With the coming release next month of their third full-length, The Old Believer on Profound Lore, Chicago triple-guitar five-piece The Atlas Moth have proven to be survivors where others have fallen by the wayside. Consistent in releases and touring since 2008’s Pray for Tides EP (review here), the band has evolved beyond post-metallic beginnings to craft a sound of their own while those who were their peers and their forebears have called it quits, from Isis to Minsk. Through 2009’s A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, 2011’s An Ache for the Distance and the 2013 compilation release Master of Blunt Hitsthat brought together Pray for Tidesand 2010’s The One amongst the Weed Fieldscovers EP, as well as some prime internet smartassery, The Atlas Moth and guitarist/vocalist Stavros Giannopoulos have earned a place in metal that crosses genre lines and gives stoners and headbangers grounds for mutual nod.
Just today, Profound Lore announced that The Atlas Moth and labelmates SubRosa will join Japan’s Boris for US tour dates this August. The Old Believeris set for release June 10.
The Obelisk Questionnaire: Stavros Giannopoulos
How did you come to do what you do?
A lot of hard work, persistence, and a general lack of interest in doing anything else whatsoever.
Describe your first musical memory.
My father dancing around the living room to Greek music.
Describe your best musical memory to date.
On tour with Gojira, our hometown Chicago show was on my 30th birthday with my entire family there for the first time to see us play.
When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?
Every time we meet adversity playing music.
Where do you feel artistic progression leads?
How do you define success?
What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?
Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.
Master of Puppets.
Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?
The 2014-2015 Chicago Bulls season.
The Atlas Moth, Live in El Paso, TX, March 11, 2014
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I dug Chicago’s Mount Salem pretty well when I saw them last fall with Uzala and Mike Scheidt at the gotta-get-back-there-soon Dusk in Providence, RI (review here), and have since enjoyed getting the vibe of their debut EP, Endless, which seems to touch on a lot of the tenets of modern heavy — vintage this and that, cultish this and that, doomly heres and theres — without giving over to one side or the other completely. That only makes Mount Salem a harder act to trace and thus, all the more interesting. We all like a good puzzle every now and again, and the nascent Windy City troupe came with an already steady hold on an aesthetic that one hopes only becomes even more their own over time.
Touring will help in that regard, and Mount Salem have just announced they’ll head west out of Chicago next month for two weeks-plus on the road that include a couple of dates alongside Saint Vitus‘ on the legendary doomers’ 35th anniversary tour. If you want to get yourself schooled in doom, that’s an efficient way to do it. Pretty much a Masters class.
The PR boils forth from its cauldron:
MOUNT SALEM: Chicago Psychedelic Doom Conjurors Announce Headlining Tour
Chicago psychedelic doom rock conjurors and recent Metal Blade signees, MOUNT SALEM, will embark on a full headlining tour this May! The trek will pillage its way through select cities between Chicago and Los Angeles, and includes one-off shows in New Mexico and Arizona opening up for doom legends, Saint Vitus! MOUNT SALEM will be touring in support of their Endless EP.
MOUNT SALEM 5/01/2014 Township – Chicago, IL 5/02/2014 Dragonfly Lounge – Madison, WI 5/03/2014 JB’s Speakeasy – La Crosse, WI 5/04/2014 Chesterfield – Sioux City, IA 5/05/2014 The Bourbon – Lincoln, NE 5/06/2014 Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO w/ Speedwolf 5/08/2014 Launch Pad – Albuquerque, NM w/ Saint Vitus, Sons Of Huns 5/09/2014 Club Red – Tempe, AZ w/ Saint Vitus, Sons Of Huns 5/10/2014 TBA – Los Angeles, CA 5/11/2014 The Makeout Room – San Francisco, CA 5/12/2014 Witch Room – Sacramento, CA 5/13/2014 Slabtown – Portland, OR 5/15/2014 The Shred Shed – Salt Lake City, UT 5/16/2014 Future Shock – Frisco, CO 5/17/2014 Kung Fu Tap And Taco – Des Moines, IA
MOUNT SALEM is a four-piece psychedelic rock/doom metal band. They started writing music together in the summer of 2012 and released their first debut EP, Endless, in the Spring of 2013. Taking influence from the likes of Black Sabbath and Pentagram, MOUNT SALEM play loud, heavy rock ‘n’ roll using all vintage gear. Throwing their own twist of dark, mysterious doom into their summonings, MOUNT SALEM systematically pull listeners into their sinister realm of sound; their lyrical imagery serving as a ride all its own. Metal Blade Records signed the band in the Summer of 2013 and recently released an extended version of Endless containing two additional, brand-new tracks.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m just going to assume that before you place the waterproof cover of The Atlas Moth‘s forthcoming third album, The Old Believer — out June 10 on Profound Lore – into water to reveal the rest of the art, it’s probably best to take the LP itself out first. Just a hunch. Cool idea though, and as it’s been three years since the last The Atlas Moth full-length, 2011’s An Ache for the Distance, it’s one more thing to stand them out from the crowd.
Not that they’ve been slacking in that regard anyway. It’s been half a decade since I reviewed their debut EP, Pray for Tides(review here), but particularly since the last record came out, The Atlas Moth have worked to establish their own identity within and around their sound. I’d have some catching up to do, but even beyond the novelty factor of the artwork, The Old Believerholds some intrigue ahead of its June release.
The PR wire offers the following:
THE ATLAS MOTH RELEASE THE OLD BELIEVER ON JUNE 10 VIA PROFOUND LORE
UNIQUE COVER ART CHANGES WHEN DIPPED IN WATER
The Atlas Moth, the Chicago-based quintet, release The Old Believer on June 10 via Profound Lore Records.
“This record is an equally large progression as between our first two records but this time is coupled with more experience,” explains singer/guitar player Stavros Giannopoulos (who also moonlights in black metal super group, Twilight). “I feel like we found ourselves on An Ache for the Distance and now we are expanding on our sound more than ever. It’s also the most personal and introspective music we have ever done. We are wearing our hearts on our sleeves with every note.”
The Old Believer, produced The Atlas Moth’s own Andrew Ragin at Chicago’s Wall To Wall Studios, features guests Joe Duplantier (Gojira), Marcus Eliopulos (Stabbing Westward) and Subrosa violinists Kim Pack and Sarah Pendleton. The album’s cover and back art feature a water-reveal stock, which when dipped in water, more graphics are revealed.
The Old Believer track listing: 1. Jet Black Passenger 2. Collider 3. The Sea Beyond 4. Halcyon Blvd 5. Sacred Vine 6. The Old Believer 7. City of Light 8. Wynona 9. Hesperian 10. Blood Will Tell
The band recently completed an extensive North American tour with The Ocean and Scale The Summit where they previewed music from The Old Believer. The Atlas Moth will return to the road upon release of The Old Believer, with dates to be announced soon.
Posted in audiObelisk on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Today, Chicago’s The Skull release their debut single on Tee Pee Records. Sometime Yesterday Mourning b/w The Last Judgmentarrives preceded by much anticipation as the first studio output from the Trouble offshoot, fronted by the inimitable Eric Wagner and featuring Trouble alumni Ron Holzner (bass), Jeff “Oly” Olson (drums) and Chuck Robinson (guitar) in the five-piece lineup with Lothar Keller of Sacred Dawn. Its two songs were produced by Billy Anderson (Sleep, the Melvins, Acid King, so many others), and for classic Trouble fans, the inclusion of “The Last Judgment” is a bonus — the song minus an ‘e’ from when it appeared as “The Last Judgement” on Trouble‘s own recorded debut on the 1983 Metal Massacre IVcompilation.
Right away then, The Skull seem to be geared toward a classic sound, and “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” the first taste of their new, original material, feeds into that framework. Keller‘s guitar — I’m fairly certain Robinson wasn’t in the band yet when these were recorded — meters out a steady chug of a central riff to start, and he’s soon joined by Holzner‘s bass and Olson on drums, setting up a well-paced groove for Wagner‘s entry. When the vocals hit, they do so in crooning fashion, Wagner keeping to the lower end of his famous range for the verse while layering in higher-register parts for the chorus; a formidable hook worthy of the band’s pedigree. It’s an earthy sound but given ambient vitality later in its progression by the lead guitar and Wagner‘s suitably mournful echoing deeper in the mix, proving as an initial showcase that there’s more to The Skull‘s approach than riffs and familiar faces.
Trouble‘s “The Last Judgement” was also featured on their 1983 demo and has shown up on a few compilations since, and The Skull give it a respectful update. Following a descending pattern of tom hits from Olson, we’re greeted by rhythm and lead guitar interplay before moving into the rush of the song itself, crisp with Anderson‘s recording, and Wagner in a vocal duel with himself. He’s not quite looking to wail in the same way as 31 years ago, but he changes up his approach dynamically almost on a per-line basis and ultimately makes both faster and slower parts more engaging, the guitar taking over in the second half for a solo that furthers The Skull‘s allegiance to traditional metal, mounting a build all the way to the sudden ending, the vocals almost (but not) cut off for the last line, “It’ll be alright,” just as they were in the original version.
The real kicker about Sometime Yesterday Mourning b/w The Last Judgmentis how well the two songs work next to each other despite the decades between when they were written. I doubt The Skull intended to give a lesson about the timelessness of doom on their first single so much as give a taste of what their debut full-length might have to offer sound-wise, but you won’t find me complaining with their having accomplished both.
Please find the two tracks below for your streaming pleasure, and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The Skull‘s Sometime Yesterday Morning b/w The Last Judgment is available now through Tee Pee Records digitally and as a limited CD pressing. More info at the links.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
One imagines that when Chicago purveyors of the sonically profane Drug Honkey take the stage at the long-famed Roskilde festival in Denmark, set to run over the course of eight days this June into July, they won’t be backing Stevie Wonder — though that would be interesting. The four-piece released their transcendentally vicious Ghost in the Fire full-length (review here) in 2013, and their appearance at Roskilde will likely coincide with the release of their previously announced new EP, as yet untitled.
No update on that in the PR wire info below, but Drug Honkey also has a new shirt out that says “The only drug you need is Drug Honkey” on it, which is pretty badass in itself. Considering the hundreds of acts on the bill for Roskilde, from Carcass to Chromeo, I guess you have to do whatever it takes to stand out, though once Drug Honkey show up and plug their gear in, I can’t imagine that’d be a problem for them.
As the PR wire flies:
Drug Honkey invited to play at the Roskilde Festival 2014
Transcending Obscurity band from US, Drug Honkey, playing a genre-bending style of Death/Doom/Experimental music has been invited to play alongside acts such as The Rolling Stones, Carcass, Mogwai, Mournful Congregation, Electric Wizard and others in Denmark this year for the prestigious Roskilde Festival 2014. The complete line-up can be viewed here.
Drug Honkey has been at it since the ’90s, releasing four highly-acclaimed full-length albums in addition to a stunning live release. The band’s energy can only be palpable. Here’s an electrifying (almost literally so) live song -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jb_nNCpViQ
The band has most recently released an anti-drug message T-shirt with the words “The only drug you need is Drug Honkey” on the back. It’s a limited edition print, available for purchase from the label’s bandcamp page -
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Now a five-piece after recently adding ex-Trouble bassist Chuck Robinson on guitar alongside Sacred Dawn‘s Lothar Keller, The Skull have announced that the two songs recorded with Billy Anderson will be released as a single on April 8 through Tee Pee Records. Available for preorder as a $4 CD and a download, Sometime Yesterday Mourning c/w The Last Judgmentpairs brand new material against a cover of some of Trouble‘s earliest output, “The Last Judgment” having been featured on 1983’s Metal Massacre IV comp a year prior to the release of Trouble’s first LP, Psalm 9, which turns 30 this year.
Much seems to be in the works to celebrate both The Skull’s original track and Trouble’s ongoing legacy. The PR wire has this:
THE SKULL: Release Date Revealed For Two New Singles
Worldwide Debut To Air On Heady Metal with Jeff Olson
Listening Party Scheduled In Chicago
There’s no “trouble” for THE SKULL – the heavy doom-rock band featuring original TROUBLE members vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson, longtime former TROUBLE bassist Ron Holzner and newly recruited former TROUBLE bassist Chuck Robinson, now on dueling guitar, alongside SACRED DAWN guitarist Lothar Keller – as they will unleash their two new singles recorded with acclaimed producer/engineer Billy Anderson (MELVINS, NEUROSIS) worldwide on Tuesday, April 8th via Tee Pee Records.
In other news, THE SKULL’s worldwide debut of “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” and “The Last Judgment” will premiere exclusively on drummer and keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson’s podcast HEADY METAL WITH JEFF OLSON via InThePitRadio.com on Friday, April 4th from 7PM-9PM EST. Olson will be live on-air and field reporting from THE SKULL’s listening party that evening at the Ragnarokk Metal Apocalypse Fest in Chicago located at Reggies Rock Club where fans can purchase the CD. Olson, along with vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner, guitarist Chuck Robinson, and guitarist Lothar Keller, will all be available to personally sign the limited edition white vinyl replica CD.
“Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is a doomy metal song written by Keller, Holzner and Wagner that showcases the genre pioneers’ distinct style while “The Last Judgment” is a “revisiting” of the classic TROUBLE song of the same name that originally appeared on the classic 1983 “Metal Massacre IV” compilation album.
“I think “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is the perfect song for THE SKULL to lead with and there’s a reason why it was the first song we completed as a band,” commented Wagner. “It’s about coming to a point in life when it’s just time for a new beginning, a fresh start if you will, and finally coming to terms with the past.
“Being that it is the 30th anniversary of the release of the song “The Last Judgment” — the first song we ever released — we thought it fit perfectly for the B-side and considering what “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is about, it made sense to me. You have to go through your past to get to your future.”
Drummer and keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson on Chuck Robinson’s addition to the band:
“We are excited and honored that Chuck Robinson has accepted our invitation to join the band. He is the perfect fit for THE SKULL.”
“I’ve always enjoyed rehearsing with Chuck as he is disciplined with his art. He’ll surely bring a bonus to the band with his experience as a former TROUBLE member and as a seasoned musician who utilizes both his talented song writing ability and his exceptional recording skills. We are looking forward to tour with our brother again.”
Olson added, “Chuck is more then a bass player. He grew up playing guitar with his father, also a very talented guitarist. Eric, Ron, Lothar, and myself know that Chuck is more than capable for the job. He’ll bring chops with a heavy groove to our debut album, as well as bring his charisma to the stage.”
THE SKULL has confirmed the following three shows.
May 09 – Cleveland, Ohio – The Grog Shop May 10 – Chicago, Illinois- Reggies August 29 – Montreal, Canada – The Wings of Metal Festival
The Wings of Metal Festival will be a headlining performance consisting of two sets. The first set will be a performance of TROUBLE’s 1984 debut album “Psalm 9” in it’s entirety. The second set will include a performance of their newly recorded songs as well as TROUBLE classics.
THE SKULL will follow the release of the new songs with its debut full length LP, tentatively slated for release this autumn.
THE SKULL is:
Eric Wagner – vocals Jeff “Oly” Olson – drums/keys Ron Holzner – bass Lothar Keller – guitar Chuck Robinson – guitar
This video came down no PR wire. It’s not a premiere. It’s not exclusive. It’s been up for about a week. Basically I saw Nashville four-piece All Them Witches had posted the link on their Thee Facebooks page and after watching the whole thing, I felt compelled to post it as well. The track is “Mountain,” which is the meditative closer of their 2013 full-length, Lightning at the Door (discussed here), and the clip was filmed live at Chicago’s Cobra Lounge. I think the date was Feb. 5, since that seems to be the last time I can find they were there. Pretty recent, anyway, and with solid sound quality, though what strikes more than that is how well the mood of the song is conveyed live.
I haven’t had occasion to see All Them Witches on stage yet, but having enjoyed the crap out of Lightning at the Doorand the preceding Our Mother Electricity (review here), I hope to. The band — bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, drummer Rob Staebler and keyboardist Allan Van Cleave — offer a dead-on look at their stage dynamic in the video, Staebler holding a tension in the drums that grounds the song even as Parks, McLeod and Van Cleave seem to be their most spaced out. Their blend of blues and heavy psych-derived jamming comes through clearly, and though it seems early on like the wheels might come off, they keep it together to get a fervent round of hooting from the crowd at the end. Well earned.
If you dig this, All Them Witches have vinyl on the way for Lightning at the Doorfrom whence it comes. They also recently issued a live recording digitally through Daytrotter, though I can’t vouch for it since I couldn’t figure out how to make the download work. That won’t be the last concert document to come from them, however, since their show March 7 at The Garage in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was also taped and filmed for a live release. Will be interested to see how that turns out, but in the meantime, I thought this might fit well at the end of a long day:
All Them Witches, “Mountain” Live at Cobra Lounge, Chicago, IL
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Newly signed to Tee Pee Records, Chicago-based Trouble offshoot The Skull have announced that they’ve added former Trouble bassist Chuck Robinson on guitar alongside Lothar Keller and a lineup of former Trouble luminaries: bassist Ron Holzner, vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson. Shortly lived as a four-piece, The Skull have two songs in the can recorded by Billy Anderson set to release in Spring, with a full-length slated to follow later in the year.
It’s also been revealed that The Skull will appear at Montreal’s Wings of Metal festival, playing full sets, one comprised of Trouble‘s Psalm 9in its entirety to mark the album’s 30th anniversary. The PR wire has details:
THE SKULL’s New Guitarist Revealed
There is now more “Trouble” for THE SKULL – the new band featuring original TROUBLE members vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson alongside TROUBLE’s longtime bassist Ron Holzner and SACRED DAWN guitarist Lothar Keller – as they have recruited former TROUBLE bassist Chuck Robinson as their new dueling guitar player.
Drummer and keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson comments: “We are excited and honored that Chuck Robinson has accepted our invitation to join the band. He is the perfect fit for THE SKULL. I’ve always enjoyed rehearsing with Chuck as he is disciplined with his art. He’ll surely bring a bonus to the band with his experience as a former TROUBLE member and as a seasoned musician who utilizes both his talented song writing ability and his exceptional recording skills. We are looking forward to tour with our brother again.”
Olson added, “Chuck is more than a bass player. He grew up playing guitar with his father, also a very talented guitarist. Eric, Ron, Lothar, and myself know that Chuck is more than capable for the job. He’ll bring chops with a heavy groove to our debut album, as well as bring his charisma to the stage.”
THE SKULL has confirmed the following three shows. More shows will be added for North America and Europe in the coming weeks.
May 09 – Cleveland, Ohio – The Grog Shop May 10 – Chicago, Illinois – Reggies August 29 – Montreal, Canada – The Wings of Metal Festival
The Wings of Metal Festival will be a headlining performance consisting of two sets. The first set will be a performance of TROUBLE’s 1984 debut album “Psalm 9” in it’s entirety. The second set will include a performance of newly recorded songs as well as TROUBLE classics.
As previously reported, THE SKULL has inked a deal with Tee Pee Records and has recently recorded two songs with acclaimed producer/engineer Billy Anderson (MELVINS, NEUROSIS) which will see the light of day this spring. THE SKULL will follow the release of the new songs with its debut full length LP, tentatively slated for release this autumn.
THE SKULL is: Eric Wagner – vocals Jeff “Oly” Olson – drums/keys Ron Holzner – bass Lothar Keller – guitar Chuck Robinson – guitar
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Fascinating news today that Trouble-offshoot The Skull have inked a deal to release their debut album on Tee Pee Records. The Skull‘s traditional doom is something of a step aside for the label, which has focused in recent years on psychedelia and retro-style heavy punk, but a cool fit either way. As the PR wire informs, The Skull recently tracked two songs with Billy Anderson that will be issued as the first studio audio from the band.
Looking forward to hearing this one:
THE SKULL Signs to Tee Pee Records
New Band Featuring Members of Doom Metal Pioneers TROUBLE Set to Release New Music
THE SKULL — the new band featuring original members Eric Wagner (vocals) and Jeff “Oly” Olson (drums) of American doom metal legends TROUBLE alongside longtime TROUBLE bassist Ron Holzner and SACRED DAWN guitarist Lothar Keller — have inked a deal with Tee Pee Records, the NYC record label known for releasing landmark albums from acts such as High on Fire, Graveyard, Earthless and Sleep.
THE SKULL recently recorded two songs with acclaimed producer / engineer Billy Anderson (Melvins, Neurosis) which will see the light of day this spring. “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is a doomy metal song written by Keller, Holzner and Wagner that showcases the genre pioneers’ distinct style while “The Last Judgement” is a “revisiting” of the classic TROUBLE song of the same name that originally appeared on the classic 1983 “Metal Massacre IV” compilation album.
“I think “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is the perfect song for The Skull to lead with and there’s a reason why it was the first song we completed as a band,” commented Wagner. “It’s about coming to a point in life when it’s just time for a new beginning, a fresh start if you will, and finally coming to terms with the past. Being that it is the 30th anniversary of the release of the song “The Last Judgement” — the first song we ever released — we thought it fit perfectly for the B-side and considering what “Sometime Yesterday Mourning” is about, it made sense to me. You have to go through your past to get to your future.”
THE SKULL will follow the release of the new songs with its debut full length LP, tentatively slated for release this autumn.
Follow THE SKULL online and via Facebook for breaking news and tour information.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Even as Russian Circles are currently on a North American run that will see them touring into the middle of next month with support along the way from KENmode, Inter Arma and Helms Alee, the Chicago three-piece have plans ahead to head to Australia in the spring. Starting April 29, Russian Circles will begin a five-show stint of Aussie dates presented by Life is Noise supporting their 2013 LP, Memorial, which was released last fall on Sargent House.
From the other side of the planet, the PR wire speaks to you:
life is noise presents: RUSSIAN CIRCLES (USA) AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2014
Russian Circles return to Australia this April/May for shows in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in support of their latest masterwork Memorial.
Hailing from Chicago, the instrumental trio have been spent the last decade crafting their own niche atmospheric and entrancing take on heavy music, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with a guitar, bass, drums and lots of volume.
Last here in 2012 in support of their fourth LP, Empros, Russian Circles’ live show is something to behold. Brian Cook has one of the most visceral bass sounds you’ll ever hear. Guitarist Mike Sullivan is a master of the looping, building layer upon layer of dense riffs with what looks like effortless precision. Meanwhile, drummer Dave Turncrantz defines the mood, alternating between controlled precision and rhythmic chaos.
On their fifth record, Memorial, Russian Circles push the polarities of their sound, creating a record that’s as reflective as it is unsettling, and cementing the band’s position as legitimate peers of genre innovators like Isis and Neurosis. The valleys are deeper and the peaks higher, and with the addition of synthesizers and strings, the three-piece tap into the meditative territory explored by the likes of Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
See Russian Circles on the following dates:
Tuesday, April 29 – Crowbar – Brisbane Tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue.
Wednesday, April 30 – Fowler’s Live – Adelaide Tickets from lifeisnoise.com, venuetix, moshtix, oztix and the venue.
Thursday, May 1 – Hi Fi Bar – Melbourne Tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue.
Friday, May 2 – Rosemount Hotel – Perth Tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue.
Saturday, May 3 – Manning Bar – Sydney Tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue.
Posted in Reviews on January 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s unavoidable when it comes to Blackfinger, so one might as well just come out and say it: Yes, Eric Wagner used to be in Trouble, and as a member of that band he had a hand in crafting some of the best American doom ever and cementing a legacy that has spent three decades rippling outward from their Chicago hometown. All of this is true. It’s also true that Wagner isn’t in Trouble anymore, and while he’s also joined forces in The Skull with fellow Trouble alums Ron Holzner (bass) and Jeff “Oly” Olson (drums), the five-piece project Blackfinger has been looming in the background for several years now — Wagner was interviewed here about it in 2011, and the name was tossed around at least a year earlier than that in connection with Dark Star Records, who now handles the digital release of Blackfinger‘s self-titled debut, while The Church Within presses the CD and vinyl. On the album, Wagner is joined by guitarists Rico Bianchi and Doug Hakes, bassist Ben Smith (since replaced by Willie Max, also of Spillage) and drummer Larry Piatz, and those who’d approach it thinking they’ll get a port of Trouble‘s doom probably haven’t been paying attention either to Blackfinger‘s development or the last for records Trouble put out before Wagner left in 2008.
Blackfinger‘s Blackfingermay touch on some of the same ideas as material from Wagner‘s past — the short “All the Leaves are Brown,” which was also an advance single, has a classically driving head-down motor-riff, and cuts like “Why God” and “Till Death Do Us Part” offer some immediately familiar swinging rhythms — but the album overall presents a personality distinct from Trouble both in where it wants to go and how it gets there, however impossible it may be to view the one without the context of the other. Notably, the piano- and string-infused “As Long as I’m with You,” the particularly Floydian strums of “For One More Day” and the intimate acoustic-led finish of highlight “Keep Fallin’ Down” present a depth of mood and breadth of songwriting that, to compare, Trouble had little interest in displaying on their 2013 post-Wagner outing, The Distortion Field(review here). Taken in combination with rockers like “Yellowood,” with its lurching starts and stops, and guitar-fueled fare like “My Many Colored Days,” “Till Death Do Us Part” and “Here Comes the Rain,” Blackfingercomes across as more varied and a richer listening experience. Opener “I am Jon” and the fourth track, “On Tuesday Morning,” work to bridge the gap from one side to the other, so where it might otherwise come across as bipolar, the album flows well through these atmospheres.
Of all the bands I’ve heard in the nearly-half-a-decade that I’ve been plugging away at this site, Drug Honkey make some of the most authentically disturbing noise I’ve come across. At very least they’re high on the list, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s not like they’re trying to write comforting songs — it’s “fucked up” as an aesthetic. I continue to be impressed with just how much they’re able to stick to that and how dark and looming their songs seem to be, slow-rolling doomers like half-speed sludge, drugged out in a tragic way like after the fun stops and somebody’s life falls apart.
The abysmal doomers — and that’s meant literally in the sense of pertaining to an abyss rather than a statement on the quality of their output — will reportedly release a new EP this summer for which they recently recorded, and as a precursor to that, they’ve put together a video comprised of fading still shots, some effects, some “found” footage (if I’m not mistaken there’s a little porn in there near the end, though it’s hard to tell), and so on for the song “Five Years Up” from 2012’s exercise in extremity, Ghost in the Fire (review here). If you’ve never heard them before, expect that by the time you’re done with “Five Years Up” you’ll probably need a prescription and at least two years of talk therapy to get your equilibrium back.
And by that I mean enjoy:
Drug Honkey, “Five Years Up” official video
Brand spankin’ new video for the song “Five Years Up” from the ‘Ghost in the Fire’ full-length… This should hold ya over until the new EP drops sometime around summer.. HAIL.
Excellent quality T-shirts are going to be made available from next month. Watch out for this page -
Posted in audiObelisk on December 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Next week, Illinois-based trio Men of Fortune will release their debut full-length, Time Lovingly Bled, on Bird Dialect Records, striking an intriguing balance between progressive heavy rock and psychedelic influences. Desert-style jamming may have been a starting point, but it becomes increasingly clear over the course of jumpy opener “Voices from the Void” — think Queens of the Stone Age on a hangout with glory-days Faith No More – which sets a linear standard that the rest of Time Lovingly Bledseems to follow, the path the record takes branching out from its crunchy starting point and, later, delving into tripped-out hypnosis that’s jarring only in how effective it is in not being jarring. These Men of Fortune – guitarist/engineer Joel Madigan, drummer Andrew Sledd and bassist Mike Willey – prove equally comfortable in jagged rhythmic push or smooth waveform drone, and though they’ve all done time in other bands, Men of Fortune seem quickly to be establishing their own sonic persona in these six tracks.
But for the penultimate drone-out “Nymphatic Meditation,” all of the cuts on Time Lovingly Bledtop seven minutes long, and much of that time is given to builds and exploration, “Some Crystal Dawn” taking an immediately more circuitous route than the opener with a feedback-peppered stretch leading to post-rock ambience, gradually working its way toward an apex with echoing leads and progressive sway that revives the chorus. Patience becomes even more the theme with “The Passing Shame,” which moves fluidly through layered acoustics and electric guitars to an intricate payoff of its own that ends side A in large but not overblown fashion, some of the melody hinting at a ’90s influence that will further manifest in the Alice in Chains vibing that crops up in the vocals later on closer “Child of Earth.” Men of Fortune‘s real psychedelic breadth is saved for side B, with “Only Believers” being as clear a signal even digitally of a side-based shift in approach as one could ask.
Perhaps because of its more peaceful surroundings, the crescendo of “Only Believers” seems even larger as it unfolds, rich in low end and marked out by layers of effects noise behind the vocals. If at this point you fall into a trance and snap back to consciousness sometime into “Child of Earth,” it’s easy to argue that as being Men of Fortune‘s intent, “Nymphatic Meditation” lulls the listener into melodic atmospherics from which the finale emerges and builds more or less starting from the ground up into fuller-toned push at its halfway point, drawing a swirling culmination together from a deep-running ether, adding a last touch of progressive desert lead-work and finally deconstructing the whole thing so that only the noise remains. Particularly in its second half, it’s an immersive experience, and in honor of the LP coming out next week, I’m happy to be able to present it on the player below, followed by some more info courtesy of Bird Dialect. Enjoy:
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From the terrestrial base of Peoria, Illinois, Men of Fortune craft galactic battle hymns for the next millennium. Smokey and dense, their debut full-length is a hypnotic sojourn through rock, prog and psychedelia that’s both cosmic and muscular, ethereality tethered to the beating heart at the center of all. Marrying feral odes and dark lullabies, it’s a seduction consummated on wax as a sacrament for your own astral travels.
With bassist Mike Willey joining the rhythmic force of Andrew Sledd and trance-inducing riffs of Joel Madigan, Men of Fortune have become the power trio they always were. An epic passage of spirit, Time Lovingly Bled launches heavy cosmic jams far from the safety of Earth, but its weightless freefall never wears out its welcome.
Recorded by Joel Madigan at Sound of Mind in Peoria, IL. Mixed by Sanford Parker at Hypercube in Chicago, IL. Mastered at Prairie Cat Mastering in Belvidere, IL.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Call me crazy, but Russian Circles, KENmode and Inter Arma OR Russian Circles, KENmode and Helms Alee sounds like a pretty good bill. As we head into the snowy deadness of winter here in the Northeast — somebody get me more black metal, stat! — it’s good to have something like this Russian Circles February/March tour to look forward to. Yeah, it’ll still be cold as hell by the time they show up in this part of the world, but at least it’ll be a reason to leave the house — something that I suspect by then will be in pretty short supply.
Dig the news off the PR wire and Russian Circles‘ latest outing, Memorial,in full below:
Russian Circles announce U.S. tour dates in support of critically acclaimed new album Memorial
Chicago trio Russian Circles announce extensive U.S. headlining tour dates today beginning in February 2014 in support of their recently released fifth album Memorial. Ken Mode support on all shows with Inter Arma on the first portion and recent Sargent House signing Helms Alee on the latter leg of tour. Please see complete dates below.
Memorial is available on LP, CD and download via Sargent House, released on October 29th, 2013.
RUSSIAN CIRCLES TOUR 2014 02/04 Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s Oasis # 02/05 St. Louis, MO @ The Firebird # 02/07 Austin, TX @ Red 7 # 02/08 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada # 02/09 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Upstairs # 02/10 New Orleans, LA @ The Parish @ House of Blues # 02/11 Tallahassee, FL @ Rehab # 02/12 Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub # 02/13 Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum # 02/14 Birmingham, AL @ WorkPlay Theatre # 02/15 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl # 02/17 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle # 02/18 Washington DC @ The Rock and Roll Hotel # 02/19 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts # 02/20 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom # 02/21 Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East Downstairs # 02/22 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus # 02/23 Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar # 02/24 Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop # 02/25 Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig # 02/27 Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club # 02/28 Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room # 03/01 Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre # 03/02 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge # 03/03 Boise, ID @ Neurolux # 03/04 Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s * 03/05 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom * 03/07 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall * 03/09 San Diego, CA @ The Casbah * 03/10 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre * 03/12 Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom * 03/13 Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad * 03/14 Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory * 03/15 Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar * 03/16 Chicago, IL @ Metro *
# w/ Ken Mode, Inter Arma * w/ Helms Alee, Ken Mode
This morning I was in Maryland. Tonight I’m in Jersey. If all goes according to plan, by tomorrow night at this time, I’ll be back in Massachusetts. Nothing like the holidays to emphasize mobility. Mileage on my old Volvo is up past 187,750. I should break 188,000 before the weekend is out.
On the way north today, I stopped off at the “Not Just” Rock Expo in Pennsylvania. Huge record show I knew literally nothing about until late last night. I’ll post more about it next week — holy shit there’s a lot coming next week — but I found some cool stuff across a range of formats. A jewel case promo for the 2006 Russian Circles debut full-length, Enter, was one of the finds, and as I popped it in while I rolled through the nether regions of Lancaster County, PA, it’s been in my head since. It was a blast to see them at Radio City Music Hall earlier this year. Very cool in that cavernous space.
So yeah, next week. First of all, at some point tomorrow I’ll post an artwork reveal for the Bong Cauldron record. Something I’d usually do today, but it’s already close to one in the morning and I drove like five hours today and when I landed did family stuff, so really just about every sentence at this point is a ramble and, I suspect, wildly incoherent. Tomorrow. Then Monday the 2013 Readers Poll goes up. That’s always a huge amount of fun and I’m so nerdily excited for it that I almost feel bad about myself for it. So stoked though.
Look out for a review of Mollusk, a Qosmic Qey tape, some Tia Carrera vinyl (and maybe other vinyl as well), a full stream of a new split between Black Shape of Nexus and Lazarus Blackstar, and if I can muster the energy, I’m hoping to come back south from Massachusetts to Brooklyn for a couple shows toward the end of the week. Mountain God and The Golden Grass are playing on successive nights. Not promising on that, because I’m old and tired and old and also tired, but if I can I’ll make it happen. Also details on that record show I was at today — saw a few familiar faces there as well — and a lot more news and whatever else comes down the wire. It’s gonna be a good time. I know that much.
But for this evening, I’m about done. I hope you dig the Russian Circles and I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please if you get the chance, check out the forum and the radio stream.