Posted in Reviews on June 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Tropical Storm Whoever was raging outside — and by that I mean it was raining hard — but there was no way I was going to miss the Kings Destroy release party for their second album, A Time of Hunting, at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn with Windhand, Clamfight and Belus. The record, out on War Crime Recordings, is a killer, and as I was watching the last of the Clamfight CDs go from the Maple Forum store even as I stood in front of the stage to see them play, it was the perfect occasion at the perfect time.
Grim Brooklynite trio Belus opened the evening’s four-band bill, their feet firmly planted in a blackened type of doom that was brooding one minute, raging the next, but never quite letting go of its tension completely. They were already on by the time I got there, but I saw enough to get a basic feel for their approach, varied in tempo more than atmosphere but still effectively done in bringing a frigid feel through warmer tones than one would probably expect. They had demo tapes for sale, and though I didn’t get to pick one up (kind of backlogged on tapes, believe it or not), they gave a solid showing to the early arrivals at the St. Vitus, broiled in a specifically crusted malevolence that gave an extreme start to the proceedings.
They were more or less a surprise, but the rest of the night was about knowing what was coming and being thrilled at the twists. Clamfight and Kings Destroy are friends, bands about whom I couldn’t be impartial even if I had any interest in trying, and even Windhand I’ve seen a couple times by now, so yeah, familiarity reigned. It hadn’t even been that long since I last saw Clamfight in Philly with Borracho, Been Obscene and SuperVoid (review here), but being the nerd I am for the band, I’ll take whatever opportunities I can get, particularly as they’ve started now writing for the follow-up to I Versus the Glacier.
Speaking of, new song “Block Ship” was trotted out and fit in well with the band’s established bashers from their first two albums. Their plan for the track last I heard was to include it on a split they’re putting together in honor of their appearance in November at Stoner Hands of Doom XIII in Virginia, but I have the feeling they’re going to decide it’s too good to leave just for that and I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up on the inevitable next Clamfight full-length as well. Along with that and regular suspects “Sand Riders” and the motor-grooves of “Mountain” from I Versus the Glacier, the Philly foursome tossed in a curve with “Ghosts I Have Known” from their 2010 Volume Idebut.
That wound up being the highlight of the set for me personally, with the slower, semi-Southern sludge feel and the interplay of shouts, growls and screams over top from frontdrummer Andy Martin, not to mention the guitarmonies of Joel Harris and Sean McKee. I caught bassist Louis Koble and Harris laughing on the far side of the stage during the faster section of the song while the band thrashed out behind McKee‘s squibbling solo, and it only underscored for me the good time being had by all. They’ve gotten to be pretty tight with the Kings Destroy cats following a couple weekenders and other shared gigs, so it was cool to see those guys up front digging the Clamfight set as well. It seemed too much to hope for that Clamfight would bash into “Rabbit” after “Ghosts I Have Known,” and it was, but “Stealing the Ghost Horse” made a suitable closer as it does on the record, its build vicious and clean-vocal payoff never failing to exceed expectation.
It was, it’s worth repeating, Kings Destroy‘s record release show for A Time of Hunting — their second album behind the 2010 debut, …And the Rest Will Surely Perish, which like Clamfight‘s I Versus the Glacier, was issued on The Obelisk’s in-house label, The Maple Forum – and there was no doubt by the time the five-piece dug into “The Toe” and “Casse-Tête” whose party it was. The band, in addition to being a legitimate draw at this point, seemed to import a variety of family and friends for the occasion, and but for the title-track and “Shattered Pattern,” they played the record in its entirety, if out of order, putting “Stormbreak,” which starts A Time of Hunting, after “Casse-Tête” and following it with “Decrepit,” track four on the new one, and “The Mountie” from the first album.
With those last two in succession particularly, Kings Destroy demonstrated just how far they’ve come in the last three years. After shows up and down the East Coast, a tour through Europe and more to come — not to mention the pedigree of the band’s members, which is an exhaustion to contemplate, let alone type — they are locked in as a band and full-on in a way I’d credit few NYC-based acts as being. True to their name, they destroyed, drummer Rob Sefcik holding “Decrepit” steady on stage with guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and bassist Aaron Bumpus while vocalist Steve Murphy hopped off stage — introducing yours truly in the process; I caught “This is JJ, he’s an awkward metal guy,” but the rest didn’t come through — to walk through the crowd during the quieter break and the melodic later vocals, repeating the line “Hold on…” and talking of a brand new start. The lyrics are runes in the liner notes to the album. Good luck with that.
But the dichotomy: To go right from that into the raw, viscerally doomed groove of “The Mountie” highlighted for me the expansion in Kings Destroy‘s sound and how well they can carry across ideas, be they simple or complex. There was some not-quite-moshing going on in front of the stage, but everything was self-contained and everyone was familial, having a good time and so forth, myself included in my awkward metal guy way. Closing out with “Blood of Recompense” and their own album finale, “Turul” — the working title for the record itself — Kings Destroy saved the weirdest for last. I still hear “Too Many Puppies” in the vocal cadence for “Turul,” whether it’s meant to be there or not. There was a good portion of the room for whom the night was over when Kings Destroy were finished. The rest reaped the volume excess of Windhand as a reward.
I’d seen the band before, true, but this was the first time I’d caught them with Parker Chandler of Cough on bass. I picked up a CD of the recent split between the two acts prior to their set, and heard nothing in Windhand‘s ultra-thick double-guitar drudgery to make me regret the purchase. Frontwoman Dorthia Cottrell paced back and forth with manic intensity while Chandler, drummer Ryan Wolfe and guitarists Asechiah Bogdan and Garrett Morris emitted wave after vicious wave of low-end riffage. If even a fraction of that energy comes across on their Relapse label debut full-length (it’ll be their second LP overall), the album is going to be one that well earns its anticipation.
Only snag as regards Windhand‘s set was that I had an hour-plus ride home and had to be up in about five hours to head north to Massachusetts and continue my hunt for housing, so while I might’ve liked to stay and lost myself further in the rise and crash of each cresting undulation, I had to run. In the rain. To my car. And then drive for a long time, sleep for not a long time, then drive for a really long time. Still, it was a gig that more than justified what I considered mandatory attendance, and for seeing good friends doing good work, I was glad to be there to bear witness.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve kept relatively quiet in the leadup to the release of Kings Destroy‘s second album, A Time of Hunting, which is out as of today, May 15, on War Crimes Records. This was basically on purpose. I’m not involved in the release, but since their 2010 debut, …And the Rest Will Surely Perish, came out on The Maple Forum, I still feel like glorifying the record is something of a conflict of interest. Even though all my copies are long since gone. A conflict of ego, maybe. Still, I probably won’t review it.
Because I’ve held off writing about A Time of Hunting, I’ve been more curious to see what others think of the album and its eight varied songs. From blurbs saying they sound like Queens of the Stone Age (they don’t) to reviews saying it’s their first record (it isn’t), this has been an almost universally frustrating process. Yeah, I’m biased, and yeah, I’ve got a different relationship to the music than the average reviewer — that’s not me touting band bro’ness, like I’m Mr. Ontheinsidetrack or some shit. I was in the rehearsal room with Kings Destroy when they were beginning to put these songs together. I’ve seen them coalesce live, seen the band find their identity after the departure of bassist Ed Bocchino, watched them discover the music they want to be making, and then watched them make it. At this point, I’ve lived with A Time of Huntingsince before it had a name.
And nothing I’ve seen has come close to doing it justice. Sorry. I’m sure if you happened to review the record and I didn’t see it or whatever, your review was awesome. It was the one that got it. But from where I sit, even the good reviews have missed the point. A Time of Huntingisn’t a collection of post-Sabbath riffs set to Ozzy vocals. It’s not even doom, and to write it off as that is to cheapen the actual character of the material, which is dark and complex and progressive and much, much fucking harder to pin down. Even the clarion riff that opens “The Toe” has more to it than a genre tag, let alone the drama in both the guitars and the vocals that caps “Blood of Recompense” or the sheer creepiness of closer “Turul,” which is so strange with its sirens, yowl and chugging lurch that the band had basically no choice but to stick it at the end even though they knew it had to be included. And they were fucking right. A Time of Hunting — especially coming off …And the Rest Will SurelyPerish, which was a doom album and very much wanted to be a doom album– is so much bolder and more realized than I’ve yet seen it given credit for being. Fucking buy it and fucking appreciate it.
A Time of Huntingis out now. Kings Destroy is guitarists Carl Porcaro and Christopher Skowronski, vocalist Steve Murphy, bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik. Here’s the release off the PR wire:
Kings Destroy Album Out Today!
Kings Destroy is set to release A Time of Hunting via War Crimes Records today.
Kings Destroy is a twisted, thundering gang of musicians. The doom metal unit takes its name from an infamous late ’70s/ early ’80s Bronx-based graffiti crew, which make sense, as the principle members of Kings Destroy have been playing together in New York City hardcore bands and heavy music projects since as far back as 1986. Guitarist Carl Porcaro is a founding member of the New York hardcore/punk bands Breakdown, Electric Frankenstein, and Killing Time. Guitarist Chris Skowronski also plays with Killing Time and first met singer Steve Murphy and drummer Rob Sefcik in 1988 when he joined their NYHC outfit, Uppercut.
Kings Destroy on tour: Jun. 07 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus (Record Release Show w/ Clamfight, Windhand, Belus) Jun. 20 Chicago, IL – Reggies (w/ the Swan King and Yakuza) Jun. 21 Milwaukee, WI – Days of the Doomed Fest June 22 Columbus, OH – Cafe Bourbon St (w/ Tank Destroyer)
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Just in case you want a glimpse into future live reviews, on June 7, Maple Forum alums and all-around badasses Kings Destroy will play the release show for their second full-length, A Time of Hunting, at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar with Windhand, Clamfight and Belus. Yeah, that’s a righteous bill, and if you’re in town and your calendar isn’t duly marked, fine, you lose. The actual release date for A Time of Hunting is May 15, and the album will be out on War Crimes Records.
And aside from deriving an intense satisfaction at the level of bro-ness between Clamfight and Kings Destroy even though I recognize consciously that I had literally nothing to do with bringing the two acts together, I’ll look forward to seeing both bands sharing a bill, much as I’ll look forward to seeing Windhand play again ahead of making their debut on Relapse Records later this year. I don’t know Belus, but dammit, if they’re on this lineup, they’re okay by me.
Kings Destroy have a brand new video out ahead of the album (rumor has it there might also be a track premiere coming…) for the song “Stormbreak,” which is as awesome as it is of the forest and reinforcing the universally accepted notion that children are creepy. You’ll find it below, along with the tour dates that Kings Destroy will play en route to Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin next month.
Thanks, the PR wire:
Kings Destroy Unveil New Video/Tour Dates
Kings Destroy is set to release A Time of Hunting via War Crimes Records on May 15th. To celebrate, the band has unveiled the Christina Reilly-directed video for “Stormbreak” and announced a string of dates in June.
Kings Destroy is a twisted, thundering gang of musicians. The doom metal unit takes its name from an infamous late ’70s/ early ’80s Bronx-based graffiti crew, which make sense, as the principle members of Kings Destroy have been playing together in New York City hardcore bands and heavy music projects since as far back as 1986. Guitarist Carl Porcaro is a founding member of the New York hardcore/punk bands Breakdown, Electric Frankenstein, and Killing Time. Guitarist Chris Skowronski also plays with Killing Time and first met singer Steve Murphy and drummer Rob Sefcik in 1988 when he joined their NYHC outfit, Uppercut.
Kings Destroy on tour: Jun. 07 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus (Record Release Show) Jun. 20 Chicago, IL – Reggies (w/ the Swan King and Yakuza) Jun. 21 Milwaukee, WI – Days of the Doomed Fest June 22 Columbus, OH – Cafe Bourbon St (w/ Tank Destroyer)
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
…Well, they are. And that’s just the first sliver of big news for Kings Destroy, who’ve got a new record coming that’ll be announced and given its well-deserved hyping over the next few months. While you’re waiting for that and the new video the shoot for which was the source of the woodsy photo above, Kings Destroy have a bunch of other dates coming up, including Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin, to check out. Behold:
April 21 Northstar Bar, Philadelphia with Orange Goblin, ASG, KEN Mode, Roadsaw April 22 Saint Vitus , Brooklyn with Orange Goblin, ASG, KEN Mode, Roadsaw April 23 Middle East, Boston with Orange Goblin, Roadsaw June 7 Brooklyn, NY TBA June 20 Chicago, IL TBA June 21 Days of the Doomed Fest, Milwaukee, WI June 22 Columbus Ohio, with Hollow Leg plus TBA
The lineup is set for the two-day Days of the Doomed III fest out at The Blue Pig in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and it’s looking to be fairly monstrous again in 2013. June is a ways off, so obviously anything can change at any time, but hell, pretty much pick any five of the bands on this list, put them on a bill together, and it’s a show worth making a trip to see. Dream Death and Orodruin within the span of 24 hours of each other? Penance leading into Iron Man? Well, I guess you’re just gonna have to sign me up for that one.
A new trailer, put together by Kathy Reeves, has surfaced for the fest that gives a glimpse at the lineup and sets the tunes to, what else?, old public domain car crash footage. Awesome. Enjoy and here’s looking forward:
Posted in Reviews on February 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
However long it had been since Acid King hit NYC for a show, it was too long. Probably long enough that the last time they did, it was Manhattan they were playing and not Brooklyn. We’re talking pre-economic collapse, possibly around the time the San Francisco trio (ding ding!) put out their latest album to date, III, on Small Stone in 2005. If that’s the case, and I think it might be, then golly, that’s a long time. That would mean that the last time Acid King came through NYC, neither of the bands who opened for them — Blackout and Kings Destroy – nor the venue they played — the St. Vitus bar — existed yet. Pretty wild.
And Brooklyn was excited to see them, at least judging from the packed house at the sold-out Vitus bar and the people outside who couldn’t get tickets. I had a feeling it might work out like that, and wanting to catch Blackout for not having seen them before, got there early and headed almost immediately to the front of the stage where I’d remain for the duration. It wasn’t long before Blackout went on and recognizing Justin Sherrell of Bezoar (who play the same venue with Samothrace this coming Friday), was surprised to find him handling bass in the trio, which also includes drummer Taryn Waldman and guitarist/vocalist Christian Gordy.
I was thinking of Blackout as a new band, but they’ve been kicking around Brooklyn since 2011, so I guess it isn’t a surprise they were as tight as they were, playing a thick, riff-led heavy psych that blended Sleep‘s stoner heyday and classic Melvins stomp with a touch of Rob Crow‘s vocal compression in Goblin Cock and even, when Sherrell joined in, some of Fu Manchu‘s inherent movement to go along with that Naam-style Brooklyny Brooklyness. You know, the kind you get in Brooklyn? Riffs were familiar and steady, well-punctuated by Waldman‘s drums, and straightforward enough that they never really departed from their central groove despite changes in pace and volume and shifts into and out of verses. They didn’t seem so much concerned with breaking new ground, as with bringing something of their own to an established form.
Gordy came across more as a rhythm player than one to kick out a showy solo, but I could see at one point he was just on the verge of breaking out a stoner rock softshoe while riding a particularly funky line. Go for it, man. No way to lose on that one. Blackout‘s last song, “Seven,” had their most potent start-stop and a memorable one-two shout to go along with it, repeated early and repeated often in a killer jam. They were a cool band and a good fit for the bill, since you could just as easily point to Acid King as an influence for their driving, tone-minded roll. If that left Kings Destroy as the odd men out, they were just fine with that.
The thing I enjoy most about seeing Kings Destroy at this point — and I enjoy a good bit about them and I’ve had plenty of occasions to enjoy it — is watching them demolish people’s expectations. Whether people in the crowd heard them through picking up their And the Rest Will Surely Perishdebut (a Maple Forum release) or just from checking out random videos along the way, there’s little that can prepare either for the focused intensity in their performance at this point — not so much a holdover from the members’ NYHC days as an evolution of it — or the free aesthetic range of the newer, post-debut material from their forthcoming second LP. However they manage to do it, Kings Destroy are always catching someone off guard.
I’m hardly an impartial observer, but fun is fun. Despite throwing in weirdo cuts like “Blood of Recompense” and the closing “Turul” from the new album, due out this year on whichever label is bold enough to pick it up, Kings Destroy also went back to their roots, playing both sides of their initial 7″ single with “Old Yeller” and “Medusa.” The blend was right on, and if they had it in mind to play the simpler, more directly riffy material for the heads out to see Acid King, they probably weren’t wrong in doing so. The room was more or less full from what I could tell as they kicked off with “Old Yeller,” and the crowd was already drunk and already rowdy. Or at least a couple dudes were who decided to spread it around after already being led forcefully to but apparently not through the door once during Blackout.
My pick of the Kings Destroy set? Well, I’m a sucker for “The Toe” and a sucker for “The Mountie,” so take your pick. From the start of “Old Yeller” on down, the band showed how far they’ve come, adding a dangerous sense of energy to the older songs. Both cuts from the 7″ also appeared on the album, so “The Mountie” wasn’t alone, but the push was still clearly geared toward the newer stuff, and rightly so. While I love that record as much as you’d think someone would have to in order to decide to put their “label” stamp on it — and if they came to me today with it, I’d still be up for helping to put it out — Kings Destroy 2013 are miles ahead of where Kings Destroy 2010 were, bolstered by road-time in Europe, more songwriting and a greater sense of what influences they want to bring into the band. Their confidence bleeds through everything they do, and they don’t just know they’re kicking your ass on stage, they actually kick your ass too. It had been a couple months since I last saw them (review here), so the refresher was appreciated.
Vocalist Steve Murphy hopped off the stage into the crowd during the quiet ending of “Blood of Recompense” and stood on some kind of box on the side of the stage during part of the oddly progressive “Turul,” marching in isolated place while guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski, bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik locked in the chugging chorus that brought the set to a finish, so even to the presentation of the songs itself, there was a sense of not knowing what the hell might come next.
What was next, however, was Acid King.
And I’ll say this about Acid King: That is a band who are ready to let the riffs do the talking. The case was roughly the same when I last saw them at Roadburn in 2011, but perhaps accentuated all the more for a headlining set in Brooklyn. Still, even without whooping up the crowd, the crowd was in their pocket… and all over the floor of the St. Vitus bar. Moshing during Acid King? Really? The songs have like 30 beats per minute. Q: How do you mosh to that? A: Sauced. I stayed up front the whole show, and for most of Acid King‘s set, my side of the stage didn’t seem to be getting it as bad as the other one, but really, I didn’t expect that kind of thing to happen. It’s fucking stoner rock, not Converge.
But I’m old, and the generation has shifted, so if Acid King inspire enough devotion in a Saturday night Brooklyn crowd despite not having put out a new album in eight years to result in moshing at their show, well, that bit of “this is fun because I’m wasted” goonery and “let me cover you in my shirtless man-sweat” latent homoeroticism I guess is the price to pay for seeing the three-piece in the flesh. It’s a small one in the long run as compares to actually watching Acid King play (though I can’t help but wonder if the girl on the other side of the stage who kept getting grabbed on by Dipshit McGee would argue), who arrived on the stage with as little sense of fucking around as they’d soon bring to their set, which covered mostly IIIsongs and classics from 1999′s genre landmark Busse Woodsbut left room for new material as well in the form of “Coming Down from Outer Space,” “Red River” and a third yet untitled.
Yeah, that’s right, new Acid King. They’ve been kicking around “Red River” for a while — also happens to be the name of the street in Austin, Texas, where I first saw them in 2004, half-passed out sitting on the upstairs balcony at Room 710 while they headlined the Small Stone showcase at SXSW — but everything’s relative. Really, they could’ve played just about anything and I don’t think anyone would have complained. The place was just excited to see they were there, and the band — guitarist/vocalist Lori S., drummer Joey Osbourne and bassist Mark Lamb — were well into it as well, not thrashing around or anything but ensuring the delivery of the tightest set possible of some of heavy rock’s most underrated riffage.
If you were so inclined, you could probably write a dissertation on Lori‘s guitar tone. Under the red lights at the St. Vitus, she led the band through the fuzz of “Busse Woods” and “2 Wheel Nation” like it was a guided tour, Lamb’s own low end providing a fitting answer back, resulting in a consuming wave of groove that was, I shit you not, right up there with the heaviest sounds I’ve ever heard come through that Vitus P.A. It was clear immediately that it would be a great set, and as they nestled into the pocket of riff after riff, not overly animated but not still-life-with-fuzz either, Acid King reminded Brooklyn of just what it had been missing in the time since they last stopped through.
When the crowd got unruly between songs, shouting requests or nonsensicalities like, “You’re in Brooklyn now,” as though they (1:) didn’t know or (2:) were concerned they’d set up their gear in Queens instead, Lori simply hit her foot pedal on for the next song and all the rest disappeared in a hum of feedback, Osbourne smiling behind. “Silent Circle” was a highlight, but “Electric Machine” — which followed the unnamed new song and “Coming Down from Outer Space” — made the whole set for me personally. That’s a song I’m lucky I get through a day without it showing up stuck in my head at some point anyway. To be that close to it was something special.
Their regular set wrapped with III closer “Sunshine and Sorrow,” on which I’d apparently never properly appreciated Osbourne‘s drum fills, as Lori put her guitar down and adjourned to the side of the stage — nowhere else to go — to watch Lamb and Osbourne finish off the song and nod on the groove. They couldn’t leave before the encore, so after a minute or so, they launched into an encore of “Teen Dusthead” and the extended, hypnotic “War of the Mind,” finishing huge, sick and unpretentiously righteous as they’d started. It was a monument to riff-paganism equal parts huge and awe-inspiring, and I felt dazed when they were done.
Consciousness returned on the slow march out enough to get me to my car and back to Jersey, whereupon I crashed out so thoroughly that three days later I’ve yet really to come fully awake. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. One thing’s for sure: If Acid King came to the East Coast for the first time in more than half a decade — one show, not even touring — it probably wasn’t without a reason, and if they were testing the waters for a new album prior to recording, the interest and the fanbase is definitely there. Acid King were welcomed to the St. Vitus like the stoner royalty they are, and though I might stand in back next time around, my only hope after this show is that there is one.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
File under, “Damn, Yo.” Roadsaw, Orange Goblin and Kings Destroy are making it happen, and by “it,” I mean cirrhosis.
I’ve heard legends of Goblin/Roadsaw shows before — the sheer sonic destructiveness of it all, and now they’re bringing that mess to Philly, Brooklyn and Boston in April as Orange Goblin headline a few dates after the end of their run of gigs with Clutch. And to have Kings Destroy on the bill. Well, damn, yo.
Only bummer is I won’t be in the country when it happens. Guess I’ll just have to admire the crater left in their wake upon my return. Here’s the news straight from Roadsaw:
Alright people…..very exciting news from our friends Orange Goblin ……the next ROADSAW shows….boom!
“Orange Goblin have confirmed 3 headline shows which will take place at the end of their tour supporting Clutch in April. The 3 headline shows will be:
Sun 21 Apr – North Star Bar, Philadelphia, PA Mon 22 Apr – Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, NY Tue 23 Apr – Middle East (Downstairs), Boston, MA
These 3 shows will be a 4 band bill with our good friends ROADSAW, KINGS DESTROY”
To be perfectly honest, I don’t really even have a good excuse for posting this flyer, I’m just psyched for the show. On Saturday, Feb. 23, Acid King will return to the East Coast for the first time in I don’t even know how long it’s been, and Maple Forum alums and all-around excellent human beings Kings Destroy have signed on to support along with Blackout on the three-band bill. I guess at that point, I don’t need an excuse. It’s just awesome. All hail crushing February:
Posted in Features on January 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last year was a monster. You might say I’m still catching up on reviews for records that came out in October. Yet here we stand in 2013. It’s a whole new year and that means instead of looking back at some of the best releases, it’s time to look ahead and nerd out at what’s to come. Frankly, either way is a good time, but with some of what’s included on this list, 2013 has the potential to be yet another incredible year for lovers of the heavy.
Across a range of genres and subgenres, there are bands big and small, known and unknown, getting ready to unleash debuts, follow-ups and catalog pieces that by the time December rolls around, will have defined the course of this year. It’s always great to hold an album in your hands, to put it on and listen to it for the first or 19th time, but part of the fun is the excitement beforehand too, and that’s where we’re at now.
Some of these I’ve heard, most I haven’t, and some are only vague announcements, but when I started out putting this list together, my plan was to keep it to 10 and I wound up with twice that many because there was just too much happening to ignore. The list is alphabetical because it doesn’t make any sense to me to rate albums that aren’t out yet, and I hope if you find something you’d like to add, you’ll please feel free to leave a comment below.
Thanks in advance for reading, and enjoy:
Acid King, TBA
We begin with only the basest of speculations. Would you believe me if I told you that 2013 makes it eight years since the heavier-than-your-heavy-pants San Francisco trio Acid King released their last album, III? Of course you wouldn’t believe me. You’d be like, “Dude, no way,” but it’s true. Eight friggin’ years. They’ve hinted all along at new material, toured Europe and played fests in the States like Fall into Darkness, but really, it’s time for something new on record. Even an EP. A single! I’ll take what I can get at this point, so long as it’s Lori S. riffing it.
Chances are, the above isn’t the final art for Argentinian Los Natas-offshoot Ararat‘s forthcoming III, but frontman Sergio Chotsourian has posted a few demos over the last several months and the logo image came from that. Either way, with as far as last year’s II(review here) went in expanding their sound, I can’t wait to hear the final versions of the tracks for the next one. They’re still flying under a lot of people’s radar, it seems, but Ararat are quickly becoming one of South America’s best heavy psych acts. Do yourself a favor and keep an eye out.
Brooklyn trio Bezoar‘s 2012 debut, Wyt Deth, might have been my favorite album that I never reviewed last year, and needless to say, that’s not a mistake I’m going to make twice. The new songs I’ve heard the three-piece play live have ruled and an alliance with engineer Stephen Conover (whose discography includes Rza and Method Man) is intriguing to say the least. I’m sure whatever Bezoar come out with, the performances from bassist/vocalist Sara Villard, guitarist Tyler Villard and drummer Justin Sherrell will be as hard to pin down as the debut was. It’s a record I’m already looking forward to being challenged by.
Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era
Due out April 9, Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s The Edge of an Era will mark the full-length debut for the ambitious trio (now based in L.A.) on Tee Pee Records following on the heels of the impressive The Storm Generation EP (review here). From the Scott Reeder production to the band’s engaging heavy psych/desert rock blend, this one seems bound to win Blaak Heat Shujaa a lot of new friends, and if the advance EP is anything to go by, The Edge of an Eracould prove to be aptly-titled indeed.
Black Pyramid, Adversarial
No release date yet, but so far as I know, Adversarial, which is Massachusetts doom rockers Black Pyramid‘s third album and first to be fronted by guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard, is recorded, mixed and mastered. Song titles include “Swing the Scimitar,” “Onyx and Obsidian,” “Issus,” “Bleed Out” and “Aphelion” (the latter was also released as a limited single in 2012 by Transubstans as a split with Odyssey), and having seen the band live with this lineup, expect no less than a beheading. Also watch for word from the recently announced side-project from Shepard and bassist Dave Gein, The Scimitar.
Black Sabbath, 13
There was a bit of a shitstorm this past weekend when the title of Black Sabbath‘s first Ozzy Osbourne-fronted album since 1978 was revealed in a press release. Nonetheless, 13is set for release in June and will feature Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine on drums in place of Bill Ward, who last year was engaged in a well-publicized contract dispute with the band. Bummer though that is and as crappy and generic a title as 13 makes — especially this year — let’s not forget that Heaven and Hell‘s The Devil You Know also had a crap title and it was awesome. I’m not sure if I’m willing to stake anticipation on the difference between the vocals of Ronnie James Dio circa 2010 and Ozzy Osbourne in 2013, or Rick Rubin‘s production, but hell, is Geezer Butler playing bass on it? Yes? Well, okay then, I’ll listen. The world can do a lot worse than that and another batch of Tony Iommi riffs, whatever else may be in store.
Clutch, Earth Rocker
It’s a ripper. With Earth Rocker, Clutch reunite with Blast Tyrant producer Machine and the results are a record varied enough to keep some of the recent blues elements of the past couple albums (“Gone Cold”) while also showcasing a reinvigorated love of straight-up heavy rock numbers on tracks like “Crucial Velocity,” “Book, Saddle & Go” and “Cyborg Betty.” Longtime Clutch fans can expect a bigger guitar sound from Tim Sult, killer layering and much personality from vocalist Neil Fallon and yet another stellar performance from the best rhythm section in American heavy, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. No doubt in my mind it’ll prove one of the year’s best when 2013 is done. Once more unto the breach!
Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse
Last month, I hosted a Devil to Pay video premiere for the Indianapolis-based rockers’ new track, “This Train Won’t Stop,” from the 7″ single of the same name that precedes the release of their Ripple Music debut full-length (fourth overall), Fate is Your Muse. If the 575-plus Thee Facebook “Likes” are anything to go by, anticipation for the album is pretty high. Reasonably so. When I saw Devil to Pay at last year’s SHoD fest, the new material was killer and the band seemed more confident than ever before. Stoked to hear how that translates to a studio recording and how the band has grown since 2009′s Heavily Ever After.
Egypt, Become the Sun
Technically speaking, Become the Sun is the full-length debut from North Dakota doomers Egypt. The band released their self-titled demo through MeteorCity in 2009 (review here), were broken up at the time, and reassembled with a new guitarist for Become the Sun– which is the only album on this list to have already been reviewed. I don’t know about a physical release date, but it’s available now digitally through iTunes and other outlets, and however you do so, it’s worth tracking down to get the chance to listen to it. Underrated Midwestern riffing, hopefully with a CD/LP issue coming soon.
The Flying Eyes, TBA
Currently holed up in Lord Baltimore Studios with producer Rob Girardi, Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes are reportedly putting the finishing touches on the follow-up to 2011′s immersive Done So Wrong, an album full of young energy and old soul. Along with Blaak Heat Shujaa above, I consider these dudes to be right at the forefront of the next generation of American heavy psych and I’m excited to hear what kind of pastoral blues works its way into their tracks when the album finally gets released. They’re a band you’re probably going to hear a lot about this year, so be forewarned.
Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man
The melodicism of Boston-based Gozu‘s second Small Stone full-length, The Fury of a Patient Man (I swear I just typed “The Fury of a Patient Mrs.”) is no less striking than its album cover. I’ve had this one for a while, have gotten to know it pretty well and my plan is to review it next week, so keep an eye out for that, but for now, I’ll just say that the sophomore outing is a fitting answer to the potential of Gozu‘s 2010 debut, Locust Season (review here) and marks the beginning of what already looks like another strong year for Small Stone. I never thought I’d be so into a song called “Traci Lords.”
Halfway to Gone, TBA
What I’d really like to see happen is for Halfway to Gone – who are high on my list of New Jersey hometown heroes and who haven’t had a new LP out since their 2004 self-titled — to put out a new record in 2013, for it to lay waste to everyone who hears it, and for the band to finally get the recognition they’ve long since deserved. I’ve been charged up on revisiting their three albums since I saw them at the Brighton Bar this past July and after a long wait, rumors, breakups, makeups, etc., I’ve got my hopes up that this year is when these dudes pull it together and make a new one happen. It’s been too long and this band is too good to just let it go.
Kings Destroy, TBA
Confession time: I have the Kings Destroy record. I’ve had it for a bit now. It rules. I don’t know when you’re gonna hear it, but it’s strange and eerie and kind of off the wall stylistically and it doesn’t really sound like anything else out there. Last I heard they’re looking for a label, and whoever ends up with it is lucky. I use a lot of descriptors for bands and their albums, but rarely will I go so far as to call something unique. This album is. If you’ve had the chance to check out songs like “The Toe” and “Turul” live, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, then stick around because with all the sessions I’ve had with the tracks, I still feel outclassed by what these guys are doing. Shine on, you doomed weirdos.
The Kings of Frog Island, Volume IV
I keep going back to the video for “Long Live the King” that Leicester, UK, fuzz rockers The Kings of Frog Island put up back in October. No, really, I keep going back. It’s a good song and I keep listening to it. Just about any other details regarding their fourth album and first without guitarist/vocalist Mat Bethancourt (Josiah, Cherry Choke), Volume IV, are nil, but periodic updates on the band’s Thee Facebooks have it that progress on the recording is being made, and in the meantime, I don’t seem to have any trouble paying return visits to “Long Live the King.” Hopefully Elektrohasch stays on board for a CD release, and hopefully it happens soon.
Several times over the last couple months I’ve had occasion to say it to people and I’ll say it here as well: I think Lo-Pan are the best American stoner rock band going right now. I was interested to see how they handled the bigger stage for their opening slot for High on Fire and Goatwhore (review here), and as ever, they killed. I haven’t the faintest idea what their recording plans might be, if they’ll even sit still long enough to put an album to tape in time to have it out in 2013 — I suspect it depends on what tour offers come up in the meantime — but new songs “Colossus” and “Eastern Seas” bode well for their being able to continue the course of momentum that the excellence of 2011′s Salvador(review here) and all their hard work before and since has put them on.
Queens of the Stone Age, TBA
It probably wouldn’t be fair to call the upcoming Queens of the Stone Age album a reunion between Josh Homme and Dave Grohl since the two also played together in Them Crooked Vultures and Grohl only drummed on Songs for the Deaf, but it’s exciting news anyway and could mean good things are coming from QOTSA, whose last outing was 2007′s comparatively lackluster Era Vulgaris. The big questions here are how the time apart from the band may or may not have affected Homme‘s songwriting and where he’s decided he wants to take the Queens sound. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Sungrazer & The Machine, Split
With the Strikes and Gutters tour already booked to support it (dates above; or here), Dutch upstart heavy psych jammers The Machine and Sungrazer have teamed up for a split release as well that’s bound to feature some of the year’s best fuzz. The two bands have a lot in common, but they’re pretty distinct from each other sonically too, and with The Machine guitarist/vocalist David Eering helming the recording, you can safely bet it’ll capture the live, jammy feel both groups share. Latest word has it that the mastered tracks are in-house, so watch for more to come as we get closer to the Valentine’s Day launch of the tour.
The Swedish fuzz juggernauts’ fourth album overall, this will be Truckfighters‘ first with new drummer McKenzo alongside the core songwriting duo of Dango and Ozo. They’ve been teasing recording updates and threatening song clips, but as soon as I run into something concrete, I’ll share. I’m especially looking forward to the Truckfighters album since it means they’ll likely come back to the US for another tour, and since 2009′s Mania (review here) was so damned brilliant. Not sure on a release date, but it’s high on the list of necessities anyway, however low it may appear alphabetically.
Valley of the Sun, TBA
All I’m going on in including Ohio-based desert rockers Valley of the Sun on this list is a New Year’s message they put out there that read, “Happy New Year, Brothers and Sisters!!! You can count on a Valley of the Sun full-length in 2013.” Hey, I’ve relied on less before, and even if you want to call it wishful thinking, the Cincinnati trio are due a debut full-length behind 2011′s righteous The Sayings of the Seers EP (review here). Even if it doesn’t show up until November or December, I’ll basically take it whenever the band gets around to releasing. Riffs are welcome year-round.
Well, I mean, yeah. Right? Yeah, well, sure. I mean. Well. Yeah. I mean, sure. Right? It’s a supergroup with YOB‘s Mike Scheidt on vocals, John Cobbett of Hammers of Misfortune on guitar, Sigrid Sheie of Hammers of Misfortune on bass and Aesop Dekker of Agalloch and Worm Ouroboros on drums. Album’s done, set for release on Profound Lore. So, I mean, you know, yeah. Definitely. No music has made its way to the public yet — though that can’t be far off — but either way, sign me the fuck up. Anywhere this one goes, I’m interested to find out how it gets there.
Vista Chino, TBA
After that lawsuit, it’s not like they could go ahead and call the band Kyuss Still Lives!, so the recently-announced Vista Chino makes for a decent alternative and is much less likely to provoke litigation. But still, the Kyuss Lives! outgrowth featuring former Kyuss members John Garcia, Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork along with guitarist Bruno Fevery is of immediate consequence. I’m not sure what the timing on the release is, but they’ve already been through enough to get to this point that one hopes a new album surfaces before the end of 2013. What I want to know next is who’s recording the damn thing.
Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You
Not much has been said in the time since I interviewed Gary Arce, guitarist and founder of influential desert rock stalwarts Yawning Man, about the 2LP Gravity is Good for Yourelease (the Raymond Pettibon cover for which you can see above), but the band has been confirmed for Desertfest since then and they’re playing in L.A. on Jan. 25, so they’re active for sure and presumably there’s been some progress on the album itself. It remains to be seen what form it will take when it surfaces, and the lineup of the band seems somewhat nebulous as well, but when there’s a desert, there’s Yawning Man, and there’s always a desert. 2010′s Nomadic Pursuits(review here) was a triumph, and deserves a follow-up.
Anyone else notice that the “20 Albums to Watch for” list has 22 albums on it? Maybe I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Maybe I can’t count. Maybe I just felt like including one more. Maybe I had 21 and then added Vista Chino after someone left a comment about it. The possibilities are endless.
So too is the list of bands I could’ve included here. Even as I was about halfway through, a new Darkthrone track surfaced from an album due Feb. 25 called The Underground Resistance, and news/rumors abound of various substance concerning offerings from YOB, Eggnogg, When the Deadbolt Breaks, Mars Red Sky, Asteroid, Apostle of Solitude, Windhand, Phantom Glue, the supergroup Corrections House, Kingsnake, Sasquatch — I’ve already made my feelings known on the prospect of a new Sleep record — news went up yesterday about Inter Arma‘s new one, and you know Wino‘s gonna have an album or two out before the end of the year, and he’s always up to something good, so 20, 22, 35, it could just as easily go on forever. Or at least very least the whole year.
If there’s anything I forgot, anything you want to include or dispute, comments are welcome and encouraged.
Posted in Reviews on November 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
First thing’s first: As one of the two presenting parties for the show — the other being BrooklynVegan, whose promotional assistance was massively appreciated for this weekender tour — I probably shouldn’t even be reviewing it at all. On the other hand, however, Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight rule, and after plugging the living crap out of it beforehand (see here, here and here), it seems like I’d be leaving the story unfinished without some kind of wrap-up. I felt a little bit like I was going to my own birthday party.
It was the first night of a three-gig weekender, at Union Pool in Brooklyn. The other two shows, Saturday and Sunday, were in Rochester and Allston, Mass., but this one had the added bonus of being free, so all the better. Yeah, C.O.C. and Royal Thunder were playing down at the St. Vitus bar the same night, but though that provided a bit of pre-show anxiety, the crowd was by no means lacking for any of the bands. Even as Clamfight got going, the room had plenty of people in it, for which I was thankful.
I’d shown up to the venue early to deliver the NJ/Philly-based outfit their I vs. the Glacier CDs, due out for release on The Maple Forum on Jan 22. It wasn’t long before they were out on the merch table, so hopefully a few people got early copies, which is always awesome. They got going circa 9:30PM and delivered a set of their epic riffy thrash. Their set was almost entirely new songs — that would prove to be a theme throughout the night — with “The Eagle” as a highlight alongside the slower, more languid guitars of “River of Ice,” which guitarists Sean McKee and Joel Harris made all the groovier while drummer/vocalist Andy Martin slammed his drums so hard he collapsed his floor tom and broke every stick he brought with him for the three shows, leaving Louis Koble‘s steady bass to the task of holding the songs together.
Martin, who has been occasionally known to throw up the night’s alcohol on stage but was doubtless pacing himself for the weekend ahead on Friday, has emerged as a solid frontman presence in the band, despite being behind the drums. He plays with charisma and the shouts and screams he lets loose feel like cruelties directed at the microphone. The band would do well to push his kit more to the front of the stage — not necessarily with anyone behind, but playing more on a lateral, à la Weedeater – and give their set even more of an unhinged atmosphere. As it was, they more than gave a favorable impression to the crowd, and capped off with “Stealing the Ghost Horse,” which also closes I vs. the Glacier and is arguably the most expansive Clamfight song yet, with a sense of drama to offset some of the brashness found elsewhere and a one-man clean/harsh call and response from Martin that’s as memorable live as it is on the album.
This was the first time I’d seen them since being delivered the master for I vs. the Glacierand knowing the songs better just made their set more fun to watch. McKee is relatively understated on stage — well-headbanged hair often obscuring his face entirely — but standing alone to Martin‘s left, he tears into a slew of killer solos, while Harris and Koble keep the riffs flowing on the other wise. Their live dynamic is beginning to come into its own. There are kinks to be worked out — more shows will help — but the potential remains strong and they did right by their new songs, as did Brooklyn’s own Kings Destroy, who turned the lights low and played cuts off their new record, the title of which I’m pretty sure I’m not at liberty to reveal.
I’m not aware of any album title, nor would I be at liberty to disclose any such title were I aware of its existence. Turn your head and cough. Ha.
As if the lighting at Union Pool needed to be any more challenging to my novice-ass picture-taking, Kings Destroy basically played in the dark but for a projection of what looked like shards of light that cut through. Their new songs — the likes of “The Toe,” “Decrepit” the more upbeat “Casse-Tête” and “Storm Break” — are a distant cry from where their first album, And the Rest Will Surely Perish (also aMaple Forum release, fancy that), once came. Part of that has to be due to the departure of bassist Ed Bocchino as a songwriting factor, but if it’s guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski coming up with the guitar parts around which this current batch of material is based, the results are intricate, complex and more and more atmospheric. I’m not about to decry the first album — I wouldn’t if I could — they’ve just flipped the formula on its head and as a result are less tied to genre stylistically.
They’ve also become a force on stage. Union Pool isn’t a huge room, but neither is it small, and that’s how the five-piece made it look, bassist Aaron Bumpus, drummer Rob Sefcik and vocalist Steve Murphy delivering a pro-grade run through a well-constructed set of their latest, the chaos all the more palpable for the fact that it was basically happening in the dark. The band all around has grown from their time on stage in Europe and the US, Skowronski and Porcaro keeping individual identities in a wash of tone and feedback, Murphy cutting through the morass, Bumpus touching on creative fills that just hint at the mountain of talent on which he seems to stand, while Sefcik‘s propulsive thunder proved no less weighted fast or slow. Their new stuff runs a risk of throwing some people off who perhaps expect a direct port of the straightforward side of the debut, but they’re on the way to mastering their aesthetic, and the direction they’re headed inis rich and progressive in a way that they’ve barely hinted at being to this point.
So yeah, by the time they finished with the creepy awesomeness of “Turul,” the first two bands of the night had me in a full-on nerdout. I can admit it. I wasn’t exactly going for impartiality here to start with, just trying to let you know how it went down. And if I wasn’t a fan of the bands, I probably wouldn’t have signed on to release their stuff on The Maple Forum, so if you have to take the review with a grain of salt, well, fine.
A note about the hazards of no cover charge: As Kings Destroy were wrapping up, Guy Who Clearly Just Wandered In saw me standing by the side of the stage in front of Black Pyramid drummer Clay Neely‘s kit and asked if I was in a band. It’s not an unreasonable suspicion — black t-shirt, jeans, long hair, beard; I’ve got the uniform. Now, I don’t want to go around making unreasonable assumptions about the behavior of others, but with the stickers on his $500 leather jacket, the crazed look in his eyes, dual-blonde accompaniment and “I’m everybody’s best buddy and the life of the party” demeanor, I had no choice but to presume he was on cocaine.
This is not an unreasonable assumption to make about anyone on a Friday night in either the Manhattan or Brooklyn boroughs of New York City, but I think that given the evidence — circumstantial though it is — I wasn’t necessarily in the wrong for being on my toes. I told him that, no, I wasn’t in the band, and that Neely, standing next to me, was their drummer. Sweat running down from the well-tended crop of spiky hair on his head, he persisted, as though I was simply obscuring the fact that I was in a band, indeed the band that was playing next, and we were just involved in some kind of playful joshing. No sir, I insisted, I’m not in a band, not in that band. Finally, and in a sterner tone that was not quite a yell but nonetheless definitely the “daddy voice” I’ve put on while scolding my dog for chasing a squirrel toward the road, I told him, “Dude, I’m not in that band. I’m just weird looking. I promise you,” and walked away to watch the end of Kings Destroy‘s set. So to the hazards of no cover: You ne’er know who’s gonna walk in.
It turned out — much to his surprise — that I wasn’t in Black Pyramid. Neely, bassist Dave Gein and guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard (who killed it just six days prior performing as Blackwolfgoat at the Small Stone Boston showcase) were in Black Pyramid, and no sooner were they set up and ready to go than were they laying waste to everything in their path, including the room, which by this point was fairly well packed out. Up front were a few headbangers — a rarity for New York anything — and the band’s energy fed off their own as they led off with “Stormbringer” and then went into “Aphelion” from their 2012 split with Odyssey, the first studio cut with Shepard‘s vocals and guitar, its axe-wielding groove making it an immediate highlight.
There were a few new cuts in the set from Black Pyramid‘s next album, which was finished being recorded only hours before the band pulled up to play Day Four of this year’s SHoD, and it’s worth noting how much more at home Shepard seemed on the material he helped compose. He stepped into kind of an awkward situation when he joined the band late last year before the release of their second full-length, II, and though he’s done well to make the prior material his own — as “Stormbringer,” “Visions of Gehenna” and the finale “No Life King” showed — there’s a difference between his performance of the songs he adopted versus the songs he wrote. It’s not an easy thing to make someone else’s work yours — that’s why most covers suck — but what he brings to Black Pyramid is about 20 years of writing killer riffs, plus an ability to toss off embarrass-your-lead-guitarist solos like he was taking off a pair of shoes. He makes some of the older leads look easy to the point of silliness.
His vocals on both new material and old fit the songs excellently, though, and he, Gein and Neely were as tight as I’ve ever seen Black Pyramid, including at Roadburn 2011, which if it wasn’t their prior apex had to be close to it. I’m hardly objective in their case either, even if I haven’t released anything of theirs, but the crispness of their presentation made me look forward all the more to when I might get the chance to hear the studio versions of the new tracks and give them an overly-worded track-by-track review, which no doubt will also carry with it a disclaimer disavowing any and all critical credibility. But it’ll be fun, and that’s what matters.
Ditto that for this gig. It was a great time. All three of these bands are made up of killer dudes, and when I rolled out of Union Pool and headed back to Jersey, I was more than a little wistful at the thought of following the tour up north to Rochester, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, I rolled into my humble river valley at around 1:30AM, found that the internet had finally come back on after Hurricane Sandy, and spent the remainder of the evening — all 25 minutes of it — beginning to chip away at the weeks of neglected emails that I hadn’t had the chance to answer. Some you win, some you lose. I felt lucky to see these three acts on the night I did, and hopefully they get together and do it again.
Once again, I doff my hat to the work of Sean “Skillit” McEleny, who just sent over this poster for the Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight “Annihilate All Weekend Long” weekender tour next month. You may know Skillit‘s stuff from, uh, scroll up, he did the header for this site, as well as from kickass shows and artists too numerous to mention in a post that’s just supposed to be about artwork. His site is here.
I wanna be friends with it:
Friday, 11/9 – Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY **FREE SHOW**
Saturday, 11/10 – Monty’s Krown, Rochester, NY
Sunday, 11/11 – O’Brien’s Pub, Somerville, MA
By way of band updates:
Kings Destroy will also be playing Nov. 2 at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn with Witch Mountain. Their new album is being mastered next week by Joe Lambert in Brooklyn, and will be out early 2013.
Clamfight are in Delaware this weekend with Wizard Eye and others. The latest on their new album is here. I can’t fucking wait for it to be released.
Black Pyramid kick ass. That’s not really news, but it’s true all the same.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight. Well damn.
They should just go ahead and call it the “WEEKENDER TO END ALL WEEKENDERS.” I think maybe I’ll get in my car and follow them around for all three dates, but like, not tell them I’m going to do it and just keep showing up at the shows and being like, “What?”
Black Pyramid, fresh off SHoD XII and the recording of a new album, Kings Destroy, also fresh off recording a new album (and also playing with Pallbearer next week in Brooklyn), and Clamfight, the album art for whose Maple Forum debut is apparently done at last — all three teamed up? That’s worth the price of gas for sure.
Good bands and good people mean good shows. You should go to any and all of the following:
Friday, 11/9 – Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, 11/10 – Monty’s Krown, Rochester, NY
Sunday, 11/11 – Radio, Somerville, MA
Expect more news to come in the next few weeks and months about new records from all three of these bands — and by “news,” I mean fanboy slobbering. Awesome.
Posted in Features on July 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
In this final installment of Kings Destroy‘s European tour diary, vocalist Steve Murphy steps in to wrap up the last several shows on the band’s run with Rosetta, taking us through five countries in six nights in the process. Since this is the final update and the tour is over, I’d like to send extra thanks to Murphy, to guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris “C-Wolf” Skowronski, bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik for their contributions along the way. It’s been a blast to read about their wine-addled gallivanting, and I hope to get the opportunity to do it again soon.
Also please note that the live photos for this entry were taken from links provided by the band. The shot of Murphy below is by Laura Bender, and the pics of Porcaro and Bumpus are by Diana Matthess. Please enjoy:
I’ll pick up the tour diary from here. Drive from Prague to Vienna, Austria, overly long but we get in around 7PM which means we don’t have time to see arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world… bummer. We load in at Club Arena… I see on the flyer Ufomammut, Red Fang, Electric Wizard are all playing here coming up. The venue is an old slaughterhouse comprising of four or five buildings in various states of disrepair — perfect for us. There is an opening band called Torn from Earth from Budapest. They rip through a heavy set that I dug. We are next. We are pretty tight by now. Locked in to each other. We are playing new songs probably half the set each night. We finish a 45-minute set to calls for an encore but there is no time. Rosetta step onstage. They have mastered the changeover on this tour and often start within 10-15 minutes of us. They are a great band. They’ve toured the world and have played 750-plus shows. I marvel at that knowing KD just finished playing show number 40 in our brief tenure. Just got news that David Bottrill will be mixing the album so pretty psyched about that. Requisite night out and crash to sleep. Tomorrow Budapest, one of my favorite cities in the world.
Whoa. What a stunning city. Think Paris with an edge. We got to the club early and had four hours to kill so KD and Armine from Rosetta found a large thermal spa which Budapest is famous for, paid 12 bucks to get in and had our fill of 15 different thermal baths of varying temperatures, the highlight being a large outdoor pool with a built in whirlpool that was about the size of a circle pit and moving 25mph filled with people going round and round. Carl went in it and as he was trying to exit crushed about four Hungarians because he miscalculated the speed required to exit the whirlpool — hilarious. Back to the venue for load in, food, sound check. Opening band again is Torn from Earth who are supercool dudes. They draw a good crowd. KD hits the stage with eight people in the audience. We kick it off with “The Mountie” and people start filtering in. Onto a new song, “Decrepit,” which is slow. Crowd is now three-quarters full and people are into it but tentatively. We have been told the Budapest metal scene is quite discerning, and if they don’t like you, they will let you know. Kick off “The Toe” with Carl in the audience and me climbing the stacks where we remained… Hmmm, Budapest starting to wake up. Straight into another new one “Casse-Tête” and now people are hooked. Ride out the set with “Old Yeller” and people are screaming for one more, so they get a sloppily-played “Dice.” Best show of the tour after Poland thus far. Late night for the band afterwards. Pretty much like every night at this point. The van ride to Croatia is a quiet one with guys licking their wounds from the night before.
Croatia is not in the EU so we got caught up at the border for an hour, which wasn’t fun. Got into Zagreb and rolled into a DIY punk venue. Walked in and knew we were in trouble immediately. Warm beer in the fridge, bathroom that rivaled CBGB’s circa 1985 minus the glory. Loaded in and immediately left the venue to spend as much time as possible away from it. We found the nice part of town and sat at an outdoor cafe for dinner. Nothing like some cold local wine and beer to loosen up after a long drive. Go on at 10PM and play well for an hour. Set is now 70 percent new stuff. Made a bunch of new fans. A young lady came to the front and tried to stop the set midway through demanding that I come over to her in Croatian. I dismissed her with a wave away and then didn’t see her until after the set. I’ve had a habit of wearing white and orange polka dot socks pulled up this tour. She approached me in a very inebriated fashion to tell me that she had only wanted to pull my socks down. She then asked me for my dirty socks. That was a first. I offered to trade them for her underwear (tongue in cheek), to which I was told she wasn’t wearing any. After receiving that information I dutifully removed my socks and handed them over. It’s the small things in life. The night ends up with the band hanging out in a park with some of the locals late. These people were just thrilled to see a band from NYC and meet us and we were thrilled right back. Tomorrow a long drive to Comacchio, Italy.
Three shows left. Long drive today. We’re used to it but it weighs on us at this point. The show in Zagreb was great. We are very wary of playing in Italy. Many members of KD have played Italy before to poor crowds. Rosetta has also not played Italy at all. We have a beautiful drive through Slovenia – wow, what a country. We arrive at venue at 7PM and it’s looking good: Nice club, big stage and DRI is playing here in a few weeks. How bad could it be? We haven’t had a bad show yet in terms of crowd. Rosetta has a loyal draw and KD seems to have a complementary sound and so it’s been a great tour. We find out there are five bands playing and that we go on at midnight. Great — the Adriatic Sea is a 15-minute walk, so we load in, set up and head to the beach for a 9:30PM swim and a bite to eat. Sun is still setting when we get there and it’s a nice seaside community. We are out of place with our black t-shirts and shorts and scraggly look. No worries, as we are immediately enjoying the Adriatic and the water temp is about 85 degrees. Awesome. We hit a seaside cafe for a bottle of chilled Italian wine. Awesome. We walk back to the venue and it’s empty. Uh oh. Some crappy hardcore band is playing and there is no one there. It’s 11PM. Ok first bad show. We’ve played enough shows to know this. There is a DJ playing bad hardcore music between sets. I ask him to play Black Sabbath during our changeover. He says no. I think to myself that’s perfect. I go to the bar and get five shots of Jeager, bring them onstage and we toast the crowd of 20 and drain them. We go on at 12:45AM and play five songs. There was an exceptionally long mic chord, so during the second song I walked off stage and straight behind the bar and sang to the bartenders – didn’t Italian opera singers sing in restaurants for food and drink? I guess that’s lost on this generation. I try to sing and serve at the same time but that doesn’t work out too well. The small crowd has smiles on their faces though and that’s a win for a show like that. Rosetta hits the stage at 1:25AM. They are a machine and rip through a set. Bad show — it happens — we take it in stride. We sleep at a seaside hostel wake up and hit the beach again as though we are on vacation. Two days to go. The Adriatic Sea cleansing away the poor memories of the previous night. Onward to Milan.
Second to last show. We find out the show is being promoted by same company that did previous show. Bummer. We are on autopilot though. We have an album to record and are focused on that. Inside the van the language being spoken is English but all in a sort of dialect that has alternative meanings. I realize that if anyone were to enter the van and ride with us right now they would not understand any of the conversations. Touring has a way of altering your mental state to a point that only your bandmates can understand you and each other. It’s an interesting dynamic. Drive, load in, sound check, go find someplace to eat. Club is in the middle of nowhere in Milan. The sound at the club is great though and that means something to us. We find a small local restaurant and have great fresh Italian food and wine. As we walk back to the club we see a rather large fire of burning tires in an abandoned lot. The entire area reeks and is smoky. It’s like a scene out of a war… It reminds us of the Bronx. We hit the stage and play almost all new stuff. It’s ours now and we are not tentative with it. The last six shows during the bass break in “The Mountie,” Aaron has been playing something different, usually IronMaiden or Metallica. The last two nights he has been playing a Rosetta bassline. Rosetta pays homage to us tonight by playing the first 30 seconds of “Casse-Tête, one of our new songs. It does not go unappreciated by KD. Quiet night for a change. The tour is rapidly winding down and there is talk in the van of the hated “reentry” into our non-touring lives. We know what to expect but it’s still tough to deal with — the feelings of isolation and not wanting human contact upon returning seem counterintuitive but we all feel the same way.
Eight-hour drive to Karlsruhe is pain, but we drive through Switzerland. It’s stunning. We have been in 14 countries in 19 days and played 17 shows. Everybody has gotten along well. We roll into Karlsruhe with mixed feelings. It’s Sunday night so we have low expectations. It’s also raining. Wrong. Place has a great crowd and we summon a huge reserve of energy and basically just let it all hang out. Set ends with everyone playing in the crowd except Rob, the drummer. Perfect ending to KD tour. Rosetta gets up and rips the place up. Band has to load out and drive overnight to Brussels to catch an 8AM flight. It’ll take a few days for the tour to sink in, but from my perspective we achieved what we set out to achieve, saw some great spots, met the nicest people and got to play hard every night. Onto the next one!
Posted in Features on July 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
When vocalist Steve Murphy of Kings Destroy — who’s hands down one of the most solid dudes I’ve ever come across in my doomly travels — first pitched me on the idea of a European tour diary, I was like, “Yeah, alright, I’d be up for that.” And I was, but I kind of figured that the band would be too busy drinking good beer and kicking good ass to actually follow through on it.
More the fool I, and rarely have I been so thrilled to play the fool. Below, bassist Aaron Bumpus checks in from the road as Kings Destroy opens the Red Stage at Sweden’s Getaway Rock Fest and continues their European run with Rosetta. If you’ve missed the first installments of the tour diary, click here.
Berlin-Prague Official tour song: Scorpions, “Winds of Change” Official tour mascot: Paul Stanley
After another great show at Magnet with our tourmates, Rosetta, Kings Destroy says farewell to Berlin and heads north to Sweden. My mind begins to generate a rather long list of bands that were born in this country over the years, and I start to think, “What metalhead wouldn’t be psyched about going to Sweden?”. Especially when said visit involves an insane event like GetawayRockFest.
Driving up from Berlin to the ferry, we hadn’t slept much in the van. So once we boarded the ferry, I put my head down and was out within minutes. I did wake up a couple of times to take a peak outside at what appeared to be small glacial structures. An ominous mist rose off the top as we crept by. Fucking metal, indeed.
After a second blown rear tire in three days (this time on Rosetta‘s van), we continued on to Linköping, where we made camp for the night. We would get an early start in the morning. Of course, delays are inevitable sometimes. Without getting too detailed, I guess it’s fair to say we may have put a little too much faith in our GPS. Once we figured out a way to get to a much more reliable road, we hauled ass to Gävle with Captain Murphy at the helm, and arrived at the exact time we were scheduled to set up for soundcheck. The view from the “Red” stage at Getaway Rock Fest was a sight to behold, adjacent to the river, blue skies and a clear sunny day. Since we opened the show on our stage (with Rosetta to follow), we weren’t expecting much of an audience. This was the earliest set we’ve ever played (2PM), but sure enough, people started making their way over to rock with us. Good times on that stage — always nice to have a bit of room to run around. Well received, and we had the rest of the day to hang out, drink beer and watch some of the other bands.
The highlight for me was at about 4:30PM, when I was lucky enough to catch Suicidal Tendencies set in its entirety. I watched from the frontlines singing along every word like an obsessed angst-filled Dogtown teenager. One can never get tired of watching Cyco Miko bug out on stage — dude never seems to run out of energy. I can honestly say, with four stages, 12 hours of bands, blond headbanging as far as the eye can see, and of course, t-shirts of all kinds, from obscure local favorites to the usual hall of famers (Iron Maiden wins the t-shirt popularity contest without question), I’ve never seen anything quite like this. The magnitude of such an event is pretty unbelievable, until you witness it for yourself.
Spent some time hanging out with the guys from Weedeater, who are some of the nicest dudes, and always entertaining both on stage and off. You know what? I take back what I said earlier. The REAL highlight of my day was watching the Weedeater cats commandeer a forklift from the stage crew, going full throttle towards the backstage area, then Dixie riding the lift all the way up to the top and back down, all without spilling his beer.
Saturday’s headliner: none other than the legendary Yngwie Malmsteen, who has not slowed down one bit since Rising Force. Sweden’s prodigal son returns, in triumph, to unleash the fucking fury in his homeland. Now that’s a sight I never thought I would get to see.
After a quick ferry ride followed by a 16-hour drive, we’re back in Germany for a show in Hamburg. Our overall weariness from the drive may have added to the extra-slow set we delivered, making it appropriately doomtastic. We made friends with some of the locals who accompanied us to a metal bar in the neighborhood where we spent the majority of the rest of the night drinking beer and filling up the jukebox. Lots of laughs as we stumbled back to the venue/apartment where we were staying.
Before I tell the story of our arrival in Prague, I should mention we just had our third flat tire in a week (the second flat for Rosetta‘s van). In order to make the gig, we had both bands pile into one van with all our gear, and fucking tore ass across the German border. Pretty intense. We knew we were going to be late, but “the show must go on,” as they say. We didn’t mind playing a relatively short set so the Rosetta fans at Klub 007 would get their money’s worth.
It was also C-wolf‘s birthday yesterday. I can’t think of a better place to celebrate the man and the legend that is the C-wolf. The next morning, we took a walk into town. We really haven’t had much time to go out and explore, but I’m glad Prague was one of the three we’ve been able to check out. Old cities are something of a fascination of mine, and I’ve been fortunate to see several on this tour. Little by little, we’re creeping closer towards the end. It’s really starting to sink in that this thing is almost over. But, with six days left in the tour, there are bound to be a few more adventures.
Posted in Features on July 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
In this second installment of the Kings Destroy European tour diary, guitarist Chris Skowronski (whose birthday also happens to be today; happy birthday and what a way to celebrate) updates on the band’s progress on their run of shows with Rosetta, focusing in on several gigs in Poland. The first part of the tour diary is here, in case you missed it last week. Please enjoy:
Tour Diary Polska
ChrisSkowronski from Kings Destroy here. I’m going to take over tour diary duty and do my best to give a recap of our time in Poland. After rocking Leipzig, Germany, we headed east into Poland, excited, but unsure of what we’d find waiting for us. None of us had ever been there, but we knew it had a reputation for being truly metal. Soon after crossing the border, we pulled into a gas station rest stop and got our first taste of this awesome country. You see, when you think of gas station food, a nice hot plate of pierogies usually doesn’t come to mind, but that’ s just what we got. This rest stop was also our introduction to the ubiquitous rest stop kabanos — a polish hot dog inserted vertically into a crispy, closed-bottom bun. Anyway, they’re available at EVERY stop, so if you ever visit, be ready for them.
We had a long drive ahead to reach our first destination, Toru?. After hours of driving through unceasing farmland occasionally punctuated by tiny, grim towns, pulling into Toru? was a trip. One of Poland’s oldest cities (and the birthplace of Nicholas Copernicus), Toru? is OLD. Medieval old. I’m not going even try to describe the beauty of its architecture, its winding cobblestone streets, or its MANY cathedrals, but do yourself a favor and look it up on the interwebs. It really is stunning.
The show was in a club space that was separated from a small bar by a narrow courtyard. As it was the night of the final match of Euro 2012, and people in Europe care more about soccer than anything, the show was set to start right after the match, which was being shown on a big-screen tv in the bar. The crowd was a mix of local young people there to drink (which the Polish do quite well) and watch the match, and Rosetta fans (who of course wanted to see the match, then see the rock).
As the final seconds of Spain’s beat-down of Italy ticked away, KD hit the stage — to all of four people. It did not seem promising, but we did what we do best and kicked into “The Mountie.” By the end of the tune, the strains of rock wafting from the club room had pulled in a few more people from the bar and courtyard, and soon the room was filled with the most enthusiastic crowd we’ve ever seen (home city of NYC, included). Then the magic really happened: groups of kids unironically and vigorously headbanging. It was a beautiful sight. And when Steve [Murphy, vocals] called the crowd in a little closer (they were keeping a slightly wary distance) they moved RIGHT TO THE FRONT. Like, they got my sweat all over them front. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that it was crazy hot and humid in Toru?.
The crowd reaction just got better as the set went on, and the fact that we and Rosetta were the only two bands on the bill meant that we could pace a nice long set with plenty of brand new songs that had not yet seen live action. These kids loved them all. When the set finally ended in a fury of headbanging (from both us and the crowd), our first show in Poland gave us another first — an encore. No shit. It was amazing.
We gave them what they wanted and rocked through a new tune called “Motivated Slug,” then left stage for Rosetta to rock them some more. Plus, we needed to step out in the courtyard and air out a bit, as the room was stifling. Of course, a few pints of fine Polish beer helped that situation out, too. After Rosetta leveled the completely packed room, all the fine people in attendance joined us outside, and we got our first chance to mingle with the people of this fine country (who are also my people, if you haven’t guessed by my last name). Let me tell you that you won’t find a kinder, warmer, more hospitable group of people than the Poles. Just amazing. The night ended late (or early, as the sun was coming up), with a walk down to the Vistula River and a couple of bottles of red wine. A fitting end to a pretty fucking unreal night.
Next up in Poland was the port city of Gdynia. In terms of aesthetics, it was a 180 from the medieval charm of Toru?. Industrial, slightly gritty, it seemed like a place where they like their metal extra heavy. And the venue for that night’s show was a big one, a club called Ucho. Rosetta had played this club a couple years ago opening for Sepultura, if that gives you any indication of how big and pro this joint was. Lucky for us, Rosetta pulls them in, because by the time then opening band (a trad shoe-gaze band from Poland called Folder) hit the stage, the place was half-full, with just as large a group milling around outside smoking and drinking. Oh yes, the Poles smoke more than anyone you’ll meet. Like chimneys. As the only member of our band who smokes, this is bad situation for me. Large stretches of boredom, very cheap cigarettes, and people smoking all the time around me make for me smoking way too much.
After Folder finished a great set, KD took the stage. The large stage offered us a chance to really move around, which we don’t often get to do. It was a little scary being up there at such a large venue as a band that was probably known by very few (if any) audience members. But once again, the Polish fans delivered. Without prompting, fans were up front, furiously head banging in the Polish style, and KD responded in kind. And once again, new songs dotted the set, and old favorites like “Dusty Mummy” were, well, dusted off. A pit even formed for the more pit-worthy songs, which luckily did not worry the contingent of young female headbangers pressing against the front of the stage one bit. The Poles are tough people, even the younger ones. After “Old Yeller” and our good nights and thank yous, a single voice began yelling “Kings Destroy!” and then chanting “One! More! Fuck-ing! Song!” in heavily accented English. This chant was picked up by others, and who are we to deny the rock to those who demand it so forcefully?
Encore over, we began packing to clear the way for hurricane Rosetta. As I was placing my sweaty-ass Les Paul in her case, I noticed a little Polish boy who was no older than 10 standing in front of the stage, grilling me. I said hello and got stony Eastern-European silence in return. I reached my hand down in the universal sign for “slap me five,” and he gave me a solid one. I handed him the guitar pick I had played the show with, and his eyes lit up in excitement. Then Rob [Sefcik, drums] gave him a pair of his giant drumsticks, and the kid was really stoked. We later saw him walking around and air-drumming with them, flanked by father, a giant, stern-looking Pole in his 40s. After Rosetta rocked, the father approached me and Steve as we drank at the bar and asked if we would pose for a picture with the boy. Of course, we happily obliged. A few kids outside even asked us to sign fliers for them. Once again, I can’t say enough about how awesome and enthusiastic these kids were.
Next day’s show was Warsaw, capital city and victim of untold violence, pain and destruction throughout history. I was most excited for this gig, of course, and the two insane shows before it seemed to bode well. We arrived in Warsaw to sweltering heat and humidity (Gydnia had been so cool that we had all changed into pants and jackets). The club was in a grim, seedy part of town, with large apartment blocks of buildings still bearing crumbling facades and bullets holes from WWII. Those building that were post-war were communist-era utilitarian style, and it really seemed that we had been transported back to the 1980s. It was a bit creepy, but also very cool.
Club Hydrozagadka was an awesome spot in the typical punk rock style, with an awesome sound system, and awesome staff, and an awesome young promoter. The show even ended up being streamed live over the internet. The opening band was a three-piece, all instrumental shoe-gaze affair from Australia called Meniscus. Very cool people, and a very cool band. We hit the stage to a good crowd, though the headbanging was not as furious in the capital as our other gigs. No matter, as the crowd stayed, rocked, and let us hear it after every song.
After Rosetta‘s killer set, the three bands hung at the club’s bar until way too late, as our accommodations for the night were in a hostel about 20 feet from the club. We bid Meniscus farewell as they left for the rest of their dates, and hit the sack as the sun came up.
Day four started with a luxury we haven’t had much of on this tour — time. The drive to Poznan was short, so we actually had a few hours to do some shopping. As we crossed a set of light rail tracks in Warsaw’s center, we crossed out of the Soviet-era grimness, a GIANT, ultra-modern luxury mall rose up in front of us. I guess every city really does have a “wrong side of the tracks,” and we had clearly been in Warsaw’s, but isn’t that where all the good clubs (and not to mention the true character of the city) are?
The drive to our last Polish gig in the city of Poznan threw the first curveball of the day. At a rest stop, we noticed one of the rear tires on our van seemed low, so we moved it to the air pump, only to discover it had a huge gash in the inner sidewall. No problem, we have a spare, right? Yes, but the jack is the same shit one that I have in my Honda, and we realize we don’t have a lug wrench. We notice a kind of hard-ass Pole smoking a cig, watching us. He also happens to be standing outside the same make of van, so we ask him for help, which he provides. Basically, he ends up shooing our lame-asses out of the way and doing it all himself, including showing us the complicated system for releasing the spare from its spot underneath the van. We buy him a beer, but he waves it away. We insist, and he tosses it on his passenger seat. We head back on the road.
Poznan turns out to be an older city, like Toru?, but with a tougher edge, like Warsaw. The club is located up two winding flights, so load-in sucks. We also learn that Faith No More is playing in town the same night, which has the promoter worried. We arrive just before show time, but no kids are around. By the time we get set up and Rosetta sound checks, kids begin to filter in. The other show definitely hurts the draw, but it’s still a good crowd. However, they approach our set with wary distance. They applaud, but nobody’s up front. So Steve takes matters into his own hands. During the intro to “The Toe,” he walks down into the middle of the room and places a single road case down. He performs from there. This actually impresses the crowd a bit, and Carl [Porcaro, guitar]‘s subsequent foray onto the floor to try to take Steve out adds to the weirdness. But it works, and people slowly inch forward. By the end of the set, the applause is hearty, and KD calls it a win.
We hang late and toast Poland. The next morning, we aim the van for Berlin, and unhappily bid goodbye to the land of true metal spirit, the land of earnest headbanging, and the land that gave me my surname. Farewell, Poland. Kings Destroy will never forget you.