Posted in Reviews on July 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It has been a turbulent decade-plus for Chicago doomers Trouble. Their lineup came apart following the release of 1995′s Plastic Green Head, ending a run that established a loyal fanbase and cemented their legacy in doom and heavy rock as one of the most powerful two-guitar acts ever to wield a riff. A 2002 live reunion started rumors swirling about a new album, and in 2005, a series of show recordings and compilations began to surface, culling together old bootleg-style releases and demos in self-released, for-fans style. Label drama surrounded the release of 2007′s seventh album, Simple Mind Condition, which added to apparently already-present tensions in the band, and though the record was able to update the spirit of Trouble‘s earlier works without sounding either clownish or like it was trying to recapture something that wasn’t there anymore, the group languished, the album went unappreciated by most save for the most cultish of Trouble followers — they’re out there — and eventually, founding frontman Eric Wagner split (again; having left the first time in ’95 to front the psychedelic rock project Lid). Trouble replaced him with Kory Clarke of Warrior Soul and pressed on, but the magic that characterized the band at their best was long gone, guitarists Rick Wartell and Bruce Franklin left as the only remaining founding members, drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson also having resigned in 2008 and a series of bassists having followed in the wake of Ron Holzner leaving in 2002, including Chuck Robinson and Shane Pasqualla — all the while a growing league of bands coming up as side-projects and ex-members reasserted themselves; see Retro Grave, Earthen Grave, This Tortured Soul, Blackfinger, Wet Animal. It’s telling that even as they release their eighth album and first studio outing in six years, The Distortion Field, through Austrian label FRW Records, Trouble lists no permanent bassist in its lineup, otherwise comprised of Wartell, Franklin, vocalist Kyle Thomas and drummer Mark Lira, as if to indicate that the drama that’s surrounded them for the last 18 years isn’t quite over yet. Even The Distortion Fielditself began its life in 2009, initially announced as The Dark Riff but subject to a fortunate title change at some point along the way, so one imagines that with a four-year holdup and the personnel shifts that have played out as well, Trouble are at very least living up to their name.
The most glaring issue with The Distortion Fieldand a hurdle I suspect many listeners simply won’t be able to overcome is the lack of Wagner‘s ultra-distinct vocals in these songs. To Thomas‘ credit, he is a proven, powerful, accomplished and technically precise metal singer, and on cuts like “Sucker,” “Hunters of Doom,” “The Broken Has Spoken” and “Paranoia Conspiracy,” the former Exhorder and Floodgate frontman (who also stepped in to lead the charge on Alabama Thunderpussy‘s metallized 2007 swansong, Open Fire) gives as vigilant a performance as one could ask. Lyrics here and there lack perspective, and how the ballad “Have I Told You” made it onto the album, I’ll never know, but if The Distortion Fieldsinks, it’s not because of Thomas‘ singing. At 57:50 and 13 tracks deep, Trouble‘s return hones directly in on the band’s trad metal lurch with the searing beginning leads giving way to chugging riffs of “When the Sky Comes Down.” Thomas is distinct on one of The Distortion Field‘s best choruses, and his time fronting the band live between 1997 and 2000 seems to have paid off in how naturally he fits himself in with Franklin and Wartell‘s tones. Sure enough, the album’s highlight material — most of it, anyhow — is up front, “Paranoia Conspiracy” adding some grit to the momentum and “The Broken Has Spoken” rounding out a strong opening trio with a gang-shout chorus and classic riff that acts as a prelude to the ’70s swagger later to come on “Glass of Lies.” Structures are traditional verse/chorus exclusively, and though by the end of the Dio Sabbath-ian “Sink or Swim,” the crux of what works best about The Distortion Fieldis set, there’s still a long, long way to go, “One Life” working to “bring it down” en route to “Have I Told You,” which is a dip in heaviness and with rock-dudes-can-feel-feelings-too-you-know lyrics that, while sweet, are so within the stereotypical power ballad sphere despite being underproduced that I’ve come just to skip it — something I almost never do — and move on to “Hunters of Doom,” a lyric no less generic but one of the album’s heaviest riffs. Immediate motoring chug, headbanging groove, bluesy solos and a raging finish, it’s a fitting centerpiece and manages to recover some of the momentum that “Have I Told You” so willingly relinquishes seemingly for the sake of formality.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
They had the Ataraxia/Taraxis EP last year (review here), but Forever Becoming will be Pelican‘s first full-length since 2009′s What We all Come to Need. That album (review here) was the last to feature guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec, and though the title hints at a sense of transition, the track “Immutable Dusk,” which the band premiered today, finds their signature blend of post-rock ambience and metallic crunch well intact. If you listen, make sure you listen the whole way through. The payoff at the end is stellar.
Pelican kick off a European tour tomorrow at Stoned from the Underground in Germany and have announced dates on the East Coast with Kings Destroy and others. Behold:
PELICAN ANNOUNCE FIRST NEW ALBUM IN FOUR YEARS
FOREVER BECOMING DUE THIS OCTOBER, FOLLOWED BY US TOUR WITH COLISEUM, KINGS DESTROY, AND OTHERS
Pelican, the Chicago-based quartet whose instrumental excursions to the confluence of caustic heaviness and cathartic melody pioneered a subgenre, have announced their first full album in four years, Forever Becoming, due October 15 on forward-thinking metal imprint Southern Lord. Recorded at Electrical Audio with Chris Common (who engineered the group’s last album as well as albums by Chelsea Wolfe and These Arms Are Snakes), Forever Becoming is an immense, speaker-rattling meditation on the acceptance of mortality and its place in the eternal cycle. Composed of eight songs (full tracklist below), the album boasts a sonic palette that veers from pummeling metal, to contemplative ambience, to melodic catharsis all with landmark grace.
Following a hiatus that saw the departure of founding guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec and the arrival of new second guitarist Dallas Thomas (also of The Swan King), the forthcoming album is the work of a wholly revitalized unit, sounding more focused and assured than ever. The current lineup’s undeniable chemistry was forged in front of crowds at festival appearances, including Bonnaroo, Roadburn, and Maryland Death Fest, as well as a handful of headlining club shows. Pelican return to the road in support of the new album this Fall with reigning post-hardcore stalwarts Coliseum. The tour focuses on the East Coast (the band’s first tour of the area since 2009), in addition to a coveted slot at this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest and a run of previously announced European dates that kick off this week (all dates below).
US TOUR DATES Oct 17 – Brooklyn, NY – Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase* Oct 18 – Brooklyn, NY – Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase* Oct 19 – Allston, MA – Great Scott * Nov 1 – Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s ^ Nov 2 – Washington, DC – DC9 ^ Nov 3 – Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church ^ Nov 4 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506 ^ Nov 5 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade ^ Nov 6 – Birmingham, AL – Zydeco ^ Nov 7 – Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon ^ Nov 8, 9, & 10 – Austin TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest Nov 13 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge * w/ King’s Destroy ^ w/ Coliseum
FORVER BECOMING TRACKLIST 1. Terminal 2. Deny the Absolute 3. The Tundra 4. Immutable Dusk 5. Threnody 6. The Cliff 7. Vestiges 8. Perpetual Dawn
PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED EUROPEAN TOUR DATES July 11 DE – Erfurt – Stoned From The Underground July 12 DE – Berlin – Festival Kreuzberg July 13 FIN – Joensuu – Ilosaarirock July 15 UK – Brighton, The Haunt July 16 UK – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club (w/ JK Flesh) July 17 UK – London, The Garage (w/ JK Flesh) July 18 NL – Tilburg, 013 (w/Torche) July 19 BE – Dour, Dour Festival (w/Torche, Converge) July 20 DE – Siegen, Vortex Club July 22 ITA – Milan, Segrate July 23 ITA – Roma, Traffic Live July 24 AT – Innsbruck, PMK July 25 AT – Vienna, Arena (w/ Mouth Of The Architect) July 26 RU – Moscow, Plan B (w/ Mouth Of The Architect) July 27 RU – St Petersburg, Arktika (w/Mouth Of The Architect)
Posted in Features on July 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ohio fuzz foursome Lo-Pan are currently on the road alongside Devil to Pay supporting the vinyl release of their 2009 album, Sasquanaut. Frontman Jeff Martin has agreed to give us the inside track with a tour diary as the shows play out, and in this first installment, the band is starting out in Dayton, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois.
Lo-Pan is Martin on vocals, guitarist Brian Fristoe, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz. Enjoy:
July 4th &5th – “Doing Crunches”
I am back on the road yet again with Lo-Pan. We started off in Dayton, Ohio, at Blind Bob’s with our old friends Devil to Pay (minus guitar man number two, Rob Hough). For some strange reason, Rob decided not to join the band for this show. We have toured many times with DTP and Rob’s absence is noticeable and strange. He will pick back up with us tomorrow in Chicago but it was Indy’s finest as a three-piece, with Dayton bands Close the Hatch and the always-entertaining Neon Warship set to play.
This show fell on Independence Day. The 4th has to be the A#1 holiday for Lo-Pan. We celebrate and revere our freedom every day and this is the culmination of that mindset. All of our ‘Merica, flag-waving bravado is sure to be on full display. Marvel at and fear us! We weren’t sure what to expect on July 4 in Dayton. Would it be a barren wasteland or would Dayton show up and represent for rock music? Well I am proud to announce that Dayton – and more importantly, Ohio – showed up in full force.
This is not to suggest that we didn’t encounter our fair share of oddballs in Dayton. We always seem to attract the strangest and most out-there people in any town. I am trying to determine which weirdo takes the cake on this particular occasion; perhaps the drunken co-ed who bought a Lo-Pan t-shirt and then appointed herself merch girl extraordinaire and proceeded to bully passers-by into purchasing copious amounts of merchandise? Maybe it was the equally drunk townie and his French companion who decided to share with me his outlandish and less than racially conscious opinions on the President of the United States? Certainly one of the most bizarre unsolicited encounters in recent memory. I think drunken townie takes the taco in this contest for the sheer fact that I can’t stop thinking about the incident.
All in all the show went very well. It feels good to be back on the road and it feels even better to be playing some songs we haven’t played in a very long time. Small Stone Records has rereleased our album Sasquanaut on vinyl and to celebrate that, we are playing the whole album start to finish each night. Some of these songs we haven’t played in more than three years. So it’s nice to revisit some old material and to feel the differences between older songs and new. All the bands in Dayton were great. Devil to Pay sounded great, even as a three-piece. Neon Warship is a powerhouse and Close the Hatch was heavy and deft. I really couldn’t ask for a better way to start off the tour.
At the end of the night we were offered a place to crash by one of the guys in Close the Hatch. We stayed in a recording studio around the corner from the venue. We slept amongst drums and guitars and for some reason there were also many bikes all over the place. I slept on a couch in the control room of the studio and the other guys were scattered around different corners of the recording space. I put my little fan up on a practice amp and passed the hell out. It was surprisingly comfortable. Anytime I am blessed with a couch to sleep on, I consider myself lucky. Many people think that tour is replete with hotels and luxury. I am here to tell you that this is NOT the case. I have laid my head in some of the foulest locales out of sheer necessity. It’s a small price to pay for the ability to do what you love on your own terms.
We woke up around nine the next morning and set off for Chicago. The drive to Chicago featured an unusual event for us. We actually listened to music during the trip. Normally we do not listen to music in the van because we all have such varied tastes, we can never agree on anything to listen to. For some that have joined us on the road, this silence has been jarring. For us it seems to work, though. Today we listened to Bob Seger followed by Clutch. I think tomorrow we are likely to return to silence, however. In addition on the drive we ate snacks… or as we call it, “doing crunches.”
Chicago has always been one of our favorite cities to play. We have met a boatload of great people that are either from there or who currently reside there. We had quite a few people in attendance this evening from other bands we know and even some people from home (Columbus) that happened to be visiting. That sort of dynamic always makes the shows very fun.
This show featured Marmora, a young band with some very talented dudes. We met them a couple of years ago and it’s always enjoyable to see how they become seasoned professionals – a little more each time. Tonight Rob from Devil to Pay was back with the guys and DTP sounded phenomenal. Steve Janiak is a great singer and the house sound guy had him dialed in.
We played third and our set felt ok. Personally, I messed up some of the lyrics to “Wade Garrett.” It’s just been so long since I have had that song committed to memory. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to knock the dust off of these older tunes. Other than that we played pretty well to my way of thinking. After us a last-minute addition to the show, All Hail The Yeti from Los Angeles, played. They were a little out of line stylistically for the rest of the bill, but they were good at what they do. They had some animal skulls on stage with them. That was pretty odd. Outside of Norwegian black metal, you don’t really see that too much.
The Cobra Lounge, the venue for the Chicago show, has an apartment upstairs for performers to sleep in, as well as a locked parking area for our van – “Van Halen.” This is really a welcome situation. It’s a little worse for the wear for the sheer number of acts that roll through each month, but when all is said and done, a free place to stay is a free place to stay.
That’s all the news that’s fit to print for the first couple of days of tour. Stay tuned…
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hey, doom works slow. It’s been more than four years since Chicago doom legends Trouble first started tossing around word of their first album in the post-Eric Wagner era. Back then, the record was called The Dark Riff and Trouble was fronted by former Warrior Soul vocalist Kory Clarke. Neither of those panned out, it seems, and founding guitarists Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell have (re)joined forces with singer Kyle Thomas, who previously worked with the band between 1997 and 2000, to release The Distortion Field through FRW Records on July 16, 2013.
Another full-length of Trouble riffs is nothing to complain about, and anyone who heard Alabama Thunderpussy‘s 2007 swan song, Open Fire, let alone Exhorder or Floodgate, knows Thomas is no slouch vocally. It’s hard to imagine Trouble without Wagner‘s Beatles-loving melodies up front (and I saw them with Clarke), but one hopes that in the years since Trouble‘s last record, Simple Mind Condition(originally out in 2007, then again I think in 2009 or 2010; it was complicated), Franklin and Wartell have used some of that time to meld their approach with that of their new lineup.
That’d be the ideal, anyway. We’ll find out soon enough. Here’s the info off the PR wire:
Chicago Metal Legends TROUBLE Return!
New Album The Distortion Field out via FRW Records
July 16th in North America | July 26th in Europe
Chicago metal legends TROUBLE return with their first album since ‘Simple Mind Condition’, released in 2007. The album entitled ‘The Distortion Field’ features 13 tracks and will be released by FRW Records in North America on July 16th 2013 and in Europe on July 26th, 2013.
‘The Distortion Field’ makes history in the TROUBLE camp through the band’s acquisition of a new lead vocalist, Kyle Thomas of Exhorder and Floodgate fame.
Commenting on new vocalist Thomas, TROUBLE founder and guitarist Rick Wartell says, “Kyle is one of the most impressive singers I’ve ever heard, and by far the most extraordinary singer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He’s got incredible range, incredible power, and an incredible knowledge of TROUBLE, as he’s been a fan for 20-something years. We’ve known him forever, and he innately understands what TROUBLE is about. He’s like the perfect guy to come in and do this job. It’s awesome.”
Veteran Music Producer Bill Metoyer is once again lending his expertise, having previously worked with the band on ‘The Skull’ and ‘Trouble’, both Metal Blade releases.
“Musically, I think this album is a true TROUBLE record.”, states Wartell. “In the early days, we used to just write what we felt and didn’t really care about what anyone said. We just wrote heavy riffs and played our music our way. But outside influences can kind of get a hold of you and start telling you what to do. When we were writing this album, the thinking was, we don’t care what anybody thinks. We’re going to write what we write. So this is basically a return to our roots, while combining some reflections of our band’s long history as well. With the two different music writers, Bruce and myself, we have a slight variation in our writing; Bruce has more of a ’70s groove to his writing, and I’m more the old school doomy metal thing. And when you put it together, you get TROUBLE.”
The band consists of Kyle Thomas – vocals, Rick Wartell – guitar, Bruce Franklin – guitars, and Mark “Marko” Lira – drums.
More details including song titles and album artwork are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.
The band has planned a string of festival dates and will tour the album in both Europe and North America.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Nestled deep within the obscure tones and periodically vicious churn of I Klatus‘ Ketheris a sense of questioning and resistance that the Chicago trio have mirrored in the themes at work in the songs. Across the 56-minute expanse of Kether, drummer Chris Wozniac, guitarist/vocalist Tom Denney and bassist/vocalist John E. Bomher elicit a bleak, genreless swirl crushing in its heft but fluidly moving within psychedelic headspaces, like a lava lamp in black and white.
Songs like “Portals (Under the Lake)” and opener “John of the Network” offer alternately jagged and melodic glimpses at a worldview determined in its position against, so that even in their harshest aural stretches, I Klatus never lose the sense of meditative focus that unites the widely varied material on Kether, no easy task in charting a route from the tribalisms of “Tree of the Sephirot” to the oozing lurch that starts “By the Coercion of Marduk,” which itself reads like a history lesson on Chicago’s heavy underground, from deathly influences crossover push to post-metal plod.
The band released Kether on vinyllast year and gave it a wider digital issue in late March, so it’s entirely possible you’ve run into the record in another context, but streaming it in full, here we see Wozniac, Denney and Bomher offer their own perspective on the movement from beginning to end in a complete track-by-track breakdown. I think you’ll find that as Ketherand the three-piece’s explanations progress, both find suitable culmination in “Dark Commitment to the Ceaseless NON.” Please enjoy:
“John of the Network”
John E. Bomher: The evolution of this song took shape at a time when a personal tragedy struck in the form of the ironic and gruesome death of a family member. A relative of mine who had worked in a power plant for years and years and was essentially the person who would layout power line architecture from the power plant to your home appliances tragically passed in a car wreck/electrocution.
He was driving along an icy road on a wintry Michigan night when his van hit a patch of black ice, turned on its side and smashed into an electrical pole alongside the road, disconnecting the power lines. Unscathed, he kicked out the back window of the van and began to trudge through the snow up the road towards a nearby house. Unbeknownst to him, the live power line was actively flailing around in his general vicinity and it reached out across the road and grabbed him on the arm, instantly taking his life.
The irony of this tragic event was that he had spent so much of his time and energy propagating electrical energy that it eventually took his life in such a strange and fantastic spectacle.
The concept behind the song began there and throughout its arrangement you can hear subtle sounds of what might be the background noise of an active power plant until the big climax part in the middle which symbolizes the car wreck and escape from the vehicle. The buzzing sound in the background emulating what the sound of the electrical wire flailing about might sound like.
The power grid/network desperately searching for and eventually finding its creator, being positively charged towards him and wanting so badly to merge their essences.
At the moment of his impact with the downed power line, I imagined his life force, his soul being sucked into the power grid to live on forever within its matrix… Looking out at us from all the television screens, microwave ovens and other common household appliances… a new sort of “becoming.”
Sometimes, now, when technology refuses to accommodate or cooperate with us… I imagine John, hiding just below the surface of some piece of technology… pushing buttons and pulling wires and laughing at us – a master to us, the slaves to his network…
Chris Wozniac: A mine flail is a vehicle-mounted device that makes a safe path through a minefield by deliberately detonating landmines in front of the vehicle that carries it.
John: This bizarre song formed around a literal soundcheck of drum tones.
I took Woz‘s attention-deficit approach to drumming and composed bass, guitar and vocal parts around it and imagined what it might be like to have a battalion of flailtanks ravage through my neighborhood… I heard an interview from a flailtank driver in World War II and he said that the German soldiers would almost always surrender immediately after they would clear a minefield with a flailtank. If you can imagine a line of tanks approaching across a nearby field, clearing the mines out of its way with these huge apparatus spinning around ahead of them with the explosions and the dust flying everywhere, it must’ve been terrifying.
Tom Denney: Imagine how this weapon would be deployed upon a group of Anonymous protestors waving picket signs against capitalist-agenda-driven banks, flailtanks mowing down women, men and children as they straddle the horizon, driven by madmen obeying the “law” poised to mow your life away.
Tom: It’s about chemtrails. Inspired by looking up to see grids in the sky where no previous flight patterns were observed. This seems to happen time to time right before massive rainstorms. Reported all over the country, these seemingly intentional spray patterns delivered by unmarked airplanes leave either cloud-seeding debris or massive amounts of barium, pathogens and asbestos in the sky. What are these chemtrails? What are they for and who is creating them?
Tom: Literally means “Before the Flood” recognizing the multiple cultural histories which point to a massive and ancient flood which wiped out a previous Earth culture, more advanced spiritually than our own. The different changes in the song represent the rising of tides and the crumbling of a magical prehistoric society. A lot of the lyrics came from a particular dream, where the band was unearthing musical instruments and statues from deep under ink-black waters. The concept of trying to remember this ancient knowledge, perhaps buried deep within cellular and cultural memory to bring that message into the present and unearth the secrets of our ancestors and forefathers. The idea that we are not the height of technological evolution on this planet and that we as a culture are simply rediscovering an esoteric wisdom which was lost to the ocean’s depths and vibrationally, spiritually and musically, we are responsible for assisting in its reemergence.
Woz: We recorded many songs with Tariq [Ali, former bassist who committed suicide in 2009] on the album, but we actually wrote this song with him during and around our tour in December 2008.
“Model Prisoner Interlude”
John: This one is a dark number envisioning a gross and exaggerated police state, wherein society’s freethinkers and rule-breakers might find themselves rounded up and imprisoned in various regional, government-run reform camps. How easy it could be to herd all the fearful and brainwashed masses into camps like this during some staged attack on America in which martial law might come into effect. Prison camps are not a farfetched concept considering our recent spectacles on the world stage.
“Model Prisoner Revolt”
Tom: It’s about summoning the strength to rise above the walls of the slave state (prison for your mind) and claim sovereignty as an individuated fragment of the consciousness of God the Absolute, while refusing to kneel before an oppressive authoritarian construct; We fight for the freedom to live without silencing the next generation and beyond.
“Portals (Under the Lake)”
Tom: About the city we came from, Chicago, IL. There is something different about the energy of that city, one that has one of the highest murder rates in the nation. There is a blanket of fear and oppressive energy which seems to veil the city at all times, choking it off from positive growth. Off the coast of Lake Michigan, there is an intersection of several Earth energy lines or “Leigh Lines” which create a vortex which sucks energy from the nearby city. This is why there are so many millions of weary, downtrodden people in Chicago (that and the brutal winter). This song is all about psychic attack and energy vampirism. In a place where the very life force is drawn out of the surrounding area, the people are left in a state of despair in which they feed off of one another emotionally, psychologically and physically. The tones at the beginning represent the subtle mind control beacons which exist throughout the city, disguised as cell phone towers and electrical lines. These emit nearly undetectable subharmonics which agitate and disrupt the human body’s natural ability to interact with reality, leaving its citizens distraught, destitute and without hope for any future other than the drab horizonless void that is the urban epicenter of soul dissolution. There may well be a real plot to subvert the peoples of this great metropolis, to keep them down and devoid of the possibilities of evolution. All of the soul growth literally gets sucked into the portal under the lake.
“Pillar of Boaz”
Woz: Boaz and Jachin were two copper, brass or bronze pillars which stood in the porch of Solomon’s Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem. You can see this referenced in ancient and modern architecture all over the world. We recorded this in L.A., at this killer studio with James Doser while we were all in town for Tom’s 30th birthday in 2009. It all started with a noise loop that John created to a click, and we all just started laying down tracks. Leon Del Muerte contributed some badass, driveway shoveling vocals on this one.
Tom: The Pillar is an esoteric journey through the Tarot. On the path to the light, or on the way to awakening, we meet the Air. This is the dragon, or the devil of indulgence in earthly distraction. This is the story of that confrontation and the inevitable absorption of the shadow within the pillar of truth which upholds the understanding that deep inside you this urge for soul freedom rings true in a way which we all can feel. The roots of oppression of our forefathers seem to bind no more as the Entrancer of the Martian war-mind dissolves to the will of the true temperance, that of unity-mind. This is that moment, where you come through the tempest, in your deepest DMT trip to that place of serenity, the OM state where strife no longer matters and the struggle comes to its most dramatic culmination. The stillness and the calmness overwhelms, unites and heals the weary traveler on the path toward the omega.
“Tree of the Sephirot”
John: The Tree is composed of symbols which represent the cosmos and its multitude of parts but also the prototypic Adam. Akin to DaVinci’s The Divine Man, it is a metaphysical representation of the universe and its vast degrees of separation and togetherness. In this band and in life, it seems that the artists I like to surround myself with are willing to explore the depths and distances of polarity. Darkness and Light are really just different from each other by degrees and through meditation and positive focus I believe that you can change vibrations in one direction or the other… down toward the darkness or up toward the light, toward kether… the crown chakra or the pineal gland… again this is a prototype, a symbol which I am speaking of and we are evoking positive upward motion forward through the cosmos with the tribal, entrancing breath work of this piece.
“By the Coercion of Marduk”
John: This is a reference to Planet X… an invisible planet or asteroid which may or may not someday effect or destroy planet earth.
A doomsday fantasy.
“Karma and Forgiveness”
John: Two notions we are constantly in reconciliation with. The give and take of the universe and the struggle with oneself to let go of past wrongs and make a conscious effort to take action to perpetuate good karma and positive forward progress in the lives of those around you. The idea that you must give it away to get it back is very prevalent in this theme.
“Dark Commitment to the Ceaseless NON”
Tom: This is about Quantum Physics and the hidden priesthood in place which understands its principles and harnesses it as a tool to control reality and keep the human race in a state of constant subversion. Here we find the Keys to step over Pyramids, the pyramid being a symbol employed by this secret priesthood. In the song, the lyrics talk about a desire to impregnate the universe with a burning, boiling planet. This is the metaphor for the thalamic will being imposed on a fertile universe. The inspiration, the rising idea within humanity giving birth to the creation of material progressions.
John: Around the time that we created this song a friend told me in a tarot reading that I would be “married to the darkness” for another decade of my life… and according to the sagely wisdom and guidance of the stars and the constant growth opportunities that the universe has provided for me, through meditation and surrender my life has vibrated more and more and more out of the darkness of depression, despair and loss and into a vast and limitless manifest destiny… I have always been a huge fan of a massive crescendo up and up and up… I like to think of life in that same way… we vibrate in this way and that, ever upward back toward our source, somewhere out there in the cosmos…
Wrekmeister Harmonies aka JR Robinson will make his debut on Thrill Jockey next month. The Chicago experimentalist’s latest outing, You’ve Always Meant So Much to Me, finds him paired with a host of luminaries from in and around his native city’s fertile underground, including among others Sanford Parker, Bruce Lamont and Leviathan‘s Wrest. A new video was released today in advance of the album, featuring an 11-minute segment of the 40-minute whole, and even as a fraction of the thing, it’s vicious.
Set to time-lapse shots of artist Simon Fowler at work, “You’ve Always Meant So Much to Me” proves hypnotic on multiple levels. Stop what you’re doing and be immersed. Video and PR wire info follow, including info on a show June 22 shortly after the album’s release:
WREKMEISTER HARMONIES ANNOUNCES YOU’VE ALWAYS MEANT SO MUCH TO ME, OUT JUNE 11th ON THRILL JOCKEY
WREKMEISTER HARMONIES WILL PERFORM THE ALBUM IN ITS ENTIRETY AT THE BOHEMIAN NATIONAL CEMETERY OF CHICAGO
JR Robinson has been writing and recording music as Wrekmeister Harmonies in various incarnations since 2006. His Thrill Jockey debut, You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me will be released on June 11th. You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me is an album length composition spread over two sides of vinyl, featuring some of Chicago’s most infamous minds in the metal and experimental worlds, including Sanford Parker (Twilight, Nachtmystium), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), Jef Whitehead aka Wrest (Leviathan), Mark Solotroff (Anatomy of Habit), Jaime Fennelly (Mind Over Mirrors), Fred Lonberg-Holm, and more. The album art was drawn by Simon Fowler, who as also worked with Sunn O)), Boris, Earth, and Wolves in the Throne Room. The piece was premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago last year.
Earlier today Stereogum premiered a time-lapse music video of Fowler drawing a variation on the incredibly intricate album artwork (which can be found below), which slowly reveals itself as a lone iceberg rising out of the sea. This is the first video of this kind that Simon has made. The audio is excerpted from the b-side of the album. The drawing and the music grow in tandem: as the ice structure begins to take shape, distorted guitars rise from a bed of anxious electronic drone until pounding drums and inhuman howls signal a shift to crushing doom.
Wrekmeister Harmonies will be performing You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me in its entirety on June 22nd at the Bohemian National Cemetery of Chicago, where Robinson will be joined by the musicians that perform on the record. The Numero Group’s Rob Sevier will be DJing between acts, and Acteurs will open. The event will take place near the Mausoleum at the south-east corner of Pulaski and Bryn Mawr. Doors will open at 7 p.m., one hour after sunset.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Chicagoan trio I Klatus previously self-released their third full-length, Kether, on vinyl and are following that up this month with a wider, promoted digital release. As you can hear in the video below, it’s some disgustingly heavy stuff, and you might recognize guitarist/vocalist Tom Denney from his disturbing album art for Kylesa, Sourvein, Cephalic Carnage and many, many more. Whether or not you do isn’t really the issue at hand, I suppose, but even though the record’s been available for a few months, it’s an excuse for me to post another 10 minutes of spaced-out doom, so fuck it. You know?
Maybe, maybe not:
I KLATUS: Behold The Second LP By Chicago Sludge/Doom Hybridizing Collective
Rooted in the sprawling Chicago underground metal scene with ties to multiple internationally-notable musical and artistic forms of media, a massive composition five years in the making has finally arrived. Behold Kether, the second LP by sludge/doom hybridizing collective I KLATUS.
With the dark spirit of Chicago in mind and the mysteries of the Cosmos at heart, the all-consuming devastation achieved on Kether takes the pummeling morphing of sludge/grime/doom the I KLATUS clan has previously attained to even more warped and exploratory realms through nearly an hour of continually-engaging material in the progressive tradition of Spaceboy, Gasp, Ufomammut, Rwake, Noothgrush and YOB. The band self-describes the material as “beyondcore, sludge, and shamanistic method doom.”
I KLATUS self-released the mammoth Kether in an extremely limited 2xLP version at the end of 2012, but now takes the album to an entirely broader audience with an official digital release of the album this month. The album lies in the wake of the tragic passing of I KLATUS’ bassist Tariq Ali and features the artist’s last recordings. The three surviving members of the collective — drummer Chris Wozniak (Lair of the Minotaur, Earthen Grave), bassist John Bomher (Yakuza, Indian) and guitarist/vocalist/visual artist Tom Denney (known for art created for Soilent Green, Kylesa, Saint Vitus, Black Cobra, Rwake, Samothrace among countless others) — have dedicated the album to Tariq’s memory and pay thanks to his family members, stating that he was “a good dude on the scene here in Chicago, and was part of the best lineup of the many this band has seen.” Kether also features guest contributions from Leon Del Muerte (Intronaut, Murder Construct) and Bruce Lamnot (Yakuza, Bloodiest), among others.
Kether Track Listing: 1. John of the Network 2. Flailtank 3. Chemtrails 4. Antediluvian Knowledge 5. Model Prisoner Interlude 6. Model Prisoner Revolt 7. Portals (Under the Lake) 8. Pillar of Boaz 9. Tree of the Sephirot 10. By the Coercion of Marduk 11. Karma and Forgiveness 12. Dark Commitment to the Ceaseless NON
Posted in audiObelisk on March 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Beginning with a welcoming rush of psychedelic cymbal wash and airy notes, the new split LP from harvest rock forerunners Across Tundras and similarly-minded Midwestern outfit Lark’s Tongue sets its sights immediately on the signature blend between the earthy and the ethereal that runs a current through both acts’ contributions. Due April 20 on Cavity Records, it features two tracks from each artist — a longer one, followed by a shorter one — and runs a total of just over 32 minutes of sometimes lush, sometimes sparse Americana-infused heavy psychedelic songwriting.
For Across Tundras, who made their Neurot Recordings debut in 2011 with Sage(review here) after a slew of other LPs and solo offerings from guitarist/vocalist Tanner Olson, this split marks their first studio material since and a precursor to 2013′s forthcoming Electric Nostalgiafull-length. The Peoria, Illinois, five-piece Lark’s Tongue boast members of Minsk in their lineup — Chris Bennett and Jeff Hyde — and have released a 7″ and split 12″ with Men of Fortune on their Bird Dialect imprint. Both acts show an allegiance to Earth‘s prairie drone, but each with a somewhat different take that complements the other while maintaining a consistent spaciousness in the music.
That aspect shows up in much of Across Tundras‘ work, which casts off much of the oppressiveness of modern post-heavy in favor of traditional-sounding stomp that somehow sounds modern and like it might also be best presented at 78RPMs. Their two tracks here, “Low Haunts” and “Crux to Bear” are a fitting answer to the stomp and drawl of Sage, with Olson‘s invocations met by a rolling Appalachia of groove fostered by Mikey Allred and Casey Perry as the first unfolds following its initial wash and offsets a thicker intro on “Crux to Bear” with more uptempo swagger and a sense of the song consuming itself in its second half that nonetheless retains the structure a final verse provides.
This is my first exposure to Lark’s Tongue, whose lineup is completed by Nate Lucas, Jon Wright and Andrew Sledd, but especially put in the context of the two Across Tundras tracks, their own contributions make an immediately favorable impression, fleshing out some of the same sonic ideas with memorable choruses in both “Follow Your Nightmares” and “Aluminum” and a strong sense of purpose and aesthetic. “Follow Your Nightmares” takes off on an irresistible thrust but proves not so simple as a follow-the-riff excursion might initially seem, pop meeting with weighted low end and post-rock echoes, even as “Aluminum” seems geared toward an emotional warmth the humanity of which stands in contradiction to its title, its melody both infectious and striking when put to the deceptively heavy guitars and winding effects.
Both bands were kind enough to allow their material to be hosted for streaming ahead of the release and to add some commentary about their tracks, which you can find under the player below. Please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The Across Tundras/Lark’s Tongue split LP will be released April 20 on Cavity Records. More info available at the label’s website.
From Lark’s Tongue:
This is our third release, following our 7” and split 12” with Men of Fortune released in 2012 on Bird Dialect. “Aluminum” is a relatively newer song, while “Follow Your Nightmares” has been kicking around since the beginning of the band in 2010.
“Nightmares” is a meditation of sorts on how we face our fears. It’s a journey for sure. “Aluminum” is aimed at a faraway place, at the resolution of that conundrum.
Unleashing this fearsome Janus upon the faithful, singing hymns to the eye of the storm, we herald the triumph of passion and amplification. The finest dream is a siren song to suffer, illuminating the pathways where fear and bliss become one. What starts with pleasure endures in alarm, and only your eyes can look straight at the sun.
From Across Tundras:
These are our first proper studio recordings since “Sage” was released on Neurot in 2011. In the time since we toured the USA up and down a few times and rehearsed non-stop at our Ramble Hill Farm stronghold in the hills Northwest of Nashville, TN. The hard work paid off and yielded these two massive tracks and a new full length record we are currently finishing up as we speak.
“Low Haunts” is a trial by hellfire, and coming out on the green mountainside. “Crux to Bear” is owning and disowning the bonds of blood and history.
Echoes of the past and distant rumblings of the future. Truth be told.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
And just like that, the lineup for Days of the Doomed III is complete. The fest, set for June 21-22 once more at The Blue Pig in Cudahy, Wisconsin, will boast performances from The Gates of Slumber, Victor Griffin‘s new In-Graved project, Kings Destroy, Orodruin, Dream Death, Chowder, Pale Divine and many more. The final act to join the lineup is Spillage, who will be making their live debut at DotD and whose lineup boasts Bruce Franklin of Trouble and Tony Spillman of Earthen Grave on guitar.
One more thing about this one to look forward to. Fest organizer Mercyful Mike Smith sent over the announcement:
Alright! It is truly an honor to announce that the final band for Days Of The Doomed Fest III will be none other than SPILLAGE- a brand new band consisting of Tony Spillman (Earthen Grave) – guitars, Bruce Franklin (Trouble) – guitars, Lothar Keller (The Skull/Sacred Dawn) – vocals, Willie Max (Shadoz Edge) – bass, Chris Martins (Band Of Brothers) – Drums, and Derrick Simpson on Keyboards.
Combing the metal elements of early Judas Priest and Scorpions, along with the bluesy feel of early Aerosmith and even Three Dog Night, SPILLAGE promise to deliver a unique sound experience like no other. With Bruce Franklin producing the record, SPILLAGE will be entering Chicago’s Farview Recording Studios this Spring, and are hoping for a late 2013 release of the debut album.
SPILLAGE will be making their debut performance as part of Days Of The Doomed Fest III, taking place in Milwaukee, WI on, June 21st and 22nd, 2013 and should not be missed!!! Further live dates will be revealed soon.
It is also a privilege for me to further announce that I will be working as SPILLAGE’s manager, so a big thank you to the band for allowing me this opportunity. This position has been the catalyst for me to move forward and form Mercyful Mike Productions and Management. I am currently working with several bands, and a full roster will be unveiled in the coming months.
So there you have it! Days Of The Doomed Fest III coming up fast, so if you don’t already have your tickets, I suggest you do so NOW!!! Head on over to www.daysofthedoomed.com for not only tickets, but travel and lodging options as well! And don’t forget! Reggie’s Rock Club in Chicago is offering a shuttle bus to and from Days Of The Doomed Fest III for only $10.00!!! Call today and reserve your seat before they’re gone!!!
Pelican‘s debut, Australasia, turns 10 this year. I think if this album showed up in my mailbox today, I probably wouldn’t call it innovative, but I also think the main reason that’s true is because so many bands have tried so hard over the last decade to sound like this record. It’s one of those “change your opinions” albums that I think has gone a long way toward defining “heavy” in its wake, either through people who’ve heard it or people who’ve heard bands who’ve heard it. In any case, bit of a classic in waiting.
Tomorrow night Neurosis play the Masonic Temple in Brooklyn and I’m going. To be honest, the pre-show anxiety is already riding high. What if I get there and can’t find parking? What if I get there and can’t get in? What if I get there and all the pictures I take suck? What if I get there, everything’s going really smoothly and then Neurosis gets on stage, points at me and goes, “This guy’s an asshole and his blog sucks and because of that, we’re not gonna play ‘Raise the Dawn.’” We live in a universe of infinite possibilities and any of this could happen. Probably less so the one where I flatter myself into thinking I’m a blip on Neurosis‘ collective radar, but definitely that one about the parking.
Pending some such disaster, I’ll have a review of that show on Monday, and then Monday night is the Corrections House supergroup kicking off their tour at the Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn and I’ll be hitting that as well. Then, on Thursday, Graveyard roll through Philly and I’m slated to go to that, so expect much hyperbole to come about all of those. Also hoping to have a review of a new CD/LP reissue of Crooked Hook‘s demo before the week’s end and Gozu too if I can make that happen.
In addition to the Neurosis gig — which has consumed much space in my mind for the latter half of this week — this weekend I’m also planning on putting together a couple emailers that have been waiting and also considering a few phoners I want to put together. I’m decently caught up on reviews (much as I ever am) and it’s time to get back to interviewing people and start getting some opinions about records from the people who actually made them. Quite a novel thought.
If you’ve been a regular checking in on The Obelisk Radio, you probably noticed this week that the service has been shit, and intermittent shit at that. The company that hosts the stream has been getting a DDOS attack and I’m told that means my stream gets interrupted. No one’s going after The Obelisk Radio specifically, but just the server that hosts it and probably a million other online radio stations happens to be one of the lucky ones. Fortunately, Slevin is diligent in his keeping up with it and we hope to have the whole thing cleared up by next week. I still found time to update the playlist over the last couple days with another 35 or so records, so we’re not completely destitute.
Hope you have a great and safe weekend, and if you’re going to the Neurosis show, I’ll probably be the jerk annoying you with my stupidly large camera bag, so please feel free to say hi while you throw an elbow. See you on the forum and back here Monday for a resumption of shenanigans.
Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
So fucked. So very, very fucked. You know how some music just sounds narcotic? I’ve never done heroin, but to me, that’s what DrugHonkey‘s fourth album, Ghost in the Fire(Diabolical Conquest) sounds like. The far-back echoes, droning cruelty, oppressive nod and pure abrasion speak directly to a tragic, endless addiction. And not in the way that Alice in Chains‘ Dirt was about heroin. I’m talking a direct sonic correlation. The fact that the second half of the album opens with “Dead Days (Heroin III)” seems to confirm that it’s not a coincidence either.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve been lagging on reviewing Ghost in the Fire — which features contributions from the likes of Nachtmystium‘s Blake Judd (who’s since become a full-time guitarist in the Chicago-based outfit) and a cover of the track “Twitcher” by Napalm Death offshoot Scorn — because the damn thing is so hard to listen to. Fourth cut “This Time I Won’t Hesitate” barely even has a pace to speak of; it just kind of collapses out of the speakers in a lurching ooze that makes SunnO))) sound accessible in comparison, topped with indecipherable growls drenched in effects and echoes to make them even more obscure. At 10 tracks/51 minutes, its extremity is unrelenting, and for a lot of people — I think for me as well — it’s just going to be too much.
I like a challenge though, and Ghost in the Fireprovides nothing if it doesn’t provide that. Opener “Order of the Solar Temple” is among the most active pieces, with a forward-moving progression that the ensuing title-track takes down to Khanate levels of tortured recital. By the time they get down to the middle of the record, with “In Black Robe” and the aforementioned “Dead Days (Heroin III),” Drug Honkey‘s miseries feel inescapable, and it’s not exactly like there’s any letup on side B. Whether it’s the foreboding stillness that marks the beginning to the noisy build of “Five Years Up” or the half-speed Godflesh plod that follows with the fittingly deranged “Out of My Mind,” Ghost in the Fire offers no break from its excruciating decline.
And on that level of utter relentlessness, one has to stand back and appreciate Drug Honkey‘s work throughout these songs. It’s not like this sound happened by mistake, like they were a pop band whose album got warped in the manufacturing. Ghost in the Firewas produced by drummer Adam “BH Honkey” Smith and vocalist Paul “Honkey Head” Gillis — the band is rounded out by guitarist Gabe “Hobbs” Grosso and bassist Ian “Brown Honkey” Brown — and its commitment to extremity runs through every facet and nearly every second of every song — so much so that by the time “Twitcher” comes around as the penultimate cut before closer “Saturate/Annihilate,” it’s one of the “friendlier” moments on the album. How can you not respect that?
The kicker is they’re working on a level of viciousness that next to nobody is going to be able to keep up with. But you don’t make this kind of misanthropic noise if you haven’t considered such things and long ago said fuck it and fuck everything, so kudos to Drug Honkey. There are a lot of acts in a lot of genres who claim to be carrying a standard for precisely this kind of malevolence. I’ve yet to hear one who embodies it so genuinely.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Still thoroughly under-appreciated after issuing two excellent albums — 2009′s In Tune (review here) and a self-titled debut in 2007 — through her own Cellobird Records, Chicago cellist Helen Money (née Alison Chesley) will make her debut on Profound Lore in February with the forthcoming Arriving Angels. Chesley (interview here) has contributed to records by Yakuza and Russian Circles and is a great fit for the label, as she manages to craft with equal ease dense atmospheres or open spaces with just the single instrument.
The new album was recorded, as you can see in the headline, but Steve Albini and drummer Jason Roeder of Neurosis and Sleep also makes an appearance. Here’s the full story off the PR wire:
Steve Albini Recorded And Mixed New Helen Money Album, Arriving Angels
Out On Profound Lore Records February 5th, 2013
The new Helen Money album, Arriving Angels, recorded and mixed by Steve Albini, a long time fan and supporter, will be released on Profound Lore Records February 5th, 2013. National tour dates will be announced soon. Helen Money just completed All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ shows in Camber Sands, England (curated by Shellac).
Arriving Angels, was recorded and mixed in May and September 2012 by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio and features drummer Jason Roeder (Neurosis, Sleep). Cellist/composer Alison Chesley, a.k.a. Helen Money, merges her classical training with a lifelong affinity for punk rock and a taste for heavy metal. In addition to her own material Chesley has also performed and/or directed string arrangements for artists like Anthrax (Worship Music), Russian Circles (Geneva), Broken Social Scene (Forgiveness Rock Record) and current labelmates, Yakuza. For her previous album, In Tune, she worked with Greg Norman (Pelican, Russian Circles, Neurosis), Sanford Parker (Pelican, Chris Connelly, Yakuza, Buried at Sea) and experimental, avant-garde label, Table of the Elements, who released the album in 2009.
“Arriving Angels means a lot to me for so many reasons,” Chesley explains. “It’s a culmination of two years of continuing to explore ideas with my instrument and effects – expressing a lot of changes in my life. Being able to work with Steve — someone I’ve toured with repeatedly over the past few years, and who was able to help me fully realize what I wanted to achieve with my music on this record — was very gratifying.”
The eight tracks on Arriving Angels are: 1. “Rift,” 2. “Upsetter,” 3. “Beautiful Friends,” 4. “Radio Recorders,” 5. “Midwestern Nights Dream (Metheny),” 6. “Arriving Angels,” 7. “Shrapnel” and 8. “Runout.” The music is performed by Alison Chesley on cello. In addition Jason Roeder (Neurosis, Sleep) plays drums on tracks 3, 4, 7 and 8; Dennis Luxion plays piano on tracks 3 and 8; Michael Friedman programmed drum loops for tracks 3, 4, and 8. Tour dates are pending and Chesley will perform most shows solo, but hopes to do some dates with a pianist and/or drummer.
Asked to cite her influences Chesley’s list of artists include The Who, Bob Mould, Steve Reich, Glenn Branca, Roger Williams (Mission of Burma), Neurosis, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, adding “anything dark, powerful, beautiful, with lots of heart.” Chicago Tribune wrote “Alison Chesley brings her classical training on cello into realms occupied by heavy metal extremists and guitar deities.” The Onion opines “Using guitar effects pedals she crafts songs that veer from ethereal to downright ominous.”
In 2011 Helen Money was chosen by Portishead to perform at the ATP ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ and toured with Joe Lally (FUGAZI) as both support and performing in his band nightly. In addition to supporting Shellac on tour in 2012, Helen Money has shared bills with Earth, Nina Nastasia, The Bad Plus, KTL and Hunn Huur Tu. With her previous band, Verbow, she opened for Frank Black, Bob Mould, Counting Crows, Live, Morrissey, Liz Phair and Brad with Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam. Verbow toured nationally for seven years.
Posted in audiObelisk on November 15th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
A few weeks back, I put up an On the Radar post about Chicago-based heavy prog trio Guzzlemug, whose dedication to and affection for the sonically weird was writ large all over their Nervously Counting Rosary BeadsEP. This weekend, they’ll release through Speaks Volumes Records and their own Bad Human Records the follow-up to that single-song outing, a four-track EP of roughly the same length called To Leave the Earth, and I’m fortunate enough to have been granted permission to host the tracks for streaming prior to the release.
I’ve been listening to the songs for the last few days, just trying to kind of get my head around the material, and it’s no easy task. Guzzlemug are a challenging listen, the music apologetically complex melodically and rhythmically. To Leave the Earthwas recorded in Brooklyn in 2010 — before the EP it follows — so the breadth isn’t even as expansive as it’s become in the time since, but still, they touch on the same kind of dark, organ-infused progressive lurch that made Ancestors‘ In Dreams and Timesuch a joy earlier this year (while also predating it) on the 17-minute focal point track “Dust on My Tongue,” and their scope is no less encompassing here than it has become since.
I wouldn’t call the songs accessible in the sense of reaching out and making party favors out of catchy hooks, but neither are they coldly delivered. Guzzlemug are going on this trip whether you’re coming or not, but bassist/vocalist Tom Kelly, guitarist/vocalist Shane Prendiville and drummer Charlie Werber make a strong case for joining them and don’t dissuade engagement, whether it’s the soothing grunge-gone-experimental melodicism of interlude “The Calm,” the storm that follows in the chaotic churn of “Io,” the bass-led intro “Flight” or the mounting tension in “Dust on My Tongue. ”
They’ll have To Leave the Earthavailable to buy on the Guzzlemug Bandcamp starting this Saturday, but for an early glimpse, please find it on the player below followed by release info sent over by the band, and please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Guzzlemug’s To Leave The Earth EP:
01. Flight 02. Dust On My Tongue 03. The Calm 04. Io
Guzzlemug is: Tom Kelly (bass, vocals), Shane Prendiville (guitar, vocals), Charlie Werber (drums, percussion)
Additional vocals on The Calm by Wes Jones. Additional vocals on Io by Sacha Mullin and Sasha Clara Gibbs.
Recorded in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY in the Summer of 2010 at 1984 Studios. This was recorded before Nervously Counting Rosary Beads.
Engineer: Wes Jones Assistant Engineer: Mathew Sherman Mixed and Mastered in the Summer of 2012 by Adam Tucker of Signaturetone Recording in Minneapolis, MN. Released on Guzzlemug’s own Bad Human Records and Howie Voigt’s Speaks Volumes Records. Front cover art by Jaroslaw Miklasiewicz Back cover by Gina Kelly of Weathermaker Press Layout/design by Tom Kelly.
Available starting Saturday November 17th through us directly at guzzlemugfalcon [at] gmail [dot] com or through bandcamp:http://guzzlemug.bandcamp.com. Orders will ship out by the end of the week.
Posted in Reviews on October 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Beyul is the second Yakuza album to be released via Profound Lore. The continually underrated Chicago-based four-piece issued Of Seismic Consequence (review here) in 2010, and in that time, not much superficial has changed. Vocalist Bruce Lamont continues to lead the way with his warnings of the consequences of excess and his saxophone, guitarist Matt McClelland, bassist Ivan Cruz and drummer James Staffel doing a more than able job in keeping up and at times setting the course for Yakuza’s post-metallic shifts between ambient spaces and grinding aural crush. Once again, Sanford Parker helmed as producer as he has since sharing those duties with Matt Bayles on 2006’s Prosthetic Records debut, Samsara, and as with the ensuing Transmutations (2007, also Prosthetic) and Of Seismic Consequence, the pairing works well and to the advantage of the material. Hell, cellist Alison “Helen Money” Chesley even returns for a guest appearance on three of Beyul’s tracks, so if you were thinking their sixth albummight be some radical departure from the successful blend of progressive metal, ambient hum and jazz textures Yakuza was able to accomplish on Of Seismic Consequence – to be blunt – it ain’t. What Beyul is, however, is not only a logical extension of the ideas the band presented the last time around, but a tighter performance, with burgeoning melodic breadth to complement the stylistic freedom that seems to have always been at their core. Of progress, they continue to make a rolling stone, but how they’re doing that has changed. Perhaps the most notable difference between Beyul and its predecessor – again, superficially – is its length, which has dropped from a heady 51:55 to a vinyl-ready 38:46, and the adoption of a structure as well that feels suited to the LP form, a split perceivable between the two longest tracks, highlight cut “Man is Machine” (8:29), and the following “Fire Temple and Beyond” (9:55). If there are plans for a vinyl release, I don’t know, but even on a CD, Beyul seems to be driving toward that form, the last four of the album’s total seven tracks pushing further into the blistering avant garde – by now long since familiar territory for Yakuza.
With the most diverse and engaging vocal performance of his career fronting the band, Lamont remains a focal point throughout Beyul, developing the range he began to establish last time out and reserving a harsher approach for the penultimate thrasher “Species” (1:26), the mounting chaos of which serves as a release for much of the tension the album has built to that point. Earlier tracks like “On the Last Day” or the opener “Oil and Water” meld post-metal tribal-style rhythms with varying degrees of memorability in songwriting. Rabidly percussed, “Oil and Water” nonetheless has a chorus, and not a weak one, but coupled with the intensity of the initial churn, the two competing sides feel almost like the title, and even when they offer some release for the tension around 1:45, and screaming lead guitars pave the way for effective echoing vocals, the insistent thud is shortly to resume. If Yakuza had meant to write a catchy pop song, it might be an issue, but to date, that’s never been their aim. The thrashing riff they seem to be ending with gives way to one last chorus, and “On the Last Day” continues the push into maelstrom, offsetting with sax-led jazz ambience. Chesley guests here, as on “Man is Machine” and “Fire Temple and Beyond,” which follow in succession, and Angela Mullenhour and Tim Remus also contribute to “On the Last Day,” resulting in a kind of orchestral experimentation that’s met with multiple layers of vocals. In the heavier parts – because, despite effective contrast, that’s what they are – the line “Deny it all” is a sustained standout from Lamont, and that sets up the expectation for more of a chorus, which “Man is Machine” delivers after an initial plod and washes of low end wipe the slate clean from the pummeling opening duo. For guest spots, Mars Williams and Dave Rempis join Chesley and Mullenhour, and of course Lamont, McClelland, Cruz and Staffel as well, on “Man is Machine,” giving the song even more of a sense of culmination. Nonetheless, it’s the song that stands itself out, the repetition of “The body distorting the mind” following a faster cadence that reminds curiously of early ‘90s Primus before they cycle back into the lumbering verse.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well yeah, sure. You don’t get to 20 albums in seven years without working at a pretty solid pace, so I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Chicago/Baltimore drone and noise specialists Locrian are quick to follow-up their The Clearing/The Final EpochCD with a new album. A double album, at that. No substitute for being prolific.
So I guess maybe the headline above is kind of generic — any given week, the headline “Locrian Get to Work on Next Record” could probably apply, but there’s some pretty cool stuff going on with this yet-untitled release, as you can see in the PR wire info below:
LOCRIAN Begin Recording New Album
Esoteric, experimental artisan’s LOCRIAN have entered the studio to begin recording their Relapse Records full-length debut. The as-of-yet-titled album is being recorded by Greg Norman (PELICAN, RUSSIAN CIRCLES, SERENA MANEESH) at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago, IL. The album will then be mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service.
A two-part concept album inspired by the band’s love for prog-rock progenitors Genesis, Yes & King Crimson, this is sure to be the group’s most ambitious recordings to date. Multi-instrumentalist Andre Foisy commented on the new material:
“This is our most concise album yet. Our statements developed quickly compared to many of our other releases. We’re all really into prog rock and we made this a concept album in musical and lyrical themes.
Musically, side A ends in a trilogy of songs and side B ends in a quadrilogy. Each of these two tracks mirror each other in places. In addition to some musical themes that pop up in different places in the album, there are also some musical themes that harken back to our older catalog.”
Tentative track titles include “A Visitation From the Wrath of Heaven”, “Exiting the Hall of Vapor and Light” and “Panorama of Mirror”. A spring 2013 release via Relapse is expected with more details to be announced shortly.
LOCRIAN, located in Chicago, IL and Baltimore, MD, has released over 20 recordings on an eclectic array of labels in their relatively short but prolific career, including a recent reissue of The Clearing / The Final Epoch and an upcoming reissue of New Dominions, a split with label-mates HORSEBACK. The Clearing / The Final Epoch can be found streaming at this location: