My favorite thing about BerT (aka The Legend of BerT) continues to be that I have no idea what to expect from them. That and they’re super goddamn heavy. The year may be more than half over, but before the end of it, the Lansing, Michigan-based heavy rock quirk purveyors will reportedly have two records out, the first of which is dubbed Trample the Dead. The trio (interview here) aren’t strangers to self-releasing unique packages, but this time around, they’ve teamed with fellow Michigan outfit Hydro-Phonic Records to release the album on vinyl, while continuing to handle the CD and tape through their own Madlantis imprint.
Expect more on this one to come as we get closer to the release, which as I heard it is “soon,” but in the meantime, BerT give a solid teaser for Trample the Dead in the new video below for the title-track, exploring a meld of crushing, droning tonality and melodic shouting, hypnotic repetitions emerging to find satisfying payoff in their plodding course. I’d speculate as to whether or not it represents the rest of the album, but when it comes to these guys — Ryan Andrews (guitar/vocals), Phillip Clark (bass) and Rael Jordan (drums) — one has to immediately shelve one’s own assumptions.
Posted in Features on June 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is always fun, and because the year’s only (just about) half over, you always know there’s more to come. The last six months have brought a host of really stellar releases, and the whole time, it’s felt like just when you’ve dug your heels into something and really feel content to rest with it for a while, there’s something else to grab your ears. So it’s been for the last six months, bouncing from one record to the next.
Even now, I’ve got a list of albums, singles, EPs, tapes, demos, whatever, waiting for attention — some of which I’m viciously behind on — but it’s time to stop and take a look back at some of what the best of the first half of 2013 has been. Please note, I’m only counting full-lengths here. While I’ve heard a few killer EPs this year — looking at you, Mars Red Sky — it doesn’t seem fair to rate everything all together like that. Maybe a separate list.
If you’ve got a list of your own or some quibbling on the numbers, please leave a comment and be heard. From where I sit, that’s always the best part of this kind of thing.
The third Endless Boogie album on No Quarter was basically the soundtrack to the end of my winter, with smooth grooving cuts like “The Artemus Ward” and the classic rock shake of “On Cryology” providing a soundtrack as cool as the air in my lungs. It was my first experience with the longform-jamming improv-heavy foursome, and a CD I’m still stoked to put on and get lost in, having found that it works just as well in summer’s humidity as winter’s freeze, the off-the-cuff narrations of Paul Major (interview here) carrying a vibe unmistakably belonging to the rock history of the band’s native New York City. Was a sleeper, but not one to miss for its organic and exploratory feel.
Proffering righteous traditional doom and misery-drenched atmospherics, the debut full-length from Massachusetts-based Magic Circle hit hard and showed there’s life yet to the old ways. It never quite veered into the cultish posturing that comprises so much of the trad doom aesthetic these days, and from the grandiose riffing of guitarists Dan Ducas and Chris Corry and the blown-out vocals of frontman Brendan Radigan, it found the band carving a memorable identity for themselves with clear sonic ideas of what they wanted to accomplish. Out of all the bands on this list, I’m most interested to hear what Magic Circle do next to build on their debut.
Berlin trio Kadavar had a tough task ahead of them in releasing a sophomore answer to their self-titled, which I thought was the best first album of 2012, but when Abra Kadavar surfaced as their debut on Nuclear Blast, it was quickly apparent that the retro heavy rockers had put together a worthy follow-up. Cuts like “Come Back Life” and “Doomsday Machine” underscored the straightforward triumphs of the prior outing, while late-album arrivals “Liquid Dream,” “Rhythm for Endless Minds” and “Abra Kadabra” gave a sense that Kadavar were beginning a journey into psychedelia the results of which could be just as rewarding as even the most potent of their choruses. Their potential remains one of their biggest appeals.
It wasn’t without its rough edges, but at the core of Indianapolis heavy rockers Devil to Pay‘s fourth record was an unflinching songwriting quality that quickly established it among my go-to regulars, whether it was the quirky doom hook of “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife,” the darkly progressive riffing of “Black Black Heart” or the suitably propulsive rush of “This Train Won’t Stop.” The double-guitar four-piece didn’t have much time for frills in terms of arrangement or structure, but by building on the developments over the course of their three prior releases, Devil to Pay delivered a slab of deceptively intricate standouts that made hard turns sound easy and demanded the attention it deserved.
6. Beast in the Field, The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below
Unfuckwithable tone set to destructive purpose. Immediately upon hearing the unsung Michigan drum/guitar duo’s fourth album, the impact of The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below — overwhelming though it is at times throughout the album; hello, “Oncoming Avalanche” — refused to be denied. Beast in the Field haven’t gotten anything remotely close to the attention they should for this devastating collection, but it’s one I absolutely can’t put down, cohesive in theme and full of skull-caving riffs as dynamic as they are brutally delivered by the instrumental twosome. If it’s one you missed on CD when Saw Her Ghost put it out in March (as I did), keep your eyes open for a vinyl release coming on Emetic in the next couple months. Really. Do it.
Massachusetts trio Black Pyramid quickly dispatched any doubts of their ability to continue on after the departure of their previous guitarist/vocalist, bassist Dave Gein and drummer Clay Neely joined forces with Darryl Shepard (Hackman, Blackwolfgoat, Roadsaw, etc.) to reinvigorate their battle-ready doom, and whether it was the extended jamming on “Swing the Scimitar” or the surprisingly smooth riffing on “Aphelion,” the results did not disappoint. Regardless of personnel, I’ve yet to hear a Black Pyramid album I didn’t want to hear again, and though I’ll freely admit they’re a sentimental favorite for me at this point, Adversarial is a suitable dawn for their next era. Long may they reign.
True, I will argue tooth and nail that Boston four-piece Gozu should get rid of their goofball, sitcom-referential song titles, but that’s only because I believe the band’s lack of pretense speaks for itself through the music and their tracks are too good to give listeners a chance not to take them seriously. When it comes to The Fury of a Patient Man — their second full-length behind the impressive 2010 debut, Locust Season (review here) — I knew the first time I heard it toward the end of last year that it was going to be one of 2013′s best, and while I’ve heard quibbles in favor of the debut, nothing has dissuaded me from thinking the sophomore installment outclasses it on almost every level. Expect a return appearance when the year-end list hits in December.
There’s a big part of me that feels like a sucker for digging …Like Clockwork, the first Queens of the Stone Age full-length since 2007′s relatively lackluster Era Vulgaris, but when it comes right down to it, I hit the point in listening to the album that I came around to its sheen, its up-and-down moodiness and its unabashed self-importance. I hit the point where I was able to separate …Like Clockwork from its “viral marketing” and just enjoy Josh Homme‘s all-growed-up songwriting for what it is. Would I have loved a second self-titled album? Probably, but it wasn’t realistic to think that’s what …Like Clockwork would be, and as much as I’ve tried out other spots for it, I’d be lying if I put this record anywhere else on this list but here. So there you go. I understand the arguments against it, but reason doesn’t always apply when it comes to what gets repeat spins.
I was late to the party on the second Uncle Acid offering, 2011′s Blood Lust, as I often am on records where the hype gets to din levels, but by the time the subsequent Mind Control was announced, I knew it was going to be one to watch out for. Aligned to Rise Above/Metal Blade, the UK outfit began to unravel till-then mystery of itself, playing live and developing the brazen psychedelic pop influences hinted at in the horrors of Blood Lust so that the swing of “Mt. Abraxas” and the acid-coated psych of “Valley of the Dolls” could exist within the same cohesive sphere. Between the death-boogie of “Mind Crawler” and mid-period Beatlesian exploration of “Follow the Leader,” Mind Control continues to be an album I hear as much on the mental jukebox rotation as one I actually put on to listen to again. Either way, there’s no getting away from it — the eerie melodies of guitarist/vocalists Kevin “Uncle Acid” Starrs and Yotam Rubinger are hauntingly ever-present.
Obvious? Probably, but that doesn’t make it any less genuine. To set the scene, here’s me on the Masspike a couple weeks ago in the Volvo of Doom™ with the little dog Dio, 90 miles an hour shouting along to “Crucial Velocity” at the top of my never-on-key lungs. I couldn’t and wouldn’t endeavor to tell you how many times I’ve listened to Earth Rocker since I first got a taste, but from the title-track on through the surging groove at the end of “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…,” front to back, the 10th Clutch album still does not fail to roil the blood with not a dud in the bunch. The Maryland road dogs of course shine best on a stage, and Earth Rocker‘s polished, layered production is a studio affair in the truest sense, but all that does is make me hopeful they’ll complement it with a live record soon. Clutch could easily have phoned in a follow-up to 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West and their fanbase probably would’ve still salivated over it, myself included, but by boldly pushing themselves to write faster, more concise material, they’ve reenergized one of heavy rock’s best sounds. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a brand new listener, Earth Rocker is utterly essential.
Two more records I have to mention: Kings Destroy‘s A Time of Hunting and Clamfight‘s I vs. the Glacier. I wasn’t involved in releasing the Kings Destroy, but felt close to it nonetheless, and since the Clamfight came out on The Maple Forum, it wouldn’t be appropriate to include it in the list proper, but hands down, these are my two favorite records of the year so far and made by some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure to know over the course of my years nerding out to heavy music.
Some other honorable mentions go to Toner Low, Cathedral, Church of Misery, Serpent Throne, Naam, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and All Them Witches. Like I said, it’s been a hell of a year so far.
You may note some glaring absences in the list above — Black Sabbath, ASG, Orchid, Ghost, Kvelertak and Voivod come to mind immediately. Some of that is a result of my disdain for digital promos, and some of that is just a matter of what I listened to most. Please understand that although release profile is not something discounted, at the heart of what’s included here is one individual’s personal preferences and listening habits.
Thanks for reading. Here’s to your own lists and to the next six months to come!
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Atlanta sludgers Sons of Tonatiuh have announced a run of shows between now and July that’ll see them sharing stages with Torche, Hooded Eagle and more. Their last album, Parade of Sorrow, came out last year on Hydro-Phonic and was recorded by Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk. Their 2010 self-titled debut was reviewed here, and the only bummer about the list of shows is that they’re not coming north again. Maybe next time, but for anyone in the Southeast, dates are below courtesy of the PR wire:
SONS OF TONATIUH: Down-Tuned Sound Savages Announce Spring Tour Dates
Down-tuned sound savages SONS OF TONATIUH will bring their bottom heavy sludge back to the streets this Friday beginning with a show in Atlanta alongside Torche. The band will then writhe its way through the Southeast on a round of weekend shows through July with additional dates to be added in the coming weeks. The tour showcases the band’s new and improved powerhouse lineup of guitarist/vocalist Dan Caycedo and new recruits Twitch on bass and Josh Lomanto on drums.
Comments Caycedo, “The Mayans were wrong… SONS OF TONATIUH are here to show you the way. Through a heavy, dark road of despair and retribution we will pummel our way through the Southeast and beyond with plans to embark on the great big metal bird to the old world, Europe, by the end of 2013. Anyone crazy enough to stand in our way can either join our ranks or have their heads split open from the molten goodness of our tunage. See you on the killing floor.”
SONS OF TONATIUH Tour Dates 2013 5/10/2013 529 – Atlanta, GA w/ Torche 5/11/2013 The Atlantic – Gainesville, FL w/ Hot Graves 5/12/2013 Burro Bar – Jacksonville, FL 5/24/2013 Slim’s Downtown – Raleigh, NC w/ Old Codger (ex-Man Will Destroy Himself) 5/25/2013 Reggie’s 42nd St Tavern – Wilmington, NC 6/01/2013 Star Bar – Atlanta, GA w/ Degradations (ex-Withered) 6/07/2013 The Jinx – Savannah, GA w/ Humungous 6/08/2013 Tin Roof – Charleston, SC w/ Hooded Eagle 7/20/2013 529 – Atlanta, GA 7/21/2013 The Owl Farm – Nashville, TN 7/22/2013 Poison Lawn – Knoxville, TN
SONS OF TONATIUH will be touring in support of their current full-length Parade Of Sorrow issued via Hydro-Phonic Records last Summer.
Posted in Reviews on April 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Even as Massachusetts trio Black Pyramid were getting ready to issue their second full-length, II (review here), early last year, the band was imploding. In short, it was ugly. Fake announcements and trolling from now-former guitarist/vocalist Andy Beresky – on the forum of this site as well, which I mention in the interest of full disclosure – seemed to be purposefully geared toward undoing the work that he, drummer Clay Neely and bassist Dave Gein (also of Second Grave) had put into the band since their self-titled debut (review here) earned such a welcome greeting when put out by MeteorCity in 2009. The real tragedy of it, aside from the flagrant and protracted shitheadedness, was that II was a killer album and almost certainly would’ve allowed Black Pyramid to continue their already underway ascent in the heavy underground sphere. As much as they could, however, Gein and Neely worked to keep their momentum going, allying themselves with Darry Shepard in the guitarist/vocalist role. Shepard, whose resumé is longer even his tenure in acts like Milligram, Roadsaw, Hackman and Maple Forum alums (also in the interest of full disclosure) Blackwolfgoat would indicate, began writing with Black Pyramid right away, and the band quickly got together a single for the track “Aphelion” that was released as a Transubstans Records split with Swedish rockers Odyssey just two months after II dropped. Doubtless the fact that Neely records the band’s material as well at Black Coffee Sound in Williamsburg, MA, aided in their being able to get the single together so quickly, but it also showed that this new incarnation of Black Pyramid wasn’t about to waste their time. The day they rolled into New London, Connecticut, to tear through a set at Stoner Hands of Doom XII in September 2012, they had just finished putting a full-length to tape, and that album – Black Pyramid’s third overall and first with Shepard out front – is Adversarial, a five-track, 38-minute stomper on Hydro-Phonic Records that continues the three-piece’s penchant for axe-slinging tales of battle, but also ups the melodic range and capitalizes on Shepard’s well-established abilities as a lead guitarist, able to move seamlessly into a spontaneous-sounding solo where many of the prior lead lines in the band’s songs sounded plotted out beforehand. That’s not to say anything against one approach over the other – Black Pyramid certainly made it work – but it’s a different kind of energy on Adversarial, and it contributes to the depth underscoring the band’s warmongering bounce.
The “different energy” has obviously extended to various other elements of Black Pyramid’s approach as well. Adversarial is a vinyl-ready 38 minutes, where II stretched to just over an hour, and begins with its longest cut (immediate points) “Swing the Scimitar,” which at 11:59 is among the longer songs any lineup of the band has to-date written – there are three longer; two were on II, one appeared on a 2010 split with Old One (review here) – and also more fluid, beginning aggressive with deep-toned riffing from Shepard to herald the band’s return before initiating the plod that will soon pick up into a faster verse/chorus progression that continues a very Black Pyramid-style balance of catchiness vs. weight of tone and groove. The vocals hover between shouts and growls; fittingly brutal for the opener, but little setup for the screaming to come on “Bleed Out.” Just past its halfway point, following another run through the chorus, “Swing the Scimitar” transitions into an instrumental jam that I can’t imagine wasn’t at one point intended to close the album, but placed as the opener demonstrates just how boldly the trio have taken to the changes they’ve undergone in the last year. Neely and Gein lock in a laid-back groove as Shepard plucks out an echoing, surprisingly psychedelic lead and tosses in some Sabbath to help move into thicker crashes that feel subdued even at their peak, which of course makes the drum start to “Bleed Out” a sort of snap back to reality after the hypnosis of the jam. “Bleed Out” is the shortest of the tracks with vocals on Adversarial at 5:39, its groove is immediate and its structure is straightforward. It’s also impeccably positioned after the opener to reignite the rush of energy, and the backing screams in the chorus (it may be Shepard in multiple layers or Neely or Gein adding) add to both the album’s breadth and its sense of extremity as stops in the latter half mark a return to a final verse, itself opening to a larger groove with some extra snare tapping from Neely for a few measures before giving way to the galloping CD centerpiece, “Issus.”
Posted in Features on March 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
…Yeah, I know, 24 is a buttload of records to buy in the span of about a month and a half. To do the division, it would mean buying a new album every 2.04 days. Probably not feasible in terms of time, let alone budget, but hell, it’s a nice thought and seeing the onslaught of new stuff coming between now and the end of April, I thought maybe a list would help keep it all straight. Even if I’m only helping myself, I could probably spend my time in worse ways.
Worth noting that even with 24 albums, presented below in order of release, I feel like there’s stuff I’m forgetting. Frankly, it’s an overwhelming amount of material, so if I’ve missed something or there’s something you’d like to see added to the list, as always, that’s why there’s a comments feature.
Okay. These are numbered just for fun, but listed by date:
1. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Fans (March 12)
My understanding is that London’s foremost doom scoundrels, none other than Orange Goblin, have been selling copies of A Eulogy for the Fans since starting their US tour with Clutch on March 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio, but today is the official release date, and I can think of no better place to start than with the four-piece’s ferocious performance at the 2012 Bloodstock festival, captured audio and video in all its bloodsoaked glory. Not to be missed or taken lightly because it’s a live record. Album review here.
2. Borracho, Mob Gathering 7″ (March 13)
Even though it’s comprised of older tracks, the new Mob Gathering 7″ from Borracho is welcome by me for two reasons: I’ve never heard the songs before and Borracho rocks. The Washington D.C.-based riffers recorded “Mob Gathering” and “Short Ride (When it’s Over)” in 2009 and are set to release the cuts on a limited platter in black and orange swirl through Spain’s Ghost Highway Recordings and Germany’s No Balls Records. They’ve been playing live as a mostly-instrumental outfit while guitarist/vocalist Noah is out of the country on what I can only assume is an awesome spy mission, so if you need a Borracho fix — and it’s obvious from the way your hands are shaking that you do — this might be the way to go. More info here.
3. Inter Arma, Sky Burial (March 15)
Like Windhand below, Inter Arma are recent Relapse Records signees from Richmond, Virginia, and Sky Burial will serve as their first release for the label. Literally and figuratively, the album is expansive, topping 69 minutes and pummeling the whole way through with a genre-transcending concoction of bleakness that’s not so much aligned to any particular heavy aesthetic so much as it is set to its own atmospheric purposes. Through this, Inter Arma emerge terrifyingly cohesive where many others would falter, and their second LP behind 2010′s Sundown (review here) leaves a progressive impression despite an almost complete lack of sonic pretense. Mostly, it’s fucking heavy. Track stream and info here.
4. Clutch, Earth Rocker (March 19)
If 2013 ended tomorrow, Clutch‘s Earth Rocker would be my album of the year. That’s not saying the situation will be the same nine months from now when I actually start putting that list together (already dreading it), but as of March 12, it’s the cat’s pajamas and no foolin’. The long-running Marylanders outdid themselves and put together a surprisingly fast, energetic collection of songs that don’t forsake the bluesy tendencies of their last album, 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West, so much as they put some of the jamming on lockdown in favor of all-out pro-grade heavy rock and roll. The velocity is crucial and the wolfman is out, but it feels like the party’s just starting. Look for them on tour sometime between now and forever. Album review here.
5. Black Mare, Field of the Host (March 20)
Black Math Horseman and Ides of Gemini frontwoman Sera Timms (who’s also recently collaborated with Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce in the new outfit Zun) steps further out on her own with the solo-project Black Mare, from whom Field of the Host is the first album. Due March 20 on LP through The Crossing and on cassette through Breathe Plastic, limited in both cases and sure to be gone shortly after release if they’re not already taken through pre-orders. Fans of Timms‘ past works will be glad to hear the misty wash of melody and dreamy, somehow sad, languid roll of “Blind One,” for starters. Audio and info on the forum.
6. Kvelertak, Meir (March 26)
Short of setting themselves on fire, Norwegian triple-guitar six-piece Kvelertak did just about everything they could to get noticed in support of their 2010 self-titled debut LP (review here), and sure enough, their work paid off in getting signed to Roadrunner Records for all territories outside their native Scandinavia (where Indie Recordings holds sway) and trumpeting up a wave of anticipation for their second full-length, Meir. Their energetic, genre-crossing approach might not be for everybody, but the band have turned a lot of heads and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to find them on bigger tours this year with Roadrunner behind them. More info on the forum.
7. Black Pyramid, Adversarial (April 2)
This is actually the first time the Eli Wood cover art for Black Pyramid‘s Adversarial has been seen in full, so you know. The Hydro-Phonic Records release of the third Black Pyramid album and first to be fronted by guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard along with bassist David Gein and drummer Clay Neely punctuates the beginning of a new era for the Massachusetts trio. If the advance listen to closing track “Onyx and Obsidian” is anything to go by, they could very well be at their most potent yet, and though I’d hardly consider myself an impartial observer, as a fan of the band, this is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. More to come. Track stream here.
8. Moss, Horrible Night (April 2)
I’ve yet to hear the complete album, but UK trio Moss seem poised to surprise with a cleaner vocal approach on Horrible Night, their first offering since 2008′s impressive Sub Templum LP and two EPs in 2009, so in addition to wondering how they’ll pull it off, the level of the shift remains to be seen. That is, how big a deal is it? Should I call my mom? Is this something grandma needs to know about? Time will tell, but for it having been five years since the last time a Moss record reared its doomly head, it seems only fair to give the band a little breathing room on their evolution. More info and video here.
9. Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide EP (April 8)
How glad am I that French fuzz rockers Mars Red Sky have a new EP coming? Well, I’m not as happy that it’s coming as I am that it’s frickin’ awesome. The trio keep the weighted bass tones that gave so much depth to their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but they’ve also clearly set to work expanding the formula as well, adding stomp to second track “Seen a Ghost” and an eerie repetitive sense to side B closer “Stranger,” while also broadening their melodic reach and taking claim of whichever side of the line they want between fuzz rock and heavy psychedelia while remaining so much more to the ears than either genre descriptor can offer to the eyes. At half an hour, my only complaint with it is it’s not a full-length album. Video trailer and info here.
10. Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era (April 9)
A sample of the poet Ron Whitehead — who also featured on Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s late-2012 debut EP for Tee Pee Records, The Storm Generation (review here) — comes to clarity just in time for the gonzo Boomer poet to let us all know that, “America is an illusion” (that may be, but it’s an illusion with an army of flying killer robots), and from there, the youngin’ desert transplants embark on a low-end-heavy freakout topped with sweet surf rock guitars and set to use in intricate, sometimes surprisingly jagged, rhythmic dances. Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson guests, Scott Reeder produced. Review is forthcoming, but till then, there’s more info here.
11. Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse (April 9)
Fate is Your Muse serves not only as Indianapolis rockers Devil to Pay‘s Ripple Music debut, but also as the double-guitar foursome’s first outing since 2009′s Heavily Ever After. With tales of lizardmen attacks and the alleged end of the world, it’s got its fair share of personality, and set to the chugging riffs, melodic vocals and straightforward heavy grooves, that personality still goes a long way. I’ll have a review up before this week is out (I hope), but still, I wanted to make sure to include Devil to Pay here too, since their songs command both attention and respect. To wit, I just can’t seem to get “This Train Won’t Stop” out of my head. Video and info here.
12. Cough & Windhand, Reflection of the Negative Split (April 15)
Virginian doomers Cough and Windhand share a hometown in Richmond, a love of volume, a bassist in Parker Chandler and now a label in Relapse Records, so yeah, a split makes sense. Reflection of the Negative will be Windhand‘s first release through Relapse ahead of their sophomore full-length, scheduled for later this year (info here). For Cough, this split marks their first outing since 2010′s An Introduction to the Black Arts split with UK masters The Wounded Kings (review here), and they’ll present the 18-minute “Athame,” while Windhand bring forth “Amaranth” and “Shepherd’s Crook.” More info here.
13. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Mind Control (April 15)
What the last Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats album, 2011′s Blood Lust (semi-review here), did so well was capture the atmosphere and the grainy imagery of late ’60s/early ’70s psychedelic horror and put it into audio form. For that, Blood Lust earned massive praise, but I still think that without the central core of songwriting underneath the genre trappings, it would’ve fallen flat. When it comes to Mind Control, the question waiting to be answered is if the band wants to stick to the blueprint they’ve established or go brazenly into uncharted weirdness. I’m not really sure they can lose, either way. Info and music here.
14. Kadavar, Abra Kadavar (April 16)
Their debut on new label Nuclear Blast and the quick-arriving answer to my pick for 2012 debut of the year, Abra Kadavar arrives with plenty of anticipation leading the way. The retro-rocking German trio have their work cut out for them in following that self-titled, but however it turns out in the comparison, it will be fascinating to learn how Kadavar develops the band’s sound and whether or not they prove able to push the boundaries of their aesthetic while simultaneously setting a new standard for promo photos. New video here.
15. Spiritual Beggars, Earth Blues (April 16)
I guess when it comes to these long-running Swedes, everybody’s got their favorite lineup, their favorite tunes, etc., but for me, I’m just impressed that Michael Amott — now more than 20 years on from starting Spiritual Beggars as a side-project while still in grindcore pioneers Carcass — still has any interest in keeping the classic rock Hammond-loving outfit grooving. Their last outing, 2010′s Return to Zero (review here), was the first to feature vocalist Apollo Papathanasio, formerly of Firewind, and though those songs were solid, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more settled in on Earth Blues when it drops via InsideOut Music on April 16. More info on the forum.
16. Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire (April 19)
Alternating between periods of brooding intensity and all-out crushing heaviness, the second full-length from New Zealand’s Beastwars, Blood Becomes Fire, is nasty, nasty, nasty. It’s nasty when it’s quiet and it’s nasty when it’s loud. It’s the kind of record you put on and you’re like, “Damn that’s nasty.” And you’re not wrong. The four-piece — touring shortly with Unida — upped their game even from 2011′s self-titled debut (review here), and for anyone who heard that record, you know that’s saying something. I’m still in the “getting to know it” phase, but so far all that nasty feels pretty right on. More info here.
17. Ghost, Infestissumam (April 19)
Man, this one just kind of happened, huh? I suck — and I mean S-U-C-K suck — at keeping up with band hype. I’m the dude who hears the record three months later and goes, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool,” as countless reviews here can attest, including the one for Ghost‘s 2010 debut, Opus Eponymous, but with the Swedish cult heavyweights, all of a sudden I turned around and blamo, major label deal, semi-name change to Ghost B.C., and enough slathering over the impending Infestissumam to make the first album seem like less than the hyperbole it was treated to initially. Funny how that happens. Out in April? I’m sure I’ll review in June and go, “Yeah, I guess that’s cool.” More info on the forum.
18. One Inch Giant, The Great White Beyond (April 19)
Now signed to Soulseller Records, Swedish heavy rockers One Inch Giant will unveil their debut full-length on April 19 and as three of my favorite words in the English language are “Swedish heavy rockers,” I’m excited to find out how this Gothenburg four-piece follow-up their Malva EP, and if they can capture some of the extreme dynamic they brought to their live show when they toured the US last summer — a run of shows that included a stop at SHoD. Hard not to pull for a band after they come over to play club dates. More info and music here.
19. The Heavy Co., Midwest Electric (April 20)
It was actually the other day writing about The Heavy Co.‘s Midwest Electric that I had the idea for this feature, so however high the profile might be for some of these albums — Ghost walks by on their way to cash a check — it was these unpretentious Hoosier rockers and their new outing, Midwest Electric, that started me off. From what I’ve heard so far, the new collection sounds a little more confident in exploring psychedelia than did the trio’s 2011 debut EP, The Heavy (Please Tune In…) (review here), so I’m looking forward to hearing if and how that plays out over the course of the whole thing. Video trailer here.
20. Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (April 23)
I have an interview slated for later this week with Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, and I’m even more excited for this time than I was when we last spoke, around their 2009 Small Stone debut, Locust Season (review here), since in everything but its goofball song titles, the sophomore outing marks a huge developmental step in the band’s melodic reach and songwriting chemistry. Stay tuned for that interview and check out the Bandcamp stream included with the album review here.
21. Yawning Man & Fatso Jetson, European Tour Split 7″ (April 26)
Note: I don’t actually know that April 26 is the day that what’s sure to be 2013′s most desert-rocking split is due to arrive, I just know that it’s Fatso Jetson and Yawning Man‘s European tour split, and that’s the day the Euro dates start — with performances at Desertfests London and Berlin, to be more specific. Given both the greatness of Fatso Jetson‘s last record, 2010′s Archaic Volumes (review here), and of Yawning Man‘s own 2010 outing, Nomadic Pursuits (review here), the bands’ shared lineage and the relative infrequency of their touring, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to hope that, even for a single, they pull out all the stops. And starts. And riffs. More info on the forum.
22. Serpent Throne, Brother Lucifer (April 29)
Philly-based instrumental heavy rockers Serpent Throne will follow-up 2010′s White Summer/Black Winter (review here) with Brother Lucifer, and while no one can ever really know what to expect, it’s a safe bet that the dual-guitar outfit will have the solos front and center once again. Having seen them do a couple new songs back in December, I can’t blame them in the slightest. Looking forward to letting these songs sink in for a while and having those solos stuck in my head. Track stream here.
23. Melvins, Everybody Loves Sausages (April 30)
Hey wow, a Melvins covers album. Finally, an opportunity for the band to let their hair down and go wild a bit, right? I mean, at long last, they can really feel free to indulge a little and explore their musical roots in a free and creative way. Okay, you get the point. In all seriousness, it’s a pretty cool idea and anything that teams the Melvins with Scott Kelly to do a Venom song is probably going to be a worthy cause. The most amazing part of it is they haven’t already done a version of “Black Betty.” More info on the forum.
24. Revelation, Inner Harbor (April 30)
Their most progressive outing yet and their first album since 2009, Revelation‘s Inner Harbor (review here) is bound to surprise some who thought they knew what to expect from the Maryland doom stalwarts who double as the classically rocking Against Nature. Good thing Inner Harbor had a digital release last year through the band’s Bland Hand Records to act as a precursor to this Shadow Kingdom CD issue. Rumor has it vinyl’s on the way as well, so keep an eye out, since John Brenner‘s guitar tone should be heard on as natural-sounding an apparatus as possible. More info here.
Okay, so you’re saying to yourself, “Golly, that’s a lot of stuff.” You’re absolutely right. But even as I was typing up this feature, I got word of a new Queen Elephantine full-length coming in April, so even as much as this is, it’s not everything. And that’s not even to mention May, which will bring a new Shroud Eater EP, a new Kylesa record and a new Mark Lanegan collaboration, among however much else. Tons of stuff to keep your ears out for, and like I said way back at the top of this thing, if you have something to add, a comment’s always appreciated.
You might recall a couple weeks ago when battle-ready Massachusetts riffers Black Pyramid premiered the new track “Onyx and Obsidian” from their forthcoming LP, Adversarial. Well, last night — because all breaking news should hit at midnight — the trio revealed that they had partnered the track with the short video piece “Metachaos” by Italian artist Alessandro Bavari. Since I’ve never been one to let a Black Pyramid video go ignored, here we are.
Adversarialwill be released in April on Hydro-Phonic Records, and even if you’ve heard the song before, I think you’ll agree it’s worth another visit, especially with the Bavari video accompanying. Stick around for more updates on the album, artwork, tracklisting, etc. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. In the meantime, here’s the clip:
Black Pyramid, “Onyx and Obsidian” from Adversarial
Posted in audiObelisk on January 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Behold, the first taste of Black Pyramid‘s forthcoming third LP, Adversarial. The Massachusetts marauders of riff have made the track “Onyx and Obsidian” available for streaming, and their battle axes swing as hard as ever. The album was recorded and mixed by drummer Clay Neely at Black Coffee Sound and it’s the first full-length work the band has done since Neely and bassist Dave Gein joined forces with guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard.
That’s not the only change afoot with Black Pyramid, who’ve also realigned label-wise to release Adversarial this spring on Hydro-Phonic Records. The imprint previously issued Black Pyramid‘s Stormbringer8″ vinyl and subsequent CD compilation, and has also worked with Blue Aside, Olde Growth and a slew of kickass bands from the Codfish State and beyond, so at least we know they’re in good hands on that front. I haven’t seen a solid release date yet for Adversarial, but as a preliminary impression, “Onyx and Obsidian” bodes well.
In its finished, mastered by Matt Washburn form, please enjoy “Onyx and Obsidian” on the player below:
Posted in Reviews on November 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Delving further into the psych-prog course they launched with 2010’s impressive The Orange Tree EP, Boston-based trio Blue Aside keep a strong sense of melody running throughout their debut full-length, The Moles of a Dying Race. Notably absent are the abrasive vocals that periodically showed up throughout that initial release (review here); in their place, guitarist Adam Abrams, bassist Joe Twomey and drummer Matt Netto have expanded their melodic reach, instrumentally and vocally ranging further into classic and modern progressive elements. The eight track offering, released via Hydro-Phonic Records, runs a lengthy 62 minutes, which is a hefty first statement, and the three-part “The Moles of a Dying Race” title-cut is threaded between other pieces, opening with a seven-minute installment before “The Electrode Man” and “Will We Remain Tomorrow” – both of which top eight minutes – begin the process of really immersing the listener in the album’s atmosphere, which is patient and soothing despite still being tonally weighted. If Netto’s snare is anything to go by, the album was most likely recorded by Black Pyramid drummer Clay Neely at Black Coffee Sound, and there’s a decent balance in the production between lolling groove and open space. Abrams’ guitar is a focal point, but the trio’s vocals also feature heavily in the layers of the mix. The opening “The Moles of a Dying Race: Part 1” distinguishes itself via a sleepy delivery and psychedelic sprawl, and immediately the band makes it known that they’ve gone deeper into their own sound than they did or could have on their first EP, and as “The Electrode Man” follows with Abrams’ lead tracks layered in a kind of instrumental chorus after a gruffer declaration that, “We’re done” – the implication being more perhaps about our species than any more particular “we” – the mood is somewhat darker, but the tones and atmospheres remain consistent. Blue Aside are simply doing more as songwriters than crafting parts that flow well together. They’re using those pieces to evoke an idea, a reality, and it’s for that reason that The Moles of a Dying Race seems so well suited to being tagged as prog.
There isn’t any real focus on technicality in the sense of coldly putting on a clinic. While the three members of the band prove more than capable players – Abrams in particular gives some choice leads and seems to have expanded his creative breadth, perhaps from his work with the experimental Space Mushroom Fuzz psychedelic side-project – their mission remains not the highlight of individual contributions, but instead the song as a whole. The sum, not the parts. “The Electrode Man” bleeds directly into “Will We Remain Tomorrow” (I have a version of the record on which the two songs are combined to one 17-minute track, and I’m not sure which is the final, so if it’s the whole “The Electrode Man/Will We Remain Tomorrow, I hope someone will correct me; it’s the same listening experience either way, so I didn’t figure it really mattered so much), which but for the sharpness of Netto’s drumming would be utterly hypnotic in its earlier moments, Abrams’ leads spacing out over a warm foundation laid down by Twomey on bass. Shades of Rush persist as the more actively chugging verse begins, and the rest of the song is devoted to smooth tradeoffs between the two figures, ending in a solo and a slowdown that sets up the pastoral intro to “The Moles of a Dying Race: Part 2,” on which Abrams and Twomey pair wah lines while Netto cymbal washes behind. Gradual – ever gradual – the song unfolds, gracefully turning darker over its 10:32 runtime, whispered vocals cutting through a verse before opening to a chorus that sets up a more metallic progression, Netto adding brief flourishes of double-kick drumming to play up the aggressive feel. The solo two-thirds of the way through the song is about as grandiose as Blue Aside get on their first LP, reveling in indulgence before shifting back into the chorus. They seem to stumble through the repetitions of that last chorus, with Netto’s fills faster and more impatient than the lumbering riff calls for, but that’s how they end the song, leading to a moment of straightforward respite with the shorter, “The Ice Mammoth.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Atlanta-based sludgers Sons of Tonatiuh released their second album, Parade of Sorrow, in June on Hydro-Phonic Records, and to follow up an East Coast run they did over the summer, they’re headed west to take part in the Southwest Terror Fest in Tuscon, Arizona, next week (more info here) and share the stage with a slew of other cool bands before and after. The tour starts tonight with a house show in Tennessee, as all great tours must.
Check out the dates and further info-matics below:
SONS OF TONATIUH Fall Tour Kicks Off TODAY!
Following a short run of live dates at the close of the Summer, SONS OF TONATIUH will again bring their slow-roasted sludge sorcery to the stage as the Parade Of Sorrow Tour 2012 lives on! Set to commence October 11, 2012 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the band will drag their audio ruckus through 15 cities including a stop on the Southwest Terror Fest, a two-day auditory assault organized by Arizona sludge terrorists Godhunter.
SONS OF TONATIUH unearthed their Parade Of Sorrow full-length through Hydro-Phonic Records this Summer. Recorded in Athens, Georgia by Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk, the record continues to harvest praise from fans and critics alike for its raw, angst-stricken method of dirge.
SONS OF TONATIUH Tour 2012: 10/11/2012 Frankie Avalon Place (house show) – Murfreesboro, TN w/ Sovereign 10/12/2012 Cusammanos – St. Louis, MO w/ Jack Buck, Everything Went Black, Rowsdower 10/13/2012 The Lightbulb Club – Fayetteville, AR w/ Dirtmother, Dying, Crankbait 10/14/2012 Jackpot Muisc Hall – Lawrence, KS 10/15/2012 Aqualungs – Denver, CO w/ In the Company of Serpents, Western Ritual 10/16/2012 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT w/ Nevertanezra, Athena Score 10/17/2012 Yayo Taco – Las Vegas, NV 10/18/2012 The Shakedown – San Diego, CA w/ Pigeonwing, Hull 10/19/2012 Blue Cafe Underground – Long Beach, CA w/ Spilth*!%, Hull, Pigeonwing 10/20/2012 Southwest Terror Fest @ The Rock Club – Tucson, AZ w/ Pigeonwing, 16, Hull [INFO] 10/21/2012 The Lovesprout – El Paso, TX w/ Communion of Thieves, Resin Cum 10/22/2012 Headhunter’s – Austin, TX w/ VBT, Bearded Ox, Prison Moon 10/23/2012 Toppers – Watauga, TX w/ Enormicon, Diseased 10/24/2012 Bucaneer – Memphis, TN 10/28/2012 5 Spot – Atlanta, GA w/ Hull, Mortals, Order of the Owl
Normally I’d hold off posting these dates and this video until I’m back in the States next week, but by then, the tour will have already started, so here we are. Massachusetts thunderduo Olde Growth are hitting the road out through the Midwest and back up the East Coast starting on Sunday, April 15, to herald the forthcoming Hydro-Phonic Records vinyl issue of their 2010 self-titled (review here). The new pressing features a cover by John Trimmer, and the band will be bringing along a limited edition tape of new material on the road.
In addition, they’ve got a new video for the song “Sequoia” that they’ve given me permission to be the first to host. It reminds me of something you would’ve seen on Headbangers Ball at two in the morning in the early ’90s. Dig it:
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 16th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Boston space doomers Blue Aside have sent over a massive update for their upcoming tour (featuring shows with Truckfighters and a ton of other quality bands, among them Blackwolfgoat, Kings Destroy, Clamfight and Rukut) and their next album, which will reportedly be titled The Moles of a Dying Race and will be mixed in August and released sometime thereafter. There’s a whole lot of news in the press release, so be ready:
Blue Aside will be touring the Northeast and Midwest in July to support the release of their The Orange Tree 12” off Hydro-Phonic Records. The tour will consist of 12 dates in which they will be sharing the stage with Truckfighters, KingsDestroy, Black Pyramid, Mountain Goat, Dr. Device, From the Embrace, Clamfight, Ironweed, Blackwolfgoat, SuperKillerRobots, VanWalton, Mockingbird and many other great bands!
07/14 Ralph’s Diner Worcester, MA w/Truckfighters, Black Pyramid & Mockingbird
07/15 The Cake ShopNewYork, NY w/Truckfighters, KingsDestroy & Borracho
07/16 J.R.’s Philadelphia, PA w/ Clamfight, Bitchslicer, ThunderbirdDivine (ex-Wizard Eye) & Rukut
07/17 Mojo 13Wilmington, DE
07/18 The Tudor Lounge Buffalo, NY w/Super Killer Robots & Escape Tower
07/19 TBA Pittsburgh, PA w/ Steve, Surrounded by Mouse & The Walking Ghost
07/20 The Mochbee Cincinatti, OH w/ From the Embrace, Below
07/22 Mulligan’s Pub Grande Rapids, MI w/ Mountain Goat & BerT
07/23 Mac’s Lansing, MI w/ Mountain Goat, Dr. Device & BerT
07/24 Now That’s ClassCleveland, OH w/ Beyond the Gates & Dr. Device
07/28 O’Brien’s Pub Allston, MA w/ Ironweed & Blackwolfgoat
In other news, Blue Aside has finished tracking their upcoming full-length album, The Moles of a Dying Race, the second part of the trilogy which was introduced with their debut release The Orange Tree. Running at 63 minutes, this album features seven new songs and their own unique arrangement of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.”
The drums were recorded at Black Coffee Sound (BlackPyramid, Elder) in October 2010. The next few months were carefully spent tracking the guitar, bass, sythns and vocals at the band’s studio. Once again, Blue Aside utilized the PhilSpector/Brian Wilson wall of sound technique when layering the instruments, thus creating a massive and psychedelic soundscape for this record. They plan to have Glenn Smith (RawRadarWar, Blackwolfgoat) mix starting the first week of August.
Blue Aside, The Moles of a Dying Race
1. The Moles of a Dying Race – Part 1: Without a Home
2. The Electrode Man
3. Will We Remain Tomorrow?
4. The Moles of a Dying Race – Part 2: No Way Out but Fear
5. The Ice Mammoth
6. We Move to Sleep, Lost in Hollow Parks
7. The Moles of a Dying Race – Part 3: The Blue Sunshine
8. Interstellar Overdrive (Pink Floyd)
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 5th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some updates are about tours, some updates are about videos, but it takes some real overachievers to give an update that’s about both a video and a tour. Leave it to Atlanta sludge upstarts Sons of Tonatiuh to go the extra mile. Sometimes one just isn’t enough.
Here’s the video for “Consumed,” followed by some into that’s maybe cooled off, but still fresh from the PR wire:
Atlanta-based sludge collective, Sons of Tonatiuh, recently unleashed a video for “Consumed,” the third track off their self-titled debut full-length. The video was produced by Apocalypse Productions on their home turf.
Commented drummer Tim Genius: “Do yourself a favor: When making a video, don’t choose the longest possible song you might have…. unless you plan to test your audience’s attention span. That said, we are pleased to announce that our new video for ‘Consumed’ turned out rather awesome. It’s minimalistic and we like it that way. At the very least, it’s now more clear that a Sons of Tonatiuh show does not involve little children and traditional Mexican folk-dance — not always, anyway. Mission accomplished!”
In related news, the band is set to embark on a stretch of spring and summer shows. Confirmed dates thus far include:
05/13 Drunken UnicornAtlanta, GA w/ Primate, Javelina
05/27 Memphis Hates You Fest @ Hi ToneMemphis, TN
05/28 TBA Jackson, MS
06/02 529Atlanta, GA w/ BlackSkies, Royal Thunder
06/24 Little HamiltonNashville, TN w/ Across Tundras
06/25 GutfestJackson, TN
The band is also working on new tunes for their as-yet-untitled, sure to be pulverizing next full-length which is tentatively slated to be recorded in Athens, Georgia courtesy of Harvey Milk’s resident drum bludgeoner/knob tweaker, Kyle Spence.
Said Genius: “It’s sure to be our best yet! Rest assured that while Kyle is conjuring the ghost of JohnBonham, we will be bringing our best Keith Moon to the fine folks of Athens.”
Posted in Reviews on January 17th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
There isn’t much about Sons of Tonatiuh you can’t see coming from miles away, but then again, I doubt “subtle” was what they were going for in the first place. The Atlanta, Georgia, group’s self-titled debut — originally pressed to vinyl by the band and now available on worthy upstart Hydro-PhonicRecords – finds the double-guitar/double-vocal four-piece offering a solid 35 minutes of screamy sludge. It’s uncompromising in its visceral feel, and the eight tracks seem geared more toward abrasive musical ideologies than traditionally structured songwriting, helped by production between rough and natural-sounding.
It’s not a formula that’s never been encountered before, but Sons of Tonatiuh do much of the work of distinguishing themselves in the vocals. Guitarists Dan Caycedo (ex-Leechmilk) and Darby Wilson both contribute blood-curdling screams throughout Sons of Tonatiuh, playing especially well off each other on Side B cut “Oracle.” That’s not to take away from the effectiveness of their riffs, the bass playing of Mike Tunno or Tim Genius’ drumming, but frankly, that’s all stuff we’ve heard, whereas Wilson and Caycedo show the difference between quality screaming as a vocal technique and the “some dude yelling” technique employed by many bands. From the quick-moving start of the record on “To the Throne” to the later doomed plod of “From Ashes,” the two six-stringers take a large role in defining the sound of the band, and the album is all the heavier for it.
Posted in Reviews on January 13th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Although this is the second album I’ve reviewed this week with the title MMX (here’s the first), Michigan sludge bashers Balboa MI use the Roman numerals not as a statement of intent or a beginning point, but the opposite, as a way of marking their end. MMX is a 16-track collection from Hydro-Phonic Records that serves as the final statement from Balboa MI, compiling their original 2007 demo with the blistering New Means to an End EP and a cover intended for the dead-in-the-water Buzzov*en tribute, Unfit to Consume. It’s probably as close to a definitive statement from Balboa MI as we’re ever going to get, and at 48 minutes, it says just about everything you need to know about the band: they were here, they were heavy, they’re gone now. Vocalist Jarrad Collard’s striking line drawing of a snarling dog that serves as MMX’s cover is emblematic of the overall mission of Balboa MI, and after seeing the band live in their home state on more than one occasion and making my way through these tracks, I can only say it’s too bad that mission got cut short.
The immediate reference point for Balboa MI during their time together was always EyeHateGod, and with tracks like “Cousin Fucker” (as opposed to “Sister Fucker”) and “Dixie Jam,” which opens the demo, it seems like they knew it. The difference between Balboa MI and the scores of others under the grip of Bower power, though, is that the double-guitar five-piece never lost sight of what really made EyeHateGod so influential in the first place: the intensity. Sure, the slow Southern riffs are great, but it was the unbridled and filthy hardcore punk that offset them that really helped make sludge what it is today, and Balboa MI are (were) masters of the form. “Acid Rain” (which appears twice on MMX as it was re-recorded for New Means to an End) and the aptly-titled “Hardcore Song” take the feedback-drenched churn of New Orleans sludge’s glory days and give it a flavor of Michigan’s post-economic devastation. Anger is universal, and it bleeds out of Balboa MI’s truncated discography as sincere and frightening as ever.
Posted in Reviews on December 24th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Of the several surprises on Boston doomers Blue Aside’s debut EP, The Orange Tree (Hydro-Phonic Records), none struck me more than when I found out there were only three dudes in the band. The layering, specifically in the guitar, and the diversity of the vocal approaches – from death growls to Porcupine Tree-style soothing harmonies and space rock emanations in between – made me sure there were at least four parties involved, if not five. But no, Blue Aside is a trio, boasting ex-members of Palace in Thunderland (the same band from whom sprung Black Pyramid) and Aeolian Race, who came together with a mind toward combining sci-fi lyrics with diverse doom and heavy psychedelia. It’s not a formula that’s never been applied before, but to their credit, I can’t think of a single band out there that sounds like Blue Aside do on The Orange Tree, however genre-ingrained the EP might be.
The five-song, 36-minute EP (for what it’s worth, I probably would have called it a full-length; the fact that Blue Aside didn’t makes me think that when they get around to putting out an LP, it could very well wind up an hour or longer) kicks off with “The Traveler of Time and Space,” the opening riff of which sounds so much like Electric Wizard’s “Witchcult Today” that I was sure Blue Aside were going to turn out to be another in the growing class of occult metal clones – The Orange Tree quickly shifts into different territory. Guitarist Adam Abrams offers some lead lines, and then death metal vocals kick in – all three members of the band are listed as handling vocals, and not having seen them live, I don’t know who contributes which approach – sounding more like Brendan Small’s work in Dethklok than anything else. And that’s not the last time I’m going to make that comparison, either. In no time, though, the track shifts tempo into upbeat space rock to deliver its echoey, clean-sung title line and more soloing from Abrams, backed by the capable tom-work of drummer Matt Netto and the bottom end of Joe Twomey. The second Dethklok comparison comes in the guitars that start second track “Otis’ Sun” (most likely a titular nod at Toronto riff-lords Sons of Otis, whom Blue Aside cite as an influence), which run in multi-layered harmony not unlike the intro to “Go into the Water” from the cartoon outfit’s 2007 debut The Dethalbum, albeit over less active drumming. For what it’s worth, I don’t draw that line in order to poke fun at Blue Aside or anything like that, I’m just trying to give The Orange Tree some context, and certainly the sweetly melodic vocals that kick in on “Otis’ Sun” are all their own.