Roadburn 2018: Earthless to be Artist-in-Residence; Crowbar, Kikagaku Moyo, Zola Jesus, Mutoid Man, Joy, Harsh Toke, Petyr, and More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

This invariably happens every year. Roadburn hits a point where the festival loses its damn mind and delivers a completely overwhelming onslaught of lineup additions, greatly affirming the overall character of the event as well as its ongoing utter creative dominance of the Spring festival scene in Europe. I knew it was coming. I guess I just didn’t expect it so soon.

More the fool I. Today, Roadburn 2018 confirms Earthless will serve as Artist-in-Residence, and in addition to playing a set on their own, they’ll jam out with krautrock legend Damo Suzuki of Can as well as lead the charge of a ‘San Diego Takeover’ featuring the likes of Harsh TokeJoyPetyr and Sacri Monti. Not only that, but Crowbar will play Odd Fellows Rest in full at Jacob Bannon‘s curated event, and another takeover — this time by Japanese psychedelia — brings confirmation of Kikagaku MoyoMinami Deutsch and Dhidalah. Oh, and there’s a shit ton of others added as well, including Mutoid ManJarboe and Ruins of Beverast.

If you can get your head around it, you’ve got one up on me, though it’s certainly fun to try. I got to write the Earthless announcement, so make sure you read that one. Here’s all of it from the PR wire:

roadburn 2018 banner

Roadburn Festival 2018 Artist in Residence announced; plus more lineup confirmations

– Earthless confirmed as 2018 Artist in Residence
– Huge San Diego Takeover project announced feat. collaborations and jam sessions.
– Japanese Psych Experience courtesy of Kikagaku Moyo, Minami Deutsch and Dhidalah
– Crowbar & Zola Jesus confirmed for Jacob Bannon’s curated stages

Artistic Director, Walter Hoeijmakers commented:
“To be Roadburn’s Artist in Residence is quite a prestigious position; it really gives bands a chance to open up and explore different facets of their collective personalities. Earthless are – to me – the perfect fit for this next year; their bond with Roadburn is strong and we’re thrilled to have seen them grow and develop over the years since they first played Roadburn. In fact, it will be a full decade since their first performance on a Roadburn stage – and what a way to mark the occasion.

“The whole San Diego Takeover has been over a year in the planning, and we’re still working on even more ways to enhance what is already going to be such an incredibly special part of Roadburn 2018.”

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE: EARTHLESS

Roadburn is proud to welcome back our benevolent cosmic instrumentalist overlords in 2018! Earthless will perform three sets as our Artist in Residence, including some incredibly special, Roadburn-exclusive jams.

It’s been a decade since the San Diego three-piece of guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba set a standard for epic with the performance that became their landmark Live at Roadburn 2LP in 2008. Since then, Earthless have become the standard-bearers of a heavy psychedelic boom in California, inspiring countless acts around them.

As our Artist in Residence they will take the stage three times. For the first set, they’ll play in their standard three-piece incarnation, showcasing material from their upcoming 2018 album. The second set unites Earthless with progressive rock and improvisational legend Damo Suzuki, a set that is bound to be an occurrence of galaxy-shaking significance. If that’s not enough, Earthless will also take part in an ‘East Meets West’ psych jam with other members of the San Diego scene and members of Kikagaku Moyo from Japan.

The poster for Earthless was created by Maarten Donders.

Read more about Earthless, and Damo Suzuki.

SAN DIEGO TAKEOVER

Steeped in psychedelia and inspired by Earthless – who played a pivotal role in sparking this particular fire – the new breed of San Diego psych-rock bands is gearing up to launch themselves on Tilburg next April. Stand by; the San Diego circus is coming to town.

A veritable gang of musicians will be leaving behind the Pacific Ocean and making their way to the slightly less sun soaked – although no less open minded – vistas of Tilburg.

Each participating band will perform over the course of the weekend as part of the main festival programme at the 013, but a movement this influential deserves it’s own space to spread out, bloom, and indeed envelope us all. So, with that in mind, there will be a Californian takeover at the Hall of Fame on both Friday and Saturday; welcome to the San Diego Clubhouse!

When you count professional skaters among your ranks, it would seem remiss to not factor a skate expo into proceedings. Plus there will be visual exhibitions by the likes of JT Rhoades, Lannie Rhodes and BB Bastidas (the man responsible for the incredible poster below), there will also be stalls featuring Vol.4 Clothing and Psockadelic. We didn’t know we needed Roadburn branded socks until just now, but now we really need them…

More details will unfurl over the next couple of months, but for now, it’s time to get stoked: California is coming. Performing as part of the Roadburn 2018 San Diego takeover will be:
Harsh Toke
Sacri Monti
Joy
Petyr

Read more about the San Diego Takeover.

JAPANESE PSYCH: KIKAGAKA MOYO, MINAMI DEUTSCH, DHIDALAH

In conjunction with the San Diego Takeover, Roadburn 2018 will also host a Japanese psych experience! Steeped in ’60s and ’70s tradition, these bands are exploring psychedelia in a transportive and meditative way. Emphasis is put on the past, but they’re pushing the envelope, and it’s their forward-looking vision that’s prompted us to bring them to Roadburn 2018.

Please brace yourself to explore the sonic spectrum with these new champions of Japanese psych!

Centered around cult-label GuruGuruBrain, the following bands will perform as the Japanese counterparts of The San Diego Takeover:
Kikagaku Moyo
Minami Deutsch
Dhidalah

JACOB BANNON’S CURATION: CROWBAR

Crowbar have been at the forefront of heavy music for nearly three decades, and in 1998 released the album Odd Fellows Rest. This incredible album merged their existing heaviness with a refined melodic sensibility, creating one of the most powerful metal albums of the era.

Jacob Bannon comments:
“In 1991 I was introduced to Crowbar when I bought a tape of their Obedience Thru Suffering album. The sheer heaviness of the band floored me and I was hooked ever since. For me personally, their 1998 album Odd Fellows Rest is a high watermark of creativity. It is an incredible collection of songs that have been daily listens for me for nearly two decades. It’s an honor to have the band perform this record live at Roadburn Festival 2018.”

Read more about Crowbar.

JACOB BANNON’S CURATION: ZOLA JESUS

Zola Jesus is the stage name of Russian American musician Nika Roza Danilova. Under the name Zola Jesus, she has released a number of genre bending EPs and albums. Her approach is a cross pollination of electronic/industrial, classical, and gothic sounds; all of it coming together as a dark and emotional artistic experience.

Jacob Bannon comments:
“I first heard Nika’s work on the Stridulum EP. Every aspect of the release connected with me and it soon became a daily listen. The record (and all of her work) was relatable and infectious. I’ve been an avid listener ever since. Watching her artistry grow and deepen over time has been inspiring. Okovi, the latest from Zola Jesus is such a powerful album. I am truly honored to have Nika and Company at Roadburn 2018 as part of my curation.”

Read more about  Zola Jesus.

JARBOE FT. FATHER MURPHY

Jarboe has always made collaboration an essential part of her work, and her work with Italian duo Father Murphy has so far been incredibly fruitful. When they perform together at Roadburn, Father Murphy will take to the stage first and set the mood with heir creepy and enveloping aural tapestries, after which Jarboe, in all her glory, will join them to perform those songs. After that, the trio will perform a selection of some of the most powerful moments of the singer’s career so far.

Read more about Jarboe ft Father Murphy.

BIG BRAVE invite us to peek further into the shadows. Read more
DAWN RAY’D will be initiated into the Roadburn family. Read more.
HÄLLAS carry the heart and soul of the seventies. Read more.
KÆLAN MIKLA soundtrack the apocalypse with threatening darkwave rumblings beneath ominous monologues. Read more.
MUTOID MAN shake off the “super group” shackles and re-write the rules. Read more.
PLANNING FOR BURIAL are set to defy description and capture our hearts.Read more.
THE RUINS OF BEVERAST will reprise their 2013 show-stealing performance, this time with added Exuvia; they’ll play their latest album in full. Read more.
UNE MISÈRE are an explosive combination of elongated atmospherics and insanely meaty riffs. Read more.
WIEGEDOOD: furious catharsis, raging obscurity and fiery destruction from the Church of Ra  Read more.
WRECK AND REFERENCE shall devour genres and resist categorisation. Read more.
YELLOW EYES… With burning intention and a sight without limits, BLACK METAL AS SPIRITUAL WAR. Read more.

TICKET ONSALE INFORMATION
Roadburn 2018 tickets are on sale now. 3 and 4 day tickets are currently available, with day tickets going on sale at a later date.

4-day-tickets €198,40 (including €3,40 service fees)
3-day-tickets €175,40 (including €3,40 service fees)

Camping tickets are also available to purchase, with additional options (such as Festipis and camper vans) also possible. This year the urban campsite will be in a new location – but still within walking distance to the 013 venue – providing a comfortable and affordable option for Roadburn attendees.

Click here for more information on tickets and the campsite

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http://www.roadburn.com

Roadburn 2018 Third Announcement Video

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Friday Full-Length: Harsh Toke, Light up and Live

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Harsh Toke, Light up and Live (2013)

Two vinyl sides. 38 minutes. That’s it. Then you’re done. It seems so simple, and yet, in that time, San Diego’s Harsh Toke stand tall in representing damn near every appeal of the Californian heavy boom that’s taken place over the course of the last eight or nine years, particularly the last half-decade, which has seen San Diego and San Francisco emerge as major epicenters of psychedelic and heavy rock. Separate and distinct in sound and ethic from the Pacific Northwest’s party spirit, no doubt Cali likes to get down as it always has, but as Harsh Toke demonstrate on their ultra-fluid 2013 debut, Light up and Live, it’s as much about how far out you can go as it is what kind of mushrooms you find sprouting up from the ground when you get there. Comprised of guitarist Justin “Figgy” Figueroa, keyboardist/vocalist Gabe Messer, drummer Austin Ayub and bassist Richie Belton, Harsh Toke released Light up and Live via Tee Pee Records, and with its four songs yo-dude-check-out-this-vibe vibe, seemed to signal that a new breed and a new generation was on the rise. Like several of their West Coast peers including Earthless, from whom they take a marked influence on the extended cuts “Weight of the Sun” (14:30) and “Plug into the Moon” (10:09), they have connections to the world of professional skateboarding, but their lysergic wash is unmistakable once conjured and though they seem to purposefully lose themselves in what one might be tempted to put in all-caps as ‘THE JAM,’ their flights from solid ground are never more indulgent than they are invigorating.

Markedly cosmic at the outset, Light up and Live starts out with the deceptively straightforward four-minute thrust-boogie of “Rest in Prince.” Of course, its organ-fueled groove was put to tape three years before the artist himself actually passed away, but what’s most interesting about the track is its verse/chorus structure. There’s still some feeling of the unhinged as it moves into okay-now-it’s-time-to-shred after about the first minute, but with the immediacy of Messer‘s early verses, the song nonetheless works to set up expectations on the part of the listener that Harsh Toke brazenly throw out the window of their shuttle en route out of the atmosphere. “Rest in Prince,” which might be the highlight performance from Ayub as regards the shuffle in the snare, effectively leads the audience into the band’s heavy psych tumult, but it does so while making Light up and Live more accessible than it might otherwise be if it simply started out with the rain sticks, percussion and rising theremin siren and flutes at the launch of “Weight of the Sun.” By the time Harsh Toke really decide to get weird — and once they go, man are they gone — they’ve already welcomed the listener into this molten universe of jamming. Vocals are left behind in favor of effects wash, and the engines kick in after the three-minute mark to launch “Weight of the Sun” toward its reaches, which the band will continue to explore through ebbs and flows for the hypnotic duration, drawing back late as the piece seems to disintegrate around its fade, leaving just the organ line to hold sway for its final minute around some rumbling noise.

Thus side A is capped, and with the 9:47 title-track led off by a flowing bassline, the reimmersion happens quickly on the second half of the record. Languid groove sets the tone early, with more rain stick to fill out the arrangement, but it’s that low end that most holds sway even as the guitar, drums and keys join back in, and that becomes the foundation of “Light up and Live”‘s central riff. Figueroa takes a massive, liquefied solo in the midsection, layers weaving in and out of each other in drawn out Iommic and/or Mitchellian modus with the firm rhythmic backing, and Harsh Toke surprise by bringing vocals back in deep-mixed echoing fashion somewhere after five minutes in. It’s a fast, there-and-gone moment, and not exactly an attempt to reorient the listener so much as another element brought in to add to the atmosphere, but it happens. It’s not an illusion. Still, once more the band execute a full sweep of brainstem-clearing hypnotantrics, slowing toward the end where they might otherwise just keep going but seeming to get out of their own way to allow the push of “Plug into the Moon” to take hold as grand finale. The swirl is immediate and given added Hawkwinded mentality via saxophone and a decided alignment toward interstellar reaches, and though a bit of the boogie spirit of “Rest in Prince” is revived, the closer is obviously working on a different wavelength entirely, driving toward its shred-topped ending that seems so right in nodding quickly at King Crimson‘s “21st Century Schizoid Man” in its last measures before suddenly cutting to a driftless silence, the effect of which after the trance-inducing churn of “Plug into the Moon” is jarring, like the four-piece did a countdown, snapped their fingers and said, “awake.”

Because it’s still a relatively recent release — and because Harsh Toke have yet to deliver a proper full-length follow-up — it’s hard to gauge what the longer-term impact of Light up and Live has been and can be, but no question its release marked a turning point in West Coast heavy psych, heralding the arrival of what has become arguably the most vibrant underground in the US. In terms of what they’ve done since, Harsh Toke have represented San Diego well. In my mind, I’ll forever associate them with the simply amazing set they played in collaboration with psych legend Lenny Kaye in the Netherlands at Roadburn 2014 (review here), and they returned to Europe in the next year to tour with French labelmates Sunder, playing Desertfest Belgium and more besides. 2016 found them releasing a the Acid Crusher / Mount Swan split with Earthless (review here), which they followed with a return to Roadburn earlier this year (review here) for two sets, one of which was comprised entirely of Roky Erickson covers. Upon returning to the States, in June they released an elaborately arranged split with compatriots Joy and Sacri Monti titled Burnout (review here), on which they once more took on Erickson material. Plenty busy, but no second long-player just yet. One holds out hope for 2018, though there’s yet to be any solid word of anything in the works that I’ve seen and members of Harsh Toke reportedly feature in the new group Age, so the future remains uncertain.

Whatever next year and beyond might hold, Light up and Live seems poised to stand the test of time by enacting an acidic spirit outside of it. As always, I hope you enjoy and thank you for reading.

No doubt I had West Coast stuff on my mind after reviewing the new Radio Moscow record earlier today, but whatever gets Harsh Toke posted is cool by me. Coming off the Quarterly Review last week which continued on Monday, you might note this week featured nothing but records that I thought were hyperbole-level awesome. To wit:

Young Hunter, Dayhiker (review here)
Enslaved, E (review here)
Black Mare, Death Magick Mother (review here)
Radio Moscow, New Beginnings (review here)

This is not at all coincidence, and don’t be surprised when all four of those releases feature on my year-end list in December. This week and next I’m trying to get stuff done ahead of the baby’s Oct. 15 due date, which, hey, we might completely blow a few days past or he might decide to come early — and either way is totally cool by me; whatever you wanna do, Pecan — but as I may be occupied for a while mentally in the immediate once he’s born, it made sense to me to get this stuff in ahead of time. Call it the manifestation of my nesting instinct.

I still have some stuff coming together, but next week is likewise slammed. Subject to change as always, but here’s how it looks:

Mon.: Full stream/review of the new Turn Me on Dead Man; might be another track premiere as well.
Tue.: Twingiant track premiere; Review of the new Øresund Space Collective.
Wed.: The Flying Eyes review; possible other track premiere.
Thu.: Nick Oliveri review/full album stream; The Road Miles video premiere.
Fri.: Long-overdue Egypt review, Opium Warlords track premiere.

Busy, busy. Scheduling-wise, I’m behind where I should be in sorting everything out, but I’ll get there over the next couple days and we’ll see what comes together. It’s kind of a crazy time on this end, as I’m sure you can imagine, while The Patient Mrs. and I wait for the arrival of The Pecan. Between doctor/midwife appointments and sundry other preparatory this-and-thats, there’s just a lot going on. Overwhelmed? Not nearly as much as I’m going to be, I expect. Still, I take my quiet moments where and when I can, and I’ve had some time each day to do a bit of reading, and that’s been helpful in sorting out my brain. Words, man. I frickin’ love words.

Speaking of, I have more to write, so I’m gong to leave this one here and just wish you a great and safe weekend. Please make sure to check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Review & Full Stream: Harsh Toke, Joy & Sacri Monti, Burnout Split LP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

harsh-toke-joy-sacri-monti-burnout

[Click play above to stream the Burnout three-way split between Harsh Toke, Joy and Sacri Monti. It’s out June 23 via Tee Pee Records.]

Not to quibble on titles, but it’s way less Burnout than it is ignition. The West Coast heavy psych boom, centered in San Diego but with offshoots up and down throughout California in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, etc., is years underway at this point, and New York’s Tee Pee Records has proven to be among its most crucial documentarians. In bringing together Harsh TokeJoy and Sacri Monti — three San Diego bands who’ve all had albums out on Tee Pee — the long-running imprint has essentially reinforced the arrival of and camaraderie between members of one of the US’ most vibrant underground scenes. If they wanted, each of these groups could have headlined their own three-band split — there’s enough clout between them and enough other acts around to make that happen, easily — but in uniting them together, Tee Pee is going for broke in representing the particular energy and classic-minded shred that typifies San Diego’s explosive sound.

It is likewise no coincidence that Burnout — a six-song 12″ topping out at 26 minutes — should feature covers from each band as well as original material from Joy and Sacri Monti, since so much of what’s happening and what’s already happened in the heavy ’10s has owed its core approach to the heavy ’70s before it, so that to have Harsh Toke take on Roky Erickson for two tracks — something they also did for a full set at Roadburn festival this past Spring in the Netherlands — as Joy tears into “Spaceship Earth” by Road and Sacri Monti into “Sleeping for Years” by Atomic Rooster not only makes sense sonically, but effectively ties together the still-very-much-exploding current movement of bands with the crucial wave that preceded it nearly half a century ago.

I admit, that’s a pretty heady view of the mission here, and to listen to Burnout, the tracks don’t come across nearly so lofty in their aims, whether that’s Harsh Toke‘s drunk-at-the-piano dive into Erickson‘s “Burn the Flames” at the outset or the scorching, organ-soaked boogie drive of Sacri Monti tackling “Sleeping for Years” at the finish. And rightfully so. If it was pretentious or overly self-aware, the whole affair would fall flat, where in the front-to-back execution, it proves to be anything but, with both Joy and Sacri Monti right in their respective elements in both their own material and their cover selections while Harsh Toke prove to be somewhat the outliers as they leadoff the release. Not so much sound-wise — Roky Erickson‘s weirdo formative and massively influential psych isn’t out of context in their swaying reinterpretation — as in the simple concept of Harsh Toke playing songs.

harsh toke joy sacri monti burnout vinyl

Harsh Toke‘s 2016 split (review here) with San Diego scene lords Earthless — who along with Radio Moscow are very much the elephant in the room when it comes to not only the three outfits appearing on Burnout but the wider San Diego sphere as a whole — and their 2014 debut, Light up and Live, were essentially jam-based releases, and their live sets find them working in likewise methods. To hear them push through the fuzzy proto-punk of “Bermuda,” I’m not sure why they so generally avoid vocals, but the fact that it’s something that doesn’t happen all the time would seem to make it all the more of an event, and they are right at home in that track and “Burn the Flames” preceding, giving a sense of Erickson‘s character in the material while presenting it with their own energetic tack. Naturally, on a three-band split there’ are bound to be some stark leaps in sound, between groups — like on any multi-group compilation — but the speedier “Bermuda” also helps make way for Joy‘s “Your Time Ain’t Long,” the longest inclusion here overall at 5:27.

Meting out similar winding riffage to what high-speed-nodded throughout their 2016 third full-length, Ride Along! (review here), “Your Time Ain’t Long” serves as the first original of Burnout and cuts short after three-and-a-half shuffling minutes to a more languid drift, keeping some progressive tension beneath as it moves with deceptive efficiency back toward its hook. The trio count into “Spaceship Earth” for a live-in-studio feel that the raw fuzz of their tonality and echoing vocals backs up that impression. In their own composition as well as the 1972 Road track, it’s the guitar leading the charge, and even as “Spaceship Earth” moves into outside-the-atmosphere noise following an extended stretch of leads, tone provides the fuel for that ascent. Sacri Monti‘s “Over the Hill” follows immediately.

Their original, like that of Joy before them, showcases a fervent-enough ’70s influence to make its transition seamless, but is distinguished through the use of organ and the interplay there between keys and shred-prone guitar as was their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), and as a next step forward from that release, “Over the Hill” bodes well for the development of their chemistry on the whole. Their selection of an Atomic Rooster track is likewise admirable — and one has to acknowledge it must’ve been tempting, when looking at 1970’s Death Walks Behind You, to take on the title-piece — and they give the UK-based post-blues stompers their due while, like Harsh Toke and Joy before them, bringing their own personality to the presentation in a live-feeling onslaught of groove that dares you to keep up with its nigh-on-frenetic turns. It’s over quickly — so is Burnout as a whole — but Sacri Monti‘s cold finish to “Sleeping for Years” makes a fitting end to the split, since as the scene that birthed these bands also seems to do, it leaves one with the feeling of standing in front of the stage yelling for one more song.

And if they had done another, or if any of these groups came back out and did an encore, you wouldn’t find me complaining. Cities like San Diego, Encinitas, Visalia, Oceanside, and so on, have become more and more crowded over the last couple years, and I expect they’ll continue to for at least the next several years as we move toward and beyond 2020, but with the quality of output from Harsh TokeJoy and Sacri Monti both here and on their own offerings, it’s hard to argue with others wanting to pick up and try to capture some of the same vibe that’s presented as being so utterly molten across this split. In playing to their strengths, each of these bands represents some of the best of West Coast heavy psych as a whole.

Harsh Toke on Thee Facebooks

Joy on Thee Facebooks

Sacri Monti on Thee Facebooks

Burnout at Tee Pee Records

Tee Pee Records on Thee Facebooks

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Bow to Your Masters: Thin Lizzy Tribute to Feature High on Fire, Mos Generator, Mothership, Harsh Toke, Egypt and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Not that this one really needs a plug, considering that as of this writing Glory or Death Records‘ Kickstarter campaign for a Thin Lizzy tribute to be titled Bow to Your Masters has hit 274 percent of its fundraising goal, but it’s pretty awesome that as a result of that, the label has added a second LP to the project and announced the first band who’ll take part in it is High on Fire. The way the numbers have played out pretty much underscores the absolute no-brainer, duh-of-course-head-slap awesomeness of the idea in the first place, and among life’s many worthy tenets, “The more Thin Lizzy, the better,” continues to resound as dogma.

Will there be a Volume 2? Will Glory or Death earn enough in the remaining week of the campaign to add a third LP here? Time will tell.

Background info and the latest tracklisting update follow here, courtesy of the label:

Bow to Your Masters Volume 1: Thin Lizzy Set for Winter Release

First Vinyl Release from Glory or Death will be a Tribute Featuring Heavy Underground Heavyweights

Glory or Death Records is extremely excited to announce our first vinyl release, and the first in our series of Bow to Your Masters tribute albums. For this first release we chose a special band to pay tribute to: Thin Lizzy, one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands of all time.

The album announcement comes with a Kickstarter campaign that has already met the original goal, but is still going until 5/30/17. The Kickstarter preorder features limited vinyl and art packages and surprise rewards that will be added in the second half of the campaign. Buying now will grant access to the highly-limited first pressing of Bow to Your Masters Volume 1: Thin Lizzy, which will feature some of the best heavy metal, rock, and psych bands in the business putting their own unique spin on classic Thin Lizzy songs.

The album features bands from innovative labels like Doomentia Records, Riding Easy Records, Ripple Music, Tee Pee Records, and Totem Cat Records.

The 10 bands coming along for the ride are: Mos Generator (Seattle, WA), Egypt (Fargo, ND), White Dog (Austin, TX), Red Wizard (San Diego, CA), Slow Season (Visalia, CA), Mothership (Dallas, TX), KOOK (San Jose, CA), Great Electric Quest (Oceanside, CA), Sacri Monti (Encinitas, CA), and Harsh Toke (San Diego, CA).

**UPDATE-2nd LP announced, High on Fire First Band Added**

LP1 Band/Track Listing
Mos Generator-Massacre
Egypt-Suicide
White Dog-???
Red Wizard-???
Slow Season-She Knows
Mothership-???
KOOK-Thunder and Lightning
Great Electric Quest-???
Sacri Monti-???
Harsh Toke-???

LP2 Band/Track Listing
High on Fire-???
???
???
???

The launch teaser video for the Kickstarter campaign includes a sample of Mos Generator playing a monster cover of Massacre, and there is also a teaser of Egypt’s version of Suicide. The rest of the tracks will be revealed before the end of the Kickstarter campaign. The album will release in late 2017—with a current target of November.
The album cover features art from renowned album and band/poster artists David Paul Seymour and Austin Barrett; the 4-panel cover will feature re-interpretations of classic Thin Lizzy photos and album covers. The Kickstarter campaign has reward tiers that include the 4 original art pieces that make up the cover as well as signed screen-prints of the 4 cover panels.

Details:
Kickstarter Address: http://bit.ly/gloryordeath
Kickstarter pre-order deadline: 5/30/17

http://www.facebook.com/gloryordeathrecords
http://www.instagram.com/glory_or_death_records

Thin Lizzy, Fighting (1975)

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Harsh Toke, Joy & Sacri Monti Announce Burnout Split Due June 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Want. It’s that simple. Want.

If you needed further evidence of San Diego as the American epicenter of heavy psychedelic rock, or of Tee Pee Records‘ absolute on-it-ness when it comes to same — I don’t even care if it makes me sound like a fanboy, it’s true; also, does anyone say “fanboy” anymore? — I humbly submit the forthcoming Burnout split vinyl from Harsh Toke, Joy and Sacri Monti. It’s three righteous acts joining forces on the kind of off-album release that keeps people talking for years. The thing looks killer and I’ve no doubt sounds the same, with Harsh Toke taking on two Roky Erickson covers while Joy tackle Road and Sacri Monti treat listeners to some Atomic Rooster, directly tying the original generation of heavy to the current and up-and-coming one.

Whatever. It’s a want. You shouldn’t need me to tell you that. Already holding a spot for it on my list of the best EPs and splits of the year, because that’s the kind of impartial-ass critic I am. Here’s art and info off the PR wire:

harsh-toke-joy-sacri-monti-burnout

JOY, HARSH TOKE & SACRI MONTI Team Up on Three-Way Split EP, ‘BURNOUT’

Ever feel like bands that get tagged with the heavy PSYCH descriptor just aren’t very psychedelic? Or heavy? Tee Pee Records is here to save the day with the three-way heavy psych split, BURNOUT. Featuring California kings HARSH TOKE, JOY and SACRI MONTI, BURNOUT brings back the blues and whisks you away to a place where guitar solos reign supreme! The compilation will be released on June 23 in digital and CD formats as well as a limited edition triple 7″ package (pre-order here).

Alongside SoCal godfathers EARTHLESS, HARSH TOKE, JOY and SACRI MONTI are simultaneously skyrocketing a pathway towards the future of molten heavy psych. You’ve heard about all of the noise coming from the red hot California heavy psych scene that is taking the west coast by storm, now experience for yourself the exciting sounds that have everyone talking with BURNOUT!

On BURNOUT, HARSH TOKE serves up two searing Roky Erickson rippers — in homage to the tribute the band paid to the Texas psychedelic icon at the 2017 Roadburn Festival — while JOY and SACRI MONTI shred through a terrific new track apiece, while also paying tribute to legends that paved the way; JOY covering the ROAD classic “Spaceship Earth” and SACRI MONTI blazing through ATOMIC ROOSTER’s “Sleeping for Years”. Each of the three 7″ records features artwork by acclaimed multi media artist, BB Bastidas, and on the back cover, photography by renowned photographer JT Rhoades.

Equal parts atmospheric and anarchic, HARSH TOKE merges raging, blind fury musicianship with unprecedented white-knuckle volume abuse. In 2016, the band released a celebrated split EP with labelmates EARTHLESS and the acid rock band’s debut, Light Up and Live, came out in 2014.

The sound of JOY has been described as “a spaced-out sonic groove-ride” and “outer reach freak out”, but that hyperbole alone doesn’t do justice to the group’s measured mode of attack. Featuring Hendrixian guitarist Zach Oakley, JOY puts a premium on establishing both structure and dynamics, its kaleidoscopic flurry and full-throttle riffage is anchored by both subtle detail and surprising textural depth. JOY’s latest release was 2016’s Ride Along!

Roughly translated as “Sacred Mountains”, SACRI MONTI’s music is a searing smorgasbord of muscular rock that boils ’70s guitar rock down to its purest essence. Fingers bleed, eardrums implode and craniums collapse when SACRI MONTI cranks up its bitchin’, blistering buzz.

Track listing:

HARSH TOKE:
1.) Burn The Flames (Roky Erickson)
2.) Burmuda (Roky Erickson)

JOY:
3.) Your Time Ain’t Long
4.) Spaceship Earth (ROAD cover)

SACRI MONTI:
5.) Over The Hill
6.) Spaceship Earth (Atomic Rooster cover)

https://teepeerecords.com/collections/frontpage/products/harsh-toke-joy-sacri-monti-burnout-triple-7-out-june-23rd?variant=40958685140
https://www.facebook.com/theHARSHTOKEgoons/
https://www.facebook.com/JOYHEADBAND/
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Harsh Toke, Live at Roadburn 2017

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ROADBURN 2017 Day One: Wound of the Warden

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

roadburn banner (Photo JJ Koczan)

04.21.17 – 00.14 — Thursday night — Hotel room

The process of getting up and going to finalize and print out the first issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch (download it here) probably couldn’t have been much easier than it was. I credit this entirely to Lee Edwards (of The Sleeping Shaman) and the 013 staff, all of whom expose me for the sulky amateur-hour schlub I am with their sheer professionalism. I continue to be astounded at how lucky I am to work with these people.

coven soundcheck (JJ Koczan)Whilst schlubbing and prior to folding my portion of the 1,000 copies of WCD, I caught a couple seconds of Coven‘s soundcheck, and so knew that was going to be a good time later in the day — not that Roadburn 2017 Day One was light on anticipation. Today actually was my busiest day here. It started intense and ended intense, with a fair bit of back and forth between, and I feel like I’m only being honest when I say I dragged ass for a decent portion of it, despite my best efforts to hyper-caffeinate and pound vitamins, but Roadburn only comes once a year. You stick it out as much as you can.

As such, I was over to Het Patronaat early to catch the start of Wretch. I’d rode in from the airport with the Indianapolis trio just by happenstance, and I knew it would be a quick stop through just to check out part of their set ahead of hoisting myself over to the Main Stage for the start of Crippled Black Phoenix, but the doom called me to the church and it was not to be missed. Before they got going, guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon recalled on stage when The Gates of Slumber played (they had canceled in 2010 owing to that goddamn volcano, only to make the trip a couple years later in 2012), only reinforcing how linked the two bands are, but that’s Wretch (Photo by JJ Koczan)not to take anything away from the presence bassist Bryce Clarke and drummer Chris Gordon bring to the rhythm section or what the new three-piece accomplished on last year’s self-titled debut (review here). Even if it’s grown out of another, it’s a new band.

They made that clear in cuts like “Icebound,” “Running out of Days,” “R.I.P.” and “Drown” from the record, and even managed to sneak in the Judas Priest cover “Winter,” as well as their take on Motörhead‘s “Sweet Revenge.” The hook of “R.I.P.” made it a personal highlight, and The Gates of Slumber‘s “The Wretch” was certainly a fit. I hear tell Wretch are recording a new single while touring the UK with Iron Void on this trip, so hopefully it’s not too long before we hear from them again. In the meantime, I rushed over to catch Crippled Black Phoenix on the Main Stage.

Call it an early headlining set from the by-now-long-ish-running UK avant rock outfit, whose blend of heavy indie, goth, melancholic rock and generally progressive undertone makes them a standout not only on this bill but also generally this planet. Crippled Black Phoenix (Photo by JJ Koczan)They’re simply like no one else. Supporting their latest album, Bronze (review here), they brought in a considerable crowd for it being so light out and managed to cast a balance between life-affirming and crushingly-depressive throughout. To wit, “No Fun” and “Scared and Alone” from Bronze were high points, the latter teased as being their last song without actually being it. They’ve become such an astoundingly different band than they were when they released their debut album, A Love of Shared Disasters, a decade ago, but have manage to lose neither their edge nor their will to push themselves forward. After being a dork for their work for so long, I felt lucky to finally see them play live.

I also knew that I was cool to stay put for the duration of Crippled Black Phoenix, because while much of Roadburn 2017 and indeed every single Roadburn involves bouncing around between stages, Salt Lake City’s SubRosa were hitting the Main Stage next, so I wasn’t going fucking anywhere. The string-laden outfit played the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn last month and they’ll play here again tomorrow at Het Patronaat for a special “SubDued” mostly-acoustic set, but today was a front-to-back performance of 2016’s For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), and as that was my pick for Album of the Year last year when it came out on Profound Lore, they were my most anticipated band of the entire festival. I didn’t cry to miss them in New York because I knew I’d see them in Tilburg.

However, I kind of did cry when they played “Troubled Cells.” At least teared up at the end when they SubRosa (Photo by JJ Koczan)brought out the backing chorus which, if I’m not mistaken, counted Nathan Carson of Witch Mountain among its ranks. Could be wrong, but the Magma shirt was a dead giveaway. Earlier in the set, I’d gone up after taking pictures to the side of the stage to watch from there for a couple minutes, which is something I let myself do only once per Roadburn. Like Crippled Black Phoenix before them, SubRosa carried the air of being early headliners, and at least for me, they most definitely were. If you’d told me I had to go back to the hotel, pack up my gear and get on a plane home when they were done, I’d have been bummed to leave the rest of the fest behind, but I wouldn’t be able to say I didn’t get my fest’s worth out of Roadburn 2017 after watching SubRosa. Yes, they were that unbelievable. “Black Majesty.” Holy shit. I scurried to the merch area when they were done like the beaten fool I was. Gladly.

There was something of a break for me when they were done. My next stop was Cul de Sac around the corner for Harsh Toke. I’d been fortunate enough to catch the San Diego jammers when they played Roadburn in 2014 (review here), and I’d taken due advantage of the lesson of watching them then, which was “Don’t Harsh Toke (sort of) (Photo by JJ Koczan)miss Harsh Toke,” and so I didn’t want to. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, however. I’d made a quick stop at the hotel to drop off my newly-acquired SubRosa merch, my laptop, coffee thermos, Weirdo Canyon Dispatch issues and other detritus from the early part of the day, and though I got to the smaller venue with 20 minutes to spare, it was still too late to get up front and get a spot where I could see. I bought a patch for five euros, took what wound up being the last open spot at the bar — a seat, no less! — and tried to let my head get into the flow. Given their propensity for groove, it wasn’t much of a challenge to catch my breath and chill out for a few minutes at least until the why-haven’t-you-ordered-a-beer stares of the staff got the better of me. I tried and failed to snap a decent picture of the band on my phone and once more sent myself packing back over to the 013, where Wolves in the Throne Room were on the Main Stage.

Didn’t take long to remember what was so easy to appreciate about them, what with their textured blackened approach, which sounded almost orchestral in that huge space. I hadn’t been in the Green Room yet, so I poked my head in to catch a couple seconds of Esben and the Witch — was bummed to see the miniature photo pit from last year was gone; that thing had been a godsend — ahead of Coven starting on the Main Stage. I didn’t know it until about 10 minutes before they went on, but apparently one needed a special photo pass to shoot Coven‘s set. Whoops. Just about everyone else and their cousin Coven (Photo by JJ Koczan)had one, but I guess I missed that memo. I went backstage to try my luck at getting one and was told in no uncertain terms in which direction to fuck (spoiler alert: “off”), so I went out to the front of the house and waited for Jinx Dawson to emerge in her sparkly mask from the coffin that had been placed in the middle of the stage. Not a hardship, but I felt like a dope. Not like I’m shooting pictures for a magazine or anything. It’s just me on here.

Once Coven got going, they dug wholesale into the classic heavy Satanic-ritual pop rock that’s made them the generational influence that they have been, and came across like the blueprint Ghost wish they could follow. Dawson was in complete command of the crowd and the sense of dark worship and drama was palpable. The biggest crowd of the day so far? I wasn’t counting heads in the Main Stage area, but it might’ve been, just by eyeballing it. i thought maybe I’d pop back over to the Green Room to watch Suma get going, but once again my timing was off and the place was packed out before I could get through the door. Would seem to have helped nothing in terms of timing that I left my watch at home this year. Speaking of amateur hour. Woof. One day I’ll have my shit together. Clearly that was not today.

Having thusly flubbed my shot at watching Suma, I lumbered over to Extase in plenty of time to await the start of The Devil and the Almighty Blues, whose second album, II (review here), was still pretty fresh in my mind. That helped — that always helps — but the truth of the matter is that in the energy of their delivery and their instrumental chemistry on-stage, the Norwegian outfit blew the record right out of the water. I looked around from in front of the stage and saw a lot of familiar faces from Roadburns past. Different genres here tend to attract niche portions of the overall crowd, and judging from how the temperature The Devil and the Almighty Blues (Photo by JJ Koczan)jumped in Extase shortly after The Devil and the Almighty Blues went on, the secret’s out. They came out to “O Death” and the mesh of blues and heavy rock they unleashed seemed in direct response to that fact. They were flat-out awesome, and the kind of act that, as an American, I simply don’t get to see anywhere but here. It wasn’t the first time in the day I felt lucky and it wasn’t the last, but the chance even to catch part of their set gave me a new appreciation for what they’re doing sound-wise, and for a band I already dug, the way they brought their material to life only added to their appeal.

My plan for ending the night would require better timing than I’d had all day, but I was relatively certain I’d be able to pull it off if I played my cards right. It meant skipping out earlier than I wanted to on The Devil and the Almighty Blues, but the basic fact of the matter is that particularly as someone who lives in New England, I’m way, way overdue for catching the reformed Scissorfight live on stage. In the back of my head, I’ve been able to justify not going to their local gigs in Massachusetts or their native New Hampshire by saying, “It’s okay; I’ll catch them at Roadburn,” so there was no way I was going to let myself not do that. Plus, it’s fucking Scissorfight. The band wrote “Granite State Destroyer.” “Blizzard Buzzards Bastards.” “New Hampshire’s Alright if You Like Fighting.” Not exactly like one needs to make excuses to show up.

To get to the bottom line of it, my ultimate opinion of the four-piece live wasScissorfight (Photo by JJ Koczan) pretty much the same as of their 2016 Salt of the Earth Records EP, Chaos County (review here), which is that if you miss this band, you’re only denying yourself an outlet of pure, crushingly heavy joy. I’m not saying that as someone who never saw Scissorfight in their original incarnation. In fact, I caught them multiple times with their original lineup, and whether they’re playing old material or new, Scissorfight in 2017 is no less a beast than they ever were. Guitarist Jay Fortin — of whom I remain embarrassed to take pictures, knowing him as an amazingly talented photographer — still has one of the finest tones in New England. Frontman Doug Aubin is absolutely insane on stage as well as off, as he showed by jumping into the crowd several times and starting a rare Roadburn mosh. Paul Jarvis‘ bass is still the source of heft behind their maddening impact, and newcomer drummer Rick Orcutt fits into those grooves with an ease and swing that makes the songs his own even as he does justice to their original incarnations. Shit was so right on. New songs or old, Scissorfight were a steamroller of riffs and growls that flattened the Green Room, and though the lesson that those who whine about this or that person not being in the band anymore are missing out was one I already knew, such fervent reinforcement of same was a pleasure to behold.

Scissorfight are touring with Backwoods Payback, and the latter Pennsylvania-based trio would be my final stop of the night, over in Extase once again. I got there early enough to get a spot up front and watched as Jeff and Kyle from Atala — labelmates all on Salt of the Earth — bonded over mutual desert connections, and kind of parked myself and made ready to round out the night, taking the last of my notes on Scissorfight — they read like, “Duh, they’re killer” — and asking and being shot done to take a photo with Jamie Cavanagh from Anathema, who was working sound at the venue. I’d already told him earlier that I thought their new record is great, which I do, so whatever. There you go. My nerd-out moment for Roadburn 2017 Day One.

Guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson compriseBackwoods Payback (Photo by JJ Koczan) Backwoods Payback at this point, and goodness gracious, what a band. What a band. Late last year, they snuck out the full-length Fire Not Reason (review here), but they were a different level of righteous on stage, and the balance of fury and melody in what they do remains underrated in US heavy rock. I get that they haven’t been the most active group in the States over the last, say, five years, but especially with Larson on drums, they were every bit as tight as that thrash band I saw last night at the Hard Rock Hideout and had a depth of character to offer in their songwriting that most acts just can’t compete with. Heavy, but emotionally resonant, punkish in their execution but with a touch of metallic aggression as well, they not only write a solid hook like that of “You Don’t Move,” but they give that hook a purpose and an underlying sense of humanity. I’ve missed seeing them play live, and though the last time I caught them — I don’t even know what year it was — was a while back and with a different lineup, what’s always worked at their core was exactly what made me so happy I was able to finish the first night of Roadburn 2017 by watching them play. Once again, the Extase was full. That little club has been a fantastic addition to this festival, and it’s where I plan to start my afternoon tomorrow, as it happens.

Plenty to do before then, however. Including sleep, which as we press on past 3AM local time seems like an increasingly good idea.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

Read more »

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Roadburn 2017 Announces Small Stage Lineup, Art Shows & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

roadburn-2017-banner

I don’t even know what to say about Roadburn 2017 at this point, which means the annual pilgrimage must be getting close. There comes a moment every year where I just kind of have to throw my hands up, be in awe of the festival’s scope, and leave it at that. As Roadburn announces the lineup for its annual Hard Rock Hideout and who’ll be at the Cul de Sac venue over the subsequent four days — that Thursday lineup pretty much invites one to camp out there all day, but as ever, Roadburn will mean hard choices in terms of schedule — as well as art shows and other odds and ends for its bill, with more still to come, it’s safe to say we’ve hit that point. Hard to type with your hands thrown in the air, and yet here we are.

Most of the fest is sold out, which is about as surprising as a sunrise, but a few single-day tickets remain for those who want to get whatever piece of the action they can. Can’t say I’d blame you. I’ll be there. If you’re going, say hi. I’m the dude with the beard.

From the PR wire:

Cul-de-Sac line up, art exhibitions and more announced for Roadburn 2017

With weekend and Saturday day tickets already sold out for Roadburn 2017 and other day tickets not far behind, there are only a handful of acts and exhibitions still to announce. Following the below additions, there will be just one further announcement ahead of the festival.

CUL DE SAC & NEW ADDITIONS

In keeping with what has become Roadburn tradition, the festival’s fifth and most intimate stage returns to Cul de Sac. Once again, in collaboration with Never Mind The Hype (an independent Dutch music platform for everything heavy, alternative and deviant), we will focus on bringing you the most promising Dutch and Belgian bands, plus others from futher afield. Positioned just around the corner from the 013 venue, the intimate surroundings of the Cul de Sac mean you can get up close and personal with some of the most exciting bands the underground scene has to offer, squeezed in alongside some established acts too!

In 2017 the band that Roadburn is specifically choosing to showcase to our audience is Utrecht’s LASTER. The spotlight of Roadburn Introduces… this year will fall on this Dutch trio; to call them black metal doesn’t do justice to the complexity of each horrific layer of putridity they heap upon our senses. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

CUL DE SAC LINE UP
Thursday:
Ritual Object
Joy
Harsh Toke
Verwoed
Ortega
Bathsheba

Friday:
Ritual Object
Kuro
Zaum
Telepathy
Jonkoklapper

Saturday:
Laster
Bear
Hedonist
Lotus
Mantis
Slow Crush

Sunday:
Sink
Stone in Egypt
Faal
MNHM
Jaye Jayle
Turia

In addition to the full Cul de Sac programme, two more bands have been added to the main Roadburn programme.

Describing their addition to Roadburn 2017 as “a dream come true”, California’s ATALA will bring their hypnotic riffing to the festival ahead of the release of their new album, Labyrinth of Ashmedai, this Spring.

ANTROPOMORPHIA plan to let the murky brutality of their intricate yet straightforward-sounding death metal to do the trick when they welcome Roadburners to their own home town.

ART EXHIBITIONS

Another Roadburn tradition is a commitment to visual arts alongside musical offerings and 2017 is no different. A diverse selection of artists will exhibit at Roadburn Festival this year.

The Two Worlds of MARALD VAN HAASTEREN: Born in Leiden, The Netherlands in 1970, Marald is best known for his collaborative work with John Dyer Baizley on the images and packaging artwork of Baroness latest album, Purple. Being part of the DIY underground scene since the late 80’s, Marald has also been making art for the likes of High on Fire, Kylesa, and Bolt Thrower to name but a few. His distinctive blend of jaw-dropping craftmanship and delicate, compositional sensibility ranges from black and white ink works to full colour paintings, enhanced by digital media – though the basis for Marald’s stunning technical masterpieces, remains hand drawn imagery.

FURSY TEYSSIER – Exhibition of Drawings: Hailing from France, Fursy Teyssier is a visual artist and composer who has refined his talents over the years to entwine a strong artistic identity with mesmerizing aural creations. Teyssier’s band, Les Discrets, is the culmination of all his artistic endeavours, whether it’s his take on shoegaze, post-rock and, of course, black metal, or his work as an illustrator, painter, or animated film director. The band conveys his art, and in turn Teyssier’s artwork captures Les Discrets’ dream-like approach.

Got No Obvious Direction: A Visual Art Exhibition by GNOD: Established in 2007, psychedelic, anarcho, sonic pioneers GNOD celebrate their tenth anniversary as artist in residence at Roadburn 2017. In conjunction with their musical explorations, there will be outsider art on display at the 013 venue by various GNOD-bods.Since 2009, GNOD have based their operations from Salford’s premiere arts venue, Islington Mill. Being influenced by the static and transient artistic community the building has hosted, some pieces have been featured on the band’s early releases, as well as artwork used for their Tesla Tapes label.

ROLAND SCRIVER – Familiar Ink: Not content with levelling small buildings and causing tectonic shifts via the power of six deadly strings, erstwhile Serpent Venom guitarist Roland Scriver is also a visual wizard who works magickal art under the name Familiar Ink, art with an unexpected lightness – both of touch and imbued within the art itself. Come let the light in with Roland Scriver, AKA Familiar Ink, at Roadburn 2017!

HARD ROCK HIDE OUT

Whilst many Roadburners arrive in Tilburg on Thursday, the first official day of the festival, hundreds more arrive the day before. And to keep them out of trouble, or at least contain it, we’re thrilled to announce that The Hard Rock Hideout, Roadburn’s official pre-show party will return on the Wednesday evening at Cul de Sac.

Forging 80s inspired thrash metal, Holland’s own DISTILLATOR, black’n’roll veterans, HERETIC, and Californian riff masters ATALA – yes, them again – will crack one (or more) open and kick off the festival in style.

Artists already announced for Roadburn 2017 include Coven, Warning (playing Watching from a Distance in full), Artists in Residence – GNOD, My Dying Bride (performing Turn Loose The Swans in its entirety), Ulver, Hypnopaz?zu (David Tibet & Youth), Zeal & Ardor, Mysticum, Deafheaven, Chelsea Wolfe, and our 2017 curator, John Baizley who will perform with Baroness, plus many more. Roadburn Festival will take place 20-23 April, 2017 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets (and campsite tickets) are on sale for Roadburn 2017 and can be purchased from this link.

4 day – SOLD OUT
3 day (Thu, Fri, Sat) – SOLD OUT
Thursday only – 59 Euro
Friday only – 59 Euro
Saturday only – SOLD OUT
Sunday only – 54 Euro

http://www.roadburn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://twitter.com/roadburnfest

Atala, “Levity” official video

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.

So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.

Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.

And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.

Here we go:

scissorfight chaos county

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP

Honorable Mention

An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.

Presented alphabetically:

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″

Notes

Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.

At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.

I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”

To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.

Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.

One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.

This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.

As always, there’s much more to come.

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