Psycho Las Vegas 2018: Departure

Posted in Features on August 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2018

08.20.18 – 6:57AM – Monday morning – McCarren Airport, Las Vegas

My cab driver on the way over here was from Athens, a retired cargo-ship captain whose pension got taken back from him and who’s been in the US for eight months. I talked up the Greek heavy rock scene to him and apologized for the weirdness of the times here. He said, “I think America is the best country,” and compared it to Albania, where he said it’s harder to make a living. When we got to the terminal, I gave him a good tip and wished him good luck.

Maybe it was a story he tells everybody. Maybe he made it up. Whatever. I like a story.

Flight is in about an hour. My original reservation said I was flying to Houston. When I checked in this morning with my magic confirmation number, it was San Francisco. Vegas to San Fran to Boston. I’ll get into Logan in about 13 hours, reportedly.

Before I close up the laptop so I can sit anxiously here at Gate D58 and wait for boarding to start, as though my staring would somehow expedite this process — shout to Steve Murphy, who’s seen this in action — I have to say thanks. Thanks to you for reading and for your support and just everything. I was overwhelmed this weekend at the kindness of everyone who came up and said hi, people who knew the site and others with familiar names from the social medias who introduced themselves. Bands I’ve written about and bands I should’ve written more about, and everybody else. It was incredible. Thank you.

Thanks to Evan, Ronnie, Jay and everyone else from the Psycho crew for having me out here. It was a festival unto itself. The big Psycho comparison point is European festivals, the Desertfests, Roadburn, etc. Psycho is its own thing.

Just like American bands and European bands trading influence back and forth across the ocean, Psycho is the start of that conversation from this side of the world. It’s not the first US heavy fest by any stretch, but it might be the first on this scale, and all weekend rumors were circulating about venue changes and even bigger things for next year. Should be interesting.

But thank you. Thank you to The Patient Mrs. for running point on The Pecan and allowing me to be here. I’ve had a couple trips fall through this year and this was one I was glad to make.

When I get back it’s time to knuckle-down for Fall. The Patient Mrs. starts a new semester of teaching right after Labor Day, and that means I’ll be doing my share of daddytime in a way that this weekend I most definitely was not. He’ll be 10 months this Friday. First steps accomplished last Wednesday. Three teeth, fourth coming in. Dude is killing it, and if you didn’t see it, that Vol. 4 cover made by the esteemed Slevin is album art of the year as far as I’m concerned.

They just delayed my flight, so I need to run and find out what that does to my connection. Maybe I’ll get to Houston after all. Here’s to adventure. Thanks again for reading and all the best from wherever the hell I’m headed.

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Live Review: Psycho Las Vegas Sunday, 08.18.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2018

08.19.18 – Let’s call it midnight – Sunday night – Hotel room

Every time I walk down a long hotel hallway I think of John Goodman in Barton Fink toting his rifle and yelling about the life of the mind. “Look upon me!” and so on. That’s a fun association to have.

I had breakfast this morning at the kind-of diner here in the Hard Rock and it was the first meal I’d had in a while not made of a protein bar or granola and cereal. Not much time for that kind of thing, but I wasn’t sleeping and a little extra fortification seemed like the right idea for the final day of Psycho. No regrets.

Another busy day. There’s no letup here. Sets are full, and there are breaks between, but if you’re up for going, you can just keep going the whole day. It’s astounding. I’ve been doing my best to see as much as possible, but even that’s a fraction of the whole.

But, today was also the last day, so a bit of adrenaline to carry through is a fortunate happenstance. Flight’s early tomorrow, but that’s tomorrow’s problem.

Here’s today:

King Buffalo

King Buffalo (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s not like I’ve never seen King Buffalo, but I think they might’ve been my most-anticipated band of the weekend. Their upcoming album, Longing to be the Mountain, is a big step forward in their sound, and 2016’s Orion (review here) was already right up there with that year’s best offerings. They opened with the title-track of the new record and then “Repeater” from the 2018 EP of the same name (review here) before digging back to Orion for its own title-track and “Kerosene,” both of which were met with a relative uproar from the knowing Vinyl crowd. At one point early on someone in the audience shouted between songs, “Why are you opening?” and drummer Scott Donaldson answered, “I don’t know!” I don’t really know either, but Donaldson, guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay and bassist Dan Reynolds were a perfect start to the day, with the latter adding a wash of loops and psychedelic noise and transitional drones for between the songs, the build and fluidity of which were immersive in their totality. There was no moment that pulled one out of the atmosphere they set, and when the three of them locked into the heavier end of “Kerosene,” the room became a lake of nodding heads. I will consider myself lucky have seen them here. They made that room their own.

Indian

Indian (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Chicago four-piece — playing as a five-piece with Primitive Man‘s Ethan Lee McCarthy sitting in on noise and backing vocals — were probably the angriest act I’ve seen all weekend. Or, you know, ever. The assault factor extended not just to the brutality of what they played, the chest-vibrating volume at which they played it or the harsh noise and feedback that infected every single break between riff after punishing riff, but even unto the bright wash of white light under which they played. It was blinding to stare at the stage for any length of time. So it was a challenge on almost every level it could be short of them spraying skunk scent on the crowd or something like that. The rhythms of bassist Ron DeFries and drummer Noah Leger hit through a surge of low end and were punctuated by a kick drum that could almost turn the stomach, and the tortured, disaffected screams from guitarists Dylan O’Toole and Will Lindsay that cut through all that not-just-aggro-but-really-pissed-off morass were just one more level on which Indian‘s bleakness was conveyed. If King Buffalo were easing the crowd into the final day of Psycho Las Vegas 2018, Indian were making sure no one left without a scar. Menacing.

Coven

Coven (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Legends, of course. What’re gonna do, not watch Coven? Of course not. Frontwoman Jinx Dawson arrived on stage in a draped coffin and was let out by robed minions, wearing a silver mask for the first song to obscure her face and underscore the theatrical cult rock vibe. Their 1969 debut, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls is the stuff of cultish blueprint — the style simply wouldn’t exist in the same way without it — and Dawson and her also-robed backing band honored that legacy well. I’ve wondered as Coven have gotten back to the live performance sphere if they might ever do another record. I don’t know that they would or wouldn’t, or if they did what it would sound like — the band behind Dawson definitely brought a modern edge to those classic sounds — but it seems like a worthy pursuit. As it was, the crowd headbanged and took phone pictures at the same time and were no less into the revelry than Coven itself, which brought the atmosphere of ceremony in a way that reminded of the roots not just of cult rock, but black metal and doom and so much more besides. They’re a feelgood story for a band finally getting their due appreciation, or at least Dawson getting hers, but Coven on stage demonstrate the timeless vitality of what they did nearly 50 years go.

Black Mare

Black Mare (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I had no idea what to expect from Black Mare, and I was still surprised. Was it just going to be Sera Timms singing over drones, or her and a drummer, or anything. I don’t even know. It was a full band. Timms, who’s probably best known at this point as the ethereal frontwoman of Ides of Gemini but who was also in Black Math Horseman and shared vocal duties with John Garcia in Zun — which I’m still hoping wasn’t a one-off — was joined by her Ides bandmate J. Bennett on bass, as well as a guitarist and drummer, and with a swell of volume behind her, she came out an held the entire Vinyl room rapt. There were moments between songs of actual silence. No talking, no nothing. People were just waiting to see what happened next. With a cloak and face mask that were both gradually discarded, Timms brought her otherworldly vocal approach to a kind of dark-psych lounge feel, almost like she was about to book a show at the bar in Twin Peaks. Atmosphere and tones alike were thick as this version of Black Mare called back to the project’s 2013 debut, Field of the Host (review here) to open with “Blind One” before “Low Crimes” from the split with Lycia (review here) and “Death by Desire” from last year’s  Death Magick Mother (review here) seemed to move further and further into an alluring murk of melodies and ambience.

Enslaved

Enslaved (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Well, Enslaved played “Ruun,” so really anything else that happened, basically ever, takes a back seat to that. It would be impossible for the Norwegian progressive black metal powerhouse to capture the entirety of their 14-album catalog and their 27-year career, and to their credit, they didn’t try. With “Isøders Dronning” and “Yggdrasil” from 1993’s Frost included for longtime fans or those who’ve dug in deep, they were free to explore some more recent material — opening with “Roots of the Mountain” from 2012’s Riitiir (review here) before “Ruun” and including “Sacred Horse” from 2017’s E (review here) in a showing of just how proggy they’ve become. This was my first time seeing Enslaved with keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje — about whose relative youth bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson joked twice on stage — and he absolutely nailed new material and old. Wasn’t even a question. With him, Kjellson, guitarist/vocalist Ivar Bjørnson and guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, who I don’t think even owns a shirt at all, was new drummer Iver Sandøy. I didn’t know Cato Bekkevold wasn’t with the band anymore after 15 years, but Sandøy made his presence felt on vocals as well and like Vinje, was right at home in the songs. I’ve never seen Enslaved that they didn’t totally deliver, and I’m happy to report that streak is still alive.

The Hellacopters

The Hellacopters (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There are some serious fans of The Hellacopters walking around Psycho Las Vegas this year. Decked-out rockers, heavy-garage types, fucking classic drinkers, trouble through and through. Don’t fuck with those people. They’re the drunkard’s drunkards. Turbojugend jackets have abounded all weekend and it would seem to be The Hellacopters that brought them out. Fair enough. The Swedish rockers made The Joint get down like no one I’ve seen this weekend, and it was superlative. Superlative rock, as a genre. Lot of punk in there, lot of garage as well, but all of it was distilled down to the essence of rock and roll, and as guitarist/vocalist Nicke Andersson came out to soundcheck with the rest of the band, it was clear the room had been waiting for The Hellacopters to arrive. Andersson, keyboardist Anders “Boba” Lindström, guitarist/vocalist Andreas “Dregen” Svensson, bassist Sami Yaffa and drummer Robert Eriksson handed that same room its ass in short order. Good times, absolute forget-about-tomorrow-let’s-kill-it-tonight mentality, all-in, all-go, all-fire. Just right on. I’ve dug Hellacopters records and such as much as the next who’s like, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool, right on,” but seeing it live it’s much, much easier to understand why they have the cult following they do. It’s well earned.

Dreadnought

Dreadnought (Photo by JJ Koczan)

For everyone who could pull themselves away from The Hellacopters or for those to whom the straight-up rock wasn’t maddening enough, Denver’s Dreadnought offered an alternative in Vinyl. I’ve seen some impressive shit this weekend. It’s been a good fest, okay? Then I saw Dreadnought drummer Jordan Clancy one-hand cymbals while using his other hand to press the notes on the saxophone he was also playing at the same time. Dreadnought‘s 2017 album, A Wake in Sacred Waves (review here), was lush in its layers and as creative in its arrangements as it could be scathing in its blackened extremity, but I don’t think I’ve ever watched somebody drum and play sax at the same time. That’s a Psycho Las Vegas 2018 first for me. Guitarist/vocalist Kelly Schilling was playing a flute at the time as well, so he was in good company, and bassist Kevin Handlon and keyboardist/vocalist Lauren Vieira stood ready at a moment’s notice to take off into the next movement, be it Vieira and Schilling on a quick melodic duet, or strobe-accompanied blasting black metal, heads banging and screams utterly vicious. I didn’t stay the whole set, I’ll confess, but I was glad to catch what I did, and it only reinforced my opinion that they’re a band whose scope and execution are likewise admirable.

Sunn O)))

SunnO))) (Photo by JJ Koczan)

As it happened, I had a couple minutes to spare. As it also happened, drone/amp/riff-worship magnates Sunn O))) were going on in The Joint. Playing as just the duo of Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, they were decked out in full grimmrobe regalia and surrounded of course by a henge of speaker cabinets. The floor shook, it was so loud. I hadn’t seen Sunn O))) in a very long time, and even longer with just the two of them — maybe never — so while the timing worked out for me to catch them because Vinyl was running late, it was a fortunate bit of happenstance working in my favor. There’s been so much said about the poetry of what Sunn O))) do that I’m in no way about to add any insight to the canon, but as far out as they’ve gone over the years and their intermittent studio albums, incorporating vocalist Attila Csihar and various other players throughout their time, seeing just Anderson and O’Malley together on stage, bathed in fog as ever (though the ventilation system was almost too good and the fog kept swirling away, needing immediate replenishment), reaffirmed the raw power that’s always been at the root of the band. Their project has outgrown being just the two of them, and I don’t think I’d trade the Sunn O))) discography for a hypothetical, but the force of rumble emanating from the stage said everything that needed saying.

Eight Bells

Eight Bells (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What a way to cap the festival. One more show in Vinyl, one more band I probably wouldn’t get to see otherwise. I was dragging to be perfectly honest, and as noted, Vinyl was running late, but screw it, I was already in, and Eight Bells were going to be worth the wait. The Portland-based space-psych-post-whatever four-piece vary in volume, meter, melody and rhythm, but are persistently spacious, and especially digging 2016’s Landless (review here), I was doubly interested to see Eight Bells since guitarist/vocalist Meylinda Jackson had a completely new lineup with her. Comprised now of Jackson, keyboardist/vocalist Melynda Amann, bassist Alyssa Maucere and drummer Brian Burke, the experimentalist side came out before the set even started in earnest, with Jackson taking some kind of voice box and running it through what seemed to be a host of effects to create a foundation of atmosphere. Drift was a factor, but Eight Bells were never actually out of control, and even for being a new group working together, what they played seemed well-honed and there was none of that awkward everybody-in-their-own-sonic-space-on-stage thing you get when a band is recently formed or revamped. I don’t have anything to compare it to in terms of Eight Bells, never having seen them before, but they held together a ranging heavy psychedelia that seems to be individualized no matter who’s playing it at the time.

I fly out of Las Vegas in about eight hours. It’ll be brutal, but I’m pretty sure I’ll make it, and if not, well, there’s always ‘wandering the earth’ to try. I hear good things.

Tomorrow’s pretty much all travel, so unless I have space on the plane to open my laptop — which I sincerely doubt I will — I expect it’ll be Tuesday before I get a proper thanks-everybody post up to wrap up this coverage, so with pictures still to sort through and packing to be done, I’ll just bow out and say thanks for reading and more pics after the jump.

So… thanks for reading and there are more pics after the jump. Ha:

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Live Review: Psycho Las Vegas Saturday, 08.18.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Psycho las Vegas 2018

08.19.18 – 5:45AM – Sunday morning – Hotel room

I woke up an hour before both my alarms — my early alarm to write and my later alarm to shower in that glorious Hard Rock Hotel shower and start the day. Bothersome but not the end of the world. One doesn’t come to a festival expecting a lot of rest. Make do with what you get.

Today also started an hour later, so I actually had a little time to kill. psycho las vegas 2018I sat down in the center bar for a while and drank a coffee, just kind of soaked in the place and the reality of the casino’s weirdness. They were playing rock videos on the tvs in the bar and the Little League world series next to each other. The Yankees game was on elsewhere but I didn’t get to see a score.

I’ve met a lot of really nice people who’ve said a lot of really nice things about this site. A lot. And it’s been good to put faces to names I’ve seen on posts and comments and stuff like that. I’ll admit Vegas isn’t really my kind of town, but I feel incredibly fortunate to be here this weekend and I’m utterly stupefied every single time someone comes up to say hi. Thank you.

Day kicked off in Vinyl, which packed out early. Here’s how it went down:

Venomous Maximus

Venomous Maximus (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Some mystery to start off the day with Houston’s Venomous Maximus, who played as the trio of guitarist Christian Larson, bassist Trevi Biles and drummer Bongo Brungardt, sans frontman guitarist/vocalist Gregg Higgins, who’s a significant presence to the band. I’m not looking to spread rumors, and I was hoping to run into the guys after they played so I could ask what happened, but what I heard was that Higgins went Vegas AWOL, which is apparently a thing that happens here. That left Larson on vocals, and he did an admirable job filling in on songs like the title-track of last year’s No Warning (review here) and “October 14th” from 2015’s Firewalker (review here). With the lone guitar and Larson stepping into a frontman role, it was a markedly rawer presentation than one would expect from Venomous Maximus, since Higgins‘ theatricality has always been such a big part of what they do live, but if anything, it proved that the heart of the band has always been their songwriting, which remains memorable and largely undervalued. Given the circumstance, it’s commendable they played at all, but by the end of the set Vinyl was slammed with people and surprisingly loud for one in the afternoon.

Batushka

Batushka (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Elaborate. It was not a minor production. Polish black metallers Batushka opened The Joint about a half-hour past their listed start time, and the line outside to get in told the tale of a band people were itching to see. Robed and chanting, surrounded by candles, incense, vestments and other sundry appropriated Christian this-and-thats, they tore open a cosmic blackened assault that was powerful. Elsewhere at the Hard Rock, and completely unrelated to the festival, there was a bikini contest happening, and I kept thinking what an amazing and odd planet it is that Batushka and the bikini contest would be going on at the same time in basically the same place. Surreal. The production, lights, sound, everything, was spectacular in the truest sense, and as I was basically unfamiliar with them going into the set, the delay made more sense once they actually got going, spread out on the stage as they were, with multiple vocalists and the whole ceremonial vibe. It was fascinating to see them use so much religious imagery and iconography, giving the whole set the feeling of being a mass, and then of course ripping it in half. Or maybe burning it to the ground? Either way.

Forming the Void

Forming the Void (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Forming the Void are a better band than they know. They’re starting to figure it out. You can hear that happening on their third record, Rift (review here), and accordingly, it’s a really exciting moment to have the chance to catch the Louisiana four-piece live. They started out somewhat reserved on stage, but by the end, guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Thomas Colley were more fully engaged with the material, and when they closed out with “On We Sail” into “Saber” from their 2016 debut, Skyward (review here), one could hear the progressive sonic growth they’ve undertaken. They’re doing everything right. They have the songs, they have the aesthetic, they have a budding presence on stage. They just need time to keep doing what they’re doing. I hope they tour more. Vinyl was, again, full for them, and they already had the room on their side. They’re in the process of becoming something really special as a group, and one only hopes they keep moving forward the way they have thus far into their tenure. They were a must-see for me this weekend, and I heard from a lot of other people who said much the same. There was no mistaking why once they got underway. Felt lucky to watch their set.

With the Dead

With the Dead (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Speaking of doom royalty, one Lee Dorrian strutted out onto the Joint stage with all the assurance of a high roller at one of the tables out in the casino. I’ve been fortunate enough to see With the Dead once before, but this set was going to be something inherently different from the grime-laden ubergroup, since Dorrian and his chapeaued fellow former Cathedral bandmate, bassist Leo Smee, were playing as a trio with Unearthly Trance‘s Darren Verni sitting in on drums. The band canceled their appearance at Bloodstock in the UK just over a week ago owing to some unforeseen situation with guitarist Tim Bagshaw (also of Ramesses), and sure enough, Bagshaw didn’t make this trip either. Still, the whole point of With the Dead is to sound as filthy and maddeningly doomed as possible, and channeling Smee‘s bass through guitar amps in addition to his own was a good way to get there. They opened with “Living with the Dead” from their 2015 self-titled debut (review here) and made a highlights of “Isolation” and “Cocaine Phantoms” from last year’s Love from With the Dead (review here), the low-end wash and downer gloom pervading through low lights and massive volume, and though they were without a guitarist, the issue found a welcome answer as Scott Carlson (Repulsion, Septic Tank, ex-Cathedral, etc.) came out for a cover of Cathedral‘s “Ebony Tears” from their landmark 1991 debut, Forest of Equilibrium, thereby finishing their set with about as deep a plunge as you can get. Probably not their ideal circumstance, but righteous just the same.

Monolord

Monolord (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The ascent over the last five years of Swedish trio Monolord has been among the most meteoric in underground heavy. Amplifier worship, tone worship, riff worship and worship of the very idea of sonic largesse itself have been their aesthetic calling cards over the course of their three-to-date RidingEasy Records full-lengths, but the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems have fleshed out their sound to incorporate a thundering spaciousness steadily encroaching on psychedelia. Their latest record, 2017’s Rust (review here), is the most progressive in that respect, but they still bring a crushing groove that they’ve quickly made their own. They’ve also toured — a lot. But I’m lame as shit, so it’d been a long time since I last caught a gig and it was nothing short of a pleasure to watch them unleash their massive lumber on the assembled and waiting crowd. Obviously used to playing on bigger stages, they seemed to climb inside of each riff and inhabit the material, channeling it physically as well as through the P.A., and the nod that resulted filled the room from front to back, upstairs and down. They’re a band living up to their potential in every way, and I’m already looking forward to what album number four brings.

Voivod

Voivod (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Here’s a general rule for life, and stop me if I’ve told you this before — oh wait it’s the internet you can’t stop me well tough shit — but: Go see Voivod. If you’re in a place where they are or can put yourself in a place where they’ll be, do that. Go see Voivod. You will never regret it, either in that moment or later on. And while I’m doling out advice, here’s another one: If you meet someone, and they’re a real Voivod fan, chances are that person knows their shit. The Canadian weirdo-sci-fi-thrash legends appeal to a very specific subset of headbanger, and I’ve never known a Voivod fan who was a prick. And I’ve been luck enough to know a few. They have a new record on the way — always — and with founding drummer Michel “Away” Langevin pounding away behind and long-tenured frontman Denis “Snake” Bélanger getting the dusk-time pool stage crowd into the show, the vibe was only positive the whole way through. Flanked by guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain, who’s been in the band now for a decade — time flies — and bassist Dominique “Rocky” Laroche, they hit into new single “Obsolete Beings” from the upcoming The Wake and it fit right in with classics like “Overreaction” and the eponymous “Voivod” from their decades-spanning catalog. What a blast. My phone registered the outside temperature at 106 degrees Fahrenheit, but Voivod seemed right at home in the swelter and were an unadulterated good time. Go see Voivod.

Godflesh

Godflesh (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Man, Margaret Thatcher must have been the absolute fucking worst to produce the kind of disaffection Godflesh continue to proffer. Their dystopian churn is, of course, almost painfully relevant today despite its origins over 30 years ago, and with guitarist/vocalist/programmer Justin K. Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green on a stark, largely empty Joint stage, they unfurled the oppressive electrified grit that’s made them so influential for so long. They’ve been active again for a while now, with two albums out in last year’s Post Self (review here) and 2014’s A World Lit Only by Fire (review here), so have gone well beyond “reunion band” status, but a Godflesh show still doesn’t feel like something that happens every day, and it’s always something special to watch their blend of inhuman(e) audio — the beats, the electronics, etc. — and the sheer emotion with which Broadrick executes his guitar and vocals. With Green on the other side a steady presence, Broadrick thrashed and headbanged and tried to tear himself apart with his playing, and each of his shouting bellows brought fists in the air from the crowd out in front. Very much the opposite vibe of Voivod out at the pool despite both groups’ ’80s origins, but likewise a wonder and a pleasure to behold. I wouldn’t mind a new Jesu record either, but as far as I’m concerned, Godflesh can just go on perpetually and that’ll be fine, thanks. The world needs them now more than ever.

Howling Giant

Howling Giant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I knew I wanted to see Nashville’s Howling Giant. I didn’t know quite how much I wanted to see them until they started. Having toured their way to Vegas in a hearse — because of course — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tom Polzine, drummer/vocalist Zach Wheeler and bassist Mike Kerr took the stage in Vinyl with an immediately outgoing personality. Actually, they showed that before they even went on, hopping down front after they set up to talk to the crowd on the other side of the barricade, but it was for sure in the performance as well. Their 2017 EP, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (review here), and its 2016 predecessor, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 (review here), featured heavily in the set, and all around they put on a show that was definitely about having fun, being loud, rocking out and all that happy whatnot, but also deceptively intricate and progressive. Their studio material has carried that over to some degree, but it’s clear they’re moving forward with their sound, and one hopes they continue to do so as they move toward their inevitable, awaited full-length debut. They and Forming the Void were my two totally-gotta-see bands for the day, and they would seem to share a bright future in developing their own take on heavy rock. For Howling Giant, not even a busted snare stand could stop them, as Polzine and Kerr treated the crowd to an improv psych jam while Wheeler got a new one and they were back up and running in no time, pro-style. Nicely done.

Spirit Adrift

Spirit Adrift (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There seemed to be some trouble with the monitors before they went on, but once Phoenix four-piece Spirit Adrift got going, the project spearheaded by guitarist/vocalist Nate Garrett (ex-Take Over and Destroy) brought out a vibe that spoke even more to classic metal than the doom with which the band is so often lumped. Their late-2017 sophomore LP, Curse of Conception, brought progressive tendencies to bear following their 2016 debut, Chained to Oblivion (review here), and while the band was founded by Garrett as a solo-act, there’s no shortage of chemistry that’s come up between Garrett and his cohorts, guitarist Jeff Owens from Goya, bassist Chase Mason (also Gatecreeper) and drummer Marcus Bryant, and with the recording of that second album and a load of touring leading up to this show and their stop Aug. 21 at Brick by Brick in San Diego, they they were on fire the whole way through. Taking the stage to Buck Owens‘ “Big in Vegas,” they took the prime slot at the pool — CKY would play, but a few hours later — and never looked back, their performance duly energized to suit the occasion. If this was what their tour was leading up to, then it seemed to be worth it.

Got up stupid early this morning and seem to be undergoing a science experiment whereby I trade out sleep for coffee. Hour per 24 oz. cup? Hell if I know. What, you’re supposed keep track of your findings?

Today is the final day of Psycho Las Vegas 2018, which is an utterly bizarre beardo circus to behold, and it’s also Gene Roddenberry‘s birthday, which is as much an occasion to celebrate as I can possibly think. All the more reason to bash one’s head once more on the skull-cracking granite that is Psycho Las Vegas, and leave it to tomorrow to reassemble the pieces.

If you’re here, have fun. If you’re anywhere, thanks for reading.

More pics after the jump:

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Live Review: Psycho Las Vegas Friday, 08.17.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas

08.18.18 – 5:00AM – Saturday – Hotel room

Gluttons for punishment, unite! Cast off the chains of your dayjobs and journey to a druggy boozy place where you can smoke indoors and piss away your head-earned on, well, potentially, someone else’s hard-earned. You never liked those brain cells anyway, and what good have they done?

Me, I prefer my brains melted or otherwise obliterated with fatigue. Dripping out my ears, either way. But I see some folks around here going nuclear, and hey, I get it. Safe environment, plenty of support, nothing to lose. It’s self-directed cruelty more than anything else that keeps me sober. I don’t deserve the good time everyone else is having. Kablooey.

It was an early start for a busy day. 12:30PM. I’d imagine there were people who hadn’t gone to bed yet. But DVNE were not to be missed, so, I didn’t miss them. A lot of back and forth early and not really much staying-put later makes for a hell of a time, but everything is right there around the corner and everyone here is very nice. At least the people who’ve said hi to me. I’m sure just by simple population-sample math there are one or two jerks running around, but none I’ve run into.

Witchcraft didn’t make it. That’s a band I’ve dug on some level or other for more than a decade, but wasn’t gonna cry over it. Plenty to see besides with three stages open: The Joint, Vinyl and the Pool.

And like I said, early start. Went like this:

DVNE

dvne (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Good band. That’s what I wrote in my notes. Direct quote: Good band. Pro shop. For DVNE‘s first appearance on a US stage — and sizable US stage at that, in The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino — they hit it like absolute professionals. Crisp in their sound, intense in delivery, every bit in command of the room, from “go” onward. With full lighting and production behind them, CO2 canisters firing and lasers behind and their logo blasted on massive stage-side screens, the Edinburgh progressive post-metal four-piece certainly seemed to be made to feel welcome on what to them was foreign shores. Killed. Just nailed it. They have a new record out next year following up on last year’s righteous Asheran, and playing beneath oranges and reds that echoed that album’s cover art, they delivered a set that quite frankly, unless they break up tomorrow, I sincerely doubt will be their last time on an American stage. In other words, they seem ready to hit the road in a we’re-a-full-time-band-now kind of way, and more power to them. It’ll be worth keeping an eye out in 2019 for when they come through supporting their next full-length, but in the meantime, this set was basically serving early notice of a significant arrival.

Night Horse

Night Horse (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Sure, it’s been eight years since L.A.’s Night Horse released their second album, Perdition Hymns (review here), but what the hell? The double-guitar five-piece — one of those guitarists happens to be Justin Maranga from Ancestors — took the stage and quickly warmed up their classic your-dad’s-rock-was-better vibe that, with added charm from vocalist Sam James Velde introducing them by saying, “We’re Integrity from Cleveland, Ohio,” was a total blast. I’ll admit it’s been a while since the last time I had Perdition Hymns or their 2008 debut, The Dark Won’t Hide You, on for a spin, but even though Maranga forgot his slide and no one seemed to have a beer bottle to use instead, they definitely made it work. With guitarist Greg Buensuceso and bassist Nick D’Itri holding down the other side of the stage and drummer Norm Block swinging away in the middle, they were way more locked in than one might think for a band who haven’t really kicked around all that much in at least a half-decade. Velde stepped over the barricade and into the crowd during the last song and asked everyone to sit with him on the floor — a proposition that I’d imagine would be way stickier later in the day — while he told the story of the song, and it made for a special moment, as almost everyone actually did it. He got back up and they rocked to a finish, but if you ever needed to know how much Night Horse owned that room, they literally sat it down to give some background on their material. He could do that at every show for all I know, but it was something special here anyway and I felt lucky to see it.

The Munsens

The Munsens (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Denver trio The Munsens posted a new single earlier this week called “Dirge (For Those to Come)” as a preview of their upcoming full-length, Unhanded, and with it, gave a first look at a notable change in direction, pushing more into the territory of extreme sludge than even two years ago found them on their Abbey Rose EP (review here). With guitarist/vocalist Shaun Goodwin and bassist/vocalist Michael Goodwin welcoming drummer Graham Wesselhoff, the shift is easy enough to place, but a corresponding turn to harsher vocals and more grueling fare would seem to be at hand. Most, if not all, of what they played in Vinyl was also from Unhanded, and they unfurled an onslaught of tone and noise that seemed to bounce right off the back of the room and make a wall of death with the next riff cycle. It was brutal, and not as given to crust as Dopethrone, but seemed to be somewhat of that spirit. Delivered with a likewise visual assault of strobe, their time went quick — unless I passed out from all the flashing lights — but was well enough to get the point of the evolution they’ve undergone. I don’t know if I’ll be ready when Unhanded, hits, but at least I’ll see it coming.

Temple of Void

Temple of Void (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I don’t know whether Temple of Void are the doom of death or the death of doom, but fucking hell they’re heavy. The Detroit five-piece released their second LP, Lords of Death, last year on Shadow Kingdom, and they’d only dip back once to 2014’s Of Terror and the Supernatural (review here) for “Examinate Gaze,” while everything else was from the new album. Fair enough for the significant assault factor of their death metal plunge. They took the stage to the Lords of Death intro “The Charnel Unearthing” — which given the intensity of what followed, I almost found unnecessary; they hit it so hard, why give people the chance to get ready? — and from there proffered an extremity that went beyond even the death metal to the atmospheric weight of what they were doing. Vocalist Mike Erdody had a soulful, tortured aspect to his headbanging and while behind him drummer Jason Pearce slammed into his kit with palpable resentment thereof and guitarists Alex Awn and Eric Blanchard tore into searing riffs and leads given all the more weight by Brent Satterly‘s bass, the sense of emotionalism Erdody brought to his growls was something rare on either side of the genre. It was another level on which Temple of Void make their impact felt, and a distinguishing factor that resonated throughout their time.

Church of Misery

Church of Misery (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There was something of a crunch at this point in the schedule. Church of Misery were going on in the Joint while Temple of Void finished up in Vinyl, and then by the time the serial-killer-crazed Japanese riff lords were done, Yakuza would have already started, also in Vinyl. Still, history said “go see Church of Misery,” and history wasn’t wrong. Bassist/founder Tatsu Mikami is nothing less than doom royalty, and while I’ve seen him perform with several different lineups over the years, it always seems like he’s ready to deliver no matter who’s joined him on stage at the time. Psycho was no exception as he, vocalist/thereminist Hiroyuki Takano, guitarist Yasuto Muraki and drummer Junichi Yamamura ran through a selection of the hits: “Shotgun Boogie,” “I, Motherfucker,” “Born to Raise Hell” and so on. I’m not huge on the whole serial killer thing — by coincidence, I wound up in an elevator today with one of Charles Manson’s descendants who was telling his friends it’s way less cool when it’s your family — but regardless, Church of Misery did plenty of slaying on their own and made it easy to hope they record with this lineup, as it seemed like they were more than ready to get down to business at the Sabbathian core of what the band has always been about. I did end up poking my head in to see Yakuza for a moment — and Bruce Lamont is still way ahead of his time — but Church of Misery weren’t taking no for an answer. I was back in the Joint before long as they blew out the rest of their set and any number of eardrums in the process.

Tinariwen

Tinariwen (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Absolutely stunning. I knew next to nothing about the Tuareg group Tinariwen going into the announcement they’d play Psycho Las Vegas, but the schedule cut off both the pool and Vinyl stages while they played, so clearly they were an act Psycho wanted people to see. Rightly so. Dressed in robes and traditional garb and backed by hand percussion, the band led by guitarist/vocalist Ibrahim Ag Alhabib brought a desert blues that tied to Psycho better than one might’ve ever expected. With acoustic and electric guitars, bass and deep-running vocal arrangements, dancing on stage — some dancing in the crowd too — and video of them on huge screens on either side, it was no less of a production in terms of lighting and staging than Church of Misery or DVNE had been, but the soothing vibe and ebbs and flows in the music made it a total standout. They were another one I was going to stay for a bit and then wander off and find some more coffee, but I was hooked. They could’ve played twice as long and I don’t think I would’ve moved. Their set felt like a gift and on a day that wasn’t exactly hurting for highlights anyhow, they were something truly special to behold. Their 2017 album, Elwan, was recorded in the California desert and has quickly made its way to the front of my must-purchase line.

Boris

Boris (Photo by JJ Koczan)

In their 25-plus years, enough wax poetry has been written in honor of Japanese noise and heavy rock innovators, droners, experimentalists, J-poppers and anything-else-they-want-to-be-that-day Boris that even attempting to talk about their set feels superfluous. I’d only be echoing a chorus of praise that’s resounded for the last two decades. Suffice it to say, they’re masters at what they do. Individually and collectively, guitarist Wata, drummer Atsuo and guitarist/bassist Takeshi are relentless in their forward progression, and though most of what they played after a drifting, slower opening came from the Heavy Rocks and Pink-style, the wash of noise and over-the-top push were never far off. Their 2017 album, Dear (review here), was a stunning glimpse at where they’ve been in their time and where they might still go, and bathed in fog on the Joint stage, they captured much the same feel in celebrating their past while continuing to move ahead toward something new. I don’t know if it’s possible for Boris to be underrated, but the chemistry between them on stage — whether it’s Atsuo shouting into his headset mic to raise the energy level or Wata scorching out another solo or Takeshi switching from his rhythm guitar neck to his bass neck and hurling out blistering low end runs — is among the most pivotal aspects of what they do, and as much as they’ve done to push heavy rock to multiple avenues over their tenure, they’ve only gotten to be a more potent force live.

High on Fire

High on Fire (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If a single person could embody what Psycho Las Vegas is, it might be Matt Pike. The High on Fire frontman and Sleep guitarist has played all three editions of this festival in some form or other — time for a Kalas reunion? — and he, bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensel came out like the statesmen they are; one of the most crucial bands not just in underground heavy, but in the wider sphere of metal. Hugely influential, with a maddening signature gallop and tales of war and bludgeonry to delight the downtrodden of spirit. Their upcoming LP, Electric Messiah, marks the third collaboration between the trio and producer Kurt Ballou, and while they didn’t play anything from it, they did give due representation to 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) in “The Black Plot,” “Carcosa” and “Slave the Hive,”  and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here) with “Fertile Green” and “Serums of Laio,” while older works like 2007’s Death is This Communion (discussed here) and 2005’s Blessed Black Wings (discussed here) made their presence felt with cuts like “Rumors of War” and “Sons of Thunder.” I’d argue they were the night’s headliners even before Witchcraft dropped off, but either way, High on Fire were more than up to the occasion, and with “Blood from Zion” from 2000’s The Art of Self-Defense late in the set, they brought together past and present in a way that was every bit the culmination of the evening. There was still plenty more Psycho after them, but no doubt High on Fire left their mark on the night and all who assembled to see them.

I don’t know if you saw it, but on the social medias I posted a picture of The Pecan and asked if anyone could turn it into the cover of Vol. 4 by Black Sabbath. Several came in, which was hugely appreciated, and among them was this one from Slevin, which I subsequently spent the rest of the night staring at because it’s so friggin’ awesome. If you need me, I’ll be meme-ing my baby. Next up, his head on Jean-Luc Picard’s body. It will happen.

Anyway, I came back to the room after the show and sorted pictures and whatnot and then crashed out pretty soon thereafter to get up early and write. My alarm was set for six and I woke up a bit before five and decided to roll with it. Psycho starts an hour later today, but is another super-busy day, so I’m going to get some more rest in preparation for that. I may or may not check in again before that review goes up, depends on time, but there are more pics after the jump here and I appreciate you reading and taking time to have a look if you do.

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Psycho Las Vegas 2018: Bowing to Electric Messiah

Posted in Features on August 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

VEGAS

08.17.18 – 11:16AM – Thursday morning – Hotel room

Was up a fair amount overnight. Had a nightmare I was being chased around the festival by some terrible somersaulting clown. He didn’t walk, he only rolled, but he rolled really fast and I’m pretty sure he was trying to kill me. Not friendly intentions, at the very least.

Did the review — did you see it? were there typos? — and was asleep immediately upon its posting. I was like, “Oh jeez I’m pretty awake I’m not sure if I — SLEEEEP.” Done for.

The alarm went off a little over an hour ago and I took the best shower I’ve taken in months. Maybe years. You know how there’s no shower like your own shower? Right? And everywhere you go, going home and taking a shower in your own shower is the best? Yeah, no. The Hard Rock shower is legit better than that going-home shower, unless that going-home shower is a roomy slate-tile affair obviously meant for company with a jet setting that would powerwash the paint off your house. Temperature, perfect. It was nothing short of amazing, and after peeling all the airplane/festival gunk from my skin like I was molting, I wanted to go another round just for the hell of it.

Coffee’s good too. There’s a little shop right by the elevator that’s doing alright. And if you keep your cups they give free refills, but the only trouble is they close at 7PM. I can’t imagine I’ll ever be invited back here, but these things are good to know anyway.

The first of three three-stage days starts today. Vinyl, the Joint and the pool will be open, though only the pool later on. Today, tomorrow and Sunday are all pretty busy days. Not a lot of downtime, and intermittent though it was, I expect last night was actually the best night’s sleep I’ll get. So it goes.

This isn’t the kind of fest that happens every day, so if you have to lose sleep to see what you want to see, it’s a small price to pay. DVNE are on in about an hour and I’m gonna grab more coffee and meander, try and figure out where I go and when and whatnot. If you’re keeping tabs — and yeah, I know, you’re not; this is not me feigning relevance — I’ll have the review up later or tomorrow morning. Thanks for reading.

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Live Review: Psycho Las Vegas Pool Party, 08.17.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

viva psycho

08.16.18 – 4:50AM – Friday morning – Hard Rock, hotel room

None of it makes any fucking sense. Not a lick of it. And it took me the better part of the day to realize that’s the idea. The whole point. What even is underground when you watch Bell Witch play by the side of a casino pool in a sweltering den of capitalist exploitation? What is real? Any of it? I don’t know. That’s the point. Psycho Las Vegas is taking the narrative of what the underground is and punching it in the face until it can’t be recognized anymore. The sheer spectacle of this event. The are-you-overwhelmed-yet-okay-good tilt. It’s so weird. It’s so weird.

psycho las vegas 2018 thursdayIt’s so weird.

But I don’t think you’re supposed to get it. It’s not about making sense in any kind of traditional way. Psycho Las Vegas, in the span of three very-clearly-well-funded years, has become the absolute destination heavy festival in the US. There are plenty of other metal fests that have been around longer and have unquestionable reputations, but for this particular branch of heavy, there’s nothing to match this. I don’t know how anything could.

This was the first day. The pool party. By the Paradise Pool. I apologize deeply to Haunt and Toke. I just didn’t make it in time. I wanted to see both. It just didn’t work out. I got myself situated in time to catch most of Fireball Ministry though, and here’s how it went from there:

Fireball Ministry

fireball ministry (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If you gotta start a weekend of top-class heavy somewhere, it might as well be with top-class heavy. Fireball Ministry had bassist Helen Storer filling in for Scott Reeder alongside guitarist/vocalists Jim Rota and Emily Burton and drummer John Oreshnick, but there was no way in hell they weren’t going to rock either way. Ostensibly, they were here supporting their new album, late-2017’s Remember the Story (review here), but even more than that, they were here representing a sans-frills heavy rock spirit that has endured in spite of trend and generational swap. That is, Fireball Ministry were there when, and they’re here now, and they delivered a powerful set as only a group of no-bullshit, ace-songwriting, still-underrated-after-all-these-years veterans could hope to do. I hoped to run into Rota later to ask him if this was the first casino pool party he’d ever played — hey, Fireball Ministry‘s done a lot of shows, so you never know — but didn’t get the chance. Either way, they absolutely delivered, and while I was fairly gutted to miss the first two bands, if you need to get on board with a show already in progress, Fireball Ministry are more than ready to make their rock your rock. Oh and by the way, they rock.

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Tough to be the odd band out on this bill, but Dengue Fever managed, and again, I was a little bit in wrapping my head around what was happening. Psycho returnees? Took it all in stride. Let’s assume they were the ones in the patched battle vests dancing to Dengue Fever‘s upbeat semi-punk/semi-funk surf groove. There’s a trick to being here, I think, and no, it’s not just drinking. I’ll grant that Las Vegas is among the worst places on earth to be sober — the town simply wasn’t built for humans to be lucid within its borders — but beyond that, the trick is to just go with it. Dengue Fever played two bands after the dirt-sludge of Toke and two bands before Bell Witch and Wolves in the Throne Room back to back. That was the whole vibe of today in a nutshell. If you sat back and thought about it, you were doing it wrong. It’s a party. It’s a weird party. So party, and be weird. Dengue Fever were more than just a vehicle for that spirit, of course, but in this context, but with the sax blaring and the bouncing rhythms, they seemed to embody this festival’s will to be whatever the hell it wants to be, whenever the hell it wants to be it. Truly Psycho.

Elder

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Band of the day. One more record and Elder will be headlining shows like this. It’s a toss-up whose crowd was bigger, theirs or Wolves in the Throne Room‘s, but even so, their presence on stage, their command of their sweeping progressive heavy rock sound, and their drive to genuinely push the idea of ‘heavy’ to places it’s never been all speak to a band ready to be at the next level. Their 2017 album, Reflections of a Floating World (review here), and 2015’s landmark Lore (review here) were assuredly well known to the masses assembled, and even if it was the title-track of  2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here) that got the biggest response, people were cheering during part transitions, let alone the standard round of applause between the songs. Elder are that kind of band, and their movements within tracks have only gotten more fluid and nuanced over time. The four-piece incarnation of the band had all the more depth of tone and sonic reach from guitarists Nick DiSalvo and Mike Risberg (the former also vocals, the latter also keys), while bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto offered swing and intricacy of play alike that just furthered the proggy impression Elder make at this point. They killed. I don’t know how else to say it. It was an utter pleasure to watch and they’ve become one of the best heavy rock live acts anywhere, period. If you missed them, sorry.

Bell Witch

Bell Witch (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It was sunny when Bell Witch started and by the time they were done, dusk had fallen and the moon was out. Felt about right. They had 80 minutes at their disposal, which would’ve been just enough time to play last year’s brilliant and mournful Mirror Reaper (review here), and sure enough, that single-song outing was basically what comprised their set, even if Erik Moggridge (aka Aerial Ruin) wasn’t around to add his clean parts to it. Bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond and drummer/organist/vocalist Jesse Shreibman had no problem carrying across the outright bludgeoning sensibility of their ultra-doom on their own, however, and with the inward-turned grieving process that is the material itself, Bell Witch nonetheless oozed forth a consuming mass of volume that, despite the outdoor setting, left little choice but to be swallowed whole by it. They’ve toured fairly heavily in support of Mirror Reaper since its arrival — I was fortunate enough to catch them playing it at Roadburn earlier this year as well — and there’s no denying the power of their performance. It’s a masterwork in every sense and deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.

Wolves in the Throne Room

Wolves in the Throne Room (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The fog machines on full blast for the breezy desert night, incense consecrating the stage during the low-end volume-swell drone of their intro, and Washington’s Wolves in the Throne Room actually managed to make the atmosphere of the pool party their own for the duration of their set. It was a raging, scorching performance, as they took hold on the heels of 2017’s Thrice Woven (review here) and blasted out an intensity that was as much about the ambience as it was the assault. The expanded five-piece lineup was fully charged and as guitarist/vocalist Nathan Weaver, whose brother, Aaron, handles drums in the studio while Trevor DeSchryver fills in live, led the band through an outright pummeling set that made itself even further distinguished from everything before it owing to its keys and synth elements and the manner in which it was able to turn from its most seething stretches to minimalist soundscaping seemingly on a dime. The crowd thinned out some by the end — I’ll admit I watched them finish out my hotel room window as well — but for every dragging-ass member of the audience like me, there were even more for whom the party was just getting started, and somehow, Wolves in the Throne Room fit that party as well as anyone else who played on the poolside bill.

It’s about six-thirty now. Need to shower. Need to sleep more. First band today at 12:30PM. Madness is the order of the weekend. Keep falling asleep while typing. Writing with my eyes closed. Still need to sort pictures. Busy busy busy.

Didn’t have enough coffee yesterday. Will work to rectify that soon enough. More pics after the jump though, so thanks for reading.

More later.

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Psycho Las Vegas 2018: Arrival

Posted in Features on August 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2018 pool

08.16.18 – 1:38PM – Thursday afternoon – Psycho Las Vegas

Well, I’m here. Alarm went off at 2:30AM. Lyft took me to the airport; easiest part of the trip. Two flights later, landed in Vegas, got in cab, came to casino. Weirdos and scumbags by the dozen. Gleeful in early drinking and excitement for the weekend ahead. Haven’t really slept. You should’ve seen me in LAX trying to finish off that Spacetrucker review. Pathetic. Good times abound though, and will continue to abound, I’ve no doubt.

To wit, the pool party’s already begun. I can see the stage from my room, hear the riffs. I think that was Toke who just played. I don’t know. Just sorting my wristband now, so I couldn’t really get close enough to find out. Whoever it was, they were mighty sludgy.

This is my first Psycho, not my first trip to Las Vegas. Still, I had to buy deodorant and toothbrush/toothpaste at the store downstairs because I’m amateur-hour and completely forgot toiletries. I remembered granola, so whatever that tells you.

In the casino space downstairs where what I presume is the Center Bar — it’s the bar in the middle, so yeah — is located, they have the prize you can win in the Psycho Las Vegas blackjack tournament. It’s in a glass case. An Orange stack, a bunch of everything, I guess. I don’t play cards, but hey. If you’ve got the money to burn, way to go. All my credit cards got rejected putting the hold on my account for this room. So there’s that. Clearly this won’t be a big trip for merch on my end. I don’t even know where the merch is, which is probably for the best.

Flew over the desert coming in. It’s still big, empty and gorgeous.

A/C and volume on full blast. Gonna head down to the pool to check out Fireball Ministry. Looks like rain. In the desert. Makes no sense, but surreal is the order of the day. Need to stop expecting it to make sense. Okay.

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Demon Lung Post “How the Gods Kill” Lyric Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

demon lung photo red flame photo

Tomorrow night, Las Vegas doomers Demon Lung will share the stage at Beauty Bar with The Atlas Moth and Mustard Gas and Roses. The Chicago post-metallers and the after-Isis project of guitarist Mike Gallagher are but the latest to hit the desert outpost with support from Demon Lung, who’ve made themselves regulars on bills alongside the likes of Saint VitusPentagram, Royal Thunder and Candlemass, among others and and appearances at Southwest Terror Fest in 2015 and at Psycho Las Vegas in 2016. Fronted by vocalist Shanda Fredrick, they’ve become a staple of Vegas’ heavy underground.

In February, the band oversaw a reissue of their 2012 debut EP, Pareidolia (review here), released on vinyl by M-Theory Audio. The limited platter features and original bonus track and three covers: one by Wounded Giant, with whom Demon Lung previously toured; one by Twisted Sister; and one by Danzig. It’s the latter for which they’ve newly posted a lyric video.

If that seems odd — a lyric video for a cover of one of the greatest metal songs of all time; surely if you’re still reading this, you already know the words, right? — just go with it. It’s basically a way for Demon Lung to feature the track from their reissue, and as you can hear making your way through, their version of the classic title-track from Danzig III: How the Gods Kill is well worth featuring. And by pleasant coincidence, it just so happens to be the record that Danzig will play in full at Psycho this August. I doubt Demon Lung knew that when they recorded the cover, but hey, sometimes serendipity happens, even in doom.

So as they’ve made it easy to dig into “How the Gods Kill” — just in case it isn’t already stuck in your head, which there’s about a 43 percent chance it is no matter what else is happening at any given moment — I’d suggest you do just that. If you can make it to the Beauty Bar gig tomorrow, tell them I said hi.

PR wire info follows the clip below.

Please enjoy:

Demon Lung, “How the Gods Kill” official lyric video

“Those early Danzig albums are obviously a major influence on us. ‘How the Gods Kill’ has a certain evilness to it that always set it apart, and we tried our best to do it justice,” explains drummer Jeremy Brenton. “We spent a lot of time recording the song because it means so much and we wanted to pay tribute respectfully. Hopefully everyone can hear the love that we put into it!”

“How The Gods Kill” appears on the recently-released expanded vinyl and digital reissues of DEMON LUNG’s 2012 debut EP, Pareidolia. Initially released as a four-track CD, Pareidolia now features an additional three songs on top of the Danzig cover – the original song “Pray For Rain,” which dates back to the original Pareidolia recording sessions, as well as covers of Wounded Giant’s “The Road To Middian” and Twisted Sister’s “Captain Howdy.”

The limited-edition vinyl edition (only 300 copies) of Pareidolia is available in green-and-black marbled wax and includes a color lyric sheet and a download card. It can be ordered at www.m-theoryaudio.com/store.

Demon Lung on Thee Facebooks

Demon Lung website

M-Theory Audio website

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