
24/09/14 – Schüxenhaus, Ins, Switzerland
25/09/14 – Coq d’Or, Olten, Switzerland
26/09/14 – Backstage (w. Orcus Chylde), München, Germany
27/09/14 – Sound n Arts (w. Orcus Chylde), Bamberg, Germany
10/10/14 – TCM Fest Gleis 22, Münster, Germany
29/11/14 – Deep Sound City Festival, Halle, Germany

heatberlin.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/Heatthelights
instagram.com/heatberlin

Heat, “Siamese Smile”

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Dunst, Archimedes Waffen: Daily Mantras

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Archimedes' bowl.

Originally recorded in 2011 and digitally released in 2013, the second and final full-length, Archimedes Waffen, from German progressive heavy psych instrumentalists Dunst sees a revived presence in the physical realm thanks to a new vinyl issue on Electric Magic Records, the imprint helmed by Samsara Blues Experiment guitarist/vocalist Christian PetersDunst‘s relationship with that band goes even deeper than the label association as well, since Archimedes Waffen was recorded by SBE bassist Richard Behrens at Big Snuff Studio in Berlin, about 90 minutes south of Dunst‘s former hometown of Templin. There are some shared sonic elements too, but it rings more like a commonality of mindset than direct influence. Dunst – which prior to disbanding was comprised of guitarist Daniel Rexhausen, bassist Johannes Schulz, drummer Philip Marschall and effects noisemaker/vocalist Sebastian Adolph (there are way more effects noises on the album than there are vocals) — released their self-titled debut in 2011, and here on the follow-up, they come across well established within a heavy psychedelic approach to jamming. Over the course of six extended tracks, they explore the spaces between such heavyweights as Colour HazeMy Sleeping KarmaCausa Sui, and indeed Samsara Blues Experiment, while working in the pursuit of their own musical identity. Already pushing the bounds of vinyl at 53 minutes, the Electric Magic version of Archimedes Waffen cuts down the original album length from over an hour, pulling out an intro, outro and the 10-minute “Vincent Raven,” which can still be heard on the digital edition, and jumbles the original tracklisting to take better advantage of an LP’s two-sided structure. Nonetheless, Archimedes Waffen remains an immersive slice of heavy jamming, familiar in some aspects but portraying a building character in progress.

Adolph‘s synth swirl and other effects go a long way in adding to that personality early on, giving the mix more depth than it might otherwise have. In comparison to Dunst‘s first outing — putting aside a somewhat rawer production as well – Archimedes Waffen presents a much broader range, the relaxed stretches of opener “Kincha King” immediately engaging the listener with a patient, hypnotic roll, where parts of Dunst‘s Dunst feel a little more jagged with just RexhausenSchulz, and Marschall present. It’s a smoother sound on the second album, in other words, and as the 10-minute launch point gives way to the title-track — which, with “We Can Try to Play Like or We Can Try…” and “Hammerhigh,” is one of three cuts that hovers just on the other side of seven and a half minutes long; as brief as Dunst get – that fluidity is maintained, and Adolph adds to the roll and chemistry found well intact from the other three players. Rexhausen takes a lead prior to the midsection of “Archimedes Waffen” that’s almost as impressive for how Schulz and Marschall meet it head-on for the guitarist’s own playing, and they continue to move endearingly through peaks and valleys, taking a ground-up linear build in the second half of the track to its natural, voluminous conclusion. The subsequent “We Can Try to Play Like or We Can Try…” is similarly structured with two distinct payoffs, but presents a different take with a more prominent bass from Schulz (not a complaint) and airier noodling in the guitars contrasted by active jazz drumming. There’s less of Adolph as side A rounds out with a peaceful fade, but by then Dunst have established an open feel that would seem to allow the effects wash to come and go as it pleases without interrupting the overarching flow.

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Freak Valley Festival 2014 Photo Gallery by Falk-Hagen Bernshausen

Posted in Visual Evidence on June 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Because I very, very rarely do this kind of thing involving someone else’s work, let me specifically point out I DID NOT TAKE THESE PICTURES. I was not fortunate enough to be at this fest, and even if I had been at Freak Valley in Netphen, Germany, May 29-31, I’m not this good. All the photos in this gallery were by Falk-Hagen Bernshausen, who serves as the festival’s in-house photographer. I don’t even know how many images he sent me, but I’ve gone through and picked out a few from what you can see above was a packed schedule, starting with the headliners and then working by day from there.

If you’re the type who usually does the clicky-makey-biggy thing with the pictures around here, you might notice it doesn’t work on this post. Truth be told, it took me a very long time to get all the photos here to load, and with so many pics, it crashed the site more than once in the making. Resizing the images was the only way I could get it all to fit. I apologize for any inconvenience making it work may have caused.

Still, it’s only through the generosity of Mr. Bernshausen that I’m able to do this, and I thank him profusely for sharing his work. Please note there were more bands he shot than appear, and please also visit his website here, and check out the Freak Valley page as well.

THURSDAY, MAY 29

Radio Moscow

Papir

Bloody Hammers

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Black Space Riders Post New Video for “Space Angel (Memitim)”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Somewhere between Killing Joke and Pink Floyd, maybe? I don’t know where the sonic terrain in which Germany’s Black Space Riders reside, but I know they don’t share it with many other bands. The Muenster five-piece released their third album, D:REI, at the end of January and have a new video for the track “Space Angel (Memitim)” from it. The song captures the group’s jammier, exploratory side, and while the video is an edit of the track, since it only cuts down the original 10 minutes to a little under nine, there’s still plenty of time to get a feel for the cosmic vibes Black Space Riders are honing.

Accordingly, the video crosses through a range of tripped-out visual effects. The band itself doesn’t actually appear, but there’s plenty to look at besides with the various swirls and constant forward-moving feel carrying you through. As the band states, they edited the track to catch the “shortened attention spans” of YouTube viewers. I guess we’ll see if cutting a minute off does the trick, but it’s a cool groove anyway, and however long they want to make it last, there’s little that’d make you want to turn it off once you put it on. I can’t account for the fickle realities of media in the age of instant gratification, but “Space Angel (Memitim)” is worth taking the time to get lost in.

As you can see by clicking play below. Enjoy:

Black Space Riders, “Space Angel (Memitim)” official video

An epic Space-Rock-Track taken from BLACK SPACE RIDERS third studio-Album “D:REI”.

This is an edited version, the intro was cut shorter matching to the shortended attention span of most YouTube-listeners (with – of course – the exeption of YOU!!!!)

The visuals and video-animations were created by our friend Blood Meridian (lost in space!).

Make sure to get your physical copy of that Album: http://www.blackspaceriders.com/shop

let´s stay in contact: https://www.facebook.com/BlackSpaceRiders

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Desertfest Berlin 2015 Poster Revealed; Earlybird Tickets on Sale Now

Posted in Visual Evidence on May 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Wherever it might be taking place, Desertfest does not waste time. Mere weeks after the 2014 fests in London and Berlin, Desertfest Belgium was announced, Sleep were revealed as the headliners for London next year, and now comes word that tickets for Berlin are already on sale. 11 months out from April 23, 2015, you can get your Desertfest Berlin ticket — and further, if you do, they’ve got a t-shirt to go with it. Not too shabby.

The Berlin Desertfest, which is presented by Sound of Liberation, has tapped French poster art/screenprinting duo Elvisdead to create the official event poster, and you can see the results in the worm-eaten-looking skull below. Elvisdead also did the 2013 poster, which was similarly themed if not necessarily as directly dark (Ammo did this year’s). Nobody’s been revealed for the lineup as yet, but as past years have shown, the poster isn’t necessarily indicative of the brutality level of the fest itself. Probably a good thing or they’d have to rename it altogether, but still, it’s a cool-looking design and it’s probably best to get used to looking at it now, since there are another 343 days until the fest kicks off.

Click the poster for a higher-res look and find the order link for Desertfest Berlin 2015 tickets below, courtesy of Sound of Liberation:

*** DESERTFEST 2015 POSTER – ELVISDEAD ARE BACK ***

Hey Guys,

So far you got a preview on this page, but it’s time now to unveil the whole OFFICIAL POSTER for DESERTFEST BERLIN 2015! As you can see, our great Elvisdead are back!

We hope you’ll like it as much as we do!

—–

Remember that our EARLY BIRD HARD TICKETS are already on sale on http://woolheads.com/cms/produkt-kategorie/festivalmerchandise/desertfestberlin/tickets-desertfestberlin!

Order yours before the end of MAY and get a free shirt, button and sticker of your choice! Rock on…

Elvisdead on Thee Facebooks

Desertfest Berlin’s website

Sound of Liberation on Thee Facebooks

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Church of Misery, Kadavar, The Atomic Bitchwax and More to Play Void Fest 2014 in Germany

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Having a cool festival lineup is one thing — it’s a huge thing — but driving toward an aesthetic is something completely different and pivotal in creating a vibe for any event, whatever it might be. Germany’s Void Fest, which is set for Aug. 1 and 2 in Kötzting in Bavaria with tickets limited to 1,000, seems to be well on its way to that end. The bill runs from the progressive black metal of Sun Worship to the riotous stoner rock of Church of Misery, and with film screenings and a focus on local culture, it seems like an experience that begins with the music and will encompass much more than just that. It looks like a great way to spend a couple days.

They put it thusly:

The Void society was established in spring 2012. Up from its creation Void was planned as an altruistic friendly society with unpaid workforce and do it yourself intention. The idea behind Void is to join forces of people who are interested in music. The goal was to score with new innovative bands and through that strenghten our local cultural landscape.

Since the founding Void organized several well visited shows in the bavarian forest and its surrounding cities, such as Bad Kötzting and Regenburg. While allways keeping it familiar and friendly the shows soon drew big attention. Meanwhile a few bands had some of their last gigs at Void Fest before getting signed a major label contract.

D.I.Y. has always been a big point for the societies work. Next to fairtrade screenprinted merchandise shirts, patches and bags, each band playing at Void Fest gets its own hand drawn posters. The whole festival structure is set up by society members during their spare time.

Allways trying to create unique music events for every people, Void is still trying to do things different than others. Merely the best ideas fit the demands the young society has given itself.

Confirmed lineup so far:
The Atomic Bitchwax
Church of Misery
Kadavar
Rose Windows
Suns of Thyme
H A R K
Atlantis
Brahm
The Wulffs
Doomina
Oddjob Men
Mother’s Cake
Sun Worship

https://voidfest.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/VoidFest/
http://instagram.com/voidfest#
http://voidfest.de/

Void Fest 2013 Documentary

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Electric Moon, Mind Explosion: Into the Outer

Posted in Reviews on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

German improvisors Electric Moon are rarely at rest, and for anyone who’s been following the jam-minded three-piece’s progress these last several years across their slew of studio and live albums, the latest of them, dubbed Mind Explosion, marks yet another interesting turn. When it comes to the band, comprised of guitarist/keyboardist/recording engineer Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, bassist/visual artist/sometimes-vocalist Komet Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler, the surest bet you can make about any given release is that it’s going to be the most psychedelic thing you’re going to hear that day. That said, I’ve always taken their sound to have more to it than just that, and likewise the band’s mission, which seems geared toward driving at the very heart of sonic collaboration between committed players. Schmidt, Lulu and Schnitzler avoid missteps along the way and get to the center of the galaxy of jamming. Their concoctions — Mind Explosion presents four of them, for a total of about 80 minutes — are hypnotic, swinging, exciting and saturated in shroomic properties. What stands Mind Explosion out from the catalog is that it’s a live album that basically serves the same function as a studio full-length would. Electric Moon are no strangers to live releases; plenty have shown up on LP, CD and limited CD-R from Schmidt‘s Sulatron Records. But where outings like the two-volume Live 2012 CDs (review here) were essentially live bootlegs, the presentation on Mind Explosion is like that of a complete studio outing. It’s bridging that gap.

And in so doing, it’s continuing Electric Moon‘s journey into the sort of creative Big Bang that drives heavy psychedelia to start with. Why can’t an album that would be recorded live just be live on stage? Why can’t an album be a live album? Why does there need to be a distinction from one to the other? The four tracks of Mind Explosion – “Trip to the Moon” (21:45), “Kaleidoscopeephole” (22:14), “The Picture” (17:04) and “Mind Explosion” (18:50) — offer plenty of time to explore these questions, and but for the periodic interjections of crowd noise, shouts in the middle of especially engaging turns, etc., there’s very little to separate the album from anything Electric Moon have jammed out in the studio. In terms of the sound quality, it’s probably Schnitzler‘s drums that most give it away, but his cymbals sound full and have no problem creating a wash to back the spaced-out effects work from Lulu and Schmidt, who also come through clearly. Together, they ride the jams out as far as they want to go, riffs and leads topping sure-footed rhythms — the bass-tone that begins “The Picture” is as much a foundation for the song’s unfolding as one could ask — in a dynamic that has only grown over time. They’re never overly technical or looking to put on a clinic as much as a show, and part of what makes Mind Explosion successful as a release even into its later reaches is the band’s sense of bringing the audience with them on these sonic voyages. As far out as it is — and it is — Electric Moon‘s sound never lets go of also being inviting.

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Video Trailers Posted for Desertfest 2014 in London and Berlin

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ll admit to carrying more than a bit of jealousy in my heart for those who’ll be in either London or Berlin at the end of the month when Desertfest gets underway in both towns. Either city is a trek I’d gladly make if I had cash for the flight, and I suppose if being broke has any upside, it’s saving me from having to choose one over the other. Poor consolation for not getting over there, but frankly I’ll take what I can get at this point.

A video trailer back Stubb‘s Jack Dickinson surfaced for the London fest about a week ago, and today Berlin followed suit in posting a trailer for the fest there. Again, either way you go, you can’t really lose. Whether you’re seeing Causa Sui and Stoned Jesus in Berlin or Pombagira and Borracho in London, you’re in for an amazing weekend you won’t soon forget and an experience of a community coming into its own even as it continues to discover what that means. This is a very cool year for Desertfest. So was last year. The one before that wasn’t half bad either.

You get the point though, and the point is me, unemployed and sulking. I’m sure I’ll have more about Desertfest before it actually launches, but I wanted to post these clips together just to give a sample of the vibe of both festivals and what they have to offer the discerning gormandizers who might hit them up. Desertfest Berlin runs April 24-26 at Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin, Germany, and Desertfest London picks up April 25-27 at various venues in Camden Town. Info in the clips and at the links.

Desertfest Berlin 2014 trailer

24th, 25th, 26th April 2014 : DESERTFEST BERLIN

THURSDAY 24th – Spirit Caravan Official – Sleepy Sun – Siena Root – ASG – Sixty Watt Shaman – Pet The Preacher – ANCIIENTS – The Midnight Ghost Train – Cojones
—–
FRIDAY 25th — Kvelertak – Causa Sui – Church of Misery Official – Elder – Huata – HULL – GOZU – BLACK RAINBOWS – Prisma Circus – The Moth – Red Stoner Sun – MANTAR
—–
SATURDAY 26th — Clutch – Radio Moscow – The Machine – The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic – Stoned Jesus – THE GRAVIATORS – Sasquatch – Radar Men from the Moon – SardoniS – Castle – Metal Band – Powder for Pigeons – DoctoR DooM

Desertfest Berlin website

Desertfest London 2014 trailer

Desertfest 2014 is heavier than before & Taking over Camden, London during the 25-27th April.With over 60 bands from the underground stoner / doom and sludge scene peforminng this years fesitval is not to be missed, Headliners are Spirit Caravan / Kvlertak & Boris, plus weedeater, church of misery, ASG, blues Pills and many more…for the full line up please click below.

Desertfest London website

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Rodeo Drive Post “All in Vain” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

“All in Vain” is a quick 2:45, but it gives a decent sampling of what Berlin trio Rodeo Drive might get up to on their forthcoming Morbid Beauty full-length, which is set to release this Friday. Fronted by bassist Hans Eiselt, who also plays guitar in heavy psych jammers Samsara Blues Experiment, Rodeo Drive are an altogether gruffer, more straightforward band. Eiselt‘s vocals, still melodic, are throaty and well suited to the rush of “All in Vain,” and while there are some psychedelic undertones, the sound is much more traditionally stoner rock, aimed for simpler execution and hitting the mark with what seems to be no trouble at all, guitarist Friedrich Stemmer and drummer Rene Schulze joining Eiselt in the steady push.

The video for the track is likewise down to earth — a few different cameras capture the band rocking out in a dimly lit room. Posters adorn the wall behind them, and at the start of the clip, somebody — presumably Eiselt — says the phrase, “psychedelic relic.” Maybe that was the original name of the song, or maybe it’s a sort of general assessment from the band on their style, but sure enough, “All in Vain” does hint at more ethereal sonic territory, and a cut like the seven-and-a-half-minute “Earth Dark Diseases,” which is up for streaming at Rodeo Drive‘s ReverbNation page, would seem to indicate that “All in Vain” is just the start of what the band might have to offer on Morbid Beauty.

Still, not a bad place to start. Rodeo Drive release Morbid Beauty this Friday at a gig at Berlin’s Jägerklause with Olympus Mons and Liquid Silk, should you happen to be in the area. If not, you can check out “All in Vain” below.

Enjoy:

Rodeo Drive, “All in Vain” official video

Rodeo Drive on Thee Facebooks

Rodeo Drive at ReverbNation

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Friday Full-Length: Colour Haze, Colour Haze

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Colour Haze, Colour Haze (2004)

My understanding is that the version of Colour Haze‘s 2004 self-titled seventh full-length album is the 2007 reissue. I figured any Colour Haze‘s Colour Haze was the right choice. The difference is that the original CD edition was about 55 minutes long. Too much for a single LP, obviously, so the CD closer, “Flowers” is gone, as is “Mountain,” from side A. I’ll miss the latter more than the former, but as the album that’s come in a big way to define Colour Haze‘s sound as one of the most distinct in the European underground over the 10 years since its release, this clip — which was also the best quality available — wasn’t a loss either way. I don’t have this on vinyl. Maybe I should. I’d be lying if I said putting it on full-screen and watching the record spin with the cover propped up behind wasn’t a good sell.

It’s hard to pick a winner between Colour Haze and its 2006 follow-up, Tempel, also released through Elektrohasch. Usually I’ll abdicate the responsibility. I’ll say that I remember when I got the CD of the self-titled and put it on, it was one of those moments where you can feel your blood get warmer. Particularly for arriving so soon after 2003′s Los Sounds de Krauts, it was a different vibe than that 2CD, fuzzier, more assured, jammier. Again, I don’t really have a favorite from Colour Haze, but this one is as  essential as any you might want to put next to it. One interesting thing the vinyl seems to do is keep “Peace, Brothers and Sisters!” intact, timing-wise. A 22-minute B-side is nothing to scoff at, and every nuance leading to it is a joy. For “Love” alone, it’s one of the best heavy psych records ever made.

Enjoy.

Tonight is the Small Stone Records showcase at the Middle East in Boston, and I’ll be hitting that up. I didn’t anticipate having the energy to close out the week afterwards, so it seemed prudent to do so beforehand. Monday I’ll have a review of that showcase and a full-stream of the new Causa Sui live album, Live at Freak Valley, with an accompanying review. Probably not the smartest thing I ever did to book both of those on the same day, but hell, not like I have a job, right? If I spend my afternoon furiously typing alternate descriptors for “heavy,” well at least I wasn’t in bed with my head buried under pillows dwelling on what a spectacular failure my decade in the music industry was. Gotta stay busy!

Also next week, look for a full-album stream from Hotel Wrecking City Traders, whose new one is killer. I’m in the process of working out a premiere for Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus too, because I think that’s worth hearing for people who may not be familiar with the band — I also didn’t really appreciate what they were doing until I heard it for myself and sat with it a while — but I’m not sure if it’ll be next week or sometime thereafter. I’ll figure it out one way or another.

You might notice an awful lot of Kyuss and Black Sabbath (also Colour Haze, and Grails and a bunch of Small Stone stuff) on the radio stream. It’s the backup server. The main server was at my now-former office in Jersey, and this week I asked Slevin to run by and pick it up, which he was kind enough to do. It’s being brought north by my family, who are coming up tomorrow for a visit (“uh, hey guys, can you bring this computer and also a bunch of food?” — classy), and I’ll hope to have it running at some point over the weekend. Until then, Kyuss and Sabbath hardly seems like a downer.

Have a great and safe couple of days and I’ll catch you back here Monday for more wild adventures. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

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On Wax: Bushfire, Heal Thy Self

Posted in On Wax on March 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

There’s an undertone of burl that’s carried through the entirety of Bushfire‘s Dec. 2013 second long-player, Heal Thy Self, and that’s due in no small part to vocalist Bill Brown‘s low-in-the-mouth approach. He’s not exactly shooting for “whiskey-soaked Southern” or something like that, but his post-grunge style remains consistent throughout the nine tracks of the vinyl, which arrives in a sturdy gatefold with a quality, 180g platter, heavy stock dust jacket and foldout liner notes that further the visual theme from artist Ingo “Krimalkin” Lohse, the intricacy of whose work is all the more appreciable in the 12″ format. Heal Thy Self is a different experience on LP as opposed to CD or Bandcamp stream or whatever it might be, but however one approaches it, the Darmstadt, Germany, double-guitar five-piece offer songwriting coinciding with the dependable physical feel of the Heal Thy Self album. Their material is straightforward in a bruiser sense and asks few indulgences while staving off monotony with change-it-up cuts like the moody “Brother” on side B and the cowbell-infused boogie of “Tuff Luv,” which closes side A.

No shortage of doomer roots are on display — album opener “Failure” ends with whispers eerily reminiscent of those announcing the departure of “Children of the Grave” on Master of Reality – but Bushfire‘s trade is heavy, riff-driven rock and roll. If it had anything to do with getting high, I’d be tempted to call it stoner, but their approach is tighter than that designation seems to warrant these days, the two guitars of Marcus Bischoff and Miguel Pereira comfortable in a leadership role when they need to be and driving the grooves that Brown ably rides in his vocals, bassist Nick Kurz offering more to the personality of the whole than just tonal weight, though plenty of that as well, and drummer Tom Hoffmann punctuating the roll and suitably getting into some double-kick bass when “Glossolalia” moves in its back end to some surprisingly blackened screams for a bit of flourish that Bushfire don’t return to, but makes its point anyway and gives a different context to the from-the-gut shouting that caps the Down-style riffing of “Elephant,” which in turn leads to “Tuff Luv,” the verses there reminding more of The Atomic Bitchwax than anything so gruffly intentioned.

Side B has a somewhat different personality. Production makes most of side A consistent sound-wise despite the fact that Bushfire are leaning to one side or another within their aesthetic, but with four songs as opposed to five and the closing duo of “Hungry” and “Dream” checking in at just under seven minutes each, the vibe is bound to be somewhat distinct from the first half of Heal Thy Self. All things are relative, of course, but where “Failure” set the album into motion with a mounting swell of feedback and distortion, “Objector” opens side B with quiet guitar and a subdued, contemplative verse. It doesn’t last, and soon enough “Objector” is into some of Heal Thy Self‘s ballsiest swaggering, all starts-and-stops and “hey whoa yeah”-style shouting. Fair enough. “Brother,” also one of the longer songs, develops the ideas that “Objector” seems to hint at in its intro — though is plenty heavy besides — and with a slower pace sets out a hook that’s among the most resonant Bushfire have to offer, “Hungry” seeming to work in a similar vein until a build in the midsection into faster riffing provides fluid transition to a shuffle that recalls some of “Tuff Luv” from side A. It’s the stomp that wins out, topped with wah guitar as it is, and “Hungry” seems to drunk-stumble into “Dream.”

Honestly, after both “Brother” and “Hungry,” “Dream” comes across as something of an afterthought. There isn’t much on offer that the prior 41 minutes haven’t shown Bushfire already capably displaying, but the opening crashes give some sense of arrival anyway, and the finale moves at a decent clip, so it’s not likely to offend either if you’ve made it this far into the record. A vague spoken sample arrives in the second half of the song over the last guitar solo, and after “Dream” stomps to its finish, there are some piano noises and what sounds like a bird of some sort, no doubt of some significance to whatever it was the dream itself may have been about. I do not know how many copies of Heal Thy Self the band pressed — mine’s hand-numbered as #190 on side B, so at least that many — but it’s a substantial effort in both sound and physical construction for a DIY band to undertake, and to Bushfire‘s credit, they pull it off front to back, whether it’s the coherence of their style and production or the atmosphere that the detailed lines of the gatefold convey. They’ve been around for a decade and still sound like they’re growing, but Heal Thy Self has plenty to offer a vinyl hound with a craving for thick grooves.

Bushfire, Heal Thy Self (2013)

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Beehoover UK Tour Starts this Friday

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

I’m not sure I can match Exile on Mainstream head Andreas Kohl‘s description of what German avant noise rockers Beehoover do — in fact, I’m sure I can’t — so it’s probably best I leave it to him. Beehoover, who released their fourth album, The Devil and His Footmen (discussed here), on Kohl‘s label last fall, will begin a run of shows in the UK this weekend, playing alongside a host of that country’s up and coming heavy luminaries, including Undersmile, BongCauldron, Monolith Cult, Lords of Bastard and others.

It’s a heavy bunch of nights, and with Kohl‘s evident passion, the PR wire makes it something of an easy sell:

The gnarly riff-wrenching stoner rock duo Beehoover are back in a big way – whilst the world regains composure following the clout delivered on their recently released, and fourth full-length album The Devil And His Footmen (which you can stream in full here), the German drum and bass commanders have been preparing for their UK tour. Across nine days, Beehoover will travel far and wide, showcasing their hybrid, barking sludge – quite unlike anything you will have experienced before.

Who better to describe Beehoover’s musical creations than their label manager, Andreas Kohl? – “One of my most loved descriptions in music history for a tonal impact is Southern Lord’s comparison for Warhorse’s sound with the feeling of being beaten with a wet mattress. For Beehoover I could pack a gargantuan pile of descriptions on the table, ultimately I would describe my listening experience like being wrapped in plastic foil, unable to move but struck in awe facing an enormous T34, while a Stalin organ is shooting roses across the tundra, explosives that draw a dreamy coloured fireworks on the night sky.”

Kohl continues, “In the crowd, what you see is hair, just hair behind the drums and contrails from swirling drumsticks. Centred is one barefoot Urviech covering the room with noises you can’t escape from, breathing, drinking, eating and farting riffs in a quantity and variety that 15 bands could live and ride off for the next one hundred years. Rhythms, riffs, beats, songs, sounds – so emotional, glowing in urgency, blasting on your senses so that you get an overdose of endorphins just from watching this monstrous mother of all concerts, exploding like an earthquake that rips continents apart. Yes, this is what it sounds like: I love this band. Every single time I see them. I pity you if you’ve never had the chance – make your life complete and take the chance now. If there’s one band you’ve really got to see EVER – it’s these guys!”

TOUR DATES:
Fri 21 March 2014 London – Black Heart (Ghoud, Henry Blacker & Bloody Mammals)
Sat 22 March 2014 Cardiff – Moon Club (Thorun, We Are Romans and Haast’s Eagled)
Sun 23 March 2014 Bristol – Mothers Ruin
Mon 24 March 2014 Plymouth – Tiki Bar (Death Parish and Monolithian)
Tue 25 March 2014 Oxford – The Wheatsheaf (Undersmile and Caravan Of Whores)
Wed 26 March 2014 Salford – The Eagle Inn (Mask Of Bees and The Senton Bombs)
Thu 27 March 2014 Edinburgh – Banshee Labyrinth (Lords Of Bastard and [[ Wall ]])
Fri 28 March 2014 Glasgow – 13th Note (Lords Of Bastard and Skeleton Gong)
Sat 29 March 2014 Birmingham – Scruffy’s (Burden Of The Noose, Monolith Cult, Goat Leaf, Grey Widow, Wolfs Head, Bong Cauldron and Sealclubber)

Beehoover’s latest album, The Devil and His Footmen, is a swirl of raw, sultry tones and rumbling octaves that strike chords with braggadocio 70’s hard rock as much as it does the thunderous rumble of Black Cobra and the jutting angles of Unsane. Beehoover are at their most rocking here, tangling the long hair of the headbangers with all the genres of beard in one matted toupee of oddball rhythms and histrionic vocals. Beehoover buzz with eccentric electric – come along, grit your teeth and enjoy the sting.

https://www.facebook.com/beehoovermusic/
http://www.beehoover.com/
http://www.mainstreamrecords.de/

Beehoover, The Devil and His Footmen (2013)

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In the Round: Reviews of Hobosexual, Midryasi, Operators, Pylar and System of Venus

Posted in Reviews on March 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s a big world and there’s a lot to review in it, so I won’t do much to delay. This time around covers both coasts of the US as well as Europe and even Australia, proving once again that heavy knows no borders and seems to be at home wherever it goes. It’s a pretty varied batch this time as well, but should provide some fun along the way.

Hobosexual, II


Billing themselves as “Seattle’s only rock duo” — which is charming if unlikely — guitarist/vocalist Ben Harwood and drummer Jeff Silva self-release their second album as Hobosexual (I see what you did there…) in the aptly-titled 12-tracker, II. It’s a record that brims with attitude from the chugging, semi-Melvinsian opening of “Switchblade Suburbia,” but there’s a depth of tone and swagger to back up the smacktalk in their songwriting. The 38-second “Ghettoblaster” is Hendrix-style feedback and soloing, playing directly into “Hostile Denim”‘s lead-obsessed Rolling Stones hook ‘n’ push. Topped off with striking artwork from Adam Burke of Fellwoods, II proves very much of its Pacific Northwest origins — a magical land where everybody has a beard and they all listen to stoner rock — and while the tongue-in-cheek snark of “Sex Destroyer” might be over-the-top to some, Hobosexual avoid the minimalist aesthetic some duos use as a crutch for lazy songwriting, make old riffs new again and showcase some melodic depth in Harwood‘s vocal layering, positioning songs like “The Black Camaro Death” and the penultimate “BMX” highlights arguing against style over substance amid party-ready riffing and don’t-have-a-fuck-to-give panache. Their 2010 self-titled debut worked in similar stylistic parameters, but II strikes as more confident overall, and it’s a record that you’re either going to fall prey to its sleaze or shoot down early and go about your night. If the album’s a party, I feel at times like my invite must have gotten lost in the mail, but Hobosexual provide a decent reminder nonetheless that there are those capable of turning heavy rock into a good time and put it on the listener to ask why they should take it so seriously in the first place. FOAD: Fuck off and dance.

Hobosexual, II (2013)

Hobosexual on Thee Facebooks

Hobosexual on Bandcamp

Midryasi, Black, Blue and Violet


Strange things are afoot throughout Italian four-piece Midryasi‘s third album, Black, Blue and Violet. The multifaceted heavy outfit run a gamut from Pentagram-esque riff doom to Pink Floyd-infused progressive texturing, all the while keeping a clarity of sound that can likely be traced to the metallic roots of bassist/vocalist Convulsion, who aside from having played in DoomSword can be traced to a number of more extreme outfits. His brother, DoomSword vocalist Deathmaster, shows up on opener “The Counterflow,” but Black, Blue and Violet never goes quite so far into one subgenre or another, the keyboard work of Umberto Desanti always adding an edge of prog to whatever else might be happening, whether it’s the otherwise doomed “Diagonal” or the dramatic verses of the title-track. Released through My Graveyard Productions, Midryasi‘s third ultimately finds its atmospheric crux in an intelligent construction, but perhaps feels somewhat distant in its performance, coldly executed. That’s an inherent tradeoff for the complexity of its arrangements, maybe, and there’s something to be said in argument for the skillful calculation at work across these seven tracks that run smoothly with the underlying drum work of Sappah and fluid guitars of Paolo Paganhate and hit their high-point with the rumbling “The Nuclear Dog,” which provides the most memorable hook of the long-player and seems to revel most in the psychedelic and progressive weirdness that the whole album moves within. The six-and-a-half-minute “Hole of the Saturday Night” closes out with a heavy rock riff and vocal delivery from Convulsion that moves in some of the same (stone) circles as Venomous Maximus, though that’s likely a coincidence of common influence between the two, and with a smooth, consistent production, Midryasi wind up sounding most of all like a band working on its own level. And successfully.

Midryasi, Black, Blue and Violet (2013)

Midryasi on Thee Facebooks

Midryasi on Bandcamp

Operators, Contact High


Raucous Berlin six-piece Operators made an impression in 2012 with the unabashed new school stoner rock of their self-titled debut (review here) now a little older, a little wiser, a little more drunk, the band returns with Contact High, a record that wears its influences on its sleeve in much the same manner as the Satellite Beaver, Neume and Stonehenge patches grace the varsity jacket of the figure on the album’s cover. “Kiss of De Ath” resides at the end of side A of the eight-track/39-minute offering and offers some of Operators‘ most satisfying boogie as Konni‘s organ and the guitars of Jacky and Dirk align for an intricate but still-rolling groove of a midsection build while Stonehenge‘s Enni steps in as a guest singer, but it’s vocalist Eggat who makes the first impression on opener “Terra Ohm,” setting up a strong hook for the rest of Contact High to live up to. The album plays out unpretentious and riotous in kind, and while they haven’t necessarily settled down since their first outing, it’s easy enough to hear Operators as having solidified their approach somewhat. Konni‘s keys work just as well alongside the rhythm section of bassist Dän and drummer Säsh as with the guitars, and Eggat proves a formidable enough presence on cuts like “If I Burn,” “Bring on the Spice” (I don’t know whose guitar solo that is, but kudos) and the driving “Contact High” to reign the rest into cohesion. The six-and-a-half-minute “Arrows” shows a more subdued side that, somewhat surprisingly, never quite explodes into the noisy chicanery found elsewhere. Could it be that Operators are growing up right before our ears? I don’t know, but the results are fascinating and display more even potential from these Desertfest veterans.

Operators, “Terra Ohm” from Contact High (2013)

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzmatazz Records

Pylar, Poderoso Se Alza en My


Grand soundscaping, an underlying sense of ritual, and a pervasive experimental bent — it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Spain’s Pylar boasts some manner of allegiance to forward or at least side-to-side thinking doomers Orthodox and the avant extremists Blooming Látigo, but the unit’s Knockturne Records debut, Poderoso Se Alza en My, strikes as a decidedly more conceptual work, with one song spilling into the next, religious themes crossing through minimalist atmospheres and a periodic lurch emerging that’s as much a trip aurally as mentally. Two longer cuts, “El Pylar Se Ha Alzado” (13:49) and “Al Fin Te Contemplo Entre las Ruinas del Tiempo (Pentagrammaton)” (12:11) sandwich five not-quite-as-extended segments as the opener (the longest on the record; immediate points) and closer of the 68-minute behemoth, which one would be thoroughly mistaken to dub a “compact” disc. It is, instead, expansive and challenging, rife with droning tension, vague shouts in Spanish seeming to describe some torment either physical or spiritual amid art-jazz percussion in another dimension’s time signatures. Will not, will not, will not be for everyone, but Pylar‘s first is a fascinating and dense work that one could easily spend any number of months dissecting, only to still come up with an incomplete picture of its scope, and for those with a high tolerance for the experimental and indulgences of noise, the intense swell of “La Gran Luminaria” could easily prove essential as the culmination point for what seems to be an album-long drive toward enlightenment and the sundry terrors it might carry with it. If you think you’re bored of the mundane, Poderoso Se Alza en My is ready to pull back the veil and toy for a while with what you used to think of as “your” consciousness.

Pylar, Poderoso Se Alza en My (2013)

Pylar on Thee Facebooks

Pylar on Bandcamp

System of Venus, System of Venus


I remain a sucker for Aussie heavy. System of Venus guitarist/vocalist/graphic designer Fatima Baši? gets into a doomly melodic range that reminds at times — as on “Dancing in Hell’s Garden” — of Alunah‘s Soph Day, but the rough edges in her guitar and Amanda‘s bass add a more distinct ’90s feel to the seven-track/36-minute proceedings on their full-length debut and first release, as the crunch in “Monster Ego” will further attest. Drummer Matt Lieber shows himself comfortable with the quick tempo changes in that song and elsewhere on the self-titled, self-released offering, and though the centerpiece “Dr. Dumb” works quickly to earn its position in the CD’s tracklist, ultimately the opener “Blackrock” and the closing duo of “Nothing” and “Beast” are the strongest statements the album has to make in showcasing the diversity nascent in System of Venus‘ approach, “Beast” rising to an apex that though satisfying feels somewhat shortlived in providing the payoff for the record as whole while “Nothing” holds to a quieter, brooding sentiment that plays off the foundational bassline of “Gannets Drive,” giving what might’ve otherwise easily turned out to be a demo an LP’s overarching flow and speaking to an early awareness of quality construction from the Melbourne trio, though “Gannets Drive” seems to cut out early, building to a hit that’s snapped mid-crash, so perhaps there remain some kinks to work out one way or another. All the same, taken as a whole, System of VenusSystem of Venus satisfies as the debut of a band feeling out where they want to be sonically, and bodes well for where they might grow their sound somewhere between grunge, doom and heavy rock.

System of Venus, System of Venus (2013)

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System of Venus on Bandcamp

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GIVEAWAY: Win a Vinyl Copy of Black Space Riders’ New Album, D:REI

Posted in Buried Treasure on March 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Leave a comment on this post and make sure your email is included in the box asking for it to win a vinyl copy of Black Space Riders‘ new album, D:REI. The giveaway will go until Friday, at which point I’ll pick a winner at random and notify that person via email. The record is 180g black double-vinyl and also includes the CD version of D:REI, which tops a full 78 minutes.

I like, whenever I’m able, to do giveaways. Free stuff is an automatic win, and in the case of Black Space Riders, all the better that someone gets acquainted with their far-ranging space metal. Their material has proven to be widely varied over the course of their two prior albums, and this one, which was released by the band in January, certainly follows suit, running a spectrum from driving riffs to ambient drones and always managing to keep a flow from song to song and a consistent level of intelligence throughout the varied atmospheres of their work.

The title D:REI, aside from hinting at the German word for “three,” stands for “Defiance,” “Ruins,” “Escape” and “Beyond” (presumably that’s a translation thing), the subheading under which each side of the 2LP arrives. Black Space Riders‘ ethic has to-date leaned toward the conceptual and narrative, and their third outing only pushes further, as you can hear on the Bandcamp player below.

Take a listen and leave a comment to enter into the giveaway. Good luck to all, and thanks for your continued support of this site. Black Space RidersD:REI is available now as an independent release from the band with distribution from Cargo Records in their native Germany. More info at the links under the player.

Black Space Riders, D:REI (2014)

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