Elav Stoner Open Air 2017 Starts Tomorrow; Karma to Burn, Monkey3, My Sleeping Karma & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Pretty impressive lineup that Italian heavy rockers Humulus have put together in conjunction with Elav Brewery for what’s being called Elav Stoner Open Air 2017, with Monkey3 and Karma to Burn headlining and performances locked in from Humulus themselves as well as Toner Low, My Sleeping Karma, Monte Nero, Ride Paranoia, Elepharmers and Bangarang. It’s a two-night affair, and one assumes that since it’s actually being held at the brewery itself it’ll be as much a party as it is a show, but all the better for the heavy and psychedelic vibe that seems to be the event’s ultimate aim.

Four bands tomorrow, five on Saturday. I know it’s kind of a crapshoot to think you’re going to be able to make it out to this one on such short notice if you didn’t already plan to go, but consider this notice at least that cool stuff like this is happening somewhere on the planet. On the most basic level, ideas like this one seem worth supporting to me. It looks like a good time.

Fest info follows, as run through a major tech firm’s translation matrix from its original Italian:

elav-stoner-open-air-2017

Elav Stoner- Open Air Festival

The Brewery opens the doors for the Stoner event of the year.

Friday 7 and Saturday, July 8, 2017 will arrive in the year of the ELAV STONER OPEN AIR FESTIVAL at #Bergamo, a two-day stoner music with nine bands, between national and international, which will alternate on stage with: Psych-Stoner , Psychedelic vibrations, garage, rock and some blues notes …

The billboard took shape under the artistic direction of the Humulus, power trio Psych-Stoner of Brescia / Bergamo.
Guest star of Karma to Burn, US trio that with their rock instrumental stoner will explode the stage!

Friday, July 7

MONKEY3 (Switzerland)
Psychedelic vibrations, stoner rock slides with a twist prog, instrumental music that invites to travel through the mind. During a 14-year career, Monkey3 has released 6 albums. Over the years, the Swiss quartet played everywhere in Europe, taking part in the best festivals: Roadburn, Hellfest, Desertfest, Burg-Herzberg, Freak Valley …

HUMULUS (Italy)
A power-trio Psych-Stoner set up in 2009. Their first album of the same name comes out for Go Down Records in December 2012. In 2015, after a change of training, the Humulus are ready to write new songs; An EP of 3 songs entitled “Electric Walrus EP” sees the light in October 2015. 2016 is a year full of important concerts and new ideas for new songs that will compose the new LP entitled “Reverently Heading Into Nowhere.”

ELEPHARMERS (Italy)
Stoner rock band from Cagliari, two guitars with heavy tuning, battery and voice. The sound of the trio brings with it the teaching of the Black Sabbath, the “cosmic” blues of the 60s and 70s, the groove of the stoner of the ’90s. The Elepharmers sound continues to have a sabbatical matrix, but with respect to the first album the songs are longer and more dilated, there are more instrumental parts and the arrangements are richer, thanks to the presence of acoustic guitars and synth arrangements and hammond By Matteo “Baro” Paper.

Bangarang! (Italy)
Quartet with a loud rhythm, a strong ironic vein and the lyricism of the sampler that becomes a sort of “virtual singer”. The Bangarang Concert! Is littered with voices, noises, quotes, and dialogues around and inside the songs. In 2016 the Bangarang! Come back with a new work in the studio: ten tracks that go to create RELIGION CATODICA, an album that tells the many aspects of Italian television, for good and for evil, and which leads to the extreme consequences of the fusion of the power of a schizophrenic power trio And the quotation of the sampled voices.

Saturday, July 8

KARMA TO BURN (USA)
With their rock instrumental stoner they are ready to blow up the stage! For more than 20 years, the US trio proposes a rock stoner that is for all such lovers a solid and historic reference point; With their latest EP “Mountain Czar” Karma To Burn propose another wave of what they like to call “Mountain Rock” … and we are ready to make us invest in this mountain of increasingly aggressive and rhythmic riffs .

MY SLEEPING KARMA (Germany)
Aschenburg’s rock psychedelic German group, with 4 studio albums behind and a lot of live experience. With their new album “Moksha” and a series of live sold out across Europe, My Sleeping Karma arrives at the Brewery together with their instrumental rock, a real journey out of the mind: hypnotic atmospheres, engaging guitar riffs and a Massive dose of rock that never breaks.

TONER LOW (Netherlands)
Band Doom Stoner who released the third album “III” in April 2013 on Bilocation Records / Kozmik Artifactz and Roadkill Rekordz.
The band features a rock stoner characterized by very low and rhythmic obsessive frequencies typical of the doom, which live become a real space trip.

MONTE NERO (Italy)
The Monte Nero project is a unique Distinct Music Moloch. After 15/20 years of ripening in various cellars, dance halls and stages throughout Italy, some operative musicians from rock band Bergamo (Gea, Spread, In The Howling Storm) are transferred to the BDC Room by Stefano Locatelli To spend another two years of maturing. Then, when the elements have reached full maturity, they blend together to create rock songs with a rich, intense aroma and full and round flavor.

RIDE PARANOIA (Italy)
A rock band from Brescia, born in 2014, is the meeting between the two completely different music companies. Claudio, Davide, Andrea and Marco are part of The Credo band, which has been active since 2006, the fifth element of the band is Giovanni, eclectic guitarist, formerly a member of the French Wine Coca and Waiver. The result of this sound fusion has given rise to the sound of the Paranoia Ride, explosive mix of stoner, garage, rock, embellished with a touch of electro.

https://www.facebook.com/events/134003620485445/
https://www.elavbrewery.com/
https://www.facebook.com/humulusband/

Humulus, Reverently Heading into Nowhere (2017)

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The Obsessed Announce Tour Dates with Karma to Burn, Fatso Jetson & Lo-Pan

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed

The Obsessed have announced a massive round of tour dates for April and May to support their first album in more than 20 years, Sacred, which is out April 7 on Relapse Records. Direct support on the run will come from Karma to Burn (with whom The Obsessed also toured last year), and Fatso Jetson and Lo-Pan will trade off for the West Coast and East Coast portions, respectively. In addition, a record release party will be held in Philly on April 8 at Kung Fu Necktie, at which The Obsessed legendary founding guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich will perform acoustic.

By way of a spoiler, I interviewed Wino yesterday about the new album — which rules — and he’s stoked to take it on the road. More to come on that as soon as I get the conversation transcribed.

Meantime, without further ado here are the dates from the PR wire:

THE OBSESSED TOUR

THE OBSESSED Announce Headlining US Tour Dates

Maryland doom legends THE OBSESSED have announced a full US tour in support of the forthcoming album Sacred. The tour commences on April 12th in Pittsburgh, PA and runs through May 20th in Baltimore, MD. Karma To Burn will provide direct support on all dates while Fatso Jetson (April 17 – May 1) and Lo-Pan (May 3 – May 20) will provide additional support on select dates. THE OBSESSED will also join Weedeater and label-mates Primitive Man on five West Coast shows during the run (April 27 – May 1). All confirmed tour dates below.

Additionally, THE OBSESSED will hold a record release show for Sacred on April 8th at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, PA. The band will also perform at this year’s Berserker Fest IV in Detroit, Michigan the weekend of April 14-15. Stay tuned for further tour announcements in the future!

April 7, 2017 will see the worldwide release of Sacred via Relapse Records on CD/LP/DLX. 2xLP/Digital. Physical pre-order and bundles are available via Relapse.com HERE and digital downloads can be pre-ordered by Bandcamp AT THIS LOCATION. The Deluxe 2xLP bundle includes an enamel logo pin, signed art print and two bonus tracks!

With renewed energy and purpose, THE OBSESSED sounds heavier and more relevant than ever before. On Sacred, the band doubles down on enormous, heaving riffs and pummeling low-end across 12 tracks of eternal doom. Rounded out by Wino’s lyrical honesty and iconic throaty vocals, Sacred is an album that further pushes THE OBSESSED into the annals of heavy metal history, well worth the two-plus decade wait. The band will perform once again as three piece featuring Wino, Reid Raley and Brian Costantino.

THE OBSESSED Tour Dates:
Apr 08 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie *Record Release Party/Acoustic Wino Set*
— All Dates Apr 12 – May 20 With Karma To Burn —
Apr 12 Pittsburgh, PA Cattive
Apr 14 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
Apr 15 Pontiac, MI Berserker IV (The Crofoot) &
Apr 17 Indianapolis, IN 5th Quarter +
Apr 18 Kansas City, MO Riot Room +
Apr 19 Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge +
Apr 20 St. Louis, MO Fubar +
Apr 21 Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Co. +
Apr 23 Denver, CO Hi-Dive +
Apr 24 Salt Lake City, UT Metro Music Hall +
Apr 25 Boise, ID Neurolux +
Apr 26 Bellingham, WA Shakedown +
Apr 27 Seattle, WA Highline ** +
Apr 28 Portland, OR Star Theater ** +
Apr 29 Sacramento, CA Starlite ** +
Apr 30 San Francisco, CA DNA Lounge ** +
May 01 Los Angeles, CA Regent Theater ** +
May 02 Mesa, AZ Club Red
May 03 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad #
May 04 Dallas, TX Three Links #
May 05 Austin, TX Grizzly Hall #
May 07 San Antonio, TX Korova #
May 08 New Orleans, LA Siberia #
May 09 Savannah, GA The Jinx #
May 10 Johnson City, TN Hideaway #
May 11 Atlanta, GA EARL #
May 12 Miami, FL Gramps #
May 13 Spartanburg, SC Ground Zero #
May 14 Raleigh, NC Pour House #
May 16 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie #
May 17 Boston, MA ONCE Ballroom #
May 18 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus #
May 19 New Hanover, CT The Ballroom at Outer Space #
May 20 Baltimore, MD Otto Bar #

& No Karma To Burn
** W/ Weedeater + Primitive Man
+ W/ Fatso Jetson
# W/ Lo-Pan

https://www.facebook.com/TheObsessedOfficial
http://relapse.com/the-obsessed-sacred/
https://theobsessed.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.twitter.com/RelapseRecords

The Obsessed, “Punk Crusher”

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Descendants of Crom: Penance to Headline; Solace, Karma to Burn, The Midnight Ghost Train and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

descendants of crom

Lineup additions have continued to come out over the last week-plus since Pittsburgh-based fest Descendants of Crom made its first announcements with the formidable likes of EarthrideEYEFoghound and Stinking Lizaveta taking part. West Virginian instrumental trailblazers Karma to Burn, New Jersey rock destroyers Solace, Kansas boogie-thrusters The Midnight Ghost Train — as the names have appeared, the geographic reach of Descendants of Crom 2017, which is set for Sept. 30 on the Cattivo Nightclub‘s two stages, has only expanded, but perhaps the biggest addition yet brings the festival much closer to home.

Penance released their Alpha and Omega album in 2001 via the Martyr Music Group, and with it debuted a five-piece incarnation that will play for the first time in 15 years at Descendants of Crom, in a great add to the bill that fulfills the stated mission of the fest in honoring Pittsburgh’s own underground contributions as well as looking outside its borders. Badass all around.

In addition to the already-noted, CantOl’ Time Moonshine and Archarus, have also been added, so the more right on. Here’s the latest from the fest, including some comment from organizer Shy Kennedy on Penance signing on:

DESCENDANTS OF CROM – Penance to Headline with ‘Alpha & Omega’ Lineup

All-day fest set for Sept. 30, 2017, with two stages fueled by riffs created by the riddle of steel.

This all day music festival is the first of its kind in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The underground scene of stoner and doom here is healthy and thriving and the location at Cattivo Nightclub is perfect with two large floors, a stage on each, and good sound with friendly staff.

Descendants of Crom Festival lineup:
CANT
MONOLITH WIELDER
OL’ TIME MOONSHINE
ARCHARUS
HORSEBURNER
WASTED THEORY
FOGHOUND
EYE
BRIMSTONE COVEN
SOLACE
THE MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN
KARMA TO BURN
VALKYRIE
EARTHRIDE
STINKING LIZAVETA
PENANCE (Alpha & Omega lineup)

Shy Kennedy on Penance headlining:

It all starts out with an idea of, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be great if there were a gig in Pittsburgh that had a bunch of riff-fueled bands of all rock and metal genres?’ It’s the perfect place for it, really. The scene here is supportive and it’s an accessible city to many. It doesn’t come out of nowhere –- you have to make it happen.

Next, who headlines this underground, doom-rooted event? The answer would be Penance but they’ve been dormant for some time. The Alpha & Omega lineup are all right here and nearly all active in the scene someway or another. Turns out that you just have to ask. Penance are as excited to be a part of the Descendants of Crom as I am. A lot of the seasoned fans are going to appreciate this and for those who aren’t familiar with Penance are going to get a little lesson in Pittsburgh Doom History.

DESCENDANTS OF CROM will bring great regional talent to a hungry crowd, utilizing national fan favorites to lure them to learn about these other amazing artists. This first year is anticipated to be a contender among other established annual fests and will not be an event to miss.

http://facebook.com/descendantsofcrom
http://www.descendantsofcrom.com/

Penance, “Wizards of Mind”

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.

So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.

Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.

And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.

Here we go:

scissorfight chaos county

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP

Honorable Mention

An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.

Presented alphabetically:

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″

Notes

Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.

At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.

I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”

To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.

Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.

One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.

This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.

As always, there’s much more to come.

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Stoned from the Underground 2017: All Them Witches, Elder, Monolord, Zeke, CJ Ramone, Steak, Karma to Burn Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Long-running German festival Stoned from the Underground has announced that All Them Witches will headline the first of its three nights on Thursday, July 13, 2017. Presumably that means the Nashville outfit will be on a European tour supporting their now-impending fourth album, Sleeping Through the War, which is out in February, but either way, as they join a lineup that also features ElderMonolordZekeSteakKarma to Burn, and somewhat curiously, CJ Ramone, they’re obviously keeping good company in Erfurt. I’ll keep an eye out for those tour dates and for more lineup announcements from Stoned from the Underground 2017 both, and hopefully be better at keeping up with fest than I admittedly was this time around.

Info follows as translated by robots from German into English:

stoned from the underground 2017

STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND 2017 – July 13-15

Hi guys, just before Christmas there are a couple of bands for 2017 the stoned from the underground.

Here we have all of them witches, which will be headlining on Thursdays. But that was not enough for us! We could also add the heavy Rock Heavyweights Sasquatch. And a little punk attitude hurts nobody and that’s why we have the cult-Speed Rocker Zeke booked for you. What, you guys that’s still not enough? Well, because Christmas is here let’s put another, cj ramone on it.

You can look forward to 2017 on earth ship (ENG), Elder (USA), karma to burn (USA), Mono Lord (SWE) and steak (UK)
Get your tickets here: http://www.sftu.de/pages/raquo-tickets.php

The Stoned From The Underground 2017 takes place from July 13th until July 15th 2017.

The first STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND took place in 2001…the festival offers a platform for diverse kinds of bands within the underground and beyond. The STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND is a pure scene festival…a festival made by fans for fans.

https://www.facebook.com/stonedfromtheundergroundfestival
http://www.sftu.de/
https://www.instagram.com/stonedfromtheunderground

All Them Witches, Live on Rockpalast 2016

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Friday Full-Length: Karma to Burn, Karma to Burn

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Karma to Burn, Karma to Burn (1997)

They weren’t yet the band they wanted to be, and it’s important to acknowledge that at the outset. Seven years ago, when I spoke to now-former Roadrunner Records A&R head honcho Monte Conner about his label’s involvement with the makings of stoner rock in the late ’90s, Karma to Burn were bound to come up. In addition to having issued the Burn One Up: Music for Stoners compilation in 1997 (which featured the West Virginian outfit alongside a very early appearance from Queens of the Stone Age with a different singer, as well as The Heads, Gnu, Sleep, Blind Dog, Fu Manchu, Spiritual Beggars, Slaprocket and others), and though they were of course known more as a metal label and were releasing the likes of Type O Negative, Life of Agony, Fear Factory and Sepultura at the time, Roadrunner was the party responsible for bringing Karma to Burn‘s self-titled debut to public attention — part of a kind of under-the-underground involvement in what was then a burgeoning post-Kyuss movement of heavy rock. In the almost two decades since its release, and of course in light of all the instrumental work the band has done since, the narrative about the label forcing them to get a singer has become an essential piece of context. Here’s what Conner had to say in 2009:

“Basically, we saw Karma to Burn for the first time here in New York at a club called Brownies, myself and Howie Abrams, the guy who led the charge in signing the band. We saw them as an instrumental trio and were just absolutely floored at the power. You could listen to Karma to Burn even without vocals and it was still captivating, at least for one record. It might wear thin after a while, especially with songs called ‘Thirty-Nine,’ ‘Forty,’ ‘Forty-Two,’ it’s a little hard to keep track at that point.

But we did see Karma and we were absolutely floored and we thought, ‘God, if these guys get a singer there’s gonna be no stopping them!’ At the time we signed the band, the whole courtship process and signing the band, the band at that point did want to get a singer and agreed to get a singer, and it was only after frustration of not finding someone that I think the band realized, ‘Hey, maybe we’re better without a singer, we’re more unique this way, we don’t need a singer.’

At that point, they told us ‘No singer,’ and we were objecting because we signed them with the intention of getting a singer, and as I said, that was laid out from the beginning and when we signed them, they said, ‘Yes, we are going to get a singer.’ So they kind of changed the game on us, and they had already recorded the entire record prior to having a singer, figuring, ‘We’ll get the singer and he’ll just go in and lay down the tracks.’ Eventually, due to pressure from us, the band still couldn’t find a singer and had a local friend of theirs, Jason Jarosz, come in and put down vocals.

Not traditional vocals at all, but these really sinister, kind of strange — as you can hear on the record — kind of weird vocals, that we thought were cool, even though they were not typical vocals at all. It kind of gave the whole thing an eerie, avant garde feeling. So we accepted it, we were okay with it, but I think in the end, it really wasn’t the type of vocals we imagined. I think we were settling at that point, just because we wanted to get the record out.

The band went along with it to appease us, but in the end I don’t think they liked this guy’s vocals. They were very rebellious and were like, ‘Fuck this, we don’t want a singer,’ so they basically parted ways with this guy and decided to continue on as an instrumental band and at that point we weren’t interested in continuing, so we dropped them…” — Monte Conner (more here)

I think my favorite part about that entire quote is “They were very rebellious,” since it basically encapsulates the entire career of Karma to Burn and particularly their sole remaining founder, guitarist Will Mecum, whose perspective seems to have always been a middle finger in the face of anyone who’s going to say otherwise on just about any issue. I don’t know if I’ve ever spoken about the band, who released the Mountain Czar EP (review here) and toured with The Obsessed this year, without calling their sound “bullshit-free,” and indeed, I consider that to be their defining sonic feature. Right up there with “riffs.”

They are and have for a long time been the straightest line to heavy rock and roll, and while records like 1999’s Wild Wonderful Purgatory and 2001’s Almost Heathen provided the defining hours for their approach — Mecum along with bassist Rich Mullins and drummer Rob Oswald — the self-titled has always been by its very nature a standout from everything that followed it. Jarosz‘s vocals, quieter and less burly than what, say, Sixty Watt Shaman were doing at the time, had an attitude all their own, and while one might find some politically suspect lyrics in “Mt. Penetrator,” there’s an underlying sad blue-collar poetry to the words that gets lost in a lot of modern Southern rock, which is more about the boozing, the womanizing, the party-as-escape. Karma to Burn‘s self-titled, which also introduced the band’s signature numbered instrumentals with “Eight,” “Thirteen” and “Six” after the landmark hook of opener “Ma Petite Mort,” undercut that impulse to a degree and came across as an emotionally richer and somewhat more honest offering because of it.

Maybe don’t tell that to the band. In 2012, they’d revisit this material and release it completely instrumental as Slight Reprise, a fitting swansong for the then-reformed Mecum/Mullins/Oswald lineup. Mecum has of course carried the band forward, working now with a strong European focus and the rhythm section of bassist Eric Clutter and drummer Evan Devine. Their last full-length was 2014’s Arch Stanton (review here) — Clutter was not yet in the lineup — but they’ve been reborn as a touring act. This fall, they made the rounds in Europe and played Desertfest in Athens as well as Keep it Low, and having been fortunate enough to see them this summer at Maryland Doom Fest (review here), I can attest to the drive and push they emit from a stage being as middle-finger as ever, and so, true to the foundation they laid with this self-titled debut.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

How was your week? Mine went by in a blur of corporately-tinged workflow process acronyms — letters that meant nothing to me until a few months ago (and some that still don’t). Made me think maybe I should come up with important-sounding abbreviations for what I do here. “Why did you get up at 5AM?” “I had a big RWM to get through,” where all RWM means is “review-writing in the morning.” Or, more appropriately, “I had to finish the FFL.” Friday Full-Length.

You get the idea.

However, since I don’t really talk about the site with anyone, it would pretty much be an inside joke with myself, and that seems kind of sad in this context.

Before I forget — THANK YOU to everyone who has submitted their best-of 2016 list so far to the YEP (Year-End Poll). If you haven’t yet, please do. As of right now, the tally stands at 370 submissions. I hope by the end of the weekend to pass 388, which was last year’s total for the entire month of December. Not bad for being less than half the time. I am humbled and deeply grateful.

You might’ve noticed the Album Covers that Kicked Ass in 2016 list didn’t go up this week. I had crazytimes at the office and though the piece about that Comet Control track being my favorite song of the year turned out to be a doozy in its own right, it required much less time on the back end than tracking down and laying out different art jpegs would. I’ll get to work on it this weekend — I also have some fest writeups to do — and have it up on Monday, disaster pending.

Speaking of “subject to change,” here’s the rest of what’s in the ol’ notes for next week:

Mon.: Art list (who knew?) and new video from Sun Blood Stories. Don’t miss either of them.
Tue.: News on the SonicBlast Moledo fest and new recordings from Australia’s Merchant, an album stream from Elbrus and video from Crippled Black Phoenix. Don’t miss any of that either.
Wed.: Track premiere from Indian metallers Rudra.
Thu.: Review of the new Sgt. Sunshine.
Fri.: Review of the new T.G. Olson.

We get kind of tentative there toward the end of the week, and I’m basically doing myself favors at this point in terms of picking what I want to write about. Anytime you see me covering something from T.G. Olson or his main outfit, Across Tundras, you can pretty much guess that I’m doing so in order to maximize enjoyment of the day. Not that I don’t dig writing about most of what I write about — no point to the site otherwise — but as you know if you’ve already made out your top 20 and turned it in for the Year-End Poll, these things are relative.

Hey, have a great weekend, alright? Please do that.

Largely at the insistence of The Patient Mrs., I went ahead and took Monday off from work (will make sure to put up my “OOO”). She rather correctly asserted that I needed a three-day weekend. No argument, I just don’t get paid for the time I don’t work, so it’s money out of my pocket to stay home. Still, money ain’t everything and sometimes those hours are worth their weight in gold. So I’ll be around. In my pajamas. Sitting on ass. Hopefully playing Final Fantasy. And writing. And that’s my plan.

Whatever you’re up to, please be safe and have a great time. Thanks for reading this long-ass post if you have, and we’ll see you back here Monday. In the meantime, please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

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Desertfest Athens 2016 Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

desertfest-athens-2016-banner

With the final addition of Cough, the lineup for Desertfest Athens 2016 is complete. The fest is set for Oct. 7 and 8 — less than a month from now — and Cough join the bill as they’ll be on tour at the time with Elder (dates here) supporting their new album, Still They Pray (review here), which was released by Relapse.

The roster of bands they join, including Red Fang and Greek forerunners 1000mods, whose new song “The Son” you can hear below (more to come on that album), is ridiculously strong, and seems to draw from the history of Desertfest itself in various ways, Steak representing London’s incarnation, Colour Haze that of Berlin (though they’re from Munich), and really any number of these acts the Belgian edition. It’s a great mix that does well to represent its home country as well in Automaton (who’ll be joined by Dr. Space himself), Sadhus, and the aforementioned 1000mods.

Looks like a great show, and particularly as it’s the first one, I wish them all the best of luck with it.

Final announcement and lineup follow:

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Doom/Sludge masters COUGH joining the bill for Desertfest Athens 2016 1st edition!

This is the full line up for the 1st ever Desertfest Athens!

Red Fang
1000mods
Pentagram
Torche
Colour Haze
Truckfighters
My Sleeping Karma
Karma to Burn
Elder
Cough
Black Rainbows
House of Broken Promises
Steak
Beggars
Sadhus
Black Hat Bones
Automaton with Dr. Space
We Own the Sky

Enjoy desert army!

After London, Berlin and Antwerp, the Desertfest franchise is keeping up its conquest of Europe by launching the very first Greek edition of the famous stoner, doom and psych festival. DESERTFEST ATHENS will take place over the second weekend of October, as a sister event of the autumnal Belgium edition.

Over the years, DESERTFEST has become one of the most popular events in Europe for everything heavy, stoner, doom and psyche. “Made by fans for the fans”, the festival gathers thousands of people from across the globe each year by hosting the finest headliners, while also constantly stretching the limits of its own niche with dozens of quality live acts throughout a weekend. Nurturing a friendly atmosphere since the very beginning, DESERTFEST is a urban festival that has won the loyalty of heavy music lovers, so expect your Greek holiday to be a unique and memorable music and human experience!

https://www.viva.gr/tickets/music/iera-odos/desertfest-athens/
www.detoxevents.gr
https://www.facebook.com/Desertfest-Athens-189161564797514/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1530177053945310/

1000mods, “The Son”

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Night Three

Posted in Reviews on June 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest poster

The car died as I pulled it into the spot outside Cafe 611, and it was abundantly clear it would not start again sans professional assistance. Oh, and it’s The Patient Mrs.‘ car. So there’s that.

That puts the tally of busted shit at: my feet (I’ve been wearing a supportive boot cast all weekend, not sure if I’ve mentioned that yet), my camera, and my wife’s car. Maryland Doom Fest 2016, you have thoroughly kicked my ass.

None of that is the fest’s fault, of course. After an awesome two and a half weeks, I was due a couple hits, and if anything, yesterday, the third and final day of the festival with another 11 bands on the bill starting at 3PM, it was the music that kept my head up while I was flipping out about things like waiting for tow trucks, The Patient Mrs. never picking up her phone, how the fuck I’m going to get back to Massachusetts with a dead car so I can start my new job on Tuesday, and so on. I’m thankful for that. Not sure I’d have made it through the afternoon otherwise without spontaneously combusting.

Time to wrap this thing up. If you’ve checked out the reviews of night one or night two, thanks, and thanks for reading this one too.

One more time, hello Frederick:

Mangog

Mangog (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll admit it was somewhat strange to watch Bert Hall on stage holding a guitar. The longtime Maryland doomer has played bass through the years in Revelation and Against Nature and now is also handling thick strings and fuzzy-hat for Beelzefuzz, but in Mangog it’s guitar and backing vocals to complement those of Myke Wells. Completed by drummer Mike Rix (ex-Iron Man) and bassist Darby Cox, the four-piece announced this week that they’d signed to Argonauta Records for the early 2017 release of their debut album. Presumably most of what they played, whether it was “God” or “Into Infamy” or “Meld,” comes from that record, but they also played two of the three cuts — “Ab Intra” and the title-track — from their 2015 debut EP, Daydreams Within Nightmares. The band played their first show at Maryland Doom Fest last year, and are still finding themselves as a unit, but seemed to be on the right track with their aggressive blend of doom and metal. Wells was also the first frontman to stand on the P.A. speakers in front of the stage, so points there as well.

Flummox

Flummox (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The first, but not the last. Bassist/vocalist Blake Dellinger of Flummox, in checked leotard regalia and with one eye blacked out, also got on that speaker, in addition to thrashing around just about everywhere else on the Cafe 611 stage as he, guitarist Drew Jones, and drummer/vocalist Jody Lester tore into their raucous stoner thrash, which it’s easy to imagine has been a highlight of the last couple years at house shows in their native Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as well as other haunts around the South lucky enough to book the band. Youth was on their side, sure, but they still delivered one of the weekend’s most energetic sets, and had the chemistry between them to stand up to the force of their delivery. They’re also reportedly responsible for the Tennessean Sludge Fest, which this August features Place of SkullsDoomstressShroud Eater and Order of the Owl, among many others, so clearly doing good work on multiple levels.

DopeRider

Doperider (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Hailing from my beloved Garden State, sludge torquemongers DopeRider proffered massive tones offset by a couple stretches of ambience, putting them in league with the likes of Connecticut’s Sea of Bones or any number of crushers in the post-YOB sphere, and that is a compliment as far as I’m concerned. Their slow-churning, growling, thudding lumber wasn’t the first bout of extremity the weekend had seen — one still recalls Philly’s Black Urn starting off Friday — but it did speak to the expanding definition of what Maryland Doom Fest might continue to encompass. Uniformly brutal in their approach, DopeRider — who released a debut demo last year with the tracks “Drugged up Demonoid” (15:09) and “Fractal Resin” (6:07) — were thankful to the crowd, guitarist/vocalist MP saying that there wasn’t much like this in Jersey. I know from personal experience that’s 100 percent true, but little doubt DopeRider would’ve stood out on the bill whatever the context. Will keep an eye out for what they do next.

Seasick Gladiator

Seasick Gladiator (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll admit that for a decent portion of D.C. residents Seasick Gladiator‘s set, I was outside dealing with the tow truck driver from AAA. Actually he was the second, past the one who tried to jump the car to no avail, so yeah, it took a minute. What I saw of the instrumental outfit offered metallic doom marked out through the use of violin, adding a sense of drama to the material as strings invariably will. They had some progressive edge that didn’t necessarily feel showy or overly self-righteous, and from what I heard sounded pretty fluid. Meanwhile, outside, the car still refused to start — battery? alternator? — and had to be dragged onto the back of the flatbed and hauled off to some local garage. A genuine what the fuck moment, but like I said, the music kept me going. Somehow I doubt it will be the last opportunity to catch Seasick Gladiator, and from the glimpses I got and from watching the end of their set after the truck drove away, their appeal came through even despite distraction.

Eternal Black

Eternal Black (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ll never pretend to even feign impartiality about any band Joe Wood is playing in. Aside from being a former bandmate, the Borgo Pass and Eternal Black drummer is among the nicest, most sincere individuals I’ve ever met — King of the Dudes — and whether he’s behind the kit or in the crowd, any day I get to see Joe is a good day, including this one. He is not, however, all that Eternal Black have working in their favor. Atop rolling The Obsessed-style riffs, the NY three-piece with Wood, guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob and bassist Hal Miller, fit right in with the sphere of Maryland doom but had more than a touch of Northeastern intensity to their approach as well, particularly from Wohlrob‘s vocals. The same was true of their first demo (review here), which was released last year, but they had a host of new songs in the set — “Snake Oil and Coffin Nails” was a highlight, along with “Sea of Graves” — and announced plans to record this summer/fall for a debut full-length, which will be one to anticipate. Granted NYC is four to five hours from where I live depending on traffic, but I still felt I probably should’ve seen Eternal Black by now. Glad I got to in such a setting.

Toke

Toke (Photo by JJ Koczan)

North Carolina’s Toke were the only band of the weekend to bring their own lights, and their focus on presentation likewise extended to how they carried themselves on stage, each of the three members putting his full body into the groove of their hard-hit, swinging riffs, seeming way more influenced by Sleep live than on their 2014 demo, High Friends in Low Places (review here), but still marked out on the harsher end of sludge by the vocals, which were on the more searing end of screams. Comprised of TimBronco and Jeremy, they reminded some of Elder‘s Matt Couto in the drumming style, but were on an entirely different trip sonically, and for a band who doesn’t yet have an album out, they had steady command over the stage, the room, and their consuming tonal largesse. Very obviously a band who’s done some road time — they played Denver Electric Funeral Fest earlier this month — and one who’ve dug in hard to their practice space. They were high among the most pleasant surprises at Maryland Doom Fest 2016, all three days.

Foghound

Foghound (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Foghound were not a surprise, true, but they were a joy to watch all the same. The Baltimore heavy rock kingpins are on the cusp of releasing their second album, The World Unseen (review forthcoming), on Ripple Music, and they absolutely blew me away last fall at Vultures of Volume II (review here), also in Maryland, but to hear those songs now and know them better, whether it’s the ultra-catchy “Rockin’ and Rollin'” or “Message in the Sky,” “Never Return,” “Above the Wake,” “Serpentine,” etc., was an entirely different experience, drummer Chuck Dukehart III and guitarists Bob Sipes and Dee Settar sharing vocal duties while bassist Jim Forrester held down the low end. Playing a set entirely comprised of new material only emphasized how far beyond 2013’s Quick, Dirty and High (review here) they’re ready to be, and like last time I was fortunate enough to catch them, they were air-tight musically, varied in the vocal arrangements and executed their set on a foundation of strong, waiting to be noticed songwriting. I know it kicks ass, but I’m eager to find out how The World Unseen catches on with listeners once it’s out, as I’m sure the band is as well.

Wasted Theory

Wasted Theory (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Like Foghound before them (and several others), Delaware’s Wasted Theory brought a sampling of their next outing, which is set to be recorded this fall, reportedly, for a 2017 release. I was talking the other night to guitarist/vocalist Larry Jackson, Jr., about the next Wasted Theory and he asked what I’d want to hear on it. Basically what I’d be looking for is a step forward from 2014’s Death and Taxes (review here). I’d want to hear that the band — Jackson, guitarist Dave McMahon, bassist Rob Michael and drummer Brendan Burns — was pushing itself in terms of melody and songcraft. Hard to judge from one live airing, but they seemed to be headed in that direction, bringing a more aggressive edge to some of the Southern groove that on the last album was such a huge part of their take. They still had a definite update-the-’70s classic heavy rock vibe, and Jackson‘s gravely vocals added burl as ever, but that progression that one might hope to hear in their sound came through at Cafe 611. They still have to record the next LP, but hopefully it follows suit when it arrives.

King Giant

King Giant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve seen dark Virginian rockers King Giant a handful of times now — three or four, maybe, most recently at the aforementioned Vultures of Volume II (review here) — and their sheer have-their-shit-together factor remains hugely impressive. Dudes know exactly what they want their songs to do, where they want to put that Todd Ingram solo, what the verse is moving toward, etc. Vocalist Dave Hammerly had two mics setup with various kinds of compression, and the double-guitar five-piece proceeded to do their thing, which is to offer up grooving slabs of moody Southern heavy, bordering on metal in their attitude but really more about atmosphere than aggression, or at least about toying with that balance. “Requiem for a Drunkard” from 2015’s Black Ocean Waves (review here) was a high point sonically if a particularly downer vibe, but really, King Giant are in league with the safer bets you might make when it comes to quality of craft and performance in their style. It’s not always what I’m looking for stylistically, but for as much as King Giant put into their band, it’s impossible not to respect them.

Karma to Burn

Karma to Burn (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Kind of hard to believe it’s been nearly five years since the last time I saw Karma to Burn. Night and day. With the lineup of founding guitarist Will Mecum, bassist Eric Clutter and drummer Evan Devine the West Virginian instrumental powerhouse were in nothing but top form for their set. One might expect them to be on after having just done a month on the road with The Obsessed across the US, but propelled by Devine‘s crash, they rode Mecum‘s riffing with an energy I’ve never seen from them. The most recent cut they played was “57” from 2014’s Arch Stanton (review here) — though I thought I heard part of “62” as well — and of course their signature piece, “20” from 1999’s Wild Wonderful Purgatory was aired to a particularly fervent response. They were the only band of the weekend so far as I saw who elicited anything close to moshing, and it was well-earned. Just a killer show, front to back, and while I know Karma to Burn has a history of burning through rhythm sections, what Clutter and Devine bring to the band alongside Mecum isn’t to be understated. True power trio form, continually without compromise or bullshit.

Mos Generator

Mos Generator (Photo by JJ Koczan)

“We’ve been here since eight o’clock,” said Mos Generator frontman Tony Reed, “and I’m drunk.” To be fair, it was long past eight by the time the Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rockers took the stage for their headlining/fest-closing set. My fingers were crossed they’d have copies of their new album, Abyssinia (review forthcoming), but no dice. Bought a shirt instead. Their set launched at a furious clip and did not relent, drummer Jon Garrett stepping up to righteously follow what Evan Devine brought to Karma to Burn as bassist Sean Booth served to anchor the material and bolster the impact of Reed‘s guitar. “Lonely One Kenobi” was an early highlight, followed by “There’s No Return from Nowhere” from the new record and “Breaker” and the title-track from 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), Reed, of whom I’ll make no bones about being a fan, letting his vocals soar for the latter while completely owning the stage and bringing the room along with him. Hard not to smile watching him on stage — someone so obviously born to do what he’s doing who then set about working really, really hard at it for decades — and he kept the intensity of performance going until the house lights came up as they played “This is the Gift of Nature.” The room had thinned out somewhat by then, as it will, but after a full hour of go-go-go, there was zero slowdown whatsoever. Some bands just want to rock and roll, and Mos Generator do so with a pure reverence for the form that few would dare attempt to match. They were absolutely on fire.

As I write this, I’m on the road in a rental car, headed back north. I start my new job tomorrow. The Patient Mrs., who was visiting family elsewhere in the state, came and picked me up in a rental car and is currently driving me and Postman Dan, who came along for the trip, north. As there’s been no word from the mechanic that the car got towed to, I’ll have to drive back to Frederick on Friday to pick it up. Serves me right for something, I’m sure. Unanswered emails, perhaps.

Before I cut out, I want to thank JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank for having me on board as a sponsor and for having me down to cover Maryland Doom Fest 2016. I know these reviews have been somewhat fraught in their context, but Matson and Cruikshank put on a hell of a show over these three days, and should be commended both for the efforts and the results yielded. I can only hope they keep it going and hope they’ll have me involved again next year.

If they do, I think next time I might just fly in. But I always say that.

Thanks for reading.

 

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