Quarterly Review: Foehammer, Holy Serpent, Wicked Inquisition, AVER, Galley Beggar, Demon Lung, Spirit Division, Space Mushroom Fuzz, Mountain Tamer, Ohhms

Posted in Reviews on June 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk summer quarterly review

I said back in March that I was going to try to make the Quarterly Review a regular feature around here, and once it was put out there, the only thing to do was to live up to it. Over the last several — like, five — weeks, I’ve been compiling lists of albums to be included, and throughout the next five days, we’re going to make our way through that list. From bigger names to first demos and across a wide swath of heavy styles, there’s a lot of stuff to come, and I hope within all of it you’re able to find something that hits home or speaks to you in a special way.

No sense in delaying. Hold nose, dive in.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Foehammer, Foehammer

foehammer foehammer

Relatively newcomer trio Foehammer specialize in grueling, slow-motion punishment. Their self-titled debut EP follows a well-received 2014 demo and is three tracks/34 minutes released by Grimoire and Australopithecus Records of doomed extremity, the Virginian three-piece of guitarist Joe Cox (ex-Gradius), bassist/vocalist Jay Cardinell (ex-Gradius, ex-Durga Temple) and drummer Ben “Vang” Blanton (ex-Vog, also of The Oracle) not new to the Doom Capitol-area underground by any stretch and seeming to pool all their experience to maximize the impact of this extended material. Neither “Final Grail,” “Stormcrow” nor 14-minute closer “Jotnar” is without a sense of looming atmosphere, but Foehammer at this point are light only on drama, and the lower, sludgier and more crushing they go, the more righteous the EP is for it. Stunningly heavy and landing with a suitable shockwave, it is hopefully the beginning of a long, feedback-drenched tenure in death-doom, and if the EP is over half an hour, the prospect of a follow-up debut full-length seems overwhelming. Easily one of the year’s best short releases.

Foehammer on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

Australopithecus Records

Holy Serpent, Holy Serpent

holy serpent holy serpent

It’s not like they were lying when they decided to call a song “Shroom Doom.” Melbourne double-guitar four-piece made their self-titled debut as Holy Serpent last year, and the five-track full-length was picked up for release on RidingEasy Records no doubt for its two-front worship of Uncle Acid’s slither and jangle – especially prevalent on the eponymous opener and closer “The Wind” – and the now-classic stonerism of Sleep. That blend comes together best of all on the aforementioned finale, but neither will I take away from the north-of-10-minute righteousness of “The Plague” preceding, with its slow roll and malevolent vibe that, somehow, still sounds like a party. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Scott Penberthy, guitarist Nick Donoughue, bassist Michael Macfie and drummer Keith Ratnan, the real test for Holy Serpent will be their second or third album – i.e., how they develop the psychedelic nodes of centerpiece “Fools Gold” along with the rest of their sound – but listening to these tracks, it’s easy to let the future worry about itself.

Holy Serpent on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records

Wicked Inquisition, Wicked Inquisition

wicked inquisition wicked inquisition

There are a variety of influences at work across Wicked Inquisition’s self-titled debut long-player, from the Sabbath references of its eponymous closer to the earlier thrashery of “In Shackles” and “Sun Flight,” but the core of the Minneapolis four-piece resides in a guitar-led brand of metal, whatever else they decide to build around it. Guitarist/vocalist Nate Towle, guitarist Ben Stevens, bassist Jordan Anderson and drummer Jack McKoskey align tightly around the riffs of “M.A.D.” in all-business fashion. Shades of Candlemass show up in some of the slower material, “M.A.D.” included as well as with “Crimson Odyssey,” but the start-stops of “Tomorrow Always Knows” ensure the audience is clued in that there’s more going on than just classic doom, though a Trouble influence seems to hover over the proceedings as well, waiting to be more fully explored as the band moves forward.

Wicked Inquisition on Thee Facebooks

Wicked Inquisition on Bandcamp

AVER, Nadir

aver nadir

Clocking in at an hour flat, Sydney all-caps riffers AVER construct their second album, Nadir, largely out of familiar elements, but wind up with a blend of their own. Fuzz is prevalent in the extended nod of opener “The Devil’s Medicine” (9:46) which bookends with the longest track, finisher “Waves” (9:48), though it’s not exactly like the four-piece are shy about writing longer songs in between. The production, while clear enough, lends its focus more toward the low end, which could be pulling in another direction from the impact of some of Nadir’s psychedelia on “Rising Sun” second half solo, but neither will I take anything away from Jed’s bass tone, which could carry this hour of material were it asked. The vocals of guitarist Burdt have a distinct Acid Bathian feel, post-grunge, and that contrasts a more laid back vibe even on the acoustic-centered “Promised Lands,” but neither he, Jed, guitarist Luke or drummer Chris feel out of place here, and I’m not inclined to complain.

AVER on Thee Facebooks

AVER on Bandcamp

Galley Beggar, Silence and Tears

galley-beggar-silence-and-tears

Sweet, classic and very, very British folk pervades the gorgeously melodic and meticulously arranged Silence and Tears by London six-piece Galley Beggar, released on Rise Above. The eight-track/40-minute album packs neatly onto a vinyl release and has near-immediate psychedelic underpinnings in the wah of opener “Adam and Eve,” and side B’s “Geordie” has some heavier-derived groove, but it’s the beauty and lushness of the harmonies throughout (finding satisfying culmination in closer “Deliver Him”) that stand Galley Beggar’s third offering out from worshipers of a ‘60s and ‘70s era aesthetic. The highlight of Silence and Tears arrives early in nine-minute second cut “Pay My Body,” a wonderfully swaying, patient excursion that gives equal time to instrumental exploration and vocal accomplishment, but to a select few who let themselves be truly hypnotized and carried along its winding course, the album’s entire span will prove a treasure to be revisited for years to come and whose sunshiny imprint will remain vivid.

Galley Beggar on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Demon Lung, A Dracula

demon-lung-a-dracula

With inspiration reportedly from the 1977 demon-possession horror flick Alucarda, Las Vegas doomers Demon Lung return with A Dracula, their second offering via Candlelight Records after 2013’s The Hundredth Name, and as the movie begins with a birth, so too do we get “Behold, the Daughter” following the intro “Rursumque Alucarda,” later mirrored by a penultimate interlude of the same name. Billy Anderson produced, so it’s not exactly a surprise that the slow, undulating riffs and the periodic bouts of more upbeat chug, as on “Gypsy Curse,” come through nice and viscous, but vocalist Shanda brings an ethereal melodic sensibility, not quite cult rock, but on “Mark of Jubilee” presenting momentarily some similarly bleak atmospherics to those of the UK’s Undersmile, her voice seeming to command the guitars to solidify from their initial airiness and churn out an eerie apex, which closer “Raped by the Serpent” pushes further for a raging finale.

Demon Lung on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight USA’s Bandcamp

Spirit Division, Spirit Division

spirit division spirit division

Spirit Division’s self-titled debut full-length follows a 2014 demo that also hosted three of the tracks – opener “Spirit Division,” “Through the Rounds” and “Mountain of Lies” – but is fuller-sounding in its post-grunge tonality and doomly chug than the earlier offering, guitarist/vocalist Stephen Hoffman, bassist/vocalist Chris Latta and drummer/vocalist David Glass finding a straightforward route through moody metallurgy and weighted riffage. Some Wino-style swing shows up on “Bloodletting,” and “Cloud of Souls” has a decidedly militaristic march to its progression, while the later “Red Sky” revels in classic doom that seems to want to be just a touch slower than it is, but what ultimately unites the material is the strong sense of purpose across the album’s span and Spirit Division’s care in the vocal arrangements. The production is somewhat dry, but Spirit Division walk the line between sludge rock and doom and seem comfortable in that sphere while also sparking a creative progression that seems well worth further pursuit.

Spirit Division on Thee Facebooks

Spirit Division on Bandcamp

Space Mushroom Fuzz, Until Next Time

space mushroom fuzz until next time

I was all set to include a different Space Mushroom Fuzz album in this roundup, but then I saw that the project was coming to an end and Until Next Time was issued as the band’s final release. The deal all along with the band headed by guitarist/vocalist Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside) has been that you never really know what he’s going to do next. Fair enough. Abrams brings it down in suitably bizarre fashion, a keyboard and guitar line backing “Class Onion” in direct mockery of Beatlesian bounce, where “The DeLorean Takes Off!” before compiles five-plus minutes of experimental noise and “Follow that DeLorean” answers with another round after. Elsewhere, opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Here Comes Trouble” resonates with its central guitar line and unfolds to further oddity with a quiet but gruff vocal, while “The Rescue” vibes like something Ween would’ve conjured after huffing roach spray (or whatever was handy) and closer “Back in ‘55” moves from progressive soloing to froggy singing and weirdo jangle. All in all a strange and fitting end to the band.

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Bandcamp

Mountain Tamer, MTN TMR DEMO

mountain tamer mtn tmr demo

Santa Cruz trio Mountain Tamer have been kicking around the West Coast for the last several years, and since they released a full-length, Liquid Metal, in 2013, and a prior EP in 2012’s The Glad, it’s tempting to try to read some larger shift sonically into their MTN TMR Demo, as though having completely revamped their sound, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Andru, bassist/vocalist Dave Teget and drummer/vocalist Casey Garcia trying out new ideas as they redirect their approach. That may well be the case, with “Satan’s Waitin’,” “Sum People” and “Dunes of the Mind” each standing at over five-minutes of neo-stoner roll, more psychedelic than some in the growing fuck-it-let’s-skate oeuvre, but still plainly born after, or at least during, grunge. The finisher comes to a thrilling, noisy head as it rounds out the short release, and if Mountain Tamer are taking on a new path, it’s one well set to meander and I hope they continue to follow those impulses.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

OHHMS, Cold

ohhms cold

Like their late-2014 debut, Bloom, OHHMS’ sophomore outing, Cold, is comprised of two extended tracks. Here the Canterbury five-piece bring “The Anchor” (18:30) and “Dawn of the Swarm” (14:27), blending modern prog, sludge and post-metallic vibes to suit a melodic, ambitious purpose. Atmosphere is central from the quiet drone starting “The Anchor” and remains so as they lumber through a linear build and into an apex at about 13 minutes in, dropping out to quiet only to build back up to a striking melodic push that ends on a long fade. Side B, “Dawn of the Swarm” is more immediately post-rock in the guitar, the lineup of vocalist Paul Waller, guitarists Daniel Sargent and Marc George, bassist Chainy Chainy and drummer Max Newton moving through hypnotic sprawl into angular Isis-ism before finding their own way, the second cut pushing structurally against the first with loud/quiet tradeoffs in a well-timed back half. Clearly a band who arrived knowing their purpose, but not so cerebral as to detract from the heavy landing of the material itself.

OHHMS on Thee Facebooks

OHHMS on Bandcamp

 

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Riff Rock Records Makes Label Debut with Free Compilation

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

London-based Riff Rock Records makes its mission plain with its first release a free 10-track compilation bringing together a swath of acts from the UK and beyond. Most of the bands on Riff Rock Records Vol. 1 have a demo or an EP out to their credit — Ten Foot Wizard might be the most established, with two albums under their belt, but BongCauldron have been around for a couple years as well. Perhaps the outliers of the whole deal are Howling Giant, who sneak into the lineup as the only American band, being based in Nashville, TN. Near as I can tell, Alpine heavy rockers Mount Hush are the only other band not from England or Scotland.

There are far worse ways for a label to start off, though, than by showing that its ear-to-the-ground extends outside of its native scene. Headed up by Leigh Jones of heavy rock/metal mischief-makers Groan, Riff Rock RecordsRiff Rock Records Vol. 1 boasts up and comers like Skunk, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Bad Meat and Tradish, and is available now as a name-your-price download through Bandcamp. Note the three ‘r’s in the logo of the artwork.

More to come as the imprint gets going. With the promise of making public the first signing soon, the compilation announcement was pretty brief, but it went like this:

riff rock records vol. 1

Riff Rock Records Vol. 1

Our first compilation is now available to download.

http://riffrockrecords.co.uk/album/riff-rock-records-vol-1

The best new unsigned hard rock, stoner, doom and sludge for FREE!

1. Ten Foot Wizard – Up & Away
2. Mount Hush – King Beyond
3. SKUNK – Black Hash
4. Tradish – Nautilus
5. Atragon – Dead Weight of Unimportant Flesh
6. Derelics – Ride the F*ckin’ Snake to Valhalla
7. Howling Giant – Whale Lord
8. Bad Meat – March of the Hawk
9. BongCauldron – Bigfoot Reigns
10. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Mother Chub

Please help us out in these early days by sharing this around if you dig it. Thank you!

http://riffrockrecords.co.uk/album/riff-rock-records-vol-1

https://www.facebook.com/RiffRockMusic/
https://twitter.com/riffrockrecords

VA, Riff Rock Records Vol. 1

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Mos Generator and Stubb Split Available to Preorder from HeviSike Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Pressed in a total edition of 400 copies, the new split between Mos Generator and Stubb, titled The Theory of Light and Matter, is available now to preorder from HeviSike Records. The release (track stream here) will be out next month in time to coincide with Mos Generator‘s upcoming European tour dates, and will be available in either black/red marble or white vinyl, sold with an included download. Stubb have gigs coming up supporting The Midnight Ghost Train and Siena Root, while Mos Generator will spend the summer on the road with Elder after hitting the East Coast again for the Eye of the Stoned Goat fest on June 13.

Preorders here. Release details follow:

mos-generator-stubb-the-theory-of-light-and-matter-harley-and-j

MOS GENERATOR // STUBB

Band : Mos Generator, Stubb
Title : The Theory of Light and Matter
Label : HeviSike Records
Catalog ref. : HVSK-1207
Format : Vinyl
HVSK-1208 Mos Generator // Stubb – The Theory of Light & Matter

– Limited Edition with OBI Strip –

Two of the most exciting power trios combine forces to deliver a split album on HeviSike Records. Washington, USA stoner rock titans MOS GENERATOR explore a more progressive territory akin to their 2005 album ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’. London, England three-piece STUBB who are well known for their high-energy blues-rock demonstrate their more experimental side.

MOS GENERATOR have built a dedicated following through a heavy touring schedule and releasing consistently top quality music. The band’s 2015 schedule includes tours of both West Coast and East Coast, USA before visiting Europe on a 33 date European summer tour in support of ELDER. 2014 saw the Port Orchard trio release their opus ‘Electric Mountain Majesty’ (Listenable Records).

STUBB are familiar to the European touring circuit having made numerous appearances at events such as Freak Valley and Desertfest and have shared a stage alongside heavyweight contemporaries such as Earthless, Gentlemans Pistols, Sungrazer and The Machine. The London trio recently released their second LP ‘Cry of The Ocean’ (2014, Ripple Music) to critical acclaim.

Available as a strictly limited edition vinyl LP and digital download, THE THEORY OF LIGHT & MATTER is an essential purchase for fans of heavy psychedelic rock. Mastered specifically for vinyl. Cover art by Harley & J. 150 copies Red/Black Marbled (HeviSike Exclusive), 250 White (Band and Distribution)

Pressing Details:
150 Copies – Black/Red Marbled – HeviSike Records Exclusive
250 Copies – White vinyl (For distribution, only 30 copies available here)
Total press: 400 copies
Artwork by Harley & J
Contains OBI Strip with all information
Mastered specifically for vinyl

PRE-ORDER: Friday 22nd May 2015
RELEASE DATE: Monday 22nd June 2015

http://hevisike.bigcartel.com/product/mosgenerator-stubb
http://hevisike.com/release/mos-generator-stubb/
https://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator
https://www.facebook.com/Stubbrock
https://www.facebook.com/hevisike

Mos Generator, “As Above So Below”

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Friday Full-Length: Orange Goblin, The Big Black

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Orange Goblin, The Big Black (2000)

They weren’t the first stoner rock band to come from the UK, but with their third album, 2000’s The Big Black, London outfit Orange Goblin more or less perfected the form. Produced by Billy Anderson and released through Rise Above and The Music Cartel, it produced a couple of classics for the Orange Goblin canon, the band — who were then a five-piece with guitarist Pete O’Malley alongside the steady-to-this-day lineup of vocalist Ben Ward, guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Chris Turner — still regularly featuring “Scorpionica” and “Quincy the Pigboy” at, well, certainly at every show I’ve seen them play. These songs are quintessential Orange Goblin, and as a one-two punch at the start of The Big Black, the album sets itself a high standard to meet, but to ignore “Cozmo Bozo,” “Alcofuel” and “The Big Black” itself is to ignore the axe swinging down on the back of your neck. Front to back, Orange Goblin‘s third is all the whisky stomp and riffly righteousness that has come to define them in the years since, and a record that, at 15 years old, sounds more vital today than when it was released.

It closes the week with Desertfest in mind, the festivals in London and Berlin held this weekend. Orange Goblin played The Big Black in full last night in Berlin, and they’ll do the same tonight in London before a hometown crowd that’s the center from which their influence has spread out worldwide. I can only imagine the Electric Ballroom in Camden Town going off to “Hot Magic, Red Planet” as the band storms through the album, and yeah, I’ll cop to a bit of jealousy for those who are there or were in Berlin to see it. I haven’t been to Desertfest in two years, and the festival has grown substantially in that time in terms of the names they bring in, but to have Orange Goblin nail down The Big Black for all to see shows their roots are strong in heavy, and however they may have expanded — geographically or stylistically — that continues to be an essential part of what they do. And The Big Black is nothing if not essential heavy. Seems like a good fit to me. Wish I was there.

Hope you enjoy.

Had that job interview Wednesday, and I have no problem admitting it has utterly consumed my consciousness since. Sleep’s a respite, and I’ve been working hard to keep working hard both because there’s stuff to do (already behind for Monday, thanks) and because I’ve needed the distraction from waiting to find out if I got the gig or not. I don’t know, incidentally. Another phone interview Tuesday and then hopefully some word. Apparently it’s down to me and one other person. I want the job. I mean, I need a job. I want this one. I can do this one. Fingers crossed for the next 90 hours or so, and then probably a while afterwards as well.

Next week kind of depends on how that turns out, but I’ve got an EP stream slated for Sinister Haze and reviews due for Lamp of the Universe, Samurai and Cigale, and golly it would be nice to get through all of them. Tuesday’s actually kind of a special deal as well because I’ve got an interview going up with the guys from Death Alley that was really cool. Whole-band interviews are kind of a crapshoot, could go either way, but this was one of the best interviews of any sort I’ve done in a long time. I’ll be transcribing it this weekend and it should go live with a stream of the title-track to their upcoming debut LP, Black Magick Boogieland, which is also awesome.

That’ll be up in the afternoon, probably, so keep an eye out, and if you’re interested (or if you’re not), I’ll probably give some update on my professional situation when I have an update to give. The last couple days have been full-on hurry-up-and-wait, and I expect this weekend will be more of the same. At least baseball’s on.

I put a thing out on Thee Facebooks earlier today, but worth noting here as well that The Obelisk Radio hit a new high for the amount of people listening at once this week, more or less blowing the last one out of the water, and that is thoroughly appreciated. If you’ve listened at all, thanks.

Have a great and safe weekend. Enjoy and we’ll see you back here Monday. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Galley Beggar Announce Silence and Tears Release on Rise Above Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

galley beggar

UK acid folkers Galley Beggar will release their third album, Silence and Tears, on May 19. It’s their label debut on Rise Above, which in itself is notable, but even more so is the six-piece’s warm, melodic approach to classic folk ideals and how subtly they work in just a hint of modern revivalist psychedelia — not quite tonally weighted, but hinting in that direction and giving a sense of spontaneity and a broader stylistic reach to the material on the record. In short, it’s a release worth keeping an eye on. A logical pick-up for Rise Above given some of the imprint’s ’60s fascinations of the last couple years, and it should be interesting to see how Silence and Tears is received by their audience. For what it’s worth, I’m digging it so far.

Details follow, off the PR wire:

galley beggar silence to tears

GALLEY BEGGAR to Release Silence & Tears May 19th via Rise Above Records

Unbelievably, it’s almost 50 years since Fairport Convention and their followers – Steeleye Span, Trees, Dando Shaft, Mellow Candle and others – fashioned British folk-rock. Kent-based sextet GALLEY BEGGAR – who take their name from a mischievous spirit in English folklore – describe their mission as ‘to imagine the next phase of English folk-rock’ on their third album, Silence & Tears. “We’ve always loved English folk, but when we formed in 2009 it felt like nothing much was happening to carry the style forward,” says guitarist Mat Fowler, “so we thought, we love listening to folk-rock and we love playing it – why not try to write something in that vein?”

The results can be heard on their earlier albums, Reformation House and Galley Beggar, and now on Silence & Tears. “Our first record was very folky,” reflects Mat, “but since then we’ve moved towards a more electric rock feel.” Indeed, the eight tracks on the new album span traditional song, Gothic balladry and peculiarly British acid rock, the mood alternately fragile and robust, with sweet vocal harmonies (led by Maria O’Donnell), lyrical guitar playing from Mat and his cohort David Ellis, and added texture from the violin of Celine Marshall (calling to mind Mr. Fox’s Carolanne Pegg), all anchored by Bill Lynn’s steady bass and Paul Dadswell’s deft drumming. The material spans reworkings of the ancient classics Geordie and Jack Orion, brooding ballads like Adam & Eve and the otherworldy Empty Sky, and the intense 9-minute epic Pay My Body Home, which triumphantly recalls folk-rock’s early 70s glory days.

Silence & Tears may echo centuries of folk tradition, but its crisp, punchy sound is resolutely modern, despite calling on retro flourishes such as phasing, wah-wah and backwards guitar. Much of that is down to the fact that it was recorded at the profoundly analogue Toe Rag studios, where White Stripes, Tame Impala, the Zutons and many others have also worked with renowned producer-engineer Liam Watson. “We made our first two albums ourselves,” says Mat, “so this was the first time someone else has produced us. Recording at Toe Rag was just wonderful – to see all that incredible gear at work, and to have a tangible recording experience rather than staring at a screen, was amazing. And watching Liam at work is mesmerizing – the sounds he gets onto tape are better than they are in real life!”

In an era when bands such as Trembling Bells, Circulus and Wolf People have brought folk-rock to the fore again, the hypnotic interplay and inspired jamming on Silence & Tears is sure to find an enthusiastic audience. “We’ve already got a few festivals lined up this summer, including Leigh Folk Festival and Wessex Festival, and several other shows are still being arranged,” says Mat. “It’s an honour to be compared to other folk-rock bands – but we like to think we’ve got something of our own to offer too.”

For More Info Visit:
http://www.galleybeggar.com/
https://twitter.com/galleybeggar
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

Galley Beggar, “Willow Tree” Live Dec. 7, 2013

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Groan Premiere “Witchfinder General Finder” from Highrospliffics EP

Posted in audiObelisk on March 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

groan

London heavy rock troublemakers Groan have always asked the hard questions. How black was our Sabbath? What happens when wizards sleep? Now they return with the answer to another query that has plagued doom since Vincent Price donned the mantle of Matthew Hopkins: Who do you call when you can’t find the Witchfinder General?

The answer was right there the whole time.

It won’t take more than one listen for the chorus of Groan‘s “Witchfinder General Finder” to get stuck in your head — if it even takes that — but don’t be surprised if you come back for another round anyway. The Superhot Records-affiliated unit, whose last release was 2013’s Ride the Snake EP (review here), will issue their new four-songer, Highrospliffics, next Monday, March 23, making it available as a free download via their Bandcamp. As a sampler of their chicanery-laced wares, “Witchfinder General Finder” underscores the point that’s been true of Groan since their 2010 debut, The Sleeping Wizard (review here), namely that it’s about the songwriting as much as the goofball ethic. The four cuts on Highrospliffics manage to be ridiculous and ridiculously catchy at the same time, the band’s remaining founders, bassist Leigh Jones and vocalist Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen, joined as ever by a lineup changed since their last outing, with drummer Zel Kaute returning and newcomer guitarist Lindsay Hamilton making a first appearance here.

And while Groan are probably due for a follow-up full-length to their second album, 2012’s metallized The Divine Right of Kings (review here) — to which the closer groan highrosplifficsof Highrospliffics, “Buried in Leather,” seems to hearken sonically and thematically — it’s hard to complain about any new installment offered. On Highrospliffics, “Witchfinder General Finder” is preceded by “Run out of Fucks,” a suitable starting point, six-minute, solo-ized doom groover with fervent stomp and, yes, a resonant hook, very much in the style that has become Groan‘s own over the last half-decade, making the over-the-top seem perfectly reasonable in some alternate universe of grandiose proclamations and accompanying soar-ready leads. “Witchfinder General Finder” itself is the most infectious of the included tracks, with an effective call and response in the chorus and an irresistible nod leading to its shredding solo, Hamilton making an immediately distinguished impression.

“March of the Druids” follows suit with its hook, but works in more of a build structure, pushing toward its final apex, raucous but not necessarily out of control. Both it and “Buried in Leather” are under four minutes long, working in a classic verse/chorus mode light on pretense and irony-free, but well aware of the laugh they’re having. Gang shouts back Mazzereth in “March of the Druids,” which is no less satisfying than “Witchfinder General Finder” tonally, and “Buried in Leather” kicks in with a rougher, sharper edge, its intro giving way to a motoring rush of a verse after about a minute as they thrust forward to the repeated final chorus, “When I die and they lay me to rest/Bury me in leather and a cut-off denim vest,” unabashed in its fist-pump righteousness and as inviting a heavy metal refrain for crowd participation as I’ve heard from Groan since “Gods of Fire” from The Divine Right of Kings. As ever, Groan are having a party. You can’t hope to stop it, you can’t hope to contain it. You might as well get on board.

The Highrospliffics EP was recorded by Slabdragger‘s Sam Thredder and is out on Monday. Check out “Witchfinder General Finder” on the player below, followed by the complex lineup history in all its twists and turns, and enjoy:

If you’re a stranger to the Spinal Tap-esque history of Groan, here it is: Groan were formed in 2010 and put a few demos online that rapidly caught the stoner/doom scene’s attention. They released their first album, The Sleeping Wizard, on Doomanoid Records that year. The band soon earned a reputation as an exciting, entertaining and completely ridiculous force live, with charismatic (and generally barefoot) lead singer Mazzereth acting as ringmaster general at gigs. Confused and amused fans soon grew to know this group as a party-doom band that is high and giggling, not a stoner rock band that is tuned-out and derivative.

In the nine months after the album was released, the band played live all over the country, smoked the GDP of a small African nation, wrote off a brand new Ferrari California, decorated their rehearsal room with gifts from hookers, and even split up and re-formed in a day. After a split EP with Finnish doomers Vinum Sabbatum in 2011, Groan‘s second album was released in 2012 by Dutch label Soulseller Records, The Divine Right of Kings, to great critical acclaim.

With new members Zel Kaute (Vodun, ex-Pettybone) and Mike Pilat (ex-Ocean Collective) joining on drums and guitar respectively, the band took a heavy metal sidestep with their five track EP, Ride the Snake, in late 2013. With yet another new lineup in 2014, Groan went back into the studio with founder members Mazzereth (vocals) and Leigh Jones (bass) joined by long-time drummer Zel Kaute and new guitarist Lindsay Hamilton. Across their five releases, Groan have proven their ability to write songs that marry catchy hooks with heavy riffs and plan to dominate 2015 with the release of Highrospliffics and the destruction of many live music venues.

GROAN IS:
Mazzereth – Vocals
Leigh Jones – Bass
Lindsay Hamilton – Guitar
Zel Kaute – Drums

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Bright Curse Debut “Shaman” from New Single

Posted in audiObelisk on March 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

bright curse (Photo by Oran Tarjan)

London heavy psych rockers Bright Curse will release their new single, Shaman, on March 20. The two-songer arrives two years and two bassists on from Bright Curse‘s 2013 self-titled debut (review here), and while there was discussion of a new EP before their next album as a showcase for where the new lineup are headed sonically, I’m pretty sure the single will be serving that purpose instead. For what it’s worth, it does so readily, finding guitarist/vocalist Romain Daut, drummer Zacharie Mizzi and new bassist Max Ternebring melding raw psychedelia and fuzz with heavier push and grunge elements. Of course, in terms of getting to know the band again, the fact that “Shaman” and “Fear the Lord” top 15 minutes when played back to back helps, but even more telling is the atmospheric focus the band displays in that time.

“Fear the Lord” is the shorter of the two cuts at 6:30 and has some satisfying chug to it, but “Shaman” nears nine minutes in length and is more open sonically, early punch and angularity moving into smoothed-out nod and not taking long before shifting into abright curse shaman consuming exploratory jam, Ternebring leading the way, his bass soon joined by ebow-ish guitar and a pervasive classic-prog feel that only increases as the build mounts, giving way eventually to another verse and the apex of the song. Where “Fear the Lord” is more about its hook, “Shaman” itself indicates at a breadth of songwriting expanding since the debut’s release and brought to life with clarity and passion by this latest incarnation of Bright Curse. The differences in structure alone make it harder to guess where Bright Curse might be headed following Shaman, but both tracks portray the band as coming into their own, and that’s always an excellent place to start.

Bright Curse will embark on a round of Ephel Duath-presented tour dates next month with Elephant Tree to herald the single’s arrival, and you’ll find the shows along with some PR wire info under the player below, on which you can hear the streaming premiere of “Shaman,” which it is my pleasure to host. Hope you enjoy:

New single “Shaman” comes along another song entitled “Fear The Lord”, both being available on the band’s Bandcamp as well as all digital platforms on March 20th. The tracks were recorded in London, and mastered by Tony Reed (Mos Generator, Stone Axe) at HeavyHead Recording studios.

BRIGHT CURSE’s frontman Romain Daut comments on this new material: “We wanted to record a single with our new bass mästare Max to show the evolution in our sound, so we wrote “Shaman” in January and recorded it in February. With this song, we tried to find a way between old school riffs and lumberjack heaviness. Max brings more energy and feeling to the band, and I think it’s all over those two songs. It’s a brand new alchemy for Bright Curse.”

BRIGHT CURSE will head back to the studio later in 2015 to record their second album to date. The trio will hit the road on March 16th for a short Euro tour.

“Shaman” will be available March 20th on all digital platforms. Artwork by Elvisdead.

UPCOMING SHOWS:
16.04 (FR) HÉNIN-BEAUMONT – Végas Café
17.04 (FR) ROUEN – Le 3 Pièces
18.04 (BE) LIÈGE – Péniche InsideOut
19.04 (CH) BASEL – Secret Place
20.04 (FR) TBA
21.04 (FR) TBA
22.04 (FR) TBA
23.04 (DE) GÖTTINGEN – Vinyl Reservat
24.04 (DE) HAMBURG – Bambi Galore

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Everything I Needed to Know about Life, I Learned from Orange Goblin

Posted in Features on March 10th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

orange-goblin-(Photo-by-Ester-Segarra)

Songs of life, love, booze, and occasionally, monsters.

London doomsmashers Orange Goblin get a lot of credit for kicking ass, and rightly so. They do it well and they’ve been doing it for 20 years. But what you don’t hear as much about is the human core of the band. Listening to their riffs as they careen along — full-on stoner early on albums like 1997’s Frequencies from Planet Ten debut, more metal of late on 2012’s A Eulogy for the Damned and last year’s raging Back from the Abyss — is all well and good, but there’s more to Orange Goblin than just riffy punishment. There’s humor, there’s regret, honest reflection, harsh self-critique, and yes, occasionally monsters (“Scorpionica” walks by and waves).

There’s also a good deal of advice. Delivered from Orange Goblin frontman Ben Ward with don’t-make-the-same-mistakes-I’ve-made sincerity, it’s been a running theme throughout their catalog, and no matter where they’ve gone sonically, it has remained an essential part of what they do. Guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard, drummer Chris Turner and Ward have become not only forerunners of the London and UK heavy rock scene — influencing a generation of bands with their signature burl and commitment to sonic propulsion — but almost like its godfathers as well, there to help out anyone willing to listen.

It’s probably not all advice everyone is going to be interested in taking, but I think even if you take the monsters into consideration, Orange Goblin‘s lyrics over the last two decades paint a human portrait that’s generous in sharing what it’s learned. Here are a few of my favorite lessons from along the way, ordered by the album on which they appeared.
 

Frequencies from Planet Ten (1997)

“In search for mystery, we find insanity.” — “Aquatic Fanatic”

Maybe a song that’s ostensibly about smoking reefer underwater (admittedly a simplification) isn’t where one might think wisdom would bloom, but the line “In search for mystery, we find insanity” reminds us how easy it is to forget about the important things in life as they’re happening while we’re trying to see what appears to us as a bigger picture. Not as blatant as some of the advice that would follow, but applicable nonetheless.
 

Time Travelling Blues (1998)

“You know your future is comin’ and it’s comin’ soon.” — “Shine”

The first of several on this list that turn a popular aphorism into something rawer in its expression. Live in the moment, tempus fugit, or as Clutch once said, “You can’t stop progress.” Particularly in the context of “Shine”‘s stoner-blues groove, this one hits home easily.
 

The Big Black (1999)

“…A blind man sees tomorrow, like a deaf man hears the sun.” — “298kg”

I’m not exactly sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it sounds badass in a synesthetic kind of way. The full verse is: “If a blind man sees tomorrow, like a deaf man hears the sun/Then we must choose if we were born to lose, or if we’re the chosen one/I can’t find the feeling, that’ll take my blues away/So I just keep on rollin’, ’til I find a brighter day.” Fair enough. We’ll keep on rollin’. Runner up to “I need your loving and some alcohol,” from “Cozmo Bozo.”
 

Coup de Grace (2002)

“The sun never sets on the last of the brave.” — “Rage of Angels”

Some especially dudely perspective there, but one could hardly accuse Orange Goblin of being the first to posit that great deeds outlive those who accomplish them. This cut from the underrated Coup de Grace also starts with a sample of Kris Kristofferson from 1978’s Convoy telling a sherriff “Piss on you and piss on your law,” so you know, bonus points for that in the sageliness department.
 

Thieving from the House of God (2004)

“Some you win, some you lose.” — “Some You Win, Some You Lose”

I don’t think a day’s gone by in the last 10 years that I haven’t at one point or another uttered the words, “Some you win, some you lose.” Once again, Orange Goblin didn’t invent “win some lose some,” but they turned it around and made it their own, and it’s one of their most memorable hooks. Runner-up from the same album: “If it ain’t broke, break it,” from the song of the same name. The “disruptive innovation” crowd could have a field day with that one.
 

Healing through Fire (2007)

“If this isn’t hell, it’s the next best thing.” — “Cities of Frost”

A plain truth, plainly spoken. Yeah, I’ve pulled the line out of context, but the chorus is a metaphor anyway. If you want a companion line, “The fruits of empire will not numb the pain/And in our weakness, the Lord’s to blame,” should suffice. There’s a terrible landscape being surveyed, but yeah, it’s probably a real place and time, and it’s probably here right now.
 

A Eulogy for the Damned (2012)

“You’ve got to stand for something or you’re gonna fall for nothing.” — “Stand for Something”

This song is a perfect example of the band’s learn-from-my-mistakes perspective, directly addressing the listener and encouraging the pursuit of one’s passions or beliefs. Granted, the phrase “fall for nothing” could be taken as not being tricked, but given the rest of the lyrics, it’s pretty clear they mean “falling for nothing” as in “for no reason,” and that if you have to fall as we all do, you might as well fall for what you believe in.
 

Back from the Abyss (2014)

“Praise the valium.” — “Into the Arms of Morpheus”

Amen, brother.

This is really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to Orange Goblin, and I hope if you have a particular favorite from along the way, you’ll let me know about it in the comments.

If you want to catch Orange Goblin live this year, they’ll be at Hammerfest, Desertfest, Hellfest, Dour Fest, Bloodstock, and others, with more sure to be announced. More wisdom at the links.

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