Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
…And now, a bummer. The first annual Totem Psych Fest has been called off. It was set to take place this weekend at a castle in Rocca Sinibalda, Italy, which — since it’s also the highest point in the town — would only put it closer to the rainstorms that have been forecast for when it would be going on. An impressive lineup was culled together with Church of Misery, Blues Pills and Nik Turner as headliners and many other killer acts supporting, but it would seem it just wasn’t to be this year.
Heavy Psych Sounds and Black Rainbows‘ Gabriele Fiori, who might be his country’s single most passionate ambassador of heavy fuzz, organized the fest and put out word today that it was a no-go. Sympathies to him and to anyone who might’ve been looking forward to what was surely going to be a unique event.
Replacement shows for some of the headliners have been announced, and those details follow here:
TOTEM PSYCH FEST CANCELLATION
Heavy rainfalls and lightning are expected in Rocca Sinibalda during the days of the Totem Psych Fest, expecially in the area of the Castle that is in the town’s highest part.
Local authorities responsible for security have therefore established requirements and limitations that make it impossible to perform the planned Event in the unique setting of the Castle.
We have no viable alternatives; with great regret, both for the quality of the event and for the great organizational effort we put in these months, we have to cancel the Totem Psych Fest.
Our disappointment is great, beacuse of the encouraging ticket pre-sales and the confidence of a resounding success of the Event.
We cannot but apologize for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation of the Festival, expecially for those who had planned their coming to Rocca Sinibalda.
All tickets will be refunded: those who have purchased through Ticketgate and Paypal circuits will be entitled to reimbursement from August 4th; those who bought the ticket physically in Rome will be refunded on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th of July at the AirportOne, Centocelle’s Airport, Rome.
We managed to bring 3 of the Festival headliners in Rome, AirportOne, Centocelle’s Airport.
Therefore TOTEM PSYCH FEST, in collaboration with INIT CLUB presents:
Friday, July 25th: Blues Pills Nik Turner (ex Hawkwind)
Posted in Reviews on June 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The four bands included, tripped out as they are, can hardly account for the amount of space traversed. Italy’s Black Rainbows, led by guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori — whose own contributions to European psychedelia include running the label issuing this release, Heavy Psych Sounds and assembling this year’s inaugural Totem Psych Fest, taking place this summer outside of Rome (more info here) — unite with Brooklyn heavy space rockers and past tourmates Naam, well-kept New York secret outfit White Hills and bluesy Baltimore explorers The Flying Eyes for a 2LP gatefold four-way split featuring a side from each. All four groups work regularly in pretty extended forms, so you basically get a song or two from each, but still, the fact that they all got together and combined their efforts for this release makes it something special, the limited numbers of the vinyl and various colors (as well as a CD version) having been pressed in time for this year’s Desertfest, at which Black Rainbows also appeared. Everyone involved shares an obvious affinity for heavy psychedelic rock, but as one would hope for a release of this nature, there are also four distinct takes presented across the split — the official title of which is Heavy Psych Sounds 4-Way Split Vol. I– and each band takes advantage of an opportunity to bliss out in their own way, beginning with Naam – who’ve spent significant time on tour in Europe both before and after issuing their latest album, 2013′s Vow(review here) — on their two tracks, “Skyscraper (Ambient Mix)” and “Thickening Web,” which are included as side 1A leading off the 51-minute double-LP.
Its title is a dead giveaway, but “Skyscraper (Ambient Mix)” is a reworking of Vowhighlight “Skyscraper,” and what was a landmark on the ultra-spacey sophomore full-length from the Brooklyn four-piece arises on the Heavy Psych Sounds split as a stripped-down wash of effects, elements dropping in and out over the course of its seven-plus minutes, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lee Lugar‘s voice barely distinct for the reverb it carries, a slow, mellow progression playing out behind given further depth between the high and low end thanks to a swirl of effects. “Skyscraper” proper was not short on ambience, between the guitar, John Weingarten‘s keys, John Preston Bundy‘s bass and Eli Pizzuto‘s percussive roll, but “Skyscraper (Ambient Mix)” — on which engineer/mixer Jeff Berner has added some instrumentation as well — feels thoroughly reworked and comes across experimental enough to make the original seem straightforward in comparison. With a fuller-sounding instrumental stretch to over eight minutes, “Thickening Web” furthers the atmosphere of the opener while building on it, Weingarten coming to the fore in a dreamy midsection as the bass, guitar and drums fade out and back in around his keys. There’s a build at work and constant movement, but Naam still evoke a laid back feel, which is all the more fitting leading into White Hills‘ experimental 11-minute “They’ve Got Blood… Like You’ve Got Blood,” presented here as an alternate version to what appeared as the title-track of the 2005 self-released full-length, They’ve Got Blood Like We’ve Got Blood. As much as they’re clearly separate entities with their own sonic aims, a linear flow is present as well, and White Hills further Naam‘s sprawling ambience and percussive undertones with engrossing space-drones and an ending movement with lo-fi techno beats and organ leadout. You’ve got four psych bands all contributing to the release. It was bound to get weird at some point.
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 Voidis a full-on lost classic of doom, and if you don’t already own it, I’d imagine the vinyl of The Passagejustifies 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 Portalsis 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 TheBurden. 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. Itseems 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 Cloudmight 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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The inaugural Totem Psych Fest will take place July 25-27, 2014, at a castle located about an hour outside of Rome. Yup, a castle, and yup, Ufomammut are playing. So are Church of Misery. At a castle. They’re playing a castle. On the same bill. At a castle. Nik Turner from Hawkwind will be there too.
Euro fest culture, you’ve done it again. Kudos to Gabriele Fiori from Black Rainbows and Heavy Psych Sounds, which will present the festival. In addition to the aforementioned and Blues Pills, the lineup also includes a host of Italy’s best in heavy rock, from Isaak to Void Generator, Morkobot, OJM and The Wisdoom.
There you have it. For anyone lucky enough to have even the faintest chance of going, tickets are on sale now:
***TOTEM PSYCH FEST***
Heavy Psych Sounds, present the first edition of the TOTEM PSYCH FEST.
This exclusive festival is located one hour north-east of Rome, in the small village of Roccasinibalda. It takes place in the courtyard, gardens and underground cellar of a large, scorpion-shaped castle dating back to the 10th century.
About 25 bands – ranging from heavy psychedelic to space rock, sludge doom, stoner, acid rock, hard blues and one-man bands – will be playing live.
Given the capacity of the location, tickets are very limited: it is possible to purchase 3-day passes or single day tickets. Along the castle there will be shows, food stands and many other events. There will also be free camping, and over the next days a list of all the hotels and holiday-farms located close to the castle will be published on the website.
NIK TURNER SPACE GIPSY (EX Hawkwind) BLUES PILLS ZU BALLETTO DI BRONZO UFOMAMMUT CHURCH OF MISERY BLACK RAINBOWS LENTO OJM OVO MORKOBOT TONS SONIC JESUS ISAAK SMALL JACKETS GIOBIA IN ZAIRE THE BLUES AGAINST YOUTH DA CAPTAIN TRIPS APE SKULL THE WISDOOM SPOOKY MAN VOID GENERATOR L’IRA DEL BACCANO
By way of a confession, I’ve had the World in Sound release of Doctor Cyclops‘ latest and debut outing, Oscuropasso, on my stack to review longer than I care to admit. I’m trying. In the meantime, though, the Italian heavy trio have unveiled a new documentary by Barnabil Produzioni that goes behind the scenes with the first five years of the band, showing backstage footage, live footage, travel shenanigans, and interviews to give the trad rockers’ perspective on where they are and the passion that drives what they do.
It’s called Borgopasso: Doctor Cyclops Not theMovie, which I guess is the band’s way of reserving the right to have a longer movie about themselves come out down the line and not have it be a sequel? Not sure what’s going on there, but it’s a cool and stylized look at the trio anyway, and whether you’re a fan of the Oscuropassoor someone unfamiliar, it tells a story I think a lot of people can relate to in terms of music defining a key part of their lives.
Check it out below, followed by the band’s announcement of its release and their tour dates for later this month:
Borgopasso: Doctor Cyclops Not the Movie
Ladies & Gentlemen, dogs & cats, stoned and boozes… We are more than proud to introduce you the first-ever documentary about Doctor Cyclops. It celebrates the first five years of activity of our band. Directed by our friend and film-maker Luca Chinaglia and produced by his own company Barnabil Produzioni, it’s been shot during a tour between Italy, Switzerland, France and Austria last may and october 2013… The Bruch Brothers, Le Brin de Zinc, United Club, Mark Kulturzentrum, Freysitz Bar, Ann-and Pat and probably your good self are surely involved…. Enjoy and please help us sharing it!
Doctor Cyclops will take a new Swiss/German tour [this] month. Here it is…”The German Crossing part II”. Will you join us?
16.05: (IT) Mondovì@Ca’ di matt 17.05: (CH) St.Gallen@Rumpeltum 18.05: (CH) Luzern@Bruch Brothers 21.05: (DE) Wurzburg@Immerhin 22.05: (DE) Hamlar@Rockmusic 23.05: (DE) Berlin@Jagerklause 24.05: (DE) Zwickau@Ugly Bar
Posted in Reviews on April 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
No doubt about it, Vincebus Eruptumhas its thing and does it well. The Italian fanzine continues to keep me enamored with issue no. 17 (which actually came out in February but was somewhat delayed in getting to me owing to US post office silliness), redoubling my passion for underground print media with its own. Editor Davide “Davidew” Pansolin has assembled another round of interviews with new and established bands, and in addition to as ever supporting the hell out of his native Italian scene, he’s reached across borders and continents in the reviews section to once again tantalize with a variety of heavy wares. I think I say this every time I get an issue, but I never come out of reading Vincebus Eruptumwithout wanting to spend money on records.
I’d understand if that actually turned some people off from reading — last thing any of us need to be shelling out a more significant portion of income, I’m sure — but the fact is that even if you don’t immediately take to label sites, Bandcamp pages or whatever other outlets (physical stores, maybe?) and pony up, Vincebus Eruptumremains a good way to stay informed. Especially for somebody like me, who’s a nerd for Euro heavy psych but lives across a particularly large body of water, it’s a cool way to stay in the loop. Not that the ‘zine just sticks to European bands, though. This time around, an interview with San Francisco’s Wild Eyes SF caught my eye as a cool read after reviewing their Get Into It! vinyl, and chats with Icelandic rockers The Vintage Caravan, The Oscillation and Alice Tambourine Lovers followed suit. I hadn’t heard of Minneapolis’ The Lone Crows, so mark that a win as well.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Vincebus Eruptumif Italy wasn’t strongly represented. By my count, 17 of the 38 reviews are either bands of Italian origin or on an Italian label, and that includes such heavy-hitters as Void Generator‘s new album and Fatso Jetson‘s limited 7″ on Go Down Records, so everything included well earns its place. Two releases by Swedish rockers The Movements are covered, and takes on Deamon’s Child and Earthless once again assure Vincebus Eruptum‘s commitment to all things heavy, regardless of where they might call home. Now a licensed cultural association (fiscal code 92100050092) and a sponsor of the Desertfest in Berlin with new label releases from Organic is Orgasmic and Sendelica – the latter are coincidentally interviewed in issue no. 17 — through Vincebus Eruptum Recordings, it seems like the ‘zine has never been going stronger.
That’s all the more impressive in an age of such rampant internet dominance, proving that if you offer a unique, well-curated experience and understand your audience, it’s still possible to make a print model work. Easier said than done, of course, but flipping the pages once again of Vincebus Eruptum, they make it seem so natural, so easy, that one can only hope they keep it going into perpetuity. It’s a joy when the next issue shows up.
Organic is Orgasmic, As We Speak of Space and Wisdom (2014)
Posted in Reviews on March 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a big world and there’s a lot to review in it, so I won’t do much to delay. This time around covers both coasts of the US as well as Europe and even Australia, proving once again that heavy knows no borders and seems to be at home wherever it goes. It’s a pretty varied batch this time as well, but should provide some fun along the way.
Billing themselves as “Seattle’s only rock duo” — which is charming if unlikely — guitarist/vocalist Ben Harwood and drummer Jeff Silva self-release their second album as Hobosexual (I see what you did there…) in the aptly-titled 12-tracker, II. It’s a record that brims with attitude from the chugging, semi-Melvinsian opening of “Switchblade Suburbia,” but there’s a depth of tone and swagger to back up the smacktalk in their songwriting. The 38-second “Ghettoblaster” is Hendrix-style feedback and soloing, playing directly into “Hostile Denim”‘s lead-obsessed Rolling Stones hook ‘n’ push. Topped off with striking artwork from Adam Burke of Fellwoods, IIproves very much of its Pacific Northwest origins — a magical land where everybody has a beard and they all listen to stoner rock — and while the tongue-in-cheek snark of “Sex Destroyer” might be over-the-top to some, Hobosexual avoid the minimalist aesthetic some duos use as a crutch for lazy songwriting, make old riffs new again and showcase some melodic depth in Harwood‘s vocal layering, positioning songs like “The Black Camaro Death” and the penultimate “BMX” highlights arguing against style over substance amid party-ready riffing and don’t-have-a-fuck-to-give panache. Their 2010 self-titled debut worked in similar stylistic parameters, but IIstrikes as more confident overall, and it’s a record that you’re either going to fall prey to its sleaze or shoot down early and go about your night. If the album’s a party, I feel at times like my invite must have gotten lost in the mail, but Hobosexual provide a decent reminder nonetheless that there are those capable of turning heavy rock into a good time and put it on the listener to ask why they should take it so seriously in the first place. FOAD: Fuck off and dance.
Strange things are afoot throughout Italian four-piece Midryasi‘s third album, Black, Blue and Violet. The multifaceted heavy outfit run a gamut from Pentagram-esque riff doom to Pink Floyd-infused progressive texturing, all the while keeping a clarity of sound that can likely be traced to the metallic roots of bassist/vocalist Convulsion, who aside from having played in DoomSword can be traced to a number of more extreme outfits. His brother, DoomSword vocalist Deathmaster, shows up on opener “The Counterflow,” but Black, Blue and Violet never goes quite so far into one subgenre or another, the keyboard work of Umberto Desanti always adding an edge of prog to whatever else might be happening, whether it’s the otherwise doomed “Diagonal” or the dramatic verses of the title-track. Released through My Graveyard Productions, Midryasi‘s third ultimately finds its atmospheric crux in an intelligent construction, but perhaps feels somewhat distant in its performance, coldly executed. That’s an inherent tradeoff for the complexity of its arrangements, maybe, and there’s something to be said in argument for the skillful calculation at work across these seven tracks that run smoothly with the underlying drum work of Sappah and fluid guitars of Paolo Paganhate and hit their high-point with the rumbling “The Nuclear Dog,” which provides the most memorable hook of the long-player and seems to revel most in the psychedelic and progressive weirdness that the whole album moves within. The six-and-a-half-minute “Hole of the Saturday Night” closes out with a heavy rock riff and vocal delivery from Convulsion that moves in some of the same (stone) circles as Venomous Maximus, though that’s likely a coincidence of common influence between the two, and with a smooth, consistent production, Midryasi wind up sounding most of all like a band working on its own level. And successfully.
Raucous Berlin six-piece Operators made an impression in 2012 with the unabashed new school stoner rock of their self-titled debut (review here) now a little older, a little wiser, a little more drunk, the band returns with Contact High, a record that wears its influences on its sleeve in much the same manner as the Satellite Beaver, Neume and Stonehenge patches grace the varsity jacket of the figure on the album’s cover. “Kiss of De Ath” resides at the end of side A of the eight-track/39-minute offering and offers some of Operators‘ most satisfying boogie as Konni‘s organ and the guitars of Jacky and Dirk align for an intricate but still-rolling groove of a midsection build while Stonehenge‘s Enni steps in as a guest singer, but it’s vocalist Eggat who makes the first impression on opener “Terra Ohm,” setting up a strong hook for the rest of Contact High to live up to. The album plays out unpretentious and riotous in kind, and while they haven’t necessarily settled down since their first outing, it’s easy enough to hear Operators as having solidified their approach somewhat. Konni‘s keys work just as well alongside the rhythm section of bassist Dän and drummer Säsh as with the guitars, and Eggat proves a formidable enough presence on cuts like “If I Burn,” “Bring on the Spice” (I don’t know whose guitar solo that is, but kudos) and the driving “Contact High” to reign the rest into cohesion. The six-and-a-half-minute “Arrows” shows a more subdued side that, somewhat surprisingly, never quite explodes into the noisy chicanery found elsewhere. Could it be that Operators are growing up right before our ears? I don’t know, but the results are fascinating and display more even potential from these Desertfest veterans.
Grand soundscaping, an underlying sense of ritual, and a pervasive experimental bent — it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Spain’s Pylar boasts some manner of allegiance to forward or at least side-to-side thinking doomers Orthodox and the avant extremists Blooming Látigo, but the unit’s Knockturne Records debut, Poderoso Se Alza en My, strikes as a decidedly more conceptual work, with one song spilling into the next, religious themes crossing through minimalist atmospheres and a periodic lurch emerging that’s as much a trip aurally as mentally. Two longer cuts, “El Pylar Se Ha Alzado” (13:49) and “Al Fin Te Contemplo Entre las Ruinas del Tiempo (Pentagrammaton)” (12:11) sandwich five not-quite-as-extended segments as the opener (the longest on the record; immediate points) and closer of the 68-minute behemoth, which one would be thoroughly mistaken to dub a “compact” disc. It is, instead, expansive and challenging, rife with droning tension, vague shouts in Spanish seeming to describe some torment either physical or spiritual amid art-jazz percussion in another dimension’s time signatures. Will not, will not, will not be for everyone, but Pylar‘s first is a fascinating and dense work that one could easily spend any number of months dissecting, only to still come up with an incomplete picture of its scope, and for those with a high tolerance for the experimental and indulgences of noise, the intense swell of “La Gran Luminaria” could easily prove essential as the culmination point for what seems to be an album-long drive toward enlightenment and the sundry terrors it might carry with it. If you think you’re bored of the mundane, Poderoso Se Alza en Myis ready to pull back the veil and toy for a while with what you used to think of as “your” consciousness.
I remain a sucker for Aussie heavy. System of Venus guitarist/vocalist/graphic designer Fatima Baši? gets into a doomly melodic range that reminds at times — as on “Dancing in Hell’s Garden” — of Alunah‘s Soph Day, but the rough edges in her guitar and Amanda‘s bass add a more distinct ’90s feel to the seven-track/36-minute proceedings on their full-length debut and first release, as the crunch in “Monster Ego” will further attest. Drummer Matt Lieber shows himself comfortable with the quick tempo changes in that song and elsewhere on the self-titled, self-released offering, and though the centerpiece “Dr. Dumb” works quickly to earn its position in the CD’s tracklist, ultimately the opener “Blackrock” and the closing duo of “Nothing” and “Beast” are the strongest statements the album has to make in showcasing the diversity nascent in System of Venus‘ approach, “Beast” rising to an apex that though satisfying feels somewhat shortlived in providing the payoff for the record as whole while “Nothing” holds to a quieter, brooding sentiment that plays off the foundational bassline of “Gannets Drive,” giving what might’ve otherwise easily turned out to be a demo an LP’s overarching flow and speaking to an early awareness of quality construction from the Melbourne trio, though “Gannets Drive” seems to cut out early, building to a hit that’s snapped mid-crash, so perhaps there remain some kinks to work out one way or another. All the same, taken as a whole, System of Venus‘ System of Venussatisfies as the debut of a band feeling out where they want to be sonically, and bodes well for where they might grow their sound somewhere between grunge, doom and heavy rock.
Posted in Reviews on January 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Heavy stuff from all over the world. These have all been available for a little bit, and I’ve included audio and links as much as possible. Hope you dig:
The Devil Rides Out, Ugly Creatures EP
Checking in at just the other side of a half-hour, Perth four-piece The Devil Rides Out‘s self-released Ugly Creatures launches with its title-track, which, like the closer “Blood River,” tops seven minutes. There are five-songs total, and they get shorter as you approach the middle from either side, second cut “Empty Sky” and the penultimate “The Righteous Walk” being 5:59 and 5:44, respectively, and centerpiece “Burn Again” running just 4:05. It’s a kind of parabolic listening effect and an interesting structural note on the band’s part, but whatever progressive ideals they may proffer in terms of how the EP is put together, Ugly Creaturesis a rock record and doesn’t attempt to be anything else sonically. The guitars of Andrew Ewing lead the way with Joey K.‘s bluesy, gravelly vocals with some airy flourish in the solos, but the vibe is consistently earthy, and the heft and inventiveness of play in Scott Paterson‘s bass and the consuming wash of Royce Uyen‘s drums keep the proceedings grounded stylistically. It’s a loose, swinging heavy rock that emerges by the time they get to “Burn Again,” if deceptively atmospheric, but The Devil Rides Out in their midpoint introduce a thicker lurch and though Ewing‘s vocals seem to be high in the mix, they offer a commanding presence up front. “Blood River” strikes a better balance in having a somewhat bigger guitar sound and allowing the throaty delivery to cut through, decidedly un-reverbed as it is, and the ending tone of the EP winds up stronger for it. There are more than a few interesting explorations here, and if The Devil Rides Out were looking to delve into new stylistic ground, they’ve set themselves up well in doing so for their next full-length.
It’s somewhat jarring when Italian mostly-instrumental heavy psychedelic four-piece Manthra Dei launch from the languid beginnings of “Stone Face” at the open of their self-titled full-length Acid Cosmonaut Records (vinyl through Nasoni) debut and into more driving space rock, propelled by the keyboard work of Paolo Tognazzi, but it comes to make sense in the progressive sprawl and mounted swirl of the 51-minute album overall. Paolo Vacchelli handles the sole guitar in the foursome, with Branislav Ruzicic on bass and Michele Crepaldi on drums, but throughout, each player gets an opportunity to shine, whether it’s the bass in “Stone Face,” the guitars pushing heavier riffage at the apex of “Xolotl,” the keys adding jazzy melody to a King Crimson-style run in the 17-minute “Blue Phantom” or taking an organ solo on “Urjammer” or the hard-tapping snare punctuating the fervent groove of “Legendary Lamb.” Vocals show up in that last cut, handled by Crepaldi, and with as natural as he sounds amid the instrumental complexity surrounding, I’m not sure what would keep Manthra Dei from employing them more often, but this is a first release, and the band are making pretty clear efforts to hammer out their style, so with as much as is going on and as many parts as a given track has, there’s not a lot of room as they flow from one to the next for verses and choruses. Still, Manthra Dei‘s Manthra Deiis engaging, holding attention even through the aforementioned 17-minute monster and on through the acoustic epilogue that reprises “Stone Face” in a much humbler form. They’re feeling their way, but the push they’ve concocted on their first outing is both exciting and impressively held together, melding progressive flow, space rock rhythms and a psychedelic tendency toward open structures.
Gruff four-piece Ol’ Time Moonshine hail from the humid backwoods Southern bogs of… Toronto? Okay, so maybe the “Southern” we’re talking about is Southern Ontario, the Down-style chug-and-stomp these dudes get up to on their self-released The Demon Haunted World EP is whiskey by any other name. The seven-tracker finds the two, sometimes-three guitar outfit with a distinctly riffy push, not afraid to get big and angry in the second half of “March of the Trees” or turn things on their head with a little High on Fire gallop on the subsequent “Jazz Cigarettes.” They make little bones about their predilections or tastes in “There be Dragons,” “Jazz Cigarettes” or “This Black Hole is a Demon Rift,” but the ride is enjoyably varied nonetheless, with vocalist Bill Kole showing a range beyond that of the typical post-Anselmo “whoa yeah momma” drawl, getting into sludgier fare when called upon by his own and Chris Coleiro‘s riffing. On instrumental opener “There be Dragons,” “Seven Deadly Suns” and the swayingly grooved “She Dances in Graveyards,” Ol’ Time Moonshine brings in Chris Kendrick of Galaxies in the River for distinct solos, but even elsewhere, Ol’ Time Moonshine show no trouble in offering sonic variety across these tracks. Kole, who also did the jewel-case layout and recorded the guitars and vocals while Ronald Roy of Threshold Sound did Kyle Marnoch‘s bass and Brett Savory‘s drums, seems to be in the lead role, but the band offer a full, active presence throughout, and show themselves to be more than capable songwriters in making something of their own out of familiar genre elements. At just under half an hour, The Demon Haunted Worldpacks enough dirt and grit to be called a full-length, and particularly for being the band’s debut, hits hard enough to leave a mark.
With their artwork in homage to KISS‘ Love Gun, Ohio-based Robot Lords of Tokyo proffer pro-rocking burl of the sort that Brand New Sin pounded out over a decade ago on their self-released third full-length, Virtue and Vice, and while that doesn’t necessarily say much about the originality of the influences under which they’re working on the follow-up to 2008′s Whiskey, Blood and Napalm(review here), the songwriting at the heart of cuts like “Great Escape,” the swaggering “Hate’s Eternal Spring” and the dudely stomp of “Chicken Little” distinguish the metal-infused core of Rick Ritzler (drums, backing vocals) and Paul Jones (vocals), collaborating bassist Joe Viers (who also recorded and mixed, played some guitar and did backing vocals) and Beau Vanbibber (rhythm and acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals) as they bring in a host of guest guitarists, from Tracy G. to Chris Poland to Terry Adams and Wayne Findlay. One might think that an album with no fewer than 12 players appearing throughout would sound uneven, but Robot Lords of Tokyo actually hold it together pretty well — doing themselves a service by keeping the songs straightforward and mostly upbeat — even finding room to cover Cinderella‘s “Night Songs” in the second half. Rounding out with the nine-minute build of “Through Perdition’s Flames,” their testosterone-powered motor rock seems to delight in how over the top it gets, but still represents a kind of lost commercial viability for heavy rock in general, as though beamed in from an alternate time and space in which Robot Lords of Tokyo are the rockstars they sound like, instead of self-releasing quality albums so dickhead reviewers like me can me months behind on reviewing them. There are times where Virtue and Vicecomes on strong, but at its core it’s professional work.
Taking their moniker from the lead character in the cult-classic action movie The Final Sacrifice (also one of the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes of the Mike Nelson era), St. Louis heavy blues rockers Rowsdower emerge in making their Dead Grooves Records debut on a split full-length with fellow Missourians Send the Mistress. The latter act appear second and have a much more metalcore-derived sound — i.e. there are breakdowns and mixed screaming and clean vocals — but the five-piece Rowsdower bring together blues-swinging heavy riffs and Facelift-style vocals, hitting on a sonic niche that Salt Lake City’s Dwellers made their own on their first album. “Monday Morning Space Invaders” is bar-ready, even if the hook isn’t as strong as the opening “Acid Healer,” but the tone is set quickly, and with considerable bounce in their step, Rowsdower show promise throughout their four included tracks, notable for their comfort at a middle pace and for the easy mesh of classic heavy rock and distinct ’90s stylization, which shows up not only in the vocals, but in the snare drum sound as well. It’s an enticing affair ultimately, and as much as it’s Rowsdower‘s name that got my attention, the boozy debauchery of “Redemption Denied” and the Mastodon-style riffing that hits in the second half of “Victor’s Waltz” make it plain that there’s more to Rowsdower than there might at first seem. Not sure how they got paired with Send the Mistress, but I imagine there was alcohol involved one way or another. The second act’s three cuts, “Tired Limbs Energetic,” “A Magnificent Feast” and “Medusa’s New Do” are crunchier-toned all around, but there are heavy rock roots in there, even if they take them someplace else, genre-wise. Sometimes geography makes for strange bedfellows.
Preceded last month by a reissue of Deadpeach‘s 2006 debut, Psycle (info here), the Italian four-piece’s new full-length, Aurum, is due out this week. “Calcutta” is the opening track from the offering, which is the heavy psych outfit’s third, and it launches a 10-minute build quietly and moves into warm, rich psychedelics fluidly and easily without sounding overly contrived or indulgent in its jamming. The video is accordingly peaceful and tripped out, the various shots bleeding into each other and also hitting a visual apex in league with the song itself. If, say, you’ve run around all day like a crazy person and feel like you’ve gotten nothing done (not that I’d have any idea what that feels like), it might be just the thing to chill you out and return your brain to whatever it is that passes for stasis.
Or something like that.
I’m not sure where they got the footage from for the clip, and they seem to be mum on the subject, but as it moves away from the morphing faces of the band members, it kind of has a home-movies-gone-psych quality to it that adds a tinge of nostalgia to the spaced-out vibe. I dig it, anyway, and with the vinyl for Aurum coming Feb. 1, it seems like a good way for anyone who hasn’t yet been to get introduced to Deadpeach. Dig it:
Deadpeach, “Calcutta” official video
Video of the song Calcutta from the new album ‘Aurum’!
Take a trip with us!
The digital version will be released 16 January 2014 , and will be available on Amazon Itunes Spotify …
Vinyl version will be available from 1 February 2014!
Aurum Is a 5 track album, songs are : Calcutta, Gold, The line, Stomper, Traffic, (about 40 minute). The album was recorded and mixed by Epi at the godownrecords studio, Mastering Alessandro Cenciarini. The album’s artwork is edited by Neal Williams that already has done posters for Soundgarden, Dinosaur jr, Opeth, Neurosis,QOTSA, Melvins and others.
Posted in Reviews on January 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The prevailing impression of Insider‘s Event Horizonis one of transition. In that way, the 59-minute offering from the Italian heavy psych/prog trio, released through Andruid Records, very much lives up to its title, which refers to the precipice at which one can no longer retreat from the gravitational pull from a black hole. It is the band’s fifth or sixth full-length, and follows last year’s Vibrations from the Tapes (review here), which collected nearly 80 minutes of jams recorded in 2007. Event Horizon isn’t quite so overwhelming, and the chief difference between the two outings — aside from the 20-minute shorter runtime of the latest; an hour is still more than enough time for Insider to get their point across — is that Event Horizon is much more structured than was its predecessor. The late 2013 release arrives some eight years after Insider‘s last studio album, 2005′s Simple Water Drops, so even with Vibrations from the Tapes as a stopgap or perhaps a signal of revitalized activity, there’s been plenty of opportunity for creative growth within the band. Interestingly, what we seem to find across these eight mostly-extended cuts is that exact growth in progress. Memorable riffs pervade songs like the opener “Escape Velocity,” “Gravitational Mass” and the six-movement “Expansion of the Universe,” but chiefly, Event Horizonpresents an image of the trio in flux as they move toward a songwriting process from jammier past efforts — granted Vibrations from the Tapeswas recorded earlier, but until Event Horizonit was still their latest material — thus further solidifying their instrumental approach.
Ultimately, it’s a very particular moment captured on Event Horizon, because while Insider have moved past (at least for the time being, one never knows what future albums will bring) presenting their output in its rawest form — i.e., the jams — neither have they completely moved from that ethic to a wholly structured approach. Event Horizonresides, then, at the borderline between the two mindsets, and presents Insider, comprised of guitarist/keyboardist Marco Ranalli, bassist Piero Ranalli and drummer Stefano Di Rito with the very choice that the title seems to self-consciously hint toward: Do they continue on this path toward verse/chorus songwriting, or do they pull back into the more spontaneous atmospheres of their prior work. Their earliest albums, 1996′s Insiderand 1998′s Land of Crystals, were more straightforward stylistically, it’s worth noting (also reportedly more metal), so maybe a shift away from jamming would be bringing Insider full-circle. If they could do so in a manner that further pushed their sound creatively as Event Horizon seems to do, with Marco adding progressive and psychedelic depth to the songs via sundry analog and digital synth and also enhancing the emotional scope — also allowing listeners a moment to breathe/become further hypnotized in the three-minute title-track that precedes “Expansion of the Universe” — they might be all the better for it. One imagines, however, that doing so would remove some of the opportunity for proggy exploration upon which “Black Hole” and “Magnetic Field Lines” seem only too ready to capitalize, making the songs shorter by and large. Tradeoffs in everything, I suppose.
Limited to 100 hand-numbered copies from Caligari Records, the Fuoco Fatuotape compiles two 2012 EPs by the Italian extreme sludge trio of the same name, and the development is palpable from one to the next. The cassette comes professionally printed, with the screen directly on the tape (i.e. no sticker) and a six-panel j-card that only adds to the blackened atmosphere on hand within the music. Fuoco Fatuo — the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Milo Angeloni, bassist Giovanni “Ken” Piazza and drummer Fabrizio Moalli – released their self-titled, four-song EP in April 2012 and followed just months later with 33 Colpi di Schizofrenia Astrale Nell’Abisso Nero, in August. That latter EP is the rawer of the two, and its three songs come, fittingly enough, sandwiched between an intro, “Alpha,” and outro, “Omega.”
They’re also situated first on the Caligari tape, which basks in its filth without exactly making a show of it. The audio is compressed and dirty sounding even digitally, so on the cassette it self is all the more vicious. If I’d been forced to guess, I would have thought that the later songs on the tape were the newer material from the band, since Angeloni has a few cleaner-sung parts and there’s generally a more diverse approach musically, but it seems that Fuoco Fatuo‘s progression is more of a deconstruction at this initial stage and they’re endeavoring to get even more extreme stylistically. It works for them. A blackened take still comes through with sludge viscosity and the screams sound all the more tortured for the morass out of which they rise on “L’Abisso,” which adds a creepier vibe thanks to guest keys, credited to Adamennon.
But though they crossed the threshold that held the warning, “Abandon melody all who enter here,” there’s still character to their charred assault, and Fuoco Fatuo‘s two EPs show a distinct process solidifying any way you want to look at them. The viciousness and rawness of 33 Colpiand the sludgier push of Fuoco Fatuoplay well off each other, and in the end it’s almost like the three-piece were putting out a split tape with themselves. That it was mere months between the two releases I can only chalk up to a genuine decision on the part of the band to become even more fucked sounding. The tape isn’t going to be for everyone — it’s not subtle and it already hates you — but if you’ve got a taste for absolutes and like your lo-fi offset by a bit of tonal weight, Fuoco Fatuo offer pummel and slice in like measure across these two releases compiled as one.
Italian trio Doctor Cyclops debuted in 2012 with the full-length Borgofondoand in February, they’ll follow that album with their second offering, Oscuropasso, keeping loyal to a heavy ’70s methodology while not at all shying away from getting weird in a longer jam like that within the cumbersomely-named “Angel Saviour in the Cannibal House.” Near as I can tell, that’s not the title of a horror movie from 1973, but it probably should’ve been. Either way, Doctor Cyclops give the song — which also appeared on their first EP in 2010 — a natural treatment in the video, and then the masks go on and there’s a whole bunch of freakoutery happening and gasmasks, running through the woods, etc.
Sounds like a party at the Cannibal House. Oscuropasso will be out through the varied and venerable World in Sound and there’s plenty in the clip below to give a sampling of what the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Christian Draghi, bassist Francesco Filippini and drummer Alessandro Dallera have to offer with the record, which obviously includes no shortage of riffs and classic atmospheres.
Doctor Cyclops, “Angel Saviour in the Cannibal House” official video
Doctor Cyclops releases their new video
Welcome to the roots of life and witchcraft, welcome to Doctor Cyclops’ mountains. Born in the middle of nowhere in northern Italy, the power trio is ready to unleash its 2nd LP “Oscuropasso” next february.
Their first video for this album will take you to the Cannibal House, following the steps of Kaspar Hauser and all the people lost in a society they can’t understand anymore. Shot like a 70s horror film, the video for Angel Saviour In The Cannibal House is a great introduction to the atmosphere and grooves of “Oscuropasso” : life, death, sorcery, goblins and rotten trolls.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I picked up a copy of Deadpeach‘s Psyclea few years back from All That is Heavy and dug it for even more than its ultra-stoner earlier-Malleus cover art. The Italian outfit released a follow-up in 2011, aptly-titled 2, and reportedly have a new one coming called Aurum that will see release in 2014. To tide fans over into the New Year or at very least hopefully get word out about the new release, Deadpeach have made Psycleavailable again, digitally this time, through iTunes and Amazon.
The band sent word about both Psycle‘s reissue and the impending Aurum, and there’s a link where you can check out the earlier record, but I thought I’d post it with the teaser for the newer album instead, in case anyone unfamiliar with the band wants to get a feel for what they’re doing now as opposed to 2006, when the debut came out.
The new album of Deadpeach will be titled ‘Aurum’. Is a 5 track album, songs are : Calcutta, Gold, The line, Stomper, Traffic, (about 40 minute). The album was recorded and mixed by Epi at the godownrecords studio, Mastering Alessandro Cenciarini.
The album’s artwork is edited by Neal Williams epicproblems.com, that already has done posters for Soundgarden, Dinosaur jr, Opeth, Neurosis and other.
While waiting for the release date, of the third studio album by Deadpeach, is available from today, the digital version of their debut album titled Psycle; it was released in 2006 by godowrecords and reprinted in 2007 on vinyl,picture disk and cd digipack by the Nasoni-records.
“Psycle”, is a psychedelic fuzz rock grooves album. Artwork by Malleus.
Seven tracks of wild and amazing fuzz rock, psychedelic landscapes from the early 60s/70s, space trippy sounds.
Current line up: Federico Tebaldi (drums), Mr. Steveman (bass), Giovanni Giovannini (guitar, lead vocals), Daniele Bartoli (guitar & slide guitar).
Posted in Reviews on October 31st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum continues to impress with its dedication. When it comes to issue number 16, the interviews with Colour Haze, Sula Bassana, Blood Ceremony, Church of Misery and Telstar Sound Drone are cool enough, but I think the most telling thing about the passion driving the publication is in the letter from editor Davide “Davidew” Pansolin. He gives a pretty basic rundown of what’s happening with the “Vincebus EruptumCultural Association” — which is awesome — but more than that, he plugs the album release for Vista Chino, which would’ve been coming out as the issue was finalized.
That doesn’t seem like a huge deal, right? I suppose it’s not, and that’s precisely the point. Pansolin didn’t need to plug the Vista Chino release. He gains nothing by having done so, but instead of ignoring it or just having an album review in with the bevvy of others, he calls it, “a key event for any heavy-psych head who kept following this genre for 20 years.” He’s absolutely right. It was a huge question mark as to whether or not John Garcia and Brant Bjork would be able to pull off a return to the desert rock spirit of Kyuss with that record, but that he’d come out of nowhere like that and bring it up, it lets you know how important he really feels marking the “event” is, how much it means to him personally.
Especially from a self-made ‘zine, that kind of human passion is ridiculously admirable, because the issue itself — all Vincebus Eruptum‘s issues, really — stand 100 percent in testament as the realization of it. They are that passion made product. It’s something I strive for with this site and do so precisely because I admire it so much in people like Pansolin, in Walter Roadburn, in my wife, in Scott Small Stone, and so many others. Every time I get to read a new batch of reviews from Pansolin and his crew, it makes me want to listen to music, to buy new albums and hear new things, expose myself to something I haven’t heard before.
And this time, particularly in the reviews section, amid a tapestry of European acts — of course Italy is well represented as always, with Black Rainbows, Blizzard of Lizard, Doomraiser, Giobia and others, including plenty from Go Down Records — it’s encouraging to see a number of American bands, whether it’s The Freeks, Dali’s Llama, Geezer, Luder or Naam. Could it be that American heavy psych is gaining recognition in the European scene?
I’m always glad to check out the next issue of Vincebus Eruptumand I look forward to digging deeper into these interviews and reviews, but at this point, the ‘zine itself is just a part of what they do. Vincebus Eruptum Recordings has a number of limited vinyl releases in the works from the likes of Sendelica (who are also reviewed in this issue), Da Captain Trips and the The Grand Astoria offshoot, Organic is Orgasmic, and more in the works.
The bottom line is the same, though, whether it’s the mag itself or the label, and it’s that Vincebus Eruptumis an enterprise fueled by love of music and love of heavy psych particularly, and it continues to set a standard worthy of aspiration.
Blizzard of Lizard, “The Rage Blooms in My Soul” from Blizzard of Lizard (2013)
I won’t pretend to have a grasp on the catalog or progression of Italian doom master Paul Chain (né and now performing under Paolo Catena), and frankly I think most who do are full of shit. From 1977-2003, however, Chain contributed a few pivotal works that continue to find relevance today — his 1991 outing, Whited Sepulchres, was reissued this year by Svart — and from ’77 to ’84, he played guitar in Death SS in their earliest incarnation. His output with that band was culled together in 1987 for the compilation The Story of Death SS 1977-1984, and released on the Italian imprint Minotauro Records (also reissued by Svart in 2013, as it happens), and sounds of its era, but is definitely worth tracking down. Chain‘s subsequent work in Paul Chain Violet Theatre and under his own moniker gets more and more varied and experimental as it goes on, but even the first EP, Detaching from Satan, was ahead of its time. If it came out today, it would be called groundbreaking.
After having an “artistic death” and subsequent rebirth as Paolo Catena in 2003, Chain‘s career under that name was wrapped up in 2004 with two compilations, both of unreleased material. By their nature, they’re uneven — from what I’ve heard of them, there are a few gems and some stuff that was unreleased for a reason; pretty typical — but two of the tracks on Unreleased Vol. 2were demos featuring Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Both “Bloodwing” (previously featured on Wino Wednesday here) and “Nibiru Dawn” are notable not just for the Weinrich collaboration, but also because they’re among the few Paul Chain songs to feature lyrics, as opposed to the phonetic syllables Chain used for vocals throughout his career.
More even than “Bloodwing,” “Nibiru Dawn” shows the kind of potential a Wino/Chain partnership might’ve had, Weinrich‘s voice soaring over Chain‘s atmospheric organ work, resting in the groove of a classically doomed verse riff on the way to a lead-topped chorus. Of course, it wasn’t to be or it certainly would’ve been by now, more than a decade later, but the song holds up and makes a great curio for anyone unfamiliar with Chain‘s output or who maybe wasn’t aware these two had ever teamed up. For anyone interested, Catena released a textured and experimental album, Quadri Musicale, last year on New Light Records.