Desertfest Belgium 2019: Zeal & Ardor to Headline; Dopelord and Lo-Pan Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2019 banner

Desertfest Belgium 2019 isn’t quite done with its 2019 lineup yet, but as you can see below, that poster is getting awfully packed, so we must be getting close. With the announcement of Zeal and Ardor signing on to play, they’ve now unveiled the last of their headliners, and thereby signaled a reach that not only includes the very kingpins of stoner metal in Sleep, but also a broader range no less able to wrangle indie-cred via Ty Segall and full-spectrum forward-thinking metal from Zeal and Ardor. Backed by no shortage of righteousness in the realms of doom, psych and heavy — Lo-Pan and Dopelord also included here — it’s already a “well duh it’s gonna sell out” kind of lineup. One has to wonder what other tricks the Antwerp-based event might have left up its sleeve.

Guess we’ll find out:

desertfest belgium 2019 latest poster

Zeal & Ardor headlines Desertfest Belgium!

Were you all waiting for that final headliner to push you over the brink? Because that is what you are getting! Zeal & Ardor must count as one of the most exciting and original rock bands to emerge in the past few years, blending gospel with ear-deafening metal to devastating effect. What started out as a one-man project has now grown into a monstrous live band, and it will be the perfect crown on your first day of Desertfest Antwerp 2019.

Hailing from Poland, Dopelord is a mighty strong proponent of traditional doom with all boxes ticked. Some dark and heavy grooves to get your blaze on – every festival needs ’em, right!

Finally, we present you with two bands that come packed with some fresh sounds. Lo-Pan just released ‘Subtle’ which is already hailed as one of the most exciting stoner releases of this year. A band that knows how to push the envelope with each step they take. The same can be said of Elephant Tree, who are working on new material as we speak. We’re pretty sure you’re all anxious to hear what they come up with next!

That’s NOT all folks, we still have some stuff coming before summer’s in full swing! But seriously – what more do you need? Hit that button below!

IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING TICKETS: the Reduced Combi Tickets are now sold out, and we’ve switched to Regular Combitickets. They can be yours for €115, all costs included! Day tickets remain at the fixed price.

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/2260579413999993/

Zeal and Ardor, Live in London

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2019 Night One, 06.21.19

Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest 2019 night one

I shudder to think of the poor bastard who, when this weekend is over, will have to mop up all the melted eardrums from the floor of the Cafe 611. With the expansion this year to four days — because again, the pre-fest yesterday was essentially a full night of the festival; 2020 pre-party on Wednesday? — Maryland Doom Fest enters a whole new echelon of being physically overwhelming. By the time Mothership went on last night, I was feeling it. Hard. Mostly in my back. And granted, they ran late and had some technical trouble getting set up, but I have the feeling that even had they been on time, I still would’ve been dragging my keester like the anchor it is.

But if that’s the case, it’s only true because the day was so goddamn good. Apart from not being allowed into Guido’s to see Benthic Realm because I didn’t have ID — my driver’s license got lost, I have no idea where or when or how, just looked in my wallet a couple weeks back and it was gone and the new one hasn’t arrived yet — and I guess the male pattern baldness, gray hair, wrinkles under my eyes and stiff, loping movements weren’t enough to confirm my age. “Sorry sir, you’re right. I’m actually three 16-year-olds in disguise as one old dude.” I respect the diligence, and the dude was just doing his job, so after a “seriously?” that was 100 percent genuinely asking if he was being serious, I wasn’t gonna make a stink, but that was a surprise.

It was a bummer though. Krista from the band I think had on an Obelisk t-shirt yesterday, and Dan‘s a really good guy all the time and being as I won’t be in Massachusetts anymore, let alone Worcester where they’re from, it would’ve been cool to see them. Nobody’s evening is made or broken by my showing up, but I wish I had caught their set. That’s all. It’s been a while since I got carded. Doubly so because I don’t drink.

That was the only snafu though, and otherwise, it was a have-my-cake-while-eating-my-cake-and-your-cake-golly-cake-is-good kind of evening as MDDF19 launched in earnest. It was a 6PM start, but the bill was stacked, so let me not waste time with tales of my own foibles.

Maryland Doom Fest 2019 night one:

False Gods

False Gods (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Oh they were mad. An angry start to the day to be sure. I give New York-based ultra-aggro five-piece crushers False Gods credit for coming up with the most excellent tagline, “If it’s too slow, you’re too young,” which is great, but for the most part, they actually moved at a pretty solid clip, taking aspects of post-hardcore and post-metallic intensity and putting them through a ringer of sludge riffs and tones, growls and screams cutting through. They’ve got a new two-song EP out called The Serpent and the Ladder, featuring, yes, “The Serpent” and “The Ladder,” and as frontman Mike Stack paced back and forth at the front of the Cafe 611 stage, his screams sometimes backed by growls from drummer Paulie Stack (let’s assume they’re related), the bass of Johnny Geirak offered density to underpin the more atmospheric elements of Greg March and Nick Luisi‘s guitars. A mid-set spaceout was welcome, but otherwise the chestbeating felt sincere and the impact of their sound was like a shock to the system. There would be no easing into the day, clearly. Welcome back to Maryland Doom Fest 2019. Now be pummeled.

The Druids

The Druids (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There’s another Druids, who are from Iowa and signed to The Company and who put an album out this year and made a bit of a splash with it. That’s not this The Druids, who are from here in Maryland and not signed to The Company but did put a record out in February called Totem (review here) that’s fully diggable in its blend of space and heavy rocks, a blend put to semi-psychedelic use in a we’re-actually-stoned stoner mindset. I had been looking forward to seeing them — not the least because Gary Isom (Spirit Caravan, last night with Weed is Weed, etc.) plays drums — and felt justified in that. Isom‘s pedigree notwithstanding, they’re young. And they sounded like it, guitarist/vocalists Eli Watson and Danny Alger and bassist Jeremy Dinges bringing a fresh energy to the material that, while not stylistically revolutionary, still benefited it greatly. Dave Davidson, who has worked the sound for every Maryland Doom Fest that I’ve been to, kept reminding them between songs how much time they had left, as though if he didn’t, they might get high and wander into a jam, never to return. Not great for keeping to a schedule, but I wouldn’t mind hearing that, either.

Kingsnake

Kingsnake (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Pro-shop, and I’m not honestly sure how much else needs to be said. Philadelphia’s Kingsnake kicked off a Pennsylvania threepeat on the Cafe 611 stage, and they did so with hard-edged, Southern-tinged heavy that seemed to roll out the funk of Clutch into a more forward drive. Hooks? They got hooks. Riffs? They got those too. And they deliver. I’ll always remember them for their roots in Sugar Daddie, but that was like 14 years ago now, so it’s safe to say in that time Kingsnake have come into their own, and what they bring is down-home heavy vibes, for the distinguished working gentleperson who, whether they’re sipping IPA or living the High Life, knows exactly what they want out of the experience. They marked the beginning of schedule collision between Cafe 611 and Guido’s Speakeasy, the second venue about 150 feet right on the next block (easy walk, nice to get a bit of non-doomfart air), but I caught both the beginning and the end of their set, and they killed it to a high standard. Their got-it-togetherness was well on display, and reportedly they’ve had new songs in the works for a while to follow 2016’s Resonance, so hopefully something comes out soon.

Spiral Grave

Spiral Grave (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve been tracking the emergence of Spiral Grave since the band announced their existence in the earliest moments of this year, and my first opportunity to see them live wasn’t one I was about to pass up. I walked right into Guido’s no problem this time — also part of what made it such a surprise later — as Spiral Grave were still setting up, but by the time they went on, that room would be completely packed. Not that that’s saying much — the space is intimate, to put it mildly — but still. They opened with their first single, “Nothing” (premiered here) and proceeded to give the assembled a preview of things to come as they move toward their in-progress debut album. The amalgam of Iron Man and Lord — quintessential Maryland doom meets oft-experimentalist Virginian noise chaos — works. Guitarist Willy Rivera (the Lord contingent) has beefed up his riffing style to suit the grooves of bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann, and the underlying metallic sharpness in his work suits the vocals of Dee Calhoun well. They’ve been in my “look forward to more” category for a while. Only more the case after seeing them play. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were back here next year after the album release. Nor would I complain.

Backwoods Payback

Backwoods Payback (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Sometimes life is pretty sweet, like when Backwoods Payback plays. The West Chester, PA/Richmond, VA trio were here last year heralding the arrival of their Summer 2018 LP, Future Slum (review here), and it was only more of a pleasure to see them this time around because, you know, the more the merrier. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson have a reputation that precedes them here, and I don’t know if it was people who saw them at the last Maryland Doom Fest or who heard the record or what, but they packed the room out and had people singing along. Or maybe that was just me. Either way, they made highlights out of Future Slum cuts like “Pirate Smile” and “Whatever,” “Generals” and “Lines,” which closed out with its tense build, as well as what I’d swear was some even-newer stuff but was too ass-kicked afterwards to ask. If you’ve never seen them, their style is as much grown-up punk as it is ’90s-weird-kid, but it’s delivered with heft and heart that are second to no one, and they’re the kind of band who win people over. They didn’t have to do that at Cafe 611 — the room was on their side to start with — but the converted were plenty happy to hear them preach. There are very few bands I so much enjoy watching play.

The Age of Truth

The Age of Truth (Photo by JJ Koczan)

No easy feat to be sandwiched on a bill between Backwoods Payback and Year of the Cobra with Lo-Pan still to follow, but Philly’s The Age of Truth wrapped up the Keystone triad with an unequivocal mastery of West Coast-style heavy rock meeting Northeastern noise crunch and aggression. Also repeat offenders from last year (review here), they remain entrenched in their righteous 2017 debut, Threshold (review here), starting with the immediate lock-in nodder “Come Back a God” — which still reminds me of Dozer, in the best way — as frontman Kevin McNamara pointed up to the sky, or at least the ceiling, and guitarist Mike DiDonato, bassist Bill Miller and drummer Scott Fressetto behind him were in go-mode from the start. For a band who haven’t spent months on the road — they’ve done plenty of shows, but not really full-on toured, and I don’t know if they want to or not — they rose to the occasion in such a way as to make me wonder how that might tie into their next record, if the tightness of their live presentation will be mirrored in their songwriting or captured output. Whatever they might have planned in that regard, they sounded ready to move forward, and in what, again, was a difficult spot, they shone, indulging a bit of drank in the process.

Year of the Cobra

Year of the Cobra (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Looking at their setlist after they played, I felt way better about how few of Year of the Cobra‘s songs I recognized while they were on stage. The Seattle two-piece will release their second album later this year as their debut through Prophecy Productions — I’m not saying I’m holding a spot on my best-of-the-year list for it, but basically I am — and though they’ve toured hard to support 2016’s …In the Shadows Below (review here) and the subsequent 2017 EP, Burn Your Dead (review here), including just recently with Lord Dying, I’m embarrassed to say I’d never seen them before. That fact has been gnawing at me, so I was relieved when they went on, and all the more so when they absolutely leveled Cafe 611. They played “Cold” from the EP and “White Wizard” from the first record as well as the title-track of their first short release, 2015’s The Black Sun (review here), but everything else seemed to be new, titles like “Ash and Dust,” “The Divine” and “Into the Fray” scribbled out to represent a barrage of low-end tone, wash of crash and increasingly nuanced vocal melodicism from Amy Tung Barrysmith. With Jon Barrysmith on drums, they were a nation-of-two duo whose time on the road was obvious in their we-do-this-all-the-time vibe, and my only regret of the evening was not buying a shirt. That’s something I’ll rectify next time, and yes, there will be a next time.

Lo-Pan

Lo-Pan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Come on, Lo-Pan. You know that scene in that one episode of The Simpsons from the ’90s where Homer joins not-Lollapalooza and Sonic Youth are there and they steal Peter Frampton’s watermelon? That’s like Lo-Pan stealing all the awesome and keeping it for themselves. As they absolutely tore exclusively into cuts from their new record, Subtle (review here), it was as though they were standing next to an empty cooler going, “Come on, Mr. Frampton! You’re not gonna eat all that watermelon!” It was my first time seeing them since they added guitarist Chris Thompson, which was a couple years ago now — look, I can’t make excuses; sometimes it’s hard being a human being, let alone leaving the house — and with their lightbars on the sides of his and bassist Scott Thompson‘s cabs, singer Jeff Martin in back giving a clinic in vocal dynamics and drummer Jesse Bartz bashing away up front, they did what Lo-Pan do: they destroyed. I don’t think I’ve seen them at any point in the last decade and not come out of it unable to name a more powerful American heavy rock band. I’ll catch them again in a couple months as they tour with C.O.C. and Crowbar — they’re doing a one-off in Teaneck, NJ; fuck yes — and I’m already looking forward to that. This is a band to treasure.

Pale Divine

Pale Divine (Photo by JJ Koczan)

So here’s the thing: Pale Divine just put out a record. Not this week, but last November they released their self-titled LP (review here), and as it was their first outing in six years, it’s totally unreasonable to think they might do another one anytime soon. Pale Divine doesn’t owe anyone anything. You know how the pre-fest was all the Stoner Hands of Doom bands? Well, okay. Pale Divine played that fest seven times, including the first one 20 years ago. But on the other hand… since the album came out, guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener, bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis and drummer Darin McCloskey added Dana Ortt — who’ll also play his last show with Beelzefuzz this weekend — on guitar and vocals, and they’re just at another level for having done so. You could hear the harmonies between Diener and Ortt on vocals throughout their set, and the interplay on guitar was no less glorious. So yeah, Pale Divine, you don’t have to put out another record right this moment. Don’t feel obligated. But if you wanted to make that happen sometime in the less-than-six-years-from-now near future, I think it would really be for the best all the way around. The wax is barely dry on Pale Divine, so it’s not even fair to ask, but I’m asking anyway. Or at least a live record as a stopgap. I’d take a 7″. A demo tape. Something. Anything.

Mothership

Mothership (Photo by JJ Koczan)

You know why I like Mothership? They play both kinds of music: rock and roll. How are you gonna be dead on your feet when Mothership are playing? The Dallas power trio manifest the best of Texas’ heavy legacy and offer it up in kinetic fashion. Already this year they’ve toured with Death Angel, done a spot on the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest out on the West Coast, and been on the road with C.O.C. (review here), and that’s after doing Europe last Fall on a by-now-legendary stint with Elephant Tree and Stoned Jesus, so yeah, Mothership are basically on fire and after a late start owing to some non-intentional feedback and other technical whathaveyou, they played like it. They’ve basically been go-go-go since before the arrival of their 2017 third full-length, High Strangeness (review here), and their “Midnight Express” shows no signs of slowing. They’ve made themselves ambassadors for ’70s heavy without ever really dipping into retroism, and more than just ape what classic bands did before them, they take those lessons and push them forward onto new ground. I honestly don’t know when they would’ve had time to write a new LP or anything like that, but they seem to have a keen sense of how to keep their momentum going — spoiler: it’s by busting their collective ass — so I have to think they’ll get there sooner or later, if they can manage to stop long enough to hit record. Hard to imagine the tour offers stopping, frankly. I’ll admit I didn’t stay for the whole set, but even with the hiccup at the outset, there was no question they owned that room.

I guess it was like 2AM when I got back to the AirBNB? Something like that. I crashed quickly, even before pictures were done being transferred from my memory card, and slept until eight this morning. Saw nine bands on Thursday, 10 bands on Friday. Today’s Saturday and there are 11 at the Cafe 611 alone — more if I can manage to con my way back into the good graces of Guido’s — and that’s the busiest day of the thing. I am beat but upright, and very much in need of a shower. At least I got a toothbrush yesterday. Today’s need is Advil.

Good times, y’all. Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 17

Posted in Radio on June 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gimme radio logo

So because I suck at naming themed episodes, this episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio was ‘Some of the Best of 2019 So Far.’ Yeah, I know, way to commit. Whatever. You get the point. We’re six months deep into the year if you can wrap your head around it, and it’s a good time to check in and see where we’re at.

One thing that stood out to me in making the playlist is that it’s been an exceedingly good half-year for doom. New records from Saint Vitus, Candlemass and Lord Vicar would be enough of their own, then you toss in stuff like Obsidian Sea and Demon Head, among others and it’s kind of incredible. Kings Destroy’s “Dead Before” is high on the list of the best songs I’ve heard this year, so I wanted to include that for sure, and there was room to space out a bit with Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree. I also really dug the Sigils record, and kind of felt like I didn’t write enough about it, so that’s in there too.

The bottom line, of course, is there was more than I could fit in one episode, and there are enough tracks that feel conspicuous in their absence for me to not put together a second episode working on the same theme. So I think I’ll probably do that next time. Can I get away with playing The Claypool Lennon Delirium on Gimme Radio? I don’t know, but it might be fun to try.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 06.07.19

Uffe Lorenzen Angakkoq Triprapport 0:04:08
Kings Destroy Dead Before Fantasma Nera 0:04:25
Green Lung May Queen Woodland Rites 0:06:41
BREAK
Spidergawd All and Everything Spidergawd V 0:06:12
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard Katyusha Yn Ol I Annwn 0:13:23
Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree Grandmother Grandmother 0:10:58
Sigils Samhain You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves 0:09:39
Thunderbird Divine Bummer Bridge Magnasonic 0:05:34
BREAK
Candlemass Under the Ocean The Door to Doom 0:06:15
Saint Vitus 12 Years in the Tomb Saint Vitus 0:05:23
Demon Head Strange Eggs Hellfire Ocean Void 0:07:01
Obsidian Sea A Shore Without a Sea Strangers 0:08:49
Lord Vicar Levitation The Black Powder 0:04:57
BREAK
Lo-Pan A Thousand Miles Subtle 0:04:06
Valley of the Sun Dim Vision Old Gods 0:03:55
Yatra Snakes in the Temple Death Ritual 0:06:41

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is June 21. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Presents: Lo-Pan, Steak & Elephant Tree UK/European Tour Dates

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on May 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

There are still a couple dates TBA, but it feels like a win nonetheless announcing the two weeks-plus that Lo-Pan will spend on the road in the UK and parts of Europe this Fall. It’s October, which coincides with their previously-announced festival appearance at Up in Smoke and will also see them at Keep it Low 2019 and the Setalight and Into the Void festivals. There’s another fest on that Oct. 19 date that’s still unannounced, and while I don’t know what’s planned for it — I’ll emphasize that while there’s an Obelisk logo on the poster, I have zero inside information — I wouldn’t be surprised to find the run stopping through there either.

Either way, Lo-Pan of course head abroad in support of their 2019 album, Subtle (review here), which is yet another powerhouse offering from the four-piece despite lineup changes since their last offering, and Elephant Tree, who’ll open the run, are set to release their second album hopefully in time to coincide with the tour (that’d be just dandy as far as I’m concerned, though if they wanted to send it to me earlier, I’d take that too, hint hint). I’m not sure if Steak have a record in the works — their last one came out in 2017, so it’s certainly possible — but as I’ve noted a couple times already since, they killed at Desertfest New York recently.

Here are the thus-far confirmed dates for the tour. Gonna be a good one, and I’m insanely proud to have this site involved in presenting it:

lo-pan steak elephant tree tour

30.09.19 TBA
01.10.19 Bristol | The Old England (UK)**

02.10.19 Swansea | The Bunkhouse (UK)**
04.10.19 Paris | Gibus (FR)
05.10.19 Pratteln | Up In Smoke Festival (CH)
06.10.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse (AT)
08.10.19 Linz | Stadtwerkstatt (AT)
09.10.19 Freiburg | Slow Club (DE)
10.10.19 Leipzig | Werk2 (DE)
11.10.19 Berlin | Setalight Festival (DE)
12.10.19 Munich | Keep it Low Festival (DE)
14.10.19 Wiesbaden | Schlachthof (DE)
15.10.19 Cologne | Helios 37 (DE)
16.10.19 Hamburg | Hafenklang (DE)
17.10.19 Bremen | Zollkantine (DE)
18.10.19 Leuwaarden | Into the Void Festival (NL)**
19.10.19 TBA | TBA
** Lo-Pan only

LO-PAN is:
Jeff Martin – vocals
Skot Thompson – bass
Jesse Bartz – drums
Chris Thompson – guitar

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

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

Steak, No God to Save (2017)

Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (2016)

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Lo-Pan, Subtle: Everything Burns

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan subtle

It’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s been nearly five years since Lo-Pan last released an album. The Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers issued Colossus (review here) through Small Stone in Fall 2014, and subsequently dove headfirst into a succession of years of touring and tumult. About a month after Colossus, they announced guitarist Adrian Zambrano (Brujas del Sol) taking over for Brian Fristoe; touring followed in the familiar ground of the US and on the then-uncovered territory of Europe throughout 2015. Talk began of a new record and the band hit the studio even as more touring ensued in 2016, and then Zambrano left and Chris Thompson joined, making his debut appearance in 2017 at The Blackout Cookout 7 in Kent, Ohio. The material that Lo-Pan recorded with Zambrano, meanwhile, was released in early 2017 as the In Tensions EP (review here) and would be that year’s best short release.

Again, Lo-Pan went on tour, the four-piece of Thompson, vocalist Jeff Martin, bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz running hard in 2017 only to step back last year and write and record what would become Subtle with their new lineup. Like In Tensions, the band’s fifth full-length releases through Aqualamb Records, and it arrives as they once again make ready to hit the road hard and tour at home and abroad before the end of 2019. Their commitment to what they do is admirable. In the midst of chaos and clashing personalities, Lo-Pan emerge to put forth 11 tracks/47 minutes of cohesive and few-frills songcraft. The songs, rooted in riffs and compositions by Thompson and/or Thompson (who are not related), feel as though they’ve had everything extraneous chipped away, leaving the essential components of expression.

That’s not to say Subtle is raw — far from it. With production by James Brown (GhostNine Inch Nails) in New York, the band have arguably never sounded so melodically accomplished. That’s mostly evident in Martin‘s stellar and soulful vocal performance, but it’s there in the guitar and bass as well, and even Bartz‘s crash seems to have a tunefulness about it. At the same time, structurally, songs like the opener “Ten Days,” “Ascension Day” and the later and suitably rolling “A Thousand Miles” channel powerful verses and strong hooks to a sense of urgency that Colossus brought to the fore but that’s smoothed out here in its tone and less outwardly aggressive in its overall affect. Of course, “Bring Me a War” still has its edge of confrontationalism, and likewise the early highlight “Savage Heart” and closer “The Law and the Swarm,” but the guitar tone is warmer, and that makes a difference.

The balance between these various sides and impulses, as well as the dynamic range in the massive crash of “Everything Burns” and the quieter midsection build of the penultimate “Butcher’s Bill” — I’ve always been a sucker for those moments when Lo-Pan hit the brakes on tempo — helps the band add a feeling of scope to Subtle, and as a bid for one of the best albums of 2019, it’s a blend of songwriting and performance that stands them out among would-be peers in heavy rock and roll. Though it’s anything but, Subtle is the output of a band who have mastered their approach and who still see fit to push themselves to new ground. Whether it’s the relentless shove of songs like “Sage” or the chug-into-happytime-chorus centerpiece “Old News” or even the more brooding “Khan!,” Lo-Pan stand triumphant in this material, and though it sounds hard-won, that only seems to make the victory sweeter.

lo-pan

It’s easy enough to read Subtle as a touring album in cuts like “Ten Days,” “Ascension Day,” “A Thousand Miles,” “Butcher’s Bill” “Sage” and “Bring Me a War,” on one level or another, as well as the cover art that seems to draw the eye to the desert sunset like moving down a highway laced with rows of shark teeth, but if Lo-Pan are chronicling the last few years of changes in the band and in their own lives at least in some degree within this material, then fair enough. Whether or not that’s the case, I don’t know (the finished vinyl and art-book editions include a lyric sheet), but if it is, then even in the slower “Butcher’s Bill,” they don’t sound anymore bogged down than is intended by the song itself. The album is not a minor undertaking at 47 minutes, but it’s not meant to be a minor undertaking. Even with its general lack of indulgence — as a guitarist, Thompson doesn’t take particularly sprawling solos, and Martin keeps layering to a relative minimum, saving harmonies for “The Law and the Swarm” and double-tracking for emphasis elsewhere — Subtle wants nothing for substance.

I’ll readily cop to being a fan of the band live and on record. Does it matter? I don’t know. I doubt it. As I understand it, the thing about Lo-Pan in how they function as a band is that they’re all very different people. I can’t speak to how often they hang out on weekends when they’re not touring, but in terms of the group itself, they’re able to channel that friction or that personality-clash into something special. Lo-Pan have been and remain one of America’s best heavy rock bands for the last decade-plus. Their second album, Sasquanaut (review here) — first released in 2009, then picked up by Small Stone in 2010 — and their third album, 2011’s Salvador (review here), were formative but pivotal works that helped establish the methods that Colossus and In Tensions and Subtle have refined and built on. They write and perform with soul that bleeds through every riff, bassline, drum hit and soaring vocal, and despite the ups and downs the last few years have wrought for them, Subtle stands tall and clean, having conquered a mountain of bullshit.

So yes, one of 2019’s best heavy rock albums. Fine. What seems more important is that Subtle finds Lo-Pan having come through so much without being derailed from what they do — “Ten days inside/Won’t break my stride,” Martin intones on the opener — and their central process remains vital even after being so tested leading up to this record. This is a band worth appreciating while they’re there to appreciate and the immediacy of these songs begs a likewise fervent response. Get into it.

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Lo-Pan on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb on Thee Facebooks

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Blackout Cookout 10 Confirms Full Lineup; It’s Pretty Insane

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the blackout cookout 10 art

Congrats to Ohio’s The Blackout Cookout on making it to their Xth edition. That’s 10, in case you were wondering. Doing anything for 10 years in a row these days is pretty admirable. And I’m not just saying that because this site also started in 2009, but because it’s true, and whether it’s something that’s a passion project like putting on this festival — because I imagine nobody’s yet gotten rich off basically hosting an annual barbecue with friends and other cool bands — or just staying at the same job, a decade is a long time. Most people get high and wander off somewhere long before that mark is reached.

Blackout Cookout X however has a badass celebratory lineup, with Inter Arma and Big Business in headlining spots for its two-day run, and Ohio-based regular-types like Bridesmaid and Lo-Pan and the reactivated Rebreather slated to appear. Look out for Caustic CasanovaBrujas del SolAlbum and of course KENmode as well. Bottom line is it’ll be a good time, and it’s a party, and I guarantee there will be people there who’ve been to all 10 Blackout Cookouts, but if you’ve never been before and you show up and, like, don’t know where the bathroom is or something, I bet they wouldn’t be a dick about it. They’d just be like, “Yeah, it’s over there” and point you on your way. People helping people. The stuff of life.

Here’s the full lineup, as seen on the social medias:

the blackout cookout 10 poster

The Blackout Cookout 10 – Sept. 6 & 7

Westside Bowl
2617 Mahoning Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio 44509

The Blackout Cookout is an annual celebration of heavy music, friends and BBQ at Westside Bowl in Youngstown, Ohio.

Friday Sept. 6
INTER ARMA
Brain Tentacles
Homewrecker
ALBUM
Bridesmaid
Something Is Waiting
Caustic Casanova
Wallcreeper
DAGGRS
Modem

Saturday Sept. 7
Big Business
KEN mode
Lo-Pan
Rebreather
Fully Consumed
Microwaves
Brujas del Sol
Goosed
Persistent Aggressor
Matter of Planets
Lake Lake
Black Spirit Crown
Cheap Heat

Poster by Chris Smith.

https://www.facebook.com/events/324565261529821/
https://www.facebook.com/theblackoutcookout/

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Lo-Pan Post “Ten Days” Video; Touring with C.O.C. & Crowbar

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan

It’s been too damn long since the last time I saw Lo-Pan, but that’s something I’ll rectify at least twice as they head out in support of their new album, Subtle, due through Aqulamb on May 17. They’ll be at Maryland Doom Fest in June and then touring with Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar in July/August. See you at Starland Ballroom, gents. Speaking of “been a long time…”

Anyhoozle, I’ve got Subtle slated for review on May 9 currently. Might move it depending on what comes along, but that’s where we’re at now, and so I’ll hold off getting too deep into the record, but the clip for opening track “Ten Days” tells a good portion of the Lo-Pan story. They have gone, and they go. Rain, sleet and snow. Their tour history is exhausting even to consider, let alone what’s ahead of them in heralding Subtle, but they are a live band to be sure. I won’t take away from their studio work at all, because golly their records kick ass up to and including the new one, but if you’ve ever caught them at a show, you know what I mean. They have a force to their delivery that is among the most potent I’ve caught in at least the last decade.

In addition to the shows below, they’ve also been announced for Up in Smoke and Keep it Low in Europe this October, so I expect more tour dates will be forthcoming, as those fests in Switzerland and Germany, respectively, run on consecutive weekends. I wouldn’t rule them out for Desertfest Belgium, which is Oct. 18-20 this year, either, but nothing has been announced. We’ll see. Either way they’ll be back over there in the Fall, and I don’t imagine the stint this summer with C.O.C. will be their only round of US touring either. Still the West Coast to hit, maybe in Winter or next Spring, depending on their timing. You never really know.

Until the announcement comes down the PR wire. Then you know.

But “Ten Days,” in addition to having a fervent thud and a brainmelter of a hook, captures a lot of the on-the-beat live energy Lo-Pan bring to Subtle. I’m a fan of the band and I won’t pretend otherwise either here or in the review to come, but even with what little objectivity I can muster, I’ll say that it’s righteous and they know it.

Clap your hands.

And enjoy:

Lo-Pan, “Ten Days” official video

The first single from respected hard rock band Lo-Pan’s new album “Subtle”, due May 17th via Aqualamb. Pre-order the new full-length LP now at http://aqualamb.bandcamp.com

“‘Ten Days” is a song about my ability to thrive just about anywhere with little or no preparation,” vocalist Jeff Martin says. “I have always felt that if you can survive 10 days of any uncomfortable situation, you can adapt, and adjust, and persevere. This song is a sort of reminder for me to follow through on my own bluster in that way. I talk a lot of shit. And sometimes I need to force myself to walk it like I talk it.”

This May, Lo-Pan will perform live as one of the featured acts at the 2019 Stoned and Dusted Festival, set for May 25-26 in the Southern California Mojave Desert. At the special gathering, Lo-Pan will share the stage with Black Mountain, Brant Bjork, King Buffalo, Yawning Man, Melvins and more. For full details, visit this location.

In additional news, Lo-Pan has announced a summer North American tour with Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar. Set to launch on July 26 in Poughkeepsie, NY, the month long tour will criss-cross the country, running through August 25 in Providence, RI.

Lo-Pan tour dates:

May 26 Joshua Tree, CA Stoned and Dusted Festival
June 21 Frederick, MD Maryland Doom Fest

Lo-Pan w/ Corrosion of Conformity & Crowbar:
July 26 Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance
July 27 Syracuse, NY Westcott Theater
July 29 Kitchener, ON Dallas Nightclub
July 31 Louisville, KY Mercury Ballroom
August 1 Grand Rapids, MI Elevation
August 2 Milwaukee, WI The Rave II
August 5 Indianapolis, IN Deluxe at Old National Centre
August 6 Sauget, IL Pop’s
August 7 Omaha, NE Slowdown
August 10 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre
August 11 Grand Junction, CO Mesa Theater
August 13 Boise, ID Knitting Factory Concert House
August 14 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
August 16 Tucson, AZ Encore
August 17 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theater
August 19 Austin, TX Come and Take It Live
August 21 Jacksonville , FL 1904 Music Hall
August 22 Jacksonville, NC The Tarheel
August 23 Virginia Beach, VA Elevation 27
August 24 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
August 25 Providence, RI Fete Music Hall

LO-PAN is:
Jeff Martin – vocals
Skot Thompson – bass
Jesse Bartz – drums
Chris Thompson – guitar

Lo-Pan website

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb Records website

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Thee Facebooks

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Corrosion of Conformity Announce Summer Tour with Crowbar, Lo-Pan & Quaker City Night Hawks

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

corrosion of conformity (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I can think of fewer tour pairings less broken than Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar, who were out together co-headlining earlier this year on what turned out to be the first leg of a tour that will continue this July. Of particular note is the addition of Lo-Pan this time around, who’ll be out supporting their new record, Subtle. That record is a beast and they’ll no doubt bring an infusion of energy to the run as they provide support and Quaker City Night Hawks open. Starland Ballroom, you say? That’ll be just about the most Jersey shit ever, methinks. See you there.

Though I wouldn’t mind catching C.O.C. at the Psycho Swim party in Vegas either. Really I’ll take what I can get.

Dates follow from the pr IWRE:

corrosion of conformity crowbar lo pan tour

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY Announces North American Summer Headlining Tour With Crowbar + Band To Headline Psycho Las Vegas Pre-Party And More!

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will kick off the second leg of their North American headlining tour this July. The A Quest To Believe, A Call To The Void II Tour will commence on July 26th in Poughkeepsie, New York and run through August 25th in Providence, Rhode Island. Support will be provided by their comrades in Crowbar as well as Lo-Pan and Quaker City Night Hawks. Tickets go on sale this Friday at all local ticket outlets.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will also play a special one-off show with country singer Cody Jinks next month in addition to festival appearances at Rocklahoma, Heavy MTL, KISW’s Pain In The Grass, and a headlining performance at Psycho Swim, Psycho Las Vegas’ annual pool-bound kick-off party where the band will be joined by Lucifer, Danava, ASG, Primitive Man, and more. In October, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will appear on the inaugural MegaCruise alongside Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, and so many others with more shows to be announced in the months to come. See all confirmed dates below.

No Cross No Crown is available on CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats. Various order bundles are available at nuclearblast.com/coc-nocrossnocrown.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY:
5/09/2019 Coyote Joe’s – Charlotte, NC w/ Cody Jinks
5/24/2019 Rocklahoma – Pryor, OK

w/ Crowbar, Lo-Pan, Quaker City Night Hawks:
7/26/2019 The Chance – Poughkeepsie, NY
7/27/2019 Westcott Theater – Syracuse, NY
7/28/2019 Heavy MTL – Montreal, QC *
7/29/2019 Dallas Nightclub – Kitchener, ON
7/31/2019 Mercury Ballroom – Louisville, KY
8/01/2019 Elevation – Grand Rapids, MI
8/02/2019 The Rave II – Milwaukee, WI
8/03/2019 KISW’s Pain In The Grass @ White River Amphitheatre – Auburn, WA *
8/05/2019 Deluxe @ Old National Centre – Indianapolis, IN
8/06/2019 Pop’s – Sauget, IL
8/07/2019 Slowdown – Omaha, NE
8/10/2019 Fox Theatre – Boulder, CO
8/11/2019 Mesa Theater – Grand Junction, CO
8/13/2019 Knitting Factory Concert House – Boise, ID
8/14/2019 The Complex – Salt Lake City, UT
8/15/2019 Psycho Swim @ Daylight Beach Club – Las Vegas, NV *
8/16/2019 Encore – Tucson, AZ
8/17/2019 Sunshine Theater – Albuquerque, NM
8/19/2019 Come And Take It Live – Austin, TX
8/21/2019 1904 Music Hall – Jacksonville, FL
8/22/2019 The Tarheel – Jacksonville, NC
8/23/2019 Elevation 27 – Virginia Beach, VA
8/24/2019 Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
8/25/2019 Fete Music Hall – Providence, RI
10/13/2019 MegaCruise 2019 – Los Angeles, CA *
* COC only

http://www.coc.com
http://www.facebook.com/corrosionofconformity
http://www.twitter.com/coccabal
http://www.nuclearblast.com
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa

Corrosion of Conformity, “Wolf Named Crow” official video

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