Epicenter Fest 2017 Set for Sept. 16; High on Fire, Mos Generator, Big Business, Holy Grove & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

When Epicenter Fest 2017 says it’s carefully curated, I have no trouble believing it. The inaugural edition of the San Jose, California-based all-day event is set for Sept. 16 and would seem to have undertaken the mission of setting West Coast heavy to task in celebrating some of its own finest purveyors. High on Fire headline, as they should, and the lineup flows from there with groups varied in geography and style, from the brash catchiness of Big Business to the rolling grooves of Holy Grove, the straight-ahead classicism of Mos Generator, and upstart outfits BrumeKOOK and Mesmer, as if to underscore the point that the Pacific region’s growth is still very much in progress.

A standout name on the bill not included in the paragraph above is Future Usses, which features guitar manufacturer Sacha Dunable (also Intronaut) and is a new outfit making its live debut at the fest. Even without the Bill and Ted reference in the moniker, that’d be a band to keep an eye on. So do that. I’ll do the same.

Fest info follows, along with ticket links and whatnot. Looks awesome even from the entire other side of the country:

epicenter fest 2017

OSKAR BLUES PRESENTS: EPICENTER HEAVY MUSIC FESTIVAL-2017

Honoring the Past, Present, and Future of Bay Area Heavy Underground Music Featuring High on Fire, Big Business & 7 more great bands

Heavy San Jose is bringing a festival unlike anything San Jose has ever seen. High on Fire, who got their start in San Jose in a practice studio just a couple of blocks from The Ritz, will headline this nine-band monster show. Epicenter Heavy Music Festival was designed to shake the Bay Area to its foundations.

The carefully curated lineup of nine bands represent nine different genres of heavy music. In addition to High on Fire, heavy music stalwarts Big Business, will also grace the Ritz stage with more earth-shaking sound than should come from a two-piece. Mos Generator (Seattle), and Holy Grove (Portland), will descend from the northern wilds to bring furious wrath and heavy-metal vengeance. Future Usses (Los Angeles) is a new band fronted by Sacha Dunable (Intronaut/Dunable Guitars), and Epicenter will be the first live taste of their loopy psych-doom. The line-up also features three up-and-coming local bands: KOOK (Glory or Death Records) from right here in San Jose, Brume (DHU/Doom Stew Records) from San Francisco, and Mesmer (Wicked Lester Records) from Oakland. There’s at least one more band not yet announced (but already booked) and more surprises in the works.

This festival is all about shining a light on the unique musical history of San Jose and the greater Bay Area, bringing a one-of-a-kind event to heavy music lovers, and putting the spotlight an amazing venue in San Jose (The Ritz). The Bay Area birthed some of the most influential bands in heavy music, starting with Blue Cheer in the late 60s, continuing through the thrash era in the 80s with Metallica, Exodus and Testament, and the birth of stoner/doom in the 90s with Sleep, High on Fire and Neurosis. New amazing heavy underground bands are constantly forming in the Bay, and it’s Heavy San Jose’s mission to highlight them, as well as provide an artist-friendly environment for touring bands in the heavy underground.

The event will showcase as much great local flavor as possible, featuring local artists and businesses (Martin Roberson, owner of Lucky Stars Tattoo in San Jose created the show poster). Sponsorships, are still available (contact info above). We’re offering VIP and General Admission tickets, and we’re expecting a sellout (capacity at the Ritz is just over 500). VIP tickets (only 50 available) are on sale now, with GA tickets going on sale Friday July 14th at 10:00am pacific.

Bands Performing (see below for band bios):
High on Fire (San Jose/Oakland)
Big Business (Los Angeles)
Mos Generator (Seattle)
Holy Grove (Portland)
Future Usses (Los Angeles)
Brume (San Francisco)
KOOK (San Jose)
Mesmer (Oakland)

Event Details:
When: September 16, 2017 5:30 PM – 1:30 AM
Where: The Ritz – 400 South First Street, San Jose, CA
Cost: General availability tickets are $45 with VIP tickets priced at $75 (early access to the venue, access to a private VIP area, limited edition screen printed show poster, and other fun surprise perks).

Tickets: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1523269?utm_medium=bks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1971651789739169

www.heavysj.com
www.facebook.com/heavysjc

High on Fire, “Devilution” live at Roskilde 2017

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Friday Full-Length: High on Fire, Blessed Black Wings

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

High on Fire, Blessed Black Wings (2005)

The fury. The gallop. The sheer onslaught. From the riotous launch of ‘Devilution’ onward, High on Fire‘s Blessed Black Wings, even when it draws back on tempo, absolutely refuses to relent. Released via Relapse in 2005 — which I’ll note was 12 years ago, only to emphasize the math — it was the third High on Fire full-length, and at that point it carried all the trappings of a masterpiece. It ranged in mood all the way from seething to raging, and where its predecessors, 1999’s High on Fire EP, 2000’s The Art of Self-Defense debut long-player and 2002’s follow-up, Surrounded by Thieves, found guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike on increasingly sure ground in exploring this new, tonally weighted take on thrash metal that brought some of the heft of his then-prior-now-concurrent outfit, Sleep, to bear amid the unrepentantly propulsive drumming of Des Kensel, it was Blessed Black Wings that really marked High on Fire‘s arrival. Production from Steve Albini and a one-time-only tenure from former Melvins bassist Joe Preston (also Thrones, early Earth, etc.) made it even more of a standout from their prior work, and amid the assault of “Devilution,” the signature gallop of “Cometh Down Hessian” and the I-still-can’t-keep-up-with-it “Silver Back,” the three-piece tossed in landmark hooks like the title-track, “Anointing of Seer” and “To Cross the Bridge.”

Blessed Black Wings, with its dark Arik Roper cover and the clarity of purpose resting malevolently beneath the superficial violence of the chugging “The Face of Oblivion” and the later shred in its eponymous cut, was the moment when High on Fire stepped outside of Sleep‘s formidable stoner rock shadow and into something of their own. I won’t take away from either The Art of Self-Defense or Surrounded by Thieves — the latter was my introduction to the band; I remember being mesmerized by the pervasive filth of it, and it still holds a special place in my hearth among their discography — but it would take the greater sphere of metal a couple years to catch up to what PikeKensel and Preston were doing in these tracks. Relentless touring definitely helped. High on Fire hit the road with no less drive than they put into the memorable attack of “Cometh Down Hessian,” and it was on the stage, with Pike standing straight up and beating the crowd over the head with riff after riff after riff and solo after solo after solo while Kensel — barely visible behind the sheer size of the kit he was playing — thundered away on head-spinning tom and cymbal runs, his fills utterly essential to each turn in High on Fire‘s most bombastic stretches. If Blessed Black Wings proved their mettle as songwriters, it was the ensuing touring that really seemed to signal the force they were in the process of becoming and would continue to morph into as they solidified their lineup with speed-demon bassist Jeff Matz (Zeke) taking the place of Preston ahead of the release of 2007’s ultra-triumphant Death is this Communion (discussed here).

That record, produced by Jack Endino, I count as High on Fire‘s actual masterpiece, but there’s no question it couldn’t have happened without the course that Blessed Black Wings set before it and the work the band put in to support that outing. In that way, Blessed Black Wings was not only a standout in its own right, based on the strength of its material and of the performances it captured, but also as a necessary step in the progression of the band. Of course, following Death is this Communion, they’d go on to sign with eOne Music, through which their next three albums — 2010’s Snakes for the Divine (review here), 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) and 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) — would see release, each one taking on a more directly metallic approach as Greg Fidelman and then Kurt Ballou (Converge) took the production reins, the latter managing to bring out some of the most vicious sounds of their career to-date as they moved past their 15th year together.

Word on the street is High on Fire will have a new album out before the end of 2017. I’ve yet to hear anything concrete in terms of a release date, and if it was going to happen sometime before November — which it likely would in order to squeeze in before the music industry at large takes a hike for the winter — one would expect an announcement probably in the next month or so, unless it won’t be out until next February or something like that. In any case, High on Fire have continued to keep up a fervent touring schedule, and as they’ve slid into headliner status and hit the road with the likes of Crowbar and Meshuggah, their willingness to bring up and coming acts like Windhand and Pallbearer has been an encouraging sign of support for those operating in their rather considerable wake. If in fact a new record is on the way, that’s only going to be welcome news as far as I’m concerned.

In the meantime, as always, I hope you enjoy.

On Wednesday, my plan was to not leave the house. I had it all worked out. A couple chores to do, but otherwise it would be the kind of relaxing experience one can only dream of when gainfully employed. And it worked out. I got up early, did Obelisk stuff, Quarterly Review, etc., and had coffee and breakfast and so on, and by lunchtime, was ready to basically hang around. I watched the Castlevania cartoon on Netflix — major flashbacks of Vampire Hunter D, but the nods to the game were fun — watched the All-Star game from the night before with The Patient Mrs., had pesto, peppered egg whites and super-garlicky cloud bread for dinner (my god it was good), and spent the evening getting toward the end of season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation. More or less the ideal do-almost-nothing day.

Yesterday, I also didn’t leave the house. It was not planned, just cold and raining off and on. I did laundry and dishes and made dinner — kale sauteed in butter and oil with fresh chicken sausage, red pepper, garlic (less for The Patient Mrs. and extra on the side for me; barely cooked), fresh-grated parmesan over top — and we spent another quiet night, but yeah, was less planned and after two days in a row of not going farther than the mailbox, I’m a little antsy going into the weekend.

I guess the fortunate part about that is the packed nature of the next few days. In a little bit, we head to Connecticut. Two-plus hours driving. Drop the dog off, an errand or two, then to the movies in North Haven at 2PM to see War for the Planet of the Apes — I’m a big Planet of the Apes nerd and way down with the reboot series, minus James Franco in the first one. After an early-ish dinner (fingers crossed for a grilled salmon caesar salad from the Shoreline Diner, who have the best one in the area, though I’d also make myself a peanut butter protein shake, save the $15 and be fine provided I can sort the timing), I drive another two-plus hours to New Jersey to crash for the night with a friend in Jersey City. That’s ahead of seeing family tomorrow and doing baby prep stuff and some other whatnot. Goal is to pick out a stroller and a car seat system. Did you know that when you have a kid sometimes you have to take it out of the house???

That’s assuming you manage to get out yourself, naturally.

Tomorrow night, back up to CT after dinner with my family, to reconvene with The Patient Mrs. and spend Sunday at the beach, writing, watching baseball and so on. She has a friend coming north from NYC for the day, so I don’t expect we’ll actually hang out much, but frankly I find just being in her presence redeeming. Sunday night, she heads back to MA to teach the summer program she’s doing for the next couple weeks on Monday, but I’m staying in CT to have Steve and maybe Carl from Kings Destroy up to hang out Monday afternoon. Very much looking forward to that, as they are most excellent human beings. I’ll float the idea of getting an early dinner with them circa 5:30 or 6PM at a local pub and then, because I won’t have a car (The Patient Mrs. having taken ours back to MA the evening prior), Steve will drop me off at the station in New Haven, I’ll catch a circa-7:30/8PM train to Providence, where The Patient Mrs. will pick me up and I’ll be back home to crash out Monday night, get up early on Tuesday, write and probably not leave the house. Ha.

So yeah, kind of a marathon the next few days, but that’s good. Like all the travel we did a couple weeks ago with the Maryland, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Massachusetts back and forth, this has a certain feeling of trying to cram in as much as possible before the arrival of The Pecan in October, but I’m cool with that. There’s a lot to do.

Like more for the Quarterly Review as well. Special thanks to Boston’s Rozamov for letting me push back a track premiere a day to accommodate a sixth batch of reviews for this coming Monday. It’s hugely appreciated. Here’s what’s in the notes for the week, all subject to change of course:

Mon.: Quarterly Review Day 6; Cities of Mars track premiere.
Tue.: Rozamov track premiere; Godhunter video; Wasted Theory announcement.
Wed.: Six Dumb Questions with The Midnight Ghost Train.
Thu.: A side-by-side review of Lowrider’s deluxe Ode to Io LP with the original vinyl.
Fri.: Gonna play it by ear unless something comes in, but might review the new Egypt or Youngblood Supercult.

That’s the latest. I’m living well post-employment; got some meds and feel a little bit like I have my head back generally. Money is already tight and will only get tighter over the next couple months, but my mother and sister have been a huge help with baby stuff — you should see the bins of hand-me-downs — and we’re getting there. The Patient Mrs. astounds as always, and I feel so lucky to be able to spend extra time with her this summer, even if it’s just the two of us falling asleep on the couch in the evening. She is the absolute center around which the rest of my life spins. Looking forward to trying my hand at stay-at-home dadness when the time comes.

Like Nick Cave said on the second Grinderman record: “When my baby come.”

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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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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Matt Pike Selling Signed Limited Edition ‘Rabid Mammal’ Guitar Pedals

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

I’m just going to assume that if you’ve ever seen Matt Pike tear into a shred-your-skin-from-your-bones solo either on stage with High on Fire or in any of the infinite number of live clips of him with that band or with Sleep on YouTube, you probably don’t need to be told why his signature guitar pedal from Black Arts Toneworks is called the ‘Rabid Mammal.’ As a player, he’s rightly earned a reputation for the kind of I-just-make-this-happen abandon that has typified guitar greats for generations, and the unhinged sensibility of his style is just one aspect of his accomplishments with his weapon of choice.

Pike and the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based pedal maker first released the ‘Rabid Mammal’ late last year. It’s a limited edition creation, featuring art by Alyssa Maucere and the guitarist himself — begging the question why he’s never done a cover for High on Fire, though that’s not to take anything away from the gorgeousness that adorned the front of 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) — and though it’s been out for a while, Pike has put a batch of 18 up for sale at the link below, signed and everything. If you ever wanted to directly support the guy, this would seem to be the opportunity to do exactly that.

Next month, Sleep have a couple US shows ahead of heading abroad for a headlining spot at Desertfest London 2017. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a new recording of some sort this year, but I’ve yet to hear solid word of such a thing materializing. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen though. They’ll of course be at Psycho Las Vegas in August as well.

Pedal info and live dates follow:

matt pike black arts toneworks rabid mammal

Introducing the Rabid Mammal

Working in tandem with Matt Pike ( Sleep/High on Fire) Black Arts Toneworks are excited to announce this new Boost/Fuzz.

The Rabid Mammal consists of two separate circuits which compliment and push your tone in two different directions.

The Boost function will add a searing amount of treble and upper mids. Controls are: Treble and Volume

The Fuzz function will add a thunderous amount of low mids and and a foggy lowend with a somewhat loose sludgy feel. Controls are : Volume, Fuzz, Tone, High, Pre, and a toggle for Led or Mosfet clipping.

Switching is independent and true bypass.

Artwork by Matt Pike and Alyssa Maucere. Graphic layout by Jason @ Gr8Scott Graphics.

Sleep live:
APR 19 First Avenue Minneapolis MN
APR 20 Majestic Theater Madison, WI
APR 22 White Oak Music Hall Houston, TX
APR 23 Decibel Metal and Beer Festival The Fillmore Philadelphia, PA
APR 30 Desertfest London 2017 Camden Roundhouse London
JUN 3 Primavera Sound 2017 Barcelona, Spain
AUG 12 Alcatraz Festival Kortrijk, Belgium
AUG 18-20 Psycho Las Vegas Hard Rock Las Vegas, NV

https://www.blackartstoneworks.com/rabid-mammal/
https://reverb.com/item/4562941-matt-pike-rabid-mammal-signed-bundle-black-arts-toneworks
https://www.facebook.com/officialsleep/
http://www.facebook.com/highonfire

Matt Pike Rabid Mammal pedal demo

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Tomorrow’s Dream: 200+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
54. Dealer
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
72. Greenbeard
73. Green Desert Water
74. Greenleaf
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
86. Mastodon
87. Merlin, The Wizard
88. Merchant
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
94. MotherSloth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
97. Orango
98. Papir
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
107. Sólstafir
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
109. Spelljammer
110. Spidergawd, IV
111. Steak
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
114. Summoner
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
118. Toke
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
121. Weedpecker
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
127. Bantoriak
128. Bask
129. BCAD
130. BoneHawk
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
139. Devil
140. Devil Worshipper
141. Duel
142. Dustrider
143. Egypt
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
146. Farflung
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
149. Gozu
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
153. Horrendous
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
163. Mangoo
164. Mondo Drag
165. Monolord
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
168. Naxatras
169. Never Got Caught
170. Ommadon
171. Orchid
172. Ordos
173. Pilgrim
174. Poseidon
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
177. Sasquatch
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
180. Shabda
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
188. Superchief
189. Tÿburn
190. YOB
191. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

192. Across Tundras
193. Eggnogg
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
200. Kadavar
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
203. Lowrider
204. Masters of Reality
205. Om
206. Orodruin
207. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

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High on Fire Post “The Black Plot” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

high on fire (Photo by Jimmy Hubbard)

High on Fire just keep killing it. To the point that it’s almost moot to say so. I mean, of course they’re killing it. That’s what they do. They find it, they kill it. They’ve got a tour coming up alongside Sweden’s Meshuggah, and from where I sit the pairing couldn’t be more appropriate even though the two bands don’t have much in common sonically beyond basic onslaught of volume. They’re both among the most important metal bands of their generation, and they’ve both cast a net of influence that ranges years and knows no borders. They’ll invariably draw different crowds. Will the djent types get the raw force with which High on Fire present themselves on stage? Will the beer-guzzlers be able to keep up with Meshuggah‘s algorithmic patterns? At the end of the night, it won’t matter. Every room will be flattened.

To the issue at hand: High on Fire have a new video for “The Black Plot,” which comes from their 2015 album, Luminiferous (review here). That record was arguably the band’s most furious yet, but also found them delving into a more melodic approach and expanding on what they do in a few key ways, building on the foundation of intensity that has only come to sustain them more and more. Well, “The Black Plot” is less about that than straight-up pummel, but fortunately, that’s also a pretty excellent representation of what the band is all about. And as to the clip itself, it’s by Skinner and Hey Beautiful Jerk and it’s suitably insane. You can watch it for yourself and see if you can keep up. I’m not sure I can.

Tour dates and comment via the PR wire follow the video below. Enjoy:

High on Fire, “The Black Plot” official video

HIGH ON FIRE Unleashes “The Black Plot” Animated Video

Power Trio’s Critically Acclaimed Albums ‘Snakes for the Divine’, ‘De Vermis Mysteriis’ and ‘Luminiferous’ See Limited Edition Cassette Release

World-renowned heavy metal power trio HIGH ON FIRE has premiered a new music video for the song “The Black Plot”. Created by Skinner and Hey Beautiful Jerk, “The Black Plot” video, which made its broadcast debut on Adult Swim, is an animated tour de force and a wild psychedelic fantasy epic. “The Black Plot” is taken from HIGH ON FIRE’s latest album, Luminiferous.

“I wanted to make an animated short film with Hey Beautiful Jerk, I just didn’t know how completely crazy it would get,” says Skinner. “At first I thought we should do a real simple story with action fights to wear down the timing a little bit. But then I thought, fuck it, here’s a super complicated story with a million characters and it’s off the wall crazy and shit. Wanna do it?”

“This has definitely been the most challenging and the most rewarding project in the history of Hey Beautiful Jerk,” adds the team of Mark Szumski and Gina Niespodziani. “Creatively, we did not make many concessions and we really pushed ourselves to see how far we could take this thing. It worked.”

Additionally, HIGH ON FIRE’s celebrated albums Snakes for the Divine, De Vermis Mysteriis and the aforementioned Luminiferous, are available on cassette for the very first time via eOne. The cassettes, released as a limited edition bundle pack, can be purchased now, at this location.

HIGH ON FIRE will tour North America this fall as direct support to Sweden’s Meshuggah. The titanic team-up will kick off on October 11 in Atlanta, GA, running through November 6 in Silver Spring, MD.

HIGH ON FIRE tour dates:
September 25 San Francisco, CA Stinky’s al Fresco
(w / Meshuggah)
October 11 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle
October 12 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
October 13 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works
October 14 Pensacola, FL Vinyl Music Hall
October 15 New Orleans, LA Tipitina’s (* HIGH ON FIRE only)
October 16 Houston, TX House of Blues
October 17 Dallas, TX House of Blues
October 19 Los Angeles, CA The Novo
October 24 Denver, CO Ogden Theatre
October 25 Lawrence, KS Liberty Hall
October 26 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights
October 27 Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Company (* HIGH ON FIRE only)
October 28 Chicago, IL House of Blues
October 29 Detroit, MI The Majestic
October 30 Toronto, ON Phoenix Concert Theatre
October 31 Montreal, QC Metropolis
November 1 Ottawa, ON Mavericks (* HIGH ON FIRE only)
November 2 Boston, MA House of Blues
November 3 New York, NY PlayStation Theatre
November 4 Philadelphia, PA Trocadero Theatre
November 5 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
November 6 Silver Spring, MD The Fillmore

High on Fire on Thee Facebooks

High on Fire cassette bundle preorder

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Friday Full-Length: Kalas, Kalas

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Kalas, Kalas (2006)

Kalas was a short-lived five-piece fronted by Matt Pike of High on Fire and Sleep. During their time together, which reportedly started in 2003, they released one full-length, self-titled, on Tee Pee Records. They did not tour extensively. I remember seeing them at SXSW 2006 in Austin, Texas, at a day party sponsored by Vice — at the time I had no idea what Vice was, but Witch were also playing, so I wasn’t missing it either way — and watching as Pike rushed through the crowd to get on stage because the band’s set was about to start. It was that kind of thing. Someone would tell me later that Kalas essentially came out of his desire to practice his vocals and expand his range for High on Fire — which the album Kalas most definitely does on songs like “Frozen Sun” and “Mother’s Tears” — but I think the appeal of the record goes further than that.

Consider that in 2006, Sleep were still broken up, seemingly permanently. With High on Fire, Pike released Blessed Black Wings in 2005 and would follow it up with Death is this Communion in 2007, indeed having greatly expanded his vocal range. Kalas‘ self-titled is not only a bridge between those two albums, but also a tie to the more purely stonerized riffing of Sleep — or at very least is less maniacally metal than High on Fire were at the time and have only grown to be more so. By stepping back and not playing guitar, Pike gave crucial ground to six-stringers Andy Christ (ex-Eldopa) and Paul Kott (ex-High Tone Son of a Bitch) and led the band, which also included bassist Brad Reynolds and drummer Scott Plumb, in a different way than he ever had before or than he has since. He only played guitar in Sleep, but in Kalas, he only sang (minus a solo on “Frozen Sun”), and that became a defining feature of the group and the album.

Honestly, that would probably be enough to pique interest, but the album continues to deliver quality in the performance of the entire band and the songwriting. It’s not as rampage-prone as High on Fire, but Kalas grooves fluidly across its nine tracks, and the lyrics tackle issues of addiction and the resulting effects on life in a more direct way than Pike ever had before. It became a vibe that, on subsequent releases, might’ve come to develop along a path separate from anything else Pike was involved in, but instead it kind of languished behind the booming popularity of High on Fire — who were in the midst of doing some of their best work to-date — and the reunion of Sleep, which began in 2009. The self-titled would be the only thing they ever put out. Copies still float around, and if you’re lucky you might be able to find one in a used rack somewhere, but it continues to surprise me how little mention Kalas get in the Matt Pike discography, since they were unlike anything he’d done before or would do again. And, again, the songs hold up even a decade later.

More pre-social media heavy seemingly given up to the ages, awaiting reissue. Hope you enjoy.

I lost a little weight recently and so have been digging out some old t-shirts from boxes in the basement in hopes that they might fit. I chose the Kalas record because apparently at some point I purchased a Kalas t-shirt with the album cover on it. Must have been at that SXSW show, though I couldn’t say for sure — it was a long decade ago and I never went to Austin that I didn’t spend the entire half-week bordering on blackout drunk. Or my 20s. Ha.

Anyway, I think I might wear that Kalas shirt to The Obelisk All-Dayer, which is only eight days away. It’s pretty new looking. I might’ve never worn it before.

If you don’t have your tickets yet for The Obelisk All-Dayer, which is Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar, get them here: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1067269

Next week the countdown to that show will continue. Look for exclusive and awesome stuff from Funeral HorseKing Buffalo and Heavy Temple, and maybe a special writeup for the afterparty as well, because I’m really stoked on bringing Walter Roadburn and Adam from The Golden Grass on board to DJ after Mars Red Sky plays. It’s going to be such an awesome day. Please come. Please show up.

Also next week, look out for a review and some kind of audio premiere for the new Second Grave album, Blacken the Sky. To be followed Tuesday (I think) by Wretch and Wednesday by Blues Funeral. There’s more for later in the week, I’m just not sure what it is yet. Doing the All-Dayer countdown has put me way behind on videos as well. Might take a day to get caught up. We’ll see how it goes.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please get your The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk All-Dayer

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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High on Fire Announce Fall Tour with Meshuggah

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

In addition to joining the fray at Psycho Las Vegas — and no doubt causing a large portion of it — High on Fire will tour this fall alongside metal innovators Meshuggah. The heavy thrash kingpins continue to support 2015’s Luminiferous (review here), released on eOne Heavy, and have already done US and Aus/NZ tours this year. You know, in addition to the many, many times they’ve been back and forth the country prior to 2016. I might’ve expected them to hit Europe this autumn, but it’s hard to argue with the company they’re keeping of late, and as we’ve seen develop, Europe’s becoming an increasingly crowded market.

From the PR wire:

high on fire

HIGH ON FIRE Joins Forces with Meshuggah for Fall North American Tour

World-renowned heavy metal power trio HIGH ON FIRE has announced a fall North American tour as direct support to Sweden’s Meshuggah. The titanic team-up will kick off on October 11 in Atlanta, GA, running through November 6 in Silver Spring, MD. Tickets will go on sale Friday, July 22.

Featuring vocalist and guitar hero Matt Pike, drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz, HIGH ON FIRE continues to tour in support of its most recent album, Luminiferous.

HIGH ON FIRE tour dates:

August 27 Las Vegas, NV House of Blues (as part of Psycho Las Vegas w/ Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper, etc.)
September 25 San Francisco, CA Stinky’s al Fresco

(w / Meshuggah)
October 11 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle
October 12 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
October 13 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works
October 16 Houston, TX House of Blues
October 17 Dallas, TX House of Blues
October 19 Los Angeles, CA The Novo
October 24 Denver, CO Ogden Theatre
October 25 Lawrence, KS Liberty Hall
October 26 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights
October 28 Chicago, IL House of Blues
October 29 Detroit, MI The Majestic
October 30 Toronto, ON Phoenix Concert Theatre
October 31 Montreal, QC Metropolis
November 2 Boston, MA House of Blues
November 3 New York, NY PlayStation Theatre
November 4 Philadelphia, PA Trocadero Theatre
November 5 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
November 6 Silver Spring, MD The Fillmore

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire/
https://twitter.com/HighonFireBand

High on Fire, “Slave the Hive” official video

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