The Skull, For Those Which are Asleep: Out from the Shadow

Posted in Reviews on November 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the skull for those which are asleep

What began as former members of Trouble getting together to play Trouble songs on stage every now and again, mostly at fests like Days of the Doomed and Stoner Hands of Doom, takes on new life with the release of a debut album. The Skull, named for Trouble’s 1985 sophomore outing and invariably linked to that band’s legacy in both sound and personnel — vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson are former members — set a difficult task in distinguishing themselves from three-fifths of the lineup’s former act with For Those Which are Asleep, on Tee Pee Records, but ultimately, the album seems to be less about “not being Trouble and more about giving an honest take on a classic sound. By that I mean The Skull, lineup completed by guitarists Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) and Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram), are neither trying to sound like Trouble nor not sound like Trouble. They’re working in a traditional doom style that Trouble helped to establish on the 10-track/50-minute offering, but songs like “The Touch of Reality,” “Send Judas Down” and “Till the Sun Turns Black” don’t feel like they’re beating a dead stylistic horse. If anything, The Skull sounds vibrant — or as vibrant as doom will allow, anyway — across the new, original songs, and with the key element of Wagner‘s voice working in their favor, they push a lot of what worked best about the moody stretches on the last Wagner-fronted Trouble album, 2007’s Simple Mind Condition, to heavier and more foreboding places, fueled by burly riffing and metallic groove equally comfortable in faster or slower paces.

For those who’ve mourned the loss of Trouble as they were — of course, they’ve continued on and released their The Distortion Field full-length (review here) last year — The Skull are about as close as it seems likely to get. Opener “Trapped inside My Mind” sets expectations high with stellar guitar interplay from Keller and Goldsborough, a speedy chug and Wagner pushing his voice into his trademark higher register delivery. At this point, he’s clearly more comfortable with the mid-range sorrowfulness of “Sick of it All” or the downer-suited drawl of “Send Judas Down,” one of For Those Which are Asleep‘s most effective hooks, but his voice continues to have the power and resonance in the higher-pitch parts to carry them ably. “The Touch of Reality” (streamed here) follows the opener with a lurching nod and representative lead work and gives way in turn to the depressive “Sick of it All,” the airy verse of which seems like the first moment of the album that steps back for a more dynamic breath. Wagner excels at conveying this kind of downtrodden emotionality — to put “defeat” as a specialty seems cruel, but the fact is he’s good at it — and “Sick of it All” is a particularly crushing lyric, the organ-laced “The Door” picking up with layers of piano, acoustic and electric guitar to preview some of what the title-track will hold on side B, Olson‘s kick a steady foundation beneath. More morose than dramatic, there’s still a sense of richness to the arrangement that serves the song well, and the more raucous, riffier “Send Judas Down” follows suit to snap the listener back to reality and close out the album’s first half in rocking fashion, the starts and stops of the verse thrusting into a crash-filled chorus of Sabbathian doom that moves into an airy midsection jam before eventually returning to a stripped-down verse redux and solo-topped chorus finale.

the skull

“A New Generation” and “Till the Sun Turns Black,” which open the second half of For Those Which are Asleep, are the two shortest cuts on the album, each at 4:11 (“Trapped inside My Mind” and “The Touch of Reality” were pretty close), and Wagner once again touches on the higher register for the first of them as he makes his way smoothly into the chorus of the straightforward chugger. Some off-mic shouting and a count-in start “Till the Sun Turns Black,” giving an in-studio feel that’s somewhat jarring for how full the production is but that works with the track’s livelier, more upbeat vibe. Both it and “A New Generation” before are catchy, no frills cuts that emphasize the timeless approach The Skull have taken on their debut, but things open up further stylistically with “For Those Which are Asleep,” the longest song at 7:14, which like “The Door” before it blends acoustics and electrics and a grander sense of arrangement to match its emergent consuming, plus-sized riff. Verses marked out by Olson‘s fervent hi-hat transition sharply into said riff, KellerGoldsborough and Holzner obviously pushing for maximum impact as Wagner remains relatively calm over top. A midsection solo bridges back to the verse and a final chorus that move into a stopping finish that sounds closer-worthy and could’ve easily been the end of the album. It’s not. After the long fadeout of its title-track, For Those Which are Asleep rounds out with “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” and the Trouble cover, “The Last Judgment,” which were released earlier this year as The Skull‘s debut studio recordings on a CD single through Tee Pee (streamed here). I’m pretty sure the versions included here are the same Billy Anderson-recorded ones that appeared before, so it’s kind of curious that they’d be tacked on and not even referred to as bonus tracks or something like that, but there you go. “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is no less welcome now than it was in Spring, and the Trouble song is likewise an excellent take on the track which originally appeared in 1983 on the Metal Massacre IV compilation.

That the Trouble song and first single also found their way onto the full-length makes for a startling end, but I won’t discount their value or that of the material before them. The Skull‘s debut benefits greatly from the pedigree and experience of the band’s members, and there’s no getting around the band’s link to Trouble – nor do I think they’re asking their audience to; they do close with that cover after all — but For Those Which are Asleep also marks the beginning of a branching out from that foundation, and hopefully it’s just the start of a progression that continues to take on a life of its own as it moves forward. For now, within classic doom, I can’t think of anything I could ask from these players that it doesn’t deliver.

The Skull, “The Door”

The Skull on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records

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Fall Tour Pt. 4: Pentagram, Radio Moscow, Bang, Kings Destroy and Iron Reagan, Chicago, IL, 10.23.14

Posted in Reviews on October 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

reggies rock club

Stickers on the wall, a dim, red-hued bar next door, record store upstairs and rooftop deck that I didn’t venture out to see, Reggie’s wasn’t short on vibe. It’s one of those places I’ve seen listed on tour dates for years, but to be there and see the place, turn it from an abstraction on a list of mostly unfamiliar rooms to someplace with actual sights, sounds and beat-up couches on the balcony was an opportunity I genuinely appreciated. And the place lived up to expectations, as much as I had them, with a bare concrete floor, high ceiling, graffiti art all on the walls and a t-shirt shop out toward the front door. Very cool space, and good for them making it work.

Doors were at 7PM, and Richmond, Virginia’s Iron Reagan were opening. Here’s how it went from there:

Iron Reagan

Iron Reagan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

They showed up not too long before the slated start of their set, which was 7:30 – a perfectly reasonable time to start a five-band bill on a weeknight; the venue had a 1:15 curfew in place – and set up their gear and thrashed in likewise manic fashion, tossing off period Slayer riffs amid an ‘80s-worship onslaught that was further conceptually than sonically from vocalist Tony Foresta and guitarist Phil “Landphil” Hall’s other band, Municipal Waste. They played under a huge banner featuring the visage of the former president from whom they derive their name – because the ‘80s – and were more than solid in their delivery if something of the odd men out on the bill. Didn’t stop a circle pit from forming as they quickly ran through a recent EP they put together for Decibel, five songs in about three minutes, which was a solid way to keep momentum going into the highlight “Miserable Failure,” a Cannibal Corpse cover and the finale, “Eat Shit and Live,” which had fists pumping up front. Not really my thing, but I couldn’t argue with the presentation.

Kings Destroy

kings destroy 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

First night of the tour. I’ve seen Kings Destroy enough times by now to know when it’s a rough night, but that wasn’t the feeling I got at Reggie’s. They opened with two older songs, “Old Yeller” and “The Mountie,” which seemed a fitting way of easing into a short half-hour set, and then broke out “Smokey Robinson” and “Mr. O” from the new album, one right into the next. That worked well, and by the time they got to “Smokey Robinson,” they were visibly into it. As much as I dig the speedier “Mr. O,” and I’m glad to hear “The Mountie” whenever able, “Smokey Robinson” was the high point of the set, though I won’t discount the sheer bizarro-doom thrust of rounding out with “Blood of Recompense” into “Turul,” both songs slow, lurching and vicious from the second album, last year’s A Time of Hunting, bringing the record’s closing pair right into people’s faces, loud and stomping and mean. As ever, people at the start didn’t know what was happening and by the end were into it enough that they stopped trying to figure it out and just went with it.

Bang

Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Guitarist Frank Gilcken announced this as Bang’s first tour in 40 years, which got a laugh out of drummer Jake Leger, who most certainly wasn’t there when Gilcken and bassist/vocalist Frank Ferrara last hit the road. Disparity of years notwithstanding, Bang were a tight classic-styled power trio breaking out cuts from their ‘70s era, injecting something a little newer with “The Maze,” and even finding room for a ballad in “Last Will and Testament.” Vintage amps pushed out warm tones, Leger added a swinging sensibility that fit really well, and Ferrara’s vocals had that smooth ‘70s vibe. It was funny to think of both Iron Reagan two bands before, whose idolatry was directed at a different decade entirely, and Radio Moscow still to come, who find the core of their influence in heavy ‘70s blues-inspired acts like Bang. Add to that Pentagram’s ‘70s lineage, and Bang made a lot of sense for the bill, since whether their material was newer or older, they played through with a classic feel and sense of poise, the two Franks coming together on stage regularly to share laughs and grooves alike.

Radio Moscow

Radio Moscow (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve never seen Radio Moscow that they didn’t show up to play, and I’ve never seen Radio Moscow not show up. I don’t think the San Diego classic heavy rockers have come off the road since their Spring run with Kings Destroy and Pentagram, or at least not for any great stretch of time, having done Europe and South America since, in addition to releasing the album Magical Dirt (review here), from which the bounce-happy “Death of a Queen” was aired. There were some issues before they started with guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs’ gear, but they were solved quickly enough, and he, bassist Anthony Meier and drummer Paul Marrone sprinted through regular suspects like “Just Don’t Know,” “Broke Down,” “Before it Burns,” “250 Miles” and “Gypsy Fast Woman,” the latter closing out after Marrone ran off stage quickly to replace a busted kick pedal. The boogie was as fervent as ever, and Radio Moscow delivered the kind of air-tight rager of a set that I’ve come to expect from them since the last tour, Marrone and Meier reminding that while it’s Griggs who gets the most solos – at some point on this tour, I’m going to count who’s got more, him or Frank Gilcken from Bang – it’s just as much the rhythm section that makes the songs move.

Pentagram

Pentagram (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Pentagram played a much bolder set than I expected. I guess after watching them do basically the same batch of songs last time around, my head was just positioned to think this would be more of that, but it wasn’t. “Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)” was early in the set, after “Death Row,” “All Your Sins” and a cover of The Animals’ “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood,” which Pentagram guitarist Victor Griffin also did with In~Graved when I saw them last year at Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin. Even more notably, a new song called “Lay Down and Die” was aired, and frontman Bobby Liebling announced from the stage that the plan was to hit the studio this winter to record a follow-up to 2011’s Last Rites. Hopefully they’ll record with the same lineup they have now – Liebling, Griffin, bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley – since they’ve developed some genuine chemistry on stage, which one could see and hear both in that song, which had some double-time hi-hat from Saley and a fast verse delivery, and in the encore as they jammed out an extended take on “When the Screams Come,” which followed “Be Forewarned” in a raucous finale of sleazed-out doom well met by the Reggie’s crowd, fired and liquored up in kind.

We poured out of the venue circa 1AM and I drove to some town in Wisconsin – after getting much advice on how to get the van out of its spot, most of it bunk. The next show is in Minneapolis, which is another town I’ve never been to and am greatly looking forward to seeing, the land starting show some more hills on the way where it’s been pretty flat since Pennsylvania up to this point. No complaints either way.

More pics after the jump.

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Fall Tour Pt. 3: Knock Three Times

Posted in Features on October 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

morning in ohio

10.23.14 — 4:47PM Central Time — Thursday afternoon — Reggie’s upstairs balcony, Chicago, Illinois

“You guys are dorks.” — Jim Pitts, in response to copious whistling of Peter Frampton’s “Show Me the Way”

Rolled into Reggie’s a couple minutes ago, a lot of handshaking, smiles and how-ya-doins. A lot of these guys kept in touch after the spring tour, so there’s already a familiarity to the proceedings, at least between the Pentagram camp and the Kings Destroy guys — Radio Moscow isn’t here yet but I’m sure they’ll be along — though I also met Bang and they seem like friendly cats. There’s a kind of happy-anxiousness in the room, but Reggie’s is a cool space, and there’s a balcony, so I’ve more or less already planted phantasmo nerahere while Pentagram does a soundcheck.

Got into (Walt) Clyde, Ohio, in time last night to watch the end of the second game of the World Series. Guys had beers and whatnot, and as there are some tough drives ahead, it was good to crash out relatively early and get up this morning, hit the road leisurely and finish the drive to Chicago. A couple bathroom breaks, a lot of gags in the van, gas station coffee — and, in Rob’s case, gas station hard-boiled eggs — and we still got into town early. I’ve never actually been in Chicago before, just driven through on the highway, which cuts into the city but above the streets. It’s the kind of place you’d have to spend years in to feel like you’d know it, like any city, but at least I can say I’ve been here at this point and not feel like I’m exaggerating.

Because it’s a band traveling, a trip to Chicago’s famous heavy metal burger joint, Kuma’s Corner, was in order for lunch. I had the Kuma Burger, which I guess is the house standard — essentially a bacon cheeseburger with a fried egg on top — and a salad on the side. There were a bunch of burgers named after bands, which is kind of their thing. Aaron had the High on Fire. Had peppers on it and I don’t know what else. Jim Pitts bought a sweatshirt. The place played Pentagram kuma's cornerand Weedeater over the P.A. after a bunch of grindcore and black metal. Cool vibe with some vinyl on a rack, Chicago represented by Minsk, Indian and so on. I dug it, and if you’re ever going to be in a burger coma, Weedeater’s God Luck and Good Speed isn’t a bad way to go.

It was countered in the van by Tony Orlando and Dawn, Cheap Trick power ballads, Frampton, and “Dream Weaver.” Take that, heavy metal. We found Sean and Greg from Pentagram playing basketball in the alley behind the venue when we pulled in, but they and Victor Griffin have started soundchecking now. Bobby Liebling is around here somewhere, he’s been back and forth. I think everybody’s ready to get the tour started, or maybe that’s just me projecting. Either way, I’m glad to be here.

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The Skull Premiere “The Touch of Reality” from For Those Which are Asleep

Posted in audiObelisk on October 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the skull

November 4 marks the release date for For Those Which are Asleep, the debut full-length from Chicago doom five-piece The SkullTee Pee Records, known more these days for psychedelic rock (NaamWeird OwlEarthless) than the sort of traditional Sabbathry in which The Skull traffic, will be handling the CD/LP, and if The Skull are something of an odd fit, one can certainly say extenuating circumstances apply.

With three-fifths of the band’s lineup — bassist Ron Holzner, drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson and vocalist Eric Wagner – culled directly from US doom legends Trouble, no doubt many of those who approach The Skull‘s first long-player will do so with a firm expectation of what’s in store. In some ways, those expectations will be right, but with guitarists Lothar Keller and Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram) each playing a significant tonal role, For Those Which are Asleep sets its own course through doomly traditions.the skull for those which are asleep Wagner‘s inimitable vocal style, semi-spoken and subdued on “Send Judas Down” and “The Touch of Reality” and pushing into higher-register theatrics on the title-track and “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” — which, coupled with a cover of Trouble‘s “The Last Judgment,” was released earlier this year as a single (streamed here) to herald the album’s coming — to further the band’s utterly classic sound, modern and crisp in its production in a way that coincides with some of the album’s more forward-thinking moments, The Skull not just interested in paying homage to Trouble‘s legacy, which is how they started, but in moving ahead and building on it as well.

Today I have the extreme pleasure of debuting the track “The Touch of Reality.” It’s the second cut on For Those Which are Asleep behind “Trapped Inside My Mind” and it slips easily into one of the record’s most satisfying grooves, Olson smoothly riding the rhythm in Keller and Goldsborough‘s riffing, given heft by the breadth and ever-dynamic bass-work of Holzner while Wagner holds court over top. With The Skull, one of doom’s most enduring legacies breathes new life, and For Those Which are Asleep is as resounding a wake up call as one could ask. Heads and headbangers alike will be pleased.

Please find “The Touch of Reality” on the player below, followed by some info off the PR wire, and enjoy:

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THE SKULL — the new band featuring original members Eric Wagner (vocals) and Jeff “Oly” Olson (drums) of American doom metal legends TROUBLE alongside longtime TROUBLE bassist Ron Holzner, guitarist Lothar Keller (SACRED DAWN) and former PENTAGRAM guitarist Matt Goldsborough will release their debut album For Those Which Are Asleep on November 4 via Tee Pee Records, the NYC independent record label known for releasing landmark albums from acts such as High on Fire, Graveyard, Earthless and Sleep.

Written and recorded this past spring, For Those Which Are Asleep features ten tracks of elemental Heavy Metal and is the first full length album to feature Wagner, Holzner and Olson since the 1995 release of TROUBLE’s critically acclaimed LP Plastic Green Head. The new record’s greatest strength is how well it captures the apocalyptic trudge that Trouble delivered from the first downbeat of their 1984 debut, but now unequivocally propelled by the hallmarks of a hungry new band fueled by new blood. The mighty voice of Wagner is on full display; the vocalist proving on For Those Which Are Asleep that he still wields an eerie power at the mic. Titanic riffs abound as Keller and Goldsborough weave ominous atmospheres over the molten, crushing core of Holzner and Olson’s sinister strut. Make no mistake, THE SKULL are in complete command of their craft and have capably created a modern classic; a recording where atmosphere is established as drums crash, guitars blare and stories are told.

For Those Which are Asleep on iTunes

The Skull on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records

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Lark’s Tongue Stream Debut LP Narrow in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on September 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

larks tongue

Illinois five-piece Lark’s Tongue will release their debut album, Narrow, through their own Bird Dialect Records on Sept. 20 (preorder here). The eight-song 2LP plays out in utter defiance of its title: Narrow is anything but as Lark’s Tongue explore the spaces between heavy psychedelia and post-rock, working influences from New Wave melancholia into songs like “Hecate” and concocting rich vocal harmonies to complement the airy backing of guitar effects and synth that constitute their lush, immersive sound when paired with deep bass and underlying drums that seem to hold the whole thing together. At 63 minutes, it is as ambitious a debut as one is likely to hear this year or any other, and its weight is matched by both its sonic and emotional resonance.

There are moments at which, with the spacious mix, ever-present focus on melody and heavy push, Lark’s Tongue remind of mid-period Katatonia or some of Anathema‘s former glories, but they seem to take the long way around to get there. That is, I don’t think it’s a direct influence, and rather that the wisping guitar of “Lay Me Down Slow” and the dramatic vocals of “Hermit’s Lament” come more from post-rock than the doom that took earlier inspiration from it. Still, as Narrow plays out, even in a heavier-rocking cut like “The Mask of Evil,” there’s a definite sense of clarity in Lark’s Tongue‘s vision, lark's tongue narrowand the method of expression varies widely between the dreamy opening of “Windows and Mirrors” and the drone-to-apex finale of “Brown Recluse,” but what remains consistent is the smoothness with which they execute the material and the vast range of the album’s scope, undercutting the notion of Narrow as a first album and giving away members’ experience in acts like MinskMen of FortuneDeceased Priest and JuanGoblin.

Lark’s Tongue is comprised of Chris Bennett, Jeff Hyde, Nate Lucas, Jon Wright and Andrew Sledd, and whatever else Narrow may or may not be, it’s a huge leap from where they were last year on their split with Across Tundras (streamed here). Listening to it is like diving into a pool, the way the band’s sound encompasses, especially when played at appropriate volume. Perhaps the most immersive moment is “Cold Hands,” which over the course of its 10 minutes rises from minimal guitar drones to a huge, lumbering tonal crush topped with somehow-still-under-control vocals that really emphasize just how far ahead of the game these guys are.

They’ll play two release shows for Narrow on Sept. 19 and 20. PR wire details and LP preoroder info follow the album itself, which you can hear on the player below.

Please enjoy:

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Following a debut 7″ and split 12″s with Across Tundras and Men of Fortune, Narrow is the debut full-length from Lark’s Tongue and the ninth release on the band’s own label, Bird Dialect. It features eight expansive songs across two LPs that collectively encapsulate the band’s first four years of existence.

Narrow is a pilgrimage across the vastness of psychedelic rock to places at once familiar and foreboding, severe and loving, intricate and immense. It’s the band’s first fully-formed missive: a statement of intention, a transmission of catharsis, a halcyon ode to the power of transformation.

A vinyl release show is set for September 20th at Ear in the Envelope in Peoria, Illinois, just one day after the band opens for the legendary Nik Turner’s Hawkwind at RIBCO in Rock Island.

Recorded by Jeff Gregory at ToneLab/Earth Analog
Mixed by Sanford Parker at Hypercube
Mastered by Collin Jordan at The Boiler Room

Pre-order the record at birddialect.bigcartel.com. For more information, visit birddialect.com or larkstongue.bandcamp.com.

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The Skull Debut Album For Those Which are Asleep Coming Nov. 4

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Don’t put 2014 to bed yet! After releasing their debut single earlier this year (review here), The Skull will issue their first full-length, For Those Which are Asleep, on Nov. 4 via Tee Pee Records. I’m in genuine suspense to hear how the Trouble offshoot — vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson hailing from the seminal Chicago doomers — pay homage to their origins and even more how guitarists Lothar Keller and Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram) distinguish themselves in tone and style and thus plot a new course for The Skull distinct from that of the band to whom they were originally formed as a tribute.

The title fascinates as well. The phrase “for those which are asleep” would seem to speak of things not human, otherwise it would be “for those whom are asleep.” Not sure if it’s meant to speak of an personify inanimate objects or if it’s just an odd turn of phrase, but it’s one more thing to add intrigue — if only to grammar dorks — about the album.

The Skull have the unenviable task of driving from Montreal to Delaware next weekend to appear at the Wings of Metal and Vultures of Volume festival. Bit of a hike that I’m sure will prove worth their while.

A certain PR wire has specifics:

the skull for those which are asleep

THE SKULL to Release For Those Which Are Asleep November 4

Metal Band Featuring Former Members of Doom Legends TROUBLE and PENTAGRAM Finalize Debut LP

THE SKULL — the new band featuring original members Eric Wagner (vocals) and Jeff “Oly” Olson (drums) of American doom metal legends TROUBLE alongside longtime TROUBLE bassist Ron Holzner, guitarist Lothar Keller (SACRED DAWN) and former PENTAGRAM guitarist Matt Goldsborough will release their debut album For Those Which Are Asleep on November 4 via Tee Pee Records, the NYC independent record label known for releasing landmark albums from acts such as High on Fire, Graveyard, Earthless and Sleep.

Written and recorded this past spring, For Those Which Are Asleep features ten tracks of elemental Heavy Metal and is the first full length album to feature Wagner, Holzner and Olson since the 1995 release of TROUBLE’s critically acclaimed LP Plastic Green Head. The new record’s greatest strength is how well it captures the apocalyptic trudge that Trouble delivered from the first downbeat of their 1984 debut, but now unequivocally propelled by the hallmarks of a hungry new band fueled by new blood. The mighty voice of Wagner is on full display; the vocalist proving on For Those Which Are Asleep that he still wields an eerie power at the mic. Titanic riffs abound as Keller and Goldsborough weave ominous atmospheres over the molten, crushing core of Holzner and Olson’s sinister strut. Make no mistake, THE SKULL are in complete command of their craft and have capably created a modern classic; a recording where atmosphere is established as drums crash, guitars blare and stories are told.

For Those Which Are Asleep track listing:

1.) Trapped Inside My Mind
2.) The Touch of Reality
3.) Sick of It All
4.) The Door
5.) Send Judas Down
6.) A New Generation
7.) Till the Sun Turns Black
8.) For Those Which Are Asleep
9.) Sometime Yesterday Mourning
10.) The Last Judgment

This month, THE SKULL will pay tribute to TROUBLE’s landmark debut Psalm 9 (which Wagner and Olson co-wrote and performed on) in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the record’s release. THE SKULL will perform the influential album in its entirety at both the Wings of Metal Festival (Aug. 29 in Montreal) and the Vultures of Volume Festival (Aug. 30 in New Castle, Delaware) as headliners of each gathering. The band has also been confirmed to perform the full album at Barcelona’s Day of Doom Festival on October 10. Additional shows are expected to be announced as well.

https://www.facebook.com/troubletheskull
https://twitter.com/troubletheskull

The Skull, “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” b/w “The Final Judgment” (2014)

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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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