Review & Full Album Stream: Devil to Pay, Forever, Never or Whenever

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

devil to pay forever never or whenever

[Click play above to stream Devil to Pay’s Forever, Never or Whenever in full. Album is out Nov. 8 on Ripple Music with preorders here.]

Devil to Pay have come to chew bubblegum and play hooks. And while I don’t know the status of their Watermelon Bubble-Yum supply, they’ve definitely got enough hooks for everyone at the bank. The Indianapolis four-piece have riffed and riffed and riffed their way to a well-earned veteran status, and throughout the 10 tracks of Forever, Never or Whenever, which is their 44-minute sixth long-player — third for Ripple Music, behind 2016’s A Bend Through Space and Time (review here) and 2013’s Fate is Your Muse (review here) — they prove to be comfortable in their core processes while willing to expand their sound in some new ways, fleshing out aesthetic turns that might surprise some longtime followers and even just finding more ways to add character to their songs, whether it’s the mini-funk-jam on “Imminent Demise” or the moodier and more patient rollout of the earlier “The Cautionary Tale of Yen Sid,” a moody bit of philosophizing that serves as a reminder that guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak splits his time between Devil to Pay and doom outfit Apostle of Solitude (and now the reunited The Gates of Slumber as well).

Between that song — which may or may not actually be about Walt Disney and/or his fictional sorcerer representation throughout the Mickey Mouse canon — the subtle vocal layering in “Light Sentence” and the spacious echoes in the penultimate “The Pendulum,” Janiak, fellow guitarist Rob Hough, bassist Matt Stokes and drummer Chad Prifogle bring a fair amount of variety to Forever, Never or Whenever, and six albums deep into a tenure that covers the better part of the last 20 years, there’s just about no way it’s a coincidence. Rather, it’s Devil to Pay refusing to stagnate in terms of style and pushing themselves toward fresh-sounding avenues of expression even as they maintain the focus on songwriting that has carried them since their inception. At their heart, they’ve always been a band about the songs.

You’d think that would be every band, right? Why be a band who writes songs if you’re not going to be about writing the songs? Truth is there are plenty of reasons. Sometimes the song is an excuse to have a solo, or to jam, or it’s a stand-in for some broader message. All of those and a 100,000 more can potentially work, but with Devil to Pay, it’s always been the song itself that has come first. Their style has never been overly flashy, and one supposes it still isn’t, though neither would I call the production on Forever, Never or Whenenever flat. Instead, in the initial salvo of “Heave-Ho,” “The Devil’s Barking Up Your Tree” — which delightfully shares a similar staccato cadence to the second half of “I’m Tired” as performed by Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles —  “The Cautionary Tale of Yen Sid” and the driving fuzz of “Get on Down” shove the way through the album’s first half with due energy and a sense of the dynamic that Devil to Pay share on stage.

As it passes its midsection, “Get on Down” slows down and Janiak‘s vocals echo a bit, leading to a winding rhythm that builds its way toward a solo and a final few vocal lines. The presumed side A finale, “Tap Dancing on Your Grave,” is more melancholy as its title might suggest, and sees Hough and Janiak part ways on guitar, one holding down a steady chug while the other complements with a more open, winding line and some foreshadow of the percussive element in the (relatively brief) jam in the subsequent “Imminent Demise” is given. Very much in the spirit of classic heavy rock methodology, side B pushes further stylistically as songs expand on ideas presented in the earlier cuts — “Imminent Demise” taking the percussion aspect of “Tap Dancing on Your Grave” and running with it is perhaps the clearest example, but it’s true throughout in mood and arrangement. This too might be considered the band benefiting from their experience, at least on the most basic level of how they present the material, since their central philosophy remains intact wherever they might veer sound-wise. They’re always about the song.

devil to pay

Forever, Never or Whenever isn’t the first time Devil to Pay have offered variety in their craft, either. Indeed, in its structure, the album seems to be directly building off of what A Bend Through Space and Time brought together in terms of its general modus and range, but it does legitimately push farther. “Imminent Demise” leads to the tense verse and release chorus of “37 Trillion,” a song right in Devil to Pay‘s wheelhouse when it comes to structure and tone. The standout line, “Say you’re a bucket of blood,” would seem to remind of a human’s place in the universe, but the track is quick and doesn’t hang around long enough for much philosophizing. As noted, it’s in “Light Sentence” that the band once again dives into more brooding fare, with Janiak‘s croon answering itself at the end of verse lines, a far-back background layer adding to the atmosphere.

That’s a suitable transition into “The Pendulum,” which follows that path deeper into echoing reaches and an emergent metallic riffing in its second half, threatening to break out in a way it never lets itself do, instead shifting into the dual-leads and more fervent popping snare of “Anti-Gravity Depravity,” a title which hints at a more lighthearted spirit than either of the songs prior. Also the longest cut at 6:26, the closer indeed brings about another turn of vibe, but the track is hardly a goofball ending or anything like that. It calls back to some of the catchier songs early on without being a total redux, and effectively uses lead guitar to offset its deceptively nuanced chug, ending in a last build with Prifogle railing on his crash cymbals before a few last hits around a quick reprise of the track’s opening caps with a duly symmetrical spirit.

Whatever Devil to Pay might be or might do stylistically, they’re a heavy rock band, and an underrated one at that. They bring more character to the production of Forever, Never or Whenever than they’ve ever had before, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it suits them and enriches the material itself. Perhaps most fortunate of all, none of the growth of method the band have undertaken in the last five-plus years has pulled them away from the foundation of their songwriting. It is that which ultimately allows them to flourish as they do, and the ground beneath their feet is as solid as it could possibly be here. A balance of consistency and growth after more than 15 years together? I think maybe it’s time more people started paying attention to and learning lessons from this band.

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Devil to Pay BigCartel store

Devil to Pay website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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Devil to Pay Post Lyric Video for “37 Trillion” from Forever, Never or Whenever

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

devil to pay

I’m going to review it properly sometime in the coming weeks, but the new Devil to Pay record? Man, that shit is catchy. The album is called Forever, Never or Whenever, and it’s out Nov. 8 through a longstanding alliance with Ripple Music, collecting 10 tracks of no-nonsense heavy rock and roll. That’s been Devil to Pay‘s stock and trade for the past 15-plus years — their debut, Thirty Pieces of Silver, was released in 2004; Forever, Never or Whenever is their sixth long-player — and they’ve only grown better at it with time. They’ve never been overly fancy in terms of production or presentation, but the tradition they serve is one of putting songwriting at the forefront, and they’re better at it than most who would dare to try.

“37 Trillion,” which appears on the second half of the new outing, takes a decidedly more political bent, and fairly enough so. Their home state of Indiana is considered a right-wing stronghold in terms of its voting history. Donald Trump won with 56.47 percent of the vote, and the governor and supermajorities of both legislative houses are Republicans, so yes, one would say they’re decidedly “en rouge.” In the current sociopolitical moment, an important one, it’s hard for one who, say, isn’t insane, to look around and wonder how we got here, how people we might otherwise respect or love could be so taken in, and how fragile American democracy truly is and whose interests it’s intended to serve when we’ve been told by our leaders for so many years the state of our union is strong and are still told that on the regular.

One could go on on the subject — and people do, as the entirety of the internet/social media sphere readily demonstrates — but I won’t. Take Devil to Pay‘s reminder that we’re, on average, 37 trillion cells however you will, and enjoy the track on whichever level you choose. If you’re apolitical — what’s your secret? — or you disagree where where they seem to be coming from, well, hooks are hooks and Devil to Pay‘s got a million of ’em, so dig in anyhow and maybe that self-victimization go for a minute or two.

Ah hell there I go again.

Enjoy:

Devil to Pay, “37 Trillion” official lyric video

DEVIL TO PAY – “37 Trillion” Lyric Video. from the album “Forever, Never or Whenever” (11/8/19 via Ripple Music) filmed live at the Green Lantern, Lexington, KY 07/27/19. Edited by S Janiak. Motion Graphics by Ron Coy.

order “Forever, Never or Whenever” via Ripple Music at https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/artist/devil-to-pay

Devil to Pay is:
Steve Janiak – guitars/vocals
Matt Stokes – bass
Chad Prifogle – drums
Rob Hough – guitars

Devil to Pay on Thee Facebooks

Devil to Pay BigCartel store

Devil to Pay website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

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Devil to Pay to Release Forever, Never or Whenever Nov. 8; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

devil to pay

Once. Exactly one time. That’s how long it took me to hear the chorus of the new Devil to Pay song before it got stuck in my head. The track is called “Heave Ho” and it comes from their new album, Forever, Never or Whenever, which will be released on Nov. 8 through Ripple Music as the follow-up to 2016’s A Bend Through Space and Time (review here). It is their sixth album overall in a tenure that goes back some 17 years, and “Heave Ho” opens.

What that tells you is the band are putting their emphasis right where it belongs, which is on their songwriting. They’ve never been a crazy hyper-stylized kind of outfit, and they’ve never put anything in their approach ahead of the craft of memorable combinations of rhythm, melody and personality in their work. Based in Indianapolis and sharing guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak with Apostle of Solitude for the last seven years, they’ve gradually garnered broad respect for shining through a sonic realm that’s as immediately familiar as it is their own.

Preorders for Forever, Never or Whenever are up now, and I’ll hope to have more to come before the release date.

For now, the PR wire:

devil to pay forever now or whenever

Midwest heavy rock pillars DEVIL TO PAY unleash first track off new album ‘Forever, Never or Whenever’, out November 8th on Ripple Music

Indianapolis relentless heavy rock unit DEVIL TO PAY are set to issue their sixth full-length ‘Forever, Never or Whenever’ this November 8th on Ripple Music. Stream a badass first track now!

Few bands embody the essence of heavy rock like DEVIL TO PAY. These four mercenaries and all-round brilliant songwriters have crafted one air-tight record after another, and sixth studio album ‘Forever, Never or Whenever’ can be easily considered their watermark statement.

Steve Janiak’s powerful gritty vocals take the listener to new heights, while dark, doom-tinged atmospheres are masterfully intertwined with a heavy metal stampede of meaty riffs, for an overall end-of-world feeling. It won’t take long until ‘Forever, Never or Whenever’ drags you to the other side and becomes your new dark heavy rock favorite.

DEVIL TO PAY guitarist and vocalist Steve Janiak experienced life-after-death visions during a hospitalization and deals with this incredible story in his writing. A mystical approach that enshrouds this new album and makes the band sound deeper and darker than ever.

DEVIL TO PAY “Forever, Never or Whenever”
Out November 8th on Ripple Music
Preorders available here

TRACK LISTING:
1. Heave Ho
2. The Devil’s Barking Up Your Tree
3. The Cautionary Tale of Yen Sid
4. Get On Down
5. Tap Dancing On Your Grave
6. Imminent Demise
7. 37 Trillion
8. Light Sentence
9. The Pendulum
10. Anti-Gravity Depravity

DEVIL TO PAY are
Steve Janiak – Vocals & Guitar
Chad Prifogle – Drums
Matt Stokes – Bass
Rob Hough – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/deviltopay
https://www.instagram.com/deviltopay_band/
https://deviltopay.bandcamp.com/
http://deviltopay.net/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://www.instagram.com/ripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Quarterly Review: Monkey3, Asthma Castle, The Giraffes, Bask, Faerie Ring, Desert Sands, Cavalcade, Restless Spirit, Children of the Sün, Void King

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Call two friends and tell them to tell two friends to tell two friends, because the Quarterly Review has returned. This time around, it’s 50 records front to back for Fall 2019 and there are some big names and some smaller names and a whole lot of in between which is just how I like it. Between today and Friday, each day 10 album reviews will be posted in a single batch like this one, and although by Wednesday this always means I’m totally out of my mind, it’s always, always, always worth it to be able to write about so much cool stuff. So sit tight, because there’s a lot to get through and, as ever, time’s at a premium.

Thanks in advance for keeping up, and I hope you find something you dig.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Monkey3, Sphere

monkey3 sphere

It’s a full-on Keanu Reeves “whoa” when opening track “Spirals” kicks in on Monkey3‘s sixth album, Sphere (released by Napalm), and that’s by no means the last one on the cinematic six-tracker. The long-running Swiss mostly-instrumentalists have been consistently, persistently underappreciated throughout their career, but whether it’s the aural scope of guitar and keys in “Axis” or the swaps between intensity and sprawl in 14-minute closer “Ellipsis,” their latest work is consuming in its sense of triumph. Even the four-minute “Ida,” which seems at first like it’s barely going to be more than an interlude, finds a thread of majestic cosmic groove and rides it for the duration, while the proggy immersion of “Prism” and the harder drive of “Mass” — not to mention that shredding solo — make the middle of the record anything but a post-hypnosis dip. I won’t pretend to know if Sphere is the record that finally gets the Lausanne four-piece the respect they’ve already well deserved, but if it was, one could only say it was for good reason. Blends of heft, progressive craft, and breadth are rarely so resonant.

Monkey3 on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore

Asthma Castle Mount Crushmore

When you call your record Mount Crushmore, you need to bring it, and much to their credit, Baltimorean sludge-rocking five-piece Asthma Castle do precisely that on their debut full-length. Issued through Hellmistress Records, the 37-minute/six-track outing is a wordplay-laced pummeler that shows as much persona in its riffing and massive groove as it does in titles like “The Incline of Western Civilization” and “The Book of Duderonomy.” Trades between early-Mastodonic twists and lumbering sludge crash add a frenetic and unpredictable feel to pieces like the title-track, while “Methlehem” trades its plod for dual-guitar antics punctuated by metallic double-kick, all the while the vocals trade back and forth between growls, shouts, cleaner shouts, the odd scream, etc., because basically if you can keep up with it, Asthma Castle wouldn’t be doing their job. One shudders to think of the amount of Natty Bo consumed during its making, but Mount Crushmore is a wild and cacophonous enough time to live up to the outright righteousness of its title. If I graded reviews, it would get a “Fuckin’ A+,” with emphasis on “fuckin’ a.”

Asthma Castle on Thee Facebooks

Hellmistress Records website

 

The Giraffes, Flower of the Cosmos

the giraffes flower of the cosmos

Some day the world will wake up and realize the rock and roll powerhouse it had in Brooklyn’s The Giraffes, but by then it’ll be too late. The apocalypse will have happened long ago, and it’ll be Burgess Meredith putting on a vinyl of Flower of the Cosmos in the New York Library as “FAKS” echoes out through the stacks of now-meaningless tomes and the dust of nuclear winter falls like snow outside the windows. The band’s tumultuous history is mirrored in the energy of their output, and yet to hear the melody and gentle fuzz at the outset of “Golden Door,” there’s something soothing about their work as well that, admittedly, “Raising Kids in the End Times” is gleeful in undercutting. Cute as well they pair that one with “Dorito Dreams” on this, their seventh record in a 20-plus-year run, which has now seen them find their footing, lose it, find it again, and in this record and songs like the masterfully frenetic “Fill up Glass” and the air-tight-tense “Like Hate” and “Romance,” weave a document every bit worthy of Mr. Meredith’s attention as he mourns for the potential of this godforsaken wasteland. Oh, what we’ll leave behind. Such pretty ruins.

The Giraffes website

The Giraffes on Bandcamp

 

Bask, III

bask iii

In the fine tradition of heavy rock as grown-up punk, North Carolina’s Bask bring progressive edge and rolling-Appalachian atmospherics to the underlying energy of III, their aptly-titled and Season of Mist-issued third album. Their foot is in any number of styles, from Baroness-style noodling to a hard twang that shows up throughout and features prominently on the penultimate “Noble Daughters II – The Bow,” but the great triumph of III, and really the reason it works at all, is because the band find cohesion in this swath of influences. They’re a band who obviously put thought into what they do, making it all the more appropriate to think of them as prog, but as “Three White Feet” and “New Dominion” show at the outset, they don’t serve any aesthetic master so much as the song itself. Closing with banjo and harmonies and a build of crash cymbal on “Maiden Mother Crone” nails the point home in a not-understated way, but at no point does III come across as hyper-theatrical so as to undercut the value of what Bask are doing. It’s a more patient album than it at first seems, but given time to breathe, III indeed comes to life.

Bask on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist on Bandcamp

 

Faerie Ring, The Clearing

fairie ring the clearing

Listening to the weighty rollout of opening cut “Bite the Ash” on Faerie Ring‘s debut album, The Clearing (on King Volume Records), one is reminded of the energy that once-upon-a-time came out of Houston’s Venomous Maximus. There’s a similar feeling of dark energy surging through the riffs and echoing vocals, but the Evansville, Indiana, four-piece wind up on a different trip. Their take is more distinctly Sabbathian on “Lost Wind” and even the swinging “Heavy Trip” lives up to its stated purpose ahead of the chugging largesse of finisher “Heaven’s End.” They find brash ground on “The Ring” and the slower march of “Somnium,” but there’s metal beneath the lumbering and it comes out on “Miracle” in a way that the drums late in “Lost Wind” seem to hint toward on subsequent listens. It’s a mix of riff-led elements that should be readily familiar to many listeners, but the sheer size and clarity of presentation Faerie Ring make throughout The Clearing makes me think they’ll look to distinguish themselves going forward, and so their first record holds all the more potential for that.

Faerie Ring on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

Desert Sands, The Ascent EP

Desert Sands The Ascent

Begun as the solo-project of London-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mark Walker and presently a trio including Louis Kinder and Jonathan Walker as well, Desert Sands make their recorded debut through A Records with the three-song/half-hour The Ascent EP, a work of psychedelic existentialism that conveys its cosmic questioning even before the lyrics start, with an opening riff and rhythmic lurch to “Are You There” that seems to throw its central query into a void that either will or won’t answer. Does it? The hell should I know, but The Ascent proves duly transcendent in its pulsations as “Head Towards the Light” and 11:45 closer “Yahweh” — yeah, I guess we get there — bring drifting, languid enlightenment to these spiritual musings. The finale is, of course, a jam in excelsis and if drop-acid-find-god is the narrative we’re working with, then Desert Sands are off to a hell of a start as a project. Regardless of how one might ultimately come down (and it is, by my estimation at least, a comedown) on the question of human spirituality, there’s no denying the power and ethereal force of the kind of creativity on display in The Ascent. One will wait impatiently to see what comes next.

Desert Sands on Thee Facebooks

A Recordings on Thee Facebooks

 

Cavalcade, Sonic Euthanasia

Cavalcade Sonic Euthanasia

Say what you want about New Orleans or North Carolina or wherever the hell else, Midwestern sludge is another level of filth. To wit, the Carcass-style vocals that slice through the raw, dense riffing on “Aspirate on Aspirations” feel like the very embodiment of modern disillusion, and there’s some flourish of melodic guitar pluck there, but that only seems to give the ensuing crunch more impact, and likewise the far-back char of “Freezing in Fire” as it relates to the subsequent “Dead Idles,” as Cavalcade refute the trappings of genre in tempo while still seeming to burrow a hole for themselves in the skull of the converted. “Noose Tie” and “We Dig Our Own Graves” tell the story, but while the recording itself is barebones, Cavalcade aren’t now and never really have been so simple as to be a one-trick band. For more than a decade, they’ve provided a multifaceted and trickily complex downer extremity, and Sonic Euthanasia does this as well, bringing their sound to new places and new levels of abrasion along its punishing way. Easy listening? Shit. You see that eye on the cover? That’s the lizard people staring back at you. Have fun with that.

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Cavalcade on Bandcamp

 

Restless Spirit, Lord of the New Depression

restless spirit lord of the new depression

Long Island chug-rockers Restless Spirit would seem to have been developing the material for their self-released debut album, Lord of the New Depression, over the last couple years on a series of short releases, but the songs still sound fresh and electrified in their vitality. If this was 1992 or ’93, they’d be signed already to RoadRacer Records and put on tour with Life of Agony, whose River Runs Red would seem to be a key influence in the vocals of the nine-track/39-minute offering, but even on their own, the metal-tinged five-piece seem to do just fine. Their tracks are atmospheric and aggressive and kind, and sincere in their roll, capturing the spirit of a band like Down with somewhat drawn-back chestbeating, “Dominion” aside. They seem to be challenging themselves to push outside those confines though in “Deep Fathom Hours,” the longest track at 7:35 with more complexity in the melody of the vocals and guitar, and that suits them remarkably well as they dig into this doomly take on LOA and Type O Negative and others from the early ’90s NYC underground — they seem to pass on Biohazard, which is fine — made legendary with the passage of time. As a gentleman of a certain age, I find it exceptionally easy to get on board.

Restless Spirit on Thee Facebooks

Restless Spirit on Bandcamp

 

Children of the Sün, Flowers

Children of the Sun Flowers

An eight-piece outfit based in Arvika, Sweden, which is far enough west to be closer to Oslo than Stockholm, Children of the Sün blend the classic heavy rock stylizations of MaidaVale, first-LP Blues Pills and others with a decidedly folkish bent. Including an intro, their The Sign Records debut album, Flowers, is eight track and 34 minutes interweaving organ and guitar, upbeat vibes and bluesier melodies, taking cues from choral-style vocals on “Emmy” in such a way as to remind of Church of the Cosmic Skull, though the aesthetic here is more hippie than cult. The singing on “Sunschild” soars in that fashion as well, epitomizing the lush melody found across Flowers as the keys, guitar, bass and drums work to match in energy and presence. For a highlight, I’d pick the more subdued title-track, which still has its sense of movement thanks to percussion deep in the mix but comes arguably closest to the flower-child folk Children of the Sün seem to be claiming for their own, though the subsequent closing duo of “Like a Sound” and “Beyond the Sun” aren’t far off either. They’re onto something. One hopes they continue to explore in such sünshiny fashion.

Children of the Sün on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Void King, Barren Dominion

void king barren dominion

Having made their debut with 2016’s There is Nothing (discussed here), Indianapolis downtrodden heavy rock four-piece Void King come back for a second go with Barren Dominion (on Off the Record Label), a title of similar theme that finds them doom riffing through massive tonality on “Burnt at Both Ends,” asking what if Soundgarden played atmospheric doom rock on “Crippled Chameleon” — uh, it would be awesome? yup — and opening each side with its longest track (double immediate points) in a clearly intended vinyl structure hell bent on immersing the listener as much as possible in the lumber and weight the band emit. Frontman Jason Kindred adds extra burl to his already-plenty-dudely approach on “Crippled Chameleon” and closer “The Longest Winter,” the latter with some harmonies to mirror those of opener “A Lucid Omega,” and the band around him — bassist Chris Carroll, drummer Derek Felix and guitarist Tommy Miller — seem to have no trouble whatsoever in keeping up, there or anywhere else on the eight-song/46-minute outing. Topped with striking cover art from Diogo SoaresBarren Dominion is deceptively nuanced and full-sounding. Not at all empty.

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Off the Record Label BigCartel store

 

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Void King to Release Barren Dominion Sept. 13; Stream “The Longest Winter”

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

void king

Last I heard from Indianapolis’ Void King, they were taking off for Europe to support their first album, There is Nothing (discussed here), alongside Louisiana’s Boudain. Good company. The four-piece will present their second record through Off the Record Label on Sept. 13 and they’re streaming the with-burl-to-spare closing track “The Longest Winter” from it now, showcasing a somewhat darker take on the heavy vibes of the prior offering. They opted to have Bongripper‘s guitarist master the thing, which will no doubt account for some of the inherent volume involved, but one way or the other, it’s a pretty fierce groove they’ve locked in. I haven’t had the chance yet to dig into the full release, but certainly what “The Longest Winter” has to offer is an encouraging argument to do so.

The PR wire brings art, gets informative, rocks out, like this:

void king barren dominion

U.S. Stoner Doom and Roll Practitioners VOID KING Releasing ‘Barren Dominion’ September 13 on Off The Record

Stoner Doom and Roll practitioners VOID KING are proud to announce the forthcoming release of sophomore album Barren Dominion on Off The Record. On Barren Dominion, the band has harnessed raw emotion and embraced a darker, heavier sound to express three years of personal and group struggles and victories.

Barren Dominion will be available for mass consumption on September 13 via voidking.bandcamp.com/ and all major digital platforms, as well as on CD. A vinyl release is planned to follow at a later date.

“At the heart of it, this record is who we are. Jason and I have been through some pretty trying times in the last couple of years and managed to rise above it all”, says guitar player Tommy Miller. “I wouldn’t go so far to call this a concept record, but there is a theme running through the entire thing.”

Barren Dominion was recorded with Bloomington, IN artist Niko Albanese, and mastered by Dennis Pleckham of Comatose studios and guitarist for the band BONGRIPPER. “We needed people working on this record that understood not just the sound that we were going for, but also the vibe that we wanted to hit. Dennis and Niko really hit that perfectly on both fronts”, says drummer of VOID KING, Derek Felix. “We talked a lot about making sure that this record was massive. Between recording the drums in an empty warehouse and having the guitar player from BONGRIPPER master the record, I would say that this album is exactly what we were looking for.”

Track Listing:
1. A Lucid Omega
2. Leftover Savages
3. Burnt At Both Ends
4. of Whip And Steed
5. Temples Made of Bone
6. Learning From The Ashes
7. Crippled Chameleon
8. The Longest Winter

Album Credits:
Recorded/Mixed – Niko Albanese
Mastering – Comatose Studios
Album Art – Soares Artwork

VOID KING is:
Derek Felix – Percussion
Chris Carroll – Bass
Jason Kindred – Vocals
Tommy Miller – Guitar

http://voidking.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/voidkingband/
https://www.offtherecordshop.nl/

Void King, “The Longest Winter”

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The Gates of Slumber: Karl Simon Talks Reuniting the Band, Future Plans and More

Posted in Features on May 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the gates of slumber

It’s only too fitting that The Gates of Slumber‘s reunion after five years of inactivity should focus on their 2004 debut, …The Awakening. Founded in 1997 in Indianapolis as The Keep by guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon, the band would go on to release five full-lengths between ’04 and 2011, as well as a slew of splits and EPs, thereby spearheading an American traditionalist doom outside the geographic confines of Maryland’s scene. Their sound embraced epic metal on Conqueror (2008) and 2009’s Hymns of Blood and Thunder (review here), but never wavered from its core purpose in doom, and their final LP, 2011’s The Wretch (review here), was a gloriously downtrodden exploration of drunken regret set to riffage that used the open spaces of the recording to create an even more oppressive sphere.

When bassist Jason McCash left the band in Sept. 2013Simon said, “I always said I’d never go on doing TGoS without Jason, I don’t think anyone ever really believed it, but yeah, it’s done.” Soon enough, Simon would go on to found Wretch as a continuation of The Gates of Slumber‘s cathartic outlet, and their self-titled debut LP (review here) showed up in 2016, followed the next year by an EP, Bastards Born (discussed here), as the new unit began to find its own direction within the sphere of doom. The legacy of The Gates of Slumber and McCash, who passed away in 2014, loomed large, but Simon was always upfront about what he wanted the band to be and Wretch went so far as to play select The Gates of Slumber songs live. You don’t name your new band after your old band’s last album if you’re trying to distance yourself from what you’ve done in the past. Wretch worked and continues to work as a project precisely because of its direct engagement and honesty about its origins.

News came down earlier this week that The Gates of Slumber would reunite for Hell Over Hammaburg in Hamburg, Germany, next year, playing alongside NifelheimArgusHauntBellrope and a slew more not yet announced. The new lineup of the band features Steve Janiak of Devil to Pay and Apostle of Solitude on bass and Chuck Brown of Apostle of Solitude on drums. The latter is also a veteran of The Gates of Slumber, having played on …The Awakening before being ousted and starting his own band. Together, the new trio will embark on the trip to Germany in 2020 and then…? It’s up in the air. Simon notes below they’re willing to take it as far as people want without affecting anyone’s work in other bands, including his own, and of course one recalls that at the time of their breakup, The Gates of Slumber were slated to do nearly three weeks on the road supporting Church of Misery the next month. I don’t think they’ll pickup right where they left off, but perhaps there’s some sense of work still to be done on the part of one of this millennium’s most essential US doom purveyors.

So, with Germany ahead and Wretch on tour now (playing New England Stoner & Doom Fest in CT this weekend), behold The Gates of Slumber‘s reawakening. Thanks to Simon for taking the time to talk about it on short notice, and to you for reading.

The Gates of Slumber Interview with Karl Simon

First things first: How did the reunion come about? Did Hell Over Hammaburg bring the idea to you? What made you think this was the time to bring back The Gates of Slumber?

Well, Wolf [Mühlmann] from HOH asked me a while back about TGoS playing, and I was not in a place to really deal with it. My mother had just passed after a long illness and Wretch was on hold due to drama in the band, so I said something non-committal about the whole thing and left it at that. I basically took a chunk of time and quit thinking about bands. I learned a bunch of songs arranged for an acoustic and just kind of played for myself. Last year I asked Dustin Boltjes formerly of Skeletonwitch, The Dream is Dead, Demiricous and all around raging dude to take the throne and we started working on songs for the next Wretch record. In the middle of that, I tore my Achilles and had to take months off. And Oli [Richling] from Church Within contacted me asking about The Awakening, I’d been trying to pitch the live LP from the The Wretch tour forever, and we got a deal worked out for the Live record, The Awakening AND Like a Plague Upon the Land — the last recorded stuff with that lineup. Chuck had come by a bit during my downtime and we’d been talking a lot. We had this deal where our records were going to come back out and the way I saw it it would be a dumb thing to not at least play a few shows to support it. Jason would have done it in a minute…. and it gave me an excuse to play those songs with Chuck again and just hang out with an old friend. And that’s that.

How did the the lineup end up being you, Chuck and Steve? Was the fact that Chuck had been in Gates before a factor? Obviously they’re both in Apostle of Solitude now, but how did that all come together?

We both wanted to take this chance for sure, TGoS had a decent profile and we wanted to ride the goddamn snake, but we did not want any stress. It’s all super laid back for a change. Steve fell right in because he could commit right away and he was into it. His gear was at Chuck‘s where we practice and we just went with it. It’s all been very chill and easy. Which is how we want it.

It’s been nearly six years since the band first broke up. How do you feel about what The Gates of Slumber accomplished during its initial run? I know Wretch has played some Gates songs in the past, but how do you feel looking back on that material now that the band is going again? Has your appreciation for it changed at all?

We’ve been relearning songs from that era that basically stopped when we fired Chuck in ’05… it’s been fun and in a dippy sense healing. We realized how destructive we were to each other back then and how insecure we were as people and players, at least I have been. As far as what Wretch will do, basically the only song from TGoS we do is the namesake, I see that as a rallying point for Wretch… the other songs are going to stay with TGoS… I mean maybe someday we’ll trot out “Scovrge of Drvnkeness” or something, but in Wretch we are focused on writing new songs.

Do you have any idea of what you’ll play live yet?

We’ll be focusing exclusively on songs from The Awakening era. Sorry if you’re a fan of the later stuff. This is going back to the beginning and we plan to play at least an hour and 20 min, focusing mostly on songs that never got played live. You’ll hear “The Leach” for the first time, “The Burial” will be back, along with “Dweller in the Deep” and a bunch of other stuff.

It goes without saying that Jason’s legacy looms large in all things concerning The Gates of Slumber. The band initially quit when he left. How much is he in your mind when you think about what makes The Gates of Slumber what it was and is?

He’s there constantly, you know. His shadow looms over TGoS and Wretch a lot. I’ve had a lot of time with death. And grief never goes away. It’s softens… it’s like, Wretch just played our first show in two years on his birthday. His widow and son were there. It’s a family thing.

How far will this reunion go? Will you play other shows besides Hell Over Hammaburg? How will it affect Wretch, Apostle of Solitude and Devil to Pay? Will there ever be another Gates record?

As far as folks want it to, if there is a demand we’ll play… it’s not going to effect Apostle of Solitude or Wretch or Devil to Pay. For me Wretch is number one. We actually leave for tour tomorrow May 2. So, dear reader, if you’re trying to ask some questions about this you’d best see me at the merch table, get it? Got it? Good.

See you all soon!

Karl

The Gates of Slumber on Thee Facebooks

The Gates of Slumber on Twitter

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The Gates of Slumber Reunite for Hell over Hammaburg 2020; Post Rehearsal Footage

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the gates of slumber

Bands come and go all the time. All the time. They come, then go, then come again, then go again. But if you and I were to sit down and have a chat — doesn’t that sound nice? — about bands who’ve come and gone and were unlikely to return, I’d probably have put The Gates of Slumber on that list. When the Indianapolis three-piece forerunners of doom traditionalism disbanded in 2013, then yeah, okay, maybe they’d have gotten back together, but then a few months later when bassist Jason McCash passed away, and guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon moved on to form Wretch, it just didn’t seem like the kind of thing that was ever going to happen. Then Germany called.

The Gates of Slumber will play a special set for Hell Over Hammaburg 2020. Of course the idea will be to focus on the band’s history and pay homage to McCash and the legacy of what they created in their original run. The new lineup is comprised of Simon, bassist Steve Janiak (also guitarist/vocalist of Devil to Pay and Apostle of Solitude) and drummer Chuck Brown (also guitarist/vocalist in Apostle of Solitude and drummer in an earlier incarnation of The Gates of Slumber as well), and they’ve posted a clip of some rehearsal footage on Thee Facebooks in order to get word out of the revitalization of the band.

There are always people who naysay reunions, and reunions with a new lineup as well. Whatever. The Gates of Slumber went out on the heels of their best work yet in 2011’s The Wretch (review here) — technically they also had the Stormcrow EP (review here) before they were done, but stay with me — and I think the fact that Simon went on to form Wretch is clear indication there was still more to be said there. I don’t know if they’ve even thought of working on new material, but my understanding is this is a special kind of one-off thing, they might do some dates around the festival, but basically it’s something unique for Hell Over Hammaburg next year, and that’s where it stands now. Of course we know plans can change. There wouldn’t be a reunion in the first place if that wasn’t true.

Check out the rehearsal footage below. There may also be some reissues in the works and the long-supposed live album might happen as well. I’ll hope for more to come all around.

Enjoy:

Just Announced: The Gates of Slumber to reunite for Hell Over Hammaburg 2020. More details to follow…

The Gates of Slumber on Thee Facebooks

Hell Over Hammaburg website

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Wretch Announce First Shows in Two Years; Playing New England Stoner & Doom Fest and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

wretch

Been a minute since Indianapolis doomers Wretch poked their head up from the depressive mire in which they would otherwise seem to dwell, and by “a minute” I mean two years. In 2017, the three-piece issued their Bastards Born EP (discussed here) as the follow-up to their self-titled debut LP (review here), and as that short release was comprised of recordings done during the Euro/UK run that also saw the band stop at Roadburn (review here), everything seemed to be tying together in terms of building a little momentum behind the band’s slow-crawl doomly traditionalism. So of course it’s been two years since the last time they played a gig. Because it’s doom.

I’d have sworn they announced they were done at some point, and even if they did, that doesn’t necessarily preclude the fact that they’re back doing shows. They were announced first for the New England Stoner and Doom Fest II in Connecticut, and before they embark on a week-plus of tour dates around that, they’ll have a hometown show on April 19 at Black Circle Brewing with Castle and Apostle of Solitude, which you obviously don’t need me to tell you is a frickin’ awesome bill. I haven’t heard word one about new material or anything like that, and it’s not an impossibility, but for now it seems right to just be glad they’re doing shows and take the rest as it comes or doesn’t. Because it’s doom.

Dates follow, as presented by Tone Deaf Touring and posted by the band:

wretch tour dates

The days can go on with regularity over and over, one day indistinguishable from the next. A long continuous chain. Then suddenly, there is a change.

See you in Spring!

04.19 Indianapolis IN Black Circle Brewing w/ Castle & Apostle of Solitude
05.02 Chicago IL Subterranean
05.03 Pittsburgh PA Gooski’s
05.04 Jewett City CT New England Stoner & Doom Festival
05.05 Brooklyn NY Kingsland
05.07 Chapel Hill NC Local 506
05.08 Raleigh NC Pour House w/ Thor
05.10 Chattanooga TN Music Box Ziggy’s

https://www.facebook.com/Wretch-469537983166326/
https://wretchdoom.bandcamp.com/
https://badomenrecords.bandcamp.com/

Wretch, Bastards Born EP (2017)

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