All Them Witches Live Footage of “Mountain” Posted

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

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 Door and 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 Door from 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

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

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The Skull Adds Former Trouble Bassist Chuck Robinson on Guitar

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 9 in 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.

Eric Wagner – vocals
Jeff “Oly” Olson – drums/keys
Ron Holzner – bass
Lothar Keller – guitar
Chuck Robinson – guitar

Trouble, Psalm 9 (1984)

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The Skull Sign to Tee Pee Records; Debut Album Due this Fall

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.

The Skull, “The Tempter” Live in Ohio

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Russian Circles Announce Australian Tour Dates

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, oztix and the venue.

Wednesday, April 30 – Fowler’s Live – Adelaide
Tickets from, venuetix, moshtix, oztix and the venue.

Thursday, May 1 – Hi Fi Bar – Melbourne
Tickets from, oztix and the venue.

Friday, May 2 – Rosemount Hotel – Perth
Tickets from, oztix and the venue.

Saturday, May 3 – Manning Bar – Sydney
Tickets from, oztix and the venue.

Website -
Bandcamp -
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Label -

Russian Circles, Memorial (2013)

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Blackfinger, Blackfinger: The Color of Time

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 Blackfinger may 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,” Blackfinger comes 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.

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Drug Honkey Have a New EP Coming this Summer and a New Video for “Five Years Up”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

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 -
$10 CD (limited edition) including postage anywhere in the world
$5 full digital album.

Drug Honkey on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Obscurity on Bandcamp

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audiObelisk: Men of Fortune Stream Debut Album Time Lovingly Bled in Full

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 Bled seems 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 Bled top 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.

Men of Fortune on Thee Facebooks

Time Lovingly Bled at Bird Dialect Records

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Russian Circles Announce Tour Dates with KENmode and Inter Arma

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.

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

Russian Circles, Memorial (2013)

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Friday Full-Length: Russian Circles, Enter

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 30th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Russian Circles, Enter (2006)

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.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio


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Pelican, Forever Becoming: Portrait of a Work in Progress

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 Becoming should 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 Echoes coming off of 2005’s The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw and 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.

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Viper Fever, Super Heavy Garage EP

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 EP is 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 EP is 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 EP now 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:

Viper Fever, Super Heavy Garage EP (2013)

Viper Fever on Thee Facebooks

Viper Fever on Bandcamp

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Here’s the First Video of The Skull with Jeff “Oly” Olson on Drums

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

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.

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Blackfinger Sign to The Church Within for Debut Release

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
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

Keep updated with all BLACKFINGER news by visiting Stay tuned!

Blackfinger, Album Teaser

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Solace Bassist Rob Hultz Joins Trouble

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.

Here’s the announcement, courtesy of Trouble‘s website:

Trouble Introduce New Bass Player

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)

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Jeff “Oly” Olson Rejoins The Skull

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:

JeffOlyOlson 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 9 30th Anniversary Tour is currently being booked for both The U.S and Europe.

Eric Wagner – vocals
Jeff Olson – drums
Ron Holzner – bass
Michael Capenter – guitar
Lothar Keller- guitar

Trouble, Psalm 9 (1984)

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