Clepsydra’s Tropicarium LP Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

clepsydra

Italian four-piece Clepsydra released their fourth full-length, Tropicarium, back in May through Go Down Records, but as happens more or less all the time at this point, different formats show up at different times. As such, the vinyl edition of the album, which you can hear in its entirety below, will be out next month, and to sweeten the pot, Go Down is making a limited number of preorders available with a free CD copy as well. They put up 25, and I don’t know how many are gone at this point, but if you’re as format-obsessed as some people I know — myself, for example — it’s something you might want to check out after you give the stream a listen.

Info follows, as seen on the internets:

clepsydra tropicarium

If you buy now the pre-order of this vinyl, you will receive the free CD.

The CD will be shipped immediately. Only the first 25 buyers.

Clepsydra released its fourth album ,“Tropicarium”, in November2015 on the label Go Down Records. The album is enriched by the sound of a new member: Sandro Abbondanza playing the Fender Rhodes and organ.

Tropicarium, developed with the artist Andrea Di Felice and the DJ Andrea Mathis (both participating in lyrics writing), is a work starting from basic embryonic concepts such as a pencil sketch, a trip, a sound, a smell. This particular approach started a kind of “beehive” where everyone has raised their own “species”, making the 13 tracks visible through the canvas painted by Di Felice.

The balance of the “Tropicarium” is held firmly by the awareness that everything is cyclical and that what we lose will be found for sure somewhere else.

CLEPSYDRA
Artist: CLEPSYDRA
Title: Tropicarium
Format: LP + CD
Label: GO DOWN RECORDS

Tracks:
1. The Witch
2. I’m In
3. Chocolate
4. Jerry The Pine
5. Sahara Freaks
6. Bus To Mijas
7. When The Bottle Is Gonna Finish
8. Port Huron (Blu Ride)
9. Like Nowhere Else
10. Green Blinds
11. The Legendary Battle Between Pazoleros And Tobago Seals
12. Children Of A Lesser God
13. Tropicarium

:::::: NEXT GIGS :::::::
22 August – CLEPSYDRA@FREAK at TOWN FESTIVAL Roncofreddo (FC)
3 September – CLEPSYDRA@HOME FESTIVAL Treviso

http://www.godownrecords.com/en-UK/clepsydra-lp-pre-order-free-cd-godlp126.php
http://www.clepsydraband.it/home
http://www.godownrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/clepsydra.it
https://soundcloud.com/clepsydra

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Last Licks 2014: Nate Hall, Nocturnal Poisoning, Snailking, Godmaker, Void Generator, The Mound Builders, Mother Kasabian, Deep Space Destructors, Underdogs and Human Services

Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy to report that I survived the first day of this project. Spirits are good and I look at the stack of discs (plus one book; we’ll get there) in front of me and feel relatively confident that by the time I’m through it, my cerebral cortex will still manage to function in the limited way it usually does. If yesterday’s installment is anything to go by, however, I’ll be well out of adjectives by then. What’s another word for “heavy?”

There’s only one way to find out. These will be reviews 11-20 of the total 50. I don’t know if they say the first 10 are the hardest or the last, but I’ll be in the thick of it when this is posted and while I’m sure I probably could turn back and catch minimal if any flack for it — one “Hey wha happen?” on Thee Facebooks seems likely penance — better to just keep going. Another stack awaits tomorrow, after all.

Thanks in advance to anyone reading:

Nate Hall, Electric Vacuum Roar

nate hall electric vacuum roar

Electric Vacuum Roar is one of two Nate Hall physical releases from this fall. The U.S. Christmas frontman and solo performer also has a few digital odds and ends and Fear of Falling, on which he partners with a rhythm section. Released by Heart and Crossbone Records and Domestic Genocide, Electric Vacuum Roar is closer to a solo affair. Hall is joined by Caustic Resin’s Brett Netson on guitar/bass on two extended tracks: “Dance of the Prophet” (16:46) and “Long Howling Decline/People Fall Down” (11:57). The second part of the latter is a reinterpretation of a Caustic Resin song, though here it is droned out and put through a portal of drumless and inward-looking psychedelia, turned into the finale of a communicative and intimate affair. Amp noise and effects swirl around “Dance of the Prophet,” and it’s easy to get lost in it, but Hall maintains a steady presence of obscure vocals and the result is what tribal might be if tribes were comprised of one person.

Nate Hall on Thee Facebooks

Heart and Crossbone Records

Nocturnal Poisoning, Doomgrass

nocturnal poisoning doomgrass

I’ve never tried to break up a one-man band, but I can’t imagine Scott Conner – who helped pave the way for US black metal under the moniker Malefic in Xasthur – has had an easy time of it since he put that band to bed in 2010. Nocturnal Poisoning, whose Doomgass arrives via The End Records, is an entirely different beast. Centered around layers folkish acoustic guitar, cleanly produced backed by occasional bass and tambourine, Doomgrass is still depressive at its core – Robert N. contributes guest vocals, almost gothic in style, to songs like “Starstruck by Garbage” and “Illusion of Worth” – but if the name is a portmanteau of doom and bluegrass, it fits the style. If anything ties Nocturnal Poisoning to Xasthur aside from Conner’s involvement, it’s a focus on atmosphere, but the two ultimately have little in common otherwise, and Nocturnal Poisoning’s exploratory feel is refreshingly individualized and leaves one wondering if Conner will be able to resist the full-band-sound impulse going forward.

Nocturnal Poisoning on Thee Facebooks

Doomgrass at The End Records

Snailking, Storm

snailking storm

Though they’re decidedly post-metal in their influences – Neurosis, YOB, obviously Ufomammut for whose record they are named – Sweden’s Snailking keep to heavy rock tones on their Consouling Sounds debut full-length, Storm, and that greatly bolsters the album’s personality. Even as they lumber, the riffs of 11-minute opener “To Wander” are fuzzed-out, and that remains true throughout the five mostly-extended cuts the trio of drummer Olle Svahn, bassist Frans Levin and guitarist/vocalist Pontus Ottosson present on their first record, which follows the 2012 demo, Samsara (review here). Centerpiece “Slithering” is the shortest and most churning of the bunch at 6:32, but the particularly YOBian “Requiem” underscores another value greatly working in Storm’s favor – the patience with which Snailking present the ambience of their pieces. That will serve them well as they continue to distinguish themselves from their forebears, but for now, Storm makes a welcome opening salvo from the three-piece highlighting both their potential and how far they’ve come already since the release of their demo.

Snailking on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds

Godmaker, Godmaker

godmaker godmaker

The self-titled debut from thoroughly-bearded Brooklynite four-piece Godmaker arrives via Aqualamb as an art-book and download, a full 96 pages of designs, lyrics to the four included tracks of the vinyl-ready 32-minute long-player, live shots from a variety of sources, bizarre geometry and odd etchings feeding the atmosphere of the songs themselves, somewhere between sludge, thrash and aggressive noise with scream-topped moments of doom like “Shallow Points.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalists Pete Ross and Chris Strait, bassist Andrew Archey and drummer Jon Lane, Godmaker fluidly shifts between the various styles at work in their sound, whether it’s the explosion at the end of “Shallow Points” or that beginning the rush of opener “Megalith,” and while their self-titled is a dense listen, with the surprising post-hardcore take of “Desk Murder” and the check-out-this-badass-riff-now-we’re-going-to-smash-your-face-with-it 11-minute metallic closer “Faded Glory,” it efficiently satisfies. More so after a couple listens front to back. If Godmaker were breaking your bones, it would be a clean break, and yes, that’s a compliment to their attack.

Godmaker on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb

Void Generator, Supersound

void generator supersound

Supersound is the first full-length from Italian heavy psych rockers Void Generator since 2010’s Phantom Hell and Soar Angelic (review here), and where that album held three extended pieces, the latest and third overall breaks into smaller pieces. Some of those are extended – opener “Behind My Door” is 8:09 and “Master of the Skies” tops nine minutes – but the bulk of Supersound’s seven tracks is shorter works somewhere between desert rock and classic psych, guitarist Gianmarco Iantaffi leading the four-piece with a  more subdued vocal approach than last time out, compressed even in the rowdier verses of “What are You Doin’” (written by Sandro Chiesa), on which the keys of Enrico Cosimi feature heavily and add to the sound too crisp to be totally retro but still vehemently organic. Bassist Sonia Caporossi (also acoustic guitar on penultimate interlude “Universal Winter”) and drummer Marco Cenci hold together the fluid grooves as Void Generator follows these varied impulses, and Supersound proves cohesive and no less broadly scoped than its predecessor.

Void Generator on Thee Facebooks

Phonosphera Records

The Mound Builders, Wabash War Machine

the mound builders wabash war machine

There’s a version of The Mound Builders’ 17-minute Wabash War Machine EP from Failure Records and Tapes that includes a comic book, but even the regular sleeve CD edition gives a glimpse at the Lafayette, Indiana, five-piece’s heavy Southern metal push. The middle two of the four inclusions, “Sport of Crows” and “Bar Room Queen,” surfaced earlier this year on a split tape with Bo Jackson 5 (review here), but opener “Wabash War Machine” and the sludged-up closer “The Mound” on which the guitars of Brian Boszor and “Ninja” Nate Malher phase between channels and vocalist Jim Voelz delivers his harshest performance to date, are brand new, albeit recorded at the same sessions in July 2013. “Wabash War Machine” highlights the band’s blend of southern metal and heavy groove, guitar intricacy and a gang-shout chorus meeting thick rollout from bassist Robert Ryan Strawsma and drummer Jason “Dinger” Brookhart, but it’s the finale that’s the EP’s most lasting impression, as pummeling as The Mound Builders have gotten to date.

The Mound Builders on Thee Facebooks

Failure Records and Tapes

Mother Kasabian, Mother Kasabian

mother kasabian mother kasabian

In Olof’s buzzsaw guitar tone, the thud of Karl’s drums and Gidon’s abiding vocal menace, “Strike of the Emperor” gives notice of some Celtic Frost influence, but that’s hardly the whole tale when it comes Stockholm trio Mother Kasabian’s self-titled, self-released debut EP, as “The Black Satanic Witch of Saturn” immediately calls to mind The Doors in its minimal, spacious verse and offsets this with a soulful classic heavy rock chorus en route to the seven-minute “Close of Kaddish,” which works in a similar pattern – hitting notes of Trouble-style doom in its crescendos – and offers Mother Kasabian’s widest ranging moment ahead of the swaggering closer “The Return of the Mighty King and His Cosmic Elephants.” Swinging drums and variety in Gidon’s The Crazy World of Arthur Brown-style approach give the EP a distinguished feel despite raw production and it being Mother Kasabian’s first outing, and with the psych touches in the finale and a generally unhinged vibe throughout, the trio showcase considerable potential at work.

Mother Kasabian on Thee Facebooks

Mother Kasabian on Bandcamp

Deep Space Destructors, III

deep space destructors iii

Active since 2011 and with two prior full-lengths – 2012’s I (review here) and 2013’s II (review here) – under their belt, Oulu, Finland, heavy psych trio Deep Space Destructors offer their definitive stylistic statement in the wash of III, a five-song/45-minute cosmic excursion with progressive krautrock edge (see “Spaceship Earth”) driven into heavier territory through dense fuzz in guitarist Petri Lassila’s tone and the chemistry between he, vocalist/bassist Jani Pitkänen and drummer Markus Pitkänen. Their extended but plotted jammy course finds culmination in the 15-minute penultimate cut “An Ode to Indifferent Universe,” – King Crimson and Floyd laced together by synth sounds – but the space-rock thrust of closer “Ikuinen Alku” highlights the multifaceted approach Deep Space Destructors have developed since their inception, consistently psychedelic but expansive. The sides gel effectively on “Cosmic Burial,” lending modern crash and tonal heft to classic ideals to craft something new from them in admirable form. As far out as they’ve gone, Deep Space Destructors still seem to be exploring new ground.

Deep Space Destructors on Thee Facebooks

Deep Space Destructors on Bandcamp

Underdogs, Underdogs

underdogs underdogs

Released as a cooperative production between Garage Records and Go Down Records, Italian trio Underdogs’ second, self-titled LP pushes further along the straight-lined course of heavy rock their 2007 debut, Ready to Burn, and 2011’s Revolution Love (review here) charted. Songs like “Nothing but the Best” strip away the Queens of the Stone Age-style fuzz of past outings in favor of a cleaner tone and overall feel, and while that spirit shows up later on side B’s “Called Play” and the rumbling grunge of “My Favourite Game” (a cover of The Cardigans), the prevailing vibe speaks to European commercial viability with clear hooks and straightforward structures. Acoustic finale “The Closing Song” offers a last-minute shift in style, calling to mind UnderdogsDogs without Plugs digital release, but even in more barebones form, the songwriting remains the focus on this mature third offering from a three-piece who’ve clearly figured out the direction in which they want to head and have set about developing an audience-friendly sound.

Underdogs on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records

Human Services, Animal Fires

human services animal fires

Since they issued their self-titled debut (review here) in 2012, Virginia’s Human Services have brought aboard Steve Kerchner of Lord, and he brings as much a sense of chaos to Animal Fires as one might expect in teaming with Jeff Liscombe, Sean Sanford, Don Piffalo and Billy Kurilko, though the 59-minute full-length isn’t without its structure. Longer songs pair with concise noise experiments throughout the first 10 of the total 13 tracks, and each is different, so that even as the gap between songs is bridged, the stylistic basis for Animal Fires is branched out. The result is that by the time “Onyedinci Yil Sürüsü” closes out the album proper before the 17-minute live inclusion “No Structures in the Eye of the Jungle” hits, Human Services have reimagined the modus of Godflesh as an extremity of organic noisemaking, Southern heavy and eerie progressivism. Shades of Neurosis show up in centerpiece “Rats of a Feather,” but they too are twisted to suit the band’s creative purposes, threatening and engagingly bleak.

Human Services on Thee Facebooks

Human Services on Bandcamp

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Fatso Jetson & Herba Mate, Early Shapes Split: Tutta Forza

Posted in Reviews on August 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Intricate though it is, the jpeg cover art for Fatso Jetson and Herba Mate‘s Early Shapes split on Go Down Records does little justice to the physical reality of the finished product. Pressed to limited white vinyl with screenprinted covers or available in a gorgeous fold-out digi-box with fractal designs and liner notes printed on a kind of psychedelic gatefold, Early Shapes is impressive both to hold and to hear, comprising three tracks from the Californian desert legends and four from the Italian upstart trio. For Fatso Jetson — the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Mario Lalli (also of Yawning Man), guitarist Dino Von Lalli, bassist Larry Lalli and drummer Tony Tornay (now also playing with Brant Bjork) — it’s their second partnership with Italy’s Go Down Records, the first having been the limited run Live at Maximum Festival (review here) earlier this year, and their second recent split behind a 2013 collaboration with Yawning Man. In Herba Mate‘s case, Early Shapes is the first I’ve heard from them since their engagingly atmospheric 2009 debut, The Jellyfish is Dead and the Hurricane is Coming (review here), the Bolognese three-piece of bassist/vocalist Alessandro Trere, guitarist Andrea Barlotti and drummer Ermes Piancastelli having spent the last couple years playing shows and generally refining what was an already well-directed take on desert rock. Vinyl-ready at 38 minutes, Early Shapes is hypnotically jammed and sweetly melodic, the two acts not so much competing in the richness of what they do as celebrating the vibes they’re both so able to conjure musically. All the better for the front-to-back listen of the CD, which is consistent in its mood while still showcasing the distinct personalities of the two groups. Frankly, it’s a pairing that I thought would work well when I first heard about it and which works better than I anticipated.

They’re further tied together by the fact that both bands end their portion of Early Shapes with an eight-plus-minute (mostly) instrumental jam, and though Herba Mate‘s “Desert Inn II” feels more plotted than Fatso Jetson‘s “Nyquilt” — particularly because it complements and builds off “Desert Inn I,” which begins the trio’s side of the split — both resonate with an open creativity. Fatso Jetson‘s other inclusions, “Living all over You” and “Long Deep Breath” build on the notion of them not only as mainstays of the CA desert, but as an essential piece of that puzzle along with Yawning ManKyuss, and so on, both in sound and personnel. Mathias Schneeberger, who also recorded the opening duo, contributes Rhodes piano, and Adam Harding (Dumb Numbers) offers guitar and vocals to “Nyquilt,” while singer-songwriter Abby Travis guests vocally on “Long Deep Breath.” Gary Arce of Yawning Man is purported to also have contributed guitar to Fatso Jetson‘s tracks, and I’d going by the tone of “Long Deep Breath,” I’d believe it, but there’s no mention of him in the liner. Still, “Living all over You” begins the split with its most memorable push, a weighted groove unfolding topped by a serene, echoing vocal from Mario, far off from most of the jazzy spasms of Fatso Jetson‘s last full-length, 2010’s underrated Archaic Volumes (review here), but consistent stylistically with their past all the same and building to a satisfying apex before “Long Deep Breath” gets moving on the foundation of Tornay‘s drums, more open in atmosphere, but still cohesive, a chorus and bridge made even more gorgeous by Travis‘ voice joining Mario‘s before a buzzsaw solo takes hold. A mood only bolstered by “Nyquilt,” if this kind of inclusive, ambient spirit is where Fatso Jetson might be headed directionally for their next album, then it can’t get here fast enough. Perhaps most impressive about the tracks is that no matter where Fatso Jetson seem to head sound-wise, they still sound so distinctly like themselves, and they seem to be in full command of their aesthetic, not so much conforming to the desert rock style they helped create as taking those elements with them on a creative journey outside genre bounds.

fatso jetson

herba mate

It would be folly for Herba Mate to try to beat Fatso Jetson at their own game, but fortunately the three-piece are off on another trip. Trere is somewhat more aggressive vocally, but not by much, and the heavy roll that Herba Mate enact on “Desert Inn I” is pretty telling of what they have on offer in general, though following the original “Dance Dance Dance,” they surprise with a cover of Core‘s “Way Down,” adding tonal depth to the punkish ’90s heaviness of the New Jersey band’s original version. That and “Dance Dance Dance” are shorter, which accounts for Herba Mate‘s four tracks as opposed to Fatso Jetson‘s three, but the spirit of the material — which was captured live at Go Down‘s studio with some additional recording/mixing later — is fluid and engrossing, a sudden stop late in “Dance Dance Dance” being the only really jarring moment, and one clearly designed as such. Even the transition between the rush of “Way Down” and the languid heavy psych of “Desert Inn II” is natural, the latter feeling like the return to and expansion on the first installment that it is. Herba Mate‘s is a welcome return, and the jam-minded sensibilities, as well as the laid back approach they take to the release overall — including the Core cover seems to speak to an anything-goes mentality that suits them almost as much as the warm, organic production with which these songs are presented — speak to a confidence in what they’re doing that’s bound to serve them well as they move forward as much as it already serves them well here. I don’t know what either their plans or those of Fatso Jetson might be, but the quality of output from both bands makes Early Shapes feel like more than a simple stopgap en route to larger standalone releases, and whether one takes it as two distinct vinyl sides or listens straight through front-to-back to the CD, there’s really no interruption of flow, Herba Mate and Fatso Jetson pairing remarkably well for the sincerity of their approaches and the the immersion of what they create. It’s not often a release with two different bands recorded under multiple circumstances comes across as smoothly as Early Shapes, but there’s a likemindedness at root here that makes it barely a “split” at all.

Fatso Jetson & Herba Mate, Early Shapes teaser

Fatso Jetson on Thee Facebooks

Herba Mate on Thee Facebooks

Early Shapes at Go Down Records

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Deadpeach Reissue Psycle; New Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I picked up a copy of Deadpeach‘s Psycle a few years back from All That is Heavy and dug it for even more than its ultra-stoner earlier-Malleus cover art. The Italian outfit released a follow-up in 2011, aptly-titled 2, and reportedly have a new one coming called Aurum that will see release in 2014. To tide fans over into the New Year or at very least hopefully get word out about the new release, Deadpeach have made Psycle available again, digitally this time, through iTunes and Amazon.

The band sent word about both Psycle‘s reissue and the impending Aurum, and there’s a link where you can check out the earlier record, but I thought I’d post it with the teaser for the newer album instead, in case anyone unfamiliar with the band wants to get a feel for what they’re doing now as opposed to 2006, when the debut came out.

Groovy:

The new album of Deadpeach will be titled ‘Aurum’. Is a 5 track album, songs are : Calcutta, Gold, The line, Stomper, Traffic, (about 40 minute). The album was recorded and mixed by Epi at the godownrecords studio, Mastering Alessandro Cenciarini.

The album’s artwork is edited by Neal Williams epicproblems.com, that already has done posters for Soundgarden, Dinosaur jr, Opeth, Neurosis and other.

While waiting for the release date, of the third studio album by Deadpeach, is available from today, the digital version of their debut album titled Psycle; it was released in 2006 by godowrecords and reprinted in 2007 on vinyl,picture disk and cd digipack by the Nasoni-records.

“Psycle”, is a psychedelic fuzz rock grooves album. Artwork by Malleus.

Seven tracks of wild and amazing fuzz rock, psychedelic landscapes from the early 60s/70s, space trippy sounds.

Current line up: Federico Tebaldi (drums), Mr. Steveman (bass), Giovanni Giovannini (guitar, lead vocals), Daniele Bartoli (guitar & slide guitar).

LISTEN HERE TO PSYCLE!
http://player.zimbalam.com/player/8016670448648/6/black/0/0/0/it/

https://www.facebook.com/Deadpeachrock
https://www.deadpeach.com

Deadpeach, Aurum Teaser

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Reviewsplosion II: The Return of 10 Records in One Post

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

I am constantly working at a deficit. Financially, yes, because like many of my countrymen I’m am tens of thousands of dollars in debt — but also in terms of reviews. I’malwaysbehind on reviews. Hell, it was into July of this year before I finally put the kybosh on writing up anything from 2011, and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t put my foot down on it, I’d still have year-old albums going up or older. My to-do list grows like a witchcult.

It’s not something to complain about and I’m not complaining. I’m stoked people give enough of a shit to send their CDs in to be reviewed — especially those who actually send CDs — and it’s for that reason that I do this second reviewsplosion (first one here).

Yeah, as ever, I’m behind on reviews, but I’m also working on being more concise — I swear I am; check out the At a Glance reviews if you don’t believe me — and one of the things I liked so much about the last reviewsplosion was it forced me to get to the fucking point. As direct a line as possible to a review. Boiling the idea down to its essential core.

With that in mind, here’s my attempt to both balance my review budget and be as clear as humanly possible. Hope you dig:

 

Altar of Oblivion, Grand Gesture of Defiance

The subject of some spirited debate on the forum, the second record from Danish five-piece Altar of Oblivion revels in traditional doom methods. There’s an air of pomp in some of the songs — “Graveyard of Broken Dreams” lays it on a little thick — but by and large, Grand Gesture of Defiance (Shadow Kingdom) is a more than solid showing of genre. Classic underground metal flourishes abound, and while it’s not a record to change your life, at six tracks/34 minutes, neither does it hang around long enough to be overly repetitive. You could do way worse. Altar of Oblivion on Thee Facebooks.

 

Blooming Látigo, Esfínteres y Faquires

Primarily? Weird. The Spanish outfiit Blooming Látigo make their debut on Féretro Records (CD) and Trips und Träume (LP) with the all-the-fuck-over-the-place Esfínteres y Faquires, alternately grinding out post-hardcore and reciting Birthday Party-style poetry. They reach pretty hard to get to “experimental,” maybe harder than they need to, but the on-a-dime stops and high-pitched screams on tracks like “Onania” and “Prisciliano” are well beyond fascinating, and the blown-out ending of “La Destrucción del Aura” is fittingly apocalyptic. Who gave the art-school kids tube amps? Blooming Látigo on Bandcamp.

 

El-Thule, Zenit

Five years since their second offering, Green Magic, left such a strong impression, Italian stoner rock trio El-Thule return with Zenit (Go Down Records), which makes up for lost time with 50 minutes of heavy riffs, fuzzy desert grooves and sharp, progressive rhythms. The band — El Comandante (bass), Mr. Action (guitar/vocals) and Gweedo Weedo (drums/vocals) — may have taken their time in getting it together, but there’s little about Zenit that lags, be it the faster, thrashier “Nemesis” or thicker, Torche-esque melodic push of the highlight “Quaoar.” It’s raw, production-wise, but I hope it’s not another half-decade before El-Thule follow it up. El-Thule on Thee Facebooks.

 

Botanist, III: Doom in Bloom

It’s a nature-worshiping post-black metal exploration of what the History Channel has given the catchy title “life after people.” If you’ve ever wondered what blastbeats might sound like on a dulcimer, Botanist‘s third album, III: Doom in Bloom has the answers you seek, caking its purported hatred of human kind in such creative instrumentation and lyrics reverent of the natural world rather than explicitly misanthropic. The CD (on Total Rust) comes packaged with a second disc called Allies, featuring the likes of Lotus Thief and Matrushka and giving the whole release a manifesto-type feel, which suits it well. Vehemently creative, it inadvertently taps into some of the best aspects of our species. Botanist’s website.

 

GravelRoad, Psychedelta

Say what you will about whiteboys and the blues, the bass tone that starts “Nobody Get Me Down” is unfuckwithable. And Seattle trio GravelRoad come by it pretty honestly, having served for years as the backing back for bluesman T-Model Ford. The album Psychedelta (on Knick Knack Records) jams out on its start-stop fuzz in a way that reminds not so much of Clutch but of the soul and funk records that inspired Clutch in the first place, and though it never gets quite as frenetic in its energy as Radio Moscow, there’s some of that same vibe persisting through “Keep on Movin'” or their Junior Kimbrough cover “Leave Her Alone.” Throaty vocals sound like a put-on, but if they can nail down that balance, GravelRoad‘s psychedelic blues has some real potential in its open spaces. GravelRoad on Thee Facebooks.

 

The Linus Pauling Quartet, Bag of Hammers

Texas toast. The Linus Pauling Quartet offer crisp sunbursts of psychedelic heavy rock, and after nearly 20 years and eight full-lengths, that shouldn’t exactly be as much of a surprise as it is. Nonetheless, Bag of Hammers (Homeskool Records) proffers a 41-minute collection of heady ’90s-loving-the-’70s tones while venturing into classic space rock on “Victory Gin” and ballsy riffing on “Saving Throw.” Being my first experience with the band, the album is a refreshing listen and unpretentious to its very core. Eight-minute culminating jam “Stonebringer” is as engaging a display of American stoner rock as I’ve heard this year, and I have to wonder why it took eight records before I finally heard this five-man quartet? Hits like its title. LP4’s website.

 

Odyssey, Abysmal Despair


It’s the damnedest thing, but listening to Abysmal Despair, the Transubstans Records debut from Swedish prog sludge/noise rockers Odyssey, I can’t help but think of Long Island’s own John Wilkes Booth. It’s the vocals, and I know that’s a really specific association most people aren’t going to have, but I do, and I can’t quite get past it. The album is varied, progressive, and working in a variety of modern underground heavy contexts nowhere near as foreboding as the album’s title might imply, like Truckfighters meets Entombed, but I just keep hearing JWB‘sKerry Merkle through his megaphone. Note: that’s not a bad thing, just oddly indicative of the greater sphere of worldwide sonic coincidence in which we all exist. If anything, that just makes me like Abysmal Despair more. Odyssey on Soundcloud.

 

Palkoski, 2012 Demo

Conceptual Virginian free-formers Palkoski released the three-track/67-minute 2012 demo earlier this year through Heavy Hound. Most of it sounds improvised, but for verses here and there that emerge from the various stretches, and the band’s alternately grinding and sparse soundscapery results in an unsettling mash of psychotic extremity. It is, at times, painful to listen, but like some lost tribal recording, it’s also utterly free. Limited to 100 CDs with a second track called “The Shittiest  EP Ever” and a third that’s a sampling of Palkoski‘s ultra-abrasive noise experimentation live, this one is easily not for the faint of heart. Still, there’s something alluring in the challenge it poses. Palkoski at Heavy Hound.

 

Radar Men from the Moon, Echo Forever

Following their charming 2011 EP, Intergalactic Dada and Space Trombones, the Eindhoven instrumental trio Radar Men from the Moon (On the Radar’ed here) return on the relative quick with a 51-minute full-length, Echo Forever. More progressive in its jams, the album’s psychedelic sprawl shows the band developing — I hesitate to compare them to 35007 just because they happen to be Dutch, but the running bassline that underscores “Atomic Mother” is a tempter — but there’s still an immediacy behind their changes that keeps them from really belonging to the laid-back sphere of European jam-minded heavy psychedelia. They’re getting warmer though, stylistically and tonally, and I like that. Interesting to hear a song like “Heading for the Void” and think Sungrazer might be burgeoning as an influence. Cool jams for the converted. Radar Men from the Moon on Bandcamp.

 

Sound of Ground, Sky Colored Green

There are elements of of Yawning Man, or Unida or other acts in the Californian desert milieu, but basically, Moscow’s Sound of Ground sound like Kyuss. They know it. Their R.A.I.G. debut full-length, Sky Colored Green, makes no attempt to hide it, whether it’s the “Green Machine” riffing of “Lips of the Ocean” or the speedier Slo-Burnery of “El Caco,” though the metallic screaming on “R.H.S.” is a dead giveaway for the band’s youth, coming off more like early Down than anything Josh Homme ever plugged in to play. While not necessarily original, the trio are firm in their convictions, and Sound of Ground tear through these 11 tracks with engaging abandon. The Russian scene continues to intrigue. Sound of Ground on Thee Facebooks.

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Underdogs, Revolution Love: Desert Ride of the Mother Fuzzers

Posted in Reviews on January 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Heavy rocking Italian trio Underdogs got together in 2005 and released their Go Down Records debut in the form of 2007’s Ready to Burn. That record was rife with straightforward desert-hued rock and fuzz, and their sophomore outing following 2009’s unplugged download-only EP, Dogs without Plugs, Revolution Love, continues the thread started by the first album. Underdogs – joined here by new drummer Alberto “Trevi” Trevisan – ably capture their appreciation for the sound of the Californian desert. The guitars of Michele “Jimmy” Fontanarosa have a crunch and compression to them that will be familiar to anyone who’s spent time with Songs for the Deaf or Lullabies to Paralyze-era Queens of the Stone Age, and though bassist Simone “Sabbath” Vian (also vocals) has a punkish bent to his playing at times and a cleaner, less directly fuzzed tone, the three-piece work well together in carrying across their musical ideas and influences. Vian’s vocals remind in places of earliest Dozer, and though they’re not blindingly original, the songs have a sense of character to them that comes out over the course of repeat listens, be it the sub-psych brooding stonerism of “Into the Wild (O.W.K.)” or the catchy upbeat drive of opener “Prove You Wrong” and it’s “Burn motherfucker, burn motherfucker, burn,” chorus. Perhaps unsurprisingly, sex is a regular feature on Revolution Love, “Devil Dancing (Pyramida)” opening with a solid bass groove and some “Oh baby, slowly” moaning from Vian. It kind of felt like listening to someone getting a blowjob in that verse, but I guess that’s probably what Underdogs were going for. Fair enough.

That song picks up into one of Revolution Love’s most complex structures, running from one rocking riff to the next and only returning to the bass-led opening part for its outro section. As a late-album sidestep from the well-established (by then) ethic of straightforward songwriting, it works well and is made all the more effective by its still-catchy chorus. In general, the second half of the album begins to move away from some of the earlier cuts’ methods, but the accessibility of “Prove You Wrong” and “Beautiful Optional Girl” remains high throughout, and as “(Feel Like) Mad Cow” puts Vian’s bass in the leadership role for the first time, Fontanarosa driving the chorus but stepping back for the verse, their moves aren’t entirely unannounced. Interplay between the guitar and bass, maybe even more than between the bass and the drums or the guitar and the drums, proves to be the crux of Revolution Love – whether or not that’s due to when Trevisan came on board, I don’t know – and that’s not a slight on the drummer’s playing. However, as Vian lays down a warm groove for the more subdued, quiet Truckfighters-esque “Helpless,” I’m more drawn to Fontanarosa’s accenting notes than Trevisan’s drum work. On the whole, the trio works well together, but one gets the feeling that there’s more integration to come from this lineup, though by the time the start-stop verse of “Half a Blowjob” hits, it hardly feels like a concern at all.

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Fango, Icarus: Drowning in the Sun

Posted in Reviews on November 14th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Making their home at the foot of the Alps in Northern Italy, the four-piece Fango made their debut in 2010 with the full-length, Nel Buio. Signed in 2011 to the respectable purveyors of the heavy at Go Down Records, Fango released the 10” EP Icarus earlier this year. In defiance of their landscape, guitarists/vocalists Simo and Cina, bassist Berna and drummer Lorenzo play a straightforward, desert-hued rock that owes its tonality mostly to mid-period Kyuss or any number of European acts fallen under their influence, up to and including earliest Dozer, Truckfighters and Lowrider. Seems like esteemed stylistic company for Fango to keep, and they’re certainly not the only ones keeping it, but the four tracks on Icarus (two per side) hold fast to their methodology, never quite veering from desert rock into the purely stoner or otherwise drugged-out, but also never losing sight of the heaviness in their riffing. Not having heard Nel Buio (which featured a different rhythm section and so might not make the best sample anyway), I don’t know how much they change up their songwriting in a full-length scenario, but although Simo and Cina switch vocal prominence and the back half of Icarus has a few turns, there isn’t much different happening structurally between any of these songs. “Drown” and “Icarus” on the first side and “Frantumi” and “What I Think (Reprise)” on the second make use of strong verses and choruses with some marked interplay between the guitarists, clear, full production and a bit of synth on the closer.

The result isn’t necessarily original, but it is well-executed and should hopefully serve this lineup well going into their next LP, with Simo and Cina working together on vocals and guitar to lend the songs character. They do so almost immediately on Icarus opener “Drown,” which plays hooky lead lines off underlying rhythm riffs to earn the above Truckfigthers comparison. Lorenzo peppers the verses with tom fills for a mellow flow that’s offset by the more active chorus. Groove is paramount, and while the connection between Fango and the myth from which their EP has taken its name isn’t clear, the band don’t seem to be flying low enough to get where they’re going without too much wax-melting flash or showy ambition. They nestle themselves into desert rock on the first half of Icarus and fit well there, the title-track lacking nothing in accessibility or charm. The final minute of the song finds solo tradeoffs bringing back the chorus for one last go before the ending, and if nothing else, Fango prove capable songwriters as they punctuate “Icarus” with a last-second growl on the line “Riding through the sun.” The desert-cruising ethic is pervasive in the music but not wholly redundant in light of the side two shifts in atmosphere, and while one could probably get hung up on drawing lines between Fango and other bands, at four songs, 14 minutes, it seems excessive to do so.

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The Sade, Damned Love: Casting Futures in Dead Men’s Bones

Posted in Reviews on August 4th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Stepping out from his role as one of two six-stringers in OJM, Italian guitarist Andrew Pozzy also takes on vocal duties with The Sade. The Padova trio’s debut, Damned Love (Go Down Records), is lucky 13 tracks of mostly straightforward, classically-minded – thinking more Led Zeppelin than Bach – heavy rock. Given OJM’s deeply individualized progressive bent and The Sade’s clear love of heavy ‘70s riffing, catchy songcraft and upbeat, energetic approach, I’m tempted to liken the differences between The Sade and OJM to those between Greenleaf and Dozer, but though there are some sonic similarities, particularly on the organ infused centerpiece “Borderline,” that’s mostly a conceptual analogy, rather than one of actual sonics. Damned Love mostly resides in the three-to-four-minute range in terms of its tracks, but in that time, the band – obviously led by Pozzy, but with the rhythm section of Mark Kimberly (bass and backing vocals) and Mat Zoombie (drums) also making formidable contributions – maintain the energy they put forth in their first couple songs, while also showing influences from punk and stoner rock.

The strive here isn’t so much to expand a sound or show sonic diversity as it is to work within a given structure to create something both familiar and unique. With the help of crisp production and a few guests along the way – Fab Shaman joins Kimberly on backing vocals on many of the tracks and OJM bassist Stefano Pasky handles organ and piano throughout, Lou Silver of Small Jackets contributes harmonica to “Dead Man’s Bones (The Dead Man Blues)” and engineer/mixer Maurizio Baggio adds percussion and guitar – The Sade does just that, sounding full but casual on gas pedal cuts like “Nice Trash” or the earlier “Run for Me Darling,” which features one of Damned Love’s most effective choruses. “Run for Me Darling” follows instrumental opener “Sadism,” which sounds to my Jerseyan ears like some of the guitar runs one might hear kicking off a record by a less fuzzed-out The Atomic Bitchwax, but is likely just getting down with the same Ritchie Blackmore jams. It’s a strong beginning for Damned Love, either way, and with “Live You Again” bringing a Social Distortion-type punkabilly feel – aided by Pasky’s piano – and all of the first three tracks being under three minutes, it’s clear The Sade wanted to start their debut with as much energy as possible. In this too, they meet with success.

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