Posted in Whathaveyou on July 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Trouble family tree strikes again, bringing forth the self-titled debut full-length from Chicago five-piece Spillage. Aside from guitarist Tony Spillman, formerly of Earthen Grave, the band also featured vocalist Lothar Keller, who plays guitar in The Skull. If that’s not enough lineage for you, it was produced by Bruce Franklin, who, of course, is one of Trouble‘s founding guitarists. So there.
It’s out now through Qumran Records on CD with vinyl to follow, as the PR wire informs:
Behold! The wait is over!
Nearly 10 years in the making, the debut album from Spillage has just been let loose on the highways of hard rock/metal!
Tony Spillman, formerly of Earthen Grave, has assembled a massively talented lineup that brings the songs of Spillage to life with raw emotion, colorful landscapes, and at times, full blown rage! Lothar Keller (The Skull/Divinity Compromised) lends his incredible range to light up the vocals, Nick Bozidarevic (Band of Brothers) joins Tony to create a very Tipton/Downing-esque guitar duo, and Willie Max (Blackfinger/Shadoz Edge) and Chris Martins (Band of Brothers) hold down an absolutely thunderous rhythm section, and Paul Rau lays down the essential keyboard accents. Special guest lead guitar spots by none other than Trouble’s Bruce Franklin send things completely into the stratosphere.
Taking the best qualities of early Judas Priest & Uriah Heep, and mixing it with Uli Jon Roth era Scorpions, Spillage manages to create brilliant, original music that stands well on its own in today’s heavy scene.
Produced by the one and only Bruce Franklin, the self titled Spillage debut will be released world-wide on June 30th, 2015 via Qumran Records. CD and digital downloads will be available online via the band’s official Bandcamp page:www.spillage.bandcamp.com.
The track listing for the debut Spillage album is as follows: 1. The Darkness 2. Live In Fear 3. The Road 4. Call It Freedom 5. In Hell 6. Insomnia 7. Devil Woman 8. Land Of Opportunity 9. We Are
Limited edition red vinyl will be available soon!
Having already shared the stage with the likes of Trouble, Elder, and Brimstone Coven, and taking part in high profile festivals such as Days Of The Doomed, Spillage is poised to hit the road this summer in full force supporting the release of their debut album. Check listings for a city near you!
Posted in Reviews on July 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
And so we cruise into day three. Not sure how you’re holding up, but I feel like I’m hanging in pretty well. We pass the halfway point today, which is significant, but of course there are still plenty of records to come. I’m not sure I have a favorite day — I tried to spread stuff around as best I could when I was planning the whole thing — but there are definitely a couple highlights today as well. No doubt the standouts will stand out as we make our way through.
Quarterly Review #21-30:
Minsk, The Crash and the Draw
Six years after the release of their third album, With Echoes in the Movement of Stone (review here), the 75-minute breadth of The Crash and the Draw (on Relapse) marks a welcome resurgence for Illinois post-metallers Minsk. Only keyboardist/vocalist Timothy Mead and guitarist/vocalist Christopher Bennett (also of Lark’s Tongue) remain from what was a four-piece and is now five with Aaron Austin on guitar/vocals, Zachary Livingston on bass/vocals and Kevin Rendleman on drums, but Minsk’s cascading heft is well intact as they show immediately on 12-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) “To the Initiate.” True enough one is bound to be initiated after it, but it hardly scratches the surface of the atmospheric sludge Minsk continue to develop over the course of the four-parter “Onward Procession,” the glorious later melodies of “The Way is Through,” or the tribal tension in the percussion-led “To You there is No End.” They cap with the 10-minute “When the Walls Fell” and find themselves standing after all else has crashed down. A sprawling and triumphant return.
Not to be confused with New York’s King Buffalo, Michigan’s Bison Machine or any number of other large mammals in the well-populated fur-covered contingent of American heavy rockers, King Bison make their self-titled debut via Snake Charmer Coalition, comprising seven riffy bruisers owing a deep debt to Clutch and, in that, reminding a bit of their Pennsylvanian countrymen in Kingsnake. Songs like “One for the Money” and “March of the Sasquatch” signal a watch for stoner-roller grooves to come in “Queen of the South” and “Pariah,” the dudeliness of the proceedings practically oozing from the speakers in the gruff vocals of guitarist/vocalist Chris Wojcik, who’s joined in the trio by bassist Dean Herber and drummer Scott Carey. The penchant for booze and blues, ladies and US auto manufacturing holds firm in “Night Ride” and the slower “I’m Gone,” and while one might expect a closer called “Space Boogie” to flesh out a bit, King Bison instead reinforce the foundation they’ve laid all along of Southern-style heft, remaining light on pretense and heavy on riffs.
Originally issued digitally late last year, Salzburg, Austria, instrumental trio Les Lekin are set to give their debut long-player, All Black Rainbow Moon, a second look with a 180g vinyl pressing in Fall 2015. Comprised of six tracks, the record is a spacious 49 minutes, and the three-piece of guitarist Peter G., bassist Stefan W. and drummer Kerstin W. enact a fluid heavy psych groove, somewhat less dense in its fuzz than the post-Colour Haze sphere and following plotted courses throughout, whether it’s in the Arenna-esque “Solum,” which unfolds after the album’s wash of an intro, the efficient exploration of “Useless,” which seems to pack a 12-minute jam into a six-minute song, or the still-open-sounding bluesy stretchout of “Loom,” the longest inclusion here at 13:16. Familiar in aesthetic perhaps, the songs are nonetheless complex enough to represent the band’s beginnings well, the closer “Release” coming to a heavier apex that could perhaps foreshadow future expansions of the chiaroscuro elements at which the title of this debut is hinting.
After releasing their 2012 debut, Voyage, on Nuclear Blast last year, young Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan return in 2015 with their sophomore full-length, Arrival – the second record seeming by title to be an answer to the first. Maybe that’s the intention musically, but the 10 tracks/55 minutes comprising Arrival do well to stand on their own, with the impressive lead work of guitarist/vocalist Óskar Logi never too far from the fore on songs like the standout “Babylon” or “Sandwalker,” though backed capably by the rhythm section of bassist Alexander Örn (also backup vocals) and drummer Stefán Ari Stefánsson. While unquestionably a more mature outing than their debut and more accomplished in its chemistry and songwriting, Arrival still gives a sense of the progression to come, and it’s easy to worry that by the time the listener gets to the powerful closing trio of “Innerverse,” “Carousel” and “Winter Queen,” the dizzying play throughout will have dulled the senses past the point of full appreciation. Room to tighten? Perhaps, but still a strong second outing for a band loaded with potential.
Guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey is known more for the aggressive edge he’s brought over the years to bands like We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai and most recently Shatner, but his solo material brings a different look. Joined in this “solo” endeavor by guitarist/vocalist/organist Joe McMahon, cellist/backing vocalist Dana Fisher, drummer Kyle Rasmussen and accordionist/backing vocalist Bridget Nault, Healey’s songwriting is nonetheless front and center across the nine tracks of This is What the End Looked Like, memorable cuts like “A Whole Lot of Nothing,” the more subdued “Radio” (written by Eddy Llerena) and closer “World War Eight” fleshing out arrangements that could work and/or have worked just as well on solo acoustic guitar for Healey in live performances. Worth noting that for all the vocal and instrumental embellishments on the studio incarnations, the songs lose none of the heartfelt feel at their core, Healey’s voice remaining a lonely presence despite obviously keeping good company.
Nighthymns marks a return for ANU and the band’s sole inhabitant Chad “Drathrul” Davis (Hour of 13/Night Magic, Tasha-Yar, The Sabbathian, and so many others) after a four-year absence following the release of 2011’s III EP. Offsetting blasting, ripping black metal on cuts like “Enter the Chasm” and “The Eternal Frost” with the ambient drones of “Risen within the Mist of Obscurity,” the longer “Winterfall” and the title-track, Nighthymns nonetheless gnashes its teeth in a dense blackened murk, screams far back in “Enter the Chasm” beneath programmed-sounding thud and full-on guitar squibblies. A project Davis has had going in one form or another since releasing a first demo in 1999, and likely before that, ANU’s slicing extremity and atmospherics rest well alongside each other, but neither is accessibility a remote concern. If you get it, you get it, and if you don’t, you don’t. Nighthymns is way more concerned with separating wheat from chaff than it is with making friends, and that plays much to its ultimate success.
Comprised of gruff-shouting vocalist Henning L., guitarists Christopher P. and Stephan M., bassist Matthias B. and drummer Torsten H., German riff idolizers Iron and Stone debuted in 2013 with an EP titled Maelstrom and Old Man’s Doom is a follow-up short release. Pressed to DIY cassettes, the three-tracker preaches loud and clear to the nod-ready converted in “Place in Hell” and “Into the Unknown,” big riffs lumbering out stone vibes, intertwining rhythms and leads in the latter as Henning works his shouting into a corresponding notation. “Into the Unknown” ends large and Sabbathy, but speedier closer “Bliss of Diversion” is a high point unto itself for the consistency of the tonal morass that the uptick in pace brings out of the guitar and bass, resulting in a kind of noisy, dense-in-the-low-end punk that suits Iron and Stone well despite operating in defiance of the EP’s title. New material reportedly in the works as well.
Their first album, Second Sun follows a 2012 self-titled EP from Indiana trio Gorgantherron, but is in a different league entirely. A well-set mix balance establishes itself on the opening title-track and develops throughout “Superliminial” and “Bookbinder” as they get rolling, and Gorgantherron – guitarist/vocalist Clint Logan, bassist/vocalist Toby Richardson and drummer Chris Flint – continue to foster grooving largesse over the nine tracks/47 minutes, veering skillfully between boogie and doom on “Pre-Warp Civilization” before airing out an atmospheric take on “Seventh Planet,” the rough-edged vocals prevalent in quieter surroundings. Richardson’s fuzz on “The Stone” ensures the song lives up to its name, and the soft guitar noodling that opens “Paranoia” brings a surprising touch of Colour Haze influence out of the blue before a count-in from Flint puts the band’s roll back on its appointed track. Closing duo “Entropy” and “Defy” offer some shuffle and chug, respectively, but by then the trio have already made the album’s primary impression in their heavy riffs, burl and more than capable execution.
The two cuts of Spanish trio Elephant Riders’ Challenger EP take Kyuss-style desert riffing and reset the context to something altogether less jammy. Tight and presented with a near-metallic crispness in their production, both “Challenger” – rerecorded from an earlier EP – and its more rolling B-side “Lone Wolf” push the line between heavy and hard rock, but riffs remain central to their purposes. Having released their debut full-length, Supernova, in 2014, they’re still getting settled into their sound, but a blend of heavy rock, grunge and metal impulses pervades these two songs, and when “Lone Wolf” shifts into a couple measures of start-stop fuzz riffing in its second half, they show off just a reminder nod for where they got their name. Two catchy tracks that maybe aren’t reinventing the stoner rock game, they nonetheless provide a quick sample of Elephant Rider’s songwriting development in progress and plant the seeds of future hooks to come.
When placed next to each other, the five one-word titles on Lend Me Your Underbelly’s Hover – either the project’s third or fourth full-length, depending on what you count – result in the phrase “Everything” “Was” “Deep” “Dark” “Green.” Whether or not that is of special significance to Netherlands-based multi-instrumentalist/sampler Christian Berends, I don’t know. The whole idea across these tracks seems to be experimentation and improvisation, so if the titles were grabbed from somewhere at random or carrying a rich emotional connection, either is just as likely. Not knowing turns out to be half the fun of Hover itself – not knowing that, not knowing what Berends is going to do around the next turn as each track builds, not knowing where all this noise is leading as the swirls and riffs of “Green” close out. Layers careen, appear and disappear throughout, but the wide open structures and creative sensibility remain consistent and tie Hover together as an intricate work of exploratory psychedelia.
As I suppose will happen when you’re approaching your 200th Wino Wednesday — this is #190, so if there’s a countdown (and there isn’t), then the countdown is on — I went to look up the date when Wino was at Reggies in Chicago early in 2013 and found the info in another Wino Wednesday post. File under “Go Figure.” The date, incidentally, was Jan. 6, and it was after he and Mondo Generator and Saviours finished touring with Clutch for their annual holiday bonanza, and that other clip was of Nick Oliveri and Saviours and Wino jamming out a cover of Savoy Brown‘s “Hellbound Train,” a song Wino had also been performing for over a year in the duo Wino & Conny Ochs.
That set-finishing jam seems not to have been the only exceptional circumstance around those shows. “Dark Ravine” was a track originally included on the first Wino & Conny Ochs album, 2012’s Heavy Kingdom (review here), and as Wino did tours in that duo in Europe and the US, it’s easy to imagine that material was pretty fresh in mind. Still, it’s an interesting take to hear him perform the song solo; its already lonely, melancholic vibe becoming only more so for the solitary rendition. The camera in this clip sticks pretty close to the man himself — it’s a tight shot the whole time through — so there’s not as much a sense of what the crowd’s response would’ve been, but the song sounds good anyway, and we get a little of that good acoustic fuzz, so I’ll take it.
Been curious to see what Wino‘s going to do next, touring-wise. He’ll play with Spirit Caravan at the Maryland Doom Fest at the end of the month, but with the status of his spot in Saint Vitus questionable, it’s kind of an in-between moment. In the past, that’s brought about new projects, and there have been murmurings in that direction with the Royale Daemons collaboration with Oliveri, but nothing has materialized there as yet, so time will tell what’s actually going to happen.
One thing’s for sure, more Wednesdays. Enjoy:
Wino, “Dark Ravine” Live at Reggies, Chicago, Jan. 6. 2013
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The classy gents of Chicago’s Bongripper will head to the West Coast in July to play a quick series of shows. Dubbed the ‘Way of the Shred’ Tour, it will be Thief Presents‘ gearing up for this year’s Day of the Shred fest — preceded, of course, by Night of the Shred — though the tour’s in July and I’d have sworn the fest was in Oct./Nov., coinciding with the traditional Day of the Dead.
Further inspection shows a couple bands have already been announced for Day of the Shred, among them Captain Beyond, as well as Monolord and Black Bombaim — like Thief‘s recently executed Psycho California fest, this one showing a keen eye for European acts — and Rwake, Torche and Windhand, lest Relapse go underrepresented. Announcements have reportedly been suspended until next month, at which point headliners and others will be unveiled, but already it seems to be a pretty impressive lineup for the Night and the subsequent Day, listed as Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Lucky Halloween is a weekend, I guess.
So I’m not sure how Bongripper will be involved in that fest — they’ll play Southwest Terror Fest earlier in Oct. in Arizona — but they’re on board for the ‘Way of the Shred’ in any case, and no doubt what will be shredded is eardrums. Also stomped on.
Poster, dates and links:
Bongripper – California – July 2015
Night/Day Of the Shred announcements have been postponed until July. In the meantime we are flying in BONGRIPPER for a proper 3 day run up the coast.
Thief presents WAY OF THE SHRED July 2015 “A short west coast run leading up to Day Of The Shred 2015 featuring SHRED Alumni and friends.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Dead Feathers must keep a stock of vacuum tubes on hand, because if the sound of their debut EP is anything to judge by, they must blow through them about as soon as their amps are switched on. The Chicago four-piece initially released their self-titled EP in 2014 and have just announced their allegiance to HeviSike Records for a reissue of the fuzzed-out four-tracker, complete with all the classy/-ic blues swagger and ’70s vibing one could feasibly ask.
It’s early yet for any kind of word of a follow-up to the EP and whether or not that will also be delivered through HeviSike, but the EP reissue will be out on vinyl this August and that’s a good start as more ears get introduced to the band. Dead Feathers will also join up with Electric Citizen, Mondo Drag and Slow Season July 10 in Chicago at Reggies for what will no doubt be a good time.
Word came down the PR wire of the signing. It goes a little something like this:
Chicago, IL psychedelic rock group DEAD FEATHERS announce signing to UK label HEVISIKE RECORDS.
Five-piece psychedelic rock group Dead Feathers have partnered with English stoner rock label HeviSike Records. The label will release the band’s self-titled debut EP.
The band’s 4 song demo has gained widespread attention throughout the underground music community due to the hypnotic vocals of frontwoman Marissa Allen complemented by guitarists Tony Wold and Shaggy Shadric plus the rhythm section of Rob Rodak (bass) and Jose Bernal (drums).
The young troupe are set to embark on a series of shows including performances with Slow Season, Electric Citizen, The Well, Joy, Bonehawk and Ancient River.
Available as a digital download and limited edition 10” vinyl, August 2015.
Baby Huey, The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend (1971)
By the time The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend was released in 1971, its title was a misnomer. Based out of Chicago for his short career, James “Baby Huey” Ramey himself died late in 1970, succumbing to a cocktail of heroin and alcohol addiction. He was 26 and had a heart attack. His producer, none other than Curtis Mayfield, set about compiling The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend and released it in 1971 on his own Curtom Records to minimal fanfare at the time, but the album has held up to decades of scrutiny as a classic of heavy funk and soul, moving beyond simple James Brownisms as Ramey‘s band tears into the upbeat jam of “Mama Get Yourself Together,” which follows opener “Listen to Me,” on which Ramey digs into screams that could only fairly be called “face-melting.” In a quick 41 minutes, The Baby Huey Story is told in its entirety, but it’s the best argument around for keeping Ramey‘s legend alive.
Also the only argument. While reissues have attempted to feign some manner of original presentation over the years as Baby Huey‘s cult has grown, The Baby Huey Story remains the only Baby Huey release in earnest, and while its organ-laced take on Sam Cooke‘s “A Change is Gonna Come” and funkified swing on Mayfield‘s hard times and The Mamas and the Papas‘ “California Dreamin'” don’t leave much to be desired, it is worth speculating what Ramey might’ve been able to contribute to soul had he not died so young. “Mama Get Yourself Together” and closer “One Dragon Two Dragon” are original compositions, both using expansive instrumentation, horn sections, mellotron keys, percussion, organ, electric guitar, and though both are instrumentally-focused, they present Ramey as a bandleader of considerable presence and potential. In the context of The Baby Huey Story, they deepen the soulful agonies of “A Change is Gonna Come” (you can hear the pain in the spoken and the sung parts) and the fat, fuzzed-out bass of “Running,” but it’s just as easy to imagine Ramey pushing his own songwriting forward on subsequent releases. We’ll never know.
It’s mighty mighty. Hope you enjoy.
So I have a job interview on Wednesday, which is an interesting development. Having been unemployed for over a year now and not by choice, I feel like I’m ready to get on to something new. Gonna buy a suit and give it an honest shot. We’ll see how it goes, but don’t expect too many posts on Wednesday one way or another. The place is like an hour away and I anticipate a good amount of fatigue one way or another when the interview is over. Not that I’ll be running laps, but you know what I mean. It’s hard work being human, and I haven’t done it in a while.
This week, huh? Wow. Roadburn already feels like a year ago, a distant time out of time, but I feel like the emotional benefits of having gone have carried me back into “real life” — as much as this is and that isn’t — better than I could have hoped they might. I’ve been feeling good this week, in other words. While I’ve been tired, and barely able to keep up with what’s happening around me, musically and otherwise, I think back to being at the 013 and I look out the window at the beginnings of Spring here in Massachusetts and it doesn’t seem so dire. I wound up catching the right train. Things work out.
I may or may not have an interesting project in the works for the months to come. I know that’s very vague, but I want to make note of the development if only for myself, to sort of mark the calendar, and I’m full-on believe-it-when-I-see-it mode, but there’s stirrings in a cool direction and I’m hopeful the planets align in my favor. Ducks in a row, pages bound and all that.
Man this Baby Huey record smokes.
Thanks all for checking in this week. Next week, reviews of Enslaved and Wo Fat and hopefully Lamp of the Universe. Monday is a full-album stream from The Atomic Bitchwax, and I’ll have premieres as well for Arenna and Apostle of Solitude of one sort or another as the week goes on. Busy as ever. Hoping to see Sun Voyager this weekend in Boston as well. Might get a podcast up for Wednesday too, since I won’t be around. Certainly plenty of new stuff to feature.
Have a great and safe weekend. I hope to catch you back next week, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.
Last week, when I posted about Royale Daemons, a new trio featuring Scott “Wino” Weinrich, Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo — whose debut show in L.A. got canceled; an auspicious start — I failed to make the connection of how the seeds of the collaboration between Wino and Oliveri likely started. Wino, playing acoustic, toured with Oliveri‘s band Mondo Generator at the start of 2013. Saviours were also on the bill, and at least during several of the gigs, Wino, Oliveri and some of the members of Saviours got on stage together and jammed. Seems likely that’s where the idea of Wino and Oliveri teaming up got its beginning. The same thing happened with Wino & Conny Ochs, the two having first met while on tour together in Europe.
“Hellbound Train” is a song that kicked around Wino solo sets and sets on the Wino & Conny Ochs tour for the better part of 2012 and 2013. He may or may not still play it, I haven’t seen an acoustic gig from him in a while at this point. Originally by Savoy Brown and appearing on the 1972 album of the same name, it’s open to a smooth guitar jam the kind of which the Wino/Oliveri/Saviours troupe provided, no fewer than three acoustic guitars involved along with Oliveri‘s electric bass and the drums. When that tour was winding down, I posted a full set from Pittsburgh in which the same kind of thing took place, noting at the time that a collaboration between Wino and Oliveri would be “awesome.” Glad to know my feelings on that have not changed in the intervening two years.
This weeks’ Wino Wednesday footage, however, is just the jam itself. It comes from Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago on Jan. 6, 2013, on the same tour and boasts another comfortable-sounding, engaging jam. The crowd seems to like it, if all the “woo”-ing is anything to go by.
Wino, Nick Oliveri & Saviours, “Hellbound Train” live in Chicago, Jan. 6, 2013
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ll admit, I’m pretty surprised to read that drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson has left his post in The Skull, the band that reunited him with his former Trouble bandmates, vocalist Eric Wager and bassist Ron Holzner. Not just for the revived camaraderie, but also because The Skull are really good. You know what I mean? If The Skull had put out their debut album and it had sucked and they weren’t having any fun, well, then okay. But that’s not the case. The Skull released For Those which are Asleep (review here) last fall on Tee Pee and it was one of 2014’s best doom releases. Olson, Holzner, Wagner and guitarists Lothar Keller and Matt Goldsborough killed it, pulling off not only a classic Trouble vibe, but the start of something of their own as well.
Unfortunate that’s not enough to keep Olson on board. I’m sure the band will find a suitable replacement sound-wise, but Olson‘s also-used-to-be-in-Trouble cred is even harder to come by than doom drummers. Last I heard, he was based in Maine while the rest of the band is in Chicago, so that may have had something to do with it — if you’re looking for a reason — though, and this is just rampant speculation, with the success of the album, they may be looking to tour more throughout this year. Whatever happens, whatever I hear, I’ll let you know.
The brief announcement came through late in the day on Friday:
Original TROUBLE Drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson Departs THE SKULL
Original TROUBLE drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson has decided to leave THE SKULL, the band formed by Olson along side original TROUBLE vocalist Eric Wagner and longtime former TROUBLE bassist Ron Holzner. There is no animosity in the band and it was a friendly departure.
Olson tweeted today… “I loved jamming with @TroubleTheSkull, but it’s time to depart and wish the band all the best! Looking forward to my next chapter…”