Mount Salem Premiere “Lucid” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

mount salem

Chicago doom rock newcomers Mount Salem are headed to Europe this fall for an impressive festival run that will include Dutch Doom Days and Hammer of Doom. There are others, of course, but let that be indicative of the theme with which the four-piece are working: Doom. Their initially self-released debut, Endless, got picked up by Metal Blade, and Mount Salem haven’t looked back since. Today, they premiered a new video for the track “Lucid” from the album.

Knowing next to nothing about the band at the time, other than they were from Chicago and they were doomed out, I was fortunate enough to catch Mount Salem live last fall in Rhode Island (review here), and they’ve hit the road at least twice since then, so they’re working quick to get their songs in front of as many people as possible. I’d expect that momentum to only continue to build as they move into and beyond this first European incursion.

The video for “Lucid” is directed by Dave Skwarczek (http://www.skwarczek.com) and is followed by the tour dates. Please enjoy:

Mount Salem, “Lucid” official video

Recently, Mount Salem confirmed their first European tour in support of their album “Endless”. The band will be making their UK debut at The Black Heart in London on November 2, 2014. The following dates are confirmed by now and can be announced. More dates to be confirmed soon!

MOUNT SALEM European Tour
25/10/14 NL – Leeuwarden – Into The Void Festival
26/10/14 DE – Hamburg – Rock Club St. Pauli
30/10/14 DK – Copenhagen – Stengade
31/10/14 DE – Paderborn – Thumbs Up Fest
01/11/14 NL – Rotterdam – Dutch Doom Days
02/11/14 UK – London – Our Black Heart
07/11/14 ES – Zaragoza – Arrebato
10/11/14 IT – Milan – Lo-Fi
11/11/14 IT – Bologna – Freakout Club
12/11/14 AT – Wien – Arena
15/11/14 DE – Würzburg – Hammer of Doom Festival
16/11/14 DE – Leipzig – Plaque

Mount Salem comments: “We are very excited to be coming overseas for our first time. Traveling is a hobby for all of us so we’re thrilled to be able to see new countries, meet new people, and of course, play some music.”

MOUNT SALEM is:
Emily Kopplin – vocals & organ
Cody Davidson – drums
Mark Hewett – bass
Kyle Morrison – guitars

Mount Salem on Thee Facebooks

Mount Salem at Metal Blade Records

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Minsk Working on First Album in Half a Decade

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been a while since much of anything was heard from Illinois post-metallers Minsk. The Relapse troupe’s last full-length was 2009′s With Echoes in the Movement of Stone (review here) and after an appearance on the Hawkwind Triad (review here) tribute from Neurot alongside Harvestman and U.S. Christmas, they kind of faded out. They’d had a good run up to that point, working with producer-and-eventual-bassist Sanford Parker and touring the country several times over while on a seemingly relentless path of creative growth, but yeah. Then they were gone.

The PR wire informs they’re working on their first album in what by the time it arrives will have been six years. I’ve posted the Bandcamp stream for With Echoes in the Movement of Stone below, but I’d expect that anything Minsk put out at this point would be much different than that album was, with all the time that’s passed and whatnot. I guess we’ll find out for sure early next year when Relapse puts it out.

Till then:

MINSK: Begin Recording New Album

Band’s First Record in Over 5 Years to See Early 2015 Release

Peoria, IL psychedelic metallers MINSK have begun work on their new full-length record and first in over 5 years. After a two-year hiatus, the band has been reinvigorated and has written their most ambitious material to date. The album is being recorded at Earth Analog studios outside of Champaign, IL throughout July/August and is being produced by long-time collaborator Sanford Parker. The as-of-yet titled album will see an early 2015 release via Relapse Records.

Founding member Timothy Mead commented on the group’s rebirth:

“So much attention and care have gone into this process, this renewal. We knew that in order to really move Minsk forward in a meaningful way we would need to raise the bar all over again. This realization lit a fire within us to transcend what was. So many things had to fall into place to make it what we knew it needed to be. A new rhythm section, a second guitar for the first time since the early days of the band, additional vocalists, Sanford’s contributions moving to the realm of synth/noise for this album. Lots of changes, to be sure, and yet the results will be unmistakably Minsk… just Minsk on a whole different level this time around. We cannot wait to share the fruits of these labors.”

Founding member Christopher Bennett further elaborated:

“With each album cycle, a multitude of experiences and influences unite to bring about the cultivation of a cohesive and representative grouping of sounds. This new album will present inroads to some of the musical archetypes we initially discussed when starting this band, but ones we have not yet touched on in the macrocosmic sense. It embodies the furtherance and expansion of Minsk in ways desired in the past, but not realized until these songs began to show themselves to us. The aggregate elements combining into a solid form. We hope to reveal this process to any and all who have the ears to hear.”

Minsk is:
Aaron Austin
Christopher Bennett
Zachary Livingston
Timothy Mead
Kevin Rendleman

Collaborators:
Sanford Parker
Ryan Thomas

http://www.thesoundofminsk.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Minsk
https://www.twitter.com/minskband/
http://instagram.com/thesoundofminsk
http://minskband.bandcamp.com/

Minsk, With Echoes in the Movement of Stone (2009)

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American Heritage to Release Prolapse on Solar Flare Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I might’ve said one or two, but it’s a genuine surprise to realize three years have passed since the release of Sedentary (review here). That record was a vicious return from the Chicago outfit with Georgia roots, and three years between albums for them is down from the five it took to get to Sedentary, so actually that’s even less. I’d say that’s probably a good sign for American Heritage‘s future, as well as the fact that they have a permanent bassist, which they didn’t going into the last record, but apparently guitarist Adam Norden (interview here) has quit the band since Prolapse was recorded, so there might not be a future at all.

That’s how the PR wire has it, anyway. Nonetheless, the band is signed with Solar Flare Records and will have the album out in November:

AMERICAN HERITAGE To Issue Sixth Album Via Solar Flare Records This Autumn

Clermont-Ferrand, France-based Solar Flare Records proudly announces the signing of Chicago-based quartet, AMERICAN HERITAGE, for the release of the band’s recently completed sixth full-length album.

Since 1996, AMERICAN HERITAGE has relentlessly dispatched their ripping concoction of technical, mangled metal/hardcore backed with their cynical, lowbrow music and human relations, both on record and on the stage. Their self-titled 1998 debut EP released on The Rosewood Union was chased by the full-length, Why Everyone Gets Cancer, released in 1999 on the same label, and their Through The Age Of Quarrel And Into The Era Of Putting Up With It album released in 2001 by Troubleman Unlimited, and then the Bipolar album through Escape Artist in 2004. Two subsequent albums on Translation Loss followed — 2006′s Millenarian and 2011′s Sedentary, the latter released in Europe via Solar Flare Records — among EPs on Class-B Records, Delboy Records and more including split 7″ releases with Thee Plague Of Gentlemen, Mastodon and others. Their most recent Sedentary album, recorded while the lineup was void of a full-time bassist, included guest contributions on each track, involving their partners in crime, collectively hailing from Sulaco, Murder Construct, Exhumed, D.I.S., Fight Amp, Nachtmystium, Buried At Sea, Mastodon, Primate, Lioness, Sweet Cobra, Dark Fog, Plague Bringer, Black Cobra, The Swan King, Beak, Surachai and others. On the road, AMERICAN HERITAGE has toured and performed alongside the likes of Baroness, Black Cobra, Floor, Mastodon, Pelican, Burnt By The Sun, Misery Index, Coliseum, Dysrhythmia, Saviours, Origin and countless others.

Following the departure of original guitarist Andrei Cabanban back in 2002, through a continually revolving array of bassists, AMERICAN HERITAGE has been steadily comprised of drummer Mike Duffy, vocalist/guitarist Adam Norden and guitarist Scott Shellhamer, and for the past several years, completed by bassist Erik Bocek. This lineup raided SOMA Studios in March of this year with producer Sanford Parker, with additional recording by Che Arthur and Mike Lust, to record their sixth full-length, Prolapse. Once the caustic madness of the bruising album was recorded, Parker mixed the final product, the thirty-three minute album displaying some of the band’s most diverse material to date. After the recording of Prolapse, core member Adam Norden left the band, and after eighteen years of abuse and racket, this move makes it foreseeable that this will be the final album from AMERICAN HERITAGE.

Prolapse will be let out of the cage this November, on digital, CD and vinyl formats via Solar Flare Records, home to Pigs, Sofy Major, The Great Sabatini, Pord, Stuntman and other high-quality acts from the noisier end of the underground rock/metal community. A confirmed street date and additional release details will be announced in the coming weeks.

https://www.facebook.com/americanheritageband
http://americanheritage.bandcamp.com
http://www.twitter.com/fuckingheritage
http://solarflarerds.blogspot.com
http://facebook.com/solarflarerecords
http://solarflarerds.bigcartel.com

American Heritage, Sedentary (2011)

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Novembers Doom, Bled White: Elongating a Grand Circle

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Chicago death-doom outfit Novembers Doom released their first album in 1995, nearly 20 years ago now. They weren’t the first American death-doom act, and there were others who solidified around the same time, but Novembers Doom were easily among the earliest adopters of a dramatic melancholy most common then in the European doom scene pre-Reverend Bizarre, bands like Katatonia, Paradise Lost, earliest Anathema and My Dying Bride serving as an influences to be melded with Novembers Doom‘s own Chicago death metal style. Their progression in the years since Amid its Hallowed Mirth has been a steady line in terms of quality but has presented several distinct shifts in sound, into full-on death-doom on records like 2002′s To Welcome the Fade and 2005′s The Pale Haunt Departure, and more recently, leaning back stylistically more to death metal. The Pale Haunt Departure presented a discernible starting point, but the movement has been gradual, and over 2007′s The Novella Reservoir, 2009′s Into Night’s Requiem Infernal (review here) and 2011′s Aphotic, they’ve continued to pursue that direction. Their latest outing, Bled White (released on The End Records, their label of the last nine years), furthers the progression to the point that Novembers Doom have very little of what would commonly be considered doom left in their sound. Instead, they offer 11 tracks/68 minutes of depressive death metal, marked by the growl/clean-vocal tradeoffs and capital ‘r’ lyrical Romanticism of frontman Paul Kuhr and the persistent double-kick of Garry Naples. In its production and execution, Bled White is a metal album, and it retains that status even at its most subdued or melodic points, as on “Clear” or the morose “Just Breathe.”

There seems to be a certain nihilism — or at least fuckall — in how the full-length is put together. Not in the songs themselves, which are rigidly structured, but in how they’re arranged and the overall mentality of Bled White‘s construction. With a strong opening duo of driving, catchy and pummeling metal in the title-track and subsequent “Heartfelt” before the softer “Just Breathe” and acoustic interlude “Scorpius,” it seems reasonable to call it front-loaded. After “Scorpius,” “Unrest” kicks back into Novembers Doom‘s blend of death and melodic theatricality — guitarists Larry Roberts and Vito Marchese and bassist Mike Feldman carefully winding between beauty and brutality as Naples tosses in blastbeats and breakdown grooves and Kuhr self-harmonizes — and from there they set about toying with the balance in their sound over the course of the brighter-toned “The Memory Room,” the blistering “The Brave Pawn,” and “Clear,” which has a feel like what Opeth might’ve turned into had they kept their more inventive rhythm section and dialed back on the prog fetish. But no question the opening salvo is Bled White‘s most memorable. This seems somewhat incongruous with the fact that Bled White is also the longest record in Novembers Doom‘s 19-year tenure. At nearly 70 minutes, it’s as though when they were piecing it together, they said, “Fuck it, we’ll put this stuff up front for the people who are only going to listen to three or four songs anyway, and the rest will be there for anyone who wants it.” That’s not to say the back end of Bled White doesn’t have its high points — the solo in “The Grand Circle” is the best here, and “Animus” digs into satisfying bludgeonry before the nine-and-a-half-minute “The Silent Dark” closes out with a suitable payoff beginning with some standalone raw harmonies from Kuhr – just that by the time they get there, Novembers Doom have already pushed the stylistic bounds they’re going to push this time out. The nihilism aspect comes into play, then, because nine records in, they didn’t decide to hold that material back. It’s there if the listener wants it.

Obviously I don’t know this. The case could just as easily be that Novembers Doom loved each of these tracks so much they couldn’t live with the thought of not including them. Frankly, I don’t think the cases are mutually exclusive. Novembers Doom, however, are a viciously underrated band. For all their early pursuit of death-doom, they’re left out of nearly every conversation of pioneering metal, and while they’ve always been too in-between stylistically for an American metal audience — which, admittedly, is probably the most open-minded it’s ever been right now — for a long time they were likewise too American for Europe. They’ve enjoyed success, played fests, found a loyal following, but they’ve never been the kind of influential touchstone they easily could’ve been. The reasons for this are undoubtedly complex –it’s not the kind of question one asks in an interview: “How come you guys aren’t huge?” — but if the result is that on Bled WhiteNovembers Doom have cast aside genre considerations and made their longest outing to date because it pleases them to have done it and they believe (rightly so) in the strength of their songwriting, that only makes Bled White a more honest and admirably sincere album. It can be a challenge if you’re not already a fan of the band in terms of the consistency of mood and structure, but they’ve thought of that and accommodated. For those who have traced their progression, they’ll find Bled White fits along the directional line, and that nine albums on, Novembers Doom continue to push their sound into new places in their subtle way and at their own pace. To look back on the vast stylistic terrain they’ve covered all these years is to be reminded of just how far they’ve come and to catchy a glimpse of where they might go.

Novembers Doom, “Bled White” from Bled White (2014)

Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks

The End Records

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Nachtmystium’s Final Album The World We Left Behind Due in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Boy, what the hell happened with Nachtmystium? Back when they put out Instinct: Decay on Battle Kommand/Southern Lord and got picked up by Century Media circa 2007, there was no getting away from them. They were inevitable — the band that was going to both pioneer and save US black metal from being a pale imitation of superior European bands. Boldly defiant of their genre and remaking it at the same time. Now, already broken up for a year, their final full-length feels like little more than a footnote to squandered potential. Maybe that was the idea all along. What’s more black metal than saying fuck it to everything?

I’ve heard the stories about drugs and ripoffs and whatever else, and I’ll allow that stuff — whatever of it is true and whatever isn’t — will have a say in how a band is received over the long haul by a community, but wow. Looking around at bands like AgallochDeafheaven and any number of American black metal’s other current indie darlings, it just seems like Nachtmystium dropped out of that conversation awfully quick. Guess that’s how it goes sometimes.

Nachtmystium‘s final outing (until the reunion), The World We Left Behind, is out Aug. 5 in North America, Aug. 4 in Europe, New Zealand and Australia on Century Media, who sent the preliminaries down the PR wire:

NACHTMYSTIUM set to release highly anticipated final album ‘THE WORLD WE LEFT BEHIND’ August 5 via Century Media Records

‘THE WORLD WE LEFT BEHIND’ is NACHTMYSTIUM’s swansong, the final chapter in a tumultuous, controversial and always provoking history. A black metal memorial, oozing of desperation, gloom and depravity.

The nine song album is set for release on August 5th in North America and August 4th in Europe/Australia/New Zealand.

‘THE WORLD WE LEFT BEHIND’ track listing:
1. Intrusion
2. Fireheart
3. Voyager
4. Into The Endless Abyss
5. In The Absence Of Existence
6. The World We Left Behind
7. Tear You Down
8. On The Other Side
9. Epitaph For A Dying Star

NACHTMYSTIUM online:
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialNachtmystium
http://centurymedia.com/

Nachtmystium, “I Wait in Hell” Live at St. Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, Nov. 19, 2012

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Friday Full-Length: Trouble, Psalm 9

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Trouble, Psalm 9 (1984)

If you have any doubt that the reverberations of Trouble‘s 1984 debut, Psalm 9 — released on a then-nascent Metal Blade Records — are still being felt, then I would direct your attention to Cudahy, Wisconsin, where the fourth Days of the Doomed fest is being held this weekend. Trouble, who are headlining that festival this year in a much different incarnation than appeared on this album, have been a guiding principle in underground doom in the US and abroad — you might’ve had Reverend Bizarre or Cathedral without them, but they would’ve been different bands — for 30 years, with a family tree of acts that seems to be constantly expanding and a progressive catalog of classics that varies widely in just about everything except the quality of songwriting and guitar tone.

Psalm 9, though, in addition to establishing the Chicago band as early pioneers in Christian metal, is an album that’s not necessarily timeless in its sound, but has become more righteous with age. Songs like “The Tempter,” “Assassin,” “Bastards Will Pay” and “Psalm 9″ remain pinnacles of the kinds of atmospheres doom would explore in their wake, and Trouble‘s adherence to Sabbathian classic tenets in a time where that flew in the face of what was happening in metal — the NWOBHM having come up in the post-Ozzy era, Dio having left Sabbath and the hindsight-awesome Born Again having been released just a year before Psalm 9, in 1983 — helped cement their place in underground hearts. They were doom before there was doom to be.

As always, I hope you enjoy. And if you happen to be in Cudahy for the next couple days, I hope the fest kicks ass. I was sorry I couldn’t be there.

You know where I’ll be? Frickin’ New Jersey, for the second time this month. I can’t bitch about the occasion — I have a wonderful grandmother who is turning 99 — but I sure can bitch about the drive. During the day tomorrow there’s a Star Trek convention that The Patient Mrs. and I were toying with the idea of hitting, but I think the admission for those things is like 50 bucks, and frankly, I don’t have that kind of money, especially needing to buy gas to get south and all that. Fun as that would be both in the actual doing and in the absurdity factor, we’ll see how it goes.

She leaves for Greece for a month next weekend, does The Patient Mrs., traveling internationally as part of a grant she won by being brilliant as she is. Looks like we’re also moving again next weekend — quite literally the day she flies out; movers come next Saturday morning, she goes Saturday night — but the move is just down the road, to a town called East Bridgewater. Still have an awful lot to pack though, and I don’t imagine I’ll feel much like getting started this Sunday night upon returning to Massachusetts, so yeah. If the last move was any indicator, one day this week coming I’ll wake up at four in the morning thinking about needing to pack and just throw a good portion of our earthly possessions in boxes as quickly as possible with little care for things like marking what’s actually in them or breaking glassware. Another day, another condo. I’ll be sorry to lose the central air.

No shows this week. I barely left the house, to be honest with you, and I still feel like there’s never enough time for the things I want to get done. I don’t know what’s on for next week, gig-wise, if there is anything, but I’ll find out. I’m still reeling from that Earthless announcement about the Sleep show in August, but you know, I’d also like to see four or five other gigs before that if I can. I’ll take a look.

Album reviews next week of 1000mods and Mope – though I might decide to do the latter as part of a batch of radio adds. I fucking love that. I don’t know how you feel about it, but sometimes I think that with the longer reviews, nobody really gets that into it, and those shorter ones accomplish the same thing. They’re not as detailed, but for some records, I think it even works better. How much more do you really need to say about the Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket record than it fucking rules? Anyway, it’s something I’m going to keep doing until I get tired of it or distracted or think of something better.

Mope were also included in the podcast that went up today. Thanks for everyone who’s checked that out so far.

Might push back the Lowrider interview to the week after next to bump up C.O.C. and time it to the new album release. Good to be topical every now and then. I haven’t really decided yet, but it’s a maybe. This is what I think about when I should be finding work.

Also, it’s not 100 percent booked, but I might be streaming an instrumental version of the new Wo Fat (review here) at some point in the week. Need to catch up on emails too. And write a Kings Destroy bio. And pack. And spend time with my wife, who I won’t see again until the end of July.

Feeling a little overwhelmed, if you couldn’t tell, but so it goes. Three weeks from now it’ll be something else. It’s all just time.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Sweet Cobra Announce European Tour Dates; New Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Underrated bombast specialists Sweet Cobra are playing with High on Fire this weekend in their native Chicago, and from there, the trio will join forces with Auxes for a run of European dates mostly in Germany and the Czech Republic. It’s been two years since the Seventh Rule veterans debuted on Black Market Activities with Mercy, and they’re reportedly got a follow-up in the works ready to release sometime before the end of the year. If you were, say, compiling a list of albums to watch for before 2015 and planning to post something like that in the next month or so, that might be handy information to keep in mind.

Ever-resilient, the PR wire seeks refuge among the converted:

Sweet Cobra Announces Upcoming European Tour w/ Auxes (ex-Milemarker)

New Album “Earth” Produced by Kurt Ballou and Matt Talbot of Hum Out Later This Year

The sonic assault of Sweet Cobra has been described by critics as everything from “hypnotic, riff-driven mayhem” to “sludgy groove with hardcore intensity.” Still, that doesn’t do their unmistakably original sound justice. Parallels can be drawn to Torche’s rapturous hooks, High On Fire’s hellbound riffing, and Young Widows’ stomping rhythms, but Sweet Cobra has always rocked with its own unique voice – earnest, driving, anthemic songs that are equally pummeling and trance-inducing.

A pillar of the underground for almost a decade now, SWEET COBRA was founded in Chicago in 2002 by bassist/vocalist Botchy Vasquez (The Killing Tree, Milemarker) and drummer Jason Gagovski (Suicide Note). Through the mid-00’s, the band released acclaimed music through Seventh Rule Recordings (Akimbo, Indian) and Gagovski’s own Hawthorne Street Records, and toured with the likes of Pelican, Russian Circles, Black Cobra, Doomriders, The Life And Times, and Young Widows.

In 2009 SWEET COBRA entered Volume Studio in Chicago with producer Sanford Parker (Pelican, Nachtmystium) to record its third full-length: Mercy for Black Market Activities. Mercy is a masterpiece of urgent, honest aggression, channeled into unforgettable songs. It is the definition of SWEET COBRA – ripping yet atmospheric, rocking yet angry as hell. Mixed by Kurt Ballou (Converge, Trap Them) at Godcity Studio and mastered by Carl Saff (Coliseum, White Drugs), Mercy features guest appearances by Robert Lowe (Lichens) and Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), among others. Album art comes courtesy of William Test.

Sweet Cobra Live!

European Tour Dates w/ Auxes
Thurs 06/12/14 Kiel, Germany at Hansa 48
Fri 06/13/14 Hamburg, Germany at Størte
Sat 06/14/14 Berlin, Germany at Schokoladen
Sun 06/15/14 Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic at Central
Mon 06/16/14 Prague, Czech Republic at 007
Tues 06/17/14 Leipzig, Germany at Zoro
Wed 06/18/14 Brno, Czech Republic at Boro
Thurs 06/19/14 Vienna, Austria at Rhiz
Fri 06/20/14 Bojkovice, Czech Republic at MisMas Fest
Sat 06/21/14 Plzen, Czech Republic at Pod Lampou

For more information, visit:
www.facebook.com/sweetcobra
www.hawthornestreetrecords.com

Sweet Cobra, “Silvered” from Mercy (2012)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Stavros Giannopoulos of The Atlas Moth

Posted in Questionnaire on May 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

With the coming release next month of their third full-length, The Old Believer on Profound Lore, Chicago triple-guitar five-piece The Atlas Moth have proven to be survivors where others have fallen by the wayside. Consistent in releases and touring since 2008′s Pray for Tides EP (review here), the band has evolved beyond post-metallic beginnings to craft a sound of their own while those who were their peers and their forebears have called it quits, from Isis to Minsk. Through 2009′s A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, 2011′s An Ache for the Distance and the 2013 compilation release Master of Blunt Hits that brought together Pray for Tides and 2010′s The One amongst the Weed Fields covers EP, as well as some prime internet smartassery, The Atlas Moth and guitarist/vocalist Stavros Giannopoulos have earned a place in metal that crosses genre lines and gives stoners and headbangers grounds for mutual nod.

Just today, Profound Lore announced that The Atlas Moth and labelmates SubRosa will join Japan’s Boris for US tour dates this August. The Old Believer is set for release June 10.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Stavros Giannopoulos

How did you come to do what you do?

A lot of hard work, persistence, and a general lack of interest in doing anything else whatsoever.

Describe your first musical memory.

My father dancing around the living room to Greek music.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

On tour with Gojira, our hometown Chicago show was on my 30th birthday with my entire family there for the first time to see us play.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Every time we meet adversity playing music.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Ultimate satisfaction.

How do you define success?

Finding happiness.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Lemonparty.org.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Master of Puppets.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

The 2014-2015 Chicago Bulls season.

The Atlas Moth, Live in El Paso, TX, March 11, 2014

The Atlas Moth on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore

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Mount Salem Announce Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I dug Chicago’s Mount Salem pretty well when I saw them last fall with Uzala and Mike Scheidt at the gotta-get-back-there-soon Dusk in Providence, RI (review here), and have since enjoyed getting the vibe of their debut EP, Endless, which seems to touch on a lot of the tenets of modern heavy — vintage this and that, cultish this and that, doomly heres and theres — without giving over to one side or the other completely. That only makes Mount Salem a harder act to trace and thus, all the more interesting. We all like a good puzzle every now and again, and the nascent Windy City troupe came with an already steady hold on an aesthetic that one hopes only becomes even more their own over time.

Touring will help in that regard, and Mount Salem have just announced they’ll head west out of Chicago next month for two weeks-plus on the road that include a couple of dates alongside Saint Vitus‘ on the legendary doomers’ 35th anniversary tour. If you want to get yourself schooled in doom, that’s an efficient way to do it. Pretty much a Masters class.

The PR boils forth from its cauldron:

MOUNT SALEM: Chicago Psychedelic Doom Conjurors Announce Headlining Tour

Chicago psychedelic doom rock conjurors and recent Metal Blade signees, MOUNT SALEM, will embark on a full headlining tour this May! The trek will pillage its way through select cities between Chicago and Los Angeles, and includes one-off shows in New Mexico and Arizona opening up for doom legends, Saint Vitus! MOUNT SALEM will be touring in support of their Endless EP.

MOUNT SALEM
5/01/2014 Township – Chicago, IL
5/02/2014 Dragonfly Lounge – Madison, WI
5/03/2014 JB’s Speakeasy – La Crosse, WI
5/04/2014 Chesterfield – Sioux City, IA
5/05/2014 The Bourbon – Lincoln, NE
5/06/2014 Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO w/ Speedwolf
5/08/2014 Launch Pad – Albuquerque, NM w/ Saint Vitus, Sons Of Huns
5/09/2014 Club Red – Tempe, AZ w/ Saint Vitus, Sons Of Huns
5/10/2014 TBA – Los Angeles, CA
5/11/2014 The Makeout Room – San Francisco, CA
5/12/2014 Witch Room – Sacramento, CA
5/13/2014 Slabtown – Portland, OR
5/15/2014 The Shred Shed – Salt Lake City, UT
5/16/2014 Future Shock – Frisco, CO
5/17/2014 Kung Fu Tap And Taco – Des Moines, IA

MOUNT SALEM is a four-piece psychedelic rock/doom metal band. They started writing music together in the summer of 2012 and released their first debut EP, Endless, in the Spring of 2013. Taking influence from the likes of Black Sabbath and Pentagram, MOUNT SALEM play loud, heavy rock ‘n’ roll using all vintage gear. Throwing their own twist of dark, mysterious doom into their summonings, MOUNT SALEM systematically pull listeners into their sinister realm of sound; their lyrical imagery serving as a ride all its own. Metal Blade Records signed the band in the Summer of 2013 and recently released an extended version of Endless containing two additional, brand-new tracks.

Mount Salem, “Lucid” from Endless (2013)

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The Atlas Moth to Release The Old Believer June 10 on Profound Lore

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’m just going to assume that before you place the waterproof cover of The Atlas Moth‘s forthcoming third album, The Old Believer — out June 10 on Profound Lore – into water to reveal the rest of the art, it’s probably best to take the LP itself out first. Just a hunch. Cool idea though, and as it’s been three years since the last The Atlas Moth full-length, 2011′s An Ache for the Distance, it’s one more thing to stand them out from the crowd.

Not that they’ve been slacking in that regard anyway. It’s been half a decade since I reviewed their debut EP, Pray for Tides (review here), but particularly since the last record came out, The Atlas Moth have worked to establish their own identity within and around their sound. I’d have some catching up to do, but even beyond the novelty factor of the artwork, The Old Believer holds some intrigue ahead of its June release.

The PR wire offers the following:

THE ATLAS MOTH RELEASE THE OLD BELIEVER ON JUNE 10 VIA PROFOUND LORE

UNIQUE COVER ART CHANGES WHEN DIPPED IN WATER

The Atlas Moth, the Chicago-based quintet, release The Old Believer on June 10 via Profound Lore Records.

“This record is an equally large progression as between our first two records but this time is coupled with more experience,” explains singer/guitar player Stavros Giannopoulos (who also moonlights in black metal super group, Twilight). “I feel like we found ourselves on An Ache for the Distance and now we are expanding on our sound more than ever. It’s also the most personal and introspective music we have ever done. We are wearing our hearts on our sleeves with every note.”

The Old Believer, produced The Atlas Moth’s own Andrew Ragin at Chicago’s Wall To Wall Studios, features guests Joe Duplantier (Gojira), Marcus Eliopulos (Stabbing Westward) and Subrosa violinists Kim Pack and Sarah Pendleton. The album’s cover and back art feature a water-reveal stock, which when dipped in water, more graphics are revealed.

The Old Believer track listing:
1. Jet Black Passenger
2. Collider
3. The Sea Beyond
4. Halcyon Blvd
5. Sacred Vine
6. The Old Believer
7. City of Light
8. Wynona
9. Hesperian
10. Blood Will Tell

The band recently completed an extensive North American tour with The Ocean and Scale The Summit where they previewed music from The Old Believer. The Atlas Moth will return to the road upon release of The Old Believer, with dates to be announced soon.

www.facebook.com/theatlasmothband
www.twitter.com/TheAtlasMoth
theatlasmoth.bandcamp.com

The Atlas Moth, An Ache for the Distance (2011)

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The Skull Premiere New Single “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” b/w “The Last Judgment”

Posted in audiObelisk on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Today, Chicago’s The Skull release their debut single on Tee Pee Records. Sometime Yesterday Mourning b/w The Last Judgment arrives preceded by much anticipation as the first studio output from the Trouble offshoot, fronted by the inimitable Eric Wagner and featuring Trouble alumni Ron Holzner (bass), Jeff “Oly” Olson (drums) and Chuck Robinson (guitar) in the five-piece lineup with Lothar Keller of Sacred Dawn. Its two songs were produced by Billy Anderson (Sleep, the Melvins, Acid King, so many others), and for classic Trouble fans, the inclusion of “The Last Judgment” is a bonus — the song minus an ‘e’ from when it appeared as “The Last Judgement” on Trouble‘s own recorded debut on the 1983 Metal Massacre IV compilation.

Right away then, The Skull seem to be geared toward a classic sound, and “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” the first taste of their new, original material, feeds into that framework. Keller‘s guitar — I’m fairly certain Robinson wasn’t in the band yet when these were recorded — meters out a steady chug of a central riff to start, and he’s soon joined by Holzner‘s bass and Olson on drums, setting up a well-paced groove for Wagner‘s entry. When the vocals hit, they do so in crooning fashion, Wagner keeping to the lower end of his famous range for the verse while layering in higher-register parts for the chorus; a formidable hook worthy of the band’s pedigree. It’s an earthy sound but given ambient vitality later in its progression by the lead guitar and Wagner‘s suitably mournful echoing deeper in the mix, proving as an initial showcase that there’s more to The Skull‘s approach than riffs and familiar faces.

Trouble‘s “The Last Judgement” was also featured on their 1983 demo and has shown up on a few compilations since, and The Skull give it a respectful update. Following a descending pattern of tom hits from Olson, we’re greeted by rhythm and lead guitar interplay before moving into the rush of the song itself, crisp with Anderson‘s recording, and Wagner in a vocal duel with himself. He’s not quite looking to wail in the same way as 31 years ago, but he changes up his approach dynamically almost on a per-line basis and ultimately makes both faster and slower parts more engaging, the guitar taking over in the second half for a solo that furthers The Skull‘s allegiance to traditional metal, mounting a build all the way to the sudden ending, the vocals almost (but not) cut off for the last line, “It’ll be alright,” just as they were in the original version.

The real kicker about Sometime Yesterday Mourning b/w The Last Judgment is how well the two songs work next to each other despite the decades between when they were written. I doubt The Skull intended to give a lesson about the timelessness of doom on their first single so much as give a taste of what their debut full-length might have to offer sound-wise, but you won’t find me complaining with their having accomplished both.

Please find the two tracks below for your streaming pleasure, and enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The Skull‘s Sometime Yesterday Morning b/w The Last Judgment is available now through Tee Pee Records digitally and as a limited CD pressing. More info at the links.

The Skull at Tee Pee Records

The Skull on Thee Facebooks

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Drug Honkey to Play Roskilde 2014

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

One imagines that when Chicago purveyors of the sonically profane Drug Honkey take the stage at the long-famed Roskilde festival in Denmark, set to run over the course of eight days this June into July, they won’t be backing Stevie Wonder — though that would be interesting. The four-piece released their transcendentally vicious Ghost in the Fire full-length (review here) in 2013, and their appearance at Roskilde will likely coincide with the release of their previously announced new EP, as yet untitled.

No update on that in the PR wire info below, but Drug Honkey also has a new shirt out that says “The only drug you need is Drug Honkey” on it, which is pretty badass in itself. Considering the hundreds of acts on the bill for Roskilde, from Carcass to Chromeo, I guess you have to do whatever it takes to stand out, though once Drug Honkey show up and plug their gear in, I can’t imagine that’d be a problem for them.

As the PR wire flies:

Drug Honkey invited to play at the Roskilde Festival 2014

Transcending Obscurity band from US, Drug Honkey, playing a genre-bending style of Death/Doom/Experimental music has been invited to play alongside acts such as The Rolling Stones, Carcass, Mogwai, Mournful Congregation, Electric Wizard and others in Denmark this year for the prestigious Roskilde Festival 2014. The complete line-up can be viewed here.

Drug Honkey has been at it since the ’90s, releasing four highly-acclaimed full-length albums in addition to a stunning live release. The band’s energy can only be palpable. Here’s an electrifying (almost literally so) live song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jb_nNCpViQ

The band has most recently released an anti-drug message T-shirt with the words “The only drug you need is Drug Honkey” on the back. It’s a limited edition print, available for purchase from the label’s bandcamp page -

http://roskilde-festival.dk/music/poster/
https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-in-the-fire
https://www.facebook.com/drughonkey
https://www.facebook.com/transcendingobscurity

Drug Honkey, Ghost in the Fire (2013)

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The Skull to Release Two New Songs on April 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Now a five-piece after recently adding ex-Trouble bassist Chuck Robinson on guitar alongside Sacred Dawn‘s Lothar Keller, The Skull have announced that the two songs recorded with Billy Anderson will be released as a single on April 8 through Tee Pee Records. Available for preorder as a $4 CD and a download, Sometime Yesterday Mourning c/w The Last Judgment pairs brand new material against a cover of some of Trouble‘s earliest output, “The Last Judgment” having been featured on 1983′s Metal Massacre IV comp a year prior to the release of Trouble’s first LP, Psalm 9, which turns 30 this year.

Much seems to be in the works to celebrate both The Skull’s original track and Trouble’s ongoing legacy. The PR wire has this:

THE SKULL: Release Date Revealed For Two New Singles

Worldwide Debut To Air On Heady Metal with Jeff Olson

Listening Party Scheduled In Chicago

There’s no “trouble” for THE SKULL – the heavy doom-rock band featuring original TROUBLE members vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson, longtime former TROUBLE bassist Ron Holzner and newly recruited former TROUBLE bassist Chuck Robinson, now on dueling guitar, alongside SACRED DAWN guitarist Lothar Keller – as they will unleash their two new singles recorded with acclaimed producer/engineer Billy Anderson (MELVINS, NEUROSIS) worldwide on Tuesday, April 8th via Tee Pee Records.

The “limited edition” white vinyl replica CD featuring “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” (side A) and “The Last Judgment” (side B) is now available for pre-order at Tee Pee Records (http://shop.teepeerecords.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-skull) Downloads of the singles will be available at your favorite digital retailer on April 8th.

In other news, THE SKULL’s worldwide debut of “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” and “The Last Judgment” will premiere exclusively on drummer and keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson’s podcast HEADY METAL WITH JEFF OLSON via InThePitRadio.com on Friday, April 4th from 7PM-9PM EST. Olson will be live on-air and field reporting from THE SKULL’s listening party that evening at the Ragnarokk Metal Apocalypse Fest in Chicago located at Reggies Rock Club where fans can purchase the CD. Olson, along with vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner, guitarist Chuck Robinson, and guitarist Lothar Keller, will all be available to personally sign the limited edition white vinyl replica CD.

“Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is a doomy metal song written by Keller, Holzner and Wagner that showcases the genre pioneers’ distinct style while “The Last Judgment” is a “revisiting” of the classic TROUBLE song of the same name that originally appeared on the classic 1983 “Metal Massacre IV” compilation album.

“I think “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is the perfect song for THE SKULL to lead with and there’s a reason why it was the first song we completed as a band,” commented Wagner. “It’s about coming to a point in life when it’s just time for a new beginning, a fresh start if you will, and finally coming to terms with the past.

“Being that it is the 30th anniversary of the release of the song “The Last Judgment” — the first song we ever released — we thought it fit perfectly for the B-side and considering what “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is about, it made sense to me. You have to go through your past to get to your future.”

Drummer and keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson on Chuck Robinson’s addition to the band:

“We are excited and honored that Chuck Robinson has accepted our invitation to join the band. He is the perfect fit for THE SKULL.”

“I’ve always enjoyed rehearsing with Chuck as he is disciplined with his art. He’ll surely bring a bonus to the band with his experience as a former TROUBLE member and as a seasoned musician who utilizes both his talented song writing ability and his exceptional recording skills. We are looking forward to tour with our brother again.”

Olson added, “Chuck is more then a bass player. He grew up playing guitar with his father, also a very talented guitarist. Eric, Ron, Lothar, and myself know that Chuck is more than capable for the job. He’ll bring chops with a heavy groove to our debut album, as well as bring his charisma to the stage.”

THE SKULL has confirmed the following three shows.

May 09 – Cleveland, Ohio – The Grog Shop
May 10 – Chicago, Illinois- Reggies
August 29 – Montreal, Canada – The Wings of Metal Festival

The Wings of Metal Festival will be a headlining performance consisting of two sets. The first set will be a performance of TROUBLE’s 1984 debut album “Psalm 9” in it’s entirety. The second set will include a performance of their newly recorded songs as well as TROUBLE classics.

THE SKULL will follow the release of the new songs with its debut full length LP, tentatively slated for release this autumn.

THE SKULL is:

Eric Wagner – vocals
Jeff “Oly” Olson – drums/keys
Ron Holzner – bass
Lothar Keller – guitar
Chuck Robinson – guitar

https://www.facebook.com/troubletheskull
http://shop.teepeerecords.com/collections/frontpage/products/the-skull

The Skull, New Song Live at Doom in June III

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All Them Witches Live Footage of “Mountain” Posted

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This video came down no PR wire. It’s not a premiere. It’s not exclusive. It’s been up for about a week. Basically I saw Nashville four-piece All Them Witches had posted the link on their Thee Facebooks page and after watching the whole thing, I felt compelled to post it as well. The track is “Mountain,” which is the meditative closer of their 2013 full-length, Lightning at the Door (discussed here), and the clip was filmed live at Chicago’s Cobra Lounge. I think the date was Feb. 5, since that seems to be the last time I can find they were there. Pretty recent, anyway, and with solid sound quality, though what strikes more than that is how well the mood of the song is conveyed live.

I haven’t had occasion to see All Them Witches on stage yet, but having enjoyed the crap out of Lightning at the Door and the preceding Our Mother Electricity (review here), I hope to. The band — bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, drummer Rob Staebler and keyboardist Allan Van Cleave — offer a dead-on look at their stage dynamic in the video, Staebler holding a tension in the drums that grounds the song even as Parks, McLeod and Van Cleave seem to be their most spaced out. Their blend of blues and heavy psych-derived jamming comes through clearly, and though it seems early on like the wheels might come off, they keep it together to get a fervent round of hooting from the crowd at the end. Well earned.

If you dig this, All Them Witches have vinyl on the way for Lightning at the Door from whence it comes. They also recently issued a live recording digitally through Daytrotter, though I can’t vouch for it since I couldn’t figure out how to make the download work. That won’t be the last concert document to come from them, however, since their show March 7 at The Garage in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was also taped and filmed for a live release. Will be interested to see how that turns out, but in the meantime, I thought this might fit well at the end of a long day:

All Them Witches, “Mountain” Live at Cobra Lounge, Chicago, IL

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

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The Skull Adds Former Trouble Bassist Chuck Robinson on Guitar

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Newly signed to Tee Pee Records, Chicago-based Trouble offshoot The Skull have announced that they’ve added former Trouble bassist Chuck Robinson on guitar alongside Lothar Keller and a lineup of former Trouble luminaries: bassist Ron Holzner, vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson. Shortly lived as a four-piece, The Skull have two songs in the can recorded by Billy Anderson set to release in Spring, with a full-length slated to follow later in the year.

It’s also been revealed that The Skull will appear at Montreal’s Wings of Metal festival, playing full sets, one comprised of Trouble‘s Psalm 9 in its entirety to mark the album’s 30th anniversary. The PR wire has details:

THE SKULL’s New Guitarist Revealed

There is now more “Trouble” for THE SKULL – the new band featuring original TROUBLE members vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson alongside TROUBLE’s longtime bassist Ron Holzner and SACRED DAWN guitarist Lothar Keller – as they have recruited former TROUBLE bassist Chuck Robinson as their new dueling guitar player.

Drummer and keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson comments: “We are excited and honored that Chuck Robinson has accepted our invitation to join the band. He is the perfect fit for THE SKULL. I’ve always enjoyed rehearsing with Chuck as he is disciplined with his art. He’ll surely bring a bonus to the band with his experience as a former TROUBLE member and as a seasoned musician who utilizes both his talented song writing ability and his exceptional recording skills. We are looking forward to tour with our brother again.”

Olson added, “Chuck is more than a bass player. He grew up playing guitar with his father, also a very talented guitarist. Eric, Ron, Lothar, and myself know that Chuck is more than capable for the job. He’ll bring chops with a heavy groove to our debut album, as well as bring his charisma to the stage.”

THE SKULL has confirmed the following three shows. More shows will be added for North America and Europe in the coming weeks.

May 09 – Cleveland, Ohio – The Grog Shop
May 10 – Chicago, Illinois – Reggies
August 29 – Montreal, Canada – The Wings of Metal Festival

The Wings of Metal Festival will be a headlining performance consisting of two sets. The first set will be a performance of TROUBLE’s 1984 debut album “Psalm 9” in it’s entirety. The second set will include a performance of newly recorded songs as well as TROUBLE classics.

As previously reported, THE SKULL has inked a deal with Tee Pee Records and has recently recorded two songs with acclaimed producer/engineer Billy Anderson (MELVINS, NEUROSIS) which will see the light of day this spring. THE SKULL will follow the release of the new songs with its debut full length LP, tentatively slated for release this autumn.

THE SKULL is:
Eric Wagner – vocals
Jeff “Oly” Olson – drums/keys
Ron Holzner – bass
Lothar Keller – guitar
Chuck Robinson – guitar

https://www.facebook.com/troubletheskull

Trouble, Psalm 9 (1984)

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