Live Review: Magnetic Eye Records Day of Doom in Brooklyn, 11.02.19

Posted in Reviews on November 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

magnetic eye records day of doom poster

Before the Show

Well, don’t tell anybody, but the dude sitting at the end of the bar DJ’ing is me. Actually, come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I don’t care if you tell anybody. At this point, I know most of the seven or eight people in this room right now. But I made a playlist, edited it together so it all plays as one track, and it’s three hours long — like the old podcasts, including a really long song or two along the way — but that’s going, so as far as I’m concerned, sitting here on my laptop is why they asked me to come early. The rest is kind of just waiting around, so at least this way I can look like I’m doing something.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing the review while the show is happening — I’m not committing to posting any of it live, since I’ve never done photos on this machine before when I’m actually in a hurry — but it’s 15-minute breaks between bands, DAY OF DOOM SCHEDULEso it’s going to depend on how I can time it either way. The important thing? That I stress out about it. Obviously.

And oh yeah, I included Earthride on my playlist specifically with the Saint Vitus Bar in mind, because they often play them between bands. My nod to the room. No one cares, but I wouldn’t expect otherwise, so there it is.

This is the Magnetic Eye Records Day of Doom, a nine-band label showcase that will go from at least now — coming on 1:30 — to 10:30 tonight, so yes, a full day of doom, as it were. At very least, if today had a quota of heavy, I suspect it’ll be filled by the end of it and then some.

But we enter now the sit-tight portion of the afternoon, so that’s my plan. Will check in with more either during or after it’s all over.

During the Show

These Beasts

these beasts (photo by jj koczan)

One would not accuse Magnetic Eye Records of easing into the day with These Beasts. Rather, the Chicago three-piece are at this very moment bludgeoning a Vitus Bar live room with an ultra-aggro, thickened noise rock that’s only sense of letting up is in letting up on the letup. By which I mean there is none. It’s somewhat awkward to be sitting here while they’re playing and admit I don’t know their self-titled LP, released earlier this year, but they’re showing me the error of my ways in pummeling fashion. Can hear punk roots coming through amid the intertwining screams and shouts, but there’s a definite heft to the tone and some vocal echo adds atmosphere to go with all that heads-down force. But there’s plenty of that too and it’s the sheer physicality of what they’re playing that’s letting them pull in such an early crowd. To wit, I’m one of like three people in the back bar right now and I’m about to head back in. Clearly they’re doing something right in there.

Leather Lung

Leather Lung (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s been weeks, not months, not years — more than days, though — since I last saw Boston’s Leather Lung. Last time? Dudes brought stoner-sludge chicanery to Ode to Doom in Manhattan (review here). This time? The location has changed, but the mission not so much. Vocalist Mike Vickers has had the cast taken off his arm and judging by his onstage mosh-shuffle, all seems to be in good working order, so that’s my official medical checkup, but beyond that, they’re bringing a groove that’s plenty fresh in my memory; sludge played from the heart via the crotch that makes no bones about where it’s coming from — Boston — and no bones about its affection for all manner of inebriating. Their groove has this toughguy edge to it that I can’t quite put my finger on and couldn’t last time either, but I don’t think these dudes want to fight so much as they want to get fucked up and play riffs. Like I said, the mission hasn’t changed much since I last saw them. I’ll check back on them in a bit and hope for no more busted limbs from them or anyone else in attendance, for that matter. “It’s all fun and games, until,” and so on.

High Priest

High Priest (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Chicago’s High Priest issued their Sanctum EP (review here) earlier this year and it was kind of a sleeper, but they were high (pun like 25 percent intended) among my list of anticipated acts for the day. Nothing too complex, but they roll out big-time riffs and dig into some hazy vibes and especially after the nasty nasty nastiness that was These Beasts and Leather Lung back to back, they’re a chance to show off some of the stylistic breadth on Magnetic Eye‘s roster. The kind of label as likely to redux Pink Floyd as Helmet, you know. They’d be a fitting complement to a tour with Elephant Tree, if we’re doing label pairings, but I guess probably there needs to be an album out before one starts nailing down dates. We’re in November now, so kind of fair to look back on some of the year’s highlights, and seeing High Priest live for the first time is a reminder of just how much I dug those tunes this past Spring. I’m apparently learning stuff all over the place today. Fun and educational! They also finished by dissolving into a total wash of noise that was affecting and psychedelic in kind. A pleasure to watch. Can’t say it plainer than that.

Caustic Casanova

Caustic Casanova (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Of the nine bands on this bill, I’m pretty sure Caustic Casanova win the prize for having the most recent release. Their new record, God How I Envy the Deaf, came out on Oct. 18 as their first through Magnetic Eye and they’re playing Vitus Bar as a precursor to hitting the road on the next of their seemingly endless string of tours. This is also the first time I’m seeing them as the four-piece of drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker, bassist/vocalist Francis Beringer, and guitarists Andrew Yonki and Jake Kimberley, the last of whom is a new recruit. For a band on the road as much as they are, I have to imagine finding someone to mesh with wasn’t easy — Caustic Casanova‘s particular take on melodic heavy rock is a big-time beneficiary of the chemistry they’ve built through touring — but they did it, and the match extends to onstage energy, to be sure. How many bands could cover “Wicked World” and make it sound believable? Caustic Casanova played it like they wrote it, and their original material was no less vital. I’ll make it easy: this is a band you should see. They make it even easier by touring their collective ass off, but even if they didn’t, they’d be worth the effort of showing up when possible. Magnetic Eye made a good-ass pickup when they signed them.

Ghastly Sound

Ghastly Sound (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Rivaling Caustic Casanova in the running for most-recent-outing is Vermont trio Ghastly Sound, whose debut full-length, Have a Nice Day, dropped like a sarcastic anvil in September. This was my first time seeing the three-piece, but it’s worth noting they primo position on the bill they’ve received, and I’ll admit that because of that alone, my expectations were high before they went on. Is this the part where I say the band slaughtered those expectations outright, blah blah blah dominance, blah blah blah heavy band destroys minds reaps souls and all the rest? Well, my mind feels pretty destroyed and if I ever had a soul — nope — it’s long gone, but yeah, they delivered in a big spot, taking crossover-style hardcore and leaving the guitar at home, adding melody through vocal effects and reviving a bit of the aggression from earlier in the day. The way they were set up on the Saint Vitus Bar stage made me think there was a guitarist somewhere missing in the building, but nope, and it turned out they didn’t need one, though one hesitates to say such things on a day that has featured thus far and will continue to feature so much choice riffing. A little — or a lot, as in this case — of rumble goes a long way. Also with the shouting and the being really loud. No question the pressure was on, and I know their record was a while in coming, but if I didn’t know they’d just released their debut, I’d say they’d been around much longer.

Horsehunter

Horsehunter (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Okay. Putting together a nine-band bill? Pretty impressive. Doing so and bringing in bands from the UK and Europe? Even more impressive. Doing so and bringing a band from Australia? And that band is Horsehunter? Who I don’t think are really even together at this point? Yeah, that’s some next level shit. The Aus megasludge four-piece put out their self-titled second album (discussed here) and swansong earlier this year — like, earlier than September — and had already been busted up for two years. Should they be broken up? No, they should not. Even if one could manage to put aside the context of seeing them play even just for 45 minutes as being a total once-in-a-lifetime experience, a group of the Melbourne four-piece’s destructive potential should continue to exist. If they were the only band playing today, it would still be a Day of Doom, and in volume and viscosity alike, they’re on a plane of their own amid this lineup. I don’t know what the future might hold for them, as members have already moved onto different projects, but I have to think that if a band is willing to get together and travel to the other side of the planet to play essentially a one-off gig, they’d have to feel motivated to maybe follow that up with something? Or maybe this would be a pinnacle anyway? I don’t know. Either way, it’s clearly a special moment for all involved parties — those in attendance, those playing, and the Magnetic Eye crew, who believed in them enough to release the record even though they were done — and I’m lucky to have been here for it. Biggest big rock finish of the day as well, so bonus points there, as if they needed them.

Domkraft

Domkraft (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This is my second time seeing Sweden’s Domkraft after being fortunate enough to catch them about 13 months ago in Oslo, Norway, at Høstsabbat (review here). They were at that point heralding the release of their second album, Flood (review here), and as they got ready to go on just now I thought back fondly to the positive impression they made that day, blending noise rock, sludge and an almost post-metallic kind of ambience. That’s a fun little narrative, right? Sure it is. Lost in that, however, is the rhythmic undulation of that nod, but man, when they decide to lock that in — and they don’t always, because they’re not a do-one-thing kind of band — they are hypnotic. They had their work cut out for them in following Horsehunter, as anyone would, but guitarist Martin Widholm, bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland and drummer Anders Dahlgren captured a feeling of spaciousness that seemed to take all the crush of the mighty performance before them and taffy-pull it into a headier, spacier reach, still deeply weighted, still giving that feeling of surrounding you while you’re standing there in front of it, but at the same time extending outward beyond you, beyond the room — maybe just beyond, period. They’ve been to the States before, having played Psycho Las Vegas, and I guess you could count the show they did last night in Jersey with Solace too, but they feel like a band who are really stepping into themselves, and the identity they’re finding as a part of that process suits them. I’m already looking forward to their next record, and far be it from me to tell you how to live your life, but you probably should be too.

Summoner

Summoner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If you know anything about Magnetic Eye Records, or label founder Mike Vitali (also Black Electric, Ironweed, ex-Greatdayforup, etc.), it’s probably that the label frickin’ loves Boston’s Summoner. I’ve seen them live a handful of times over the years, certainly dug the crap out of 2017’s Beyond the Realms of Light (review here) as I have their material since their days a decade ago operating as Riff Cannon — a name they quickly outgrew and were smart enough to realize it, even though it was a cool moniker to have — and it’s hard to argue. I knew accordingly what to expect going into their set, at least to a degree, but with the recent change that brought Worshipper‘s Dave Jarvis to the lineup on drums — I’m not sure if it’s a permanent or temporary thing; dude was sitting next to me like 15 minutes ago, I should’ve asked — there was an added sense of intrigue to seeing them for what was the first time in a while anyway. However, part of knowing what Summoner do is knowing they do it pro-shop, and as their slot found them positioned right before Elephant Tree at the end of the show, they had an occasion to rise to and they rose to it accordingly, Jarvis sliding right in alongside bassist/vocalist Chris Johnson and guitarists A.J. Peters and Joe Richner, on familiar material while still bringing some of his own swing to it. You won’t hear me disparage the work of Summoner as they were, but if they’re indeed pressing on in this configuration, they’ll be just fine. When Johnson stops smiling on stage, I’ll worry. Didn’t happen at Day of Doom, even after the strap of his bass broke and he had to finish the song with it resting on his knee. That was like two songs in, maybe? No loss of momentum. Pro-shop, front to back.

Elephant Tree

Elephant Tree (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Elephant Tree‘s second full-length, which will actually be released by Holy Roar Records at least in the UK — I admit there might be some regional deal worked out with Magnetic Eye that I don’t know about — is reportedly in the mastering stage. At least, that’s what they told me and I’m not sure what would be their motive for lying about it. Last I heard were a couple rough mixes, but that was a while ago, and I’m all-the-way-serious when I tell you that I can’t think of another record that’s been announced for 2020 that I’m anticipating more. The Londoners’ 2016 self-titled debut (review here) has lost none of its appeal for the subsequent three years — just ask Sister Rainbow, who flew from the UK for this show basically just to see them for what I understand is at least the 48th time — and with the progression I heard evident in their performance (again) at Høstsabbat 2018 (review here) and those rough versions, yeah, I feel justified in my high hopes. It wouldn’t have made sense for them to come to Brooklyn and play only new stuff, but as noted, even the cuts from their self-titled were welcome. The fact that even after such a full show they were given a complete hour for their set should tell you something, and basically it should tell you they’re a band just waiting for your loyalty. See them 49 times? Well, I’m up to at least three now and I feel like that’s barely worth calling a start. Also of note, they’re a four-piece now, with John Slattery on guitar and keys and vocals joining the trio of guitarist/vocalist Jack Townley, bassist/vocalist Peter Holland (of the green strings) and drummer Sam Hart, so that’s all the more of an occasion for their primo stage banter. They’ve just hit into “Aphotic Blues,” if you’ll excuse me… Yeah, that’s an earplugs-out moment not to be missed. And to have them then follow it by bringing album-engineer/multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/he’s-kinda-in-the-band-but-not-really-anymore-except-I-guess-sometimes-like-tonight Riley “The Wizard” MacIntyre on stage first to scream like mad, then to take over Townley‘s guitar for “Wither” only highlighted how incredible this day has been. What a trip. It’s not over. I mean, it’s mostly over, but they’ve got about 10 minutes left, so I’m going to stow the computer and get back to what’s important and get up front for the end, which is where it feels like I should be.

After the Show

Just past 12:30AM. I left the Saint Vitus Bar at I guess around 10:45PM and got back here a little bit ago, cursing the name of the tech giant whose mappery failed yet again to take into account Lincoln Tunnel traffic in its calculations. Next time, I take the FDR unless it’s visibly on fire.

Elephant Tree finished with their slowed-down take on Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” which given the Brooklyn setting found Holland’s gruffer vocal reminding all the more of Peter Steele from Type O Negative (green strings may have been a factor there as well), and followed that with a new song called “Bird,” the harmonies of which are particularly gorgeous and lush seeming. Mike Vitali Magnetic Eye Records (Photo by JJ Koczan)I can’t wait to hear that album.

Basically I’m keying down from the show, and there was a lot of show to key up. Kind of striking how even the bands whose sounds had common elements were able to stand themselves apart. That was true the whole time. And I stayed the whole time. And I wound up running the playlist the whole time as well, at least until Elephant Tree were done. So I guess that’s a thing. I DJed the show. Wasn’t planned, but I was plugged in and using my laptop anyway, so there you have it. I dug the tunes, anyway. Hopefully I wasn’t the only one.

Thanks to Mike Vitali and to Jadd Shickler for having me on board for that and for putting the thing together generally. This was a pretty astounding feat when it comes to coordination, and those efforts on their behalf were deeply appreciated. Vitali got on stage before Horsehunter went on to thank everybody and it was plain to see it was an emotional night for him as well. It would have to be, frankly.

Thanks to the bands, to everyone who said hi and/or nice things, and thanks to you for reading. Most of all, thanks to The Patient Mrs., who made my being there possible, and who makes pretty much everything that’s possible possible.

Now off to bed.

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Magnetic Eye Records Announces Label Showcase with Horsehunter, Elephant Tree, Domkraft, Summoner & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Clearly, Magnetic Eye Records is not into half-measures. Any label can put together a tribute. When Magnetic Eye does it, it’s two sprawling collections of bands playing homage to landmark albums and artists’ greatest hits. Any label can put together a showcase. When Magnetic Eye does it, they fly in three international acts, from Australia, the UK and Sweden, to round out the bill. Do you have any idea how insane that is?

It’s quite insane.

They’ve got a Kickstarter up now, as they will, and as rewards for backers they’re letting you preorder which set you’d like to have the recorded version of, because of course they’re also recording the sets. Seriously?

To do otherwise would be a half-measure.

They’re calling it ‘The Day of Doom,’ and in addition to HorsehunterElephant Tree, and Domkraft, they’ll have SummonerLeather LungGhastly SoundHigh PriestCaustic Casanova and These Beasts on the bill. Nine bands at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn on Nov. 2.

Quite insane. Just enough to work:

magnetic eye showcase banner

MAGNETIC EYE RECORDS presents its first ever live label showcase at the legendary Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn this November 2nd!

Check out the Kickstarter to help us make the Day of Doom truly epic and get in on the exclusive live album releases from MER’s flagship bands.

Sure, it’s summer right now, but have you looked around? Seas are rising, animal populations are shrinking, Scott Stapp has a new album, dogs and cats are living together… it’s mass hysteria.

Not the types to fly in the face of impending Armageddon, Magnetic Eye thought we’d expedite the end times by officially declaring our own DAY OF DOOM on November 2nd of this year as the date of our first-ever live label showcase.

Where?

The Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York. Where the hell else?

Who?

No less than nine crushing Magnetic Eye roster bands, headlined by our four flagship acts that have helped shape and define the core of the MER sound:

Summoner
Horsehunter
Domkraft
Elephant Tree

What does this mean for you?

Two things:

1. If you’re anywhere near the New York area (or even if you’re not), you’re going to want to make the pilgrimage to this show. With our biggest and heaviest acts flying in from all over the world, it’s probably no stretch to say we have no idea when or if this will ever happen again. Tickets will be on sale soon directly via the Saint Vitus Bar, and we’ll of course let you know where to get them.

2. Whether you can make this incredible convergence in person or not, you can share in the experience. Magnetic Eye will be recording the four headline bands at Day of Doom for an exclusive set of live album releases, and you can support helping get the bands here for the event and reserve your live records now by jumping on board the Kickstarter for the project at this location.

Look, we’d love to have all of you there with us. But we know it’s not possible for some to make the trip, and we understand. Hell, it wasn’t possible for most of us to attend Woodstock, but at least we have the soundtrack, right?

Check out our Kickstarter now to lock down your exclusive editions of Elephant Tree, Domkraft, Summoner and Horsehunter Live at the Day of Doom New York. It’s going to be absolutely unforgettable. And thanks to these records, you’ll always remember.

http://store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Leather Lung, Lonesome, On’ry & Evil (2019)

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High Priest Stream Sanctum EP in Full; Out Tomorrow on Magnetic Eye

Posted in audiObelisk on April 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high priest

Rife with melody and a brooding post-grunge atmosphere, High Priest‘s new EP, Sanctum, sees release mere hours from now through Magnetic Eye Records. The April 19 offering is the band’s first for the label and follows a limited 2016 7″ — they added a few more tracks to the download — and is what might be legitimately called their debut EP. If one considers that, the grip the band has on their aesthetic is downright terrifying, balancing as it does classic doom riffing with a harder rock edge in the melodies, all the while without flogging itself into hyper-emotionalism as so many do in these after-Pallbearer times. The band’s pedigree in deathcore mongerers Like Rats isn’t really relevant sonically to what High Priest do throughout the four-track/20-minute Sanctum, but no question there’s a definite comfort level at play. That some of these guys have known each other since they were kids, as the PR wire explains below, isn’t really much of a surprise when one listens to Sanctum. They don’t at all sound like strangers who just wound up in the same band.

All the better then that bassist Justin Pence would so righteously high priest sanctumtap into his inner Cornell on opener “Descent” — and, more impressively, pull it off — or that guitarists Pete Grossmann and John Regan would so fluidly wrap their tone around the subsequent “Creature” while drummer Dan Polak thuds away behind as though his toms spent a week telling yo-mamma jokes and he’s finally getting payback. The final track of the four, “Offering,” is longer at seven minutes flat, and ties together a lot of what High Priest — who of course are not to be confused with L.A.-based High Priestess, on Ripple; though they should tour together — are doing throughout the EP, but even the NWOBHM twist in the guitars of “Paradigm” just before seem to add something new to the proceedings when the four-piece have otherwise established their modus. “Paradigm” also boasts a significant hook, but is ultimately less of an outlier for that among “Descent” and “Creature,” both of which evoke burl without getting lost in chestbeating cliche and seem to reside easily in a place where metal meets rock, rock meets doom and kick meets ass.

But not to harp on it, but the really striking factor here is the newness. Sure, that prior single came out three years ago, so High Priest have been at it for a bit, but Sanctum is still ostensibly their first EP, and while I might want to hear them get a little weirder with melody across a full-length release and change up arrangements as they hint toward between “Descent” and “Creature” here — with the guitars giving up lead position instrumentally to the bass and drums going from one song to the next — there’s no question in listening through that High Priest sound ready to give it a shot. If taking their time was what let them come up with these songs, then keep doing that, but otherwise, the sooner the better works fine for me, thanks. Oh, and make that High Priest/High Priestess tour happen too. How could you not?

Stream Sanctum in its entirety on the player below. Beneath that, you’ll find some quick comment from the band and more background off the PR wire. You know how we do.

Enjoy:

High Priest on Sanctum EP:

“This band started as an excuse to do something fun. What would all our weird influences sound like if we mashed them together? I think this record is a perfect amalgamation of that. Our only goal is for people to hear it and hopefully have as much fun listening as we have playing it. We also hope people are moved to go out and buy deep cut Thin Lizzy records and headbang to Mercyful Fate. If this record inspires one person to make something, or gets someone excited the way those records make me feel, that’s the biggest compliment we could ever get. We’re so excited for ‘Sanctum’ to see the world!”

Order Link: https://highpriestchicago.bandcamp.com/album/sanctum-ep

Although they formed in 2016, the members of Chicago’s HIGH PRIEST have known each other for a good portion of their lives. Guitarists Pete Grossmann and John Regan, singer/bassist Justin Pence and drummer Dan Polak have been playing together in various bands for over 15 years, with Grossman and Polak’s friendship going back to actual childhood (Pete remembers Dan getting the training wheels off his first bike).

Dan and John were already playing together in Southern Lord death/hardcore fusion outfit Like Rats when, during a night out seeing Electric Wizard, John yelled to Dan, “we should do a band like this!”

High Priest Sanctum was produced, engineered and mixed by guitarist Pete Grossmann at his Bricktop Recording studio in Chicago. The 4-song EP contrasts dark, soulful doom with massive riffs and delicate undertones, bringing to mind the juxtaposition of despair, hope and resignation across a foundation of churning heaviness that bands like Alice in Chains and Trouble make so appealing.

High Priest on Thee Facebooks

High Priest on Twitter

High Priest on Instagram

High Priest on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records website

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