Seems like a good time to be in Gozu. The Boston-based four-piece issued Revival (review here), their fourth and deadliest outing yet, earlier this summer via Ripple Music. Last month, they headed out on a choice weekender with the reformed Scissorfight and Backwoods Payback, and this past weekend they took part in what I think is arguably the best heavy rock festival lineup the US has ever seen at Psycho Las Vegas, sharing a bill with everyone from YOB to Alice Cooper to Beelzefuzz. Oh, and later this month they make their way over to Europe to tour with Holy Grove from Portland, Oregon, on a run put together by Heavy Psych Sounds.
No shortage of occasion, is what I’m saying, and if you want to see a band rise to the occasion, look no further than the video of their full set from the Hard Rock Cafe‘s Vinyl Stage. A number of Psycho Las Vegas full sets have begun to show up already, and I might post more as I stumble on them, but even with some technical problems, Gozu absolutely kill it. The momentum they build through “Mr. Riddle,” “Nature Boy” and “Big Casino” is infectious, and closing out with the D’Angelo cover “Brown Sugar” — a bonus track on the vinyl version of 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) on which they collaborated with Lo-Pan vocalist Jeff Martin — is a particularly groovy touch to a set that spends so much time raging, if soulfully.
These guys have spent the last few years becoming one of the most powerful heavy rock bands as part of a long lineage for their hometown, and clearly their efforts have started to pay off. I hope they keep going, because the more they do, the more heads are going to turn.
Tour dates follow the video. Enjoy:
Gozu, Live at Psycho Las Vegas
Thanks Psycho Las Vegas!! Thanks to everybody who came out to see us!! This is our set from Friday. Super fun, might be one of our best sets we’ve ever played with backline issues and all. We end the set with a D’Angelo cover of Brown Sugar. Thanks again!!
We are very excited to announce that we are heading back to Europe with the amazing Holy Grove!! We look forward to seeing you all soon!! Ciao!! HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Ripple Music
GOZU + HOLY GROVE Euro Tour!! 28/09/2016 IT Rome-Init 29/09/2016 IT Erba – Centrale Rock 30/09/2016 IT Ravenna – Bronson 01/10/2016 AT Feldkirch – Villa K 02/10/2016 AT Salzburg – Rockhouse 03/10/2016 IT Trieste – Tetris 04/10/2016 IT Zero Branco – Altroquando 05/10/2016 CH Basel – Terrorsamba 06/10/2016 DE Mannheim – 7er Club 07/10/2016 DE Munster – Rare Guitar Shop 08/10/2016 BE Liege – La Zone 09/10/2016 DE Dresden – Chemiefabrik 10/10/2016 DE Koln – Limes 11/10/2016 DE Leipzig 12/10/2016 DE Berlin – Urban Spree 13/10/2016 DE Stuttgart – Keller Klub 14/10/2016 CH Olten – Coq D’or 15/10/2016 CH Frauenfeld – Kaff
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Gozu go supporting their new album, Revival (review here) and Holy Grove go supporting their also-new self-titled debut (review here), but I feel like the part that really makes it isn’t just that they’re both going to Europe, but that they’re doing it together. The Boston and Portland, Oregon, acts will make an exceedingly complementary pairing, I think with a thread of soul influence running between them and each still pushing out heavy grooves, Holy Grove with a nod toward doomly roll, Gozu with an uptick in intensity particularly on some of their newer material. If I had the money and could get the time off, I’d ask to tag along, but turns out I’m broke and not that pleasant company to keep anyway, so maybe for the best I don’t make the trip.
In any case, the full run is presented by Heavy Psych Sounds, which also released Holy Grove‘s album — Gozu‘s is on Ripple Music — and I reached out to Gaff da Rula, aka Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, and Holy Grove vocalist Andrea Vidal, for quotes about the tour to go with the dates, and both were kind enough to oblige.
Have at you:
“I heard they wanted to schedule the World Cup around it but they were worried people would be too hopped up on the boogie,” says Gaffney. “God damn. Wanna thank Gabe from Heavy Psych Sounds for hooking it up and lathering the clubs because without that angel, none of this would have happened. Also thanks to Ripple for putting out the album. Taking two bands that love each other’s music and setting them on fire together, I don’t know about you, but I like it hot, perfect blend of heat and auditory cuddling, woooo! I feel like Rick Flair, baby!”
Offers Vidal: “As far as heading abroad, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity to tour Europe with our brothers in Gozu and with the support of Heavy Psych Sounds. We’re really looking to forward to playing in places where much of our earliest support was from — and leaving it all on the stage night after night.”
Gozu & Holy Grove on tour: 28.09.2016 IT Rome 29.09.2016 IT Erba-Centrale Rock 30.09.2016 IT Ravenna-Bronson 01.10.2016 AT Feldkirch-Villa K 02.10.2016 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse 03.10.2016 IT Trieste-Tetris 04.10.2016 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando 05.10.2016 CH Basel-Terrorsamba 06.10.2016 DE Mannheim-7er Club 07.10.2016 DE Munster-Rare Guitar Shop 08.10.2016 BE Liege-La Zone 09.10.2016 DE Dresden-Chemiefabrik 10.10.2016 DE Koln-Lime 11.10.2016 DE Leipzieg 12.10.2016 DE Berlin-Urban Spree 13.10.2016 DE Stuttgard-KellerClub 14.10.2016 CH Olten-Coq D’or 15.10.2016 CH Frauenfeld-Kaff
Posted in Features on July 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Six months in, 2016 has been interesting to say the least. Every year provides its share of highlights — we’re fortunate enough to live in a crowded age when it comes to people doing quality work — but there have been a few unexpected offerings that have grabbed attention and held it well, and as we progress into the second half of the year, it seems entirely likely the pattern will continue.
All the better. As styles and scenes continue to develop, from Swedish boogie to West Coast psych to the party vibes out of the Pacific Northwest, bands are growing and changing. Everything is in motion, personalities are taking shape, and crucially, the new generation of groups is finding its footing building on the traditions of the past. Some of it is definitely formative, but individualism is rarely immediate, and I think we are at an interesting point as a crop of acts is figuring out where they want to be in terms of sound and what are their aspirations musically and practically. The question of the day might be, “How far can we push this?”
And of questions, that’s a good one to be working from. I’ve been asking it myself, but as the social media landscape continues to grow and integrate into the lives of a listenership that’s become accustomed to that kind of immediate access as well as the convenience of streaming outlets like Bandcamp, Spotify, Pandora and Soundcloud, the answer seems to be that the expansion will keep up, at least for a while yet. Frankly, it’s already gone on longer than I would’ve expected for how fickle trends are and the short attention span of the general public, but ‘heavy,’ as a worldwide concept, has continued to flourish.
Part of that stems from the excellent and progressive work being done by current bands — part of it is marketing — and at least for my own taste, those acts pushing the lines of genre seem to be doing so with a brazen confidence that they’ll be able to bring their audience along with them. So far in 2016, that’s pretty much how it’s worked out.
At the end of the year I’ll be doing a Top 30 list, and I expect many of these records will feature there as well, so I’ll try to keep this relatively brief in light of that, but here’s where my head has been at:
The Top 15 Albums of 2016 so Far
1. Mars Red Sky, Apex III: Praise for the Burning Soul
2. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow
3. Gozu, Revival
4. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree
5. The Golden Grass, Coming Back Again
6. Zun, Burial Sunrise
7. Young Hunter, Young Hunter
8. Comet Control, Center of the Maze
9. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh
10. Conan, Revengeance
11. Causa Sui, Return to Sky
12. Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy
13. Goatess, Purgatory Under New Management
14. Blaak Heat, Shifting Mirrors
15. Lord, Awake
Honorable mention (in no order): Curse the Son, Holy Grove, Mondo Drag, Joy, Black Black Black, Spidergawd, Beastmaker, High Fighter, La Chinga, Church of Misery, Droids Attack, Cough, Beastwars, New Keepers of the Water Towers, Conclave, Valley of the Sun, Throttlerod, It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Ancient Warlocks, Bright Curse, Naxatras, Kaleidobolt, Atomikylä, Black Lung, Lord Vicar, Pooty Owldom, Vokonis, Electric Citizen, Stone Machine Electric, Graves at Sea, and Merchant.
Some quick notes on the list. First, it’s pretty fluid. On any given day, records from the honorable mentions list could be in there with the numbered stuff, and between the two, I find it striking and encouraging how many of these releases are full-length debuts. Just two in the top 10 with Elephant Tree and Zun — another will be added when King Buffalo‘s album is out in August; we’ll get there — but more in the honorable mentions between Holy Grove, High Fighter, Vokonis, Merchant, Graves at Sea and Bright Curse.
To go with that, there are some standbys. I’ve made no secret of my enduring affection for what France’s Mars Red Sky are bringing to the sphere of heavy psychedelia, so to have their Apex III: Praise for the Burning Soul as my album of 2016 so far doesn’t seem out of line. It’s why I booked them to headline the All-Dayer in August (tickets here), and I don’t see that appreciation diminishing anytime soon. The path they’re on seems to me to be one of the most crucial going worldwide, and in a group like Elephant Tree, we can already see the influence they’re having.
No surprise that Gozu would end up near the top — their 2013 album, The Fury of a Patient Man, featured highly on that year’s list as well — and Revival is an even more dynamic outing. It’s pretty much even with Greenleaf in my mind at this point, but I gave the Swedes the edge for the bold forward stride that Rise Above the Meadow represents in its sound and scope. Both of those records will be top-tenners at the end of the year as well, if not top five.
Speaking of bold strides, The Golden Grass‘ more progressive take on Coming Back Again and their melodic charm continue to resonate, and between the expansive desert soundscaping of Zun‘s Burial Sunrise bringing together Gary Arce (Yawning Man), Sera Timms (Ides of Gemini) and John Garcia (ex-Kyuss, etc.), and the brooding darker heavy rock of Young Hunter‘s self-titled, it’s been a half-year covering a wide sonic range for sure. Comet Control‘s second album is still pretty fresh in my mind, having just reviewed it last week, but its quality is damn near undeniable and I can’t stop listening to it, so it goes in the top 10.
And rounding out to first 10 are two more mainstays in Wo Fat and Conan, who’ve had releases featured in lists around these parts for a while now but who still offer thrills in their newest collections, Wo Fat‘s Midnight Cometh bringing their jazz-jam-fuzz to new levels of exploration and Conan‘s Revengeance building on the aural crush of their prior work and finding founder Jon Davis with a hand-sculpted rhythm section (including producer Chris Fielding) very much suited to the band’s purposes. Their shifting instrumental dynamic made Revengeance almost like a second debut, but it was an album that couldn’t have been born except out of their experience and knowing what works in their aesthetic. Davis once told me he would never try to fix what wasn’t broken in Conan. As he’s lived up to that, they’ve become one of the most recognizable heavy bands in the world.
In the 11-15 range, a pretty broad cross-section between the flowing instrumental experiments of Causa Sui, the motor-ready space-psych of Black Rainbows — whose accomplishments seem to almost be coming too fast for the audience to catch up — the traditional-minded stoner-doom of Goatess, Blaak Heat‘s frenetic desert prog and reign-in-chaos sludge of Lord‘s Awake, but sonic diversity is a strength in the current and the upcoming generations of bands, and though some remain underappreciated as yet — Black Rainbows, Blaak Heat, Lord particularly so — it’s tough to ignore the sonic expansion underway in the US, Europe and beyond.
I’m not going to do a separate list for EPs, demos and splits before December, but thought there were more than a few non-full-length releases that warranted attention. From my notes: Mars Red Sky‘s EP, Dos Malés, Bison Machine/SLO/Wild Savages split, The Skull EP, Iron Jawed Guru, LSD and the Search for God, Cultist, River Cult, Karma to Burn, Wren‘s Host EP, Gorilla vs. Grifter, Goya, Brume‘s Donkey, Shallows‘ The Moon Rises, Sun Voyager/The Mad Doctors split, Earthless/Harsh Toke split, and the Ragged Barracudas/Pushy split. And many others, no doubt.
Still to Come
I alluded earlier to the King Buffalo album, Orion, which has significant top 10 potential for December. It’s officially out in August, or it would’ve been counted here. Some of these I’ve heard and some I haven’t, but also be on the lookout for: Foghound (out this week), Neurosis (album of the year potential), Worshipper, Monolord‘s new EP, Wight, Slomatics, The Wounded Kings, Electric Wizard, Geezer, Devil to Pay, Blues Pills, Baby Woodrose, Backwoods Payback, Beelzefuzz, Them Bulls, Cloud Catcher, Captain Crimson, and of course, Mos Generator.
If I’ve forgotten anyone in any part of this list, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments. Otherwise, thanks for reading and here’s to a great rest of 2016!
Posted in Reviews on June 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was a celebration. The first in a short series of release shows for Gozu‘s new album, Revival (review here), and for me, a fitting occasion to mark the last day of work at a job that, while providing a much-needed paycheck, for the last year put an unfortunate distance between myself and rock and roll. If I was looking to make up for lost time, a five-band lineup — more festival than show, even with a 9PM start — would probably be a decent way to make that happen, but while the bill was certainly packed, there was no one on it who felt like filler.
Rather, from starting off with Portland, Maine’s (the other Portland) Sylvia and continuing through Massachusetts-based Wormwood, Magic Circle, Worshipper and of course Gozu headlining, there was a flow to the night that took it from grinding sludge to soulful heavy rock in well-staged transitions, covering a swath of heft from front to back. Worth mentioning the show was presented by The Obelisk, but I had no hand in picking bands — that presumably was Gozu in conjunction with Grayskull Booking, who continues to do good work in Cambridge and Somerville, on the outskirts of Boston proper, which I think has banned music for its impediment to the developing of further luxury condos.
Here’s how it went down:
My first exposure to the dual-guitar Portland four-piece was their 2013 self-titled debut full-length (review here), produced by Steve Austin of Today is the Day, and so I knew somewhat to expect as they took the stage, though they still managed to work in a few surprises in their riff-led blend of thrash, grind, periodic heavy breakdowns and headfirst dives into crunch that brought to mind earliest, heaviest Mastodon without actually losing itself in pseudo-progressive winding. They owed as much to Napalm Death as to any kind of sludge, but seemed to play out that grinding influence on a bed of thickened, sometimes-lurching tonality that made their material as much about groove as about speed. I’d forgotten their connection through guitarist/vocalist Candy and bassist Reuben Little to defunct slow-crawling doomers Ocean, but afterwards that context continued to make sense in line with what guitarist Sean Libby and drummer Michael brought to the proceedings. After one of their songs, someone in the crowd shouted, “Play that riff again!” which was an impulse I could understand. They didn’t, but the next riff turned out to be killer as well, so it all worked out.
Based in Boston, Wormwood have a series of singles out and had merch on the table, but this was my first time catching them live. They’re something of a supergroup — though they might prefer “band with dudes who are in other bands too” — with guitarist/vocalist Chris Pupecki also playing in Doomriders, drummer Chris Bevilacqua a former member of that same outfit, guitarist Mike Gowell shared with Phantom Glue — who have a new record out — and bassist Greg Weeks hailing from metalcore pioneers The Red Chord, and their stage presentation offered due variety from that, with Gowell off to the side, casually shredding out lead after lead while Weeks thrashed out Pupecki unleashed a torrent of noise and Bevilacqua held it all together from behind. Following up on Sylvia, they had a definite core of extremity in their approach, but leaned more toward doom than grind, which set the progression of the evening in motion and provided nod-worthy stomp and consuming atmospherics that made me feel like I’d missed something by not checking them out earlier. A curious blend of elements warranting further investigation.
Two albums in, it’s pretty clear that Magic Circle have earned a reputation. Their second LP, Journey Blind (review here), came out late last year through 20 Buck Spin, and as the follow-up to their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), it played down the doomed riffing of the first outing in favor of a more decisively classic metal approach. While they played what frontman Brendan Radigan laughingly called a “classic” from 2011 in “Scream Evil,” their first single, the vibe of the newer material held sway, driven by the NWOBHM gallop in the guitars of Chris Corry — whose “NCC-1701-D” and “make it so” amp decorations were appreciated — and Dan Ducas. As ever for their kind of metal, however, the rhythm section is what makes such shredding possible, and I’ve rarely seen a drummer who looks like he’s enjoying playing as much as Q (also of Doomriders). His presence adds levity — to compare, bassist Justin DeTore is more subdued and assured with the confidence that he’s the center around which this chaos is swirling; and he is — and allows the rest of the band to be who they are in a way that another drummer might not, but it’s the entire group making an impact from the stage, and as they ran through “The Damned Man” and closed with “Journey Blind” itself, their command of their sound was complete. I wouldn’t be surprised if they continued down a more metallic path going forward, and it suits them.
Played like a band on top of the world, which seemed reasonable. As announced here, Worshipper recently signed to Tee Pee Records for the release of their debut LP, Shadow Hymns, this August, and they’ve also reaped a Boston Music Award and the title at the annual Rock and Roll Rumble local competition, so if they’re feeling good about what they’re doing, the response they’ve gotten to their work thus far offers little counterargument. Neither could or would I, for that matter. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist John Brookhouse, guitarist Alejandro Necochea — who also filled in with Carousel on their last Euro run this Spring — bassist Bob Maloney and drummer Dave Jarvis, they offered noteworthy presence from the stage, playing in lighting that changed from the Middle East‘s bête noire red to near-total darkness save for some projections and reminding fervently of the chief appeal of what they do; the clear core of songwriting. Along with a grooved out cover of Pink Floyd‘s “Julia,” yet-to-be-released cuts listed as “Wolf” and “Arise” provided immediate impressions in their clarity of purpose, and if they weren’t professional-sounding enough, Brookhouse busted a string early in the set, calmly put his guitar down, walked off stage, came back with a flying V, plugged in, tuned and was ready to go in time for his next solo. They’re early into what one hopes will be a fruitful tenure, but they’re locked in already. Hope they tour.
As stacked as the bill was, one could hardly accuse the headliners of taking it easy on themselves for their sold-out release show, but Gozu hit stage a little after midnight and made it abundantly clear to whom the evening belonged. Their set capped the evening’s progression from vicious grind to post-sludge to classic metal to classic heavy rock to heavy rock and while they didn’t play Revival — officially out June 10 on Ripple Music, but available on CD at the show — in its entirety, they did do every track but the spacier closer “Tin Chicken,” so it was well represented either way alongside “Ghost Wipe” and “Bald Bull” from 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) and “Mr. Riddle” from 2010’s Locust Season (review here). They opened with the rampaging album launch, “Nature Boy,” which in just over three minutes’ time basked in both its own intensity and the maddening soul of its hook, guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney in top form joined here and there by guitarist Doug Sherman while bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Mike Hubbard nailed the grooves of “Big Casino,” which followed, only upping the party vibe. After “Ghost Wipe,” “Bubble Time” slowed the proceedings somewhat, but by then momentum was well on Gozu‘s side and it would not relent for the duration. Highlight of the set? Well, as they were playing it, I thought “D.D. McCall” into “Lorenzo Mama” — both from the new record — was as good as it was going to get, but they finished with “By Mennen,” which had Gaffney belting out the final lines of the set without instrumental backing, and it worked better than I might’ve hoped or expected, particularly with the older “Mr. Riddle” and “Bald Bull” as setup. There isn’t a band based in this region that I’ve seen more than I’ve seen Gozu since I moved to Massachusetts nearly three years ago now, and I’ve never seen them that they didn’t deliver. They owned the Middle East easily, out-rocked me by a mile at least — I hit a wall pretty hard from standing up front all night and had to move back or pass out — and gave Revival its due, which as that’s one of the best albums of this year, is saying something.
That having-hit-a-wall would define the rest of my night. Waiting outside the venue to meet up with The Patient Mrs., who’d been at another occasion in town, I could barely stand up. I was hydrated, hadn’t eaten much, and with the final work day I guess my body hit its limit. I had to stop and sit for a few minutes on a bench walking the several blocks back to where I’d parked, but the weather was gorgeous and my wife is gorgeous so I’d hardly call it unpleasant. The night on a whole had been a massive win, and I expect it will remain one of personal significance for some time to come, for multiple reasons.
Posted in Reviews on May 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
In some ways, Gozu‘s Revival is defined by its barnburners. There are a few of them, and the impression they create across the Boston four-piece’s third album — first for Ripple Music — is one of a more intense approach overall than was showed either on 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) or 2010’s Locust Season (review here). Those records, both released by Small Stone, had their driving moments, but to listen to “Nature Boy,” “Oldie” or the penultimate “DD McCall” from Revival is to realize how much harder Gozu are pushing themselves across the album as a whole.
The production of Dean Baltulonis at The Wild Arctic and Benny Grotto at Mad Oak brings that out even in a swinging track like “Big Casino” or the soul-fueled “By Mennen.” It’s not necessarily about tonal thickness — that’s not what they’re going for — so much as what kind of impact each instrument can have. Add to this the fact that for the first time on record, Gozu have a cohesive lineup in guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, guitarist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto (brother to the aforementioned Benny) and drummer Mike Hubbard, and it becomes less of a wonder that these eight songs/41 minutes are the strongest the band has yet presented in their tenure. As Gozu enter relative maturity as a group — three LPs deep — they show clear growth in performance, craft and chemistry, while keeping many of elements of the prior work intact that helped push them to the fore of their home region’s crowded heavy rock sphere. To rephrase: They kick ass early and often.
I’ll note at this point that I’m hardly an impartial observer, having been a fan since Locust Season and grown to think of them as friends, but feel no compunction in offering critique, whether it’s of Gaffney‘s vocals dominating the mix in the crashing apex of “By Mennen” (as opposed to the end of it, where the vocals stand alone and would inherently dominate the mix, being the only thing in it), or of the continued use of gag/reference song titles. “Lorenzo Llamas” is clever, but hardly does justice to the spaciousness of the side A closer itself or the manner in which it complements and sets up “Tin Chicken” as the album’s finale. In any case, if you want to take my continued respect for Gozu‘s work with a grain of salt, feel free, but Revival also stands legitimately on its own as their finest hour to date. Whether it’s the blistering, immediate zero-to-100 that “Nature Boy” brings to lead off or the sleeker groove of “Bubble Time” that follows, there isn’t a level on which Gozu aren’t moving beyond what they’ve done before.
Grotto, who played on part of The Fury of a Patient Man, and Hubbard, formerly of Warhorse, make for a rhythm section formidable enough to stand up to the melodies and layering in Gaffney‘s vocals and the crunch in his and Sherman‘s guitars alike, and though the attack here is more pointed than it has been in the past, that suits Gozu remarkably well as they lend each song a personality of its own while uniting the work as a whole through hooks, harmonies and a sense of abandon like that shown in the layered soloing that pushes “Bubble Time” over the top at the end. That song and “Nature Boy” before it build momentum into the more shuffling “Big Casino,” which rides a hypnotic chugging riff — something of a miniaturization of “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf” from the last outing — in its middle and after one more chorus trips out a bit with far-back falsetto from Gaffney and consistent punctuation from Hubbard as it fades into the crashes that begin “Lorenzo Llamas,” which builds across its seven-minute span with semi-psychedelic patience as a vocal highlight, subtly insistent riff and fluid groove add to the otherworldly feel the ending of “Big Casino” put forth. Through soloing from Sherman, interplay of the two guitars, and more forceful delivery from Gaffney, “Lorenzo Llamas” gives a fitting cap to Revival‘s first half and sets up the continued expansion of reach that follows in the second.
That expansion comes in hand with a feeling that each of side B’s tracks is in conversation with a counterpart on side A, reversing the first three songs and aligning for the longer fourth so that “Oldie” opens with a chug and hook that could be playing off the sway of “Big Casino,” “By Mennen” answers the soul of “Bubble Time” with swaggering, heavy funk — the early bassline is a highlight — and “DD McCall” follows up on the all-out thrash style with which “Nature Boy” lead off, leaving “Tin Chicken” to build on what “Lorenzo Llamas” accomplished. One doubts that kind of symmetry was something that came to mind for Gozu as they were writing — it’s not like they’re making a concept record — but it does give Revival‘s presentation another level of cohesiveness, and whether it’s the fading-out guitar harmonies of “Oldie” or Gaffney pushing his voice to its limits in that standalone part at the end of “By Mennen,” Gozu manage to add to what they did earlier without sonic redundancy.
This is true in the heads-down thrust of “DD McCall” as well as the immediate contrast that “Tin Chicken” brings with its quiet, fluid guitars, subdued drums and soft vocals. The closer pushes through a louder part and quiets again momentarily before launching into the atmospheric payoff that “Lorenzo Llamas” teased, still heavy but swirling as well before cutting back to fade out after a few quiet lines bringing it back to the intro; the song seems to kind of wander off, but it works with the trance-inducing effects display preceding. And as it goes back to its start in a different way, “Tin Chicken” also summarizes some of what works best about Revival, which is the sense of how purposefully built the album is. While the performances are crisp, the natural chemistry Gozu have harnessed onstage remains intact, and the intensity with which they bring it to bear feels like something the band has been waiting for the opportunity to do. They make the most of that opportunity, and what results is some of the best American heavy rock you’re likely to hear in 2016 in composition and execution.
On June 3, in conjunction with Grayskull Booking, The Obelisk will present the record release show for Gozu‘s new album, Revival, at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. Due out June 10 via Ripple Music, Revival is Gozu‘s most ferocious outing yet, their first with a stable lineup and it shows the pointed trajectory their songwriting has taken, still unremittingly heavy, but less adherent to genre than they’ve ever been. I’ll have a review up before it’s out (hopefully), but the short version is it’s one of the year’s best records.
Accordingly, they’re doing it up to celebrate. It just wouldn’t be a Boston-area gig without five bands on the bill, so of course that’s where it’s at. But between bringing Sylvia down from Maine and partnering with Wormwood, Worshipper — recently signed to Tee Pee — and doom/classic metal mysteriosos Magic Circle, it’s a lineup worthy of consideration more as a festival than a regular gig, and considering advance tickets, which you can buy here, are a whopping $10, to say you’re getting your money’s worth feels like underselling it.
“I’m betting this night will have everything you need,” enthuses Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney. “Rock rolling, cocktails flowing, stomachs growing and many rock t-shirts primed for their first showing.”
“We are super excited to release this album and get it into the ears of peeps,” added guitarist Doug Sherman. “The release show will be a party with a bunch of bands/friends we respect. Come out and celebrate with us we’d love to have ya!! Massachusetts has an amazing scene and we are so blessed to be a part of it.”
Gozu also recently inked a deal with Heavy Psych Sounds and will tour Europe this fall with Holy Grove.
Here’s the release show info:
Grayskull Booking & The Obelisk Present
June 3 / 8PM / 18+
Gozu (Record Release!)
Middle East Upstairs
472 Massachusetts Ave,
Cambridge, MA 02139
Given my druthers, I’d have had this up more than a week ago, but there was a bit of a crunch last week as you may have seen, so here we are. Better late than something something. The important thing is here’s about two hours’ worth of new music from psych to drone to sludge and if I do say so myself, it’s a pretty good mix of all of it. The first hour gets pretty driving by the time you get down to Gozu and Domadora before the big chill out with New Planet Trampoline, and though I’m always happy to include audio from improv specialists Øresund Space Collective, their “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. 1” might be their most tripped-out affair yet. Darker for sure, but way, way gone.
As always, the theme is simple — new music — and the goal is perhaps you’ll hear something you didn’t know before. The impact of Elephant Tree’s “Aphotic Blues” forced itself into the playlist, and I’ve been digging the hell out of new Goya, Telstar Sound Drone and Gozu releases, so they had to be here too. I hear some Floor in Spotlights, but there’s more to them than just that, which I think you can hear in “The Grower,” and that’s really just the start of what gets to be pretty expansive by the time it’s finished. Hope you enjoy.
Track details follow:
0:00:00 Curse the Son, “Sleepwalker Wakes” from Isolator
0:05:58 Valley of the Sun, “The Hunt” from Volume Rock
0:08:14 Spotlights, “The Grower” from Tidals
0:15:27 Dunbarrow, “The Crows Ain’t Far Behind” from Dunbarrow
0:18:47 Goya, “Last” from The Enemy
0:23:27 Sourvein, “Avian Dawn” from Aquatic Occult
0:26:54 Gozu, “Nature Boy” from Revival
0:30:01 Domadora, “Rocking Crash Hero” from The Violent Mystical Sukuma
0:34:40 New Planet Trampoline, “Acts of Mania” from Dark Rides and Grim Visions
0:43:26 Telstar Sound Drone, “Dead Spaces” from Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles
0:49:27 Samavayo, “Overrun” from Dakota
0:55:58 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree
1:01:53 Black Moon Circle, “Warp Speed” from Sea of Clouds
1:14:54 Jupiter, “In Flux” from Interstellar Chronodive
1:28:43 Øresund Space Collective, “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. I” from Ode to a Black Hole
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This seems an awful lot like a winning match. I’ve heard the Gozu record, and among the primary impressions I have of the band at this point is the fact that they should be touring. They play locally a lot, and they’ve been to Europe before, certainly, but they should be on the road. Particularly for the upcoming Revival (review pending), they’re more than ready to take their game to a wider public, and since Europe is where that kind of thing happens these days, teaming up with the booking arm of the oh-so-busy Heavy Psych Sounds, yeah, that’s a good way to go.
Looks like September is when they’ll head over, as the PR wire explains:
Well the old saying, “Rock is my business and business been good.” This statement is definitely coming true for the Boston 4 piece Gozu.
First signing earlier this year to California’s heavy rock label, Ripple Music, and having their new album coming out to the masses in June they have now teamed up with Italy’s Heavy Psych Records Booking department for their upcoming European tour in September.
“The group is very excited to be working with Gabriel, the brains behind Heavy Psych.” said vocalist/guitarist Marc Gaffney. His roster is incredibly strong and all of us enjoy the bands that he works with and felt it would be a comfortable home. When booking a tour you want to feel a sense of calmness and togetherness and that was concretely evident, hence signing with Heavy Psych to book the band. We feel it will be a vibrant and fortuitous relationship.”
“Ripple Music is thrilled to have Gozu touring Europe with Heavy Psych Sounds Booking,” said Ripple Music CEO Todd Severin. “They’ve done a great job of booking European tours for other Ripple bands, such as Ape Machine and Mos Generator, and as the relationship between our two like-minded organizations grows hopefully they will be able to help many more Ripple bands tour Europe in the future.”
Look for the Ripple album, Revival, to hit the stores on both sides of the Atlantic on June 10th, in LP, CD and digital formats. Available world-wide in music outlets and the Ripple Music Webstore, and digitally via Ripple Music Bandcamp and all known digital platforms
“Gozu is extremely excited to get back to Europe and let the rock roll,” said Gaffney “So see you all in September as there will truly be a Revival!”