Mos Genenerator Announce West Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

So, are Mos Generator back yet from their first-ever European headlining tour? [Does a quick check of the dates.] No they are not. That, however, has not stopped the Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rock specialists from announcing a follow-up stint along the West Coast. They play their last show abroad in Barcelona, Spain, on Nov. 19, and as you can see below, they kick off the next tour less than a week later on Nov. 25 in Seattle alongside Castle and Ancient Warlocks. And in the six days between? Probably some jetlag. Maybe a good meal. Knowing Mos Generator guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed, they’ll probably record a new album.

Mos Generator are on the road supporting three 2016 releases: the full-length Abyssinia (review here) on Listenable Records, and the two EPs The Firmament and Lies of Liberty ’87 (review here), the first of which is out on vinyl through Stickman and the second of which has secured an impending cassette issue through Red Cobra Records on a suitably crimson tape.

Here’s the latest from the PR wire:

mos-generator

MOS GENERATOR ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL USA 2016 TOUR DATES!

Mos Generator has just announced additional 2016 USA West Coast tour dates in support of their two brand new EP releases, “The Firmament” (Stickman Records) and “Lies of Liberty ‘87” (Self released digital download), as well as their latest studio LP release, “Abyssinia” (Listenable Records).

The band will start the tour off in Seattle with a show alongside Castle & Ancient Warlocks, and then continue with the entire US West Coast, as well as Phoenix & Las Vegas, ending the tour in Tacoma with Year of the Cobra & Ancient Warlocks. This tour will include ten show dates with Castle, and six dates with ‘Year of the Cobra’.

San Francisco’s Castle, consisting of Liz Blackwell (vocals/bass), Mat Davis (guitar/vocals), and Al McCartney (drums), has maintained a relentless touring schedule since the release of “Under Siege” in 2014 with multiple expeditions throughout the US, Europe, and Canada. Castle will be headlining ten of the shows on this Mos Generator tour schedule!

Seattle’s Year of the Cobra, consisting of Amy Tung Barrysmith (vocals/bass) and Jon Barrysmith (drums) hit the ground running in 2015 with their EP release “The Black Sun”. They currently just released their debut LP, “In the Shadows Below”, with STB Records, and have announced touring plans for the US and Europe in 2016 & 2017. Year of the Cobra will be joining the bill on six dates during this Mos Generator tour!

Mos Generator USA Fall 2016 West Coast Tour Dates;
November 25th – Seattle, WA @ The Funhouse (w/ Castle & Ancient Warlocks)
November 26th – Bellingham, WA @ The Shakedown (w/ Castle & Year of the Cobra)
November 27th – Olympia, WA @ The Obsidian (w/ Castle & Year of the Cobra)
November 28th – Portland, OR @ The Raven (w/ Castle)
November 29th – Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s Pub (w/ Castle)
November 30th – Grants Pass, OR @ The G Street Bar and Grill (w/ Castle)
December 1st – San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside (w/ Castle)
December 2nd – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Blue Lagoon (w/ Castle)
December 3rd – Ventura, CA @ The Garage (w/ Castle)
December 4th – Glendale, CA @ The Complex (w/ Castle)
December 5th – San Diego CA @ The Merrow
December 6th – Phoenix AZ @ TBA
December 7th – Las Vegas NV @ The Dive Bar
December 8th – Sacramento CA @ The Starlite Lounge (w/ Year of the Cobra)
December 9th – Arcata CA @ The Alibi (w/ Year of the Cobra)
December 10th – Medford OR @ Johnny B’s (w/ Year of the Cobra)
December 11th – Tacoma WA @ The Valley (w/ Year of the Cobra & Ancient Warlocks)

https://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator
https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/
http://heavyheadsuperstore.storenvy.com/

Mos Generator, “Catspaw” official video

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Albez Duz, Wings of Tzinacan: Season’s Omens (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

albez-duz-wings-of-tzinacan

[Click play above to stream Albez Duz’s Wings of Tzinacan in full. Album is out Oct. 28 via Listenable Records.]

In its use of Aztec language (actually Nahuatl) as well as its cover art and sound, Wings of Tzinacan is very much a follow-up to Albez Duz‘s 2014 sophomore outing, The Coming of Mictlan (review here). Released as their first through Listenable Records, it finds the Berlin-based cult rockers working as a trio, with founding drummer/multi-instrumentalist Eugen Herbst (ex-Dies Irae) and vocalist Alfonso Brito Lopez having brought on guitarist Julia Neuman — they’ve done live shows as a five-piece, and also currently list David Petersen as a full-time member, so the situation seems in some flux — and further codifying the gothic themes of the preceding record in a way that draws their various stylistic sides together into one cohesive statement.

That statement comes loaded with echoing spaces, weighted groove, righteously dark melodies, top-grade organ work on songs like “Our Lord the Flayed One,” and adds up to an eight-track/51-minute excursion into murk that calls to mind Type O Negative and The Butterfly Effect-era Moonspell as much as Paradise Lost while still retaining an identity of its own in its sense of atmosphere, depth of mix and arrangement flourish. More perhaps than its predecessor, Wings of Tzinacan — the word translates to “bat” — steps forward with a singular idea of what it wants to do. Where The Coming of Mictlan explored a range of ideas, and Wings of Tzinacan operates similarly, the third album moves ahead from the second by having those ideas push further toward a singular emotional and sonic expression.

All of that said, I don’t necessarily think one has to have heard The Coming of Mictlan, which was released through Iron Bonehead and Archaic Sounds, to appreciate what Albez Duz have on offer here. Lopez delivers a striking performance in classic metal frontman fashion, and the instrumental arrangements behind him — from the full-toned headbang roll of second track “Reflections” through the calling bats of “Tzinacan’s Rising” to the grueling desolation of the penultimate “Death Whistle,” in which volume ebbs and flows but the lurching sense of agony remains constant — engage with both their diversity of approach and how that approach never veers from the mission of best serving the song at hand and the album as a whole. Each half of Wings of Tzinacan begins with its longest track, and while I’m not sure exactly of the vinyl structure — that is, as a 51-minute CD/digital stretch, it’s possible one or two songs don’t appear on the LP for time constraint — the immersion both of them bring about helps set up what the ensuing portion of the record has to offer.

albez-duz

With opener “The Uprising,” the metallic chug prominent early in its 9:44 run builds in intensity but gives way toward the midsection to reunion-era Celtic Frost-type malevolence, slower, meaner, wider, and the arrival of keys signals a transition into a longer atmospheric break. Satisfyingly, they return to the central riff before finishing out, and in accord, “Reflections” and “Our Lord the Flayed One” both offer a blend of straightforward-ish hooks and grand-in-the-presentation downer atmospherics — the latter delving into extreme metal growls and shred late while still keeping a relatively moderate tempo; a fascinating meld rarely so fluidly executed — before the quieter, mournful organ of “Innocence Gate” begins a turn toward some of the broader-reaching material that “Sacred Flame” (the longest inclusion at 9:46) will establish as the course for Wings of Tzinacan‘s unfolding side B.

“Innocence Gate” is also a transition in a sense of how it plays out with the songs surrounding, and by that I mean how it picks up from “Our Lord the Flayed One” and leads into “Sacred Flame.” Where “The Uprising,” “Reflections” and “Our Lord the Flayed One” stand alone and certainly each cut has its personality, particularly as the album progresses and particularly on repeat listens, “Innocence Gate” begins a conversation that “Sacred Flame” continues — Lopez reminding of Amorphis‘ Tomi Joutsen in his delivery — by building momentum to lead through the bats-notwithstanding instrumental “Tzinacan’s Rising,” the growling horrors of “Death Whistle” and closer “Omen Filled Season,” which in a mirror of what “The Uprising” itself did before it was done, seems to go back toward a more straightforward (again, -ish) push to finish out. It’s this whole-album mentality that Albez Duz so successfully convey this time around and which, if one was to speculate on a direction for future evolution of the band, seems the most likely candidate.

There is, as for everyone all the time everywhere, room to go further, but Wings of Tzinacan gracefully balances diversity of approach with overarching intent and leads its listeners down a grim path without wholly losing itself in indulgences or letting its theatrical elements take away from the impact the material is clearly meant to have. In clarity and in the sureness of the hands guiding it, it is very much a third full-length, but Albez Duz haven’t stopped growing yet and I wouldn’t expect them to now either.

Albez Duz on Thee Facebooks

Albez Duz on Bandcamp

Albez Duz website

Listenable Records webstore

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

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Mars Red Sky Post “Alien Grounds” Short Movie

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

mars-red-sky-700

Mars Red Sky have released a series of videos over the last five or six years, and they usually follow a similar pattern. They’re homemade, comprised mostly of found footage, etc. There have been exceptions along the way, as with 2015’s clip for “The Light Beyond” (posted here), but to generalize, they’re meant to showcase the song more than a direct visual narrative. Not so the short film Alien Grounds which takes “Apex III” and “Sapphire Vessel,” the first two tracks from the Bordeaux trio’s third and latest album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), and puts them to a science fiction narrative that comes told through visuals as lush as the band’s melodies and a professional production of a level yet unseen from them.

The result of a successful crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, Alien Grounds starts out by finding a clever mechanism to tell its story, to give the viewer background and insight into what’s happening and what’s going to happen, and then unfolds in a manner complementary to the way “Apex III” acts as the intro to the album. There’s an astronaut, an apparent kidnapping, a bit of rocking out, a bit of horror, and an apparent space-cult who use the same hand-sign as the hippies from my (second) favorite episode of Star Trek — think “we reach” — and teleport the hero of our narrative to a distant planet he heretofore thought was of his own creation. Very cool stuff all around, and easy to get lost in the story as well as in the music, so mark it a double-win for the band.

After coming to the States earlier this year to play, among other gigs, The Obelisk All-Dayer and Psycho Las Vegas, the progressive heavy psych three-piece are once again hitting the road this week in Europe. They’ve got shows booked through next month and into December that you can find listed below, along with more info on the video and the cast featured.

And don’t get me wrong, I like those homemade-style videos. This is just something special and that’s worth pointing out.

Enjoy:

Mars Red Sky, “Alien Grounds: Apex III/Sapphire Vessel”

Cool vintage car, handsome actors, crazy spaceship, dangerous alien, odd dive bar…

ALIEN GROUNDS is based on the 2 first tracks of our last album APEX III (Praise for the Burning Soul). Directed by Sébastien Antoine.

Music: “Alien Grounds” – “Apex III” – “Sapphire Vessel”

Starring: Yan Tual, Dan Bronchinson, Victoria Cyr, Grégory Dreyfus, Jean-Claude Tisserand

MARS RED SKY Live:
Oct 27 Alte Hackerei Karlsruhe, Germany
Oct 28 Klubovna Prague, Czech Republic
Oct 29 festival Soulstone Gathering Cracow, Poland
Oct 30 Klub Firlej Wroclaw, Poland
Oct 31 Ostpol Dresden, Germany
Nov 02 La Sirène La Rochelle, France
Nov 10 6 PAR 4 Laval, France
Nov 11 La Nouvelle Vague Saint Malo, France
Nov 12 Monteray Live Stage Kyiv, Ukraine
Nov 18 CAVE A MUSIQUE Macon, France
Nov 19 FILE 7 Magny Le Hongre, France
Dec 10 PAUL B. Massy, France
Dec 16 Le Poche Bethune, France
Dec 17 La Fourmi Limoges, France

MARS RED SKY:
Julien Pras (vocals, guitar)
Jimmy Kinast (bass, vocals)
Matgaz (drums)

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Listenable Records

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Mos Generator Post “Catspaw” Video; Release Live Album; Announce More Recording

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 13th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

mos-generator

I’ve never used Prisma, but putting together 5,800 of any kind of image to make an animated video out of it that then has to synch up with an actual song being played sounds like a ridiculously complicated editing job. Again, I’ve never done it. Maybe there’s some fabulous modern technology that makes that not at all a pain in the ass, but however they got there, Mos Generator‘s new video for “Catspaw” from their 2016 Listenable Records album, Abyssinia (review here), looks pretty sweet.

The Port Orchard, Washington, trio led by founding guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed continue their multi-pronged, multi-tiered attack on heavy rock consciousness as we move into the waning months of 2016. In addition to Abyssinia, they’ve also just put out The Firmament via Stickman Records, which captures a live performance with an expanded lineup recorded by Chris Joonior — who as fate would have it also helmed the “Catspaw” clip and who also now handles guitar/vocals in Ancient Warlocks — and they’ve got another batch of recordings in the can at Reed‘s HeavyHead studio that dip back to a collection of old hardcore tunes from the late ’80s. Two are streaming on Soundcloud (linked below).

Not sure if they’ll actually see release, but it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Reed pressed them up himself in some limited numbers, so keep an eye out. Mos GeneratorReed, bassist Sean Booth and drummer Jono Garrett — have also toured the country coast to coast to support the new album, including a recent stop in Alaska. If you ever wanted a yardstick by which to measure a band’s touring habit, consider “driving to Alaska for a show” a pretty good one to use. They also play Erosion Fest in Missoula, Montana, on Oct. 15.

Bottom line? Mos Generator are out there breaking their collective ass to bring as much rock and roll as possible to as many people as possible. Expect the pace to continue, and enjoy the “Catspaw” clip below followed by some PR wire info and comment from Reed on their latest doings:

Mos Generator, “Catspaw” official video

Directed and edited by Chris Mathews, Jr.
https://www.facebook.com/JooniorStudios/

‘Catspaw’ is from Mos Generator’s new full length album “Abyssinia” available via Listenable Records.

Created using Prisma, neural network artificial intelligence, and lots of other pieces of software. Special thanks to Brian Mathews for hours of moral and technical support.

We would like to extend a massive thank you to Chris and Brian Mathews for using extra terrestrial intelligence to figure out how to make a video from 5800 Prisma images. We know it took a lot of time and effort. We truly appreciate it.

Out on Stickman Records (Motorpsycho, Elder, Spidergawd). THE FIRMAMENT. The soundtrack LP of our performance in the concert film “Songs for the Firmament”. We brought in some extra players for this and got quite Psych with it. Shows yet another side of our catalog. Check it out!!!

On august 1st we recorded 12 songs in 4 hours. All of them were hardcore songs I wrote circa ’86/’87 with my hardcore band “Lies of Liberty”. Here is a double shot of 2 of the tunes we have been throwing into the live set here and there. All of the songs will all be released on vinyl as soon as the tracks have a final mix and we find a label to put it out. This has been a super fun project, it’s great to hear these tunes properly recorded after 30 years.

Mos Generator on Soundcloud

Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks

Mos Generator at Listenable Records

Listenable Records on Bandcamp

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Mars Red Sky Announce Fall European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

mars-red-sky

I’m not sure I can even begin to convey yet how much of a pleasure it was to host Mars Red Sky at the first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer last month in Brooklyn. Being able to bring them to New York to play where they’d never been before for that gig (wrap here) was so special to me, and they were the perfect cap for the night, their blend of sweet melody and heavy tones just right for the vibe of the whole day. I don’t want to sound like I’m tooting my own horn or anything, it’s just that it worked out better than I could’ve hoped and I’m still thrilled about it.

By now, the Bordeaux-based trio have wrapped their shows on both US coasts about a week ago, also stopping at the venerable Psycho Las Vegas along their way from the Eastern Seaboard to the West, and they’ve just announced their next run through Europe — actually it’s already happening when you consider they played Reverence Valada this past weekend — with shows taking them into December to round out the year as they continue to support the stellar Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here) on Listenable Records.

Dates follow, as seen on the social medias:

mars-red-sky-fall-tour-poster

MARS RED SKY Fall 2016 tour:
Sep 17 La Poudrière Belfort, France
Oct 01 La Nef AngoulÊme, France
Oct 04 Petit Bain Paris, France
Oct 07 Le Rocher de Palmer Cenon, France
Oct 14 LE HUBLOT Nancy, France
Oct 15 Le Brise Glace Annecy, France
Oct 16 LE POSTE A GALENE Marseille, France
Oct 27 Alte Hackerei Karlsruhe, Germany
Oct 28 Klubovna Prague, Czech Republic
Oct 29 festival Soulstone Gathering Cracow, Poland
Oct 30 Klub Firlej Wroclaw, Poland
Oct 31 Ostpol Dresden, Germany
Nov 02 La Sirène La Rochelle, France
Nov 10 6 PAR 4 Laval, France
Nov 11 La Nouvelle Vague Saint Malo, France
Nov 12 Monteray Live Stage Kyiv, Ukraine
Nov 18 CAVE A MUSIQUE Macon, France
Nov 19 FILE 7 Magny Le Hongre, France
Dec 10 PAUL B. Massy, France
Dec 16 Le Poche Bethune, France
Dec 17 La Fourmi Limoges, France

http://www.marsredsky.net/
http://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband/
http://www.marsredsky.net
http://www.twitter.com/MarsRedSky1
http://www.listenable.net
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs

Mars Red Sky, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2016

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Mos Generator European Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

By the time they get over there, the bulk of the jam-packed European fall festival season will be over, and I can’t help but think that works to Mos Generator‘s advantage. True, they’ll play at Heavy Psych Sounds Fest 3 with a considerable lineup that also includes Fatso Jetson and others, but I’d imagine rockers in a lot of the cities listed below will be hurting for a band they haven’t already just seen three times in the span of weeks, and so Mos Generator seem poised to make a standout impression.

They go supporting their upcoming EP, The Firmament, on Stickman Records and their new album, Abyssinia (review here), on Listenable Records, on which the songs benefit from the overall energy that the band has been able to harness from emerging over the last couple years as such a hard-touring act. Part of that was guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed rebuilding the trio from the ground up, but that too was a measure of sheer drive on his part that has ultimately worked to spread their classic-style boogie and groove, as their delivery of same is nigh on irresistible for anyone who’s ever dug into some riffs.

Heavy Psych Sounds, which is presenting the tour, had previously announced the run, but posted the dates accordingly with a few still TBA:

mos generator tour-700

This will be insane !!

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records&Booking is proud to announce the European dates for ***Mos Generator*** tour

This will be supported by Black Bone from Netherland

New album Abyssinia is just been released on Listenable records

here the dates:
20.10.2016 IT Ravenna-Bronson*
21.10.2016 IT Torino-Blah Blah*
22.10.2016 IT Milano-Cox 18*
23.10.2016 IT Mantova-Hostaria*
24.10.2016 IT Bologna-Freak Out*
25.10.2016 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando*
26.10.2016 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse*
27.10.2016 IT Trieste tba*
28.10.2016 IT Parma-Mu/Hps fest Vol 3*
29.10.2016 DE Berlin-Cassiopeia*
30.10.2016 DE Radebeul-Barnyard Club*
31.10.2016 DE Hamburg tba*
01.11.2016 DE Munster-Rare Guitar Shop*
02.11.2016 DE Koln-Sonic Ballroom*
03.11.2016 DE Stuttgart-Keller Klub*
04.11.2016 CH Luzern-Bruch Bros*
05.11.2016 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk*
06.11.2016 DE Wiesbaden-Schlachthof*
07.11.2016 DE Mannheim-Tba*
08.11.2016 BE Bruxelles-Magasin 4*
09.11.2016 FR Nantes-La Scene Michelet
10.11.2016 FR Paris-Dr Feelgood Les Halles
11.11.2016 FR Lorient-Le Galion
12.11.2016 SP San Sebastian-Tba
13.11.2016 SP Zaragoza-Tba
14.11.2016 SP Gijon-Casino Acapulco
15.11.2016 PT Lisbon-Sabotage
16.11.2016 PT Porto-Cave 45
17.11.2016 SP Vigo-La Iguana Club
18.11.2016 SP Madrid-Tba
19.11.2016 SP Barcellona-Boveda
*date with Black Bone

https://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator/
http://heavyheadsuperstore.storenvy.com/
www.shop-listenable.net
www.heavypsychsounds.com

Mos Generator, Abyssinia (2016)

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The Obelisk All-Dayer Countdown: Mars Red Sky Premiere “Seen a Ghost” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features, The Obelisk Presents on August 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk all dayer

The countdown is on! We’re less than two weeks out from The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, NYC (get your tickets here) and it’s time to get stoked for what’s sure to be a really special day. The lineup is insane — Mars Red SkyDeath AlleySnailKings DestroyEyeFuneral HorseKing BuffaloHeavy Temple — the room couldn’t be more perfect, and we’re not even there yet and I’m so into the vibe I can hardly even talk about it without getting choked up. To say I’m anticipating it is underselling the facts. I’m already losing sleep.

For the next two weeks, I’ll be featuring a different band on the lineup every day in this space. Some will have premieres, and that’s the case today as we start the series with Mars Red Sky. Their song “Seen a Ghost” first arrived on 2013’s Be My Guide EP (review here) that preceded the 2014 release of their second album and Listenable Records debut, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), on which it also appeared.

The album version neatly summarizes the progressive jump the Bordeaux trio made between their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and the subsequent full-length. Its march and its flourish combine perfectly with the breathy vocal melody from guitarist Julien Pras, and it has all the swirl of the first record while also clearly a building more individualized persona on top of that.

Mars Red Sky made a video for “Seen a Ghost” that’s never been shown anywhere until now, and I’m thrilled to be able to host the premiere of the clip. I have it on good authority — i.e. bassist Jimmy Kinast told me — they’ll be playing the song as part of their headlining set at The Obelisk All-Dayer as they have on select few occasions, and to my ears that only makes the whole thing more special.

Enjoy:

Mars Red Sky, “Seen a Ghost” official video

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Saint Vitus Bar website

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Mos Generator, Abyssinia: A Return from Everywhere (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

mos generator abyssinia

[Stream ‘Catspaw’ from Mos Generator’s Abyssinia by clicking play above. Album is out July 15 in Europe and Aug. 5 in North America on Listenable Records.]

Nothing is 100 percent certain in life, but it’s a far safer bet that, when dealing with Mos Generator, you’re going to get straightforward, immaculately written heavy rock and roll, and that’s just what the Port Orchard, Washington, trio deliver on their third full-length since their 2012 resurgence (sixth overall, second for Listenable Records), Abyssinia. Now a seasoned road act after spending years functioning part-time, the band follows-up 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty with 10 songs that sound as assured in their execution as in their construction, bringing stage-hewn chemistry between guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/engineer/auteur Tony Reed, bassist Sean Booth and drummer Jon Garrett to a studio setting in a fashion that, as ever, is driven by a clarity of sound and purpose but maintains a heavy, classic presence beneath.

Duality is nothing new for Mos Generator — of whom I’ll say both that I’m a fan and that I consider Reed a friend — as Electric Mountain Majesty showed in its moments of underlying depressiveness and dissatisfaction. Abyssinia, with a title that’s reportedly playing off the Washington-state accent’s version of “I’ll be seein’ ya” but nonetheless uses the word “abyss” to make that play, has its moments of melancholy as well, whether it’s the slower roll of “As Above so Below,” “Wicked Willow” before it or the closing duo of “Time and Other Thieves” and “Outlander,” but that brooding is offset by a thrust greater even than the band showed on 2012’s Nomads (review here), songs like “Catspaw” and its side B counterpart “Red Canyons” pushing into what would be manic territory were Reed and company still not able to keep such a handle on the material.

Add to that last grouping the blown-out “There’s No Return from Nowhere” and the Captain Beyond-style shuffle over which “Time and Other Thieves” contemplates mortality and the double-edge of Mos Generator becomes even more apparent. In that, it’s a fitting answer to Electric Mountain Majesty, but the tracks as individual pieces are stronger, and it’s almost too easy to attribute that to the fact that the band has spent the better part of the last two years on tour — but they have — and so are able to deliver a song like “Easy Evil” with a defined purpose and an energy that rings true throughout the record, starting with opener “Strangest Times,” which launches immediately — no time for intros — into its first verse and seems to be the road song that Reed has been dying to write all these years, the line, “I’m just a slave to the strangest times that I’ve ever known,” belted out before each of the two solos.

Garrett starts “You’ve Got a Right,” which is a roller with a multi-layered vocal hook that presages some of the harmonies to come later on and flows easily into the tempo kick of “Catspaw.” Some classic metal riffing in the verse is offset by melodic flourish in the guitar — one of Mos Generator‘s greatest strengths has become attention to detail — and a slowdown release in the chorus, but the prevailing impression left behind is still the gallop, which makes it that much more of a jump when the relative lumber of “Easy Evil” begins, its nod maintained for the duration of its five-minute run, an airy break, solo and hard-funk fuzz highlight riffing leading the way out with an irresistible groove only to have “Wicked Willow” pick up with a more mid-paced feel that showcases the range in Reed‘s vocals as he follows the guitar line on one last unpretentious bounce to close out the first half of the tracklisting.

mos generator

I’m not sure if that’s where the vinyl split is or not, but either way, “As Above so Below” works quickly in its first couple minutes to set a different, more progressive vibe, and much of what follows builds on that. Yes, it still rocks — Reed tears into a solo and soulful chorus as Garrett and Booth lock in another righteous nod — but a quiet break in the first half establishes a tone that Abyssinia takes as a central element in its back half. Of course, Mos Generator need to get through “Red Canyons” first. The most vigilant push on the record is well placed to continue the momentum from earlier into the final three tracks, which are richer in their arrangements and of course more patient — catchy “Red Canyons” is, patience it has little time for — but less about physical motion. A simple verse/chorus interchange becomes one of Abyssinia‘s standout hooks, and the effect is clear going into “There’s No Return from Nowhere,” which is the most weighted-feeling of the cuts here, though it introduces its central riff acoustically before its full stomp kicks in.

Crashing and shouting and a wash of noise cut out suddenly to harmonies and softly-strummed guitar, keys and classically progressive boogie — a return of the acoustic alongside the synth — arriving as a surprise but somehow still working. The heavier riffs continue to lurk, however, and they do come back to finish out as Reed delivers the title line, ending cold so that “Time and Other Thieves” can start its already-noted shuffle, its movement marked by double-time hi-hat, frenetic choppy guitars and Booth‘s bass holding it all together in classic power trio form. A turn begins with the subtle arrival of organ at the halfway point, but Reed takes a guitar solo before they shift back into the main riff and then on to a closing section of key-led space-prog, Garrett holding onto some of the track’s initial energy but clearly heading someplace else with it.

That’s a sudden change, even with the keys having appeared earlier on the album, but in addition to being somewhat satisfying to hear Mos Generator bust through the confines of even their own songwriting rules, it makes sense in light of the six-minute closer and longest track “Outlander,” which boasts Mellotron layers and a subdued groove initially before Reed begins his gloriously harmonized and intricately arranged vocals. Before they even get to the chorus, “Outlander” is sure enough foreign in its sound from everything else on Abyssinia — one might liken its intent more toward Reed‘s shortlived HeavyPink project — but its progression serves as the payoff for the album as a whole, moving in the chorus to a transfigured “I Want You/She’s so Heavy”-style riff that seems to answer everything the three-piece have done up to that point, be it heavy, melancholic or progressive.

They ride that to the song’s end, and rightly so, and cap Abyssinia on a striking and adventurous note, showing that while Reed has helmed the band for more than 15 years, there’s still growth underway in its scope and stylistic breadth. Mos Generator, as an outlet for his restless, relentless creative spirit, have never sounded more in command of their approach than they do on Abyssinia, and as they’ve embarked on a tour-as-much-as-possible ethic, that seems only to have brought more life into their already accomplished craft. Abyssinia stands among 2016’s finest heavy rock albums, easily.

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