The Obelisk Radio Adds: Iron Man (x2), Electric Citizen, Disenchanter, Junior Bruce and Anuseye

Posted in Radio on May 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click here to listen.

This week brings even more radio adds than I expected. I had kind of a hard time whittling it down to figure what I wanted to write about, to be honest with you, but we got there in the end, and I’m thrilled to have another batch of additions to the playlist for this week. Doing this seems to have quickly become a Friday ritual for me, and frankly, I can think of worse ways to spend the afternoon than listening to and writing about a bunch of records. Like just about everything else, for example.

Adds for May 30, 2014:

Iron Man, The Passage & Generation Void

Two brand new vinyl reissues from Shadow Kingdom Records. Digital promos are particularly useless in the case of badass LPs, and I’m pretty sure both of these albums by Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man, 1994′s sophomore outing, The Passage, and it’s 1999 follow-up, Generation Void, are already on the Radio playlist, but screw it, it’s Iron Man. If the chances of hearing an Iron Man song go up with each file added, then it’s worth tossing both of these records on the server. Generation Void is a full-on lost classic of doom, and if you don’t already own it, I’d imagine the vinyl of The Passage justifies picking it up based on the artwork alone. Either way, you’re never gonna lose when it comes to these guys, and Shadow Kingdom‘s loyalty in following up its CD reissues with LP versions is commendable. On Thee Facebooks, Shadow Kingdom website.

Electric Citizen, Sateen

Led by guitarist Ross Dolan and vocalist Laura Dolan, this Cincinnati four-piece traffic in high-order retro-minded Sabbathisms that keep in mind just how much boogie went along with all that darkness. To wit, the shuffle at the heart of the organ-laced “The Trap” and “Burning in Hell” or the push in the earlier “Magnetic Man.” Sateen, the band’s debut on RidingEasy Records, features riffs and leads heavily, and Laura‘s croon never strays from the forefront in delivering a barrage of hooks through the ’70s-worship production, but as with Sabbath themselves, the foundation of what Electric Citizen accomplish in these memorable, immediately familiar tracks is built on a foundation of rhythmic excellence in the bass and drums, here provided by Nick Vogelpohl and Nate Wagner, respectively. That organ ain’t half-bad either. The album arrives with no shortage of hype, but it’s a shockingly cohesive debut in style and performance, and the songwriting more than earns its way. On Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.

Disenchanter, On through Portals

The Sept. 2013 Back to Earth demo from Portland, Oregon, doom-blues metallers Disenchanter has been sitting on my desk for an embarrassingly long time. That release is added to the playlist as well, but on the early-2014 follow-up, On through Portals, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Sabine Stangenberg, bassist Joey DeMartini and drummer Jay Erbe stretch out the form somewhat. Both arrive as EP-style releases, but On through Portals tops half-an-hour and executes a darkened psychedelic flow over its three extended tracks — “Journey to Abydos/Moon Maid” (12:15), “Invoke” (7:38), and “Into Darkness” (11:20) — so it could just as easily pass for a short album. Either way, the partial shift in aesthetic suits Disenchanter well, and what seems to have been in-process on their first demo comes closer to fruition here. Songs are patient and lumbering, but never boring, and Stangenberg‘s vocals layer effectively at the front of the mix to give the impression of a consummate frontwoman in the making. I won’t declare their development finished, but On through Portals is a big and interesting step for Disenchanter to take. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Junior Bruce, The Nomad


Just two tracks on this latest release from Southern heavy rockers Junior Bruce. The Nomad is the second of two (to date) digital releases following Junior Bruce‘s 2012 debut full-length, The Headless King, and intended as a complement to last year’s The Burden. Fair enough. Taken as such or on their own, The Nomad‘s two cuts, “The Promised Sleep” and “Nomad,” offer unpretentious heavy rolling groove from the Floridian five-piece fronted by Scott Angelacos and featuring bassist Tom Crowther, both also of Hollow Leg and formerly Bloodlet and Hope and Suicide. Molasses riffs from guitarists Nate Jones and Bryan Raymond and steady crash from drummer Jeff McAlear further distinguish “Nomad” in the Southern tradition, and the single/EP is twice as intriguing in the context of Hollow Leg‘s most recent recording, “God Eater” (discussed here), which moved in a more rocking direction as well. It seems to work for both bands. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Anuseye, Essay on a Drunken Cloud


Cuts like “J R” and “Wrong Blues” take ’90s crunch and heavy rock vibes to heart, but where Italy’s Anuseye really distinguish themselves on their Vincebus Eruptum Recordings debut — other than with their somewhat unfortunate moniker — is in the weirdo jamminess of “Push Magic Button” or the psychedelic exploration of “Earthquake.” Essay on a Drunken Cloud boasts a few riffs and effects-laced stretches like that in “Cursed Pills” that might call to mind guitarist Luca Stero and vocalist/guitarist Claudio C.‘s and prior work together in That’s all Folks, but Anuseye has a personality of their own here, with bassist Michele V. and drummer Antonello C. keeping step with the strange vibes every step of the way. The balance shifts effectively between psych rock and noisy post-punk, but songs like “Demon Pulse” and the penultimate “S.S. Abyss” find an engaging and unexpected middle ground on which to make an impression. And then they do. For those days when you feel like you’re heard everything a riff can do, Essay on a Drunken Cloud might just convince you there’s still territory to be discovered. On Thee Facebooks, at Vincebus Eruptum.

For the complete list of this week’s adds, click here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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Iron Man Get Grainy in “South of the Earth” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Watching Iron Man‘s new video for the title-track to last year’s South of the Earth (review here), I can almost hear the nasally strain and SoCal-goofball chuckle of Ricky Rachtman introducing the clip on Headbanger’s Ball circa 1990. The Maryland doom four-piece are no strangers to a classic aesthetic, and the visuals of “South of the Earth” tap directly into one, whether it’s the slow-walking cemetery visitor shot in negative or the appearance and disappearance of the band’s members as the song plays out. In the case of frontman Dee Calhoun, who also directed, we get to see him multiple times over.

“South of the Earth” is pretty representative of what metal videos were in a time before cinematic budgeting or band-in-a-warehouse performance clips. You get a feel for what the song is about and the mood is certainly on display as Iron Man rocks through, guitarist Al Morris III locking his own grooving in with that of the camera ever so slightly while drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann copes with one cymbal that seems to be disappearing and bassist Louis Strachan, as ever, holds the whole thing together. For a record that was thoroughly metallized, the “South of the Earth” video most definitely follows suit.

And if you haven’t yet had the chance to savor Morris’ tone as captured by the skillful production of Frank Marchand or roll along with Strachan and Waldmann in the groove they harness, “South of the Earth” should make for a fittingly representative introduction. They named the record after it, if that tells you anything. South of the Earth is available now on Rise Above in Europe and Metal Blade in North America, and the video features camera work by Kelly Croston in addition to Strachan and Calhoun.

Enjoy:

Iron Man, “South of the Earth” official video

Iron Man on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Metal Blade Records

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Sixty Watt Shaman, Iron Man, Kingsnake and More to Play Moving the Earth Fest 2 on March 22-23 in Baltimore

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

A couple years back, I don’t think there’s any way a fest like Moving the Earth 2 wouldn’t happen at Krug’s Place in Frederick, Maryland, but that formidable Mid-Atlantic scene seems to have pushed into various other places in the wake of that venue apparently giving doom the boot. I’ve never been to The Windup Space in Baltimore, but the bill for Moving the Earth 2 kind of makes me want to check it out, with two solid days of heavy delivered by respectable purveyors Sixty Watt Shaman and Iron Man. This will actually mark the first appearance back for Sixty Watt Shaman‘s reunion, so they’re right to bill it as “The Return Of…” and from Kingsnake and Foghound and Wasted Theory to Supervoid and Black Lung, there’s a lot to dig about the lineup.

If you’re the type to make travel arrangements, the fest is set for March 22 and 23 in Baltimore, and the roster of acts below seems to be pretty final, at least going by the revolutionary-themed poster below, contributed by Brendan Burns of Wasted Theory. With the deep reds, uniformed guards and raised fists of resistance, I can’t help but wonder what Moving the Earth‘s five-year plan might be. Dig:

We are super excited to announce the lineups for Moving The Earth Fest 2! Taking place again at the Windup Space here in Baltimore Maryland on Saturday and Sunday March 22nd and 23rd 2014.

The lineups are…

Saturday March 22nd 7pm
The Return of Sixty Watt Shaman
Kingsnake
Wasted Theory
Supervoid
Compression
Passage Between

Sunday March 23rd 6pm
Iron Man
Foghound
Asthma Castle
Bastards of Reality
Fortress
Black Lung
Northwoods

Admission will be $10 per day, 21+. We look forward to bringing all these great bands together for what is sure to be an amazing 2 day celebration of Heavy, Stoner, Doom and Psych music!

https://www.facebook.com/MovingTheEarthFestival

Foghound, “Gotta Go” at Moving the Earth Festival, 2013

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 of 2013

Posted in Features on December 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Please note:  These are my picks, not the results of the Readers Poll, which is still going on. If you haven’t added your list yet, please do.

It’s always strange to think of something so utterly arbitrary as also being really, really difficult, but I think 2013 posed the biggest challenge yet in terms of getting together a final list of my favorite records. As ever, I had a post-it note on my office wall (when I moved, it moved with me) and I did my best to keep track of everything that resonated throughout the year. I wound up with over 40 picks and had to start putting them in order to whittle the list down.

I wound up with a top 20 that, even though it feels somewhat incomplete, I’ve found that I can at very least live with. That’s what I’ve done for the last week: Just lived with it. Even up to this morning, I was making changes, but in general, I think this gives some scope about what hit me hard in 2013. Of course, these are just my picks, and while things like my own critical appreciation factor in because that affects how I ultimately listen to a record, sometimes it just comes down to what was stuck in my head most often or what I kept putting on over and over.

That’s a simple formula to apply, but still, 2013 didn’t make it easy. Please note as you go through that there are some real gems in the honorable mentions. I thought about expanding the list to 30 this year, but the thought made my skull start to cave in, so I reconsidered.

Anyway, it only comes around once a year, so let’s do this thing. Thanks in advance for reading:

 

20. All Them Witches, Lightning at the Door

Self-released.

Traditionally, I’ve reserved #20 for a sentimental pick. An album that’s hard to place numerically because of some personal or emotional connection. This year wasn’t short on those, but when it came to it, I knew I couldn’t make this list without Lightning at the Door included, and since it was released just last month as the follow-up to the earlier-2013 Elektrohasch reissue of the Nashville, Tennessee, outfit’s 2012 debut, Our Mother Electricity (review here), I didn’t feel like I’ve had enough time with it to really put it anywhere else. It needed to be here, and so it is, and though I’ve listened to it plenty in the month since its release, I still feel like I’m getting to know Lightning at the Door, and exploring its open-spaced blues rocking grooves. All Them Witches are hands down one of the best bands I heard for the first time this year, and I’m looking forward to following their work as they continue to progress.

19. Queens of the Stone Age, …Like Clockwork

Released by Matador Records. Reviewed June 4.

For a while after I first heard …Like Clockwork and around the time I reviewed it, I sweated it pretty hard. By mid-June, I had it as one of the year’s best without a doubt in my mind. Then I put it away. I don’t know if I burnt myself out on it or what, but I still haven’t really gone back to it, and while the brilliance of cuts like “Kalopsia” and “Fairweather Friends” and “I Appear Missing” still stands out and puts Josh Homme‘s songwriting as some of the most accomplished I encountered in 2013, that hasn’t been enough to make me take it off the shelf. I doubt Queens of the Stone Age will cry about it as they tour arenas and get nominated for Grammy awards, but there it is. I wouldn’t have expected …Like Clockwork to be so low on the list, certainly not when I was listening to “My God is the Sun” six times in a row just to try and get my head around the chorus.

18. I are Droid, The Winter Ward

Released by Razzia Records. Reviewed Sept. 19.

Gorgeously produced and impeccably textured, The Winter Ward by Stockholm-based I are Droid aren’t generally the kind of thing I’d reach for, but the quality of the craft in songs like “Constrict Contract” and “Feathers and Dust” made it essential. Bits and pieces within harkened back to frontman Peder Bergstrand‘s tenure in Lowrider, but ultimately The Winter Ward emerged with a varied and rich personality all its own, and that became the basis for the appeal. As the weather has gotten colder and it’s gotten dark earlier, I’ve returned to The Winter Ward for repeat visits, and as much as I’ve got my fingers crossed for another Lowrider album in 2014, I hope I are Droid continue to run parallel, since the progressive take on alternative influences they managed to concoct was carried across with proportionate accessibility. It was as audience friendly and satisfying a listen as it was complex and ripe for active engagement.

17. Magic Circle, Magic Circle


Released by Armageddon Shop. Reviewed Feb. 18.

There was just nothing to argue about when it came to the self-titled debut from Massachusetts-based doomers Magic Circle, but what worked best about the album was that although the songs were strong on their own and seemed to have lurching hooks to spare, everything throughout fed into an overarching atmosphere that was denser than the straightforwardness of the structures might lead the listener to initially believe. It was a record worth going back to, worth getting lost in the nod of, and as the members are experienced players in a variety of New England acts from The Rival Mob to Doomriders, it should be interesting to find out what demons they may conjure in following-up Magic Circle, if they’ll continue down the path of deceptively subversive “traditionalism” or expand their sound into more progressive reaches. Either way they may choose, the material on their first outing showed an ability to craft an enigmatic, individualized sonic persona that never veered into cultish caricature.

16. Iron Man, South of the Earth

Released by Rise Above/Metal Blade Records. Reviewed Oct. 14.

If you’re into doom and you have a soul, I don’t know how you could not be rooting for Iron Man in 2013. Produced by Frank Marchand and the first full-length from the long-running Maryland doomers to feature vocalist Dee Calhoun and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann alongside guitarist/founder “Iron” Al Morris III (interview here) and longtime bassist Louis Strachan. The difference in South of the Earth was palpable even in comparison to 2009′s I Have Returned (review here). With more professional production, excellent performances all around in the lineup, memorable songs like “Hail to the Haze” and “The Worst and Longest Day,” and the considerable endorsement of a release through Rise Above/Metal Blade behind them, the four-piece sounded like the statesmen they are in the Maryland scene and showed themselves every bit worthy of inclusion in the discussion of America’s finest in traditional, Sabbathian doom. May they continue to get their due.

15. Sasquatch, IV


Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed Sept. 16.

Whether it was what the lyrics were talking about or not, the message of “The Message” was clear: Never count out a catchy chorus. Now in operation for a decade, Sasquatch practice an arcane artistry with their songwriting. Void of pretense, heavy on boogie, they are as genuine a modern extension of classic heavy rock as you’re likely to find. The Los Angeles power trio outdid themselves with IV, veering boldly into psychedelia on “Smoke Signal” and honing their craft over various moods and themes on “Sweet Lady,” “Me and You” and “Eye of the Storm.” They remain one of American heavy rock’s key and consistently underestimated components, and the three years since the release of their third album, III (review here), seemed like an eternity once the quality grooves of “Money” and “Drawing Flies” got moving, the former an insistent rush and the latter open, dreamy and atmospheric, but both executed with precision and confidence born of Sasquatch‘s familiarity with the methods and means of kicking ass.

14. Black Pyramid, Adversarial

Released by Hydro-Phonic Records. Reviewed April 12.

It was hard to know what to expect from Black Pyramid‘s Adversarial, their first release with guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard at the fore with bassist Dave Gein and drummer/engineer Clay Neely, but the Massachusetts outfit flourished on tracks like “Swing the Scimitar,” incorporating a heavy jamming sensibility with marauding riffs and grooves carried over from the style of their first two albums. Adversarial took the band to Hellfest in France this past summer, where they shared a stage with Neurosis and Sleep, and whether it was the raging chorus of “Bleed Out” or the clarion guitar line of “Aphelion,” the band showed their war ensemble could not be stopped. Their future is uncertain with Neely having relocated and Gein having an impending move of his own, but if Adversarial is to stand as the final Black Pyramid outing, they will at very least have claimed enough heads in their time to line fence-posts for miles. Still, hopefully they can find some way to continue to make it work.

13. Across Tundras, Electric Relics

Released by Electric Relics Records. Reviewed July 11.

Even the interlude “Seasick Serenade,” just over a minute and a half long, was haunting. Electric Relics marked the first full-length from Nashville’s Across Tundras to be released on their own label and the first since they issued Sage through Neurot in 2011 (review here), and as rolling and exploratory as its vibe was, songs like “Solar Ark,” “Pining for the Gravel Roads” and “Den of Poison Snakes” also represented a solidification of Across Tundras‘ sound, another step in their development that refined their blend of rural landscapes and heavy tones. Issued in April, it’s been an album that throughout the course of the year I’ve returned to time and again, and the more I’ve sat with it and the more comfortable it’s become, the more its songs have come to feel like home, which it’s easy to read as being their intent all along. Guitarist/vocalist Tanner Olson (read his questionnaire answers here), bassist/vocalist Mikey Allred and drummer Casey Perry hit on something special in these tracks, and one gets the sense their influence is just beginning to be felt.

12. Borracho, Oculus

Released by Strange Magic/No Balls/AM Records. Reviewed July 26.

Initially a digital self-release by the Washington, D.C. riff purveyors, Oculus just this month got a tri-color, tri-label and tri-continental vinyl issue, and the fanfare with which it arrived was well earned by the five songs contained on the two sides. Borracho‘s second album behind 2011′s Splitting Sky (review here) also marked a lineup shift in the band that saw them go from a four-piece to a trio, with guitarist Steve Fisher (interview here) stepping to the fore as vocalist in the new incarnation with Tim Martin on bass and Mario Trubiano on drums. The results in songs like “Know the Score” and closer “I’ve Come for it All” were in line stylistically with the straightforward approach they showed on their first offering, but tighter overall in their presentation, and Fisher‘s voice was a natural fit with the band’s stated ethic of “repetitive heavy grooves” — a neat summary, if perhaps underselling their appeal somewhat. Oculus showed both that the appeal of Splitting Sky was no fluke and that Borracho with four members or three was not a band to be taken lightly.

11. Ice Dragon, Born a Heavy Morning

Released by Navalorama Records. Reviewed Aug. 14.

Like the bulk of Ice Dragon‘s work to date, Born a Heavy Morning was put out first digitally, for free or pay-what-you-want download. A CD version would follow soon enough on Navalorama, with intricate packaging to match the album’s understated achievements, taking the Boston genre-crossers into and through heavy psychedelic atmospheres added to and played off in longer pieces like “The Past Plus the Future is Present” and the gorgeously ethereal “Square Triangle” by thematic slice-of-life set-pieces like “In Which a Man Daydreams about a Girl from His Youth” and “In Which a Man Ends His Workweek with a Great Carouse” that only enriched the listening experience and furthered Ice Dragon‘s experimental appeal. Ever-prolific, Born a Heavy Morning wasn’t the only Ice Dragon outing this year, physical or digital, but it stood in a place of its own within their constantly-expanding catalog and showcased a stylistic fearlessness that can only be an asset in their favor as they continue to chase down whatever the hell it is they’re after in their songs and make genuine originality sound so natural.

10. Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed March 19.

It seemed like no matter where I turned in 2013, Devil to Pay‘s Fate is Your Muse was there. Not that it was the highest-profile release of the year or bolstered by some consciousness-invading viral campaign or anything, just that once the songs locked into my head, there was no removing them, and whether it was straightforward rockers like “This Train Won’t Stop,” “Savonarola” and “Tie One On,” the moodier “Black Black Heart” or the charm-soaked “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” — which might also be the best song title I came across this year — it was a pretty safe bet that something from the Indianapolis four-piece was going to make a showing on the mental jukebox if not in the actual player (it showed up plenty there as well). Devil to Pay‘s first album since 2009, first for Ripple and fourth overall, Fate is Your Muse was a grower listen whose appeal only deepened over the months after its release, the layered vocals of guitarist Steve Janiak (interview here) adaptable to the varying vibes of “Wearin’ You Down” and “Already Dead” and soulful in classic fashion. They’ve been underrated as a live act for some time, and Fate is Your Muse translated well their light-on-frills, heavy-on-riffs appeal to a studio setting.

9. Beast in the Field, The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below

Released by Saw Her Ghost Records. Reviewed May 30.

Such devastation. Even now, every time I put on Beast in the Field‘s The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below, it makes me want to hang my head and wonder at the horror of it all like Marlon Brando hiding out in a cave. If anything at all, there wasn’t much I heard in 2013 that hit harder than the Michigan duo’s fifth long-player, released on CD in March through Saw Her Ghost with vinyl reportedly on the way now. Toward the middle of the year, it got to the point where I wanted to go door to door and say to people, “Uh excuse me, but this is absurdly heavy and you should check it out.” I settled for streaming the album in full and it still feels like a compromise. I tried to interview the band, to no avail — sometimes instrumental acts just don’t want to talk about it — but what guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr were able to accomplish tonally, atmospherically and bombastically in expansive and overwhelmingly heavy cuts like the 22-minute “Oncoming Avalanche” or the noise-soaked riffing of “Hollow Horn” put The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below into a weight class that it had pretty much to itself this year. It’s a good thing they had no trouble filling that space. I still feel like I haven’t recommended the album enough and that more people need to be made aware of its existence.

8. Beelzefuzz, Beelzefuzz

Released by The Church Within Records. Reviewed Aug. 30.

When I finally listened to Beelzefuzz‘s self-titled debut, I was really, really glad I had seen the three-piece — its members based in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania — play some of the material live. I don’t know if otherwise I’d have been able to distinguish between the progress elements of effects and looping and the live creation of layers and organ sounds through the guitar of Dana Ortt (interview here) and the simple humdrum of studio layering one finds all the time. I almost think for their next record they should track it live, just the three of them, and heavily advertise that fact to help get the point across that it’s actually just three players — Ortt, bassist Pug Kirby and drummer Darin McCloskey (also of Pale Divine) — creating the richness of sound on “All the Feeling Returns” and the eerie, gleefully weird progressive stomp on “Lonely Creatures.” The album became a morning go-to for me, and I don’t know how many times I’ve been through it at this point, but “Reborn” and “Hypnotize” and “Lotus Jam” continue to echo in my head even when it’s been a few days. That said, it’s rarely been a few days, because while I appreciate what the trio accomplish on their first record on an analytical level, the reason it is where it is on this list is because I can’t stop listening to the damn thing. Another one that more people should hear than have heard.

7. Samsara Blues Experiment, Waiting for the Flood

Released by World in Sound/Electric Magic Records. Reviewed Oct. 22.

One of the aspects of Samsara Blues Experiment‘s third offering that I most enjoyed was that it wasn’t the album I expected German four-piece to make. After their 2011 sophomore album, Revelation and Mystery (review here), shifted its focus away from the jam-minded heavy psychedelia of their 2009 debut, Long Distance Trip (review here), my thinking was that they would continue down that path and coalesce into a more straightforward brand of heavy rock. Instead, when the four extended tracks of Waiting for the Flood showed up with no shortage of swirl or sitar or open-ended expansion in their midst, it was a legitimate surprise. Repeat visits to “Shringara” and “Don’t Belong” show that actually it’s not so much that Samsara Blues Experiment turned around and were hell-bent on jamming out all the time, but that rather for their third, they took elements of what worked on their first two LPs and built lush movements on top of those ideas. As a happy bonus, this having grown more and more into their sound has helped push the band — guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters, guitarist Hans Eiselt, bassist Richard Behrens and drummer Thomas Vedder — into their own niche within the wider European heavy psych scene, and they’ve begun to emerge as one of its most enjoyable and consistent acts.

6. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Mind Control

Released by Rise Above/Metal Blade Records. Reviewed April 8.

Kind of inevitable that there would be a lot of comparisons made between Mind Control and the preceding Uncle Acid album, Blood Lust. Certainly the newer outing — their third and first for Rise Above/Metal Blade – is more psychedelic, more tripped out and less obscure feeling than its predecessor. It didn’t have the same kind of crunch to the guitar tone, or the same kind of horror-film atmosphere or psychosexual foreboding, but the thing was, it wasn’t supposed to. The UK outfit continue to prod cult mentality even as their own cult grows, and as I see it, Mind Control made a lot of sense coming off Blood Lust in terms of the band not wanting to repeat the same ideas over again, but grow from them and expand their sound. Of course, with the strut at the end of opener “Mt. Abraxas,” they’ve set a high standard on their albums for leadoff tracks, but where Mind Control really made its impression was in the hypnosis of cuts like the Beatlesian “Follow the Leader,” the lysergic “Valley of the Dolls” or the maddening “Devil’s Work.” The deeper you went into side B, the more the band had you in their grasp. It was a different kind of accomplishment than the preceding effort — though “Mind Crawler” kept a lot of that vibe alive — and it showed Uncle Acid had more in their arsenal than VHS ambience and garage doom malevolence while keeping the infectiousness that helped Blood Lust make such an impression.

5. Lumbar, The First and Last Days of Unwelcome

Released by Southern Lord. Reviewed Dec. 3.

Of the ones reviewed, Lumbar‘s The First and Last Days of Unwelcome was the most recent inclusion on this list. Having worked with Lumbar multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Aaron Edge (interview here) in the past with his band Roareth releasing what would be their only album on The Maple Forum, this was a project to which I felt an immediate connection given the circumstances of its creation: Being written almost in its entirety and recorded in everything but vocals during a bedridden period following Edge‘s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The contributions of YOB/Vhöl frontman Mike Scheidt and Tad Doyle of TAD and Brothers of the Sonic Cloth were what got a lot of people’s attention for Lumbar‘s The First and Last Days of Unwelcome, but with the situation are the core of the seven tracks named “Day One” through “Day Seven,” what stood out to me even more than those performances was the utter lack of distance and the level of rawness in the album’s presentation. It puts you there. What you get with Lumbar is the direct translation of a range of emotions from hopeful to hopeless, angry, sad, beaten down and wanting answers, wanting more. There’s no shield from it, and as much in concept as in its execution, there’s no other word for it than “heavy.” The intensity Edge packed into just 24 minutes — and not all of it loud or over the top doomed or anything more than atmospherics — was unmatched by anything else I heard this year.

4. Vista Chino, Peace

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed July 30.

From just about any angle you want to view it, the situation that turned Kyuss Lives! into Vista Chino was unfortunate. However — and I know I’ve said this before — I really do believe that becoming Vista Chino, that furthering the distance from the Kyuss moniker, brand, legacy, and so on, was for the better of the band creatively. And not because the songs don’t stand up. I doubt it helped their draw much, but for vocalist John Garcia and drummer Brant Bjork (interview here), working as Vista Chino for the creation of Peace, and especially or Bjork working with guitarist Bruno Fevery for the first time in the writing process, it allowed them to step outside of what would’ve been insurmountable expectations for a “fifth Kyuss album” and create something honest, new, and ultimately, more true to the spirit of that now-legendary band. Let’s face it, you hear John Garcia, Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri are working on a project together, you’re immediately comparing it to Kyuss anyway. At least with Vista Chino, they’ve given themselves the potential for growth beyond a preconceived idea of what Kyuss should sound like. Well what does Vista Chino sound like? It sounds like whatever the hell they want. On Peace, though many of the lyrics dealt with their legal battles over the Kyuss name, the vibe stayed true to a desert rock ethic of laid back heavy, and the round-out jam in “Acidize/The Gambling Moose” left Peace with the feeling that maybe that’s where they’ve ended up after all. Fingers crossed Mike Dean (of C.O.C. and the latest live incarnation of Vista Chino) winds up playing bass on the record, but other than that, wherever they want to go with it, as a fan, I’m happy to follow along.

3. Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man

Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed Jan. 24.

The second outing from Gozu on Small Stone, The Fury of a Patient Man tapped into so much of what made the Boston band’s 2010 Locust Season label debut (review here) work so right on and just did it better. Don’t get me wrong, I still dig on “Meat Charger,” but with tracks like “Snake Plissken,” “Bald Bull,” “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” (note: it was “signed, Epstein’s mother” on Welcome Back Kotter) and the thrashing “Charles Bronson Pinchot,” Gozu put forth a collection of some of 2013′s finest heavy rock and did so with not only their own soulful spin on the tropes of the genre, but a mature and varied approach that was no less comfortable giving High on Fire a run for their money than reveling in the grandiose chorus of “Ghost Wipe,” which was also one of the best hooks of the year, guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney (interview here) delivering lines in crisp, confident layers, perfectly mixed by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios and cutting through the fray of his own and Doug Sherman‘s guitars, the bass of Paul Dallaire (who split duties with J. Canava; Joe Grotto has since taken over the position) and Barry Spillberg‘s drumming. What the future might hold for Gozu with the recent shift in lineup that replaced Spillberg with drummer Mike Hubbard (ex-Warhorse) and added third guitarist Jeff Fultz (Mellow Bravo) remains to be seen, but with European touring on the horizon for 2014 and appearances slated for Roadburn and Desertfest, the band seem to be looking only to expand their reach, and with the material from The Fury of a Patient Man as a foundation, they’ve got some major considerations acting in their favor. Another album from which I simply could not escape this year, and from which I didn’t want to.

2. Monster Magnet, Last Patrol

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Billed largely and at least in-part accurately as a return to the group’s psychedelic roots, Last Patrol was Monster Magnet‘s ninth full-length, their first in three years and their second for Napalm. The New Jersey outfit led by guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, founder and, in this case, co-producer Dave Wyndorf (interview here) did indeed delve into the space rock side of their sound more than they have in over a decade, and the effect that doing so had was like a great shaking-off of dust, as though the Bullgod in the John Sumrow cover art just woke up after a long slumber. Perhaps even more than tripping on the Donovan cover “Three Kingfishers” or on the more extended freakouts “Last Patrol” and “End of Time,” what really made Last Patrol such a complete experience was the depth of emotion. Wyndorf wasn’t just standing above an overproduced wall of distortion talking about how he’s the best lay in the galaxy or whatever — fun though that kind of stuff is and has been in the past — but songs like “I Live behind the Clouds,” “The Duke (of Supernature),” “Paradise” and “Stay Tuned” offered a humbler take, a spirit of melancholy that rested well alongside the unmitigated stomp of “Hallelujah” or the driving heavy rock of “Mindless Ones.” Even in its most riotous stretches, Last Patrol was a humbler affair, with a more honest vibe than their last four, maybe five albums. A Monster Magnet release would’ve been noteworthy no matter what it actually sounded like, because that’s the level of impact they’ve had on heavy psych and underground rock over the last two decades-plus. The difference with Last Patrol was that it was a refreshing change from what had started to sound like a formula going stale, and it was  just so damn good to have them be weird again.

1. Clutch, Earth Rocker

Released by Weathermaker Music. Reviewed Feb. 28.

Finally, an album that asked the question, “What it was I’m going to do I haven’t done?” I knew at the year’s halfway point that Clutch‘s Earth Rocker was going to be the one to beat, and that it wasn’t going to be easy for anyone else to top the Maryland kings of groove, who sounded so reinvigorated on songs like “Crucial Velocity,” “Book, Saddle and Go,” “Unto the Breach,” and “Cyborg Bette,” and on funkfied pushers like “D.C. Sound Attack!,” “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…” and “The Face.” They’d hardly been in hibernation since 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West, but four years was the longest they’d ever gone between albums, and it was past time for a new one. To have it arrive as such a boot to the ass just made it that much better, the band shifting away from some of the blues/jam influences that emerged over the course of 2005′s Robot Hive/Exodus and 2007′s From Beale Street to Oblivion — though those certainly showed up as well in the subdued “Gone Cold” and elsewhere — but thanks in no small part to the production of Machine, with whom the band last worked for 2004′s Blast Tyrant, Earth Rocker was huge where it wanted to be and that gave Clutch‘s faster, more active material all the more urgency, where although the songwriting was quality as always, Strange Cousins from the West languished a bit at a more relaxed pace. The difference made all the difference. Whether it was the hellhounds on your trail (what a pity!) in “D.C. Sound Attack!” or the Jazzmasters erupting from the bottom of the sea to take flight, Clutch‘s 10th album was brimming with live, vibrant, heavy on action and heavy on groove, and on a sheer song-by-song level, a classic in the making from a band who’ve already had a few. At very least, it’s a landmark in their discography, and though vocalist Neil Fallon (interview here), guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster always change from record, but it’s the unmistakable stamp they put on all their outings that have earned them such a loyal following, and that stamp is all over Earth Rocker. Front to back, it is a pure Clutch record, and while I’ll happily acknowledge that it’s an obvious pick for album of the year, I don’t see how I possibly could’ve chosen anything else. Like the best of the best, Earth Rocker will deliver for years to come.

The Next 10 and Honorable Mentions

I said at the outset I had 40 picks. The reality was more than that, but here’s the next 10 anyway:

21. Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era
22. The Freeks, Full On
23. Luder, Adelphophagia
24. The Flying Eyes, Lowlands
25. Black Skies, Circadian Meditations
26. At Devil Dirt, Plan B: Sin Revolucion No Hay Evolucion
27. Kadavar, Abra Kadavar
28. Naam, Vow
29. Mühr, Messiah
30. Uzala, Tales of Blood and Fire

Further honorable mention has to go to Pelican, Endless Boogie, Earthless, Phantom Glue, Goatess, Windhand, GongaToner Low, Jesu and Sandrider.

Two More Special Records

I’d be unforgivably remiss if I didn’t note the release in 2013 of two albums that wound up being incredibly special to me personally: I vs. the Glacier by Clamfight and A Time of Hunting by Kings Destroy. Since it came out on this site’s in-house label, I didn’t consider the Clamfight eligible for list consideration and while I didn’t help put it out, the Kings Destroy I also felt very, very close to — probably as close as I’ve felt to a record I didn’t actually perform on — so it didn’t seem fair on a critical level, but I consider both of these to be records that in a large part helped define my year, as well as being exceptional in and of themselves, and they needed very much to be singled out as such. These are people whom I feel whatever-the-godless-heathen-equivalent-of-blessed-is to know.

Before I end this post, I want to say thank you for reading, this, anything else you may have caught this year, whatever it might be. To say it means a lot to me personally is understating it, but it’s true all the same. I’m not quite done wrapping up the year — I’ll have a list of the best album covers, another for EPs and singles and demos, and of course the albums I didn’t hear — so please stay tuned over the next couple weeks, but it seemed only fair to show my appreciation now as well. Thank you.

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Iron Man, South of the Earth: Hail to the Changing Sky

Posted in Reviews on October 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

There are few who can claim the kind of commitment to doom that Iron Man guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III can claim. Largely ignored throughout their career, Morris has watched trends come and go, bands rise and fall, and has never wavered from his commitment to classic, riff-driven Sabbathian doom, tracing his roots all the way back to late ’70s rockers Force, out of whose demise Iron Man formed after an initial run as a Black Sabbath cover band. Iron Man proper made their debut with 1993′s Black Night on Hellhound (reissue review here), and 20 years later, they emerge with the new South of the Earth on Metal Blade and Rise Above Records, Morris having stuck it out as the founder and heart of the band for all this time with what to this point has been little reward. From 1999′s Generation Void to 2007′s Submission EP, Iron Man was on hold as a studio outfit, but since ’06, the band has been vigorous in remaking their name in the realms of doom, Morris‘ tone ever at the fore. South of the Earth follows their 2009 full-length, I Have Returned (review here), and a series of EPs including the John Brenner of Revelation-recorded Iron Man Shall Rise (discussed here) in 2010, 2011′s Dominance (review here), and last year’s Att hålla dig över, which was the first Iron Man outing to feature the complete lineup of Morris on guitar and Louis Strachan (who joined in 2006) on bass alongside vocalist “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann. Waldmann was the last to come aboard, and his presence obviously makes a clear difference in the results on South of the Earth‘s steady grooving 50 minutes, giving Morris the space to blast out bluesy improvised leads to comport with his long-underrated top notch riffing — see “IISOEO (The Day of the Beast)” — while Strachan punishes his frets on madman bass runs and Calhoun hosts the proceedings like a über-metal storytelling master of ceremonies.

Still, even with the change in drummer, or the change in vocalist for that matter — Calhoun having come in after Iron Man split with Joe Donnelly following I Have Returned – there are clear audio signals throughout South of the Earth that Iron Man are working at a different level than they ever have before. A lot of that has to do with producer Frank “The Punisher” Marchand, who also helmed the last album but on South of the Earth brings Iron Man‘s sound to new levels of professionalism and gives a stately feel even to the grit in Morris‘ tone, sacrificing none of the band’s heft or push, but bringing the songs to life in a manner clear, vibrant, and at times punishingly heavy. Essentially split into two halves surrounding the Iommi-esque interlude “Ariel Changed the Sky,” South of the Earth is not aiming to wow with its sonic diversity — it is a doom record by a doom band for doom heads, and if I can add to that: Doom, doom bloody doom — but moments of flourish occur periodically in songs like “A Whore in Confession” and “In the Velvet Darkness” enough to hold the listener’s attention while Iron Man ply their trade in grade A form, and they veer from the earlier, catchy songwriting modus in the second half to the more exploratory territory of “IISOEO (The Day of the Beast)” and the Lovecraftian “Half-Face/Thy Brother’s Keeper (Dunwich Pt. 2).” In direct comparison to I Have Returned, Calhoun‘s presence will likely be the standout marker of the new album. He earns his “Screaming Mad” early on with the opening title-track and subsequent single-worthy hook of “Hail to the Haze” — the analogy I’ve used since I first saw him with the band is he’s the Rob Halford to Joe Donnelly‘s Ozzy Osbourne — but in subdued, moodier parts like the opening verses of “The Worst and Longest Day,” he’s no less able to carry across deceptively complex melodies while sounding confident and assured both in his lyrics and delivery. As a frontman, his presence bleeds through even the recorded versions of the songs.

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Iron Man Premiere New Video for “Hail to the Haze”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Like the album South of the Earth itself, which came out on Tuesday, Iron Man‘s new video for the song “Hail to the Haze” is a pro job. Sure, it’s a performance clip, but the shots of the band rocking out and the occasional nod from Louis Strachan or “Iron” Al Morris III (interview here) come through not lazily captured or amateurish, but professionally and crisp. They’re doing it up for the camera a bit, and that’s fun, but really, it’s just cool to see Iron Man making a go of supporting South of the Earth, their first release through Metal Blade/Rise Above.

As previously announced, Iron Man will make their UK debut later this year at Rise Above‘s 25th anniversary festival, and I can’t think of a better time for them to do it. With frontman Dee Calhoun and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann alongside Strachan and Morris, the band are at their best yet, and though it feels like a long time coming, the praise they’re reaping is nothing if it’s not due them.

Look out for a review of South of the Earth next week, and in the meantime, here’s “Hail to the Haze,” produced and edited by Will Cline of Powergridstudios. Enjoy:

Iron Man, “Hail to the Haze” official video

Taken from the brand new album, South of the Earth on Rise Above Records.

See the legendary Iron Man performing exclusively at the Rise Above Records 25th Anniversary shows. The event takes place on December 27th/28th at The Garage, London.

Other artists performing include – Blood Ceremony, Horisont, Troubled Horse, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell + more to be added.

https://www.facebook.com/events/177662725752491/

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Five Albums Released Today that are Worth Your Time

Posted in Features on October 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’m sure there are others. Seems to be the rule of this kind of thing that, if there’s a list, sure enough there’s something left off it. So to whoever I didn’t remember to include, please know it wasn’t premeditated. Basically I woke up this morning and thought of a bunch of kickass records that came out today and, after a cup of coffee, decided to put this together. Not exactly like I’ve been stewing on the idea for weeks or anything.

But, with a stylistically varied slew from trad doom to classic metal to weirdo drone ambience, Oct. 1, 2013, does indeed feel like a special kind of day for those who might hunt down a new release. Who doesn’t like that ritual? Pre-orders are great and all, but picking up an album on the day it comes out holds a place in my heart reserved for few rites. If I could’ve gone to a midnight sale last night and picked up all of these, I’d have been there in a second.

Barring that, I hope you at least find something here you might want to check out. Like the headline says, as far as I’m concerned, these are all worth your time. Let’s go alphabetically:

1. Argus, Beyond the Martyrs

Released by Cruz Del Sur. Argus‘ third album, Beyond the Martyrs (review here), finds the Western Pennsylvania troupe delving further into their classic metal roots. Singled out by the powerful vocals of Brian “Butch” Balich (formerly of Penance), songs like “No Peace beyond the Line” and “Cast out Your Raging Spirits” also feature ripping, landmark solo work and driving, fist-pumping rhythms. It’s a straightforward collection, but don’t be fooled — Argus take these classic elements and make them their own to such an extent that Beyond the Martyrs is their strongest work of songwriting yet. Get it here.

Argus, “By Endurance We Conquer” & “No Peace beyond the Line”

2. Black Rainbows, Holy Moon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Persistently underrated Italian trio Black Rainbows return with a new 38-minute release dubbed Holy Moon. They’re calling it an EP, but for my money it’s a full-length album, and it’s their most varied work to date. Rounding out with a cover of MC5‘s “Back to Comm” that stretches past 12-minutes in a huge heavy psych jam, Holy Moon also finds the three-piece delving into Colour Haze-worthy lush exploration on “Chakra Temple” and riffing out with classic stoner fuzz on “The Hunter.” EP or LP, it’s a winner, and as Black Rainbows have toured Europe persistently these last couple years, it’s hopefully a matter of time before more people catch on. Get it here.

Black Rainbows, Holy Moon

3. In Solitude, Sister


Released by Metal Blade Records. Swedish metallers In Solitude return to reap the benefits of touring with Down and others in support of their 2011 sophomore outing, The World. The Flesh. The Devil. The Uppsala five-piece give traditional metal a genuine facelift with their third album, Sister, basking in some of the simplicity of approach and hook-filled songwriting of modern cult rock and casting off the grandiosity and pretense of Mercyful Fate but keeping all of the lurking sinister vibe. Look for In Solitude to make even more of an impact than they did their last time out. They’ll be touring in October with Watain. Get it here.

In Solitude, Sister

4. Iron Man, South of the Earth


Released by Metal Blade/Rise Above. 2013 has produced little news as welcome as the announcement that long-running Maryland doomers Iron Man were signing to Rise Above for the release of South of the Earth, thus ensuring they’d not only reap the benefit of that label’s considerable doomly credibility but also secure a North American issue through Metal Blade. Their first full-length with frontman Dee Calhoun, it’s also their strongest production yet, and one can only hope South of the Earth is the moment that marks Iron Man beginning to get the recognition they’ve long since deserved as not only pioneers of Maryland doom, but one of its most engaging acts. Get it here.

Iron Man, “Hail to the Haze”

5. Mühr, Messiah


Released by Canardian Records. Early in 2011, I caught wind of the debut release from Dutch outfit Mühr, and that two-song offering (discussed here) left enough of an impression that when I heard they had a follow-up coming in the form of the single-track/47-minute Messiah, I was immediately excited. A couple years later finds Mühr a much different outfit, more dynamic and patient in their builds, but still able to break into some unbridled tonal crush when they so choose. On its own,  “Messiah” is more diverse than some bands ever get in their careers, and Mühr emerge as masters of a complex aesthetic, at times gorgeous and at times terrifying. Not to be missed. Get it here.

Mühr, “Messiah”

Well, there you have it. There’s a ton of great stuff coming out this month, from bands like Horisont, Russian Circles, Pelican, Red Fang, Monster Magnet, on and on, but it’s important to start the month off right. And broke. Enjoy.

Got something I missed or something you’re especially looking forward to in the coming weeks? The comments are right there.

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Iron Man Track Premiere & Interview with Alfred Morris III: Four Jupiters Aligning

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on September 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Iron Man, “The Worst and Longest Day” from South of the Earth (2013)

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Press play above to hear “The Worst and Longest Day” from Iron Man‘s new album, South of the Earth. Set for release on Oct. 1 through Metal Blade in North America and Sept. 30 on Rise Above in Europe, Iron Man‘s fifth full-length overall and first for the two mentioned imprints re-teams them with producer Frank “The Punisher” Marchand, who recorded 2009′s I Have Returned. Though the two outings have that in common and they’re united by the inimitable, smoke-on-the-finish tone of guitarist and band founder “Iron” Alfred Morris III, they’re nonetheless vastly different offerings from the long-running and long-underappreciated Maryland doom stalwarts.

Primarily in lineup. A change in the frontman position back in 2011 saw “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun enter the fold in place of the departed Joe Donnelly, and though it was clear from the first searing high notes of the 2011 Dominance EP that Calhoun lived up to his name as a singer of Halfordian power, it wasn’t until Iron Man brought drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann into the rhythm section alongside longtime bassist Louis Strachan that the South of the Earth lineup would be complete. Taking to the stage almost immediately, Iron Man soon became a new force in the live setting, also releasing the Att hålla dig över EP as the first output with the Morris, Strachan, Calhoun and Waldmann lineup to keep their momentum going into the recording of the new long-player.

But the differences on South of the Earth go well beyond the simple matter of personnel. Full in sound and crisply professional, Iron Man‘s latest serves as an arrival point for Morris‘ years of riff-slinging. With the validation of a release through Metal Blade/Rise Above behind them, Iron Man stand poised to take their place at the forefront of the American doom consciousness as a band that have never wavered from their purpose or, no matter who’s involved, sacrificed their loyalty to the Sabbathian traditionalism that served as their founding principle when they emerged out of Morris‘ prior outfit, Force, in the late ’80s. Top quality riffs, undeniable grooves and Calhoun‘s glass-shattering pipes make South of the Earth unlike anything Iron Man has released in years gone by — and their other records, whether it’s the 1993 Black Night debut, 1994′s The Passage, 1999′s Generation Void or I Have Returned, already kicked considerable ass. As a band, they’re simply at another level.

And they know it. In the interview that follows, Morris speaks with confidence about their stage presence, the writing and recording of “The Worst and Longest Day” and the rest of South of the Earth, Iron Man‘s impending UK debut this December at the two-day Rise Above 25th anniversary party in London and much more, giving the impression not of arrogance, but of someone whose decades of experience bleeds into everything he and his band does. Whatever notoriety or attention Iron Man are able to gain as a result of the new album upon its release, it will be well earned, by both past and current efforts.

As it happens, Iron Man are doing a track-by-track through the album this week on their Thee  Facebooks page, and today’s is “The Worst and Longest Day.” You’d almost think it was planned out (it wasn’t). Here’s what they had to say about the track:

“I left you alone long enough for your guard to die…”

TRACK FOUR: THE WORST AND LONGEST DAY

Another track that is swampy and mean, “The Worst and Longest Day” is as unsettling in subject as it is heavy in delivery. Heavy guitars and soaring vocals ride atop a bouncy rhythm section, and drag you through a cold monologue, delivered by the thing that vexes you.

Special thanks to Metal Blade and to Rise Above for allowing me to premiere “The Worst and Longest Day.” Please find the Q&A after the jump and enjoy.

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Iron Man to Make UK Debut at Rise Above 25th Anniversary Show

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Warms my otherwise frigid heart to see Iron Man making good. The long-underappreciated stalwarts of Maryland doom have announced that they’ll play their first show ever in the UK at Rise Above Records‘ two-day 25th anniversary celebration, to be held just before the New Year in London. Fucking a. By then, the world will have gotten a taste of Iron Man‘s latest outing, South of the Earth (I’m not saying there’s a track premiere coming next week, but I’m not not saying it either), and to advance a review to come, let me just say the thing is a beast. Very doom, very metal, and of course propelled by the landmark tone of “Iron” Alfred Morris III, which has never come across so full or true to its live sound.

Keep it up, gentlemen. And safe travels.

Here’s the official word:

Iron Man CONFIRMED for Rise Above anniversary show exclusive performance!!!

Yes, we are beyond pleased to announce the debut UK appearance from this legendary underground Doom Metal institution! Flights are booked and band leader Al Morris III is as delighted as we are: “I am very excited and honoured to be playing at The 25th Anniversary of Rise Above Records!!! The HEAVIEST record label on earth!!! It will be great to see all of the fans and the Iron Man label mates as well!!! Get ready for a very HEAVY performance!!!!”.

Iron Man’s debut album for Rise Above Records, South of the Earth, is due for release on September 30th. Vinyl pre-orders will go on sale next week. Video for Hail to the Haze will also be ready to view early next week.

Further line up announcements and billing info for the Anniversary shows will be coming in the weeks ahead.

The event takes place 27th/28th December at The Garage, London. Tickets for event go on sale Wednesday 25th September at 9am. Link coming shortly.

Iron Man, “The Worst and Longest Day” Live in Maryland, 2013

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Buried Treasure: Meeting the Megabox

Posted in Buried Treasure on August 30th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Here’s the story of how I came into possession of over 250 audio and video bootlegs all at once:

A few weeks ago, when I could still consider myself gainfully employed and not go into some kind of simultaneous laugh-cry about it, I got an email from a dude who reads the site. Knowing I’d almost certainly post about it later, he asked pretty early on not to be named. He said he had a bunch of live stuff from Wino he was looking to get rid of, that he’d been a big CDR and DVDR trader for bootlegs over the years and had got together a good collection. Needless to say, my interest was piqued.

He wrote that he wanted it to go to “a good home.” I said I was happy to provide one and to send over his list. I’ve never traded boots, but I know that in the days when physical trading was a thing, you were your list. He sent it over and I read it in slow motion. As advertised, there was a ton of Wino, from The Obsessed playing in 1983 and Warhorse at their high school in 1978 up to Saint Vitus in New Orleans in 2009, with a healthy dose of Shine/Spirit Caravan and The Hidden Hand stuff in between, audio and video. I found a video of a show from The Hidden Hand that I went to at the Khyber Pass in Philly, Feb. 5, 2004. I’m pretty sure you can see my big goofy head in the shot.

But the Winory is just the start of it. From The Atomic Bitchwax live at Roadburn in 2003 to shows from Warning, Valkyrie and a slew of sets recorded at Emissions from the Monolith (there’s a lot of “Live in Youngstown, OH” in late May 2003 and 2004), there are gigs from Revelation, Solace, Blood Farmers, YOB, Buried at Sea, Goatsnake, Test-Site and Acid King, Iron Man and Paul Chain. I said to the guy that I’d take everything on the list, and that’s just what I did. For $100 to cover the cost of discs, sleeves and shipping, I got 266 discs, some with more than one show included on them.

Here’s the full list:

Live & Demo CDs
35007, Roadburn Festival 2003
Abdullah, Cleveland, OH 10/18/01
Acid King, Baltimore, MD 10/2/00
Acid King, San Francisco, CA 7/16/01
Acid Mothers Temple, Chicago, IL 10/20/02 (2 CDs)
Agony Bag, Piss Out Your Trash Demo
Asylum, Demos 1986-88 (3 CDs)
Asylum, Baltimore, MD 4/13/07
Atomic Bitchwax, New Jersey 9/10/99
Atomic Bitchwax, Roadburn Festival 2001
Atomic Bitchwax, Berlin, Germany 5/11/04
Atomic Bitchwax, Switzerland 5/6/05
Dax Riggs, The Skeletal Circus Derails – Demo
Dead Meadow, Peel Sessions 2002
Deadboy & The Elephantmen, Demos
Deadboy & The Elephantmen, 10/9/03 Lafayette, La
Debris Inc., Cincinnati, OH 5/27/04
The Dictators, Asbury Park, NJ 6/8/91
The Dictators, Philadelphia, PA 5/30/98
Fu Manchu, Sweden 6/18/99
Grand Magus, Demo + Live 3/30/02 London
Helmet, Compilation (Rare, B-Sides Etc.)
Helmet, Blacktop 2/28/91
Helmet, New Orleans, La 8/5/91
High Rise, NYC, New York 3/14/00
House Of Large Sizes, I.O.W.A. – Live
House Of Large Sizes, Iowa City, IA 8/11/90
House Of Large Sizes, Davenport, IA 2/9/91 (2 CDs)
House Of Large Sizes, Cedar Falls, IA 8/16/90
House Of Large Sizes, Cedar Falls, IA 2/16/91 (2 CDs)
Internal Void, Frederick, MD 6/13/98
Internal Void, Indianapolis, IN 6/19/04
Iron Boss, Baltimore, MD 12/31/02
Iron Man, Force (Pre Iron Man)
Iron Man, Frederick, MD 12/31/07
Iron Man, Cincinnati, OH 3/14/00
Kyuss, Black Jeweler (B-Sides Etc)
Kyuss, San Francisco, CA 11/12/94
Kyuss, Desert Heavies
Kyuss, Desert Storm
Kyuss, Live At Bizzare Fest
Kyuss, Mercurious Pools
Kyuss, Norfolk, VA 12/18/92
Kyuss, To Infinity And Beyond
Kyuss, “Sons Of Kyuss “”Demo”” 39 Mins.”
Kyuss, Muchas Gracias
Nebula, Sweden 6/15/00
Opeth, Chicago, IL 10/02
Orange Goblin, Osaka, Japan 6/11/99
Orange Goblin, Austin, TX 5/10/02
Orange Goblin, Cincinatti, OH 5/27/04
Pale Divine, Frederick, MD 6/13/98
Pale Divine, Wheaton, MD 6/18/99
Paul Chain, Rimini, Italy 4/10/82
Paul Chain, Milan, It 1/15/90 (2 CDs)
Saint Vitus, First Album Demos
Saint Vitus, Koln, Germany 3/12/95
Saint Vitus, Firburgo, Swi 3/17/89
Saint Vitus, Torino 12/02/90 + L.A. 1984 (2 CDs)
Saint Vitus, Brain Sabbath – Boot
Saint Vitus, Washington, D.C. – 4/2/86 (2 CDs)
Saint Vitus, (Tyrant) Rehearsal 1978
Saint Vitus, Torino, Italy (2 CDs) 3/29/89
Saint Vitus, Tilburg, Holland (2 CDs) 4/24/09
Shine, Washington, D.C.2/13/98
Shine, Hagerstown, MD 5/14/98
Shine, Powertime E.P. + 3 Live + 9/20/97
Shine, Dallas 5/21/98 + Interview
Shine, Live 1997
Shine, Wheaton, MD 12/31/98
Shine, Washington, D.C. 12/13/97 (2 CDs)
Shine, NYC, NY 8/15/98 (Cuts)
Shine, Wheaton, MD 12/31/97
Shine, Washington, D.C. 8/10/97 (Slight Glitches)
Shine, Washington, D.C. 10/29/98
Shine, Baltimore, MD 8/16/98
Shine, Frederick, MD 9/20/97
Shine, College Park, MD 8/21/98
Shine, Washington, D.C. 6/6/97
Sixty Watt Shaman, 6/26/99
Solstice, Demos 1992-93
Spirit Caravan, Long Branch, N.J. 7/8/99
Spirit Caravan, Chicago, IL 4/26/02
Spirit Caravan, San Francisco, CA 7/16/01 (Glitches)
Spirit Caravan, St. Louis, MO 4/23/02
Spirit Caravan, U.K. 12/1/01
Spirit Caravan, Philadelphia, PA 8/3/01
Spirit Caravan, Baltimore, MD 5/15/99
Spirit Caravan, Wheaton, MD 8/14/99 (39 Min)
Spirit Caravan, Baltimore, MD 7/27/00
Spirit Caravan, Maryland 5/18/01
Spirit Caravan, Baltimore, MD 5/4/02
Spirit Caravan, Chicago, IL 7/26/01
Spirit Caravan, Brooklyn, NY 5/2/02
Spirit Caravan, New York City, NY 1/16/00
Spirit Caravan, Old Bridge, NJ 1/21/01
Spirit Caravan, Long Branch, NJ 2/18/00
Spirit Caravan, Cambridge, MA 8/1/01
Spirit Caravan, Munich, Germany 9/14/99
Spirit Caravan, Denmark 9/22/00
Spirit Caravan, Baltimore, MD 5/3/99
Spirit Caravan, Baltimore, MD 7/22/00
Spirit Caravan, Baltimore, MD 10/02/00
Spirit Caravan, Wheaton, MD 12/31/98
Spirit Caravan, Wheaton, MD 1/12/00
Spirit Caravan, Toledo, OH 1/14/01
Spirit Caravan, Youngstown, OH 9/3/00
Spirit Caravan, Youngstown, OH 5/27/01
Spirit Caravan, Toledo, OH 4/27/02
Spirit Caravan, Washington, D.C. 10/4/00 (Gaps)
The Hidden Hand, Pittsburgh, PA 2/12/07
The Obsessed, History Of Vol. 1 (Doom Records)
The Obsessed, History Of Volume 2 (Doom Recs)
The Obsessed, Live At The Wax Museum (Doom Recs)
The Obsessed, Washington, D.C. 3/14/85
The Obsessed, 9 Song Demo
The Obsessed, Various ’80′s Live
The Obsessed, Tucson, AZ 7/31/92
The Obsessed, Tucson, AZ 10/15/92
The Obsessed, Columbia Studio Session
The Obsessed, FM Broadcast December 1992
The Obsessed, Stuttgart, Germany 12/28/92
The Obsessed, Carrboro, NC 4/19/94
Trouble, Stuttgart, Germany 1/2/93
Trouble, One For The Road
Trouble, Aurora, IL 5/4/02 (2 CDs)
Trouble, South Barrington, IL 5/18/02 (2 CDs)
Unida, Chico, CA 5/24/00
Unida, Vienna 11/5/00
Unida, Unreleased 2002
Unorthodox, Asylum Demos 12/15/90
Unorthodox, Frederick, MD 10/14/00
Unorthodox, Frederick, MD 12/31/07
Unorthodox, Baltimore, MD 4/14/07
Wino, Tilberg, Holland 4/26/09
Wino, Athens, Greece 10/12/10

DVDs
Acid Mothers Temple, 4/22/07 Charlottesville, VA 80 Min
Alabama Thunderpussy, 11/4/06 Richmond, VA 62 Min
Asylum, 6/26/88 College Park, MD 115 Min
Atomic Bitchwax, 1/12/99 New York City, NY 64 Min
Atomic Bitchwax, 7/8/05 Baltimore, MD 63 Min
Atomic Bitchwax, 11/23/05 Washington, D.C. 54 Min
Blood Farmers, 4/15/07 Baltimore, MD 57 Min
Brant Bjork & The Bros, 5/21/05 Washington, D.C. 78 Min
Buried at Sea, 5/29/04 Youngstown, OH 30 Min
Clearlight, 8/14/99 Wheaton, MD 49 Min
Dead Meadow, 6/16/06 Washington, D.C. 46 Min
Debris Inc. – 5/29/04 Youngstown, OH 45 Min
Delicious, 5/27/04 Youngstown, OH 33 Min
Dixie Witch, 5/27/06 Youngstown, OH 42 Min
Doomed Nation, Volume 1 2004 65 Min
Doomed Nation, Volume 2 2005 85 Min
Dragon Ass, 9/5/03 Baltimore, MD 38 Min
Earthride, 9/3/05 Frederick, MD 18 Min
Earthride, 11/23/05 Washington, D.C. 34 Min
Fu Manchu, 1/30/96 Los Angeles, CA 38 Min
Goatsnake – 5/24/99 – Eindhoven, Germany 55 Min
Grief, 5/27/06 Youngstown, OH 57 Min
High On Fire, 12/15/04 Richmond, VA 65 Min
Hounds Of Hasselvander, 3/14/08 Washington, D.C. 65 Min
Internal Void, 8/28/04 Washington, D.C. 60 Min
Internal Void, 3/4/05 Baltimore, MD 28 Min
Internal Void, 9/3/05 Frederick, MD 69 Min
Internal Void, 11/23/05 Washington, D.C. 48 Min
Internal Void / Kelly Carmichael, 12/10/05 Frederick, MD 101 Min
Iron Man, 12/31/99 Wheaton, MD 68 Min
Iron Man, 4/15/07 Baltimore, MD 57 Min
King Valley, 9/5/03 Baltimore, MD 31 Min
King Valley, 8/28/04 Washington, D.C. 32 Min
King Valley, 3/4/05 Baltimore, MD 39 Min
King Valley, 5/26/05 Youngstown, OH 27 Min
King Valley, 6/25/05 Newark, DE 36 Min
King Valley, 9/3/05 Frederick, MD 34 Min
King Valley, 2/3/06 Leesburg, VA 40 Min
Kramer, Wayne, 7/13/02 Baltimore, MD 70 Min
MC5 / DKT, 6/18/04 Washington, D.C. 81 Min
Nebula, 6/2/02 Baltimore, MD 50 Min
Nitroseed, 6/2/05 Washington, D.C. 39 Min
Ogre, 4/14/07 Baltimore, MD 46 Min
Ostinato, 5/26/04 Washington, D.C. 48 Min
Ostinato, 10/29/04 Washington, D.C. 40 Min
Pearls & Brass / The Amoeba Men, 1/29/06 Richmond, VA 80 Min
Penance, 4/14/07 Baltimore, MD 63 Min
Revelation I, 4/14/07 Baltimore, MD 63 Min
Revelation II, 4/15/07 Baltimore, MD 57 Min
Revelation, 3/14/08 Washington, D.C. 65 Min
Rwake, 5/29/04 Youngstown, OH 40 Min
Saint Vitus, 7/21/87 Albany, NY 53 Min
Saint Vitus, 1987 Indianapolis, IN 42 Min
Saint Vitus, 1993 Florida 100 Min
Saint Vitus, 7/1/03 Chicago, IL 56 Min
Saint Vitus, 4/11/09 New Orleans, LA
Shine, 12/29/96 Columbus, OH 27 Min
Shine, 2/14/97 Baltimore, MD 31 Min
Shine, 4/12/97 Washington, D.C. 54 Min
Shine, 8/15/97 Wheaton, MD 75 Min
Shine, 10/18/97 Wheaton, MD 65 Min
Solace, 5/28/04 Youngstown, OH 51 Min
Solace, 7/3/04 Baltimore, MD 30 Min
Solace, 9/5/04 Youngstown, OH 44 Min
Spirit Caravan, 7/8/99 Long Branch, NJ 61 Min
Spirit Caravan, 7/10/99 Richmond, VA 55 Min
Spirit Caravan, 8/14/99 Wheaton, MD 84min
Spirit Caravan, 2/2/00 Richmond, VA 59 Min
Spirit Caravan, 2/14/00 Cleveland, OH 67 Min
Spirit Caravan, 4/15/00 Youngstown, OH 53 Min
Spirit Caravan, 7/22/00 Baltimore, MD 28 Min
Spirit Caravan, 12/12/00 Hungary 68 Min
Spirit Caravan, 2/9/01 Springfield, VA 42 Min
Spirit Caravan, 5/18/01 Baltimore, MD 70 Min
Spirit Caravan, 8/1/01 Cambridge, MA 65 Min
Spirit Caravan, 1/19/02 Baltimore, MD 50 Min
Spirit Caravan, 5/2/02 Philadelphia, PA 60 Min
Spirit Caravan, 5/4/02 Baltimore, MD 56 Min
Stinking Lizaveta, 5/29/04 Youngstown, OH 40 Min
Suzukiton, 12/15/04 Richmond, VA 35 Min
Suzukiton – 5/29/07 Charlottesville, VA 38 Min
Test Site, 9/5/04 Youngstown, OH 35 Min
Test-Site, 6/1/05 Washington, D.C. 39 Min
The Hidden Hand, 12/31/02 Baltimore, MD 37 Min
The Hidden Hand- 2/22/03 Washington, D.C. 48 Min
The Hidden Hand, 6/24/03 Baltimore, MD 47 Min
The Hidden Hand, 8/29/03 Washington, D.C. 63 Min
The Hidden Hand, 1/16/04 Baltimore, MD 50 Min
The Hidden Hand, 2/5/04 Philadelphia, PA 60 Min
The Hidden Hand, 2/10/04 Baltimore, MD 45 Min
The Hidden Hand, 2/12/04 Lancaster, PA 30 Min
The Hidden Hand, 2/13/04 Washington, D.C. 45 Min
The Hidden Hand, 5/25/04 Washington, D.C. 54 Min
The Hidden Hand, 5/26/04 Washington, D.C. 52 Min
The Hidden Hand, 5/29/04 Youngstown, OH 42 Min
The Hidden Hand, 10/28/04 Philadelphia, PA 56 Min
The Hidden Hand, 10/29/04 Washington, D.C. 67 Min
The Hidden Hand, 1/15/05 Washington, D.C. 52 Min
The Hidden Hand, 2/12/05 Gaithersburg, MD 45 Min
The Hidden Hand, 4/16/05 Washington, D.C. 51 Min
The Hidden Hand, 5/20/05 Hartford, CT 48 Min
The Hidden Hand, 6/25/05 Newark, DE 52 Min
The Hidden Hand, 7/2/05 Washington, D.C. 47 Min
The Hidden Hand, 12/29/06 Washington, D.C. 56 Min
The Hidden Hand, 2/9/07 St. Paul, MN 60 Min
The Hidden Hand, 5/13/07 London, England 60 Min
The Obsessed, 1993 Fort Worth, TX 27 Min
The Obsessed, 4/18/94 Hampton, VA 36 Min
The Obsessed, 4/19/94 Carrboro, NC 40 Min
The Obsessed – Documentary 27 Min
Trephine, 12/11/04 Baltimore, MD 28 Min
Unorthodox, 6/19/04 Tradesmen Party 22 Min
Unorthodox, 7/31/04 Washington, D.C. 44 Min
Unorthodox – 9/4/04 Youngstown, OH 48 Min
Unorthodox, 4/14/07 Baltimore, MD 74 Min
Valkyrie, 3/4/05 Baltimore, MD 39 Min
Valkyrie, 11/4/06 Richmond, VA 37 Min
Valkyrie, 3/9/07 Richmond, VA 41 Min
Valkyrie, 4/14/07 Baltimore, MD 37 Min
Valkyrie, 5/29/07 Charlottesville, VA 37 Min
Warning, 4/16/05 Goppingen, Germany 64 Min
Wino, 1/28/09 Washington, D.C. 25 Min
Wino, 2/7/09, Washington, D.C. 57 Min
Witchcraft, 5/28/05 Youngstown, OH 66 Min
Witchcraft, 11/11/06 Washington, D.C. 45 Min
Wooly Mammoth, 6/16/06 Washington, D.C. 36 Min
Wooly Mammoth, 10/29/04 Washington, D.C.41 Min
Wooly Mammoth, 12/29/06 Washington, D.C. 36 Min
Wretched, 8/28/04 Washington, D.C. 30 Min
Wretched, 9/4/04 Youngstown, OH 24 Min
Wretched, 4/15/07 Baltimore, MD 42 Min
YOB, 5/20/05 Hartford, CT 45 Min
Warhorse, 1978 Rockville, MD 28 Min
The Obsessed, 3/80 Rockville, MD 106 Min (2 DVDs)
The Obsessed, 7/3/82 Washington, D.C. 74 Min (2 DVDs)
The Obsessed, 11/83 Kensington, MD 45 Min
The Obsessed, 2/11/84 New York City, NY 35 Min
The Obsessed, 6/16/84 Long March, PA 40 Min
The Obsessed, 4/17/94 Washington, D.C. 45 Min
Shine, 9/29/96 Wheaton, MD 45 Min
The Hidden Hand, 5/25/03 Youngstown, OH (Bass Heavy)

I’ve taken to calling it The Megabox.

It’s been here more than a week now and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it contains. A Spirit Caravan show here, some Acid King there. At that rate, it’ll probably be years before I get through everything — if I ever do — and I have no idea how to organize it, because it can’t stay in the Megabox forever, but screw it, there was no way I was going to let an opportunity to own such a collection pass me by, even if it is CDRs in sleeves. Someone poured their heart into getting all of this. I was flattered even to be asked if I wanted it.

Yeah, some of it is available on YouTube or whatever blog or forum group, but considering I spent less than 50 cents for each of these shows and especially considering the human element in the media and the passion that clearly went into putting the collection together, I’m still ready to call it the bargain of the year.

Nebula, “All the Way” Live at the Ottobar, Baltimore, MD, 06.02.02

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Iron Man Post First Single from South of the Earth

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

As posted on the forum, Iron Man will issue their new album, South of the Earth, on Oct. 1 in North America via Metal Blade. Rise Above is handling the UK and Europe, and the Metal Blade match is a good one, since guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III‘s previous band, Force — out of which Iron Man gradually emerged — released their only EP in 1981, a year before the label formed. Both have been through some pretty significant changes since then, but they’re still going strong, and if the megafuzz on Morris‘ guitar on the track “Hail to the Haze” is anything to go by, Iron Man might just be going their strongest yet.

South of the Earth is the band’s first long-player with Dee Calhoun up front. And as advertised, he’s right out there. Pipes for days and the song has a hook to match. But as ever, a goodly portion of Iron Man‘s power resides in its rhythm section, whether it’s the punch of Louis Strachan‘s bass or the straightforward thrust of Jason “Mot” Waldmann‘s drumming, “Hail to the Haze” is a mover and it’s no mystery why. As much of the focus will reside (rightly) with Morris‘ tone and however much Calhoun‘s more-steel-than-your-favorite-skyscraper vocals will demand the attention of anyone listening, it’s the complete package that results in the fistpump-worthy doom metal of “Hail to the Haze.”

That’s not even to mention the production on the track, which is leaps and bounds ahead of even where Iron Man were with I Have Returned in terms of overall fullness. And I thought that record sounded pretty good. This only makes me look forward to hearing South of the Earth more and getting to know the material better live.

Dig it:

Iron Man, “Hail to the Haze” from South of the Earth (2013)

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15 Before ’14: Records Not to Miss Before the New Year Hits

Posted in Features on August 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re anything like me — and let’s just hope for your sake you’re not — then you’re sitting in front of your laptop staring at a calendar telling you it’s August wondering what the hell happened to June and July. Last time I turned around, it was barely summer, and now it’s starting to get cold at night.

We’re well past the halfway mark on 2013, and I know for some the year’s best picks are already set in mind, but there’s a ton of cool releases still to come before 2014 hits, and I figured now’s as good a time as any for a rundown of a few picks that seem to be sure to arrive prior to December 31. As much as anything’s ever “sure,” anyway. Subject to change, and all that.

With the gracious suggestions/assistance of those checking in on the forum (see that thread for many more picks) taken into consideration, here are 15 suggestions to be on a lookout for starting in September. Some of these I’ve heard, some I haven’t, but take it as a sampling of what I’m looking forward to, if nothing else.

And because I know nothing says “I know how to have a good time” like a list in order of release date, here goes nothing:

Vista Chino, Peace (Sept. 3)

It took me a couple listens to come around to Vista Chino‘s Peace (review here), but once I got to that point, there was no turning back. The much-anticipated Napalm Records debut from the four-piece birthed out of Kyuss Lives!, Peace ultimately moves forward as much as it looks back, and though much of the lyrics center around the lawsuit that forced Kyuss Lives! to change their name, the songs themselves do arrive at a certain place of acceptance by the end of the record, so that in the end it lives up to its title. Some won’t be able to make the leap over their expectations for what an album with Brant Bjork, John Garcia and Nick Oliveri on it should sound like, but most importantly, Vista Chino are pressing on and I hope this isn’t the last record they make together, even if Oliveri is already out of the band’s touring lineup.

Larman Clamor, Alligator Heart (Sept. 10)

The solo-outfit of graphic artist Alexander von Wieding, Larman Clamor has been pumping out quality swamp boogie for the last two years at a more than prolific clip. Last year, von Wieding made his debut on Small Stone with Frogs (review here), and while the forthcoming Alligator Heart (out through the same label) strips the approach down somewhat — as you can hear on the single “Banshee w’Me” — the murkedelic blues spirit remains supreme at the center of the project’s approach. Larman Clamor has flown relatively under the radar so far into its run, but showing a little bit of a poppier side on Alligator Heart‘s tracks might gain it some more attention. Von Wieding‘s songwriting continues to be worth the price of admission to the bizarre carnival he creates.

Windhand, Soma (Sept. 17)

Richmond-based cult sludgers Windhand made their debut on Relapse earlier this year on a split release with Cough — with whom they share a bassist and a hometown — and will follow that next month with Soma, their second LP behind their 2012 self-titled debut full-length. The band have only gotten darker and meaner since adding Cough‘s Parker Chandler on bass, and with that split heralding its coming, Soma should arrive with a fittingly devastating impact. Windhand have also put in no shortage of time on the road, and even as the new one comes out, they’ll be embroiled in a coast-to-coast US tour, so keep an eye out — and that goes for Europe too. I wouldn’t be surprised if a full tour with Inter Arma got announced around their joint Roadburn appearances next spring.

Sasquatch, IV (Sept. 24)

Sasquatch bloody Sasquatch. If you’ve got a face, these dudes’ll rock it right off. With IV (Small Stone) their first full-length since 2010′s III (review here), L.A. trio Sasquatch very casually offer a reminder that those who talk about how rock and roll needs to be “saved” don’t have a clue what’s really up, that rock and roll never went anywhere and that its awesomeness continues unabated. Need testimony? Check out the track stream for “The Message.” Classic grooves, class-y showoff solos, catchy tunes and later in the album even a foray into psychedelic jamming — let there be no doubt that Sasquatch have nailed down right where they want to be sound-wise and are ready to make the most of the good times they’re rolling out as they continue to lay their own railroad, grand and funky as it is. Soundgarden wishes they had this kind of edge.

Iron Man, South of the Earth (Sept. 30)

You’d pretty much have to be a jerk not to feel good about the fact that long-running, long-underappreciated Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man are getting their due in the form of a Rise Above Records release for their new album, South of the Earth. I know that’s not the most impartial statement in the world, but seriously, who deserves Lee Dorrian-endorsed doom cred more than Iron Man? The names are few and far between. South of the Earth already had me on the hook for being their first full-length with frontman Dee Calhoun on board alongside guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III, bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann, but with the hopefully increased profile of issue on Rise Above, who knows what could be in store for them once it’s out?

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Underground EP (Sept.)

Trippy Wicked caught me off guard last year with the heavier and more metal side that showed up on their Going Home long-player (review here), but this time I’m ready. I’ve readjusted my expectations for what the UK trio might unleash on the new Underground EP — set phasers to who-the-hell-knows — and after the quick mastery of the metallurgical arts they showed the last time out, I’m happy to follow wherever their creative whims might take them. I know this is a list of albums and technically an EP isn’t a full album, but screw it, I dig these guys and am fascinated enough by their progression that it’s worth including even the smaller release here. If the art for Underground (due out through Superhot Records) is anything to go by — and I don’t yet know that it is — we could be in for a pretty wild ride.

Earthless, From the Ages (Oct. 8)

San Diego instrumentalists Earthless are looking to make an epic return on From the Ages (Tee Pee Records), which is their first studio full-length in six years. Though they’ve had a steady stream of live releases, limited splits and the like, and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell released a debut album with the heavy psych outfit Golden Void last year, nothing’s quite the same as Earthless‘ righteous jams and extended progressions. Look out for the 31-minute title-track (one of four on the album; more info here) as Earthless step into the limelight and reap the momentum they’ve built through steady years of touring and critical acclaim. From the Ages might just prove one for the ages.

Monster Magnet, Last Patrol (Oct. 15)

My only question when it comes to Monster Magnet‘s second album for Napalm Records — touted by frontman Dave Wyndorf as a return to their psychedelic beginnings — is how literally we’re supposed to take the title Last Patrol and if indeed this is going to be the final go for the long-running and hugely influential New Jersey outfit. If so, they draw their circle as complete as they possibly could, and whether it’s “The Duke (of Supernature),” which has received nearly 23,000 plays since being premiered here on July 23, or the driving churn of “End of Time,” Monster Magnet tap into the spirit that propelled 1995′s Dopes to Infinity and readjust the balance of their influence in a way fans have been clamoring for for years now. The more I hear it, the more I need to hear it.

Pelican, Forever Becoming (Oct. 15)

A new Pelican album is an interesting enough proposition at this point — it’s been four years since the Chicago instrumental outfit released What We all Come to Need (review here) — but Forever Becoming (Southern Lord) has an added level of intrigue for being Pelican‘s first album without guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec. Stepping in to fill the second guitar spot is Dallas Thomas of The Swan King, and it should be interesting to hear how the band’s approach has shifted after almost half a decade and what Thomas brings to the well-established chemistry between bassist Bryan Herweg, drummer Larry Herweg and guitarist Trevor de Brauw. If the first track is anything to go by, Pelican still sounds like Pelican, and I’m not going to complain about that.

Corrections House, Last City Zero (Oct. 29)

Probably the bigger surprise would’ve been if the super-type group Corrections House didn’t make their full-length debut on Neurot, but still, word was welcome when it came down a couple weeks back that the conjoined efforts of Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Mike IX Williams (EyeHateGod), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea, Minsk and the guy you want to record your album) were resulting in an actual album to follow up on their initial single and tour earlier this year. Whether the entirety of the record works in the kind of industrial, post-Godflesh noise crunch they brought to the stage on that tour (review here), we’ll just have to wait and see. But I’m damn interested to find out.

Red Fang, Whales and Leeches (Oct.)

Those who heard Red Fang‘s 2011 boot-to-the-ass second album, Murder the Mountains (review here), will probably find Whales and Leeches (named for a track off their 2008 self-titled debut) a reasonable follow-up. The Portland forerunners’ second offering through Relapse finds bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam even more front and center with clean vocals, and ultra-catchy songs like “Blood Like Cream” and “No Hope” seem to pick up right where Red Fang left off last time, offsetting Beam‘s poppier style with guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles‘ throaty grit . Watch out for much more to come on this one. Between the record itself and their formidable road ethic, you’re probably going to be hearing a lot about it.

The Melvins, Tres Cabrones (Nov. 5)

If you were to ask me how many records the Melvins have out in 2013, I’d go, “Uh… I dunno… six?” and the mere fact that that doesn’t seem like a ridiculous answer should be indicative of the frankly absurd pace at which the long-enduring Washington outfit add to their already insurmountable catalog. What makes Tres Cabrones (Ipecac) different? Reportedly, it’s a semi-reunion of the band’s 1983 lineup — as close as they were willing to get, was how Buzz Osbourne put it in the press release — that finds Dale Crover playing bass to make room for drummer Mike Dillard. The Melvins released the collection Mangled Demos from 1983 in 2005, but Tres Cabrones will be entirely new material. You never know quite where the Melvins are headed next, and if anyone could find a way to go forward even as they go backward, it’d be them.

Sandrider, Godhead (Date TBA)


So in case you couldn’t tell by the “TBA” above, this one’s a bit of wishful thinking on my part. I don’t actually know that Sandrider (members of Akimbo and The Ruby Doe) will issue a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled Good to Die Records debut (review here) before the end of 2013, but golly, I hope they do. The band said on July 11 via their Thee Facebooks that they’d finished mastering the album, titled Godhead, for a Fall release, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see once it’s pressed and ready to go. The sooner the better, since that first record was a smoker and nothing says “autumn” like some noise crunch bombast. At least that’s what I have embroidered on my doilies…

Snail, Feral (TBA)

Not sure on the release date for West Coast riffers Snail‘s fourth album and third since reactivating in 2009 with Blood, but the recording’s reportedly done, so hopefully it’s not too long before they get it out. The band recently announced the departure of guitarist Eric Clausen, so they’re down to the original trio of guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson, bassist Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson, and how that will affect their sound on the follow-up to last year’s metallized self-release, Terminus (review here), remains to be seen, but if there’s any chance Snail might be able to get more road time in support of Feral, whenever it arrives, than no doubt it will have been worth the tumult in the meantime. And even if not, the album’s still one to watch for.

The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum (TBA)

Another one with no exact date, but according to producer Chris Fielding, it’ll be out before 2013′s over. Either way, when it lands, Consolamentum will serve as the Candlelight Records debut. It’s their fourth outing overall, and the second to be produced by Fielding and to feature frontwoman Sharie Neyland, whose work on 2011′s In the Chapel of the Black Hand (review here) made that album one of the year’s most satisfyingly bizarre and dreary doom offerings. Along with founding guitarist Steve Mills, Neyland returns for Consolamentum and whether it hits in 2013 or 2014, look for the band to progress from the last time out. Mills (interview here) is a relentlessly forward-thinking songwriter and his penchant for creating atmospheric and crushingly dark sonic spaces is not to be underestimated.

Whew. These things always take so much longer than I think they’re going to when I start writing names on Post-It notes.

Of course, this is just a sampling of what’s to come over the next few months. Borracho‘s new one is supposed to get a vinyl release, and A Storm of Light have a new record, plus I heard rumors of new Slough Feg (they have a new single that would seem to back that up) and a much-awaited Brothers of the Sonic Cloth full-length coming before the end of the year — I also, right now, quite literally this second, just got news of a new Diesto on Eolian Empire — so please don’t assume that if it’s not here it’s never coming or whatever. There’s so much out there, I always feel like I’m leaving out something big and/or awesome.

Thanks for reading.

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Iron Man Sign to Rise Above Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’m not surprised that Iron Man got signed by Rise Above Records because I think they don’t deserve it. That’s not it at all. I’m surprised because they do deserve it and it actually happened.

From where I sit, this might be the feel-good story of the year. I’ve seen Iron Man slog it out in mostly-empty rooms on more than one occasion and deliver sets that would’ve thrilled arenas — they most recently killed it closing out the first night of Days of the Doomed III. One hopes that getting picked up by Rise Above for a Sept. 30 release of their new album, South of the Earth, ushers in a new era of appreciation for the long-running Maryland doomers. They’ve long since had it coming.

Huge congratulations to the band and here’s looking forward to South of the Earth!

IRON MAN ‘SOUTH OF THE EARTH’

(RISE ABOVE 2013)

Rising out of the same Maryland/DC mean streets as fellow US doom pioneers Pentagram and The Obsessed, IRON MAN was formed in 1988 as a Black Sabbath tribute band by guitarist Alfred Morris III, whose musical career began in 1977 with mysterious proto-doom cult FORCE. Al’s legendarily heavy, unearthly guitar tone was already much in evidence on FORCE’s ultra-rare 1981 debut EP – and it has only deepened, hardened, improved and refined in the ensuing 32 years.

“The main thing for me is Al’s tone,” enthuses Lee Dorrian, owner of Rise Above Records and Morris worshipper since the late 80s. “It’s so brutal but in a natural way, no frills, straight for the gut. Listening to his riffs is like being stuck in a vat of molasses, unable to move with a rotating grinder lodged into the middle of your forehead down to the base of your stomach. It’s that heavy!”

“When I felt ready to be a live performer, I asked myself, who are the baddest guitar players out there?” says Al Morris of his earliest sonic inspirations. “I thought about it and came up with Jimi Hendrix and Tony Iommi! Being that they are both left-handed players, it was like looking into a mirror as their hands went up and down the fretboard. I dialled in the tone for soloing, but had to add some bass tone to get the Tony/Geezer sound combination!”

Signed to the legendary underground doom label Hellhound Records, IRON MAN released the stellar ‘Black Night’ debut in 1993 – “an absolute classic in the field of Sabbath-inspired Doom,” Lee asserts – followed by ‘The Passage’ in 1994, before line-up and label instability forced the band into a late 90s wilderness period. They re-emerged in 1999 with ‘Generation Void’, before another extended hiatus. This time it took a full ten years before Al reassembled the indestructible IRON MAN with yet another new line-up for the aptly-named return-to-form ‘I Have Returned’ on Shadow Kingdom.

In 2010, Maryland doom circuit veteran ‘Screaming Mad’ Dee Calhoun joined IRON MAN on vocals, recording two EPs before starting work on their latest masterpiece, the monstrous snorting rocking doom behemoth ‘South Of The Earth’. Bursting with inspirational tunes, from the killer anthemic rumble of the opening title track to the blissful elegiac blues-doom of the closing ‘Ballad Of Ray Garraty’, IRON MAN’s fifth album is shot-through with stunning soulful leads, gargantuan riffs, powerful throaty vocal melodies and a muscular, resounding rhythm section.

“Every time Iron Man goes into the studio, we treat it like a blank canvas. As things progress, the art form takes shape,” says Al Morris on the band’s creative process. “We wrote this album in about 2 months. Then we practiced our asses off to perfect the performance of the songs. This CD was done with Frank Marchand, an engineer/producer with a head full of ideas! He enhanced every element of this CD. We have great trust in Frank and followed his ideas. This is what came out!”

“I’ve loved all of Iron Man’s work,” says Lee Dorrian. “‘South of the Earth’ easily matches it and the band sound better than ever. Great musicianship all round and they have a seriously killer vocalist with Screaming Mad Dee.”

Asked how Al feels the latest incarnation of IRON MAN compares to the line-ups he’s worked with over the last few decades, his reply displays a heartening, positive renewed enthusiasm for the bullishly durable group he founded all those years ago. “I am not the only person pushing the band forward!” he beams. “Now all of the band is pushing in the same direction!! We can write great songs together and perform on stage with lots of energy!”

Tour details will follow, you lucky bastards – in the meantime, get familiar with ‘South Of The Earth’, surely IRON MAN’s finest, fullest achievement to date.

IRON MAN: ‘SOUTH OF THE EARTH’ (RISE ABOVE)
1. South Of The Earth
2. Hail To The Haze
3. The Whore In Confession
4. The Worst And Longest Day
5. Aerial Changed The Sky
6. IISOEO (The Day Of The Beast)
7. Half-Face/Thy Brother’s Keeper (Dunwich Pt 2)
8. In The Velvet Darkness
9. The Ballad Of Ray Garraty

Al Morris III – guitars
‘Screaming Mad’ Dee Calhoun – vocals
Louis Strachan – bass
Jason ‘Mot’ Waldmann – drums

Recorded and mixed at Hudson Street Sound, Anapolis, Maryland
Produced/engineered by Frank Marchand III
Mastered at Bias Studios, Springfield, Virginia

Iron Man, South of the Earth album trailer

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Here are 115 More Pics from Days of the Doomed III

Posted in Visual Evidence on June 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was a really, really busy weekend. I’m glad to say I did actually get to stand still for a bit and watch each of the 19 acts performing at Days of the Doomed III at The Blue Pig in Cudahy, Wisconsin, but I was just as likely to be parking myself somewhere to pop open the laptop or back and forth in front of the stage taking pics.

At one point, one of the dudes working at the venue said to me while I had the computer open, “You’re supposed to be enjoying yourself, not working.”

And it occurred to me that this is how I enjoy myself.

A 20-minute break between each band didn’t leave much wriggle room to go searching for the perfect shot of each band and still give the actual set the clacky-clacky it deserved. As such, I wound up with a lot of photos, and since I wouldn’t have time to include them in the actual live-blog posts (day one and day two), it only seems fair to give them their own post.

Below — with setlists when I could get them — you’ll find pictures of Iron Man, Penance, Venomous Maximus, Kings Destroy, Lucertola, Moon Curse and Gravedirt from day one, and The Gates of Slumber, In~Graved, Dream Death, Pale Divine, Earthen Grave, Leather Nun America, King Giant, Spillage, Chowder, Beelzefuzz, Gorgantherron and Whaler from day two.

Pics start after the jump. Hope you enjoy:

Read more »

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Front to Back: Days of the Doomed III, Day One

Posted in Features on June 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

06.21.13 — The Blue Pig — Cudahy, WI

4:24PM: Welcome to Cudahy, Wisconsin. Were I one of the homeowners living on the residential street off the corner where The Blue Pig is located, I’d probably already be pissed. I’m not, though. I’m here for the show. Hence, doom on.

The venue — kind souls — gave me the wifi password, so over the course of tonight and tomorrow I’ll be updating live with words and pics from the Days of the Doomed III fest. Tonight, the lineup features Gravedirt, Moon Curse, Kings Destroy (go hometown heroes), Lucertola, Venomous Maximus, Iron Man and Penance. The show kicks off in about half an hour and there’s the usual pre-fest milling about, plus a DJ spinning the usual suspects — Pantera, AC/DC, etc. — drinks at the bar and already a cool vibe in the air. I’m looking forward to seeing how the night plays out.

I’m sitting in the back by the merch area, but judging by the people rolling in, it looks like I’m going to have to find a different spot to set up shop, so that might be an adventure, but I’ll do my best to make it work. Long night and day tomorrow ahead, but I’ve got a doomburger — yes, it’s a special at the Best Western — in my gut and spirits are high. Let’s do this thing.

Gravedirt

5:39PM: Nothing to dive headfirst into a night of riffs like some low-end-centric, extreme sludge. Native Milwaukee trio Gravedirt do it muddy. The snare was cutting through high in the mix, but beyond that, they slung ooze like they meant it, bassist Chris Cottreau adding low, death metallic growls over top (or at very least, buried within) that reminded me almost immediately of earliest, pre-psychedelic Zoroaster. Within that, their stuff was straightforward and they seemed to be getting their bearings in on stage, but they had a lot going for them and by the time they were finished, I had forgotten it would still be light out when I turned around and looked out the window, so I guess that’s saying something. A heavy start to what seems like it’s going to be a heavy evening.

Moon Curse


6:37PM: Another local trio, Moon Curse had a sound that almost couldn’t help but be their own. Guitarist/vocalist Matt played through a custom rig on a custom guitar, drummer Keith brought his own kit and let loose his swing-heavy grooves in front of the riser, and bassist Rochelle anchored the lumbering riffs with thoroughly weighted runs. They hovered mostly around traditional doom riffing, but every now and again, they locked into a marching plod that showed some awareness of Red Fang or even High on Fire‘s second-gear moments. Matt kept his vocals mostly clean, and I suspect that much of what they played came off their recently-released self-titled vinyl, which they’re selling here in a number of editions. I may or may not get the chance to pick one up, but they impressed all the same and out of the two bands who’ve played so far, I’ve found two whose work I’ll look forward to following from here on out.

Lucertola


7:55PM: Some high order horror vibes permeating Lucertola‘s set, driven forward at a doomly crawl by the dual guitars of Tad Leger (also Blood Farmers) and Zack Breiman, the latter of whom tossed off fuck-you-up leads at a whim and broke his strap during the first or second song. Otherwise, the young six-stringer made hard shred look easy while Leger held down rhythm lines alongside bassist Chris Konys. I had meant to see them a while back in Philly, so they were something of a must to catch at Days of the Doomed III, and while they were still pretty clearly sorting out their material, they ended strong and had some potent chugging lines along the way, not lacking in classic atmosphere or doomly vibing, tossing in some variety (just enough) and keeping people hooked with a cover of Witchfinder General‘s “Burning a Sinner” that was greeted with universal welcome.

Kings Destroy


9:08PM: Not sure if I’ve ever seen Kings Destroy so much live up to their name. It’s terrifying how good these guys have gotten, from the flow they build during a set to their tones, to how they all slam together at the end of “Turul” and the time changes it brings. Fucking terror, I tell you. I wasn’t sure if they were going to break out “Turul.” Early on, it seemed like they were sticking to some of the earlier, first album stuff, rather than the A Time of Hunting material, which is more diverse-sounding — they were sticking to the doom as befitting the occasion, in other words. But not only did they play it, they closed with it, using it to follow up “Blood of Recompense” in a one-two punch of gloriously heavy oddness. I’m hardly an impartial source, but god damn, I fucking dig this band. “Planet XXY” and “Medusa” were pleasant surprises, but really, the whole time, they were tighter than one generally thinks of doom as tight and showed that you can play heavy, downer music and still not lose all life from the performance.

Venomous Maximus

10:14PM: It’s hard to argue with a professional presentation. And now having seen them live, any question I might’ve had about how Napalm Records came to pick up Houston four-piece Venomous Maximus has been answered. It’s easy: They saw them live. From “Path of Doom” to “Give up the Witch” to the grandiose ending of the finale “Hell’s Heroes,” Venomous Maximus were a pro job all the way. Stage costumes, their own lighting — they even brought their own photographer! The songs were no less dead on for the band being so aesthetically focused, though, and having experience with their Beg upon the Light full-length and the prior The Mission EP, the songs came right back, delivered with power and finesse and a raucousness all their own. I’d have signed them too. It would be foolish not to. If these dudes can get out and tour, their ascent could be quick. They brought the audience with them for a run through powerful riffs and over-the-top metal that was self-aware but not at all ironic. Again, it’s hard to argue.

Penance


11:36PM: Filling in for vocalist Lee Smail, who couldn’t make it to Days of the Doomed III, Brian “Butch” Balich (who’s wrapping a new album with Argus) took the frontman role for Penance‘s set. They opened instrumentally, bassist Richard Freund, drummer Mike Smail and guitarist Terry Weston, and were joined shortly thereafter by Butch, whose presence was announced by launching into “Words Not Deeds.” Hell of an introduction. Butch wouldn’t be the only guest, either. Several songs in — “Monster I’ve Become” and “Reaching” among them — guitarist/vocalist Brian Lawrence came out for a few from 1992′s The Road Less Traveled. “A Wayfarer’s Tale” was perhaps the highlight of the whole set, but I won’t discount either when Butch came back out and they closed out as a five-piece with “Misgivings” off the same album. I knew when I saw the band with Smail at Roadburn that this would be their crowd, and it was. Penance received a hometown-esque welcome at The Blue Pig, and proceeded to earn it with crunching tones as doomed as the emotionality both Balich and Lawrence brought to the vocals. I considered myself lucky to have seen them once, so to do it twice in a matter of months with three different singers, all the more so.

Iron Man


1:12AM: Somehow it always seems to be Iron Man rounding out all the doomliest evenings. Only fitting, I guess. Tonight the Maryland — vocalist Dee Calhoun, in a Ravens jersey, said they were from Baltimore tonight, D.C. other nights — stalwarts gave Wisconsin a taste of classic riffing the likes of which it probably hasn’t had since, well, since Days of the Doomed II last year. Tonight they were showing off new material from the forthcoming South of the Earth full-length. Cuts featured included “The Worst and Longest Day,” the extended “A Whore in Confession” and the title-track, which the band put next to the title-track from I Have Returned, maybe for a bit of symmetry, maybe not. Calhoun and guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III command a lot of attention, but the rhythm section of bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason Waldmann sounded especially on tonight (Strachan added some wah on “A Whore in Confession” that was a nice touch), and the band seemed most gelled of all on the new material, which was encouraging for the results on that album whenever it surfaces. As ever, Iron Man closed out with “Black Night” from the classic 1993 album of the same name, but the crowd wouldn’t let them go when they were done, so they followed it with “Run from the Light” from I Have Returned and capped day one of Days of the Doomed III with a fitting summary of what I take away as the whole idea behind the fest: Good people, good riffs, good times. You won’t hear (or read) a complaint out of me. Tomorrow we go again.

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