Posted in Whathaveyou on December 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The actual announcement is pretty short, but the implications are fascinating. Today, Boston heavy rockers Gozu announced not only that they’ve added a third guitarist in the form of Jeff Fultz, but also that drummer Barry Spillberg is out of the band and replaced by Mike Hubbard, formerly of Warhorse and currently in Cheap Leather. Anyone who’s seen Fultz rock it with Mellow Bravo or who recalls his work in Seemless after their first album can attest that he’s a killer lead guitarist, and he should be a good match for Gozu‘s Doug Sherman, whose own shred is not to be understated. Adding a third guitar alongside Sherman and guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney is going to have an immediate effect on the songs, new material and old, but I’m even more curious to hear how Gozu sounds with someone other than Spillberg drumming.
With songs like “Charles Bronson Pinchot” and “Ghost Wipe” from this year’s The Fury of a Patient Man(review here) in mind, it’ll be interesting to find out how Hubbard takes on the underlying metal influence in those parts, if he adopts them more or less as Spillberg played them, or if he brings his own edge to the tracks as well, either changing or rewriting stretches of the drum parts for a live setting. An even bigger tell is when Gozu get around to writing a follow-up to The Fury of a Patient Man, but by all accounts it seems like that’s a while off, with European touring and appearances at Desertfest and Roadburn on the horizon and a few East Coast shows before that happens.
Gozu‘s first gig with the semi-new lineup is at Great Scott on Jan. 10 with Never Got Caught, Thunderbloods, Township and Await Rescue. Info follows, culled from Thee Facebooks:
It’s been a real crazy month on our end and just wanted to welcome some new cats into the fold!! We are super super excited to have Drummer Mike Hubbard (Warhorse, Cheap Leather) and Guitarist Jeff Fultz (Seemless, Mellow Bravo) on board.
Jan 10th. Great Scott. See you there.
“It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life.” – Nina Simone.
Posted in Reviews on October 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I won’t lie: The fact that Saint Vitus were playing on a Tuesday night had added nerdy glee for me for Wino Wednesday prospects. I was going to the show one way or another, but the fact that I could do two years in a row of live reviews for Wino Wednesday was an extra appeal. Last September, they played Brooklyn on my wedding anniversary and it was one of the best shows I’d ever seen. Doesn’t feel like more than a year ago, but the numbers tell it. Been a hell of a year.
Including, apparently, for Saint Vitus, who rolled through the downstairs space at Boston’s famed Middle East – a name I’ve seen on lists of tour dates forever but hadn’t actually ever been to until this show; the fact that I’ve only lived here for two months might have something to do with it — with Pallbearer and The Hookers in tow. Now well past their “reunion band” novelty and into the sphere of working a tour cycle, Saint Vitus delivered probably the most professional set I’ve seen from them. Gozu had joined the bill as local support, so I made sure to arrive early at the Middle East, which was a fortunate decision for the traffic I sat in getting there, and catch the start of the show.
That itself was also early, with Gozu going on around 7:30 following 7PM doors. I parked a couple blocks away and hustled in my lurching way to get into the venue and to the front of the stage, and here’s how it went from there:
Stop me if you’ve heard me say this about Gozu before, but the Beantown natives have hit that echelon of performance where the only thing that can possibly bring them to another level is touring. A band gets to a point where they’re so tight, so crisp in their delivery and so cohesive as a unit that just doing a show, even a relatively big one, which this was — that Middle East stage is wide, and deep; you could put a couch up there and make it your living room — is only going to do so much for them. Two albums in, Gozu have hit that point, so with the prospect of European dates around their impending Roadburn performance in the Netherlands next spring, it was a joy to watch them take a victory stomp over the hometown crowd. I hadn’t heard “Jan-Michael Vincent” from Locust Season in a while, with its funky vocal riding atop a fervent heavy rock groove, and though I still think they could milk that chorus for another round or two, it fit in well accompanied by “Ghost Wipe” from this year’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), from which the majority of the set was derived, though both swaggering opener “Meat Charger” and closer “Mr. Riddle” came from the earlier record, the latter following a blistering run through “Charles Bronson Pinchot” from the 2013 album. That song is about as aggressive as Gozu – guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, guitarist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Barry Spillberg, who seems only more righteously destructive every time I watch him play — have gotten to date, but even “Bald Bull,” which was comparatively unobtrusive in its studio form, was brought to life with considerable movement of air. Ditto that for “Signed, Epstein’s Mom.” I know for a fact that I’ll catch them again before they hit the road in Europe, but I’ll really be interested to see what some solid touring brings to their approach. As it was, they were an early treat well worth the rush-hour traffic to catch.
Monks of the First Church of Lemmy, Scientist, the Kentucky-based metalopunks The Hookers were demented, loud, energetic, and fun. How they wound up on a touring bill with Pallbearer and Saint Vitus, I have no idea, but they were a good time all the same, and seemed to revel in their standout position, frontman Adam “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw” Neal pumping his fist to the d-beat sprint in songs like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Motherfucker,” “Black Magic” and “Black Thunder.” Even their “slow” stuff was fast and they knew it, and I’m not sure if they’ve gotten a mixed response at other shows, but they seemed to think they’d be worse received than they were. Maybe that’s part of the show, positioning themselves as hated to play up the scumbag aspect, but it’s worth noting that toward the end of the set, when bassist/backing vocalist Juan Badmutha came down from the stage into the crowd, he was almost immediately invited to partake in somebody’s PBR, which that showgoer even carefully poured into his mouth so he didn’t have to stop playing. That’s courtesy. They were a long way away from being “my thing,” but they hit hard from the stage and made no effort to pretend they weren’t enjoying themselves or that it wasn’t fun to sing songs about horror movies and booze and whatever else, and I certainly respect the hell out of that. Even from Gozu, who can be plenty uptempo when they get to it, The Hookers were a swift change, covering themselves and their audience in whiskey-soaked grit metal, unabashed in a high-speed AC/DC kind of way with several shredding guitar solos tossed off with foot-on-the-monitor command.
Most of what Arkansas doomers Pallbearer played was new, as in, after the release of their 2012 full-length debut, Sorrow and Extinction(review here). Two of the songs — the set opener and another of the total three (I think) new ones — didn’t yet have vocals, but the double-guitar four-piece still used one of the instrumentals as the wrap of their set proper because, as guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell put it, “It’s fun to play.” Campbell is emotive enough on stage to cover for lyrics most of the time anyway, and Pallbearer‘s leads, provided either by him or fellow guitarist Devin Holt, are so mournful that the feeling is conveyed one way or another as bassist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly hold together the huge, spacious-sounding plod of the material, the former also putting on a headbanging clinic for anyone fortunate enough to be there to watch. Rowland had a whole side of the stage to himself, which was different from every other time I’ve seen Pallbearer – Campbell was front and center, splitting Rowland and Holt, where in the past he’s been to the left, with the bassist and guitarist in subsequent left-to-right line. The shift made Campbell come across all the more like a frontman, particularly for that portion of the set which had vocals, including the distinct “Devoid of Redemption” from Sorrow and Extinction, and a surprising but potent take on Black Sabbath‘s “Over and Over,” the closing track from Mob Rules, which was the finale/epilogue to their time. It’s always a bold choice to take on Dio material, whether it’s Sabbath or not, but to their credit, Pallbearer were wise not to try to capture the same kind of feel as the original version, instead slowing it down, thickening it out, and letting Campbell deliver the lyrics — which actually fit pretty well with Pallbearer‘s consistent downer thematics — in his own style. Not only was it the shortest song in their set, but it played to an influence I wouldn’t have expected on the part of the band. A young woman in the crowd shouted, “Put out another fucking album!” and that seemed to be the prevailing sentiment all around. Hopefully in 2014.
Right in the middle of their set, just before they launched into “Let Them Fall” from last year’s über-excellent return outing, Lillie: F-65(review here), Saint Vitus guitarist Dave Chandler got on his mic — which was there solely to address the crowd in such a manner — and say that the song was their first-ever music video and that it got panned by “internet critics,” so let the internet critics fall. That’s always a bummer. Nonetheless, Vitus absolutely destroyed. A Tuesday night, still the beginning the week, I don’t really know what I was expecting, but they came out to “Vertigo” from Lillie: F-65and with a one-two of “Blessed Night” and “Clear Windowpane,” ignited the crowd and proceeded from there to pummel with classic after classic from their catalog. They’ve toured with some consistency since the record came out, and among the encouraging signs I took from their set was that cuts like the aforementioned “Blessed Night” and “Let Them Fall,” as well as “The Bleeding Ground” and “The Waste of Time” fit exceedingly well with essential Vitus tracks like “Living Backwards,” the anthemic “I Bleed Black” and “War is Our Destiny.” Chandler, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez looked like a band who’d been playing shows for the last 11 nights in a row — that is, set in their execution like the whole thing was muscle memory — and the crowd couldn’t have been more into it. Moshing broke out during “The Bleeding Ground,” as Chandler noted, and a couple of surprise inclusions later on like “Shooting Gallery” from 1988′s Mournful Criesand “White Stallions” from 1985′s Hallow’s Victim, which seemed to take the place of their eponymous song in closing out their regular set, made for welcome additions to “The Troll” and the other older material. Vasquez got on mic before the encore to talk up the crowd and introduce the band coming back out. Mark Adams was “Original Member Number 69″ and “the King of Beers” both, and Chandler was “Mr. Doom Himself” or something thereabouts, while Wino was the “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla” (somebody was a wrestling fan). Each of the three came out on cue and Saint Vitus capped the night with “Dying Inside” and, of course, “Born too Late” – Wino and Chandler both hopping off stage and into the crowd during the course — which only underscored how on their game the band is some four years into what’s apparently (and thankfully) an ongoing reunion. I had some hopes in the back of my mind for a new song, as they put word out in July that Chandler has started writing for their next album, but no dice there. As dead on as they were, I could hardly call it a loss, though, especially with the comfort I get to have in saying “maybe next time” about a band who, a few short years ago, I was convinced I’d never get to see live. Fucking awesome.
As a side note to the review, I just want to say that I met John Perez from Solitude Aeturnus at the show. A personal landmark. There working for Vitus along with former The Gates of Slumber drummer J. Clyde Paradis –which if nothing else should be indicative of the respect doom has for its forebears — he’s someone I’ve been in contact with periodically for the last decade or so who’s been perennially awesome to me, whether I’ve been covering his band or stuff on his Brainticket Records label, whatever it might be, or even just generally offering me advice and shooting the shit back and forth. An all-around great dude and a hand I was very glad to have an opportunity to shake after so long.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well established that I’m a sucker for a cool rock show and a cool rock poster, so when greeted by both, I’ve little choice in the matter of posting it. Enfectious Erf out of Memphis concocted the classy design below for what was previously announced taking place a week earlier as Small Stone‘s Detroit fall showcase and now seems to be less that than just another killer show with bands on the label, though it will also serve as the release party for Detroit-native progressive heavy rockers Luder‘s new album, Adelphophagia. In town for the night will be Freedom Hawk, Gozu, The Brought Low and Lo-Pan, so whether or not it’s an official showcase is immediately secondary to how much ass the night is going to kick. The Brought Low rarely get out that far, so Midwesterners take note, and any time Lo-Pan and Gozu get together, trouble is made. Very loud trouble.
Here’s the poster for the show, which you can click to enlarge if its current size isn’t big enough:
Small Stone Records Presents: Freedom Hawk, Gozu, Lo-Pan, Luder, The Brought Low
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hot damn! Nothing like starting off the week with good news, and the announcement below that Gozu will play Roadburn 2014 certainly qualifies as that. The Boston natives will travel to the Netherlands to play the 013 venue on April 12 as part of the four-day fest from April 10-13. Earlier this year, Gozu released The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) on Small Stone and most recently, they demolished the stage at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn (review here). Kudos to the band, who are going to kill it in Tilburg.
Here’s the latest:
Gozu to Play Roadburn Festival 2014
Following the instant critical success of their sophomore recording, Locust Season in 2010, Boston’s Gozu continues to go deep into stoner chug territory on their latest album, The Fury of A Patient Man. Dropping colossal bombs of pure rock fury, Gozu thrive on fuzzed-up guitars, tight motorik drumming, sharp melodies that a lot of bands would die for, and the magic ingredient – pure downright soul!
From the swaggering glory of ‘Bald Bull’ to the 12 bar buzzing boogie of ‘Salty Thumb’ and the upright yet dark guitar crunch of ‘Disco Related Injury’, Gozu will totally raze Roadburn Festival 2014 when they take the stage on Saturday, April 12th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
On their first ever European tour, Gozu will take no prisoners and leave no room to breathe, cuz the band’s stripped down highly infectious riff rock is as mountainous as it is undulating — Gozu will throw us a rocking bone and fight it out to the end! Hell, we didn’t even mention the band’s ability to bust out a loose yet structured jam like on ‘The Ceaseless Thunder Of Surf’, which sees Gozu invoking the spirit of Neurosis.
Roadburn‘s ready, bring it all on!
Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th, 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Posted in Reviews on July 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Though most of the acts were out-of-town imports, there was a strong familial vibe at The Acheron even before The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 got started. Not knowing what traffic wonders awaited on a Saturday evening — could be nothing, could be armageddon — I headed into Brooklyn early so as to catch the start of the nine-band bill and got there well in advance of commencement. Plenty of time to sit outside and chat with fest organizer Brendan Burns, who’d later take the stage with his band Wasted Theory, Pat Harrington of Geezer and the Electric Beard of Doom podcast — who were among the presenters of the show along with The Obelisk, Small Stone Records, Wendigo and Burns‘ own SnakecharmerBooking — the cats from Lo-Pan and plenty of others coming through.
It was still sunny out with a few hours of daylight to come, but people were beginning to assemble. Word of the show had spread pretty well, so although people came and went throughout the evening and seemed to split their time between The Acheron‘s venue room and The Anchord Inn, which occupies the other half of the space, there wasn’t any point where I’d say it cleared out, and right up to when Lo-Pan took the stage as headliners, there was a steady build of heads filling the room. The bar next to the stage was certainly busy all night.
Soon enough, though, it was time to go inside as the night started to get underway with Philly merchants of stone, Wizard Eye. From there, it was a one-after-the-next succession of heavy. Here’s how it all went down:
They’re veterans of Eye of the Stoned Goat by now, but where the second installment earlier this year in Delaware had them teamed with fellow Philadelphia natives Heavy Temple, Thee Nosebleeds and Clamfight, in Brooklyn, they were on their own in representing the City of Brotherly Love. Not only that, but it was their third show with new drummer Mike in the trio with the dreaded guitarist/vocalist Erik Caplan and bassist/backing vocalist Dave. If there was any anxiety on their part, they didn’t show it. Wizard Eye seemed as comfortable as ever as they nestled into their thick, air-pushing Sleep-style stoner grooves, Caplan moving from his guitar to the theremin at just the moment when it seemed the former wouldn’t deliver anymore wail than that which had already been extracted from it. My overarching impression of the band remains the same as when I saw them in February — they need to get an album out. It’s time and even being 33 percent new, their presentation was tight enough to make me think they’re more than ready to go. Hopefully soon.
If Wizard Eye were the stonerly start, then NYC’s Geezer were the answer for anyone looking for a taste of blues, guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington working in a liberal use of slide while bassist Freddy Villano and drummer Turco filled out a heavy rocking stomp behind the classically fuzzed distortion and gravelly vocals. The band is still fresh off the release of their impressive 2013 Gage EP (discussed here), and they brought that jammier sensibility to their set, seeming right at home in slower progressions that they made move when they needed them to and offering unpretentious drinkin’ man’s music well met by the getting-started crowd. Harrington‘s was among the most believable “whiskey-soaked” style singing that I’ve heard in years, and he and Villano (who also play in Gaggle of Cocks together) obviously had years’ worth of chemistry working in their favor, despite Geezer being a relatively recent advent. Closer “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” was a highlight, and as they’re reportedly working on a vinyl release for Gage, they seem to be building some momentum going into whatever they have in the works for after that. A solid blues-based heavy rock jam is something I’ll never argue with, and Geezer had that in spades.
Up from their home in Bear, Delaware, double-guitar unit Wasted Theory handled themselves well on The Acheron‘s stage, as Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 organizer Brendan Burns sat back for drums behind guitarist/vocalist Jackson, lead guitarist M. Kramer and bassist J., the four-piece striking hard on a balance of post-Down Southern metal and more driving stoner fare. They seemed in good spirits after having performed about a month ago at the Moving the Earth festival in Baltimore, and as they hit into songs off this year’s GodSpeedEP and Jackson swung his guitar around his back, they seemed to have come far even since I got my first glimpse of them earlier this year, locking in some fervent Pepper Keenan-style chugging on guitar while J. gave the riffs a thick foundation to rest on. They were energetic and engaged the whole way through, and though they didn’t pull in the biggest crowd of the night, they capped off with a motor-boogieing new song, Jackson half on guitar, that positioned them well coming out of GodSpeed. By the time they were done with their short set, the fest seemed like it was moving along quickly.
I’d reviewed it the day before, so I don’t think Borracho‘s second album, Oculus, would’ve been any fresher on my mind if I’d listened to it on the way to the show. The D.C.-based trio had been out the weekend before for a set of four gigs with Lo-Pan, so I expected they’d be pretty tight and they did not disappoint. Owing to time constraints, they only played three or four songs, starting out with “Empty” and “Stockpile,” the opener and centerpiece from Oculus. Guitarist Steve Fisher has taken to the vocalist role well, and he seemed right at home on both of the Oculus cuts, the set as well giving me a whole new appreciation for the richness of bassist Tim Martin‘s tone. Dense and packed with low end push, it created the waves on which Borracho‘s slower grooves rode, punctuated and given further physicality during the jammier stretches of “Stockpile” by drummer Mario Trubiano. Dipping back to their 2011 debut, Splitting Sky, the trio capped off with the quick burst of “Concentric Circles,” Fisher showing no hesitation to deliver the lines shouting up into a dangling microphone, Motörhead-style. The earlier sets were all pretty short — 25 minutes for the first couple bands, then 30 for the next several — but Borracho had enough time to pack in maximum riffage and give anyone there who’d never seen them before a good idea of where they were coming from as a three-piece.
Here’s where I’m at with New Haven, Connecticut, four-piece Lord Fowl. They’re so tight and so professional that on stage they look like they could be playing one of those all-day amphitheater commercial radio shows with a goofy name. You know the ones: “WFUK presents the Summer Fling this Saturday at the Giant Corporate Bank Park,” and so on. Only snag is Lord Fowl don’t suck and all those bands do. It’s been over two years since I first saw them, and while they may not have the same kind of surprise factor going as they did that night, my enjoyment for what they do has only increased as they’ve gotten signed to Small Stone and last year released, Moon Queen(review here). Opening with the same wow-that-cop-is-saying-some-racist-shit sample that starts the song on the album, they kicked into the funk-riffed “Dirty Driving” as guitarists Vechel Jaynes and Mike Pellegrino traded off vocal parts, setting the tone for the rest of their all-too-short set. “Split” and “Hollow Horn” were welcome inclusions, bassist John Conine and drummer Don Freeman locking in with the starts and stops of the latter, balancing classic rock and modern heavy off each other with born-to-do-it ease. I asked Jaynes afterwards and he said a new record’s in the works, which was some of the best news I heard all night.
To my knowledge, no such award was handed out, but if Eye of the Stoned Goat wanted to start handing out prizes for the prettiest guitars, one would almost certainly have gone to Supermachine‘s Jay Fortin. I don’t even play guitar and the sight of his gold-trimmed, hollow-body Gretsch had me in awe, both in look and sound. As Fortin, bassist Dave Jarvis, drummer Mike McNeil and vocalist David Nebbia stepped into the New Hampshire biker rock groove of “Buffalo,” I could hear a touch of the tonality Fortin and Jarvis brought to their prior outfit together, Scissorfight, and while I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to listen to Supermachine and not consider that context — which isn’t really fair to the band, who are going for a different style altogether; it’s also why I’ve not to date reviewed their self-titled debut — there’s no doubt they’re a crisp, clear-headed and heavy four-piece who can put together a dead-on, ballsy set. “Crutch” was absurdly catchy and correspondingly full sounding, new song “Broiled Alive” was, well, also those things, and I came away from their set glad I had seen them before and had some sense of what to expect, since it allowed me more of a chance to relax and take Supermachine in on their own level. That being the case, I wondered if maybe repeat exposure would continue the trend, and if so, I could think of far worse things.
Black Black Black
The first two words in the page of notes I took during the Black Black Black set were “holy” and “shit.” The only New York band on the bill besides Geezer — also the only other act playing Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 besides Geezer that I hadn’t seen live before — Black Black Black took the stage in unassuming-enough fashion and proceeded to demolish the space around them. It was like they decided to bring their self-titled debut (see here, here and here) to life and then punch everyone in the face with it. “Light Light Light” crushed in a manner that threw down a gauntlet that dared Gozu and Lo-Pan to match its weight, and “Pentagram On,” “Wisdom, Knowledge and Fucked,” the raging “ReDeath” and “Son of Bad” brought a zero-genre-allegiance sonic versatility that was lethal in kind to the band’s presentation of the material. As their time wore on — it went quickly, make no mistake — and guitarist Jacob Cox manipulated feedback to add atmosphere to the pummel, I tried to think back to the last time I got a recommendation as good as when Jesse Bartz from Lo-Pan put me onto them. I couldn’t come up with anything. With no loss of energy or assault in their delivery, Black Black Black – Cox, vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, bassist Jonathan Swafford and drummer Jeff Ottenbacher – included two new songs near the end, the latter of which offset a shuffling riff with vocals that bordered on airy before they shifted into their final round of intense bludgeoning. It was, in short, a fucking delight.
It made a strange kind of sense to me as I watched Boston’s Gozu load onto the stage that, last weekend, I should be in Boston watching The Brought Low at a show which members of Gozu were attending just to hang out, while this weekend, I’m in New York watching Gozu, who are from Boston, and here’s Ben Smith from The Brought Low, come to check out the gig. I feel like there’s some element of symmetry there and I just don’t have a brain able to process mathematics complex enough to enjoy it. Nonetheless, at The Acheron, Gozu played the heaviest set I’ve ever seen them play. Whether it was “Bald Bull,” the thrashing “Charles Bronson Pinchot” or the boogie-ready “Snake Plissken” from this year’s The Fury of a Patient Man(review here), or “Regal Beagle” from their 2010 Locust Seasondebut, everything they played seemed to pack some extra bite, and particularly in the case of drummer Barry Spillberg, the band hand-delivered a rager that set back some of their soul influence in favor of showing off hardcore roots, closing out with “Mr. Riddle” from Locust Season, which had thrust enough to its groove alone to justify Gozu’s place on the bill. I don’t generally think of Gozu as putting such an emphasis on heaviness — yeah, they’re a heavy rock band and guitarists Marc Gaffney and Doug Sherman and bassist Jay Grotto obviously have heft to their tones — but this was a different league entirely. They were almost metal, but if metal pulled its head out of its ass and remembered how good it felt to groove every now and again. Whatever symmetry I may have enjoyed in seeing them in New York this weekend, that was trumped easily by their actual performance, which was downright threatening.
It had been a long day. Lo-Pan were slated to hit the stage at midnight, and by the time they did — give or take a few minutes, but basically on time — I was long since beat, but already eight bands deep, there was no way I was missing anything the Ohio fuzz rockers had to offer. And I was even gladder I didn’t cut out early once they actually started playing; the setlist was packed with new material. “Eastern Seas” and “Colossus” were aired — familiar titles from recent shows — but “Hunters,” which if I’m not mistaken Jeff Martin said was being played for the first time (don’t quote me), brought out guttural, soulful shouts from the singer powerful enough to cut through the volume of the three players — bassist Scott Thompson, drummer Jesse Bartz and guitarist Brian “It’s His Tone, We’re Just Living in It” Fristoe — positioned in front of him. Light moshing occurred, which I guess is what happens when people 25 and under show up to gigs. New songs were joined by the familiar rush of “Deciduous” and “Generations” from 2011′s there’s-no-hyperbole-left-for-me-to-use-so-I’ll-just-say-it’s-fucking-awesome Small Stone debut, Salvador (review here), but Lo-Pan returned to new material to close out, ending off their set with “The Duke,” on which Martin‘s voice was presented sort of answering itself in delay. The final locked-in groove of that song justified its position as the finale, but when Lo-Pan were done, the shouts of “one more!” were immediate. Bartz had already gotten off the stage, but he came back up and Martin said they’d only do one more if someone bought Scott a shot of whiskey. It arrived during the first verse of “Kurtz” and was fed into his mouth as he played. More moshing ensued — heathens! — and Lo-Pan capped a killer night with a spectacle well worth sticking around to see. Until next time.
The efforts of Brendan Burns in making Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 happen are worth reiterating and commending. The Acheron also made an excellent host for the show — the sound straight through left nothing wanting in either volume, devastation or clarity — and each of the bands stepped up to deliver a fitting answer to the one in front of them, starting with Wizard Eye and ending with Lo-Pan. I got out of Brooklyn on the quick since it was already pushing 1AM, got back to my humble river valley a little after two and crashed out, satisfied that there was no more I could’ve asked of the night.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is just the preliminary of the preliminary announcements, but a Small Stone label showcase is always a good time — seriously, I’m the most miserable bastard you could ever hope to (not) meet and I have a blast whenever I’m fortunate enough to attend one of the things — so I figured better to get the word out early so anyone interested in making the trip could mark the calendar now. The lineup for this year’s Detroit gig is still coming together, but already you’ve got Gozu, Lord Fowl, Lo-Pan and Luder on the bill, so for a whopping $10, it officially qualifies as what I believe the kids might call a “sick show.”
Oct. 12 is the date, The Magic Stick is the place. Here it is from the source:
Date: 10/12/2013 Venue: The Magic Stick Location: Detroit, MI Line Up: Gozu, Lord Fowl, Lo-Pan, Luder, TBA (most likely Freedom Hawk or Sasquatch). Doors: 7:30 – All Ages Price: $10.00
Posted in Features on June 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is always fun, and because the year’s only (just about) half over, you always know there’s more to come. The last six months have brought a host of really stellar releases, and the whole time, it’s felt like just when you’ve dug your heels into something and really feel content to rest with it for a while, there’s something else to grab your ears. So it’s been for the last six months, bouncing from one record to the next.
Even now, I’ve got a list of albums, singles, EPs, tapes, demos, whatever, waiting for attention — some of which I’m viciously behind on — but it’s time to stop and take a look back at some of what the best of the first half of 2013 has been. Please note, I’m only counting full-lengths here. While I’ve heard a few killer EPs this year — looking at you, Mars Red Sky — it doesn’t seem fair to rate everything all together like that. Maybe a separate list.
If you’ve got a list of your own or some quibbling on the numbers, please leave a comment and be heard. From where I sit, that’s always the best part of this kind of thing.
The third Endless Boogie album on No Quarter was basically the soundtrack to the end of my winter, with smooth grooving cuts like “The Artemus Ward” and the classic rock shake of “On Cryology” providing a soundtrack as cool as the air in my lungs. It was my first experience with the longform-jamming improv-heavy foursome, and a CD I’m still stoked to put on and get lost in, having found that it works just as well in summer’s humidity as winter’s freeze, the off-the-cuff narrations of Paul Major (interview here) carrying a vibe unmistakably belonging to the rock history of the band’s native New York City. Was a sleeper, but not one to miss for its organic and exploratory feel.
Proffering righteous traditional doom and misery-drenched atmospherics, the debut full-length from Massachusetts-based Magic Circle hit hard and showed there’s life yet to the old ways. It never quite veered into the cultish posturing that comprises so much of the trad doom aesthetic these days, and from the grandiose riffing of guitarists Dan Ducas and Chris Corry and the blown-out vocals of frontman Brendan Radigan, it found the band carving a memorable identity for themselves with clear sonic ideas of what they wanted to accomplish. Out of all the bands on this list, I’m most interested to hear what Magic Circle do next to build on their debut.
Berlin trio Kadavar had a tough task ahead of them in releasing a sophomore answer to their self-titled, which I thought was the best first album of 2012, but when Abra Kadavar surfaced as their debut on Nuclear Blast, it was quickly apparent that the retro heavy rockers had put together a worthy follow-up. Cuts like “Come Back Life” and “Doomsday Machine” underscored the straightforward triumphs of the prior outing, while late-album arrivals “Liquid Dream,” “Rhythm for Endless Minds” and “Abra Kadabra” gave a sense that Kadavar were beginning a journey into psychedelia the results of which could be just as rewarding as even the most potent of their choruses. Their potential remains one of their biggest appeals.
It wasn’t without its rough edges, but at the core of Indianapolis heavy rockers Devil to Pay‘s fourth record was an unflinching songwriting quality that quickly established it among my go-to regulars, whether it was the quirky doom hook of “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife,” the darkly progressive riffing of “Black Black Heart” or the suitably propulsive rush of “This Train Won’t Stop.” The double-guitar four-piece didn’t have much time for frills in terms of arrangement or structure, but by building on the developments over the course of their three prior releases, Devil to Pay delivered a slab of deceptively intricate standouts that made hard turns sound easy and demanded the attention it deserved.
6. Beast in the Field, The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below
Unfuckwithable tone set to destructive purpose. Immediately upon hearing the unsung Michigan drum/guitar duo’s fourth album, the impact of The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below — overwhelming though it is at times throughout the album; hello, “Oncoming Avalanche” — refused to be denied. Beast in the Field haven’t gotten anything remotely close to the attention they should for this devastating collection, but it’s one I absolutely can’t put down, cohesive in theme and full of skull-caving riffs as dynamic as they are brutally delivered by the instrumental twosome. If it’s one you missed on CD when Saw Her Ghost put it out in March (as I did), keep your eyes open for a vinyl release coming on Emetic in the next couple months. Really. Do it.
Massachusetts trio Black Pyramid quickly dispatched any doubts of their ability to continue on after the departure of their previous guitarist/vocalist, bassist Dave Gein and drummer Clay Neely joined forces with Darryl Shepard (Hackman, Blackwolfgoat, Roadsaw, etc.) to reinvigorate their battle-ready doom, and whether it was the extended jamming on “Swing the Scimitar” or the surprisingly smooth riffing on “Aphelion,” the results did not disappoint. Regardless of personnel, I’ve yet to hear a Black Pyramid album I didn’t want to hear again, and though I’ll freely admit they’re a sentimental favorite for me at this point, Adversarial is a suitable dawn for their next era. Long may they reign.
True, I will argue tooth and nail that Boston four-piece Gozu should get rid of their goofball, sitcom-referential song titles, but that’s only because I believe the band’s lack of pretense speaks for itself through the music and their tracks are too good to give listeners a chance not to take them seriously. When it comes to The Fury of a Patient Man — their second full-length behind the impressive 2010 debut, Locust Season (review here) — I knew the first time I heard it toward the end of last year that it was going to be one of 2013′s best, and while I’ve heard quibbles in favor of the debut, nothing has dissuaded me from thinking the sophomore installment outclasses it on almost every level. Expect a return appearance when the year-end list hits in December.
There’s a big part of me that feels like a sucker for digging …Like Clockwork, the first Queens of the Stone Age full-length since 2007′s relatively lackluster Era Vulgaris, but when it comes right down to it, I hit the point in listening to the album that I came around to its sheen, its up-and-down moodiness and its unabashed self-importance. I hit the point where I was able to separate …Like Clockwork from its “viral marketing” and just enjoy Josh Homme‘s all-growed-up songwriting for what it is. Would I have loved a second self-titled album? Probably, but it wasn’t realistic to think that’s what …Like Clockwork would be, and as much as I’ve tried out other spots for it, I’d be lying if I put this record anywhere else on this list but here. So there you go. I understand the arguments against it, but reason doesn’t always apply when it comes to what gets repeat spins.
I was late to the party on the second Uncle Acid offering, 2011′s Blood Lust, as I often am on records where the hype gets to din levels, but by the time the subsequent Mind Control was announced, I knew it was going to be one to watch out for. Aligned to Rise Above/Metal Blade, the UK outfit began to unravel till-then mystery of itself, playing live and developing the brazen psychedelic pop influences hinted at in the horrors of Blood Lust so that the swing of “Mt. Abraxas” and the acid-coated psych of “Valley of the Dolls” could exist within the same cohesive sphere. Between the death-boogie of “Mind Crawler” and mid-period Beatlesian exploration of “Follow the Leader,” Mind Control continues to be an album I hear as much on the mental jukebox rotation as one I actually put on to listen to again. Either way, there’s no getting away from it — the eerie melodies of guitarist/vocalists Kevin “Uncle Acid” Starrs and Yotam Rubinger are hauntingly ever-present.
Obvious? Probably, but that doesn’t make it any less genuine. To set the scene, here’s me on the Masspike a couple weeks ago in the Volvo of Doom™ with the little dog Dio, 90 miles an hour shouting along to “Crucial Velocity” at the top of my never-on-key lungs. I couldn’t and wouldn’t endeavor to tell you how many times I’ve listened to Earth Rocker since I first got a taste, but from the title-track on through the surging groove at the end of “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…,” front to back, the 10th Clutch album still does not fail to roil the blood with not a dud in the bunch. The Maryland road dogs of course shine best on a stage, and Earth Rocker‘s polished, layered production is a studio affair in the truest sense, but all that does is make me hopeful they’ll complement it with a live record soon. Clutch could easily have phoned in a follow-up to 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West and their fanbase probably would’ve still salivated over it, myself included, but by boldly pushing themselves to write faster, more concise material, they’ve reenergized one of heavy rock’s best sounds. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a brand new listener, Earth Rocker is utterly essential.
Two more records I have to mention: Kings Destroy‘s A Time of Hunting and Clamfight‘s I vs. the Glacier. I wasn’t involved in releasing the Kings Destroy, but felt close to it nonetheless, and since the Clamfight came out on The Maple Forum, it wouldn’t be appropriate to include it in the list proper, but hands down, these are my two favorite records of the year so far and made by some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure to know over the course of my years nerding out to heavy music.
Some other honorable mentions go to Toner Low, Cathedral, Church of Misery, Serpent Throne, Naam, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and All Them Witches. Like I said, it’s been a hell of a year so far.
You may note some glaring absences in the list above — Black Sabbath, ASG, Orchid, Ghost, Kvelertak and Voivod come to mind immediately. Some of that is a result of my disdain for digital promos, and some of that is just a matter of what I listened to most. Please understand that although release profile is not something discounted, at the heart of what’s included here is one individual’s personal preferences and listening habits.
Thanks for reading. Here’s to your own lists and to the next six months to come!
Posted in Features on May 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
At the end of April, Boston four-piece Gozu released The Fury of a Patient Man. It is their second full-length behind 2010′s Locust Season, which was also issued on Small Stone, and a point of marked stylistic refinement for the band. Whether it was the clarity that holds sway beneath the fuzz of Marc Gaffney and Doug Sherman‘s guitars or the soul that shines through the vocals, the thickness that they seem to turn into shuffle at will, everything that made Locust Season(review here) such an engaging debut has been given a sense of progress on The Fury of a Patient Man, and Gozu, as a unit, have never sounded tighter.
That’s saying something, considering that even as The Fury of a Patient Man(review here) came together, their lineup was going through changes and Gaffney had an extended hospital stay. Bassists Jay Canava and Paul Dellaire both play on the record — put to tape, like the first one, by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak – and the position is now filled by Joe Grotto (yup, related), who joins the rhythm section alongside the scary precision of drummer Barry Spillberg, who makes the High on Fire-style gallop of “Charles Bronson Pinchot” as visceral as he makes the later “Disco Related Injury” swagger and groove.
But Gozu is no more Spillberg‘s show than it is any single member’s, and rather, The Fury of a Patient Manfinds its best moments when everyone comes together around a central idea, as on “Ghost Wipe,” which excellently melds some of their heaviest push with an unabashedly pop-minded chorus, the line “The loudness of a broken heart” serving as a takeaway not just from the song but from the full-length as a whole — a sort of complement to the title, furthering the emotional crux and making a point of its melodicism even as its melodies top some of Gozu‘s most fervent riffing, culmination coming in the hypnotic tidal repetitions of the 23-minute “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf,” on which the band doesn’t so much let go of the song as they do let it wander where it might, sustained lines meeting their deconstruction in a poignant, patient finale. Even this, Gozu makes asongand not a part showcase.
A triumph through the record is — it’s one of 2013′s best, make no mistake — it’s easy to imagine Gozu‘s finest hours yet lay ahead of them. The band have been recruited for a slot at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn this July (more info here), and they’ll tour with Ohio-based labelmates Lo-Pan to get there. In addition, for the 2LP release of The Fury of a Patient Man, Gozu have recently put together a collaboration with Lo-Pan vocalist Jeff Martin – reportedly a cover of D’Angelo‘s “Brown Sugar” — and while gigging in April with Fu Manchu might seem like a high point for anyone who ever based a song around a riff, on May 20, they’ll be at the Great Scott with Norwegian rippers Kvelertak, so the hits, as it were, keep coming. Well deserved.
Please find the 3,500-word Q&A with Marc Gaffney of Gozu after the jump, and please enjoy.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m very, very proud to be involved in helping promote The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in the way that I am. After checking out the second in the festival series back in February, it’s an honor to have signed on to help spread the word about the third, which boasts a strong lineup of bands at a choice venue on what I’ve no doubt will be a sweltering weekend night of heavy rock and roll. The fest sent over a victory lap of a press release, which you’ll find below:
The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 set for Brooklyn, NY
Snake Charmer Booking announces its 3rd installment of its stoner rock and doom metal themed concert event “The Eye of the Stoned Goat”. The event will take place at The Acheron in Brooklyn New York on Saturday, July 27th 2013 at 6pm.
The Acheron, known to the locals as “the second coming of CBGB’s” is the perfect spot to host such a powerhouse line up, including Small Stone Records bands: Lo-Pan, Gozu, SuperMachine, and Lord Fowl. Washington, D.C.’s own Borracho, Delaware band Wasted Theory, and Philadelphia’s Wizard Eye will be making the trip up, while local support will be provided by Brooklyn’s Black Black Black, and Kingston, New York’s own Geezer.
In February 2013, Snake Charmer Booking hosted the second Eye of the Stoned Goat show in Delaware, home of event organizer Brendan Burns. Only a month later, Burns teamed up with Pat Harrington at the ‘Electric Beard of Doom’ podcast to announce that they would be bringing the event to New York.
Some of the bands who have previously played the ‘Stoned Goat events include- Pale Divine, Iron Man, Clamfight, Beelzefuzz, Blackhand, Skeleton Hands, Thee Nosebleeds and Black Cowgirl to name a few. “I’ve been fortunate being able to work with so many great bands, and this time around is no different” according to Burns. “This roster of artists are bands that I enjoy listening to regularly, and I am just absolutely thrilled to be working with them, it’s a promoter’s dream to work with bands that you listen to in your daily life”. Burns has also begun working on his roster for the Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 for 2014.
This summer’s event will also features such sponsors as Small Stone Records, The Obelisk, Wendigo Promotions and Electric Beard of Doom Podcast.
Tickets go on sale May 1st 2013 for $12.00 (online price), and will also be available at the door for $15.00 to first come first served. For more information, visitwww.TheEyeoftheStonedGoat.com.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
They’re the titans of tone! The rulers of riffs! The fugelmen of fuzz! Okay, you get the point, which is that Gozu and Lo-Pan teaming up for a tour is a very, very cool thing and if you’re lucky enough to be in an area where one of these four July shows is happening, then you’re probably gonna want to endeavor to show up. Gozu at that point will still be riding high on the release of The Fury of a Patient Man, and Lo-Pan — who were already playing new material late last year — should only have more of it by now with the rare time they’ve spent off the road, so all the better to get an advance glimpse at their next album.
It’s four-nights-only that thelabelmates and soulful forerunners will be teamed up, and they’re playing in Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire and Boston on their way to join their Small Stone brethren in Supermachine and Lord Fowl, as well as Borracho, Black Black Black, Wasted Theory, Wizard Eye and Geezer at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 at The Acheron in Brooklyn. More on that here.
Rumor has it — and by rumor I mean the interview I did a couple weeks back with Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney that I haven’t had time to transcribe yet — that Lo-Pan singer Jeff Martin was recently invited to collaborate with Gozu on a track for the vinyl release of The Fury of a Patient Man, which given the sheer pipes involved is bound to improve the quality of life of anyone who hears it once it comes out. Very much looking forward to that.
Here’s the poster and the dates for the Lo-Pan/Gozu, with more info coming soon:
If that’s not enough to get your rock glands in a tizzy, Gozu are also opening for Fu Manchu (who are playing The Action is Gofront to back) this coming week at The Sinclair in Cambridge. More on that here. Lo-Pan play April 20 at Red Sun‘s 10th anniversary show, as reported here the other day. Rock and roll abounds. Let’s make some eggs:
Ahead of the April 23 CD release of their second full-length, The Fury of a Patient Man — now available for pre-order through the Small Stone Bandcamp — Boston soul riffers Gozu have a brand new video for the track “Bald Bull.” The clip was directed and produced by none other than Roadsaw‘s Tim Catz, and it’s got all the milk-dripping-through-beard action you could ask for. Also head-sawing!
Mark it a win for that and of course for the song itself, a highlight of the album (review here) that Gozu will support with two nights at Radio in Somerville May 3 and 4 ahead of making a stop in Brooklyn this July for a slot at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 at The Acheron (more info here). Here’s “Bald Bull,” followed by the flyer for the Radio gigs with each night’s lineup. Enjoy:
Gozu, “Bald Bull” Official Video
On May 3, Gozu will be joined by Streight Angular (whose name is somehow so hard to type it hurts), Mellow Bravo and Birch Hill Dam. The next night, it’s Cocked ‘n’ Loaded, Black Pyramid, Thunderbloods and Hey Zeus. Either way, you can’t really go wrong:
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Presented by Snakecharmer Booking, Small Stone Records, the Electric Beard of Doom podcast and yours truly once I manage to track down my hi res Obelisk logos, the Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 is set to take place July 27 at The Acheron in Brooklyn. It will have only been months since Eye of the Stoned Goat 2 suckerpunched Delaware upside its still-bragging-about-being-the-first-state head (review here), but with a lineup that includes Lo-Pan, Gozu, Supermachine, Black Black Black, Borracho, Wizard Eye, Lord Fowl, Geezer and Wasted Theory, I’m not about to complain.
As I’ll be helping present the damn thing, expect much more to come, including interviews with the artists, reviews and updates on their whathaveyou and maybe even a giveaway if I can square it with the powers that be. Till then, stare at the preliminary flyer below marvel at the wonders summer will bring:
Posted in Features on March 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
…Yeah, I know, 24 is a buttload of records to buy in the span of about a month and a half. To do the division, it would mean buying a new album every 2.04 days. Probably not feasible in terms of time, let alone budget, but hell, it’s a nice thought and seeing the onslaught of new stuff coming between now and the end of April, I thought maybe a list would help keep it all straight. Even if I’m only helping myself, I could probably spend my time in worse ways.
Worth noting that even with 24 albums, presented below in order of release, I feel like there’s stuff I’m forgetting. Frankly, it’s an overwhelming amount of material, so if I’ve missed something or there’s something you’d like to see added to the list, as always, that’s why there’s a comments feature.
Okay. These are numbered just for fun, but listed by date:
1. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Fans (March 12)
My understanding is that London’s foremost doom scoundrels, none other than Orange Goblin, have been selling copies of A Eulogy for the Fans since starting their US tour with Clutch on March 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio, but today is the official release date, and I can think of no better place to start than with the four-piece’s ferocious performance at the 2012 Bloodstock festival, captured audio and video in all its bloodsoaked glory. Not to be missed or taken lightly because it’s a live record. Album review here.
2. Borracho, Mob Gathering 7″ (March 13)
Even though it’s comprised of older tracks, the new Mob Gathering 7″ from Borracho is welcome by me for two reasons: I’ve never heard the songs before and Borracho rocks. The Washington D.C.-based riffers recorded “Mob Gathering” and “Short Ride (When it’s Over)” in 2009 and are set to release the cuts on a limited platter in black and orange swirl through Spain’s Ghost Highway Recordings and Germany’s No Balls Records. They’ve been playing live as a mostly-instrumental outfit while guitarist/vocalist Noah is out of the country on what I can only assume is an awesome spy mission, so if you need a Borracho fix — and it’s obvious from the way your hands are shaking that you do — this might be the way to go. More info here.
3. Inter Arma, Sky Burial (March 15)
Like Windhand below, Inter Arma are recent Relapse Records signees from Richmond, Virginia, and Sky Burial will serve as their first release for the label. Literally and figuratively, the album is expansive, topping 69 minutes and pummeling the whole way through with a genre-transcending concoction of bleakness that’s not so much aligned to any particular heavy aesthetic so much as it is set to its own atmospheric purposes. Through this, Inter Arma emerge terrifyingly cohesive where many others would falter, and their second LP behind 2010′s Sundown (review here) leaves a progressive impression despite an almost complete lack of sonic pretense. Mostly, it’s fucking heavy. Track stream and info here.
4. Clutch, Earth Rocker (March 19)
If 2013 ended tomorrow, Clutch‘s Earth Rocker would be my album of the year. That’s not saying the situation will be the same nine months from now when I actually start putting that list together (already dreading it), but as of March 12, it’s the cat’s pajamas and no foolin’. The long-running Marylanders outdid themselves and put together a surprisingly fast, energetic collection of songs that don’t forsake the bluesy tendencies of their last album, 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West, so much as they put some of the jamming on lockdown in favor of all-out pro-grade heavy rock and roll. The velocity is crucial and the wolfman is out, but it feels like the party’s just starting. Look for them on tour sometime between now and forever. Album review here.
5. Black Mare, Field of the Host (March 20)
Black Math Horseman and Ides of Gemini frontwoman Sera Timms (who’s also recently collaborated with Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce in the new outfit Zun) steps further out on her own with the solo-project Black Mare, from whom Field of the Host is the first album. Due March 20 on LP through The Crossing and on cassette through Breathe Plastic, limited in both cases and sure to be gone shortly after release if they’re not already taken through pre-orders. Fans of Timms‘ past works will be glad to hear the misty wash of melody and dreamy, somehow sad, languid roll of “Blind One,” for starters. Audio and info on the forum.
6. Kvelertak, Meir (March 26)
Short of setting themselves on fire, Norwegian triple-guitar six-piece Kvelertak did just about everything they could to get noticed in support of their 2010 self-titled debut LP (review here), and sure enough, their work paid off in getting signed to Roadrunner Records for all territories outside their native Scandinavia (where Indie Recordings holds sway) and trumpeting up a wave of anticipation for their second full-length, Meir. Their energetic, genre-crossing approach might not be for everybody, but the band have turned a lot of heads and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to find them on bigger tours this year with Roadrunner behind them. More info on the forum.
7. Black Pyramid, Adversarial (April 2)
This is actually the first time the Eli Wood cover art for Black Pyramid‘s Adversarial has been seen in full, so you know. The Hydro-Phonic Records release of the third Black Pyramid album and first to be fronted by guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard along with bassist David Gein and drummer Clay Neely punctuates the beginning of a new era for the Massachusetts trio. If the advance listen to closing track “Onyx and Obsidian” is anything to go by, they could very well be at their most potent yet, and though I’d hardly consider myself an impartial observer, as a fan of the band, this is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. More to come. Track stream here.
8. Moss, Horrible Night (April 2)
I’ve yet to hear the complete album, but UK trio Moss seem poised to surprise with a cleaner vocal approach on Horrible Night, their first offering since 2008′s impressive Sub Templum LP and two EPs in 2009, so in addition to wondering how they’ll pull it off, the level of the shift remains to be seen. That is, how big a deal is it? Should I call my mom? Is this something grandma needs to know about? Time will tell, but for it having been five years since the last time a Moss record reared its doomly head, it seems only fair to give the band a little breathing room on their evolution. More info and video here.
9. Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide EP (April 8)
How glad am I that French fuzz rockers Mars Red Sky have a new EP coming? Well, I’m not as happy that it’s coming as I am that it’s frickin’ awesome. The trio keep the weighted bass tones that gave so much depth to their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but they’ve also clearly set to work expanding the formula as well, adding stomp to second track “Seen a Ghost” and an eerie repetitive sense to side B closer “Stranger,” while also broadening their melodic reach and taking claim of whichever side of the line they want between fuzz rock and heavy psychedelia while remaining so much more to the ears than either genre descriptor can offer to the eyes. At half an hour, my only complaint with it is it’s not a full-length album. Video trailer and info here.
10. Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era (April 9)
A sample of the poet Ron Whitehead — who also featured on Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s late-2012 debut EP for Tee Pee Records, The Storm Generation (review here) — comes to clarity just in time for the gonzo Boomer poet to let us all know that, “America is an illusion” (that may be, but it’s an illusion with an army of flying killer robots), and from there, the youngin’ desert transplants embark on a low-end-heavy freakout topped with sweet surf rock guitars and set to use in intricate, sometimes surprisingly jagged, rhythmic dances. Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson guests, Scott Reeder produced. Review is forthcoming, but till then, there’s more info here.
11. Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse (April 9)
Fate is Your Muse serves not only as Indianapolis rockers Devil to Pay‘s Ripple Music debut, but also as the double-guitar foursome’s first outing since 2009′s Heavily Ever After. With tales of lizardmen attacks and the alleged end of the world, it’s got its fair share of personality, and set to the chugging riffs, melodic vocals and straightforward heavy grooves, that personality still goes a long way. I’ll have a review up before this week is out (I hope), but still, I wanted to make sure to include Devil to Pay here too, since their songs command both attention and respect. To wit, I just can’t seem to get “This Train Won’t Stop” out of my head. Video and info here.
12. Cough & Windhand, Reflection of the Negative Split (April 15)
Virginian doomers Cough and Windhand share a hometown in Richmond, a love of volume, a bassist in Parker Chandler and now a label in Relapse Records, so yeah, a split makes sense. Reflection of the Negative will be Windhand‘s first release through Relapse ahead of their sophomore full-length, scheduled for later this year (info here). For Cough, this split marks their first outing since 2010′s An Introduction to the Black Arts split with UK masters The Wounded Kings (review here), and they’ll present the 18-minute “Athame,” while Windhand bring forth “Amaranth” and “Shepherd’s Crook.” More info here.
13. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Mind Control (April 15)
What the last Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats album, 2011′s Blood Lust (semi-review here), did so well was capture the atmosphere and the grainy imagery of late ’60s/early ’70s psychedelic horror and put it into audio form. For that, Blood Lust earned massive praise, but I still think that without the central core of songwriting underneath the genre trappings, it would’ve fallen flat. When it comes to Mind Control, the question waiting to be answered is if the band wants to stick to the blueprint they’ve established or go brazenly into uncharted weirdness. I’m not really sure they can lose, either way. Info and music here.
14. Kadavar, Abra Kadavar (April 16)
Their debut on new label Nuclear Blast and the quick-arriving answer to my pick for 2012 debut of the year, Abra Kadavar arrives with plenty of anticipation leading the way. The retro-rocking German trio have their work cut out for them in following that self-titled, but however it turns out in the comparison, it will be fascinating to learn how Kadavar develops the band’s sound and whether or not they prove able to push the boundaries of their aesthetic while simultaneously setting a new standard for promo photos. New video here.
15. Spiritual Beggars, Earth Blues (April 16)
I guess when it comes to these long-running Swedes, everybody’s got their favorite lineup, their favorite tunes, etc., but for me, I’m just impressed that Michael Amott — now more than 20 years on from starting Spiritual Beggars as a side-project while still in grindcore pioneers Carcass — still has any interest in keeping the classic rock Hammond-loving outfit grooving. Their last outing, 2010′s Return to Zero (review here), was the first to feature vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, formerly of Firewind, and though those songs were solid, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more settled in on Earth Blues when it drops via InsideOut Music on April 16. More info on the forum.
16. Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire (April 19)
Alternating between periods of brooding intensity and all-out crushing heaviness, the second full-length from New Zealand’s Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire, is nasty, nasty, nasty. It’s nasty when it’s quiet and it’s nasty when it’s loud. It’s the kind of record you put on and you’re like, “Damn that’s nasty.” And you’re not wrong. The four-piece — touring shortly with Unida — upped their game even from 2011′s self-titled debut (review here), and for anyone who heard that record, you know that’s saying something. I’m still in the “getting to know it” phase, but so far all that nasty feels pretty right on. More info here.
17. Ghost, Infestissumam (April 19)
Man, this one just kind of happened, huh? I suck — and I mean S-U-C-K suck — at keeping up with band hype. I’m the dude who hears the record three months later and goes, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool,” as countless reviews here can attest, including the one for Ghost‘s 2010 debut, Opus Eponymous, but with the Swedish cult heavyweights, all of a sudden I turned around and blamo, major label deal, semi-name change to Ghost B.C., and enough slathering over the impending Infestissumam to make the first album seem like less than the hyperbole it was treated to initially. Funny how that happens. Out in April? I’m sure I’ll review in June and go, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool.” More info on the forum.
18. One Inch Giant, The Great White Beyond (April 19)
Now signed to Soulseller Records, Swedish heavy rockers One Inch Giant will unveil their debut full-length on April 19 and as three of my favorite words in the English language are “Swedish heavy rockers,” I’m excited to find out how this Gothenburg four-piece follow-up their Malva EP, and if they can capture some of the extreme dynamic they brought to their live show when they toured the US last summer — a run of shows that included a stop at SHoD. Hard not to pull for a band after they come over to play club dates. More info and music here.
19. The Heavy Co., Midwest Electric (April 20)
It was actually the other day writing about The Heavy Co.‘s Midwest Electric that I had the idea for this feature, so however high the profile might be for some of these albums — Ghost walks by on their way to cash a check — it was these unpretentious Hoosier rockers and their new outing, Midwest Electric, that started me off. From what I’ve heard so far, the new collection sounds a little more confident in exploring psychedelia than did the trio’s 2011 debut EP, The Heavy (Please Tune In…) (review here), so I’m looking forward to hearing if and how that plays out over the course of the whole thing. Video trailer here.
20. Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (April 23)
I have an interview slated for later this week with Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, and I’m even more excited for this time than I was when we last spoke, around their 2009 Small Stone debut, Locust Season (review here), since in everything but its goofball song titles, the sophomore outing marks a huge developmental step in the band’s melodic reach and songwriting chemistry. Stay tuned for that interview and check out the Bandcamp stream included with the album review here.
21. Yawning Man & Fatso Jetson, European Tour Split 7″ (April 26)
Note: I don’t actually know that April 26 is the day that what’s sure to be 2013′s most desert-rocking split is due to arrive, I just know that it’s Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man‘s European tour split, and that’s the day the Euro dates start — with performances at Desertfests London and Berlin, to be more specific. Given both the greatness of Fatso Jetson‘s last record, 2010′s Archaic Volumes (review here), and of Yawning Man‘s own 2010 outing, Nomadic Pursuits (review here), the bands’ shared lineage and the relative infrequency of their touring, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to hope that, even for a single, they pull out all the stops. And starts. And riffs. More info on the forum.
22. Serpent Throne, Brother Lucifer (April 29)
Philly-based instrumental heavy rockers Serpent Throne will follow-up 2010′s White Summer/Black Winter (review here) with Brother Lucifer, and while no one can ever really know what to expect, it’s a safe bet that the dual-guitar outfit will have the solos front and center once again. Having seen them do a couple new songs back in December, I can’t blame them in the slightest. Looking forward to letting these songs sink in for a while and having those solos stuck in my head. Track stream here.
23. Melvins, Everybody Loves Sausages (April 30)
Hey wow, a Melvins covers album. Finally, an opportunity for the band to let their hair down and go wild a bit, right? I mean, at long last, they can really feel free to indulge a little and explore their musical roots in a free and creative way. Okay, you get the point. In all seriousness, it’s a pretty cool idea and anything that teams the Melvins with Scott Kelly to do a Venom song is probably going to be a worthy cause. The most amazing part of it is they haven’t already done a version of “Black Betty.” More info on the forum.
24. Revelation, Inner Harbor (April 30)
Their most progressive outing yet and their first album since 2009, Revelation‘s Inner Harbor (review here) is bound to surprise some who thought they knew what to expect from the Maryland doom stalwarts who double as the classically rocking Against Nature. Good thing Inner Harbor had a digital release last year through the band’s Bland Hand Records to act as a precursor to this Shadow Kingdom CD issue. Rumor has it vinyl’s on the way as well, so keep an eye out, since John Brenner‘s guitar tone should be heard on as natural-sounding an apparatus as possible. More info here.
Okay, so you’re saying to yourself, “Golly, that’s a lot of stuff.” You’re absolutely right. But even as I was typing up this feature, I got word of a new Queen Elephantine full-length coming in April, so even as much as this is, it’s not everything. And that’s not even to mention May, which will bring a new Shroud Eater EP, a new Kylesa record and a new Mark Lanegan collaboration, among however much else. Tons of stuff to keep your ears out for, and like I said way back at the top of this thing, if you have something to add, a comment’s always appreciated.
Posted in Reviews on January 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Foremost, it was cold. I don’t know what part of the world you live in, but here on the US East Coast, we got slammed last week with temperatures that ranged on the wrong side of zero degrees fahrenheit, and even walking into the dark bar O’Brien’s in Allston, I could feel the wind through my shoes. My jacket, shirt, etc. weren’t even a consideration. But for public courtesy, they might as well have not been there. It was so cold the wind cut through my shoes. Welcome to Boston, Mass.
The Patient Mrs. and I were in town for the night and into Sunday to look at residences, and as I’d seen earlier in the week that Gozu had a gig booked, I decided to hit it up and also get the chance to check out another local venue. If I’m gonna live there, I might as well get to know the spots where shows are, and I know O’Brien’s has had many in the past just from reading lists of tour dates, so even with the unreasonable temperatures and did-someone-just-cut-my-face wind, the rock and roll must get through.
I knew little about Hey Zeus and nothing about Whitey or The Humanoids, but fortunately ran into Black Pyramid/Blackwolfgoat guitarist and all-around super dude Darryl Shepard, who was kind enough to act as my sort of tour guide for the night’s bill, pointing out guitarist Pete Knipfing and drummer Todd Bowman from Hey Zeus, both formerly of Lamont whom I’ve been subjecting to some posthumous appreciation (see here and here), vocalist Bice Nathan and bassist Ken Cmar, who ran the label WonderdrugRecords and with it released records by the likes of Tree, Roadsaw and Scissorfight, among others. Cmar reportedly hadn’t been on a stage in two decades and it was Hey Zeus‘ live debut, but they basically killed it with an opening set of that Small Stone-style rock that Boston seems to have at a permanent bleed. Straightforward, heavy, dangerous and even if you’ve heard it a thousand times before, somehow fresh.
Knipfing added vocals here and there, and he, Bowman and Cmar were tight behind the Nathan, who periodically picked up a drum stick to smash one of Bowman‘s cymbals or bang on a cowbell. The songs were familiar but engaging and if this was a first-show type of performance, these guys are going to be lethal once they really get going. Before they played, I thought it was cool to see their premiere gig, as kind of a curiosity. By the time they were finished, it felt much more like an event, and though I didn’t know anything about Whitey or The Humanoids, I knew immediately they had a hard act to follow.
The place was fairly packed out for Hey Zeus as well. O’Brien’s isn’t big, and the stage rests on an angle — it reminded me of like a smaller mirrored version of Jersey’s Brighton Bar, with a lower ceiling and a lower stage (a good thing, lest someone bump their head) — but even in a bigger room, the crowd would’ve been considerable, and though people came and went as the night wore on, Whitey still had enough people watching for vocalist/guitarist Randy to toss out a couple snide comments between songs about the sold out show they were playing. Shepard had described them to me before they went on as bluesier, but still heavy, rock, and he was dead on. Double-slide guitar made more than one appearance and there was an healthy dose of down-home rocking to what they did, drummer Kyle Rasmussen (also of Phantom Glue) punctuating as shades of grown-up punk and rockabilly worked their way in as well.
Hightlights “Rainy and Wendy” and “Straight A’s” made me interested in hearing how they might sound on a studio version — Whitey have four records up on their Bandcamp — and though they weren’t as riotous on stage as was Hey Zeus, they were still fun to watch and made a solid setup for The Humanoids, who followed. They were, by Darryl‘s much-appreciated estimation and subsequently my own, more metal. They had the vests to prove it, and I was foretold of a Manowar cover of “Black Wind, Fire and Steel” that the double-guitar four-piece sometimes used for a set closer. They’d almost have to. What else could you possibly play after that?
Power metal was a factor for sure, but there was a gritty side to The Humanoids as well, fitting for their garage-punk moniker. The crowd at O’Brien’s ate it up, and with good reason. From their upright posture to their pumping fists to three-part vocals to the classic riffing, The Humanoids‘ metal-infused-rock was battle ready against poseurs and all that was non-metal or at least non-metal and in a close enough proximity to bother anybody. They were fun and they were clearly having fun with their sound, but as in the best of cases, the musicianship backed them up and kept them from seeming clownish.
They did in fact close with “Black Wind, Fire and Steel,” and sure enough they just about nailed it. I knew I was in good hands from the time I saw the Lock up the Wolvespatch on back of the bassist’s vest and the drummer’s Bible of the Devil t-shirt, and The Humanoids lived up to those lofty ideals. Gozu was setting up and it was getting late, but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere until they were done. Their The Fury of a Patient Manrecord was still about as fresh in my head as could be, having just reviewed it two days earlier, and I grabbed a water from the end of the bar and waited for the four-piece to get going.
It hadn’t been that long since the Small Stone showcase at Radio in Somerville, so I’d had a recent enough memory of Gozu live to work from in knowing what to expect. Bassist Joe Grotto (brother and Motherboar bandmate to Mad Oak Studios‘ producer Benny Grotto) seemed more comfortable in his role than the last time out, and drummer Barry Spillberg challenging the rest of the band — Grotto, vocalist/guitarist Marc Gaffney and guitarist/backing vocalist Doug Sherman – to keep up with him as he blasted through “Charles Bronson Pinchot.” That was just one of the cuts off the new album that received a welcome showing, “Ghost Wipe” being another high point.
I guess the difference seeing Gozu this time was I was more familiar with the material so could enjoy it more. They hit up “Meat Charger” and “Meth Cowboy” from 2010 debut Locust Season(review here) and for an otherwise unremarkable Saturday night — that is, it wasn’t a showcase or a fest or anything other than a regular, albeit pretty good, show — they tore through it. At one point, Grotto blew out his head, but another was brought out on the quick and that was really the only hiccup Gozu had. The rest of the time, they spent dealing out riff after riff, Gaffney belting out the verses and even getting a little booty-shake in here and there while Sherman‘s high-hoisted guitar left him room for thrashing out and walking back and forth on the stage, picking up, it seemed, the gauntlet Spillberg was throwing down.
You don’t often see a band who are actually on the same side challenging each other like that. It was exciting, and Spillberg was as expressive in his drumming as he was precise, so all the better. I was beat when they were finished — it had been a pretty long day and there was still another to come behind it — but Gozu‘s set still felt short, which I take as a good sign. They’re an act I’m hoping to see much more often following this move (which unless a piano falls on me or The Patient Mrs.is going to happen sometime before the fall), and I think once more people get a handle on The Fury of a Patient Man, I won’t be the only one. I certainly wasn’t the only one into them at O’Brien’s, as they seemed to sum up elements from each of the prior three bands while appealing to anyone who might’ve been there to see someone earlier and stuck around. Even knowing what I was getting, I was impressed.
Gaffney had apparently been sick, not that you could tell in his vocals, so I wished him well and said goodnight to Shepard and others and made my way out of O’Brien’s and back to the hotel where The Patient Mrs. and I were staying. The wind still whip-snapped at us as we crossed the street to the car and I was glad to finally crash out when I did, but the show had been the right choice, no question. Looking forward to many more.
Posted in Reviews on January 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
When Boston rockers Gozu made their debut in 2010 with Locust Season, the album was greeted with no shortage of hyperbole within the heavy rock set. Their strong sense of songwriting, ballsy riffing, diversity of approach and penchant for melody made the four-piece an immediate standout among a crowded scene, and they came out of the gate with the professionalism of a band putting out their third album, not their first. Locust Season (review here), however, was a first album, and so it’s not necessarily surprising to find that on the sophomore outing, The Fury of a Patient Man (Small Stone), Gozu seem to have undergone some shifts in sound in the three years since their last time out. The above-listed elements, thankfully, remain consistent, and if you were someone who heard and upon whom the debut made an impression, there will be little doubt when you put on The Fury of a Patient Man that you’re listening to Gozu. Guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney has the same soulful sensibility in his voice, a little melancholy but still able to keep pace with fellow six-stringer Doug Sherman’s riffing (bass duties are split throughout by Jay Canava and Paul Delair; Joe Grotto has since joined as a permanent bassist), and Barry Spillberg’s drums are likewise at home punctuating movements either stomping, as on “Disco Related Injury” or rife with a more furious galloping, as on “Charles Bronson Pinchot.” Gozu’s penchant for joke and/or referential song titles – another piece of the puzzle returned from the first album – winds up undercutting some (not all) of the emotionality on display throughout, as on the later “Ghost Wipe” and “Traci Lords” or even opener “Bald Bull,” but the 10 component tracks on the 62-minute album nonetheless convey a range of moods, from the earlier more rocking swagger of “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” (sorry boys, on the show it was “Signed, Epstein’s Mother”) to the echoing largesse of 24-minute closer “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf,” and no matter what heading they’re given, the songs do a lot of speaking for themselves. I’m not sure if the tradeoff of grabbing attention with a clever play on names like “Charles Bronson Pinchot” is worth the distraction from the contents of the track, but it’s moot. They are what they are, and what matters most from the point of launch is the strength of the material.
In that department, Gozu deliver a record to justify the three-year wait since the debut. However seriously they may or may not wish to present the superficial trappings of their band-dom, Gozu are no joke. Their arrangements are rich and complex without being pretentious, and immediately from the deft switches to and from falsetto in the verse of “Bald Bull,” Gaffney leads the charge through material that shows just how much growth the band has undertaken. “Bald Bull” and “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” make a strong opening duo and effective summary of Gozu’s approach on the album – both three and a half minutes long, perfect for hard rock radio in some alternate universe – balancing soulful layering and harmonies against top quality stonerly riffing and driving heavy groove. There is just the slightest undertone of metal, and certainly “Charles Bronson Pinchot” ups that with a High on Fire-type riff that Spillberg meets with thrashy aplomb, nestling into the quickened chug clearly in his element and winding up no less at home in the increasingly dreamy midsection of the song as it develops with airier guitars and a slow build. It’s a switch from the more grooving heavy rock of the first two tracks, but that’s clearly the idea. Gozu are shifting the expectation of their audience – putting listeners where they want them – and in terms of the album as a whole, it’s the right move. Because the material is still basically accessible and “Charles Bronson Pinchot” catchy and not out of line vocally with what Gaffney brings to either “Bald Bull” or “Signed, Epstein’s Mom,” the listener is more apt to go along with the change, and likewise as “Charles Bronson Pinchot” gives way to the quirky verse of “Irish Dart Fight,” more alike to some of earlier Queens of the Stone Age’s start-stop progressions, but given different context by the vocals and the fuller payoff in the chorus. Sherman and Gaffney don’t spend much time playing off each other on guitar, but the solo in the second half of “Irish Dart Fight” sounds all the more accomplished for the backing rhythm, and it seems that altogether Gozu are tighter as a unit in terms of their performance than they were three years ago. Progress has been made.