Posted in Whathaveyou on January 8th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Who’s gonna argue with new Kadavar? Not me. The German heavy ’70s rock forerunners feature the new song “Into the Night” on the Scion A/V-sponsored Northwest Blow Out EP, curated by pro-skater Riley Hawk (also the son of Tony Hawk) and also boasting inclusions from The Black Angels, Hot Lunch and Loom. The track is fascinating both for its barnburner pace and how the trio, whose two albums to-date have already spread an influence throughout the Euro and American undergrounds, take a more modernized production approach. Very few in the retro style have managed to make a transition to a more updated aesthetic — I’d argue Witchcraft‘s Legend was a complete overhaul, rather than simple production shift — but if “Into the Night” is a glimpse at things to come from Kadavar, they might just be able to pull it off.
Mind you, I’ve zero confirmation that it is or isn’t a sign of things to come, but it’s interesting to speculate. Scion has made “Into the Night” available to stream and download for free, and I’m sure the other songs on the Riley Hawk: Northwest Blow Out EP will follow soon. For now, we turn to the PR wire:
SCION AUDIO VISUAL PRESENTS RILEY HAWK: NORTHWEST BLOW OUT EP
FOUR-SONG COLLECTION HANDPICKED BY HAWK FEATURES NEW MUSIC FROM THE BLACK ANGELS, KADAVAR, LOOM AND HOT LUNCH
Scion Audio Visual presents Riley Hawk: Northwest Blow Out EP, a four-song collection of new music from the skateboarder’s favorite bands: Kadavar, Loom, The Black Angels and Hot Lunch.
The collection, curated by Riley, will be released as free downloads courtesy of Scion Audio Visual with Kadavar’s “Into The Night,” available today: (https://soundcloud.com/scionav/kadavar-into-the-night). The full collection will be available on Jan. 20, and will double as the soundtrack to Scion x Riley Hawk Driven, a four-part video series featuring Riley and the Shep Dawgs skating their favorite parks in the Northwest.
“Music is an important part of skateboarding, I think the two worlds have often been tied to each other,” explained Riley. “So, when Scion came to me with an opportunity to create a collection of music from my favorite bands, I jumped at the chance to get involved.”
Scion’s involvement with Riley was recently highlighted as the company created a custom, project car dubbed the “Scion x Riley Hawk Skate Tour xB”, which premiered at SEMA. The car was inspired by Riley’s interests and features wood-grain décor, a mini fridge, shag carpet, an 8-track player, a custom Pioneer Sound System and the ability to play a guitar through the audio system using an iPad mini as a mixer. The xB also features a 1970s style custom paint pattern with a “fish bowl” side window and captain-style chairs in front and back.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Having a cool festival lineup is one thing — it’s a huge thing — but driving toward an aesthetic is something completely different and pivotal in creating a vibe for any event, whatever it might be. Germany’s Void Fest, which is set for Aug. 1 and 2 in Kötzting in Bavaria with tickets limited to 1,000, seems to be well on its way to that end. The bill runs from the progressive black metal of Sun Worship to the riotous stoner rock of Church of Misery, and with film screenings and a focus on local culture, it seems like an experience that begins with the music and will encompass much more than just that. It looks like a great way to spend a couple days.
They put it thusly:
The Void society was established in spring 2012. Up from its creation Void was planned as an altruistic friendly society with unpaid workforce and do it yourself intention. The idea behind Void is to join forces of people who are interested in music. The goal was to score with new innovative bands and through that strenghten our local cultural landscape.
Since the founding Void organized several well visited shows in the bavarian forest and its surrounding cities, such as Bad Kötzting and Regenburg. While allways keeping it familiar and friendly the shows soon drew big attention. Meanwhile a few bands had some of their last gigs at Void Fest before getting signed a major label contract.
D.I.Y. has always been a big point for the societies work. Next to fairtrade screenprinted merchandise shirts, patches and bags, each band playing at Void Fest gets its own hand drawn posters. The whole festival structure is set up by society members during their spare time.
Allways trying to create unique music events for every people, Void is still trying to do things different than others. Merely the best ideas fit the demands the young society has given itself.
Confirmed lineup so far: The Atomic Bitchwax Church of Misery Kadavar Rose Windows Suns of Thyme H A R K Atlantis Brahm The Wulffs Doomina Oddjob Men Mother’s Cake Sun Worship
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Wild enough that Scorpion Child are heading out on a headlining run, but the news that they’re bringing German traditionalists Kadavar along with them for what will mark their longest US run yet puts this one over the top, never mind the inclusion of Texas boozers Mothership and much-heralded L.A. outfit Gypsyhawk. It’s a five-band package rounded out by Wilson, so you’ll probably just want to go ahead and book that liver transplant ahead of time. I don’t know how any of them will come out of it remembering a damn thing, but this one has all the makings of several legendary nights.
Good news off the PR wire:
SCORPION CHILD ANNOUNCE HEADLINING FALL TOUR WITH KADAVAR
Fresh off the just-completed Rockstar Mayhem festival circuit which took them to 17 different U.S. states & Canada, Austin rockers SCORPION CHILD are set to heat up the last days of summer with a headlining trek this September/October with direct support from labelmates KADAVAR from Germany plus GYPSYHAWK from Los Angeles, WILSON from Detroit (select dates), and openers MOTHERSHIP from Dallas, Texas.
SCORPION CHILD will perform a one-hour+ headlining set featuring music from their self-titled debut album, which debuted at #26 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart & #99 on the Hard Music Album chart the week following its June 25th release.
Checking in from their rehearsal space in Texas, the band shares:
“We met a LOT of new supporters while we were out on Rockstar Mayhem and the time has come for THE CHILD – along with friends KADAVAR, GYPSYHAWK, WILSON, and MOTHERSHIP – to deliver you hours of unforgettable sonics making this roadshow one of legendary modern day proportion. Together we ask you to join us in creating this epic segment in history. Come one, come all!!!”
SCORPION CHILD & KADAVAR will make a festival appearance at the Snowboard On The Block Festival in Denver, Colorado on Saturday, September 14th prior to the tour launch in Chicago, Illinois on September 16th. The 15-date tour ends on Saturday, October 5th a mere 2 hours away from where Woodstock was held back in 1969: Brooklyn, New York.
Praised for their “old school spirit, kick-ass hard rock, killer riffs and vocals… a band worth watching & listening to!” by radio & television personality Eddie Trunk, SCORPION CHILD’s music has been played on Eddie Trunk’s live show on SiriusXM satellite radio, on “Eddie Trunk Rocks” on New York City’s Q104.3 FM, and on Nights with Alice Cooper.
SCORPION CHILD & KADAVAR solo date: 09/14/2013 Snowboard On The Block – Denver, CO
Dates for SCORPION CHILD’s headlining tour with KADAVAR, GYPSYHAWK, WILSON, and MOTHERSHIP are: 09/16/2013 Cobra Lounge – Chicago, IL # 09/17/2013 Skyway Theater – Minneapolis, MN # 09/20/2013 The Astoria – Vancouver, B.C. – CANADA 09/21/2013 Neumos – Seattle, WA 09/23/2013 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA 09/24/2013 Roxy Theatre – West Hollywood, CA 09/25/2013 Rocky Point Cantina – Tempe, AZ 09/27/2013 Red 7 – Austin, TX 09/28/2013 Tomcats – Ft. Worth, TX 09/29/2013 Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX 10/01/2013 The Firebird – St. Louis, MO # 10/02/2013 Peabody’s – Cleveland, OH 10/03/2013 Hard Luck Bar – Toronto, ON 10/04/2013 II Motore – Montreal, QC – CANADA 10/05/2013 Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY # – SCORPION CHILD, Kadavar, Gypsyhawk, and Mothership only
Posted in Features on June 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
They always say you there’s no going back. I don’t know who they are, but they’re right. As I searched back through posts to find the Top 20 of 2012, I realized it had been way too long since I heard some of these records. It’s so easy to get caught up with what’s current and what’s coming next that sometimes I forget to actually listen to albums I already enjoyed. That happened a couple times along the way.
When a year ends and the lists start coming out, it’s like records as numbered, stocked and then forgotten. I guess I’m guilty of it too. With that in mind, here’s a quick revisit to what I had as my favorites of 2012:
The Top 20 of 2012 Revisited
20. Mos Generator, Nomads
I can’t even look at this album cover without hearing the chorus to “Lonely One Kenobi” play in my head. Still a sentimental favorite.
19. Golden Void, Golden Void
Haven’t put it on in a while, but probably should.
18. Wight, Through the Woods into Deep Water
Ditto. This record was great and if I made the list today, it would probably be higher than it is here.
16. Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction
I’ve seen them three times so far this year and they’ve delivered each time, but haven’t put on the album itself in a while. Still looking forward to new stuff though.
15. Kadavar, Kadavar
I think I’ve had more fascinating conversations about Kadavar than any other band in the last year. So many opinions, so widely varied. I dig the self-titled, will probably have the follow-up on my list at the end of 2013. Nuclear Blast needs to bring them over to tour, maybe opening for Witchcraft?
14. Stubb, Stubb
Yay fuzz! Catchy songs, easy formula, well structured and impeccably performed.My favorite straight-up heavy rock record of 2012.
13. Orange Goblin, A Eulogy for the Damned
Hard to fuck with these dudes. The production here was a presence, but the songs still hold up.
12. Ararat, II
No shit, I live in terror of having Ararat release their third album and missing it. Like all of a sudden the album will have been out for three months and I’d have no idea.
11. Ufomammut, Oro
Haven’t listened to Opus Primumor Opus Altersince. Can’t help but think if Oro was released as one record, I’d put it on from time to time.
10. Conan, Monnos
I put this in the top 10 for a reason. Because it’s fucking ridiculously heavy. I stand by my reasoning. Looking forward to their new one.
9. My Sleeping Karma, Soma
An album I couldn’t manage to put down even when I wanted to, and one I still pick up from time to time. Glad I finally gave in an bought a copy to get away from the shitty digital promo version.
8.Graveyard, Lights Out
Maybe I burnt myself out on this? I went on a binge after their show in January for a bit and then put Lights Outaway and that was that.
7. Saint Vitus, Lillie: F-65
Every time I’m in a record store, flip through the Vitus selectionand see my quote on the sticker on the front of the jewel case of Lillie: F-65, I feel like an entire decade of shitty career decisions is justified. No bullshit.
6. Ancestors, In Dreams and Time
Brilliant. Mostly brilliant for closer “First Light,” but that song was brilliant enough to get this spot on the list anyway.
5. High on Fire, De Vermis Mysteriis
Hard to argue with its intensity. Not much staying power as I would’ve thought, but god damn that’s a heavy record.
4. Neurosis, Honor Found in Decay
An overwhelming listen. I have to prepare my head for putting it on, but I continue to find it worth the effort.
3. Greenleaf, Nest of Vipers
It was the highlight of my year last year to see this material live. Greenleaf have a new lineup now and another album in the works, but if Nest of Vipersis how the last one was going out, they killed it.
2. Om, Advaitic Songs
Sometimes I fantasize about living in a temple where I wake up and Advaitic Songsis playing every day. That is 100 percent true.
1. Colour Haze, She Said
I’d probably listen to it even more if it was on one CD, but god damn, this record is amazing. Another one that’s kind of overwhelming, but it gets regular play as I expect it will continue to do into perpetuity.
All in all, pretty great year. Some stuff that’s fallen by the wayside, but a few landmarks as well that have carried over, and more importantly, some that seem like they’ll continue to carry over and grow in appeal as more time passes. Wight should’ve been higher on the list, but other than that, I’ll take it.
Posted in Features on June 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is always fun, and because the year’s only (just about) half over, you always know there’s more to come. The last six months have brought a host of really stellar releases, and the whole time, it’s felt like just when you’ve dug your heels into something and really feel content to rest with it for a while, there’s something else to grab your ears. So it’s been for the last six months, bouncing from one record to the next.
Even now, I’ve got a list of albums, singles, EPs, tapes, demos, whatever, waiting for attention — some of which I’m viciously behind on — but it’s time to stop and take a look back at some of what the best of the first half of 2013 has been. Please note, I’m only counting full-lengths here. While I’ve heard a few killer EPs this year — looking at you, Mars Red Sky — it doesn’t seem fair to rate everything all together like that. Maybe a separate list.
If you’ve got a list of your own or some quibbling on the numbers, please leave a comment and be heard. From where I sit, that’s always the best part of this kind of thing.
The third Endless Boogie album on No Quarter was basically the soundtrack to the end of my winter, with smooth grooving cuts like “The Artemus Ward” and the classic rock shake of “On Cryology” providing a soundtrack as cool as the air in my lungs. It was my first experience with the longform-jamming improv-heavy foursome, and a CD I’m still stoked to put on and get lost in, having found that it works just as well in summer’s humidity as winter’s freeze, the off-the-cuff narrations of Paul Major (interview here) carrying a vibe unmistakably belonging to the rock history of the band’s native New York City. Was a sleeper, but not one to miss for its organic and exploratory feel.
Proffering righteous traditional doom and misery-drenched atmospherics, the debut full-length from Massachusetts-based Magic Circle hit hard and showed there’s life yet to the old ways. It never quite veered into the cultish posturing that comprises so much of the trad doom aesthetic these days, and from the grandiose riffing of guitarists Dan Ducas and Chris Corry and the blown-out vocals of frontman Brendan Radigan, it found the band carving a memorable identity for themselves with clear sonic ideas of what they wanted to accomplish. Out of all the bands on this list, I’m most interested to hear what Magic Circle do next to build on their debut.
Berlin trio Kadavar had a tough task ahead of them in releasing a sophomore answer to their self-titled, which I thought was the best first album of 2012, but when Abra Kadavar surfaced as their debut on Nuclear Blast, it was quickly apparent that the retro heavy rockers had put together a worthy follow-up. Cuts like “Come Back Life” and “Doomsday Machine” underscored the straightforward triumphs of the prior outing, while late-album arrivals “Liquid Dream,” “Rhythm for Endless Minds” and “Abra Kadabra” gave a sense that Kadavar were beginning a journey into psychedelia the results of which could be just as rewarding as even the most potent of their choruses. Their potential remains one of their biggest appeals.
It wasn’t without its rough edges, but at the core of Indianapolis heavy rockers Devil to Pay‘s fourth record was an unflinching songwriting quality that quickly established it among my go-to regulars, whether it was the quirky doom hook of “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife,” the darkly progressive riffing of “Black Black Heart” or the suitably propulsive rush of “This Train Won’t Stop.” The double-guitar four-piece didn’t have much time for frills in terms of arrangement or structure, but by building on the developments over the course of their three prior releases, Devil to Pay delivered a slab of deceptively intricate standouts that made hard turns sound easy and demanded the attention it deserved.
6. Beast in the Field, The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below
Unfuckwithable tone set to destructive purpose. Immediately upon hearing the unsung Michigan drum/guitar duo’s fourth album, the impact of The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below — overwhelming though it is at times throughout the album; hello, “Oncoming Avalanche” — refused to be denied. Beast in the Field haven’t gotten anything remotely close to the attention they should for this devastating collection, but it’s one I absolutely can’t put down, cohesive in theme and full of skull-caving riffs as dynamic as they are brutally delivered by the instrumental twosome. If it’s one you missed on CD when Saw Her Ghost put it out in March (as I did), keep your eyes open for a vinyl release coming on Emetic in the next couple months. Really. Do it.
Massachusetts trio Black Pyramid quickly dispatched any doubts of their ability to continue on after the departure of their previous guitarist/vocalist, bassist Dave Gein and drummer Clay Neely joined forces with Darryl Shepard (Hackman, Blackwolfgoat, Roadsaw, etc.) to reinvigorate their battle-ready doom, and whether it was the extended jamming on “Swing the Scimitar” or the surprisingly smooth riffing on “Aphelion,” the results did not disappoint. Regardless of personnel, I’ve yet to hear a Black Pyramid album I didn’t want to hear again, and though I’ll freely admit they’re a sentimental favorite for me at this point, Adversarial is a suitable dawn for their next era. Long may they reign.
True, I will argue tooth and nail that Boston four-piece Gozu should get rid of their goofball, sitcom-referential song titles, but that’s only because I believe the band’s lack of pretense speaks for itself through the music and their tracks are too good to give listeners a chance not to take them seriously. When it comes to The Fury of a Patient Man — their second full-length behind the impressive 2010 debut, Locust Season (review here) — I knew the first time I heard it toward the end of last year that it was going to be one of 2013’s best, and while I’ve heard quibbles in favor of the debut, nothing has dissuaded me from thinking the sophomore installment outclasses it on almost every level. Expect a return appearance when the year-end list hits in December.
There’s a big part of me that feels like a sucker for digging …Like Clockwork, the first Queens of the Stone Age full-length since 2007’s relatively lackluster Era Vulgaris, but when it comes right down to it, I hit the point in listening to the album that I came around to its sheen, its up-and-down moodiness and its unabashed self-importance. I hit the point where I was able to separate …Like Clockwork from its “viral marketing” and just enjoy Josh Homme‘s all-growed-up songwriting for what it is. Would I have loved a second self-titled album? Probably, but it wasn’t realistic to think that’s what …Like Clockwork would be, and as much as I’ve tried out other spots for it, I’d be lying if I put this record anywhere else on this list but here. So there you go. I understand the arguments against it, but reason doesn’t always apply when it comes to what gets repeat spins.
I was late to the party on the second Uncle Acid offering, 2011’s Blood Lust, as I often am on records where the hype gets to din levels, but by the time the subsequent Mind Control was announced, I knew it was going to be one to watch out for. Aligned to Rise Above/Metal Blade, the UK outfit began to unravel till-then mystery of itself, playing live and developing the brazen psychedelic pop influences hinted at in the horrors of Blood Lust so that the swing of “Mt. Abraxas” and the acid-coated psych of “Valley of the Dolls” could exist within the same cohesive sphere. Between the death-boogie of “Mind Crawler” and mid-period Beatlesian exploration of “Follow the Leader,” Mind Control continues to be an album I hear as much on the mental jukebox rotation as one I actually put on to listen to again. Either way, there’s no getting away from it — the eerie melodies of guitarist/vocalists Kevin “Uncle Acid” Starrs and Yotam Rubinger are hauntingly ever-present.
Obvious? Probably, but that doesn’t make it any less genuine. To set the scene, here’s me on the Masspike a couple weeks ago in the Volvo of Doom™ with the little dog Dio, 90 miles an hour shouting along to “Crucial Velocity” at the top of my never-on-key lungs. I couldn’t and wouldn’t endeavor to tell you how many times I’ve listened to Earth Rocker since I first got a taste, but from the title-track on through the surging groove at the end of “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…,” front to back, the 10th Clutch album still does not fail to roil the blood with not a dud in the bunch. The Maryland road dogs of course shine best on a stage, and Earth Rocker‘s polished, layered production is a studio affair in the truest sense, but all that does is make me hopeful they’ll complement it with a live record soon. Clutch could easily have phoned in a follow-up to 2009’s Strange Cousins from the West and their fanbase probably would’ve still salivated over it, myself included, but by boldly pushing themselves to write faster, more concise material, they’ve reenergized one of heavy rock’s best sounds. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a brand new listener, Earth Rocker is utterly essential.
Two more records I have to mention: Kings Destroy‘s A Time of Hunting and Clamfight‘s I vs. the Glacier. I wasn’t involved in releasing the Kings Destroy, but felt close to it nonetheless, and since the Clamfight came out on The Maple Forum, it wouldn’t be appropriate to include it in the list proper, but hands down, these are my two favorite records of the year so far and made by some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure to know over the course of my years nerding out to heavy music.
Some other honorable mentions go to Toner Low, Cathedral, Church of Misery, Serpent Throne, Naam, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and All Them Witches. Like I said, it’s been a hell of a year so far.
You may note some glaring absences in the list above — Black Sabbath, ASG, Orchid, Ghost, Kvelertak and Voivod come to mind immediately. Some of that is a result of my disdain for digital promos, and some of that is just a matter of what I listened to most. Please understand that although release profile is not something discounted, at the heart of what’s included here is one individual’s personal preferences and listening habits.
Thanks for reading. Here’s to your own lists and to the next six months to come!
Some pictures had surfaced a bit ago from Kadavar‘s video shoot for “Come Back Life” — I don’t think the German trio goes anywhere without a camera following, and neither should they — so the desert theme and the old car had been given some short preview, but that was ultimately little hint of the good use Kadavar would put both to in the clip itself. Kadavar‘s second album and Nuclear Blast debut, Abra Kadavar (review here), is out May 14. They seem to describe some hard times for their first US venture playing SXSW in March, but hopefully that’s not the last time Lupus Lindemann, Tiger and Mammut decide to make the trip over.
Here’s “Come Back Life,” followed by some info from the PR wire:
Kadavar, “Come Back Life” official video
Berlin-based classic rockers KADAVAR proudly present the official video clip for “Come Back Life”! The song comes from their upcoming Nuclear Blast debut Abra Kadavar, which will be released on May 14th in North America. The clip was shot, directed and edited by Nathini van der Meer and Annikki Heinemann of Oddisee Films (www.oddiseefilms.com) during the band’s journey through the USA in March 2013.
“It was the trip of our lives, swaying between heaven and hell,” commented KADAVAR about the experience. “Our baggage got lost and neither did we have a place to sleep for the time of the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, nor a backline or money. As if this wasn’t enough, the ’64 Ford Galaxy that we had bought after a long search blew up in our faces after ten minutes on the highway. Still we met many kind people whose help made it possible for us to reach San Francisco in the end. Our friends Nathini and Annikki have accompanied us during the entire three weeks and have captured footage that’ll stick in our memories forever. After this trip, one of the song’s lines fits even better: Come back life, all is forgiven now…”
Posted in Features on April 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
04.20.13 — 00.52 — Saturday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
I was early to Het Patronaat for the start of day two of Roadburn 2013. Stupid early, as the kids might say. Dread Sovereign — the new and doomly trio from Primordial vocalist Alan Averill and drummer Simon O’Laoghaire, also with Bones on guitar — were going on until 14.00, and I rolled up to the old church roughly an hour before. It was in time to catch their soundcheck, as it happens, which I watched from the door into the upstairs of the venue as a prelude to their actual set, which followed a much-needed cup of coffee. I had thought of bringing a book to read and ultimately decided against it. Can’t say it was the right choice, but there you go.
Averill handles bass in Dread Sovereign as well, and dialing his stage makeup back to some eyeliner but keeping the hood — Bones had one as well — his stage presence was a far cry from what it had been the night before, less interaction with the crowd, less rousing to fit with the music, which in turn was less rousing. There’s a 12″ they’re selling here, limited, whathaveyou, that I’ve had my eye on for two days now, and watching Dread Sovereign live did nothing to dissuade a purchase. Bones was a ripper on guitar, thrashing out like the kids do while he tossed off lively solos to counteract the songs’ marked plod. For his part, Averill‘s vocal style was roughly the same as in Primordial — after a point, you’re going to sing how you’re going to sing, no matter the context — but he had room to breathe between lines for the slower tempos.
Less adrenaline all around, then, but that was to be expected, and there were still a couple flashes of more uptempo groove to be had. “Pray to the Devil in Man” may have beat out its anti-Christian miseries, but “13 Clergy to the Fire” had some swing to it, with a chorus pattern distinctly in Averill‘s sphere that was immediately memorable. Solid beginning as it was, though, even Dread Sovereign‘s fastest stretch was little indicator of what German retro rockers Kadavar had on offer, playing songs from their two albums, 2012’s self-titled debut and the brand new Abra Kadavar (review here). I think for lack of material, as they’re a pretty recent band, Dread Sovereign ended their 45-minute set early, so there was a break in between, but as soon as Kadavar started checking their sound, it was clear things were about to take a turn in a much different direction.
One thing about the German three-piece: They’ve got the look down. Also the sound. Between two songs early into their set, someone in back shouted out, “Hair metal!” and received a couple boos. I can see the point of the critique, that Kadavar are so much leading with their aesthetic, the vintage production, the shirts, necklaces, beards, the bellbottoms and so on, and I guess if they sucked, it would be an issue, but they clearly take it seriously, and they’d more or less melted Het Patronaat by the time they were through their third song. Wolf Lindemann‘s vocals were spot on, and Tiger (drums) was responsible for a good bit of the energy they exuded from the stage. Say what you want about their haircuts, a drummer who can headbang like that to his own rhythms is something special to watch. They had a fill-in bassist, but once they got going, there was really no stopping their momentum.
The drums were set up toward the front of the stage, off the riser, so I don’t know how it looked from the back, but from where I was, people ate up “All Our Thoughts,” “Doomsday Machine” and Abra Kadavaropener “Come Back Life,” and rightfully so. In their tones, in Lindemann‘s vocals, in Tiger‘s riotous playing, Kadavar delivered an early highlight to the day and rounded out with a massive jam, bringing up DJ/filmmaker/psychedelic manipulator/etc. Shazzula Vultura — who was also showing a movie in Stage01 at 013 today — to add swirl via a Theremin run through a Moogerfooger. Shit got real wild real quick, and it was a stretch that brought to mind the later moments of Abra Kadavar. True to the record, they held it together live as well and crashed to a finish as crisply and vibrantly as they’d started, having played their full hour.
At that point, I’d been standing in the same spot at the front of the stage for about two full hours, but I knew I didn’t want to move until I got to watch at least part of Witch Mountain, who were playing Europe for the first time and on the road for four weeks with Cough, who played later tonight. It was another abrupt change in vibe, but neither did Witch Mountain disappoint. The abundance of talent in that band is nigh on ridiculous, and between drummer Nate Carson‘s work with Nanotear Booking (he’s giving a master class tomorrow on touring the US, which he knows both ends of, having done it a few times himself at this point as well as sending others on their way), guitarist Rob Wrong‘s history of reviewing albums for StonerRock.com and penchant for counteracting lumbering riffs with shredding solos, vocalist Uta Plotkin‘s intense range as she varies from growls to soaring, clean high notes (while actually hitting them; I don’t know if she’s a trained singer, but she certainly sounds like one) and bassist Neal Munson‘s tonal heft and nod-out rhythms, it’s hard not to root for them both here and in general.
“The Ballad of Lanky Rae” and “Beekeeper” from last year’s Cauldron of the Wild(review here) and the extended build of “Aurelia” were welcome, and as they seemed really glad to be playing, there resulted the kind of wholesome atmosphere that emerges when doom gathers to celebrate itself. I dug it, which was doubly fortunate because watching Kadavar and Witch Mountain meant missing out on Dream Death. There was some strategy involved in this, as staying at Het Patronaat instead of going over to the 013 Main Stage for Dream Death freed up scheduling conflicts to come and I’ll be able to catch Dream Death in June at Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin — most assuredly about as “in their element” as they’re going to get. So I felt bad for missing out on Dream Death, but will make up for it later. Every Roadburn brings hard choices, and every attendee has to carve out his or her own path through the crowded lineup. You know, like life.
Already at Het Patronaat the temperatures were reaching unseasonable highs. Witch Mountain had started early on account of this, and it was largely the thermostat that had me split partway through their set — still fun to start today with two full sets, as opposed to yesterday with all the running around early on — to head across the alleyway to the 013 and check out the “The Electric Acid Orgy” curated lineup by Electric Wizard guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn. The Wizard‘s own set was still a ways off, but as I walked in, the Green Room was just starting to fill up for upstart doomers Witchsorrow, who soon came on with their peculiarly British kind of traditional crushing riffage. At some point I’m going to have to sit down and really hammer out the differences between British trad doom and American trad doom and see what I can come up with, but watching Witchsorrow after Witch Mountain underscored how wide the margin between two doom acts can be, however similarly witchy their names might wind up.
They too seemed glad to have been asked to play — who wouldn’t be? — and the Green Room did indeed pack out for them, guitarist/vocalist Nick Ruskell craning his neck upwards to a high microphone as though to invoke Lemmy’s occult powers and further drive the band’s Cathedral-inspired take into wretched oblivion. And so on. Ruskell, bassist Emily Witch and drummer David Wilbrahammer also had a limited-edition cassette for sale over in the merch area to mark the occasion of playing Roadburn 2013, but I didn’t see it over there when I went today to pick up the new Toner Low CD from the Exile on Mainstream table (one of these years, I’ll introduce myself to Andreas from the label, but frankly, people with taste in music that good intimidate me) and must have missed my shot at one. Too bad, but I’m glad I got to catch them for a bit before I headed into the Main Stage area for the start of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.
It was plain even before they played one note that Uncle Acid were a major draw for the day, and in the five Roadburns that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend, I can think of very few times that room has been that crowded. Sleep last year, Saint Vitus in ’09, and oh yeah, Electric Wizard later in the evening. Usually there’s somewhere to go in the Main Stage area, whether it’s up front in a corner on the floor, or up in back on one of the raised steps, or even up on the balcony, but not for Uncle Acid. There was just no corner that didn’t have someone already there. I knew that a lot of people were looking forward to seeing them play, and so was I, but I suppose I hadn’t realized how that would translate to the actual numbers. They had their work cut out for them in living up to expectation.
But that, they didn’t fail. Opening with “I’ll Cut You Down” from their landmark 2011 sophomore outing, Blood Lust, they had the place immediately in their grip, the song’s psychotic verse swing and chorus hook delivered by both of the UK four-piece’s guitarists, Uncle Acid himself front and center, with backing in the chorus and here and there throughout from the bassist. People watched from out the side door as “I’ll Cut You Down” led to “Mt. Abraxas” from their third album, Mind Control(review here), the stomp in the finish winning favor readily even though the record is still pretty recent, as is, I’m told, the drummer. “Valley of the Dolls” provided a slowdown and “Death’s Door” was a highlight, the band playing mostly in the dark but for a few flashes here and there. I guess as regards the light show, I expected Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to come bathed in psychedelic purples, oranges and pinks the whole time — they were for flashes in the beginning — but they did just as well in hair-down-lights-down blue and there was little I could’ve reasonably asked for that they didn’t deliver. My one per year, I stood on the side of the stage to watch for a few minutes. Not too long, but long enough.
From there, I popped out to grab a quick bite to eat — roasted chicken, potatoes au gratin and a couple piece of fried fish; I’ve always been a cheap date — and figured I’d get a spot for Moss in the Green Room after. No such luck. By the time I got there, not only was the room itself full, but the space in the hallway outside where one would be able to see the band through the open doorway was also full. My loss, this Moss. They also had some tapes for sale. I should’ve bought everything. Didn’t. Hazards of doing a Roadburn sober, it seems. Back to Het Patronaat, then, my mind still reeling from the Uncle Acid set, to catch the start of French post-black metallers Les Discrets. Roadburn 2013 artist-in-residence, Neige of Alcest, played bass alongside guitarist, vocalist, visual artist and principle songwriter Fursy Teyssier and in comparison to Les Discrets‘ albums, of which I’ll make no bones about saying I’m a fan, the live incarnation was much heavier. This could just as easily be a byproduct of the house P.A., or of Neige‘s bass along with Teyssier and the second guitar, but it added to the dynamism of the band’s already dynamic material.
Also, but for Witch Mountain‘s Plotkin, Les Discrets also had the best vocals I’ve heard so far into the fest, Teyssier harmonizing with his fellow six-stringer and resting just under the lush wash of melody in the guitar and bass. It was gorgeous. Painfully so. I thought the mix on last year’s Ariettes Oubliées(review here) was stronger than that of their 2010 debut, Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées (semi-review here), but even the heaviest moments on record didn’t really prepare me for seeing them live, and while they may share a lot in terms of style with Alcest, it was never quite so apparent as it was watching them how different the two acts actually are and just how much of himself Teyssier puts into his work. I was really, really glad I got to see them, which as usual was becoming kind of a theme for the fest as a whole.
By the time they were really dug in, I could feel the day starting to wear on me, so I came back to the hotel for a few minutes to regroup, take my shoes off, drink a bottle of water, etc., so that when I got back to the 013 for Electric Wizard, I was good and ready. There was some hubbub about the band saying they didn’t want any photographers or something, an email sent to some people apparently, but there was still a decent population in the photo pit by the time the headliners started. I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway at this point, though I was worried Jus Oborn would stop the set and tell everyone to get the fuck out for breaking the rules. I tried to ask him while he was setting up his gear, but if he heard me, there was no indication.
Once more, Oborn had curated the day, so it was only fitting that Electric Wizard should headline — it would be fitting anyway, honestly — and the chance to see them for the first time was a considerable percentage slice for why I came. They toured the States over a decade ago (speaking of hubbubs, I seem to recall something about the Oborn‘s pants? I don’t know), but I didn’t see them then, so they were a must and a major cross-off for my must-see-before-I-die-in-a-fiery-plane-crash list. Yes, I have one, and it’s shorter by one band following Electric Wizard‘s set, which they launched with “Come My Fanatics,” Oborn stepping right into the cult leader role that he more or less legitimately is now, considering how many bands have followed in his drugged-out horrordelic footsteps. Joined by guitarist Liz Buckingham, returned drummer Mark Greening, who came back to the band following the dissolution of Ramesses, and bassist Glenn Charman, Oborn led the way through “Witchcult Today,” “Black Mass,” “Drugula,” “Legalise Drugs and Murder” as the packed crowd willingly went into something like a simultaneous nod trance, chanting lyrics back as screams entered the fray with extended verses and endings for the songs. I stood by the far-left side of the stage and watched riff after pot-addled riff met corresponding clouds of smoke in the crammed-in audience. I didn’t, but if you were ever gonna, this would’ve been the time.
I managed to get back to the other side of the stage by something I’ll just call “Roadburn magic” and ran by the Green Room to watch a few minutes of Finnish weirdo acid rockers Seremonia. Perhaps because everyone was either in the Main Stage space or over at Het Patronaat anticipating the arrival of Goat, the Green Room wasn’t overly crowded and I was able to walk right in. Kind of a bummer spot for Seremonia to have, competing with stoner legends and fascinating newcomers at once, but at least they were here. They just have one record out and from what I saw, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if they made another appearance down the line sometime. Their self-titled debut (track stream here) is better than people seem to have caught on to yet, perhaps intimidated by the many syllables of the Finnish lyrics. Couldn’t say for sure.
And though I wanted to stay and bask in the sort of folksy traditionalism of Seremonia, Goat beckoned. The Swedish outfit will apparently release a new 7″ on Sub Pop in the US in June, so somebody’s taken note following the critical tornado of fuckyessery that surrounded their 2012 World Musicdebut. Fine. I’m still not sure I’m really down with Goat. Maybe this is an all-too-American perspective, but you’ve got a bunch of people in masks running around playing psychedelic Afrobeat flailing arms and shouting whooping chants, I guess my big question as regards the band is what part of it isn’t minstrelsy. Obviously Sweden doesn’t have the history of troubled race relations that the US does, and I’ll be straight, I liked the record for what it was musically, it’s the theory behind it that has so far left me scratching my head.
Nonetheless, I ended the day same as I started it — standing in the doorway of Het Patronaat — only this time it was because the room was so full that there was nowhere else for me to go. The line to get in to see Goat stretched out the door and down the alley, and security was letting people in as others came out, so clearly the band was a major lure. Again, they’re good at what they do — I’m not saying they’re not — it’s all the other stuff besides the music I’m talking about. That said, judging by the smiles on the faces of those around me and the expectant/impatient looks of those waiting on line outside (far more wanting to go in than coming out), they probably made quite a few peoples’ day.
Late-night Tilburg echoes with the throb of the dance club across from the Mercure and drunken aus uur blijfts on the street below my open window. It’s just past four in the morning as I finish this post and if last night is anything to go by, it’ll be another two hours sorting photos [actually it was only an hour and a half!]. So be it. Roadburn 2013 day three kicks off tomorrow at 14.30 and I’ll be there.
Thanks (again) for reading. More pics after the jump.
Posted in Reviews on April 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Berlin trio Kadavar have worked quickly to become one of the most prominent acts in the European heavy underground. Their 2012 self-titled debut sounded so organic that even the mp3s had an analog hiss, and while they carried their songs across with an ultra-natural feel, it was the confidence in the material and the spontaneous feel of the performances that made Kadavar’s Kadavar such a watershed release. It was my pick for the year’s best debut; a lean but frighteningly cohesive 34-minute full-length that showed potential as much as it made an impact on its own. Touring and a split with Aqua Nebula Oscillator followed later in 2012, and Kadavar – vocalist/guitarist Wolf Lindemann, Rivoli bassist Mammut and drummer Tiger — were picked up by Nuclear Blast to join the ranks of Graveyard, Orchid and Witchcraft in the label’s growing stable of tube-amped heavy rockers. Thus it is that their second album, Abra Kadavar, arrives with no small measure of anticipation. Some immediate differences: the sophomore outing is three tracks and about eight minutes longer than the first one, clocking in at a still-vinyl-ready 41:16. The distinctive drum sound of Tiger’s kit – the sort of fuzz that came off his snare with each tap – has abated, though the snare hits hardly sound punched in and an overall natural, live feel has been maintained between both the drums and Mammut’s bass, which was a standout element of the first record and remains so on Abra Kadavar. As regards Lindemann’s vocals, they are forward in classic rock tradition, but more assured and mature for the band’s road time, and he skillfully follows his own lead lines in the second half of opener “Come Back Life,” the trio having already enacted a formidable shuffle en route to the closing solo. Throughout, there is clear, resonant stylistic growth and as much as Abra Kadavar proves the first album wasn’t a fluke, it also shows the three-piece aren’t necessarily limited to the driving ‘70s heavy rock that they nonetheless so effectively convey on the single, “Doomsday Machine.” The self-titled ended psychedelic and extended with the eight-minute “Purple Sage,” but though they’re shorter, the closing trio of “Liquid Dream,” “Rhythm for Endless Minds” and “Abra Kadabra” show a nascent sonic diversity in Kadavar’s approach that incorporates rocking organ, psych swirl, and a heavy jamming sensibility that underlies much of the band’s work to-date, but has yet to be so blatantly expressed.
Evolution is clear too from the start of “Come Back Life,” which gives Abra Kadavar a no less effective initial groove than “An Industry of Murder” brought to Graveyard’s 2012 third album, Lights Out, despite having little in common in terms of sound. Immediately, Mammut’s bass offers rich, warm low end playing off Lindemann’s guitar, though it winds up being the energy in Tiger’s Bonzo-type fills that propels the track. They arrive quickly at a hook with a build and the lines, “Hello darkness my old friend/I won’t talk to you again,” (or somewhere thereabouts) and repeat the progression twice, but then suddenly it disappears in favor of a return to the verse, Lindemann’s lead lines acting as a riff while Mammut and Tiger hold the rhythm together, and subsequent build into a stop-start stomp progression in which the title line is delivered. It’s a rich, near-irresistible groove, fit to open the album, but I keep wondering when that Simon & Garfunkel referential part will return – perhaps as transition out of the last verse into the final solo – and it never does, leaving the structure more open than it might’ve been on the last album as “Come Back Life” crashes to its finish and fades to give way to the start of “Doomsday Machine.” Certainly the single has all the chorus potency one could possibly ask from Kadavar, but even its placement as the second track instead of the first – the debut having opened with its strongest chorus in “All Our Thoughts” – shows the band are trying something new with their second outing. Mood varies throughout on an almost per-track basis, though songs are consistent in general sound and production, but “Doomsday Machine” is a straightforward highlight, its task and structure simple in execution of a tension-building verse and a payoff chorus of driving riffs and classic heavy grooves. “Doomsday Machine” is almost immediately familiar, true to its intent, and offers few frills to a decades-tested formula, an extra layer of Lindemann’s guitar toward the last verse seeming like a grand addition. Following a final chorus, Kadavar end the single instrumentally, the guitar and bass intertwining leads leaving room for a transitional drum fill that’s a standout, two-second solo hinting of something much more lasting perhaps when delivered on stage.