FUNERAL HORSE and KING BUFFALO Confirmed for The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on February 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

all-dayer header

Buy Tickets Here

It is with distinct and enduring pleasure that I announce the next two bands for The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn: Funeral Horse and King Buffalo. Two groups with vastly different mindsets between them, they nonetheless emphasize the kind of weirdo rock range I’m going for with this thing, varied in their levels of sonic heft, aggression and scope.

They join the previously-confirmed Mars Red Sky on the bill for the show, which will start at 2PM and run past midnight with loads of heavy psych, noise, doom and beyond, as well as food on hand, recorded sets, exclusive merch and more. It’s going to be a party, a day-long party, and it’s my sincere hope that you can make it out.

More announcements will follow, but for now, here’s some info on Funeral Horse and King Buffalo:

Funeral Horse

funeral horse

Funeral Horse will make their way north and east from Houston, Texas, to play The Obelisk All-Dayer. By the time they get to Brooklyn, they’ll have recorded their new full-length and performed at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta and more besides, and my motivation for having them aboard couldn’t be simpler: I need to see them live. If only just to try and figure them out.

The three-piece release their third album, Divinity for the Wicked (review here), last fall as the follow-up to 2014’s Sinister Rites of the Master (review here) and 2013’s Savage Audio Demon (review here), and all along, they’ve fostered this strange combination of punk, doom, noise, stoner and cult rock that’s immediately familiar but entirely their own. I’m eager to see what they bring to the stage in terms of energy, but more than that, I’m just dying to try and get a grip on where they’re coming from, since they’re one of the most individualized acts I’ve come across in the last three years.

King Buffalo

king buffalo

Is King Buffalo‘s debut album, Orion, out yet? Okay. How about now? Now? NOW??? Truth is, I’ve been dying for the thing since the Rochester, New York, trio offered up their much-played first demo (review here) in 2013. A split with Sweden’s Lé Betre (review here) followed on STB Records and cemented the anticipation. I don’t know whether or not it’ll be out by the time Aug. 20 gets here, but with any luck they’ll have Orion material in their set and offer up a fix that way.

Their blend of heavy psychedelia, Americana and classic riff-led rock is second to none, and as The Obelisk All-Dayer makes the shift from afternoon into evening, they’ll be a perfect engrossing vibe to help everyone dig in as much as possible. Last I heard, that album is in the mixing stage, but whether or not the pressing’s done, I’m thrilled they’re aboard and can’t wait to see them again.

More to come!

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

The Obelisk All-Dayer event page

Funeral Horse on Thee Facebooks

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

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Funeral Horse Sign with Total Volume Booking Agency

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Fascinating news out of Houston and Paris in that Funeral Horse have inked a deal to work with the French booking agency Total Volume and have intentions toward European touring next year. According to the agency, the band will, “hit Europe hard this festival season.” I don’t know if that means spring fests — Roadburn, Desertfest London and Berlin, etc. — or summer fests — Freak Valley, Stoned from the Underground, etc. — but I expect it won’t be all that long before we find out, steeped in announcement season as we are. I also dig the part where they note increased American road presence as well. Perhaps that extends to the Eastern Seaboard?

Funeral Horse released their third album, Divinity for the Wicked (review here), and with it took another step forward into the strange world of stoner noisemaking they’ve been inhabiting since they got going a couple years go. By every standard, they’ve worked quickly, so I’m interested to see how that pans out in the New Year’s tour plans.

Total Volume announced the collaboration thusly:

funeral horse

Welcoming a new exciting band to the roster: Funeral Horse (USA)

Funeral Horse is a brilliant mix of punk-esque tempo changes paired with fat, throw back, pump your fist in the air style heavy metal riffage. These garage influenced doomsters have been hard at work, with their sinister riffs gaining them notice in the American stoner underground since 2013. The band plans to hit Europe hard this festival season in the tradition of other great Texas groups before them.

With the release of their third album “Divinity for the Wicked”, released by Artificial Head Records and distributed by Ripple Music, the band hopes to make an impact with their first European tour in spring 2016 coming on the heels of festival appearances in America in later this winter. We’re happy to help this amazing band take this next monster step.

https://www.facebook.com/FuneralHorse/
https://funeralhorse.bandcamp.com/album/divinity-for-the-wicked
https://www.facebook.com/totalvolumebackline/
http://www.totalvolumeagency.com/

Funeral Horse, Divinity for the Wicked (2015)

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Project Armageddon, Linus Pauling Quartet and More Playing Doomsgiving IV on Dec. 5

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Next weekend in Houston, Rudyard’s Pub hosts Doomsgiving IV – The Krampus Hunt, and while I have no idea what a Doomsgiving might entail as regards the traditional meal — turkeys made of riffs! — it’s a killer lineup with Project ArmageddonLinus Pauling QuartetThe Dirty Seeds and Serpent Sun, and that’s usually enough to pique my interest.

Linus Pauling Quartet, if you missed the news, had the Jan. 15 release date for their new album, Ampalanche, confirmed earlier this week by Vincebus Eruptum Recordings. Meantime, Project Armageddon will headline the evening in support of their earlier-2015 offering, Cosmic Oblivion (review here), which was a Doomsgiving feast unto itself.

Show details and whathaveyou:

doomsgiving iv the krampus hunt

Doomsgiving IV – The Krampus Hunt

December 5th at Rudyard’s Pub, Houston, TX.

Lineup:
Project Armageddon
Linus Pauling Quartet
The Dirty Seeds
Serpent Sun
Doors at 8:00 $8

Spawned of Doom Metal, with open minds & experimentation; Hailing from the northern outskirts of Houston, TX-Project Armageddon consists of members: Brandon Johnson – guitar, Raymond Matthews – drums, and Doomstress Alexis – bass and vocals. February 2010 saw the release of Project Armageddon’s debut full length cd “Departure”: a self released, 45 minute record that stays true to P.A.’s no holds barred stylistic approach, running the gamut from straight out doom to somber acoustic tracks to full out effects laden psychedelic guitar tracks, dealing with super-genetic beings, nuclear holocaust, natural devastation, and religious intolerances.

Project Armageddon continued on an extensive show schedule from 2010 to mid-2011 both in the local clubs and around Texas. In the summer of 2011, Project Armageddon returned to Dungeon Manor studios to record their 2nd full length record: “Tides of Doom”. This was then sent out to be mixed by Supernatural Sound in Kultland, OH. “Tides of Doom” was released in March of 2012 followed the “Tides of Doom – Texas Tour” to support & promote the record. Demo work resumed after touring the Summer of 2012, and amidst a slew of many local shows supporting the local metal scene and touring acts both national and international. Project Armageddon rocked Austin during the SXSW festival and plans additional shows in Dallas/Ft. Worth and San Antonio. The touring schedule has recently been set taking Project Armageddon around the state and to some new areas as well as supporting more international acts.

Pure guitar muscle and Texas Stoner Metal Psych insanity with universal themes like drugs, beer, sci-fi/fantasy, and Bongs of Power. If you like your riffs heavy, the solos unyielding, and the smell of the bong to billow out of your stereo, the LP4 is your band.

The Dirty Seeds. No gimmicks, just four strangers gathered together by an ape-like stoner prophet from the future to save humanity with loud rock n roll. Face melting stoner rock with enough of a groove to trick white people into thinking they know how to dance.

Event will feature the traditional Doomsgiving table set w/club decor by artist Chuyz Beard. Also photo gallery display by Goon73 Photography.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1619457394970452/
http://projectarmageddon.com/
http://www.worshipguitars.org/LP4/
https://www.facebook.com/thedirtyseeds
https://www.facebook.com/SerpentSunHT

Project Armageddon, “Vortex to Oblivion”

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Linus Pauling Quartet: New Album Ampalanche Due in January

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the linus pauling quartet

Houston five-piece the Linus Pauling Quartet signed with Vincebus Eruptum Recordings — the label arm of the ultra-respected Italian ‘zine of the same name — earlier this year, and at the time, it was announced that their next full-length, Ampalanche, would be out this summer. Well, here we are talking about preorders, so obviously that didn’t happen. As usual of late, seems likely there was some delay in pressing the thing on the plant’s end. Turns out the only bummer about the vinyl resurgence has been the complete lack of infrastructure to sustain it. Whoops.

Doesn’t matter though, at least in this instance, because Linus Pauling Quartet‘s Ampalanche will be out on Jan. 15 as one to look forward to early in the New Year. Vincebus Eruptum cover artist Kabuto has helmed the thematically-appropriate piece that will adorn the front of the LP, and of course there will be multiple color editions of the platter itself, all of which will be available to order soon.

Editor of Vincebus Eruptum and head of the label Davide Pansolin — who also had a fascinating interview with the band in the ‘zine’s most recent issue that gave much insight into their origins and the Houston noise rock scene in the ’90s — shared his excitement about the release thusly:

the linus pauling quartet ampalanche

I’m really proud, glad, excited, … to announce the official details about the new masterpiece by Houston’s band THE LINUS PAULING QUARTET!

The new awesome artwork by Kabuto is the best way to present “Ampalanche”, six tracks of rock’n’roll…no stoner-rock, no psychedelic music, no folk, no labels…it’s the best musical synthesis we ever listened!!!

The album will be officially released on the 15th of January 2016.

Limited edition vinyl (VELP010)

Ultra-limited edition of 100 hand-numbered (001/100) copies on coloured (colour #1 TBA) vinyl + inner + exclusive poster
Limited edition of 200 hand-numbered (101/300) copies on coloured (colour #2 TBA) vinyl + inner
Standard edition of 200 copies on black vinyl

Track-list:
A1 – Ampalanche
A2 – Slave-Sometimes
B1 – Planck
B2 – Brisket
B3 – Nico
B4 – Alive

A MASTERPIECE!

http://www.worshipguitars.org/LP4/
https://www.facebook.com/LinusPaulingQuartet/
https://www.facebook.com/vincebuseruptumassociation/
http://vincebuseruptum.bigcartel.com/products

Linus Pauling Quartet, “Space Truckin'” live at Novembeerfest 2015

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Funeral Horse Post New Video for “There Will be Vultures”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 8th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

funeral horse 1

It’s been a while since I actually laughed out loud — “lulz’ed,” as the kids might say if anyone used past tense anymore — at a band’s video, but when Houston’s Funeral Horse get around to the monkey-drumming part of the clip for “There Will be Vultures” referenced in the headline below, yeah, I kind of lost it. The video, which is the first for a track from their recently-issued third full-length, Divinity for the Wicked (review here), has a couple guffaw-worthy moments, from its quickly establishing a running gag (about being gutted) to a J Mascis-looking preacher or may or may not have been one of the dudes from The Linus Pauling Quartet reading a gospel of Rush lyrics out of an LP gatefold. It is not by any means light on charm.

Ultimately though, there remains much more to Funeral Horse — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Paul Bearer, bassist Jason Andy Argonauts and drummer Chris Bassett — than their willingness not to take themselves too seriously. “There Will be Vultures” is a brimming example of their genre blend, somewhere close enough to punk, to heavy rock and to noise to be arguably aligned to them, but not of any one over the others. The band’s comfort level in this between-styles forbidden-zone apparent in the ease with which they lean to the various sides on the record, but even more than that, it’s the fact that something underlying in their sound remains familiar in more than just that Sabbath-is-ubiquitous kind of way. They refuse to be easily categorized, and three albums deep into their tenure, they’re more in command of that refusal than ever.

The song itself is about four minutes long, and the video’s about eight, but settle in, because it’s worth the time.

PR wire info after. You know the deal. Enjoy:

Funeral Horse, “There Will be Vultures” official video

FUNERAL HORSE share Rush-Worshipping’-lick-shredding-monkey-drumming new video for ‘There Shall Be Vultures’ | Divinity For The Wicked out now on Artificial Head Records

Like a vision of ’80s post-hardcore punk rock, red-eyed and burning one in the back of Heavy Metal History 101, under the influence of The Melvins, Kyuss and Harvey Milk, Funeral Horse make music to gouge minds to. From album opener ‘There Shall Be Vultures,’ a track that straight off the bat (teeth flying) showcases one of the many strutting rock assaults the trio have become expert in peddling, Divinity For The Wicked throws open its doors to a wider world of distortions and digressions.

Leading the charge with ‘Underneath All That Ever Was’, a lumbering paean drawn in part from words found in a suicide note of one of Bearer’s co-workers which had gone unnoticed for several days pinned to an office bulletin board, this is Funeral Horse at their darkest and most pensive. The Tuareg desert blues of ‘A Bit Of Weed’, the funereal bagpipes that send off ‘Gifts Of Opium And Myrrh’ and slow cinematic burn of instrumental ‘Cities Of The Red Night’ suggest there’s more than meets the immediate ear this time around for a band already masterful in the delivery of unfiltered noise and heavy fuzz rock.

Following on from last year’s imposing Sinister Rites Of The Master, and the thunderous lo-fi highs of their 2013 debut Savage Audio Demon, amid a mass brawl of riffs, megaphonic vocals, blues and backwater proto-metal, Divinity For The Wicked stands as a humble monument to the marginalised and maligned. An album just waiting to be picked up and played by those that have chosen to drop out and dedicate their entire existence to the pursuit of volume.

Funeral Horse on Thee Facebooks

Funeral Horse on Bandcamp

Artificial Head Records

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Project Armageddon, Cosmic Oblivion: Vortex of Crush

Posted in Reviews on September 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

project armageddon cosmic oblivion

Houston’s Project Armageddon are quick to let their listeners know what it’s all about. On their third album, Cosmic Oblivion, they open with the eight-minute instrumental “Cosmic Crush,” and the ensuing progression moves from riff to riff to riff and back again. Frills be damned. Each member of the Texan trio, who release Cosmic Oblivion through Shattered Man Records as the follow-up to 2012’s Tides of Doom after having made their debut with 2010’s Departure, played at one point or another in Brainticket Records trad-doomers Well of Souls, but with Project Armageddon, they present a foundation of oldschool metal that one can hear in the guitar tone of Brandon Johnson and the vocals of bassist “Doomstress” Alexis Hollada, as well as the forward-moving rhythms of drummer Raymond Matthews.

The album’s 47 minutes (43 for the digital version) are put to varied use, however, with several cuts positioned almost as bonus material at the end, including the CD-exclusive Judas Priest cover “Deceiver,” the acoustic song “Time’s Fortune” — which, though it’s somewhat buried at the end, is a highlight — and a live version of the title-track to Tides of Doom (recorded somewhere along the line in the band’s hometown) to finish out. As such, though substantial in both runtime and content, Cosmic Oblivion at times feels more like an EP in giving the audience a sample of what Project Armageddon have to offer than a front-to-back full-length, but there’s a flow established all the same, the metallic drive of Matthews‘ drums and Hollada‘s bass setting a patient, grand opening pace under Johnson‘s riffs on “Cosmic Crush,” but deftly shifting between tempo and fostering fist-pumping righteousness along the way through the opener’s chug-happy course.

Like many in Texas’ heavy underground, they’ve taken some measure of influence from Pepper Keenan‘s work in Down and C.O.C., and Project Armageddon aren’t halfway through “Cosmic Crush” before one can hear shades of Deliverance in the guitar, but they grow more individual as they move forward from there and toward “Frigid Bitch,” the centerpiece of the CD and a bluesier, almost Witch Mountain-esque high point boasting Hollada‘s most accomplished vocal performance and a careening interplay of guitar and bass in its back half that’s a showing of diversity in approach after the two tracks prior, “Vortex to Oblivion” and “Lost to Forever,” round out a (theoretical, since so far as I know there’s yet to be a vinyl pressing) side A comprised of satisfying and unmistakably metal-infused riffs that seem to be pushing toward a deeper purpose.

project armageddon

Taken with the vinyl split in mind, Cosmic Oblivion is a completely different record than when played front to back, and some of the second half’s experiments — that acoustic track, the cover, the live cut — make more sense, but the tradeoff for stopping halfway through is felt in the momentum that emerges between “Cosmic Crush,” “Vortex to Oblivion” and “Lost to Forever,” all three of which top seven minutes and give a complete-seeming glimpse at Project Armageddon‘s songwriting and in particular Hollada‘s marked frontwoman presence in the tracks, which are peppered with stage-style exclamations and an energy that does right in teasing a live feel later affirmed as “Tides of Doom” rounds out. Compression on the vocals takes a bit of getting used to, but I’m not about to pan a self-releasing band for audio fidelity. The quality of the tracks holds up across Cosmic Oblivion‘s first half, and while the album’s structure can be a head-scratcher at first, it doesn’t take much to put the pieces together, and a hook like that of the chorus to “Lost to Forever” is its own best sell.

A tempo downshift and more relaxed — opening “woo!” aside — but still heavy vibe, along with Hollada‘s soulful approach, help make “Frigid Bitch” the highlight that it is, and if there’s one truly frustrating aspect of the CD version, it’s that the cover of “Deceiver,” which originally appeared on Judas Priest‘s classic 1976 second album, Sad Wings of Destiny, is placed before “Time’s Fortune.” What’s the difference? Arriving after the cover, the acoustic cut feels more like a bonus track than the album closer it truly is, and more like an extra than the essential component it deserves to be. It broadens the context of Cosmic Oblivion as a whole, and particularly directly following “Frigid Bitch” as it does on the digital version, its added percussion, harmonica and subdued vocal, it provides a resonant counterpoint to side A’s more traditional aspects. “Deceiver,” at just over four minutes, rocks plenty hard, but interrupts that process. Maybe it’s moot, since invariably more people will hear the digital album anyway, but the shift between “Frigid Bitch” and “Time’s Fortune” is an especially engaging finish and the CD doesn’t get the same treatment.

Structured for vinyl, released on CD and better suited to mp3, Cosmic Oblivion can seem somewhat uneven at times, but it will not be the last we hear from Project Armageddon, and I’d be very surprised if someone didn’t pick it up for a restructured vinyl release. That said, without “Deceiver” or the live “Tides of Doom” to close out, Cosmic Oblivion would check in at just 35 minutes, so in addition to an extra enticement toward the physical product — a philosophy against which I won’t argue — they also add to the album’s runtime, and the latter, which opens with a sample releasing the Kraken, affirms the band’s focus on their onstage energy while also not at all subtly confirming that anything Project Armageddon bring to the studio they can also bring to a live setting: no trickery involved. Not that much would be suspected, since as noted at the top, it’s about the riffs and the groove, but the one element “Cosmic Crush” leaves out is Hollada‘s vocals, the dynamics of which are crucial to the album’s overall success.

Project Armageddon, “Lost to Forever” Live in TX, 2014

Project Armageddon on Thee Facebooks

Project Armageddon’s website

Cosmic Oblivion at CDBaby

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Funeral Horse Premiere “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh” from Divinity for the Wicked

Posted in audiObelisk on September 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Funeral Horse

One thing I like about Texan weirdo-garage-heavy-punk-doom trio Funeral Horse is that if you were to go up to them and ask what is myrrh anyway, they’d probably tell you it’s a valuable balm, and then when you, in your best Terry Jones high-pitched exclamation shouted “A balm?!” they’d totally get the Life of Brian reference. I don’t know that for sure, not having done it myself — would be a long trip to Houston just for that — but it seems likelier than not given what we’ve learned about Funeral Horse‘s brand of deeply creative heavy rock shenanigans over the course of their two prior full-lengths, 2013’s Savage Audio Demon (review here) and 2014’s Sinister Rites of the Master (review here), that the gag may have come up once or twice while in the studio tracking “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh,” the closing track of their upcoming third album, Divinity for the Wicked, out on Sept. 15.

As with their last two outings, a prevailing lack of pretense rules the day on the new Artificial Head Records seven-tracker. Presented in a concise 37 minutes, Divinity for the Wicked expands the palette of guitarist/vocalist Paul Bearer, bassist Jason Andy Argonauts and drummer Chris Bassett, but keeps consistent in its atmosphere and deceptive lo-fi vibe, a rawness of presentation masking just how far the trip from the hooky opener “There Shall be Vultures” to the bagpipes that round out “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh” actually is. Along the way, a blown-out rocker like “Underneath all that Ever Was” surprises with an inclusion of Mellotron in its second half, and the tracklisting centerpiece/side A finale “Gods of Savages” makes a show of its near-metallic intensity funeral horse divinity for the wickedprior to delving into organ melodies and a rush of sludgy punk.

Side B only offers more confusion for the unsuspecting, as the ultra-stoner guitar line that begins “Yigael’s Wall” stops dead three times before the song actually kicks in to begin its eight-minute build, so quiet by the time it shifts into the cymbal wash of “Cities of the Red Night” that one barely knows where the track before stops and the next one starts, a desert-y guitar line emerging to call to mind Brant Bjork‘s minimalist moments and offer interlude companionship to the shorter, Eastern-inflected “A Bit of Weed” back on side A, however many miles the caravan may have covered since then. When it hits, “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh” sets itself to the almost impossible task of drawing the various sides of Divinity for the Wicked together, Funeral Horse moving between shuffle-infused punker chug and noise-rock shouts to an angular, chaotic roll that finishes by crashing into feedback.

And if you want a real sense of the consciousness behind all the weirdo push and pull that Divinity for the Wicked‘s stylistic breadth plays out, take particular note of how smoothly that feedback fades into the aforementioned bagpipes that bring the song and the album as a whole to its conclusion. Suddenly it’s blazingly apparent that none of this stuff has happened by mistake, and Funeral Horse are a long, long way away from simply screwing around either in their writing or in the studio. It’s bound to catch some listeners off guard, but that’s been the risk they’ve been willing to take since their debut that has made their work up to now (and through now) so appealing.

It’s my pleasure to host the stream of “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh,” which you’ll find below, followed by some background from Paul Bearer on the track. Enjoy:

Paul Bearer on “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh”

“The lyrics were drawn from a book I found on the prophecies and letters of Grigori Rasputin. In the book, he mentioned how his spirit had lived for eons as a great consult to the most powerful leaders throughout the ages. I found the concept interesting and started extracting parts of the book into the song. The bagpipes at the end of the song came about after hearing them during my grandfather’s funeral. I found them to be so mournful yet powerful and had made a mental note to one day use them as a closer for a song/album as a nod to my grandfather and his Scottish heritage.”

Divinity For The Wicked by Funeral Horse will be released on 15th September through Artificial Head Records.

Divinity for the Wicked preorder

Funeral Horse on Thee Facebooks

Artificial Head on Bandcamp

Artificial Head on Thee Facebooks

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Venomous Maximus, Firewalker: Fearful Symmetry

Posted in Reviews on August 13th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

venomous maximus firewalker

Natives of Houston, Texas’ well-populated heavy underground, the dual-guitar four-piece Venomous Maximus distinguished themselves early into their run with their first two EPs, 2010’s Give up the Witch and 2011’s The Mission (review here). Their subsequent debut full-length, 2012’s Beg upon the Light (review here), built upon the momentum they’d gleaned through touring and the response to their shorter offerings, earning a release through Napalm Records — their riotous live show made them an easy sell — and it seemed at the time like the band would issue their next album through that label as well. A quick follow-up was expected after the roll they got on between their EPs and debut LP, but it’s three years later that Firewalker, their sophomore outing, arrives, and it does so through Shadow Kingdom Records.

There has to be some question as to whether that three-year span cost Venomous Maximus in terms of the momentum they had coming out of Beg upon the Light, though they’d hardly been inactive in that time between touring, releasing videos, writing and so on, but to listen to the 10 tracks/46 minutes of Firewalker itself makes it clear the band — guitarist/vocalist Gregg Higgins, guitarist Christian Larson, bassist Trevi Biles and drummer Bongo Brungardt — haven’t missed a step in terms of their approach. Songs like “Dark Waves,” “Angel Heart” and “Fire in the Night” maintain the blend of classic metal precision and darker heavy rock atmospherics, bordering on doom but never quite crossing over, that the first album proffered, and build upon those achievements while further establishing Venomous Maximus‘ sound as distinct from the various influences of which it is constructed.

One could rattle off a list of those influences and come up with names as aesthetically widespread as Celtic FrostMötley Crüe, Uncle Acid and Samhain, but no single outfit or even a grouping of them really comes close to giving Venomous Maximus their due when it comes to the individualized stock they’ve boiled down from those component elements, taking a horror-minded vibe from here and a theatrical sense of drama from there and turning it into the post-“Intro” chug of “White Rose,” which gets the darkened bikerisms of Firewalker moving at a decent clip, setting the tone for what follows in natural sound and a persistent quality of songwriting that will be familiar to anyone who encountered Beg upon the Light.

venomous maximus

They are identifiable, and more so than one might expect for an outfit even on their second record, with Higgins‘ vocals shifting from the proclamations of “White Rose” and “Through the Black” to grittier, more punkish fare by the time the memorable “October 14th” rolls around to follow “Dark Waves” at the end of what’s clearly intended to be side A, Venomous Maximus making no secret of the album’s structure by means of dual intros — “Intro” for the first half, “Firewalker Theme” for the second — and a forward progression that pushes each half of the outing toward its most resonant hook at the end, whether that’s “October 14th” or the finale of the album as a whole, “Take on the Grave.” That’s of course not to take anything away from the surrounding cuts, as the entirety of Firewalker belts out quality craftsmanship that feeds into a full-length flow across its two sides, just to say that Venomous Maximus have a clarity underlying the curling smoke of their malevolence and that all the thrust the album brings to bear leads it to a worthy destination.

Also not to be understated is the band’s attention to detail. Whether showing itself through the tape hiss that seems to pervade the record as a whole to more specific factors like the layered-in acoustics for the second half of “Fire in the Night,” the mad scientist yowl that marks the launch point for “My Machine,”  strange, almost taunting vocals on “Take on the Grave” or the fuzzer tone of “Dark Waves” that sits as well with that song’s ’70s swing as the layered shouts of “Angel Heart”‘s midsection do with its “Looks that Kill”-style riffing. Across the board, Venomous Maximus deliver a cohesiveness of concept and performance that seems in its complexity to justify the three years it took for Firewalker to surface, at the same time completely avoiding any kind of self-congratulatory indulgence and keeping their focus where it belongs: on kicking ass.

As “Take on the Grave” winds itself down and loses the drums, bass and vocals to the ether, the guitar remains to set a final moment of ambience in motion, giving Firewalker an appropriately cinematic conclusion. At the same time, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if — whenever it might surface — Venomous Maximus‘ next record didn’t start off with a similar progression to pick up right where they left off. That’s calling a shot in the dark, maybe, but something about that last minute or so feels just as much like a beginning as an ending, and time will of course tell if it winds up being precisely that. Either way, Venomous Maximus‘ second album should more than thrill anyone who got on board with the first, and it’s bound to turn plenty of new heads in their direction as well, as it grabs and holds attention with likewise ease and poise. They’d probably object to the album being called classy, but it is anyway.

Venomous Maximus, Firewalker (2015)

Venomous Maximus on Thee Facebooks

Venomous Maximus on Twitter

Venomous Maximus on Bandcamp

Shadow Kingdom Records

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