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Tomorrow’s Dream: 150+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Interte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Interte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio after parting ways with drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin. That leaves Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman with I-don’t-frickin’-know on drums, but no question that whoever it turns out to be, this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
52. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
53. Dealer
54. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
55. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
56. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
57. Devil Electric
58. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
59. Dool, Here Now There Then
60. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
61. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
62. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
63. Drive by Wire
64. Elbrus, Elbrus
65. Electric Age
66. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
67. Endless Floods, II
68. Five Horse Johnson
69. Forming the Void, Relic
70. Funeral Horse
71. Greenbeard
72. Green Desert Water
73. Greenleaf
74. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
75. Heavy Temple, Chassit
76. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
77. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
78. Holy Mount, The Drought
79. Hooded Menace
80. Horisont, About Time
81. Hymn, Perish
82. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
83. Mastodon
84. Merlin, The Wizard
85. Merchant
86. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
87. Mirror Queen
88. Moonbow, War Bear
89. Mos Generator
90. The Moth
91. MotherSloth
92. Mouth, Vortex
93. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
94. Orango
95. Papir
96. PH, Eternal Hayden
97. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
98. Royal Thunder
99. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
100. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
101. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
102. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
103. Sólstafir
104. Spelljammer
105. Spidergawd, IV
106. Steak
107. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
108. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
109. Summoner
110. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
111. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
112. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
113. Toke
114. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
115. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
116. Weedpecker
117. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

The Age of Truth
118. Ape Machine
119. Arc of Ascent
120. At Devil Dirt
121. Bantoriak
122. Bask
123. BCAD
124. La Chinga
125. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
126. Cities of Mars
127. Dead Meadow
128. Death Alley (Studio LP)
129. Destroyer of Light
130. Devil
131. Devil Worshipper
132. Duel
133. Dustrider
134. Egypt
135. Electric Moon
136. Elephant Tree
137. The Flying Eyes
138. Freedom Hawk
139. Gozu
140. The Great Electric Quest
141. Green Meteor
142. High on Fire
143. Insect Ark
144. In the Company of Serpents
145. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
146. The Judge
147. Killer Boogie
148. King Dead
149. The Kings of Frog Island
150. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
151. Mangoo
152. Mondo Drag
153. Monolord
154. Mountain God
155. The Munsens
156. Naxatras
157. Never Got Caught
158. Ommadon
159. Orchid
150. Ordos
161. Pilgrim
162. Poseidon
163. Purple Hill Witch
164. Ruby the Hatchet
165. Sasquatch
166. Satan’s Satyrs
167. Serpents of Secrecy
168. Shabda
169. Shooting Guns
170. Slow Season
171. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
172. Spectral Haze
173. The Sweet Heat
174. Switchblade Jesus
175. Superchief
176. Tÿburn
177. YOB
178. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

179. Across Tundras
180. Elephant Tree
181. Endless Boogie
182. Fever Dog
183. Fu Manchu
184. Halfway to Gone
185. Hour of 13
186. Kadavar
187. Kings Destroy
188. Lord Fowl
189. Lowrider
190. Masters of Reality
191. Om
192. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

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Lo-Pan, In Tensions: A Moment

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 10th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster

lo-pan in tensions

[Click play above to stream ‘Pathfinder’ from Lo-Pan’s In Tensions EP, out Jan. 13 on Aqualamb Records.]

One might consider In Tensions and the band who made it both as limited edition. Ohio’s Lo-Pan — who, by my estimation, remain among the best currently active purveyors of heavy rock in the US — enlisted guitarist Adrian Lee Zambrano (also Brujas del Sol) after parting company with Brian Fristoe following the release of what’s still their latest full-length, 2014’s Colossus (review here). That album, their fourth and third for Small Stone, marked a sharpening of sound for the hard-touring four-piece and left a tighter, faster, and overall more aggressive impression than 2011’s Salvador (review here), while still maintaining the groove and thrust that have been central to Lo-Pan since 2007’s Sasquanaut (reissue review here) and their formative 2006 self-titled debut.

Clearly they were a band in the midst of changes or at very least a stylistic refinement, but the lineup shift seemed significant. Zambrano, however, quickly proved himself. With him alongside bassist Scott Thompson, drummer Jesse Bartz and vocalist Jeff MartinLo-Pan toured Europe for the first time in 2015, as well as the States, and worked with Joe Viers at Sonic Lounge to record the five tracks of In Tensions. “In tensions,” as in both “tense” and “intensions,” and “intensions” as in “the best of…,” which speaks to the idea that things don’t always work out the way we think they’re going to. And so, In Tensions, which is released by Brooklyn’s Aqualamb Records as a limited CD/LP with a 100-page artbook containing tour diaries, might have been the moment when Lo-Pan established themselves with Zambrano on a studio recording.

Instead, following Zambrano‘s departure and subsequent replacement by Chris Thompson (also Sleepers Awakethis past July, the blazing, air-tight 22-minute collection is a look at what might’ve been had Lo-Pan been able to continue writing in that incarnation for a fifth full-length. One hesitates to call it their best work to-date, if only because as a fan of what they do it doesn’t seem fair, but the simple truth of the matter is they’ve yet to put something out that wasn’t a decisive step forward from the preceding release, and that applies to In Tensions as regards Colossus as well, despite the EP, obviously, being shorter.

But it does showcase some of Zambrano‘s progressive flourish on guitar — he’s a different personality of player than was Fristoe during his time in the band — starting from the tense chug of opener “Go West,” which Bartz meets head-on with toms, and it does boast the most accomplished vocal performance of Martin‘s career thus far, taking his soulful, gonna-belt-this-out approach and adding methodical, layered harmonizing for emphasis in the hooks of “Go West,” the subsequent “Sink or Swim,” the centerpiece “Long Live the King” and the six-minute closer “Pathfinder,” which quite simply is the best song Lo-Pan have ever written.

lo pan in tensions release show

Actually, there’s really nothing simple about it, from the sleek and fuzzy bassline from Thompson that opens to the backing volume swells of guitar (is that ebow?) that provide ambience as Martin and Bartz kick in for the verse to the linear build that moves toward an apex as affecting as it is memorable, shifting after an airy solo circa the four-minute mark to a concluding movement that takes the energetic shove of “Long Live the King” and the crashing gracefulness (yes, both) of “Alexis” — which actually might be Martin‘s boldest performance here — and adds the laser focus that typified Colossus to finish out with maximum force while still remaining in complete control of the torrent they’re making.

If there’s a drawback to it, it’s that that single payoff, with its carefully arranged vocal layers, choice riff, and all-go rhythm, runs the risk of overwhelming the rest of In Tensions. But repeat listens, which aren’t hard to do when the offering is 22 minutes long, show that’s not at all the case, and while “Pathfinder” lands a bigger impact than a short release requires — that is, it could easily have served as the payoff for a full-length — it’s not out of place among the no-nonsense, headbang-worthy drive of “Go West” and the careening chorus of “Sink or Swim” or the thicker impression of low end that Thompson brings to “Long Live the King” and the wistfulness of “Alexis.” Rather, it ties these elements together and highlights further what could’ve been had In Tensions turned into Lo-Pan‘s next album, and it’s for that reason that the EP is a little sad in addition to being such a triumph for the band.

Hearing Zambrano‘s scorcher solo on “Alexis,” it’s difficult not to think of In Tensions as a showcase for the potential in this lineup of Lo-Pan. The title would seem to acknowledge this idea as well, but while they may not have lasted with Zambrano on board, another way to think about In Tensions is how fortunate it is that the band got to record when they did to capture this material which otherwise might’ve been lost to the personnel change. When one considers the artbook format (the cover is by Chris Smith) and numbered pressings from Aqualamb, the emphasis on the fleeting nature of the band that wrote and recorded these songs is all the more prevalent — thus “limited edition” at the outset — and while it’s a quick listen, In Tensions earns every bit of the intricacy with which it arrives. It is a welcome document of a moment already gone. That’s not, however, to say Lo-Pan have necessarily peaked and it’s all downhill from here as they move forward with Chris Thompson on guitar. After all, In Tensions demonstrates that they pulled off one difficult lineup change in the face of daunting odds. There’s nothing to say they can’t do so again. If anything, they seem to be a band who thrive on the challenge.

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Lo-Pan on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb on Thee Facebooks

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Lo-Pan Announce In Tensions EP Due in January; Video Teaser Playing

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers Lo-Pan have just announced a new limited EP, In Tensions, to be released in January via Aqualamb Records. These were the songs recorded during the relatively short but distinguished tenure of guitarist Adrian Lee Zambrano with the four-piece, during which they went to Europe for the first time and toured the US at a greater scale than they ever had before. The band, who were also recently announced as taking part in Maryland Doom Fest 2017 (info here), recruited new guitarist Chris Thompson back in July in time to head out on a summer tour with The Atomic Bitchwax and Dirty Streets, and since it’s Lo-Pan, one can only assume a bevvy of road activity is in the works for 2017, though I’ve yet to hear/see concrete details in that regard. Rest assured, they’ll be out there.

I was hoping these tracks would be released, and Aqualamb‘s method of limited-art-book/digital pressings seems like a cool way to do something special for them, kind of celebrating the one-off that they are while still acknowledging this as a crucial time for the band moving forward from their fourth full-length, Colossus (review here), which came out in 2014 on Small Stone. Looking forward to hearing the songs, and as soon as humanly possible, I’m going to make a beeline right for “Pathfinder,” because you bet your ass I know what’s good for me.

Just off the PR wire:

lo-pan-in-tensions-700

LO-PAN: Limited-Edition In Tensions EP Due January 13th, 2017 On Aqualamb Records; Video Teaser Posted

LO-PAN’s fifth release, In Tensions, is a new five-song EP that sees the seasoned Columbus, Ohio unit continuing their blistering trajectory, building on the infectious, riff-filled grooves of their 2014 full-length, Colossus.

Their first release on Brooklyn’s Aqualamb Records (Husbandry, Black Black Black, Godmaker et al), In Tensions also marks the next stage in the band’s ever-evolving direction – anchored by the lead single “Go West,” an optimistic, sun-kissed, open highway anthem. Regarding the song, singer Jeff Martin elaborates, “It’s about setting out to accomplish a goal and then having that goal change along the way. And ultimately realizing the new goal was better than what you wanted in the first place.” A perfect rallying cry for action in uncertain times, Martin continues, “it’s also about getting out and doing something…. So keep moving forward. Keeping progressing. Keep evolving.”

LO-PAN has indeed been moving forward, both figuratively and literally. In Tensions is equal parts modern sludge metal and ’90s-influenced alt rock – synthesized to perfection. Jeff Martin has never sounded more soulful, confident, and passionate on record. The riffs courtesy of the now former guitarist Adrian Lee Zambrano compliment the tribal influenced drums of Jesse Bartz and grounding bass lines of Skot Thompson, pummeling the listener on each repeated listen.

Recorded in Columbus, Ohio by Joe Viers, with mixings duties split between Jonathan Nunez (Torche, Shitstorm) and Ryan Haft (Wrong, Capsule) in Miami, and mastered in Chicago by Carl Saff (Big Business, Helms Alee, Russian Circles), In Tensions is a sonic masterpiece created across multiple time zones – the fruit of relationships forged through the band’s unending dedication to the life of touring road dogs.

The band also hit a major touring milestone in 2016, having logged over 250,000 miles on their original van since 2005 – crossing the country countless times over on headlining tours and supporting the likes of Torche, High On Fire, Weedeater, KENmode, Whores, Fu Manchu, Atomic Bitchwax, Black Cobra, and Bongzilla. Not surprisingly, they’ve become one of the most ferocious live acts in American heavy rock as a result.

And with In Tensions, they show no sign of slowing down. A full US tour in support of In Tensions is expected this Winter along with a European tour in the Spring of 2017.

LO-PAN’s In Tensions will be released on 10-inch vinyl limited to 500 copies and accompanied by a one-hundred-page book featuring artwork by Chris Smith of Grey Aria Design as well LO-PAN tour diaries, flyers, and a complete collection lyrics from LO-PAN’s previous releases: Sasquanaut, Salvador, and Colossus. Preorders are currently available at THIS LOCATION.

In Tensions Track Listing:
1. Go West
2. Sink Or Swim
3. Long Live The King
4. Alexis
5. Pathfinder

Inspired by the lack of album art in the age of invisible music, Brooklyn-based record label Aqualamb publishes one-hundred+ page printed books of artwork and writings as physical accompaniments to its releases. Essentially, each album’s art and liner notes (traditionally confined to an LP gatefold, a CD booklet, or the screen of some music-playing device) are reconfigured into an expanded book form. Each book also includes a download code for the music.

LO-PAN is:
Jeff Martin – vocals
Skot Thompson – bass
Jesse Bartz – drums
Chris Thompson – guitar
Additional Musician:
Adrian Lee Zambrano – guitars on In Tensions

http://www.lopandemic.com
http://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
http://www.aqualamb.org
http://www.aqualamb.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/aqualambrecords

Lo-Pan, In Tensions EP trailer

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Maryland Doom Fest 2017: Set Times Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

So I guess we’re pretty much ready to roll on Maryland Doom Fest 2017, right? We’ve had the lineup announced, we’ve got the schedule now. Might be another couple weeks getting t-shirts together — and hoodies; should’ve gotten a hoodie this year, which admittedly is something that occurs to one way less at the end of June than in mid-November — but then I’d say we’re about good to go. No need to wait until next summer on it. Let’s do this thing.

Maybe that’s just me being excited at the prospect of that Friday night lineup, which seems particularly strong front to back — not to take away from any of the other days, but you know I dig me some Lo-Pan — but either way, if Maryland Doom Fest‘s now-three-year tenure has been marked by anything it’s a lack of bullshit. A fervent get-down-to-business-and-kick-as-doing-it mentality. It’s perhaps the most “Maryland doom” aspect to the whole event. Maryland Doom Fest 2017 is clearly no different. Here we are more than half a year from the event kicking off and I know what time I need to be there on Thursday to watch Spillage start the pre-party. This is information I’m glad to have.

If your calendar isn’t marked yet, you might want to get on that:

maryland-doom-fest-2017-poster

The Maryland Doom Fest 2017

June 23, 2017 – June 25, 2017

Cafe 611
611 N Market St, Frederick, Maryland 21701

ROSTER SLOT TIMES

**PRE FEST PARTY THURS JUNE 22
• Valkyrie 1150 – 1250
• Beastmaker 1055 – 1140
• Pilgrim 1000 – 1045
• Borracho 915 – 950
• Weed Is Weed 830 – 905
• Sweet Heat 745 – 820
• Spillage 700 -735

FRIDAY JUNE 23
• Captain Beyond 1240 – 150
• Lo-Pan 1140 – 1230
• Apostle of Solitude 1050 – 1130
• Earthride 1000 – 1040
• Beelzefuzz 910 – 950
• Wretch 820 – 900
• Demon Eye 735 –810
• Brimstone Coven 650 – 725
• Black Manta 605 – 640
• Sierra 515 – 555

SATURDAY JUNE 24
• The Skull 1245 – 150
• Bang! 1140 – 1235
• Wo Fat 1050 – 1130
• The Well 1000 – 1040
• The Watchers 910 – 950
• Hollow Leg 825 – 900
• Iron Man 740 – 815
• Dark Music Theory 655 – 730
• War Injun 610 – 645
• Thonian Horde 525 – 600
• Witches of God 440 – 515
• Black Tar Prophet 355 – 430
• Conclave 305 – 345

SUNDAY JUNE 25
• Headliner 1140 – 1245
• The Atomic Bitchwax 1045 -1130
• Serpents of Secrecy 955 – 1035
• Lightning Born 905 – 945
• Lifetime Shitlist 815 – 855
• Akris 730 – 805
• Burn Thee Insects 645 – 720
• Faith In Jane 600 – 635
• Cavern 515 – 550
• Old Blood 430 – 505
• Horehound 345 – 420

TICKET SALES START JAN 1st !!

https://www.facebook.com/The-maryland-DOOM-Fest-815331421863100/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1794418777500202/
http://www.themarylanddoomfest.com/

Earthride, Live at Jason McCash Benefit, 2014

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First Video Surfaces of Lo-Pan with New Guitarist Chris Thompson

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

lo-pan

Participating in The Blackout Cookout has become something of a tradition for Lo-Pan. I don’t know if they play every year at the Kent, Ohio-based fest put together by Kenny Royer, also of The Ravenna Arsenal, but they’ve done it multiple times over and have always spoken highly of the experience. This year was The Blackout Cookout 7, and Lo-Pan, from Columbus, OH, headlined — topping a bill that also included Sofa King KillerThe Ravenna ArsenalBridesmaidHorseburner and others. It looked like a pretty good show. It always does.

There’s some added intrigue to seeing live footage of Lo-Pan from The Blackout Cookout 7 in that, held on Aug. 13, it was also their first show with guitarist Chris Thompson, who joined the band last month. They’ve since embarked on a tour alongside The Atomic Bitchwax and Dirty Streets, put together by Tone Deaf, that will lead them to Psycho Las Vegas this weekend, where they join the lineup of everyone and their mother at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Not a minor introduction for a new member of the group. Probably closer to trial by fire, particularly when you factor in the desert heat.

But Thompson, who’s joined in Lo-Pan by bassist Scott Thompson (no relation), drummer Jesse Bartz and vocalist Jeff Martin, has clearly held his own so far, as you can see in the clip below for “Pathfinder.” The footage comes courtesy of Pittsburgh native and all-around top-notch individual Randy Blood, and if you’ve seen Lo-Pan in the last year, you probably recall the song. Last time I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure was in March and though it was my first time seeing or hearing “Pathfinder,” the immediate impression from it was that it’s one of the best things Lo-Pan has ever written, and I think that holds up here as well.

And it looks like Thompson is gonna be just fine on guitar, in case you were worried.

Enjoy the “Pathfinder” clip below, followed by Lo-Pan‘s remaining live dates:

Lo-Pan, “Pathfinder” live at The Blackout Cookout 7, Aug. 13, 2016

Lo-Pan with The Atomic Bitchwax & Dirty Streets:
8/24/2016 Grizzly Hall – Austin, TX
8/25/2016 Rail Club – Ft. Worth, TX
8/26/2016 Ned’s Bar – Albuquerque, NM
8/27/2016 Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ
8/28/2016 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas

Lo-Pan website

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

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Lo-Pan Tour with The Atomic Bitchwax and Dirty Streets Launches Tomorrow Night

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

lo-pan

Just over a month after announcing the addition of guitarist Chris Thompson to their lineup in place of Adrian Zambrano, Ohio heavy rockers Lo-Pan will head out on an inaugural tour with the new lineup. I’ve already seen video of them performing at this year’s Blackout Cookout in Kent, OH, where they’re a regular fixture, and the feel was right on. I’d expect them to get even tighter by the time this run is over, and a particularly noteworthy stop-off at Psycho Las Vegas should make for a pretty solid first-tour highlight for Thompson. “Welcome aboard, by the way, we’re playing with Alice Cooper this weekend.” Not too shabby.

Lo-Pan will be out with The Atomic Bitchwax and Dirty Streets. I told you I’d post these dates again:

lo-pan-tour-poster

LO-PAN: Ohio Riff Wielders To Kick Off Tour With The Atomic Bitchwax This Week; Band To Appear At Psycho Las Vegas

Ohio riff wielders LO-PAN will take to the streets again for a short run of live dates later this week supporting The Atomic Bitchwax on a portion of their tour through August 27th. Additional support will be provided by Dirty Streets. Set to commence this Friday, August 19th in Charlotte, North Carolina, LO-PAN’s latest trek includes a performance at Psycho Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino alongside the likes of Alice Cooper, Blue Öyster Cult, Electric Wizard, Sleep and many others. It also marks the four-piece’s first tour with new guitarist Chris Thompson.

Comments drummer Jesse Bartz, “The train don’t stop! New guitarist Chris Thompson has us practicing some older stuff too. We will be playing a wide variety of material from our previous recordings as well as some new material. Really stoked to be able to tour with The Atomic Bitchwax and Dirty Streets. Both are top notch not to be missed rock bands. We cannot wait to see some of our favorite bands of all time at Psycho Vegas!”

LO-PAN w/ The Atomic Bitchwax, Dirty Streets:
8/19/2016 The Milestone – Charlotte, NC
8/20/2016 The Tavern – Hattiesburg, MS
8/21/2016 Siberia – New Orleans, LA
8/22/2016 Limelight – San Antonio, TX
8/23/2016 White Oak Music Hall – Houston, TX
8/24/2016 Grizzly Hall – Austin, TX
8/25/2016 Rail Club – Ft. Worth, TX
8/26/2016 Ned’s Bar – Albuquerque, NM
8/27/2016 Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ
8/28/2016 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Vegas

LO-PAN continues to tour in support of their critically lauded Colossus full-length, released via Small Stone. Produced and engineered by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Rosetta, East Of The Wall et al) at his own Translator Audio in Brooklyn, New York and named for an ancient statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun, Helios, the record continues to raise the eyebrows of fans and media globally.

http://www.lopandemic.com
http://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords

Lo-Pan, Colossus (2014)

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The Atomic Bitchwax, Lo-Pan & The Dirty Streets Announce Coast-to-Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

A couple months ago, while out on a run with The Obsessed and Karma to BurnTone Deaf is killing it with the package tours this year — bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik of The Atomic Bitchwax sustained an injury to his arm that forced the band to cancel about half the dates. Sierra filled in, but still kind of a bummer for the stalwart NJ trio, whose 2015 Tee Pee Records album, Gravitron (review here), was among the year’s finest.

No doubt they’d get back out, and this time they’ll be headlining a coast-to-coast stint with Ohio’s Lo-Pan and Memphis blues rockers The Dirty Streets. For Lo-Pan, it will mark the four-piece’s first tour with new guitarist Chris Thompson, who was just announced as having joined the band earlier this week. They’re on the tour from Aug. 19 through Aug. 27 only, it looks like, so presumably the next night will serve as their stop at Psycho Las Vegas. The Dirty Streets, on the other hand, have an off-night as the Bitchwax and Lo-Pan roll into Tucson on Aug. 27, so I guess that’s when they’ll be playing the Vegas megafestival.

In any case, glad to see The Atomic Bitchwax heading off again and continuing to keep excellent company. Dates were posted by the band:

the atomic bitchwax lo pan dirty streets tour-700

USA!!
Arm is healed up so let’s try this again!!

THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (ALL DATES)
W/ LO PAN (8/19-9/27) and THE DIRTY STREETS (8/19-9/10 excluding 8/27)
08/19/2016 Charlotte NC The Milestone w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/20/2016 Hattiesburg MS The Tavern w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/21/2016 New Orleans LA Siberia w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/22/2016 San Antonio TX Limelight w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/23/2016 Houston TX White Oak Music Hall w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/24/2016 Austin TX Grizzly Hall w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/25/2016 Ft Worth TX Rail Club w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/26/2016 Albuquerque NM Ned’s Bar w/ Lo-Pan, The Dirty Streets
08/27/2016 Tucson AZ Flycatcher w/ Lo-Pan
08/28/2016 San Diego CA Soda Bar w/ The Dirty Streets
08/29/2016 Los Angeles CA Viper Room w/ The Dirty Streets
08/30/2016 San Francisco CA Elbo Room w/ The Dirty Streets
08/31/2016 Portland OR Dante’s w/ The Dirty Streets
09/01/2016 Vancouver BC Biltmore w/ The Dirty Streets
09/02/2016 Seattle WA El Corazon w/ The Dirty Streets
09/03/2016 Bellingham WA Shakedown w/ The Dirty Streets
09/06/2016 Minneapolis MN Grumpy’s w/ The Dirty Streets
09/07/2016 Chicago IL Double Door w/ The Dirty Streets
09/08/2016 Cleveland OH Grog Shop w/ The Dirty Streets
09/09/2016 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie w/ The Dirty Streets
09/10/2016 Brooklyn NY Black Bear w/ The Dirty Streets

https://www.facebook.com/The-Atomic-Bitchwax-86002001659/
https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic/
https://www.facebook.com/thedirtystreets
http://tonedeaftouring.com/

The Atomic Bitchwax, Live in Toulouse, France

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Lo-Pan Welcome New Guitarist Chris Thompson

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been under two months since Ohio heavy rockers Lo-Pan announced the departure of guitarist Adrian Zambrano, who was added to the band late in 2014 following the release of their fourth album, Colossus (review here), via Small Stone. They’ve now posted word that Chris Thompson has joined in Zambrano‘s stead, and though they’ve said they’re already writing new songs, they’re still playing it close to the chest on the status of the tracks they recorded when Zambrano was still in the group, among them the absolutely stellar “Pathfinder,” which they brought to stages earlier this year on their tour with Bongzilla (review here).

The timing is noteworthy because Lo-Pan, who it seems are never off the road for long, are confirmed to play Psycho Las Vegas next month. I don’t know how much of a factor that has been for their making a decision on a quick turnaround, but it’s a chance to be part of arguably the best heavy-festival lineup that’s ever been put together in the US, and I think if you were going to find a guitarist in time for any gig, that would probably be the one. I doubt Lo-Pan would hire a guitarist who isn’t at this point, but if Thompson is up for touring, it seems likely the four-piece will announce more dates in the weeks or months to come for before the end of the year and likely into 2017, when a new album — whenever it’s recorded and whoever might be playing on it — would be released.

That’s all speculation, of course. And speculation on top of speculation.

In any case, good luck to Thompson — who also plays in Sleepers Awake and shares his last name with bassist Scott Thompson; I thought perhaps there was some relation, but the band confirmed not — and of course to the rest of Lo-Pan as well, the lineup rounded out by drummer Jesse Bartz and vocalist Jeff Martin. Hope to see the new incarnation soon.

Here’s there announcement and the ceremonial photo:

lo-pan

Please help us welcome our new guitarist Chris Thompson. Chris is a very talented guy and we are lucky to have him. Lo-Pan is back in action and we are already working on new material. Lots of good stuff coming soon including a new release and, as always, more tour dates. Stay tuned.

https://www.facebook.com/lopandemic
https://twitter.com/LoPandemic614
https://www.facebook.com/BrujasdelSol
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/colossus

Lo-Pan, Colossus (2014)

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