Monolord Announce US Tour with Beastmaker and Sweat Lodge; New 10″ out Aug. 5

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Swedish megaplodders Monolord will return to US shores in August/September on a coast-to-coast tour supported by Beastmaker and Sweat Lodge. The rather significant round of tour dates will come complemented by a new two-song 10″ EP that will be the prolific Gothenburg trio’s first studio work since 2015’s second LP, Vænir (review here), which like its predecessor, was released by RidingEasy Records to formidable acclaim. This isn’t Monolord‘s first US run — they came through last year with Windhand — but it’s their first time headlining, and it’s an extensive way to arrive at that pivotal threshold.

This just in, or out, or whatever. You know what I mean:

monolord us tour dates

Monolord announce U.S. headlining tour and forthcoming 10″ EP on RidingEasy Records

Swedish trio Monolord announce their first North American headlining tour and a new 2-song 10″ EP today, both coming in August. The band won many new fans last fall supporting Windhand and RidingEasy Records labelmates Danava, and now return to headline with support from Beastmaker (Rise Above Records) and Sweat Lodge (Brutal Panda). Tickets for all markets go on sale May 27th. Please see complete dates below.

Monolord’s forthcoming EP will be available August 5th on 10″ vinyl and download via RidingEasy Records.

8/5 Seattle, WA Barboza
8/6 Bellingham, WA The Shakedown
8/8 SF, CA The Chapel
8/9 LA, CA The Viper Room
8/11 SD, CA Soda Bar
8/12 Scottsdale, AZ The Rogue Bar
8/13 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad
8/15 Dallas, TX The Rail Club
8/16 Austin, TX The Sidewinder
8/17 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall
8/18 San Antonio, TX The Korova
8/19 NOLA Siberia
8/20 Tampa, FL The Orpheum
8/21 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Kreepy Tiki Bar & Lounge
8/22 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub
8/23 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
8/24 Richmond, VA The Broadberry
8/26 Baltimore, MD The Windup Space
8/27 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus Bar
8/28 Philly, PA Voltage Lounge
8/30 Boston, MA Great Scott
9/1 Toronto, ON Coalition: T.O
9/2 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
9/3 Chicago, IL The Empty Bottle
9/4 Minneapolis, MN The Cabooze
9/5 Omaha, NE Lookout Lounge
9/6 Denver, CO Lost Lake
9/7 Salt Lake City, UT Metro Bar
9/8 Sacramento, CA Starlite Lounge
9/9 Portland, OR Ash Street Saloon
9/10 Vancouver, BC Astoria Hastings

Monolord, Vænir (2015)

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Cities of Mars, Celestial Mistress: Forging Temples (Plus Full EP Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

cities of mars celestial mistress

[Click play above to stream Cities of Mars’ Celestial Mistress EP in full. It’s out Friday, April 8, via Suicide Records.]

Swedish trio Cities of Mars impressed last year with their debut two-songer, Cyclopean Ritual / The Third Eye (streamed here). That release found them not only basking in plus-sized riffing and thick, rolling grooves, but also introduced the lead character, Nadia, whose story continues on the follow-up three-track EP, Celestial Mistress, issued via Suicide Records with intentions toward a 10″ pressing later in 2016. Together, the two offerings seem geared toward establishing a foundation for a first Cities of Mars full-length still to come, but it’s important to note that while the story picking up with Celestial Mistress opener “Gaze of Leviathan” and continuing through “Beneath a Burning Sun” and the sprawl of the 11-minute closing title-track is in progress already at the start of this release, it doesn’t necessarily require one to have heard the prior single to understand what Cities of Mars are going for in terms of sound or overall theme.

We enter with Nadia on Mars. Or, more accurately, beneath it. As the start-stop nod of “Gaze of Leviathan” takes hold, a current of bass rumble from Danne Palm underlying the guitar of Christoffer Norén and the forward cymbal crash of drummer Johan Küchler, the lyrics set the stage for the sci-fi saga playing out. The inclusion of drones or keys in the second verse gives more of a feel that strange things are playing out, and the story follows through there as well, with Nadia making her way underground toward the ancient lost Martian city Bahb-Elon, where she’ll eventually meet the EP’s titular mistress.

Of course, you can engage these songs on that level or not. Out of context, “Gaze of Leviathan” (8:50) offers massive riffs and an infectious, shouted hook that demonstrates clear progression from Cities of Mars‘ initial single while feeling built outward along similar lines, and the subsequent “Beneath a Burning Sun” follows suit structurally and in its push through to its chorus, repeating the title-line as a distinct moment of arrival within it. These songs and “Celestial Mistress” all work just fine on their own, but the narrative deepens the listening experience. “Beneath a Burning Sun” introduces a secondary character — not sure on the name — who was an ancient Martian fighter pilot shot down, and backs up the fluid motion of “Gaze of Leviathan”‘s verses, chorus, solo, ending with an efficient, relatively straightforward take of its own that still opens wide during its initial verse and builds toward its harmonized-shout hook.

cities of mars

As a centerpiece — only three tracks, but still 27 minutes — it provides a landmark that, especially when positioned next to “Celestial Mistress” bodes well for Cities of Mars‘ full-length debut, since it shows not only an ability to vary songwriting around common ideas, but a sense of relating one track to those around it to create an overarching flow, which is something that even a two-song single can’t really accomplish. In its second half, “Beneath a Burning Sun” kicks into faster riffing without losing its central density of swing, and when they turn it back around for a return to the chorus, the effect is unrepentantly righteous. Doesn’t matter if you relate it to Sabbath, or Sleep, or whoever. Done so well, it still sounds heavy as anything.

And as “Beneath a Burning Sun” — presumably that pilot’s aircraft crashed in a Martian desert — winds down its finish in amp noise, the course of Celestial Mistress feels set. The expectation for the title-track is another big hook, more rolling riffs and big tones. Well, it’s still pretty large, all told, but as Nadia confronts the leader of Martian civilization underground, the vibe shifts significantly, and “Celestial Mistress” is much more about spaciousness than impact. Guitars spread wide over an initial movement as rich basslines and ride cymbal provide a sense of motion, and the full-boar riff that takes hold does so after three minutes of build. Dual-vocals from Palm and Norén round out the first verse — all the more spacious — and a moodier sensibility emerges as a more melodic, almost neo-prog metal break arrives at the halfway point, but the course of “Celestial Mistress” is deceptive in that a build is underway already.

Cities of Mars make their way through a few subdued lines before the consuming wall of fuzz kicks back in before the nine-minute mark, Norén topping it with a final lead that, much to the band’s credit, isn’t layered over a line of rhythm guitar, and then rounding out with a last chorus and instrumental roll to end the track cold in a way that suggests “to be continued…” without actually saying it. Whatever it does for the plotline that has run throughout their two releases to-date, Celestial Mistress broadens the scope of Cities of Mars‘ work overall, and finds them as able to conjure an atmosphere as they are to slam their audience with tonal heft. To be blunt, they use both to excellent effect, and as like the single before it, Celestial Mistress was recorded by Esben Willems (also of Monolord), there’s even more a continuity of sound tying their work together. Writing songs that tell a story over multiple releases can be tricky as a band progresses in their style, but like Nadia deep in an underground Martian tunnel, Cities of Mars seem to have no trouble with navigation.

Cities of Mars on Thee Facebooks

Cities of Mars on Bandcamp

Cities of Mars on Instagram

Cities of Mars website

Suicide Records

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The Order of Israfel to Release Red Robes May 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the order of israfel

I’m going to assume that the listed May 27 release date for The Order of Israfel‘s second album, Red Robes, through Napalm Records is the release date for Europe. Napalm usually staggers releases by region, but not by much, so if you’re in the US or elsewhere and it’s not May 27, it’ll likely be somewhere around there. Whenever it shows, it will be the follow-up to the band’s 2014 debut, Wisdom, which found the Gothenburg-based outfit firmly entrenched in classic doom and metal while beginning to stake out their own territory in that space. If you don’t already have enough records to look forward to — and I humbly submit that you don’t — here’s another one for you.

No audio has yet been made public, but the art is pretty sweet, and in all its formats, the album will come with a bonus DVD of the band’s set at Sweden Rock last year, so if you dug the first record, you’ll still new versions of some of those tracks as well. Info follows, as seen on the social medias:

the order of israfel red robes

Ladies and Gentlemen of The Order!

We are very happy to announce that our second album, ‘Red Robes’, will be released via Napalm Records on May 27th. Check out the artwork below, again done by our brilliant friend Henrik Jacobson. It will be available as a double LP and digipack CD. Both versions will include a bonus live DVD of our performance at Sweden Rock 2015.

The track listing reads as follows:

1. Staff In The Sand
2. The Red Robes
3. In Thrall To The Sorceress
4. Swords To The Sky
5. Von Sturmer
6. Fallen Children
7. A Shadow In The Hills
8. The Thirst

Bonus DVD: Live At Sweden Rock Festival 2015

1. The Noctuus
2. The Earth Will Deliver What Heaven Desires
3. On Black Wings, A Demon
4. Promises Made To The Earth
5. Wisdom/Morning Sun (Satanas)

Raise your hammers!

The Order of Israfel, “On Black Wings, a Demon” official video

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Hypnos Post New Video for “I’m on the Run”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


According to the latest stats from the UN, there is absolutely no shortage of boogie rock in Sweden. Their cup shuffleth over. And yet a band like Hypnos can come out of Gothenburg, tear ass along a song like “I’m on the Run” and make their presence felt through what continues to be an increasingly crowded field of acts. Fortunately Europe has 150 festivals every summer to house all of this creativity — Hypnos will play Stoned from the Underground, likely among others — but while Sweden’s mustache economy may be at its highest level in decades, there’s no question that Hypnos, who formed in 2013 and will offer up their second full-length, Cold Winds, on April 29 via Crusher Records, are out to leave a mark.

The immediate temptation is to cue up the Graveyard comparison, which is kind of the low-hanging fruit for anything vaguely Swedish and New Millennium Analog, and I guess that’s fair game, but the alternate-universe-radio friendliness of earlier Kadavar seem closer to the kind of bounce in “I’m on the Run,” to which Hypnos bring an added element of their own via Thin Lizzy-style guitar work in the chorus. Just earlier this month, the five-piece said goodbye to guitarist Fredrik Bäckström, so it remains to be seen what the future of those twin antics might be, but the course for Cold Winds, which will arrive preceded by a single for “I’m on the Run” which is available now through a range of digital outlets, seems set in the track’s hook, vintage vibe and tight swing. Plus momentum, because you know, it would be kind of a waste to call the song “I’m on the Run” if it was standing still the entire time.

I wish I knew the origin of the screen at the start of the clip, which just feels like an inside joke from late night Swedish television probably of the late ’70s/early ’80s, but even without that wisdom, if you’d like to dig into the video, it’s below, followed by more background on the band from the PR wire.


Hypnos, “I’m on the Run” official video

The single “I’m On The Run” is taken from the upcoming album “Cold Winds”. Single out February 19th and album out April 29th, 2016. Single available from iTunes, Spotify, Amazon:

Hypnos was formed in late autumn 2013 and it only took a handful of shows of intense energy backed by a solid repertoire to get Crusher Records immediate attention. Shortly a deal was struck! Hypnos wasted no time and in February 2014 the band entered Kungsten Studios to start recording their debut album.

NEW ALBUM COLD WINDS, set to be released April 29th via Crusher Records!!

Philip Lindgren – vocals
Oskar Karlsson – guitar
Fredrik Bäckström – guitar
Anton Frick Kallmin – bass
Lasse Ekelöf – drums

Hypnos on Thee Facebooks

“I’m on the Run” single portal

Crusher Records

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Cities of Mars Update on Celestial Mistress EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 3rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Swedish trio Cities of Mars update on their forthcoming second EP, Celestial Mistress, and answer a couple key questions about the release. Most pivotal, whether or not it will continue the narrative thread begun on their 2015 two-tracker, Cyclopean Ritual (streamed here). Yes, yes it will. The band gives some background below on where the story’s heroine is headed this time around, while also noting that the EP introduces a second main character in an ancient fallen fighter pilot. Can’t help but wonder if through some space-time flux these two won’t meet up at some point, perhaps on a debut full-length down the line?

For now, it’s a story told through riffs that continues to intrigue. The following info on the short release came in thusly:

cities of mars

A quick update on the upcoming EP:

It’s called Celestial Mistress and will contain the title track as well as Beneath a burning sun and Gaze of Leviathan. All three songs are chapters in the unfolding saga of the ancient civilization on Mars, adding more pieces to the puzzle that began with the two songs released in April. The title track is set in 1971 (and onward) where our heroine Nadia meets an undying Lord of the ancient city of Bahb-Elon and discovers her part in a prophecy from millennia ago. Gaze of Leviathan is also set in 1971 where Nadia ventures far beneath the surface of Mars and discovers that all is not silent and abandoned on the red planet.

Beneath the burning sun tells the tale of a shot-down fighter pilot in a war thousands or years ago, during the high point of the martian civilization.

The artwork will be within the theme of course, working once again with our graphic artist Axel Widén that has done all our stuff so far.

All the three songs are recorded with live basics, drums, bass and lead guitar in full takes with the whole band. Esben of Monolord has pressed us even further than we expected with the vocals, so we are confident that the lyrical content will be presented as awesome as the music itself. The production will be bigger, heavier and more diverse.
Release date is not set, since there is practical and legal stuff to be negotiated with a few biz partners, but March should be realistic. At first it will be a pure digital music release, with the artwork available as a poster. However, we hope to offer the EP as a 10-inch gatefold physical release later this year.

Cities of Mars, “Gaze of Leviathan” Live at Wizard of Fuzz Festival 2015

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Monolord Interview with Esben Willems: Crushing the One

Posted in Features on November 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

monolord 1

It has been an exceedingly busy year for Monolord. The Gothenburg trio released their second album, Vænir (review here), through RidingEasy Records as the follow-up to 2014’s incredibly well-received Empress Rising debut, and from there, they haven’t really stopped. A tour in Europe led up to the album’s release and also found them following it with an appearance at Roadburn in the Netherlands, and they did sundry other dates this past summer before making a stop at Desertfest Belgium en route to the US for their first tour in North America, supporting Windhand and Danava on an ambitious cross-country run of the major markets that included a slot at Night of the Shred in Southern California.

Really, since Empress Rising was plonked down on riff-hungry skulls like so much edible concrete, Monolord have worked quickly and fiercely to make a name for themselves. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer/recording engineer Esben Willems, they clearly knew what they wanted to start from sound-wise on the first record and had ideas they wanted to develop working off that for the second, but also, in practical as well as creative terms, they seem to be very much on the same page in terms of what kind of work they’re going to put in and what that’s going to look like in terms of their overall plans. Monolord‘s ascent is not an accident. True, it wouldn’t be possible if the albums didn’t resonate, but they have not sat around and let acclaim come to them. They have gone out and hand-delivered their pummel door to door.

With performances already confirmed for 2016 at Desertfest in London and Berlin, Freak Valley in Germany and Hellfest in France, as well as other tours in the theoretical stages, it looks like that will very much continue to be the case as they move beyond Vænir and toward a crucial third full-length. As they move toward wrapping the dates with Windhand and Danava, it seemed only fair to check in with the band and get an update on how the shows have been, their impressions from life on the road in North America as opposed to Europe, and what 2016 might hold for them past what’s been confirmed publicly. Willems — whose patience in waiting for me to have three minutes to put together a list of questions for an email Q&A was very much appreciated — was kind enough to take time out to fill us in.

Please find the full interview after the jump, and thanks for reading.

Read more »

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Cities of Mars Announce New EP Release

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on October 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

“Gaze of Leviathan” was one of two new songs that Sweden’s Cities of Mars played at the recent Wizard of Fuzz festival in Kvibergs Kaserner. The other was called “Beneath a Burning Sun,” and both tracks come off the trio’s yet-untitled second EP, which will be released through Suicide Records in March 2016. Like their debut two-tracker (streamed here), the upcoming three-song release was recorded by Esben Willems of Monolord, and a new live video for the aforementioned “Gaze of Leviathan” can be found below.

The roll in the track speaks for itself, but the echoing shouts give off hints of melody that one can only imagine will continue to develop in the Gothenburg-based band’s sound and be brought out even more in the studio version of the track. We’re still a ways out from that release, but the band has started to tease the info and the material with the live clip, and everything we know to this point can be found for your perusal below. Note the art that follows is not the cover for the EP, just Cities of Mars‘ logo design:

cities of mars logo

Cities of Mars – deal for EP and live video coming up

Swedish sci-fi doom trio Cities of Mars released their first two-track EP in August 2015 and gathered lots of positive reactions for their vocally intense psychedelic doom, telling the tale of a Soviet cosmonaut landing on Mars in the early 70’s and discovering an ancient civilization and conspiracy from the dawn of time.

Now the band has joined creative forces with Swedish label Suicide Records (Age of Woe, 100 Years, Dia Psalma, Peter Dolving etc.) for an upcoming digital EP. Cities of Mars will yet again rely on the talents of Esben Willems, drummer and producer in Swedish doom titans Monolord for recording and producing duties.

The EP will be a 3-track affair, with release scheduled for early March 2016.

For those eager to get new music from Cities of Mars – now the previously unreleased song Gaze of Leviathan is available on a live video from the Wizard of Fuzz Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Cities of Mars, “Gaze of Leviathan” Live at Wizard of Fuzz Festival 2015

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Honeymoon Disease Premiere “Higher” Video; The Transcendence out Nov. 20

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

honeymoon disease 2

There’s a lot to like about Gothenburg heavy rockers Honeymoon Disease‘s new video for “Higher,” which is taken from their upcoming full-length debut, The Transcendence. Me? I like the wrestlers at the end. All of a sudden some dude is getting bodyslammed through a table. You’re watching the clip and you’re like, “Wait a minute, a verse ago we were at an awesome-looking parking lot barbecue — how did we get there?,” and then somebody’s getting punched in the head with the eight ball. Between that, the aforementioned cookout, the dude doing a radio show in a studio that looks positively palatial compared to just about every broadcast booth I’ve ever been in, the motorcycle gang, hot rod and the band’s apparent affection for the color yellow, yeah, as I said, there’s a lot to like.

The Transcendence is out Nov. 20 on Napalm Records, and “Higher” finds Honeymoon Disease nestled into a sweet spot betwixt the boogie of Graveyard and Horisont‘s affinity for classic metal. Guitarist/vocalist Jenna Disease, guitarist Acid Disease and drummer Jimi Disease (formerly of Mamont) recently welcomed bassist Nicklas Hellqvist tot he fold, and while I think he’s too new to have played on the record or to appear in the video, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Honeymoon Disease were looking to hit the road in a big way to support their debut. Already they have dates booked around to the release that include a stop Nov. 21 at Speedfest in the Netherlands, where they’re on a lineup with High on Fire, Mondo Generator, Voivod, Refused and many more.

Plenty to like about that as well, and one doubts very much that will be Honeymoon Disease‘s last run to herald the album’s — and thus their own — arrival. Oh, one last thing about the video. At the end of it, the band gets all their friends to lineup for a photo op in the parking lot where the party was held. Looks like a good time, and cool to see they’ve got their priorities in the right place.

Video, comment from Honeymoon Disease, album and tour info follow. Enjoy:

Honeymoon Disease, “Higher” official video

Says Honeymoon Disease:

HIGHER is our way to describe the feeling you get when someone wants to tear everything you’ve got apart. And finally, when your fuel tank is filled-up with shit, you strike back, like a flash of lightning.

The music video is directed by our good friend Max Ljungberg who has captured all the elements that builds up Honeymoon Disease. It also reflects the rage of Higher.

Honeymoon Disease’s single “Fast Love” (2014) was quite possibly the surprise of the year: The Quartet from Gothenburg Sweden didn’t just release an acceptable debut single, but delivered a heavy-speed-rocking masterpiece which could easily hold a candle comparable to classic outfits like DEEP PURPLE, THIN LIZZY or RAINBOW. The “Bellevue Groove” single B-side also pays tribute to THE DAMNED with a fantastic cover of “Neat, Neat, Neat”.

With such a heavy hitting debut single, the weighted question remains as to whether the band can deliver the same quality on a full length debut. “The Transcendence” delivers, answering this question with an album full of future classics steeped in timeless charm, blessed with massive grooves, spirited with cocky howls, and seasoned with classic style riffs. Honeymoon Disease are proof that the Modern Retro Rock movement is not a male dominated genre, with two women, Jenna and Acid, jointly responsible for their unique sound, HONEYMOON DISEASE are making their mark with testosterone fueled rhythm on anthems like “Gotta Move!” so follow, or get out of their way!

To get the full live experience check out their upcoming tour dates with Avatarium and The Vintage Caravan.

Honeymoon Disease on tour:
18 – Lyngby, Denmark – Templet
19 – Hamburg, Germany – Klubsen
20 – Essen, Germany – Turock
21 – Eindhoven, Netherlands – Speedfest
22 – London, England – Underworld
23 – Frankfurt, Germany – Das Bett
24 – Pratteln, Switzerland – Z-7
25 – Munich, Germany – Backstage
26 – Leipzig, Germany – Moritzbastei
27 – Wien, Austria – Szene
28 – Innsbruck, Austria – Weekender
29 – Berlin, Germany – Bi-nuu

Honeymoon Disease preorder at Napalm Records

Honeymoon Disease on Thee Facebooks

Honeymoon Disease website

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