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:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
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.
Posted in Reviews on October 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Their fifth album, Pelican‘s Forever Becoming is noteworthy immediately for being the band’s first outing since their 2001 inception to not feature the guitar work of Laurent Schroeder-Lebec. Schroeder-Lebec made his last recorded appearance with the band on 2012′s Ataraxia/Taraxis EP, and has since been replaced by The Swan King‘s Dallas Thomas, who joins founding guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw and the rhythm section of bassist Bryan Herweg and drummer Larry Herweg in one of the last decade’s most quietly influential groups. Not a bad gig, and while I wouldn’t want to trivialize the inevitable change in dynamic that losing an original member after more than a decade of playing together would invariably bring about in any band, Forever Becoming(released on Southern Lord) at least shows Pelican have weathered the storm well in terms of holding onto their original sonic mission and blending post-rock atmospherics and open-spaciousness with unbridled tonal crunch and low-end weight derived from doom and heavy rock. In that regard particularly, Forever Becomingshould offer thrills to longtime followers left cold by the pastoral wanderings of 2009′s What We all Come to Need(review here), as it pares down some (not all) of that record’s airiness in favor of a heavier push, not quite as much as did 2007′s City of Echoescoming off of 2005′s The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thawand Pelican’s landmark full-length debut, 2003′s Australasia, but it’s worth noting that though tracks like “Immutable Dusk” and “The Tundra” have their ambient stretches and that Forever Becoming‘s 51 minutes aren’t lacking for atmosphere, it is at times a surprisingly heavy record. Since it’s been four years since the last one — twice Pelican‘s pace up to this point — I’m not inclined to chalk all the difference up to the acquisition of Thomas for the second guitar slot, but it’s a shift that’s apparent even on LP bookends “Terminal” and “Perpetual Dawn,” which are about as dreamy as Pelican get here.
It’s the former cut given the duty of opening Forever Becoming, and it does so with foreboding tom hits from Larry that come accompanied by rumble and lurching, mechanized-sounding feedback (my mind went immediately to The Book of Knots). Between the title and the bleakness of the song itself, it’s a dark note to start off on, even with a few peaceful seconds of softer guitar before the thud and distorted rumble resumes, giving a quiet lead-in for the rush of “Deny the Absolute,” probably the fastest track on the album and one that engages quickly with a post-hardcore feel, discernible structure, and that peculiar intensity — “hurry up and think!” — that Pelican have developed as their own over the course of their time together and many others have tried to emulate to varying levels of success. Already the band have established an overarching flow and they stick to it for the duration, as “Deny the Absolute” gives way to the somewhat slower but similarly constructed “The Tundra,” which breaks in the middle for a moment of atmospheric exploration before resuming its crushing course in one of Forever Becoming‘s most satisfying linear builds. A turn comes with the more angular riffing of “Immutable Dusk,” but Thomas and de Brauw‘s guitars work well together such that the movement into a more open-vibing “chorus” makes sense coming off the prior progression and leading to a lengthier, more subdued post-rock break, which patiently rebuilds over the next several minutes — fluid, in motion as it mounts tension — until just before five minutes into the total 7:13, a vicious chug emerges that is traded off one more time before the song’s real apex arrives to cap the linear drive, drums, bass and guitars all headed in a single direction and even injecting some last-minute churn into what makes for an exciting finale, leaving the quiet opening of “Threnody” to give a breather before it gets underway with warm, prominent low end and a bounce that seems to be culled from a more traditional heavy rock feel, but which is developed over the next several minutes into an otherworldly exploration, bass and drums holding the momentum together in the second half while Ebow guitar adds echoing depth to the mix.
Posted in Radio on September 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Propelled by languid fuckall and bolstered by a lysergic drawl to rival that of Dead Meadow, Chicago trio Viper Fever make a lo-fi debut in the form of their Super Heavy Garage EP. They’ve been a band less than a year at this point, but have worked quickly and have a couple tours already under their belt. If the songs on the Super Heavy Garage EP– “Summer Time,” “Woman” and “You’re on Fire” — are anything to go by, a barebones approach is at the heart of what they do, but with tone to satisfy and attitude-drenched swagger, the first-name-only trio of guitarist/vocalist Tim, bassist Dan and drummer/organist Mark seem to have a good idea early on of how to get the most out of their relatively minimalist style. “Garage” should be a clue in the title of the EP.
Don’t forget the “super heavy” either, though. The three-piece may yet prove to just be getting their shit together stylistically, but whether it’s the faster, lead-driven riffing of “Summer Time” or Witch-style stoner drench of “Woman,” they manage to hone songs that are memorable in themselves and which hit with a decent impact. I don’t know what they recorded on, but organ is layered in with drums in the midsection of “Summer Time,” so I’d doubt it’s completely live — Mark also plays some fills at that point that would make it more or less impossible — but it sounds close enough, and with Tim‘s voice up front in the mix and heavily reverbed, they sound practice-room natural and no sloppier than seems to be the intent.
“Woman” has probably the strongest hook in its chorus, but is even more marked out by the downshift in pace from the EP’s opener. Dan offers some standout bass work alongside Tim‘s guitar, only furthering the laid back groove, and while it’s not a huge, consuming wall of fuzz, it’s certainly enough to get the chillout across. I’d swear I can hear a tape click off at the end of it. To finish out, “You’re on Fire” comes on with bigger crash, but Tim keeps the same nasal inflection in his vocals and the song winds up with a kind of intense loiter, restless but going nowhere — a perfect execution of patient fuzz delivered with a punkish spirit behind in the tradition of The Stooges and any number of their minions. The sway in “You’re on Fire” comes to a conclusion not with a big rock finish or long fade, but with the band simply stopping, underlining their garage roots and keep-it-simple ethic.
Since the whole Super Heavy Garage EPis only about 10 minutes long, it’s probably fair to assume Viper Fever are holding more cards than they’re showing in terms of their sound, but especially if they keep touring, it’s easy to think that the aesthetic they’ve begun to construct could quickly become their own. As it is, the Super Heavy Garage EPis fodder for any limited 7″ or tapes or whathaveyou in addition to the CD the band has put out through their own Fuzz Daddy Records, and serves as a solid announcement of their arrival as their work gets underway. I’m glad to have them added to The Obelisk Radio.
You can hear Viper Fever‘s Super Heavy Garage EPnow as part of the playlist streaming live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and snag yourself a CD or free download through the Viper Fever Bandcamp:
I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited at the prospect of a studio album from The Skull. The band recently announced they’d be recording this fall with Billy Anderson, and it just seems like they’re doing a lot of things the right way, playing fests like Days of the Doomed and Stoner Hands of Doom last year and the upcoming Fall into Darkness and Denver Doom Days to keep momentum going while continuing to get tighter and move forward. It’s cool to see and bodes well for the Trouble offshoot that features vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and (most recently) drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson as well as guitarists Michael Carpenter and Lothar Keller (both also of Sacred Dawn). Having seen them on stage a couple times, I’ve got my fingers crossed for what they can bring to a new record. They’re certainly in good hands.
Olson‘s first show with The Skull was this past weekend at Tequila Jaxx, and as it invariably must, video footage has surfaced of the performance. Taken from Trouble‘s 1985 outing, The Skull– which I guess for this band would be a self-titled? — “Wickedness of Man” finds the drummer fitting right in on parts he played 18 years ago. Earlier 2013 found Olson on keys alongside Victor Griffin in In~Graved, so I guess it goes to show you never quite know where you’ll wind up by the time a year is out.
Continued success. PR wire info follows the clip below:
The Skull, “Wickedness of Man” Live at Tequila Jaxx, 09.14.13
THE SKULL featuring original TROUBLE members vocalist Eric Wagner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson alongside the band’s longtime bassist Ron Holzner with SACRED DAWN guitarists Michael Carpenter and Lothar Keller peformed at Tequila Jaxx this past Saturday, September 14 in Mentor-On-The-Lake, Ohio. Fan-filmed video footage can be seen [above]. This is the band’s first performance with Jeff “Oly” Olson.
As previously reported, Olson rejoined THE SKULL last month stating: “I know that I’ve mentioned that I wouldn’t perform TROUBLE’s music anymore unless it’s with the other original members, but I’ve had a change of heart. I want to rock again.”
THE SKULL’s debut CD will be produced by Billy Anderson (HIGH ON FIRE, SLEEP, NEUROSIS) this autumn in Portland, Oregon and will be released via as-yet-undetermined record label.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Blackfinger‘s self-titled debut has been a while in the making for sure. Former Trouble and current The Skull frontman Eric Wagner discussed the project’s first album in an interview late in 2011, saying then that it was being mixed, so unless that took more than year — which is possible, certainly — the record has probably sat for a bit while the circumstances of its release were sorted. To that end, the band has signed with The Church Within Records (see also Serpent Venom, Seamount, Beelzefuzz, etc.) out of Germany for the physical, CD/LP editions, and while an exact issue date has yet to be announced, for sure that’s progress. Between Blackfinger, Earthen Grave, The Skull and the actual new Trouble record, 2013-2014 is shaping up to be quite an era for Chicago’s most legendary doom export, its current and former members.
The PR wire had this to say:
Eric Wagner’s BLACKFINGER Sign Worldwide Deal; Reveal New Teaser Video
From Mercyful Mike Management & Production:
“We are extremely pleased to announce that BLACKFINGER, featuring former TROUBLE vocalist Eric Wagner, has signed a worldwide deal with Germany’s prestigious Church Within Records. The mastered album is being delivered to Church Within as we speak, and the CD and Vinyl versions are expected out by the end of the year. An exact release date will be announced soon. A full tour in the support of the album is being discussed, and will be reported on as things fall into place. Until then, be sure to check out the new BLACKFINGER promo video from Kathy Reeves Productions below.”
As reported earlier, Dark Star Records will be handling the digital release of the BLACKFINGER debut, which will be available on the official release date of the CD/LP.
The debut album, with its many peaks and valleys of heaviness and melancholy, along with Wagner’s signature vocals, will mark the singer’s first recorded output since Trouble’s 2007 release “Simple Mind Condition.”
The track listing of “Blackfinger” is as follows: I Am Jon Yellowood Why God On Tuesday Morning As Long As I’m With You Here Comes The Rain My Many Colored Days For One More Day All The Leaves Are Brown Til Death Do Us Part Keep Fallin’ Down
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I guess when Trouble comes knocking, you answer. Just a day after Trouble-offshoot The Skull had some lineup revelations of their own, Trouble have put word out that bassist Rob Hultz has entered the fold. Hultz is probably best known for playing in NJ doomers Solace, but he’s been based out of Chicago for some time and seems like a natural fit for the doom legends, whose new album, The Distortion Field(review here) is available now. If nothing else, it’s a hell of a line on Hultz‘s resumé.
Metal legends Trouble have announced their new bassist Rob Hultz to debut on Fall Tour
On the eve of the European release of their latest studio album The Distortion Field, Trouble have made a permanent addition to the band line-up with the hiring of bass player Rob Hultz.
Hultz is no stranger to the heavy metal, hard rock, and doom metal genres as his lengthy music resume boasts. While still in high school, he joined an East Coast hardcore band called Social Decay which served as his introduction to recording and touring. After a decade, he left with the guitar player to form the doom metal band Godspeed and was signed to Atlantic Records. Their debut album was recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York and produced by Rachel Bolan of Skid Row. The band was represented by Gloria Butler Management and toured with iconic bands such as Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio, and Cathedral, to name just a few.
In 1996, Hultz helped form Solace, another notable doom metal band, which was signed to Meteor City Records, and played large arenas, clubs, and festivals such as Roadburn and Hellfest. Their last recording A.D. was released on Small Stone Records in 2010 and voted Best Metal Album of the Year on iTunes. Since then, Hultz has lent his talents on projects for Lethal Aggression and Disease Concept.
Commenting on the band’s decision, Trouble founder and guitarist Rick Wartell states, “Bruce Franklin and I played the bass parts on The Distortion Field, with the exception of one song. However as we began preparing to tour in support of the album, it became really important to choose the right person for the band. Rob is not only a great bass player but also a total pro with an impressive band history, and he’s got the Trouble-personality so he definitely fits in well. We look forward to him joining us on the road and being a band-mate for a long time to come.”
Hultz has already begun rehearsals and will debut live with the band for a series of European show dates scheduled for October 2013, the details of which are still pending and will be announced separately.
Trouble, “The Broken Has Spoken” from The Distortion Field (2013)
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Most recently found playing keys in In~Graved alongside Victor Griffin, former Trouble drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson has once again joined forces with Trouble offshoot The Skull, who’ve begun writing their debut album.
I think my favorite part about this news — other than the fact that it leads me to think there’s a potential time at which one might be able to view vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and Olson in The Skull playing 1984′s classic Trouble debut, Psalm 9 in its entirety to mark the 30th anniversary of its release — is that with three members of the band’s most revered lineup, The Skull is now more Trouble than Trouble. Trouble still has guitarists Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell, and they’ve issued a new album in this year’s The Distortion Field(review here), but it will be interesting to hear how The Skull‘s studio outing — to be recorded by Billy Anderson — stands up. One way or another, comparisons will be inevitable.
Also, beer! Life only gets more fascinating:
Jeff “Oly” Olson has joined forces again with THE SKULL, the band he formed with fellow original member of Chicago doom-metal legends TROUBLE vocalist Eric Wagner and the band’s longtime bassist Ron Holzner.
Olson states, “I know that I’ve mentioned that I wouldn’t perform TROUBLE‘s music anymore unless it’s with the other original members, but I’ve had a change of heart. I want to rock again. Although I have been having a great time playing keys for IN~GRAVED (led by former Pentagram guitarist Victor Griffin), I miss the drums and playing classic TROUBLE songs. I’m still going to jam with Victor, but there is room for THE SKULL too.”
“In just a few short months, 2014 will mark the 30th anniversary year for TROUBLE‘s debut record Psalm 9. TROUBLE guitarists Rick Wartell and Bruce Franklin are having fun with their new record, and I had fun writing some intros for it, it’s just that Eric, Ron, and myself want to jam too and celebrate our 30th anniversary as well with a tour and a new record. We’ve worked just as hard as Bruce and Rick over the years and we feel that we’ve earned the privilege to celebrate with the fans as well. There is no animosity between the two bands and we intend to keep it that way.” We are currently writing a debut record set for release in 2014 and I’ve already submitted several songs to the guys. Excitement is in the air.”
“I’m also going to be brewing a beer for Allagash Brewing Company (based in Portland, Maine) set for release for the 2013 holidays. The beer will be Imperial Stout brewed with cranberries. More on that later… life is good!”
THE SKULL‘s debut release will be produced by Billy Anderson (HIGH ON FIRE, SLEEP, NEUROSIS) this autumn in Portland, Oregon and the yet-to-be-determined record label will be announced soon.
Confirmed shows are as follows: September 14 – Tequilla Jaxx – Cleveland, OH (with Earthen Grave) October 11 – Denver Doom Fest III – Denver, CO October 13 – Fall Into Darkness VII – Portland, OR October 19 – Loaded – Hollywood, CA
The 2014 PSALM 930th Anniversary Tour is currently being booked for both The U.S and Europe.
THE SKULL is: Eric Wagner – vocals Jeff Olson – drums Ron Holzner – bass Michael Capenter – guitar Lothar Keller- guitar
Posted in audiObelisk on August 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
As a precursor to the forthcoming full-length, Forever Becoming, which is due out Oct. 15, Chicago instrumentalists Pelican will release a 7″ single through The Mylene Sheath that’s set to feature an alternate recording of the song “Deny the Absolute.” On the album, the rush you hear at the start of “Deny the Absolute” signals the moment of switch between the opening ambience of “Terminal” and some of Pelican‘s most forward-driving riffage, and though it hardly showcases the depth of mood that Forever Becoming seems to have at its disposal — Pelican having long since come of age in joy as much as struggle, musically — sometimes it’s best to let a badass riff do the talking for you. Hardly the first time Pelican are doing that.
Check out “Deny the Absolute” on the player below, hoisted from Pelican‘s Soundcloud, and give it a listen in kind with the previously streamed “Immutable Dusk” for even more landmark-type riffing. The Mylene Sheath will issue the Deny the Absolute7″ on Aug. 20, and the pre-order link is included with Pelican‘s tour dates here.
Taken from the forthcoming 7″ on The Mylene Sheath. Available August 20th 2013.
PELICAN 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
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…