Josefus Debut New Lineup; Confirm Recording in Progress

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

josefus

New lineup, new material and new recordings on the way — the news from reunited Texas heavy rockers Josefus would seem to be all good at this point. The four-piece have been relatively quiet since their reformation was announced back in May, but it would seem that tracking has begun on their next studio album, and the stage lineup of founders Pete Bailey (vocals) and Dave Mitchell (guitar) and newcomers Doomstress Alexis, (bass/backing vocals, also of Doomstress and Project Armageddon) and Michael Morris (drums, also of Lone Star Hippie) made their live debut on Oct. 22 as part of the End Hip End It festival at Walter’s Downtown in Houston.

Amid classics from the band’s original run — their 1970 outing Dead Man should be considered essential proto-heavy for anyone who hasn’t heard it — the band broke out at least two new songs from the yet-untitled outing that will be the first from the band since 2006’s State of the Union, and a live clip with both has been posted from the fest, with Mitchell and Bailey front and center of the cult classic outfit, proffering unbridled boogie on “Guns and Fun” while digging into a darker, bluesier and loosely Sabbathian style of riffing on the subsequent “The Shade.” Each song offers a distinct take from the other and bodes well for what the studio outing might bring.

A considerable risk with new studio offerings from groups with ’70s era bands has consistently been an incongruity between the intent of the songwriting — to capture that raw spirit and energy that fueled the early days of heavy rock — with a sometimes-too-slick, or at very least dry, modern production. This can be heard on numerous contemporary from artists at multiple echelons, from Leslie West and Cactus to Leaf Hound. An exception to the rule might be Ripple Music jammers Poobah.

Likewise, it’s something Pentagram largely avoided with their Last Rites comebacker in 2009 I think in no small part because of guitarist Victor Griffin‘s ongoing connnections to the heavy underground, and I think in Josefus, having that awareness of what the current heavy audience is looking for is the role one might find Doomstress Alexis and Morris playing (in addition to their instruments, obviously). It will be up to them to ensure the sound of the record matches not only the purpose behind the material in the first place, but the vibe that listeners will invariably crave from a band like this in the first place. Fortunately, they would seem to be readily up to the task.

To my mind, this only makes the next Josefus long-player, previewed with the stage performance at End Hip End It, all the more worth looking forward to. One assumes at this point it’ll be a 2018 arrival, but of course when I hear something, I’ll let you know.

Until then, enjoy “Guns and Fun” and “The Shade” below, as filmed by IcedRelics in Houston:

Josefus, “Guns and Fun” & “The Shade” Live at End Hip End It

Josefus performing live at Walter’s Downtown at End Hip End It Festival in Houston, Texas on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Harvey Relief Benefit. Houston Psych Fest.

Brand new Josefus tunes debuted at End Hip End It Fest on 10/22/17 marking Josefus’s return to the stage and with new recording/live lineup:

Pete Bailey-vocals/harmonica
Dave Mitchel-guitar
Doomstress Alexis-bass/backing vocals
Michael Morris-drums/backing vocals

1st song “Guns & Fun”
2nd song “The Shade”
Video credit: Iced Relics (YouTube)

New record currently in studio production being recorded by Richard Cagle @ Montrose Studios in Houston, TX.

Josefus live:
11/25 Rockefellers Houston TX w/ The Dirty Seeds, Fiddle Witch & Mr. Plow

Josefus on Thee Facebooks

Josefus on Instagram

Josefus website

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Doomstress Premiere Video for “Bitter Plea”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

doomstress

Texas heavy doom rockers Doomstress filmed their new video on one of the several cleverly-named tours they undertook in 2016, playing as the four-piece of bassist/vocalist Doomstress Alexis, guitarists Brandon Johnson (lead) and Joe Fortunato (rhythm) and drummer Tomasz Scull. Fortunato, whose pedigree includes tenure alongside Scull in Sparrowmilk and Venomin James, also directed and edited the clip for “Bitter Plea,” and the song represents the newest work to come from the Houston-based outfit, featured on their new EP, Supernatural Kvlt Sounds: The Second Rite, a follow-up and apparent sequel to their 2016 debut, Supernatural Kvlt Sounds (video premiere here).

Aside from new mixes of “Way of the Mountain” and “Sleep Among the Dead” from the original EP, The Second Rite boasts the Uriah Heep cover “Rainbow Demon” (premiered here) and “Bitter Plea,” and indeed, it’s the latter that shows where the band is truly at in their development. I’m not sure if Fortunato is a permanent member or not at this point, but either way, the 4:26 track swings with a sense of classic metal coming through its dual guitars and finds a balance in its mix that outshines even the redux versions of the original EP cuts, as well as a confidence in presentation obviously born of the band’s significant time on the road. Even with an underlying darkness in the lyrics, Alexis and company keep a firm sense of momentum moving forward in the track as well as across the entirety of the 22-minute offering from which it comes, and though they seem to be taking their time crafting songs rather than working to try to bang out a first album simply for the sake of doing so, the results that come through on “Bitter Plea” are hard to argue with in terms of their sense of being fully realized and engaging. Proof? The hook and guitar solo. The arrangement of vocals. The return to the central riff at the end. It’s all there, waiting to be heard in “Bitter Plea.”

Also, as it happens, seen. Captured live on stage and on the shores of Lake Erie, the video gives an unpretentious representation of the song while adding in its style a sense of drama befitting to the lyrics. The underlying message is Doomstress are continuing to take shape as a band, progressing in their songwriting processes and becoming all the more capable of manifesting a style that resides someplace between doom, metal and heavy rock and makes its mark in memorable choruses and choice grooves.

Supernatural Kvlt Sounds: The Second Rite is out on CD now via NoSlip Records and will be released as a split with Sparrowmilk in November via DHU Records. More info at the links following the video below.

Please enjoy:

Doomstress, “Bitter Plea” official video premiere

Doomstress – “Bitter Plea” official video ©2017
From the ep “Supernatural Kvlt Sounds-The Second Rite”
CD on NoSlip Records (USA) available late September 2017
12″ vinyl split w/Sparrowmilk on DHU Records (Netherlands) available November 2017

Live footage filmed @ The Foundry in Cleveland, OH on the Wicked Summer Tour in August 2016.

Scenic footage filmed at the sand dunes of Lake Erie in Ohio in late August or early September 2016.

Video concept by Doomstress Alexis

Directed & edited by Joe Fortunato

Band members on this tour:
Doomstress Alexis – bass & vox
Brandon Johnson – lead guitar
Tomasz Scull – drums
Joe Fortunato – rhythm guitar

Doomstress website

Doomstress on Bandcamp

Doomstress webstore

Doomstress on Thee Facebooks

Doomstress on Instagram

Doomstress on Twitter

DHU Records webstore

NoSlip Records webstore

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Doomstress Premiere Uriah Heep Cover “Rainbow Demon’; New EP The Second Rite out this Fall

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

doomstress

Click play below to hear a newly-remixed version of Doomstress‘ take on Uriah Heep‘s ‘Rainbow Demon.’ Originally included on the UK band’s 1972 classic, Demons and Wizards, it gets a kick in heft and groove from the Texas-based outfit, who’ll include the track on their aptly-titled NoSlip Records sophomore EP, The Second Rite, which is due out this Fall. The Second Rite will also be issued as a split with the post-Venomin James outfit Sparrowmilk in November, so keep an eye out for that, and Doomstress continue to play live shows — including End Hip End It next month — as they move past their 2016 debut, Supernatural Kvlt Sounds (video premiere here), inexorably toward a first full-length.

If you heard that outing or the subsequent Wicked Woman 7″ (discussed here), you’ll no doubt find the new versions of those tracks somewhat refreshed-sounding, but the EP also portends good things to come in the new track “Bitter Plea,” blending classic metal and doomly groove to solid effect behind a performance that shows marked growth well earned by time Doomstress has spent on the road over the last year, touring with Disenchanter and others along the way.

The PR wire has more about the EP, and again, you can hear that cover at the bottom of the post. Enjoy:

doomstress-the-second-rite

Texas Doom Metallers Doomstress to Release New EP, The Second Rite via CD and 12” Split This Fall!

Texas doom metallers Doomstress are set to release their new EP, The Second Rite on No Slip Records. The EP contains remixed versions from the original, very limited self release and 7″ DHU single, as well as new song “Bitter Plea” recorded at the end of the Wicked Summer tour and featuring additional rhythm guitar by guitarist Joe Fortunato (Sparrowmilk/Venomin James/ex-Ancient VVisdom). The artwork that will appear on both the CD & vinyl is by renown psychedelic artist, Goatess Doomwych.

Doomstress will also release The Second Rite vinyl as a 12″ split (minus the “Wicked Woman” Coven cover) with Cleveland instrumental powerhouse Sparrowmilk via DHU Records (Netherlands) this fall! As with the EP CD release of The Second Rite, this 12″ vinyl split was mastered by Kent Stump, of Wo Fat, at Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas, TX. The release of the 12” split is expected to be sometime in late November. More details will be released sometime in October so stay tuned.

Song List for The Second Rite EP CD via No Slip Records:
1- Way of the Mountain
2- Bitter Plea
3- Rainbow Demon*
4- Sleep Among the Dead
5- Wicked Woman** (7″ version: CD only bonus)

*Uriah Heep cover 1972
**Coven cover 1969

Doomstress is:
Doomstress Alexis – bass & vocals
Brandon Johnson – lead guitar & backing vocals

Tomasz Scull – recording/touring drummer

Matt Taylor – touring lead/rhythm guitar
Andy Kaos Vehnekamp – touring /session drummer
Alex Erhardt – touring drummer
Joe Fortunato – touring/session rhythm guitar

Doomstress live:
Thur 9/28 OKC, OK @ Your Mom’s Place
Fri 9/29 tba
Sat 9/30 @ Stoned Meadow of Doom Fest in Sioux Falls, SD @ Bigs Bar

www.doomstress.com
www.doomstress.bandcamp.com
www.doomstress.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/DoomstressBand/
instagram.com/Doomstress_band
twitter.com/Doomstress
www.darkhedonisticunion.bigcartel.com

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Doomstress Announce ‘Scorched September’ Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Certainly if you live in the US, you’ve probably heard plenty about this point about the royal ass kicking recently received by the city of Houston from Hurricane Harvey. They say the storm may have permanently changed the shape of the fourth largest urban area in the country, and while we can sit here all day and talk about how all these “500-year” floods keep happening — or we could just say the words “climate change” and accept how much we’ve truly fucked our planet and thus ourselves as a species — the bottom line is that people’s lives will never be the same.

This weekend, Houston’s own Doomstress play a benefit for Harvey flood victims in their hometown, and it’s one of several choice gigs they have coming up before the month is out. Also noteworthy of course is the fact that in October they’ll be at the End Hip End It fest (info here) in Spring, TX, but as you can see, they’re keeping well busy even besides that. Note the TBA date on Sept. 29 after they play Oklahoma City at Your Mom’s Place — joke’s on you; my mom lives in New Jersey — and as always, if you can help out with a show, you should make that happen. Plenty of land there between Oklahoma City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for a gig to take place in.

Shows are presented by Heavy Friends Booking. Here’s info as posted on the social medias:

doomstress-sept-tour

Doomstress – Scorched September Tour

Doomstress hits the road again this September!

Sat 9/9 Houston, TX @ Brash brewing company F**K Harvey Flood Victims Benefit **starts at Noon**
https://www.facebook.com/events/1482307511861580/

Fri 9/15 Austin, TX @ The Electric Church w/Crypt Trip

Sat 9/16 San Angelo, TX @ The Deadhorse Live w/The Guillotines
https://www.facebook.com/events/1342549785844088/

Thur 9/28 OKC, OK @ Your Mom’s Place
https://www.facebook.com/events/1927447954134117/

Fri 9/29 tba

Sat 9/30 @ Stoned Meadow of Doom Fest in Sioux Falls, SD @ Bigs Bar
https://www.facebook.com/events/167660890394733/

Thanx to Heavy Friends Booking, DHU Records, NoSlip Records, Zombie Dust Pickups Poster art by Goatess Doomwych layout Doomstress Alexis.

www.doomstress.com
www.doomstress.bandcamp.com
www.doomstress.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/DoomstressBand/
instagram.com/Doomstress_band
twitter.com/Doomstress
www.darkhedonisticunion.bigcartel.com

Doomstress, “Apathetic Existence” Live at the Foundry

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Review & Track Premiere: Blues Funeral, Awakening

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

blues funeral awakening

[Click play above to listen to ‘Shadow of the Snake’ from Blues Funeral’s Awakening. Album is out Aug. 25.]

Immediately the sense from Awakening is one of continuity. To make their second full-length, and their second in as many years behind July 2016’s The Search (review here), Houston four-piece Blues Funeral returned to Lucky Run Studios to record and mix with Jeremy Dudman and Mike Mikulka. Like the debut before it, the sophomore outing features six tracks, five of which run between five and six-plus minutes long, plus one cut that branches out longer — last time it was the title-track, here it’s 8:21 closer “The Gathering Dust.” Like the debut before it, Awakening features the dual-guitar-led lineup of guitarists/vocalists Maurice Eggenschwiler and Jan “El Janni” Kimmel (the latter also keys), bassist Gabriel Katz and drummer Cory Cousins (the latter also backing vocals on “Awakening” and “Casimir”), a mastering job by Collin Jordan at the Boiler Room, artwork by David Paul Seymour and a sound that toys with the lines between progressive and classic rock, classic rock and classic metal, and classic metal and doom. Listening to songs like opener “Shadow of the Snake” and “Illusions of Reality,” it’s pretty clear that Blues Funeral had plenty about their debut they liked and wanted to use as a model to build from.

Fair enough. Given how solidified The Search was in its approach and the cohesive presentation that it brought forth from the band, one isn’t inclined to argue, but just because that record and Awakening share core aspects doesn’t preclude growth on the part of Blues Funeral either. Rather, as a group and as individual players, they demonstrate a forward-looking mentality in terms of their own development that seems to have been taken on with willful purpose, and like other let’s-have-a-guitar-fight-except-it’s-not-really-a-fight-and-also-we-harmonize, prog-fueled outfits of their ilk — the underrated likes of Valkyrie and Corsair come to mind most readily, as well as newer Beelzefuzz — Blues Funeral do justice to their influences in their own progression as much as through the sonic foundation from which they work.

Melody is central throughout. Awakening‘s six tracks run a manageable 39 minutes and while for the bulk of that time there’s more rhythmic motion going on or more active lead-taking than one would generally classify as “pastoral,” the material is rife with nuance, be it in the form of the layered-in acoustics of “Casimir,” the organ that accompanies the initial bounce of “Shadow of the Snake,” the mellotron in “The Gathering Dust,” guest vocals on “Firedrake” or even just the way “Awakening” itself so skillfully blends metallic and heavy rocking impulses, taking cues from Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and later Opeth in its blend of organ and guitar and the clean delivery of the vocal harmonies between Kimmel and Eggenschwiler, which prove throughout once again to be central figure of Blues Funeral‘s sound, as well as a tasteful example of their development as songwriters and players.

The two guitarists and Cousins played together in the less prog-rocking Sanctus Bellum, so they weren’t strangers coming into Blues Funeral or anything, but among the elements of the newer outfit established on this follow-up is the ongoing shaping of a personality all its own, increasingly distinct as it digs into the soul-infused boogie of “Illusions of Reality” and subtle vocal arrangement complexity there as complemented by Katz‘s highlight bass performance in the quieter lead break in the midsection. Once again, melody is the root, even from the rhythm section.

blues funeral (photo Grooverock)

Couple this with a firm sense of two-sided intent. The first three tracks — “Shadow of the Snake,” “Awakening” and “Illusions of Reality” — are rockers. The title-track especially feels dug into a more crunching tonality at its launch before opening to its more flowing chorus, but it and the two pieces surrounding are defined by a more straightforward lean on hooks and structural classicism. At 5:05, “Illusions of Reality” is the shortest inclusion on Awakening, and its uptempo push is friendly, warm and inviting in a good-times-listening-to-ThinLizzy fashion that even vaguely metal-derived songcraft rarely dares to be. Blues Funeral, as much time as they spend with Eggenschwiler and Kimmel‘s guitars at the fore, are aiming to directly engage their listeners on Awakening‘s side A, and their success in this effort is precisely what allows them to hold a sense of full-album fluidity as the subsequent side B begins to branch out its more expansive modus.

Now, are Blues Funeral going experimental black metal drone? Nope. While all three are longer than “Shadow of the Snake,” “Awakening” or “Illusions of Reality,” tonally and atmospherically, “Firedrake,” “Casimir” and “The Gathering Dust” stay consistent with what the first half of Awakening has on offer — and they’re correct to do so — but each of the last three pieces also has some bit of flourish to stand it out from its surroundings. Perhaps “Firedrake” is the most obvious, with the already-noted guest vocal appearance from Kelly Cousins Adams (sister to Cory) marking a departure from the choruses delivered by the guitarists together and the tradeoffs between them. Complemented by particularly righteous Nord from Kimmel and guitar ambling alongside the keys’ winding course — also another must-hear bassline from Katz — “Firedrake” holds a patient and flowing presentation that, while in its last third gives into some doomier-feeling riff and solo work, also sets up the arrival of the acoustic/electric blend that will continue in “Casimir.”

One does not imagine the similarity in title to Led Zeppelin‘s “Kashmir” is coincidental, as Awakening‘s penultimate track takes on some loosely Eastern-feeling scales in its intricate barrage of leads and has a narrative drama in its verses no less born of classic heavy rock. Resolution, as it will, comes in a last solo punctuated by ride bell from Cousins and a sudden stop to let “The Gathering Dust” take hold on its own terms — a thrust of NWOBHM-style poise is backed by carefully-woven drawn-out lead lines (perhaps the most Akerfeldtian moment on Awakening, especially with the key section and riff that follow), and suddenly the point of emphasis becomes how much Blues Funeral have been able to build and maintain a momentum across the album’s span while still allowing individual songs their moment, not sounding rushed or hurried in any way, but never still either.

The guitars are key in this, of course, but it’s a whole-band function just the same, and another example of Blues Funeral‘s second offering having moved ahead from the first. As the closer makes its way through more harmonized soloing in its middle and toward its instrumental, also-solo-topped final minutes, and ends in classy fashion with a quick wash of cymbals and pulled-string scorch, the message is no less plain than it has been all along that the foursome have a determined idea of what they want to do as a band, who they are as players and songwriters, and how they should be working together toward the common goals of their processes. The value of that isn’t to be understated when it comes to making Awakening work as well as it does. Given the progressive feel they elicit throughout, that underlying consciousness couldn’t be more appropriate, and it is one more way in which Blues Funeral earn the listener’s trust in terms of the moves they make here and, invariably, those that will follow their next time out.

Blues Funeral on Thee Facebooks

Blues Funeral on Bandcamp

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End Hip End It: Acid King, Elder, Dead Meadow, Josefus & Many More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’m not gonna discount the notion of seeing the likes of Josefus sharing the stage with The Well and Doomstress, or of watching the almighty Acid King roll out their riffly triumphs next to Dead MeadowElderMothership and a megaslew of others, but I think the fact that if you buy a ticket for the second day of End Hip End It you get two slices of pizza speaks volumes to the vibe the Spring, Texas-based festival is going for, and that’s a vibe with which I think just about anybody can get down.

The lineup is varied from Funeral Horse and Switchblade Jesus to King Buffalo and Stone Machine Electric, but there’s a heaping representation of the fertile Texan underground here, and that’s likewise respectable. My understanding is they’ve run into some branding issues — I guess repeating any word in your fest name in Texas is verboten because you’re making fun of SXSW? seems to me SXSW could stand to be taken down a peg or two, but couldn’t we all? — and might rename the event for 2018, but whatever you call it, it looks like a good time to me.

Lineup, other info and ticket link follow:

end-hip-end-it-2017

END HIP END IT MUSIC FESTIVAL

OCT 21 – OLD TOWN SPRING, TEXAS

DAY 1 will feature 25 bands in Old Town Spring, Texas. Preservation Park will have three stages of music as well as many interactive art projects thanks to the Generators Playground.

Stage 1
Dead meadow 12:00 – 1:00
The Bright Light Social Hour 10:40 – 11:20
Golden Dawn Arkestra 9:20 – 10:00
Bayonne 8:00 – 8:40
The deer 6:40 – 7:20
AMERICAN SHARKS 5:20 – 6:00
ROSE ETTE 4:00 – 4:40
VANILLA WHALE 3:00 – 3:40
pyreship 2:00 – 2:30
JODY SEABODY & THE WHIRLS 1:00 – 1:30

Stage 2
Acid King 11:20 – 12:00
ELDER 10:00 – 10:40
MOTHERSHIP 8:40 – 9:20
king buffalo 7:20 – 8:00
eagle claw 6:00 – 6:40
greenbeard 4:40 – 5:20
funeral horse 3:30 – 4:00
SWITCHBLADE JESUS 2:30 – 3:00
WARLUNG 1:30 – 2:00

Stage 3
John Evans Band 8:20 – 9:00
Flower Graves 7:10 – 7:50
The Cuckoos 6:10 – 6:50
Ancient Cat Society 5:10 – 5:50
The Mammoths 4:10 – 4:50
Mantra Love 3:10 – 3:50
Howard & the Nosebleeds 2:10 – 2:40

OCT 22 – WALTER’S DOWNTOWN
SUNDAY at Walter’s Downtown there will be two stages with 13 bands on rotation. Ticket purchasers will receive two drink tickets and two pizza slices!

the well
L.A. Witch
doomstress
amplified heat
space villains*
white dog
josefus
crypt trip
stone machine electric
only beast
concrete heat
daze
shallow

KIP Passes get you…
Entry to both days
backstage access
FREE T-shirt on Saturday
access to hammock hangout
one extra beer on Sunday

At End Hip End It you will find a tightly tucked 20 acre plot of land filled with green grass, craft breweries, interactive art projects, live music, beer tasting events, auctions for charities, Light shows, food trucks, VIP access, local vendors, and more. Interactive art projects will be hosted by Bao Pham of the Generators Playground.

https://www.facebook.com/HoustonPsychFest/
https://www.facebook.com/events/444285199249564/
http://www.endhipendit.com/
http://www.endhipendit.com/tickets
https://www.instagram.com/end_hip_end_it/
http://www.twitter.com/endhipendit

Acid King, Live at Electric Funeral Fest, June 17, 2017

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Review & Track Premiere: Venomous Maximus, No Warning

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

venomous-maximus-no-warning

“‘Sea of Sleep’ is a song that is broken up into three parts: past, present and future. We always try to include little references to our personal influences in our music. Whether or not you know realize it, we know it’s there. The song title itself is a reference to Saturn. The bass intro is very ‘NIB.’

“We want you to always hear our influences; it’s what keeps it classic. We don’t steal from it. We were born with it. We are here to keep it alive. I think that’s a big difference between us and other bands nowadays. Some people try so hard to have it and some were born to live it.” — Gregg Higgins on “Sea of Sleep”

[Click play above to stream the premiere of “Sea of Sleep” from Venomous Maximus’ No Warning. Album is out July 28 via Shadow Kingdom Records.]

Now at some six years’ remove from their debut EP, 2011’s The Mission (review here), dark-toned Houston rockers Venomous Maximus remain a band unto themselves. No Warning is their third long-player and second for Shadow Kingdom Records, which brought the four-piece aboard for 2015’s Firewalker (review here) — a workmanlike follow-up to their 2012 debut, Beg upon the Light (review here) — and like everything they’ve done to this point in their tenure, it is marked out by its crisp sense of songwriting and cohesive aesthetic presentation. Their sound, like their cover art this time around, is a multi-faceted collage. It finds them dug deep into horror rock and classic metal influences, tinged with doom so that in any given riff one might hear strains of PentagramIron Maiden, the Misfits, or in the case of the acoustic-minded “All of My Dreams” and the penultimate side B interlude “Endless” here, more cavernous strains of the NWOBHM at its creepiest.

Presented over two clearly demarcated halves, each with its own synth-y intro — aptly-titled “I” and “II” on the digital version, seemingly unnamed in the vinyl tracklist — No Warning adds a progressive edge to Venomous Maximus‘ well-honed theatrical sensibility, and though guitarist Gregg Higgins has his fist-in-the-air vocal declarations working to the group’s advantage in sway and personality alike, he, fellow guitarist Christian Larson, bassist Trevi Biles and drummer Bongo Brungardt sound more assured than ever of the bewitching nature of their hooks and more poised in executing the sonic turns between the chugging “Pray for Me” and the more metallic “Return of the Witch,” which would seem to be a direct sequel to “Give up the Witch,” which was a highlight of both The Mission and Beg upon the Light. Could it be that, six years later, Venomous Maximus are feeling a little reflective on how far they’ve come and what they’ve done in their time thus far?

If so, on that level, No Warning is woefully misnamed. The fact of the matter is everything the band has conjured in terms of craft and sound has been a warning to those who’ve been willing to pay attention for what their third outing brings across its efficient 10-track/41-minute stretch. That’s not to say it’s redundant — far from it — just that the point at which Venomous Maximus show themselves having arrived throughout cuts like post-intro opener “Spellbound” and the later, Mercyful Fate-d guitar weep of “Blood for Blood” is one predicated on their prior accomplishments. They couldn’t be where they are without having been where they were. That No Warning was recorded by Toxic Holocaust‘s Joel Grind certainly adds a sense of metallic cred to the proceedings, and his handling of the mix creates a sense of depth throughout that only further draws the material together.

venomous maximus

Bottom line, perhaps, is that Venomous Maximus are an experienced band at this point and they sound like it, and that their third record stands as an affirmation of their style and execution at its strongest. As “Spellbound” starts off with ghoulish glee and the central riff of “Pray for Me” seems to nod at the doom-pop of Ghost without losing its edge, overall Venomous Maximus still sound most like themselves. They’re a powerful live act, and as always, Higgins brings a formidable presence to the studio as well, whether it be in the sharp-edged turns of “Pray for Me” or the longer “Return of the Witch,” which follows and is a clear focus point for the outing as a whole. It may or may not be intended as an answer to “Give up the Witch” — which still stands among the band’s most landmark choruses — but the title-line repetitions across its 5:50 run would seem to make it one either way, and if that’s an easter egg for those who’ve followed the band throughout their years, then fair enough. They’ve more than earned the right to speak directly to their fans.

That said, I’d still call Venomous Maximus somewhat underappreciated as a group. Yes, they’ve toured with High on Fire, and they went abroad earlier in 2017 to play Desertfest in London, but as they expand their palette here with the strums of “All of My Dreams,” the classic biker riffing of their title-track and the later gallop of closer “Sea of Sleep,” what they bring to realization on an aesthetic level still seems generally undervalued. Whether or not No Warning will change that, I don’t know, but it does present the next logical forward step in their ongoing development, tightening their approach from where it was even on Firewalker while holding firm to the atmospheric elements that have helped define who Venomous Maximus are and have become throughout their time.

It may well be that their refusal to play entirely to one subgenre or another has led to some misread on the part of their audience — too metal for the doomers, too doom for the headbangers, too dramatic for the ultra-serious? — but from where I sit that only makes them more admirable. To listen to them toy with vocal echoes on “Blood for Blood,” or dig into raspy call and response there, or to hear the energetic start that “Spellbound” brings to No Warning lead to the sudden stop in the unfolding and turn toward thrashing vibes on “Sea of Sleep,” it seems that no matter where Venomous Maximus want to make their riffs go, it’s fair game.

They cap “Sea of Sleep” with a hidden bonus riff (visible in the wavform above), as if to sneak one more in before actually ending the album, and that too puts the emphasis right where the band wants it. Make no mistake, Venomous Maximus are and have always been putting on a show. Their records are like a black-swirl cultish carnival. But that show has never been pretentious in the slightest about wanting to offer listeners anything more than a good time, and they’ve never sounded more in command of concept, structure and delivery than they do on No Warning. It is a well-earned victory in a hopefully ongoing series thereof.

Venomous Maximus, No Warning (2017)

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Pyreship Premiere Video for “Die/Sect”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

pyreship

Houston four-piece Pyreship made their debut this Spring with The Liars Bend Low on Black Bow Records. It’s a release that brings together sludge tones and groove with post-metallic atmospheres, and as you can see in the video for “Die/Sect” from the album, the Texan outfit keep a mindful approach toward live presentation as well as crafting a moody impression. Starting off with a clip from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me — or at least one from the show that says the name of the movie; I haven’t watched the new episodes yet, so no spoilers please, as much as anything might ever possibly be explained — and featuring imagery of strafing bombs and other apocalyptic this-and-that as well as footage of the band on stage.

Here’s a fun fact: First time I watched the “Die/Sect” video, I was sitting on the couch with my lovely and loving wife, The Patient Mrs., and I pointed to a guy in the front of the stage and I said, “Hey, there I am.” I told her it was a little while ago, when I was still bearded, and you know what? She believed it was me. It’s not me. I don’t know who it is, but I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Pyreship live. They make a good case for doing so with this song and this video, but still. I haven’t gotten there. It was hilarious though, because, yeah. Dudes all look alike.

If you missed where it was mentioned above, The Liars Bend Low came out on Black Bow Records, which is the label helmed by Jon Davis, guitarist/vocalist of UK demolition experts Conan. Not a minor endorsement to have, and Pyreship recently shared the stage with Conan and Forming the Void as well as part of supporting the album, so all the more of a connection there. One can hear some influence in the roll of “Die/Sect,” which if you haven’t already skipped to it, follows immediately here.

I’ve also included the full stream of the record at the bottom of the post, because why the hell not.

Enjoy:

Pyreship, “Die/Sect” official video

Official music video for Die/Sect from Pyreship’s album “The Liars Bend Low”. Released 5/26/2017 on Black Bow Records.

You can find all the latest Pyreship news and links to our music and merch at https://pyreship.com/ check it out!

Pyreship is:
Sam -Guitar and screaming
Jason – Guitar and singing
George – Bass
Steve – Drums

Pyreship, The Liars Bend Low (2017)

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