Posted in audiObelisk on June 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some records just make you feel dirty, and Italian sludge trio Grime are nothing if not aptly named. The Trieste three-piece are preparing to release their debut LP, Deteriorate, on Forcefield Records and Mordgrimm Records, and it’s an album of unrelenting viciousness, plodding out 40 minutes of searing nastiness that makes stylistic kin of Iron Monkey and Grief without losing sight entirely of the EyeHateGod swagger in its slower movements. Come to think of it, even the fast parts here are pretty slow.
If you want to get some clue as to Grime‘s perspective, take a look at the first two song titles: “Burning Down the Cross,” “Pouring out the Hatred.” The two actions could more or less stand as an analogy for the sonic approach on Deteriorate, the lung-filling mud of which gives no letup across the album’s course. Set to be issued on LP via Forcefield and CD through Mordgrimm, the record makes a show of its disdain, seething contempt running in the suitably hopeless “Giving Up” and the blistering “Pills.” The steadily declining riffs of Marco lead the way for his throat-ripping screams to follow, and drummer Chris and bassist Paulo lock in grooving drudgery befitting the sludgy, hate-fueled atmosphere.
This is demonstrated best, perhaps, on the closer “Idiot God,” which makes its bones on an ultra-simple riff and stomp, Chris adding a few extra snare hits here and there but otherwise no flourish whatsoever, so that even as the song picks up at the end, there’s no discernible shift from the onslaught, and Grime remain as heavy and extreme as ever as the album marches out on more screams and feedback-soaked riffing. True to the graphic nature of the Deteriorate cover art, Grime are an aural evisceration, and though it should go without saying at this point, not at all for the faint of heart.
Heads will roll, mellows will be harshed. Behold Deterioratein full:
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Grime‘s Deteriorate is coming soon on Mordgrimm Records and Forcefield Records. In addition to the CD release, the 180 gram vinyl will include a limited run of red and purple. More info and pre-orders below:
Posted in audiObelisk on April 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a proposition that has beguiled scientists for decades now, but Italian stoner metallers Isaak have finally aligned the proportion data and determined that The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound. So proud was the Genoa foursome of this discovery that they took their central theorem as the title of their 2012 record. The band, who went by the name Gandhi’s Gunn at the time, released their debut full-length, Thirtyyeahs(semi-review here), in 2010.
Needless to say, the reverberations through the scientific community since Isaak‘s discovery have been rippling outward ever since. Word reached the ears of Small Stone Records, who added the band — vocalist Giacomo H Boeddu, guitarist Francesco Raimondi, bassist Massimo Perasso and drummer Andrea Tabbì De Bernardi — to its ever-increasing roster of European heavy rockers, so that their riffy, burly jams might enlighten others to the complex mathematics within the driving grooves of “Breaking Balance,” the moody ’90s stomp of “Flood,” or the final resonant psychedelic proof of the 10-minute closer “Hypothesis,” on which Isaak add further distinction via balancing sitar lines and massive, modern riffery.
This new version of The Longer the Beard the Harder the Soundis set for a June release and includes four bonus tracks: The Pink Floyd cover “Fearless,” the Iron Maiden cover “Wrathchild,” and two more originals, “The Right Time” and “Isolation 2.0.” You’ll find those as well as the rest of the original album ready for consumption on the player following. Please enjoy.
Full stream ahead:
Isaak, The Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound
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Small Stone will release Isaak‘s The Longer the Beard the Harder the Soundthis summer. More info at the links below.
Posted in Reviews on February 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Within the first five of its total 79 minutes, Insider’s Vibrations from the Tapes has let you know what it’s all about. The Italian instrumental trio – founded by brothers Marco Ranalli (guitar) and Piero Ranalli (bass) in 1991, though in a much different musical form – are all about the jams. The Phonosphera limited-to-200 jewel case CD pressing is comprised of five tracks, and apart from the second, “Killing Boredom” (3:08), none of them are under 12 minutes long. The penultimate “First Steps” solos and echoes its way past the 27-minute mark, and before opener “Your Brainticket” (22:33) is over, Insider have made direct musical references to Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix – probably others as well – so really, it’s not like the band are shooting for subtlety in letting listeners know what they’re up to. It’s the jam, and Insider – rounded out by drummer Stefano Di Rito and mastered by Void Generator’s Gianmarco Iantaffi – hone in on it pretty well. Or at least they did, since Vibrations from the Tapes was put to its titular tape in 2007.
The band tracked these songs live in their rehearsal space and if you told me they were making a decent portion of the music up on the spot, I’d believe you, since even if some of the parts are plotted out beforehand, there’s a natural spontaneity that arises from Marco’s range of effects and Stefano’s drum changes that shines through each of these tracks. That leaves Piero as the anchoring element, and he proves more than capable in the role, sticking more or less in the vicinity of a single bassline for most of “Your Brainticket” and all of the aforementioned shortest jam “Killing Boredom” while Marco and Stefano enact and punctuate, respectively, a heavy psychedelic swirl around him. Since a portion of the European scene has been centered around this kind of jamming – if not as the actual substance of their releases (apart from Electric Moon and a handful of others), then at least as the foundation from which songs are then built – one might say Insider were ahead of the game six years ago when they dealt out these Vibrations, but rehearsal space jamming is ultimately nothing new and as hypnotic as these tracks are once the band really gets going, they never seems to be making any claim at groundbreaking originality, as the nods to “War Pigs” and “Voodoo Child” toward the end of “Your Brainticket” would seem to indicate.
Rather, what Insider seem intent on capturing with Vibrations from the Tapes is simply what the title tells you: The vibes, presented as organically as possible. If you want to put a grander sensibility to it, you might say they’re attempting to capture the natural spirit of creation in process, the very roots of where music, pop-structured or otherwise, comes from, but while on some level that’s true, it also seems a bit lofty for the presentation through which Insider hold forth this material. Even with the let’s-go-further-out centerpiece “Raga in the Sky,” on which Marco’s guitar takes to suitable Eastern scales for leads echoing atop consistent bass from Piero, Insider don’t seem to be wrapped up in themselves so much as they’re wrapped up in the music. Not that this kind of project isn’t inherently self-indulgent – because it is, and make no mistake – it’s just that with Piero running a simple thread under Marco’s lines while Stefano’s drums thud out far back on the two mics the band used to record themselves, it hardly seems like they’re trying to put on a clinic or be showy in any way. It is utterly structureless – though builds rise up and fall down periodically, as on “Raga in the Sky” – and its modus seems to wander as presented throughout even the shortest of these cuts, Insider did right in going raw with the recording, and ultimately, Vibrations from the Tapes has a much easier time living up to what the band decided to call it because they don’t spend any time pretending it’s something more than that. You get, like mom used to say, what you get.
Posted in Reviews on January 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
My experience with Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptumis usually the same each issue. It arrives in the mail sometime after I see the awesome-looking cover online, I open it up, flip through, and immediately find like 15 records I want to buy. I’m not sure how many times I’ve said it, but as a fan of European heavy psych and of heavy rock in general, Vincebus Eruptumis an indispensable resource.
This time around, with issue #14, my interest was piqued by records from Tons, Electric Swan and a debut 7″ from Friendship, and interviews with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Orchid, Doomraiser, Witchcraft and Naam made for good reads, while the examination of cult folkers Black Widow‘s legacy and the special look at the Italian scene in listing bands, labels, promoters and venues was educational in that made-me-want-to-go-to-Italy kind of way. A lot of things are educational like that.
Editor Davidew and his crew are unparalleled in their support for Italian heavy, so the lists of bands/labels/etc. wasn’t necessarily out of place, but still appreciated. A Q&A with Roma drunkards Doomraiser was also killer, and when it comes to the reviews, the latest from labels like Rise Above and Small Stone were represented along with Heavy Psych Sounds, Bloodrock Records and Electric Magic. Since some of the stuff in there I’ve already reviewed, it was great to get another take, and for albums pending on my list like Mother of God and House of Aquarius, cool to see what someone else thought even as I form my own opinions.
I continue to respect the hell out of Vincebus Eruptum, for bring a print mag in a digital world, yeah, but more for just being generally awesome. Their output is of reliable quality and they know their subject matter better than almost anyone on the planet, and really my only hope is that they keep it up into perpetuity. A strong allegiance to the Euro (specifically the Italian) psychedelic rock scene and the likes of Go Down Records places them at the forefront of their stated sphere. Limited copies of the latest issue include a compilation CD with tracks from Insider, Perizona Grass, Epstein Superflu and others as well as an exclusive poster. You can’t lose.
Sometimes you want a bit of unabashed weirdness, and fortunately that’s what Italian post-metallers Varego have on offer with their new video for the track “Soul to Devour” from their self-released debut LP, Tvmvltvm. And I don’t just mean weird, I mean like claymation weird, which is a whole other continent on the weirdness map. In “Soul to Devour” we see a sort of robed-mystic/Jesus guy contend with bugs, doll parts and life on what appears to be the red planet. Apparently it’s the first in a series. I can dig it. Album info follows the clip below.
The Post Metal/Sludge band VAREGO releases their first official videoclip. The song “Soul to Devour” is taken from the full-length TVMVLTVM, out during 2012 by Argonauta Records. The album, which has been highly acclaimed by many relevant channels, is a mystical/esoteric concept that will have its continuity in the next works of the band. The videoclip “Soul to Devour”, released by www.sfiammaproduction.com, features some of the main events and characters of a long odyssey through Earth and Cosmos.
Varego is the name of an entity formed by five musicians, veterans of the underground music circuit. Born in 2009 with a sound briefly compared to various Post Metal genres, the band worked with the producer Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Melvins, EyeHateGod, among many others) for the debut album made of ten songs. The work is a strong mix of “Sludge” sonorities, for a final result featuring epic and progressive elements. “TVMVLTVM” (this is the title of the album) is a first part of a concept with mystical/esoteric themes and it’s released by the label managed by band members and named Argonauta Records.
Similar to my thinking in going to the Six Organs of Admittance show last Friday, it seemed to me that if I’m going to be living up that way in the next year, I better get used to buying records in Boston. I’d been to Armageddon Shop there before, and I’ve visited the Providence store as well, but a return trip seemed warranted and The Patient Mrs. gave the all-clear, so off to Harvard Square we went.
Like a lot of places, Armageddon seems to be phasing out CDs in favor of donating the room to vinyl, which at this point I can’t even argue with. New records are coming out only on LP and CDs have lost preference to either end of the extreme — i.e. vinyl or digital, or both. Even as someone who would still rather have a CD than a record, I can understand the appeal. So it makes sense. It’s good business. And in the meantime, they still have a whole wall and then some dedicated to mostly used compact discs and I was happy to peruse the space once again while the crew put on the flute-laden tones of the last Blood Ceremony full-length.
I wound up with two discs for my effort, not really on the cheap but not exactly off it either. For $9.99, I got Black Spirit‘s Black Spiritand for $6.99, Endless Skies by Ashbury. The former is an Italian band and an album I posted about earlier this year, full of post-kraut progressive indulgences but not really off-putting or lacking unifying melody. The latter — and I’ll say this honestly — I bought because the art was badass. I looked at the wizard holding up his hand to gather the clouds about the village below, saw that it was a Vintage/Rockadrome reissue and decided there was no way to lose. A safe bet I was comfortable making.
Of the two, Black Spirit‘s album is the older. It came out in 1978, was their only release, and even this Ohrwaschl version is light on info. You get the lineup and the tracklist (inside the liner in what looks like a direct replica of the vinyl sleeve) and that’s pretty much it. The cover art — also righteous, but in a different way than Ashbury – appears twice, on the jewel case and the outside panels of the liner notes, and even under the CD tray as well, not to mention on the CD itself. It’s a lot of purple to live up to, but the music on the album’s five tracks gets driven home with a bluesy feel and some lightly accented vocals, and 12-minute closer “Old Times” is high-grade classic heavy rock that maybe could’ve come out five or six years earlier and been a hit, but I guess was a little behind the times for ’78.
Same applies to Ashbury, come to think of it, except with the Arizona duo they’re playing a kind of proto-metal that, by the time Endless Skieswas released in 1983, the genre had moved past. “Vengeance” has a kind of metal-ness to its riff, but a song like “Take Your Love Away” is more Blue Öyster Cult than Judas Priest. Nothing against it, since the guitar playing is ace, the tracks groove and the whole thing has a vibe worthy of its wizard cover, and considering the side-of-the-van-worthiness of that wizard, that’s saying something. To imagine though that the mid-’70s arena melodies of “Madman” came out the same year as the first Slayer record makes it even more fascinating. In any case, I lucked out.
It wasn’t the biggest haul I’ve ever pulled in, not the stack of discs I sometimes come away with, but for the quality of what I got, I’d hardly call it a loss. Two albums that happen to share in being out of place for what they were doing at the time, the math actually works out pretty well. There was never any doubt, but I’m more or less certain that whenever I end up living there, it won’t be the end of my record buying habit. Good to know. If you’re so inclined, check out Armageddon Shop’s website here.
Posted in Reviews on October 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I am constantly working at a deficit. Financially, yes, because like many of my countrymen I’m am tens of thousands of dollars in debt — but also in terms of reviews. I’malwaysbehind on reviews. Hell, it was into July of this year before I finally put the kybosh on writing up anything from 2011, and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t put my foot down on it, I’d still have year-old albums going up or older. My to-do list grows like a witchcult.
It’s not something to complain about and I’m not complaining. I’m stoked people give enough of a shit to send their CDs in to be reviewed — especially those who actually send CDs — and it’s for that reason that I do this second reviewsplosion (first one here).
Yeah, as ever, I’m behind on reviews, but I’m also working on being more concise — I swear I am; check out the At a Glance reviews if you don’t believe me — and one of the things I liked so much about the last reviewsplosion was it forced me to get to the fucking point. As direct a line as possible to a review. Boiling the idea down to its essential core.
With that in mind, here’s my attempt to both balance my review budget and be as clear as humanly possible. Hope you dig:
Altar of Oblivion, Grand Gesture of Defiance
The subject of some spirited debate on the forum, the second record from Danish five-piece Altar of Oblivion revels in traditional doom methods. There’s an air of pomp in some of the songs — “Graveyard of Broken Dreams” lays it on a little thick — but by and large, Grand Gesture of Defiance(Shadow Kingdom) is a more than solid showing of genre. Classic underground metal flourishes abound, and while it’s not a record to change your life, at six tracks/34 minutes, neither does it hang around long enough to be overly repetitive. You could do way worse. Altar of Oblivion on Thee Facebooks.
Blooming Látigo, Esfínteres y Faquires
Primarily? Weird. The Spanish outfiit Blooming Látigo make their debut on Féretro Records (CD) and Trips und Träume (LP) with the all-the-fuck-over-the-place Esfínteres y Faquires, alternately grinding out post-hardcore and reciting Birthday Party-style poetry. They reach pretty hard to get to “experimental,” maybe harder than they need to, but the on-a-dime stops and high-pitched screams on tracks like “Onania” and “Prisciliano” are well beyond fascinating, and the blown-out ending of “La Destrucción del Aura” is fittingly apocalyptic. Who gave the art-school kids tube amps? Blooming Látigo on Bandcamp.
Five years since their second offering, Green Magic, left such a strong impression, Italian stoner rock trio El-Thule return with Zenit (Go Down Records), which makes up for lost time with 50 minutes of heavy riffs, fuzzy desert grooves and sharp, progressive rhythms. The band — El Comandante (bass), Mr. Action (guitar/vocals) and Gweedo Weedo (drums/vocals) — may have taken their time in getting it together, but there’s little about Zenit that lags, be it the faster, thrashier “Nemesis” or thicker, Torche-esque melodic push of the highlight “Quaoar.” It’s raw, production-wise, but I hope it’s not another half-decade before El-Thule follow it up. El-Thule on Thee Facebooks.
Botanist, III: Doom in Bloom
It’s a nature-worshiping post-black metal exploration of what the History Channel has given the catchy title “life after people.” If you’ve ever wondered what blastbeats might sound like on a dulcimer, Botanist‘s third album, III: Doom in Bloom has the answers you seek, caking its purported hatred of human kind in such creative instrumentation and lyrics reverent of the natural world rather than explicitly misanthropic. The CD (on Total Rust) comes packaged with a second disc called Allies, featuring the likes of Lotus Thief and Matrushka and giving the whole release a manifesto-type feel, which suits it well. Vehemently creative, it inadvertently taps into some of the best aspects of our species. Botanist’s website.
Say what you will about whiteboys and the blues, the bass tone that starts “Nobody Get Me Down” is unfuckwithable. And Seattle trio GravelRoad come by it pretty honestly, having served for years as the backing back for bluesman T-Model Ford. The album Psychedelta (on Knick Knack Records) jams out on its start-stop fuzz in a way that reminds not so much of Clutch but of the soul and funk records that inspired Clutch in the first place, and though it never gets quite as frenetic in its energy as Radio Moscow, there’s some of that same vibe persisting through “Keep on Movin’” or their Junior Kimbrough cover “Leave Her Alone.” Throaty vocals sound like a put-on, but if they can nail down that balance, GravelRoad‘s psychedelic blues has some real potential in its open spaces. GravelRoad on Thee Facebooks.
The Linus Pauling Quartet, Bag of Hammers
Texas toast. The Linus Pauling Quartet offer crisp sunbursts of psychedelic heavy rock, and after nearly 20 years and eight full-lengths, that shouldn’t exactly be as much of a surprise as it is. Nonetheless, Bag of Hammers(Homeskool Records) proffers a 41-minute collection of heady ’90s-loving-the-’70s tones while venturing into classic space rock on “Victory Gin” and ballsy riffing on “Saving Throw.” Being my first experience with the band, the album is a refreshing listen and unpretentious to its very core. Eight-minute culminating jam “Stonebringer” is as engaging a display of American stoner rock as I’ve heard this year, and I have to wonder why it took eight records before I finally heard this five-man quartet? Hits like its title. LP4′s website.
Odyssey, Abysmal Despair
It’s the damnedest thing, but listening to Abysmal Despair, the Transubstans Records debut from Swedish prog sludge/noise rockers Odyssey, I can’t help but think of Long Island’s own John Wilkes Booth. It’s the vocals, and I know that’s a really specific association most people aren’t going to have, but I do, and I can’t quite get past it. The album is varied, progressive, and working in a variety of modern underground heavy contexts nowhere near as foreboding as the album’s title might imply, like Truckfighters meets Entombed, but I just keep hearing JWB‘sKerry Merkle through his megaphone. Note: that’s not a bad thing, just oddly indicative of the greater sphere of worldwide sonic coincidence in which we all exist. If anything, that just makes me like Abysmal Despair more. Odyssey on Soundcloud.
Palkoski, 2012 Demo
Conceptual Virginian free-formers Palkoski released the three-track/67-minute 2012 demo earlier this year through Heavy Hound. Most of it sounds improvised, but for verses here and there that emerge from the various stretches, and the band’s alternately grinding and sparse soundscapery results in an unsettling mash of psychotic extremity. It is, at times, painful to listen, but like some lost tribal recording, it’s also utterly free. Limited to 100 CDs with a second track called “The Shittiest EP Ever” and a third that’s a sampling of Palkoski‘s ultra-abrasive noise experimentation live, this one is easily not for the faint of heart. Still, there’s something alluring in the challenge it poses. Palkoski at Heavy Hound.
Radar Men from the Moon, Echo Forever
Following their charming 2011 EP, Intergalactic Dada and Space Trombones, the Eindhoven instrumental trio Radar Men from the Moon (On the Radar’ed here) return on the relative quick with a 51-minute full-length, Echo Forever. More progressive in its jams, the album’s psychedelic sprawl shows the band developing — I hesitate to compare them to 35007 just because they happen to be Dutch, but the running bassline that underscores “Atomic Mother” is a tempter — but there’s still an immediacy behind their changes that keeps them from really belonging to the laid-back sphere of European jam-minded heavy psychedelia. They’re getting warmer though, stylistically and tonally, and I like that. Interesting to hear a song like “Heading for the Void” and think Sungrazer might be burgeoning as an influence. Cool jams for the converted. Radar Men from the Moon on Bandcamp.
Sound of Ground, Sky Colored Green
There are elements of of Yawning Man, or Unida or other acts in the Californian desert milieu, but basically, Moscow’s Sound of Ground sound like Kyuss. They know it. Their R.A.I.G. debut full-length, Sky Colored Green, makes no attempt to hide it, whether it’s the “Green Machine” riffing of “Lips of the Ocean” or the speedier Slo-Burnery of “El Caco,” though the metallic screaming on “R.H.S.” is a dead giveaway for the band’s youth, coming off more like early Down than anything Josh Homme ever plugged in to play. While not necessarily original, the trio are firm in their convictions, and Sound of Ground tear through these 11 tracks with engaging abandon. The Russian scene continues to intrigue. Sound of Ground on Thee Facebooks.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I guess when you get on a roll, you get on a roll. Small Stone, who’ve already signed a buttload-and-a-half of bands this year including Asteroid, Deville, Larman Clamor and Lord Fowl, continues its worldwide scour for the best in heavy rock, this time stumbling on Italian rockers Gandhi’s Gunn. Having just switched their name to Isaak, the four-piece (previously On the Radar-ized here) issued The Longer the Beard, The Harder the Soundearlier in 2012 and will make their label debut next year, with US touring reportedly to follow.
Congrats to the band and kudos to the label on its continued expansion. Get yourself informed:
ISAAK & SMALL STONE RECORDS: A NEW ERA
“The Newer the Name, the Cooler the Label”
Gandhi’s Gunn change their name and become ISAAK.
It’s a new course, full of important choices starting with a very great news: a two-album WORLDWIDE contract with an American label.
Scott Hamilton, founder and owner of Small Stone Records, the undisputed leader of worldwide stoner scene (responsible for the release of many albums by authentic icons as Acid King, Dozer, Los Natas, Sons of Otis, Solace, Might Could, Wo Fat, Five Horse Johnson, Skanska Mord and Dixie Witch among others), was enthusiastic about the project and sound of ex-Gandhi’s Gunn and wanted the Genoese band in its roster.
“We are very proud to become part of the Small Stone family” the Ligurian band members say. “This label doesn’t need any introduction and will surely provide us a worldwide visibility” continues the band “and this can only be the best possible start for a project that will give us huge satisfaction, for sure. We are proud of our hard work and progress so far. We are so pleased to have achieved such an important record recognition”.
ISAAK have signed a contract that will provide for the remastered reissue of “The Longer The Beard, The Harder The Sound” including some unreleased bonus tracks, and a new full length planned for the end of 2013. “We’re going to be able to announce our first European tour supporting an important American band” the members of ex-Gandhi’s Gunn also reveal “and we’re also planning our first U.S. tour during 2013 under the aegis of Small Stone. In the meanwhile we’ve started writing the songs for our new album, that will hopefully be considered a starting point for a new era in our history.. so, after celebrating the record deal, the time has come to give life to ISAAK, a band born to win a place of honor in the Heavy Rock world.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
You’ll note I didn’t tag this as part of the UK special, because the Republic of Ireland isn’t in the United Kingdom. Kind of a touchy subject, historically. Doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a bit of doom, however, as the Mother Fuzzers Ball demonstrates. Italian sludger Blood Red Water — who released the Tales of Addiction and Despair EP earlier this year (review here) — will take part in the festivities alongside the likes of Electric Taurus and Triggerman, among others. They sent along the following word, and I went ahead and grabbed a couple flyers:
Blood Red Water will join the Mother Fuzzers Ball for two concerts in Dublin this November
These will be our first dates ever out of Italy and we are proud to play our sludgy music with bands such as Electric Taurus, Triggerman, Chocolate Love Factory…and more!
Posted in Reviews on September 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
At six tracks/33 minutes, Blood is Love has all the flow between its songs that one could ask of a full-length, but it is nonetheless the darker second in a trilogy of EPs from Italian stoner rockers Ivy Garden of the Desert. That they’re heavily indebted to the Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age/Desert Sessions sphere of heavy shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – they had much the same influence on the prior Docile EP (review here), also released by Nasoni, and they do have “desert” in their name – but the Montebelluna three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Diego, bassist Paolo and drummer Andrea set their own mood within that scope, not really veering too far from what one might expect, but keeping a humble kind of individuality in the tracks. That proves increasingly true the closer they get to the finale, “Glicine,” but even with the more active beginning that “Viscera” – would it be too much to call it “gutsy?” – provides, they remain melodically aware. In that, Blood is Love is consistent with Docile, though the latest is perhaps even more cohesive in terms of style. There’s an element of the brooding in Diego’s singing, his accent adding to it as the lyrics are in English, and that fits the laid-back grooving in the riffs as well, though the separation in the mix between guitar, bass and drums is prevalent, and though the EP ends with a sample of a tape spinning out, it sounds much more like a digital recording. Whether it is or not, I don’t know – information is sparse – but that’s how it sounds to my ears, anyway, with a decent amount of compression on Andrea’s kit and the guitars and bass alike. The mix was my chief issue last time around, with Diego’s vocals high and cutting through, and to an extent that remains true with Blood is Love, but the instruments stand up to the singing, whether it’s the Songs for the Deaf-style speed riffing of the opener or the punchy bass of “A Golden Rod for This Virgin,” the second track which seems to have long ago passed the “Welcome to Sky Valley” highway sign.
Without lyrics or some general statement of intent beyond the basic knowledge that Ivy Garden of the Desert are working on a trilogy of which Blood is Love is the middle, more aggressive piece, it’s hard to say what exactly it is tying the releases together beyond the basic aesthetic and desert atmosphere, but if that’s it, at least there’s plenty to work with. They’re obviously aware of the genre they’re working in, and where much of the European heavy psych and stoner scene seems to be pushing toward tonally warm jamming, Ivy Garden of the Desert never feel out of control in these tracks, even as the cyclical tom work and start-stop riffing of “A Golden Rod for this Virgin” gives way to its building second half. There’s an open feeling in the tonality, but the songs remain structured, even if it’s just one part into the next. It flows. The songs within themselves flow and the tracks each into the other, though again, if they were written to purposefully serve some overarching whole, I don’t know. It does make the EP an easier listen that it otherwise might be, though. The instrumental “Weasel in Poultry Skin” continues the desert-minded push of the first two cuts, working in some vague Helmet influence both in its intro and later start-stop moments while also avoiding any vocal mix issues, but even here, Blood is Love offers little clue as to what it’s about. They remain aligned to genre, but push the line somewhat with “Ghost Station,” furthering the start-stop guitar that’s been present all along to the absolute fore, both Andrea and Paolo joining Diego in mutes and thuds. The song introduces itself with a jangly guitar, and that comes in again at the end with a more active bassline, but the crux of it is a series of single hits that don’t seem to develop a dynamic build, staying on a kind of repetitive plateau that, coupled with Diego’s moody, bottom-of-the-mouth vocals, begins quickly to smack of nü-metal. One might also point to that as a post-Helmet facet of the band’s sound, but it’s the melody that makes the difference. It sounded like nü-metal when Page Hamilton started singing too.
I’m not sure how much there is left to say about the magnitude of the work Italian space doom trio Ufomammut has done. The sense I get now in listening to the two full-length albums that comprise the whole of Oro, their Neurot Recordings debut, is that they’ll probably have another record out before this one is fully comprehended. One might have said the same thing about 2010′s Eve as well, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Broken into the two parts Oro – Opus Primum(review here) and Oro – Opus Alter(review here), Ufomammut‘s latest outing has them continuing to plunder the reaches of tonal space. Their sounds are far-out psychedelic even as they seem to bear a tectonic crunch, like plates moving continents. Bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Urlo, guitarist/keyboardist Poia and drummer Vita have persistent as a set trio since 1999, and have never failed to outdo their prior work on the subsequent outing.
The strata that’s put them into, however, is entirely their own. Eve– which was preceded by 2008′s Idolum, also one of that year’s best — was one long composition broken into individual pieces. Orois one album broken into two releases. Do you see where this is going? In a few years, Ufomammut will be issuing 10LP box sets each time out. Maybe not, but what matters most of all is that as the scale of their work has expanded, so has their creative scope, and Orois the most vibrant Ufomammut release to date. One would have to expect no less.
I waited to interview the band until Oro – Opus Alterwas released so that the full project could be discussed, and today I have the sincere pleasure of hosting both that Q&A and a video premiere for Ufomammut‘s self-made clip for the track “Sulphurdew.” Similar to how opening track “Empireum” from Oro – Opus Primum made its way to the public, “Sulphurdew” arrives as a YouTube clip constructed by the Malleus Rock Art Lab, of which Urlo — who fielded these questions — and Poia are a part.
You’ll find both the “Sulphurdew” video and the complete Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Reviews on August 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Earlier this year, Italian space doom trio Ufomammut favored the world with the first half of their Neurot Recordings debut. Oro – Opus Primum (review here) remains a stunning achievement in an increasingly long string of them. 2010’s Eve (review here) was one of that year’s best, and 2008’s Idolum, 2005’s Lucifer Songs and 2004’s Snailking were resounding triumphs as well. Even their first album, 2000’s Godlike Snake (reissued in 2006) impressed in its scope, as did their 2007 collaboration with Lento, and like the universe their sound threatens to encompass at nearly every turn, Ufomammut seem on a course of endless expansion. The second half of Oro, appropriately dubbed Opus Alter, completes the two-part cycle and underscores how right it was for the band to break up the release in the first place. Taken as a whole, the two albums total 10 tracks and 94 minutes of overwhelming tonality, far-off echoing vocals and crushing psychedelic grooves. Oro is an astounding achievement from one of the most pivotal doom acts going. Make no mistake, its every thunderous moment rattles the ground on which it stands, but metaphorically and – if you turn the volume up loud enough to really let bassist Urlo’s low end shine through – literally. But released with Opus Primum and Opus Alter together as the double-album Oro, it might also have simply been too much. Instead, Opus Alter, which is about nine minutes shorter, is a fitting complement to its predecessor, and one that both affirms the ongoing growth of the band as that album presented it and continues to hint at further progression to come. Ufomammut did it right – two remarkable halves of a larger tracklist released in installments so that not a moment seems wasted and their listeners can fully appreciate what they’re doing. No single member of the band, be it Urlo, guitarist Poia or drummer Vita, is really doing anything so different on Opus Alter than they were on Opus Primum – it’s just that now the album has a second half.
It’s a strong one. Urlo and Poia provide prominent keys and synth work even before the doomed sub-shuffle of the instrumental “Oroborus” (one day I’m going to make a list of all the metal songs about ouroboros and the various spellings they use; perhaps this one is a pun on the album’s title) takes full hold, but once it does, there’s no doubt who you’re listening to. The song gets heavy twice. At 2:11, guitars kick in and it seems like the build established is hitting its peak, but then 30 seconds later, the bottom drops out on the low end and Oro – Opus Alter has truly begun. Ufomammut affect a landmark heavy psych build, and for a few minutes it seems like the song is going to live up to its name, just devour itself until there’s nothing left but the various swirls and noises that have come to be such a huge part of Ufomammut’s encompassing ambience, but a little before five minutes into the song’s total 7:55, there’s a break and the bass leads to a faster riff and beyond, to devastatingly heavy plod that finds Vita half-timing it on the drums, his cymbals nonetheless ringing clear the band’s crushing intent. They are so. Fucking. Heavy. The chugging guitar crashes cold, but noise fills out the break between “Oroborus and the subsequent “Luxon,” which – like all the tracks on Opus Alter safe for closer “Deityrant” – also starts quietly, gradually unfolding from its ambience. Deep, slow guitar chords announce “Luxon”’s stomp, and vocals are murky, far off and, to start, indecipherable, but like a distant chorus, they make themselves known anyway before at 1:45, the full breadth of the rumble kicks in and everything else plays off of that. Vocals remain obscure, as is Ufomammut’s wont, but come to the fore over a blissfully stoner groove led by Urlo’s swaying bassline and rounded out by Poia’s own low end. Of the material here, the opening of “Luxon” is among the most effective, though, and its development of parts isn’t exactly linear as opposed to one-into-the-next, but its flow is unquestionable, and there isn’t a turn Ufomammut present that seems out of place or confusing. That holds true as well going into the 12:19 centerpiece, “Sulphurdew,” which gets underway with a churning guitar figure filled out by synth noise and a steady beat from Vita until they reach the next plateau of their build. There are marked changes – another layer of guitar here, crash cymbals introduced here – but they occur in a steady progression of measures, almost so that you expect something to come without knowing exactly what.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
One of the most anticipated records still to come before the end of 2012, the second installment of Ufomammut’s Oro – Opus Alter is beginning to take shape. Check out the cover art for the album and PR wire info below:
Ufomammut unleash second teaser, reveal artwork, tracklisting and announce more tour dates in support of ORO: Opus Alter
Having previously announcing the arrival of the second installment of ORO – Opus Alter, which is to be released on 17 September on Neurot Recordings, we can now proudly unveil the delectable cover art for this next chapter brought to you once again by the unstoppable force that is the Malleus art collective…
We can also reveal the full tracklisting for this release which is as follows:
As with all previous Ufomammut albums, the concepts behind ORO are expansive and multi-faceted, mutating the Italian palindrome which translates to “gold” with the Latin translation of “I prey.” ORO explores the concept of knowledge and its power; the magical stream controlled by the human mind to gain control of every single particle of the world surrounding us. ORO is the alchemical process to transform the human fears into pure essence; into Gold. Although ORO‘s two chapters will be released months apart from each other, they must be considered as a single track in which the musical themes and the sounds appear and reappear, mutate and evolve, progressively culminating in the crushing final movement. ORO is an alchemic laboratory in which substances are flowing, dividing and blending themselves in ten increments from the alembics and stills, culminating into the creation of Gold.
Opus Alter is going to fulfill and widen the perspective of the new work of Ufomammut. Starting where Opus Primum ended, Opus Alter evolves deeper into devastatingly powerful new territory, where chaos is metamorphosed by cacophonous sound, until the final notes resonate, knowledge is forged and Ufomammut strike gold.
Stay tuned for more details regarding the release and tour are announced. Meanwhile check out the following confirmed dates so far:
AUGUST 13. ITA . Musica W Festival – Castellina Marittima (PI)SEPTEMBER 01. ITA . Rock in Riot Festival – Martinengo (BG)OCTOBER 04. D – Leipzig, UT Connewitz 05. D – Berlin, Bi Nuu – TBC 06. SWE – Malmo – Krank 09. FI – Turku , Klubi 10. FI – Tampere, Klubi 11. FI – Helsinki, Kuudes Linja 13. NOR – Oslo, Betong 15. D – Kiel, Alte Meierei 16. D – Koln, Underground – TBC 17. NL – Tilburg, 013 18. B – Kortrijk, De Kreun 19. NL – Utrecht, Ekko 21. UK – Birmingham, Supersonic Festival 23. F – Paris, Glazart – TBC 24. F – Poitiers, Le Comforte Moderne 25. F – Bordeaux, Heretic club – TBC 27. P – Porto -Amplifest (Hard Club)
Posted in Reviews on July 31st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Lecce, in the south of Italy (on the “heel” of the boot), is known for exporting a specific kind of limestone. Called simply “lecce stone,” it’s a malleable type of rock and used for statues and other such sculptures. Similarly, the self-titled full-length debut from the four-piece outfit Dust Storm Warning, who call Leccehome, is a highly malleable kind of stone. The band, who release the album with gorgeous psychedelic gatefold digipak artwork on Acid Cosmonaut Records, set up a surprising variety as the 11 tracks on the record play out, staying well within the realm of Kyuss-inspired desert rock, but offering three instrumental jams to break up any monotony that might crop up from the surrounding straightforwardness. Those cuts are “Dune,” “Sherpa” and “Wasteland,” and they arrive at well-spaced intervals – the first after a raucous opening trio of tracks, the second following the eight-minute Colour Haze-meets-burl of “Lonely Coyote” and the last as the penultimate track following three more rockers and setting up the closer. A defining element in the sound of Dust Storm Warning – who began their career in 2010 as Dust Storm Watchers and released an EP under that name – is the vocal approach of standalone singer “Wolf” Lombardi, who relies largely on a gruff and gravelly, sub-blues stoner rock voice to match the grooves with basic melodies and rarely veers from his methods. Topping Marco Papadia’s riffs and the rhythms of bassist Stefano Butelli and drummer Fabio Zullino, it is a dudely, dudely sound he brings to the band.
And in a lot of places on the album, it absolutely works. As Papadia subtly thickens driving Colour Haze riffs on the building later cut “Rise,” Lombardi is as in the pocket as Butelli and Zullino, who both deliver engaging and capable performances throughout the 57-minute album. But on opener “Outrun” and elsewhere, he quickly displays the vocal quirk of adding extra syllables to the ends of words. It’s almost always a kind of snarl or “yip,” in the tradition of James Hetfield or Pepper Keenan’s burliest moments, or maybe even John Garcia on Blues for the Red Sun, but after a while, it’s a distraction from what the rest of the band is doing on “Outrun” and it pulls me out of the song, making for a troubled beginning. The head-down riff of “Space Cubeship” reminds me of what made the Borracho record such a grower, and finds Lombardi no less snarling, but a little deeper in the mix and better positioned for it, and if Dust Storm Warning haven’t yet made their case clear on Dust Storm Warning, a smoking/coughing/laughing sample begins “666.1.333” just to remind that, yes, you’re listening to a stoner rock record. That’s not a complaint. That kind of thing shows Dust Storm Warning have a sense of their listener’s fickle attentions and are willing to throw in flourishes to hold them. As they continue to progress, it can only make them better songwriters.
Not that “666.1.333” is lacking for songwriting as it is. One of the album’s most memorable and well balanced tracks, it feels less forced than some of the material here and does well in setting up “Dune” as the first instrumental piece. Papadia’s guitar features heavily there, as one might expect, and he leads the Butelli – who contributes effective complementary basslines – and Zullino – who peppers in cymbal washes – through just under eight minutes of gradually building early-Natas desert ambience. Almost immediately, I find myself wanting more of it, not just in the sense of “Sherpa” and the more psychedelically noisy “Wasteland” still to come, but in terms of Dust Storm Warning’s overall stylistic blend. “Why can’t they do this all the time?” In that way, “Lonely Coyote” is perfectly, almost eerily, placed, because it fulfills exactly that longing, bridging the heavy rock and more subdued psych elements in the band’s sound and bringing back Lombardi’s rough vocals that, to their credit, still give the music space to breathe where required. At eight minutes, “Lonely Coyote” is the longest cut on Dust Storm Warning and also the diving point between the first and second halves, time-wise, of the tracklisting, marking the record’s move past the half-hour mark. Fitting that it should ultimately be the best execution of the band’s total aesthetic, but that invariably is going to lead to some drag as side B plays out.
Posted in Reviews on May 15th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Deeply embroiled in the downer druggie haze of doomly sludge, Venice foursome Blood Red Water beat a slow march of victory in defeat on their debut EP, Tales of Addiction and Despair. Comprised of five self-released tracks that offer little by way of hope and much by way of riff, the EP is the band’s first and finds them plodding heavy-footed through lumbering grooves and a tonal morass of sludge, more weighted (in a metal sense) than a lot of the genre, but still clearly using that as its influence base, alongside a considerable dose of doom. Blood Red Water – whose lineup has already changed but who on Tales of Addiction and Despair were vocalist Michele, guitarist Volt, bassist Lorenzo (since replaced by second guitarist Dodi) and drummer Fiorica – meet squarely on “Considerations/Commiserations” with the Eyehategod comparison that comes with occupying even the smallest of spaces within sludge, but there’s a considerable Saint Vitus homage as well that starts off the release on opener “Ungod,” the central riff of which is almost a direct port of that band’s classic “Born too Late,” and that immediately communicates allegiances to more than just the American Southern tradition of pill-popping riffs and chaotic streams. Michele comes from the more extreme end of metal – grindcore, specifically – and his approach shows it, never losing its edge of aggression even in the cleaner-sung verses of centerpiece “Avoid the Relapse.” His screams are throaty but comfortable over the music, and one gets the sense that he’d be even more at home screaming all the time, which would be fine if Blood Red Water were grinding out, but these songs call for more breadth of approach. Still, this being the band’s first release, they’re still pretty clearly testing the ground for where they want to be sonically and getting their bearings as a creative unit. A debut EP is a good way to do that when you want a project to embark on a natural evolution.
That’s basically what Blood Red Water seem to be doing here. “Avoid the Relapse” veers into some more rocking territory, but the majority of Tales of Addiction and Despair finds the four-piece well in their sludgy element – even the Vitus-isms of “Ungod” are reworked into that context. I won’t speculate as to any of the band members’ personal experiences with either of the EP’s titular afflictions, but at very least the music sounds genuine in its nastiness, “Considerations/Commiserations” bouncing ideas off Sourvein and Acid Bath as Michele tries to work a moaning clean line in here and there. Volt’s guitar is suitably vicious on the three-minute track, taking a descending riff into a more chugging break about halfway through to give a touch of classic metal to what’s already not entirely sludge but not entirely anything else either. What ties all the material together is the aggression, and that never really subsides enough to be completely gone. Even “Avoid the Relapse” shifts to a guttural feel in its chorus. What might be straightforward stoner rock in another context remains metallic tonally in Volt’s riffing, and Lorenzo and Fiorica keep a grooving beat, but it’s not so much of a departure from metal as an adaptation of it. The fourth of the five tracks, “Modern Slave Blues,” begins with caustic feedback and a sample talking something about dopamine, once again covering some familiar territory made more individual when Michele’s vocals kick in on the post-Entombed straight-ahead rocking progression. Things get really interesting when the song cuts to a quiet break and has to rebuild itself, but a snare lead-in from Fiorica keeps the transitions smooth. The groove is viscous and repetitive, but that’s the point, and it’s a point Blood Red Water make well as they build the song to its apex and that of the EP.