Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back: Gnashing of Teeth

Posted in Reviews on June 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

orange goblin the wolf bites back

More than two decades on from making their debut in 1997 with Frequencies from Planet Ten, what else to call Orange Goblin but an institution? The Wolf Bites Back is the London four-piece’s ninth album, their first for sort-of-new label Spinefarm/Candlelight Records (they were on the latter, it got taken over by the former, voila: new label), and it comes after a four-year drought of studio work since the release of 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here), which only continued to raise their profile following the 2013 live record A Eulogy for the Fans (review here) and the preceding long-player it was intended to complement, A Eulogy for the Damned (review here). Most of that time the band spent on tour, so it’s not like they’ve been sitting around actively not recording an album or something like that. They’ve been otherwise occupied, and with the sheer sense of attack that’s present in the songs that comprise The Wolf Bites Back — to say nothing of the aggressive mindset of the title or the threatening nature of the artwork — one could only argue it’s been to their benefit. In its bullshit-free 10-track/41-minute run, The Wolf Bites Back summarizes much of what’s always been righteous in Orange Goblin‘s sound.

It covers nearly every side of the band’s approach, from the Sunlight Studios-infected doom rock of “Swords of Fire” to the crisp, three-minute opening anthem “Sons of Salem” to the Motörhead speed-strut of “Renegade” and down to the last hook and long-fading solo of closer “Zeitgeist,” The Wolf Bites Back finds the band going song-by-song through the varying stylistic aspects of their own particular style, from all-out fury to dug-in groove and back again. They enter direct Southern-heavy conversation with (upcoming) tourmates Corrosion of Conformity on “The Stranger,” and do so only after the raw punker blast of the two-minute “Suicide Division” scathes and scorches and stomps into the ground the peaceful and psychedelic strumming of the actually-longer layered guitar interlude “In Bocca al Lupo” before it. There’s more reaffirmation happening throughout than breaking new aesthetic ground, but as much as The Wolf Bites Back quantifies the diversity in what Orange Goblin do, it also reminds that it’s the strength of their songwriting that has always tied their work together, and it’s on that level that their ninth full-length sees them refining their take.

Not that it doesn’t have its patient stretches or its purposefully languid moments, but frontman Ben Ward, guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Chris Turner have been playing together since at least 1995, and in the musical conversation happening between them, they sound like it. Produced with thickness and depth by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Cathedral, Primordial, Paradise Lost, many more) following the sharper, metallic tinge Jamie Dodd brought to the last two outings, The Wolf Bites Back strikes with its efficiency and ferocity alike. “Sons of Salem” is quintessential Orange Goblin, a fist-raising chorus that finds Ward inviting a sing-along without actually asking. They’ve never had trouble knowing how to launch a record, and with the title-track immediately following, there’s a moment of letup in the guitar intro to the second song, but soon enough, Turner starts a tense gallop in the drums and heavier riffing kicks into the first verse and they’re underway. An especially gruff vocal there leads to the more open chorus and “The Wolf Bites Back” makes its way through twists and turns remaining nonetheless memorable all the way.

ORANGE GOBLIN DAVID BOULONGNE

The aforementioned “Renegade” follows and pushes the throttle to the fullest it’s gone yet — “Suicide Division” will top it for sheer speed — and Millard‘s bass opening leading the way into the subsequent “Swords of Fire” not only reconfirms his place as Orange Goblin‘s not-so-secret-secret-weapon, but also sets a doomier tone to the track itself, as Ward waits until the song is more than halfway over to start the vocals, everything dropping out for a moment as Hoare quickly establishes a faster riff and the band shift into a more thrusting progression. Highlight cut “Ghosts of the Primitives,” with an immediate groove and intricate guitar style, pushes into a more standard riff soon enough but never quite loses its proggy edge, even as Hoare dips into a bluesy solo backed by Millard and Turner. Messing with structure and expectation, the real hook doesn’t arrive until shortly before four minutes into the total 5:28, and Orange Goblin earn bonus points in charm for the meta fade-out-and-back-in-and-out-again that accompanies the line “Ghosts of the primitives fade away.” You see, because he’s talking about fading and the song faded out. Sometimes nothing else will do, and though one assumes it wraps side A, it’s to the band’s credit that “Ghosts of the Primitives” doesn’t close the album as a whole, as that’s usually where such tricky fades happen.

A swath of strums and leads in “In Bocca al Lupo” — the underlying rhythm of which would seem to coincidentally call to mind Neurosis‘ “Stones from the Sky” — introduce side B before, again, “Suicide Division” rip them to shreds, gang vocals and all. That stretch of three tracks, with “In Bocca al Lupo,” “Suicide Division” and “The Stranger,” is as disjointed as The Wolf Bites Back gets, hopping between three different styles in the span of three songs and about 10 minutes total, throwing caution and continuity to the wind and trusting — rightly — that their craft will carry them through. It’s not the kind of move a band would make earlier in their career, but for longtime Orange Goblin fans, the instant swapping out of one side of their personality for another (and another) is an easy jump to make, and frankly, it makes the album more exciting since they actually pull it off. By the time the chorus of “The Stranger” hits, and really before that, they’ve succeeded in the shift, and the arrival of organ in the song’s second half is like a victory lap for the turn just made. A psycho shuffle in “Burn the Ships” brings The Wolf Bites Back back to ground stylistically, returning to the core straightforward approach of the opening duo early while saving a Pepper Keenan-style vocal for the midsection to provide a bit more context to “The Stranger” before it and saving its most vicious groove for the return to the chorus near the more winding finish.

With its long fade-in at the outset, “Zeitgeist” seems to be of a kind with “Ghosts of the Primitives,” which is fair enough since it wraps side B and thus the album as a whole, with Ward adding some echo behind a quick bridge following the first chorus and Hoare layering solos over top each other give a particular NWOBHM affect as the organ subtly returns beneath. A second stage lead takes hold just past the halfway mark, leading back to the hook and bridge, the latter repeated, and as the line “The search goes on and on…” echoes out, HoareMillard and Turner lock in for the last dive into the fadeout, the latter two holding together the rhythm as Hoare solos over top. The ending is as clean and purposeful as everything before it, and in addition to answering back the side A finale, it speaks one more time to the fact that all along throughout The Wolf Bites Back, it’s been the songwriting holding the album together. One doesn’t doubt that Orange Goblin could write a sloppier record and probably nail some of the turns they do here in terms of style, but the fact that they not only do what they do, but do it and maintain a full-album flow, present a collection of memorable tracks and still manage to sound like their mission is nothing more or less than kicking every ass in sight, well, that’s why Orange Goblin are Orange Goblin. Over their years, their influence has justifiably spread to a generation of London heavy rockers, and The Wolf Bites Back is the latest manifestation of why that is. In its energy, persona and vibe, as well as in its basic sound, The Wolf Bites Back shows Orange Goblin at the top of their game.

Orange Goblin, “Sons of Salem”

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Orange Goblin on Twitter

Orange Goblin on Instagram

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Spinefarm Records on Thee Facebooks

Spinefarm Records website

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Corrosion of Conformity Announce UK Tour with Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry and Black Moth

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Can you frickin’ imagine C.O.C. and Orange Goblin on the same bill? I’m sorry, but that’s just awesome. Both will be supporting new records — for Corrosion of Conformity, it’s earlier-this-year’s No Cross No Crown (review here), and for Orange Goblin, the impending The Wolf Bites Back (review later this week) — and with support from Fireball Ministry, lest we forget their own new album, Remember the Story (review here), which came out toward the end of 2017 — and Black Moth, the proceedings are all the more righteous for those who’ll be fortunate enough to witness them.

As fate and clever timing would have it, C.O.C. were in the UK this weekend playing Download and they’ve got another date in Colchester tonight ahead of hitting mainland Europe tomorrow to begin a tour that includes a couple dates meeting up with Converge and a stop at Hellfest. This of course will lead to the next tour, which is another run with Black Label Society in the States following up on the one at the start of the year. That’s in July/August, then in Oct./Nov. it’s back to the UK for the aforementioned excellence alongside Orange Goblin et al. It’s been a busy year for these dudes, especially as they’ve been largely without drummer Reed Mullin, who’s been unable to tour with the band following knee surgery and is, as of the last social media post on the subject, understandably anxious to return.

The PR wire brings the latest, but really, the point here is go see C.O.C. You have the means, motive and opportunity, so make it happen:

corrosion of conformity photo by Dean Karr

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY To Kick Off European Tour This Weekend; Band Confirms Fall UK Dates + Second Leg Of North American Tour With Black Label Society And Eyehategod Nears

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will return to Europe this weekend for a stretch of live dates set to commence June 9th and run through June 24th. The journey includes special performances with Converge as well as appearances at Download, Hellfest, Copenhell, and Graspop. In July, the band will return to North American stages to kick off the second leg of their tour supporting Black Label Society. Slated to begin July 15th, the tour will make its way through nearly two dozen cities upon its conclusion on August 11th. Additional support will again be provided by Eyehategod. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will close their summer live takeover with a performance at Loud And Heavy Fest in Fort Worth Texas sharing the stages with the likes of Cody Jinks and Whiskey Myers! In October, the band will take on an eight-date UK headlining tour with Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry, and Black Moth. See all confirmed dates below.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY continues to tour in support of their critically lauded No Cross No Crown full-length, released earlier this year via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Captured in North Carolina with longtime producer John Custer, the record marks the first studio recording with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan in over a decade and, earning the #67 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, #12 on the Billboard Top Current Albums Chart, and #3 on the Top Hard Music Albums Chart upon its first week of release, is the highest charting album of the band’s career.

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:
6/09/2018 Download – Donnington Park, UK
6/11/2018 Colchester Arts Centre – Colchester, UK
6/12/2018 FortaRock – Nijmegen, NL
6/13/2018 Den Atelier – Luxembourg, LU
6/14/2018 Universum – Stuttgart, DE
6/16/2018 Konzertfabrik Z7 – Pratteln, CH
6/17/2018 Santeria Social Club – Milan, IT
6/18/2018 Orion – Rome, IT w/ Converge
6/19/2018 VAZ Hafen – Innsbruck, AU w/ Converge
6/20/2018 La Belle Electrique – Grenoble, FR w/ Converge
6/22/2018 Hellfest – Clisson, FR
6/23/2018 Copenhell – København, DK
6/24/2018 Graspop – Dessel, BE

w/ Black Label Society, Eyehategod:
7/15/2018 Inkcarceration Music Festival @ Ohio State Reformatory – Mansfield, OH *
7/16/2018 Monarch Music Hall – Peoria, IA *
7/17/2018 The Forge – Joliet, IL *
7/18/2018 20 Monroe Live – Grand Rapids, MI
7/20/2018 Bourbon Theatre – Lincoln, NE
7/21/2018 Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK
7/22/2018 Cotillion Ballroom – Wichita, KS
7/23/2018 The District – Sioux Falls, SD
7/25/2018 The Clyde Theatre – Wayne, IN
7/27/2018 Si Hall At The Fairgrounds – Syracuse, NY
7/28/2018 Impact Music Festival – Bangor, ME
7/29/2018 The Webster – Hartford, CT*
7/30/2018 The Queen – Wilmington, DE
8/01/2018 The Mill & Mine – Knoxville, TN
8/02/2018 The Fillmore Charlotte – Charlotte, NC
8/03/2018 Phase 2 – Lynchburg, VA
8/05/2018 The Norva – Norfolk, VA
8/07/2018 Rebel – Toronto, ON
8/08/2018 Metlus – Montreal, QC
8/09/2018 Sherman Theater – Stroudsburg, PA
8/10/2018 Paramount – Huntington, NY
8/11/2018 Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
8/18/2018 Loud And Heavy Fest @ Panther Island Pavilion – Fort Worth, TX w/ Cody Jinks, Whiskey Myers

w/ Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry, Black Moth:
10/26/2018 Engine Rooms – Southampton, UK
10/27/2018 02 Institute – Birmingham, UK
10/28/2018 Rock City – Nottingham, UK
10/30/2018 Ritz – Manchester, UK
11/01/2018 02 ABC- Glasgow, UK
11/02/2018 Plug – Sheffield, UK
11/03/2018 The Great Hall – Lardiff, UK
11/04/2018 02 Forum Kentish Town – London, UK
* No Eyehategod

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is:
Pepper Keenan – vocals, guitar
Woodroe Weatherman – guitar
Mike Dean – bass, vocals
Reed Mullin – drums, vocals

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, “The Luddite” official video

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Live Review: Colour Haze, Trevor’s Head and The Brothers Keg in London, 05.22.18

Posted in Reviews on May 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

colour haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Colour Haze are my that band. You know that band. There’s some resonance there that goes deeper than the average listening experience. I have a couple that bands – YOB, Neurosis, etc. – but in my 15 years of following the Munich trio’s work – which makes me Johnny Comelately when set against the fact that their first album, Chopping Machine (discussed here), came out 23 years ago – I’ve only seen them three times prior. One was Roadburn 2009 (discussed here), another Desertfest London 2013 (review here), and to go way back, Emissions from the Monolith in 2006, which to-date remains the only show they’ve ever played on US soil. I’ve said so before, but that was a moment that genuinely changed my life.

So it was my last night in London before flying back to the US Eastern Seaboard and facing the reality check of bills, stacks of mail – my mail log was on my stolen laptop; whoops – laundry, grocery shopping, and so on, so you’re god damned right I was going to see Colour Haze as they happened to be in town on a tour that brought them to midsize club The Garage for what would be the first non-fest set of theirs I’d ever seen. On my way to the show, I was thinking of what it might bring, for what the room would be like, what the gig would be like, how many people would be there, all that stuff mixed into an anxiety and excitement that lasted pretty much until I walked in the door and saw The Brothers Keg on stage opening the three-band bill.

With Tom Fyfe on drums — also of StubbThe Brothers Keg made their debut with a demo (discussed here) late last year and played material from that and then some, proffering a blend of heavy, desert rock, shouty sludge and psychedelia that someday, probably years from now, some clever critic is going to dub the “London sound.”

It speaks to Kyuss and Iron Monkey alike, but definitely came of age with some grunge influence, and isn’t unaware of the UK’s massive psychedelic legacy either. At least The Brothers Keg weren’t. They had some bearings to straighten out in terms of overall direction, but as with the demo, their potential was writ large in their live set and they made an excellent opener for the night, tying in some elements that each of the next two acts would share.

Trevor’s Head also had some of that “London sound” to them, but it was more of an undercurrent to an overarching layer of prog-metal weirdness. Fronted by guitarist Roger Atkins they played material from their new album on APF Records, Soma Holiday (review here) and a few older songs from 2016’s Tricolossus. Obviously familiar to the crowd, who sang along as the band rolled through, Trevor’s Head‘s three-vocalist approach allowed them to bring the same variety to their live performance as they brought to the record, and three mics on stage meant that at any given point, any one of Atkins, bassist Aaron Strachan and drummer Matt Ainsworth might be breaking the balls of the others. Elephant Tree had a bit of that going too the other night, albeit with one fewer mic. Call it another London thing. Dudes being dudes and whatnot.

They’re an interesting band, though. All three have significant stage presence in the making, and they play with three discernible personalities, with Atkins the frontman despite being in a level line at the front of the stage with the others, Strachan lost in the world of his five-string, and Ainsworth amiably busting chops between songs while seated behind his kit. Again, they knew people in the crowd, but I think even as others started to show up ahead of Colour HazeTrevor’s Head represented the coterie of Desertscene — who booked this gig and also runs Desertfest London — with sonic purpose and a bit of the tongue-in-cheek persona that helps define who these groups are.

I was fortunate enough to talk to Colour Haze guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek for a bit before they went on, and he mentioned this was their 12th show in as many nights. The night before, they were in France. They’d already been to London once, as well as Porto, Madrid and up to Scotland, etc. That’s not an insignificant run for a band of 20 year olds, let alone a group of veterans who’ve influenced a generation of heavy psychedelic rockers and whose first album, Chopping Machine (discussed here), came out in 1995. And though this was my first time seeing them outside festival confines, I was not at all surprised to find they made a two-hour set seem far too short. They were amazing. I’m speaking literally. I stood there and was amazed.

Bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald might be the tightest rhythm section I’ve ever seen. It sounds like hyperbole, but I’m being honest. Their smooth shifts in meter, groove and progression were a joy to watch from the start of set-opener “She Said” through pre-encore set-closer “Transformation” — both taken from 2012’s She Said (review here) — and they played with such class both between themselves and in kind with Koglek and keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender that as they made their way through the title-cut of 2006’s Tempel (discussed here), there was funk in their sound, as well as jazz and still enough rock to tie it all together. Merwald drove the linear builds forward as his kit faced sideways on the stage to put him head-on with Faszbender, and in classic fashion, as Rasthofer provided the foundation, it left Koglek‘s guitar free to wander. And it did. Gloriously.

And the tones. My god. The crowd — increasingly drunk, increasingly dancing — cheered from the first note Koglek played, and rightfully so. His and Rastofer‘s tones both are a guiding principle for Colour Haze, and standing in The Garage as the sound bounced off the back of the room and came around again at max volume, it was like swimming in warm water. Running “Skydancer” and “Skydance” from last year’s righteous In Her Garden (review here) together into one ahead of “Überall” from 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), they built momentum and brought immersion to a level that I doubt I’d have been able to resist if I’d tried. “Aquamaria” had been an early representation, and along with the encore finale “Love,” it was remarkable what Faszbender — on tour for the first time with the band — brought to the arrangements of material new and old.

colour haze 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

In addition to bringing another melodic presence, the keys and synth fleshed out transitions between the songs and worked as much with Koglek as with Rasthofer. “House of Rushammon,” which first appeared on their lost 1998 second album, Seven (discussed here) and later showed up on their 2004 landmark self-titled (discussed here), led off the encore with “Love” behind it, and before they kicked into the latter, Koglek noted from the stage that in these times of increasing nationalism and everything going on in politics, it was something of which the world needed more. From that start, they executed a final swirling build that consumed the crowd to the point that people were jumping up and down in excitement, and one could only pull out one’s earplugs and give in. I won’t say I jumped, but it was one of several points in the set where I just closed my eyes and let go. At one point I turned to The Patient Mrs. — who had had a prior obligation earlier but showed up for the headliner like the proverbial boss she is — and told her I hadn’t felt so good in a year. It was true.

This trip, with its lows and highs, couldn’t have had a better finish. I have packing to do so I’ll keep this short, but between getting robbed and the subsequent support I received, the killer shows I saw, the little bit of record shopping I got to do yesterday (maybe more on that later), seeing good friends and embracing the magic that is British fish pie, I feel like seeing Colour Haze was exactly the kind of summary for how special this time has been. I’m lucky to have experienced it, and incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to do so.

Thank you for reading.

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Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters to Release Come and Chutney July 13; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

chubby thunderous bad kush masters

I’m just going to say this: I’ve been waiting a while for Come and Chutney. I’m 36 years old, and that’s a sentence I don’t think I could’ve imagined writing until today, but it’s true all the same. The debut album from London misfits Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters has been on my anticipated list pretty much since their debut EP, Earth Hog (review here), and certainly since they signed to Riff Rock Records in 2016 and released their split with Ten Foot Wizard (review here). If you heard the unhinged sludge rock of either, you probably don’t wonder why, and after streaming the new song “Cojones Feos,” I’m curious to hear what the rest of the album has to offer. It’s a rare band that can be so delightfully weird and still maintain such a wanton sonic impact.

Then again, it’s also a rare band who’d call their first album Come and Chutney, so I guess any way you want to look at it, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters are working on their own level here. So be it.

From the PR wire:

chubby thunderous bad kush masters come and chutney

British Psychedelic Power Trio CHUBBY THUNDEROUS BAD KUSH MASTERS Announce Debut Album Details; Stream New Single

Come & Chutney to be released via Riff Rock Records 13th July

British psychedelic power trio CHUBBY THUNDEROUS BAD KUSH MASTERS have announced their debut album Come & Chutney will be released via Riff Rock Records on July 13th 2018.

Pre-orders are now available via Riff Rock Records here.

Ahead of the album release the band are streaming their single ‘Cojones Feos’, listen here: https://chubbythunderousbadkushmasters.bandcamp.com/track/cojones-feos

Come & Chutney is a sublime pilgrimage through 8 tracks of cosmos drenching, riff slinking, indignantly delirious, fuzzed out Chubbiosity. And a song about Donald Trump.

The album features several guest appearances including guest vocals from Chantal Brown of Vodun, guest guitar solo from Gary Harkin of Ten Foot Wizard, and guest keyboards by Thom Carter of Riddles on closing track ‘Psychedelic Hallucinogenic Vagrancy’.

The band comments: “Expect the same heavy dose of excessive wah, cheap pedals, throat hocks & greasy döner all in the usual Bad Kush way. These songs were written in between numerous tours about everything from the best kebab to totalitarian demons. Recorded and hot boxed in September 2017 then mixed and mastered March 2018.“

Defying normal conventions, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters exist solely to leave the listener with one thought, “that was some weird shit.”

The London band (which includes former Dopefight frontman Owen Carty) have been turning heads on the UK’s burgeoning underground scene not least because of their combination of tie-dye and corpsepaint, but with a staggeringly heavy live show that has everyone who sees them agreeing that they’re about to become huge. Probably.

Their debut EP “Earth Hog” fused sludgy, blues riffs with stoner rock overtones and was recorded and produced by Sam Thredder of Slabdragger. They followed this with the Split EP “Special” with Ten Foot Wizard in 2017.

The band’s tongue-in-cheek approach belies their dedication to all things heavy and riff-shaped. A jaw-droppingly powerful live band, Bad Kush have already completed two European tours with Bongzilla, Boss Keloid and Ten Foot Wizard, headlined the Black Heart on the final day of Desertfest London 2017 playing alongside such legends as Sleep, Slo Burn and Turbo Negro and repeated circuits of the UK’s underground scene since their inception in late 2014. Having supported the likes of Slabdragger, Dopethrone and Honky, audience members have picked up on the band’s vibe and now blow bubbles in appreciation of the band’s heaviest riffs.

Come & Chutney will be released via Riff Rock Records on 13th July. Pre-orders are now available here.

Catch them live:

May 24th – Music City, Antwerp – Belgium
May 25th – Do It Yourself Cafe, Lille – France
June 16 – Breakfast at Riffany’s, Manchester – UK
July 7th – Return of the End of the World Festival, Plymouth – UK
Aug 25th – Riff Fest, Bolton – UK
+ more to be announced.

Come & Chutney Tracklisting
1. Doggy Bag Of Slurry
2. Krones Of The Kiln
3. Cojones Feos
4. Glue Ear
5. Gutlads
6. Gawdless
7. Döner Trump
8. Psychedelic Hallucinogenic Vagrancy

http://facebook.com/chubbythunderousbadkushmasters
https://chubbythunderousbadkushmasters.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/ChubbyThunderousBadKushMasters
https://www.riffrockrecords.co.uk/
http://www.facebook.com/RiffRockMusic
https://twitter.com/RiffRockRecords

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, “Cojonoes Feos”

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Friday Full-Length: Massive Gratitude and Some New Sleep for the Hell of It

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I try to say thank you as often as I can on here. I really do. I’ve considered getting a ‘thanks for reading’ tattoo. Maybe for the 10th anniversary. Anyhow, this week, you’ve really saved my ass, and I don’t even know how to start showing my appreciation.

If you didn’t read the Elephant Tree live review yesterday or haven’t seen on the social medias, I’ve been in England this week with my wife, who along with another professor is leading a study abroad trip for some of her undergrad and graduate students. The three of us were staying in a house in Canterbury earlier this week, and overnight on Tuesday the place was robbed — or “burgled” as Constable Toby put it the next morning — while we slept in the bedrooms upstairs.

Well, first off, nobody got hurt. Nobody’s passport was taken. The baby didn’t even wake up. It could’ve been much worse.

Along with some other stuff, they took my laptop Big Red, camera, lenses and backpack, all of which was set up on the kitchen table so I could come downstairs early in the morning Wednesday and start to write. When the alarm went off at 5AM — a luxury for being away; usually it’s 4:30 these days — I found the door was wide open and the kitchen table had been cleaned off.

I lost stuff. Stuff can be replaced. Even my laptop and camera, which, as I’ve said, were by a wide margin the two nicest pieces of stuff I owned.

What really hurt was the years of writing on Big Red and my notes for The Obelisk. Upcoming releases, ongoing best of the year lists, Quarterly Review slots, and a calendar of upcoming premieres. Now I don’t even know what I’m reviewing on Monday. I know I’ve got commitments to host things into June and I just have no idea what they are. Online backups? Nope. Why would I need those? What, am I gonna get robbed?

Plus the years’ worth of past writings. A half decade or so of bios, press releases, my own personal stuff. That collection of Star Trek-themed poetry I was never going to finish. All that. And the music. The music on my desktop alone — new records from YOB, the Sleep album above, so many others I can’t even remember. I’ll get a new computer. But that other stuff I’ll never get back. It’s just gone.

Within hours, I couldn’t even hang my head. Scott Harrington, a friend at this point for more than a decade and the dude whose passion drives Salt of the Earth Records, sent a text and asked if he could set up a GoFundMe.

I’m not comfortable asking for money. I’m not comfortable handling money. But the fact of the matter is I’m a homemaker. I don’t work except to take care of the house and the baby and therefore I’m in a much different financial position than I was in when I purchased these things.

Scott set up a GoFundMe for $3,000, which would be enough to cover most of what I lost. It would get me a new laptop of some color — red, green, blue, banana yellow (?), whatever — a comparable camera and pay for part of the cost of a professional-grade lens like the one I had.

By the time it was Wednesday night here in the UK, as I was using a camera loaned to me by one of my wife’s students to take pictures and banging my head to Elephant Tree’s “Aphotic Blues” — maybe if I get a blue laptop I’ll name it ‘Aphotic Blue’ — the $3,000 goal was met and surpassed. Here’s where it’s at currently:

Over $4,000. More than a third beyond the original goal. I don’t even know what to say. It’s fucking insane. All of a sudden I’m looking at the Canon 5D Mark IV as a real possibility of something I can bring into my life. It’s something I never expected, and I’m absolutely floored and humbled and just given this incredible sense of warmth from the support I’ve received and all the kind words people have said about me, and this site, and everything. It’s been two days now. I still can’t get my head around it. Does not compute.

From the deepest part of me, thank you. The money’s gonna help, make no mistake, but the feeling of community, of belonging, and of being appreciated has been so incredibly validating that I’m astounded. Astounded and touched and, yeah, just made to feel like something I’ve done has mattered to somebody. It makes me want to be a better person, to be better at this, and it’s utterly renewed my faith in this project as a whole, which if I’m honest wasn’t exactly lagging but could only benefit from a kick in the pants.

So once again, thank you. The only thing I could think to do was close out the week by saying thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’d put the notes here for what’s coming up next week, but again, I haven’t got a clue. I know at some point I was supposed to do something with Saturno Grooves and I think maybe review the new Graveyard (which, whoops, was on Big Red), and maybe a House of Broken Promises video premiere? I honestly don’t know. I’ll be seeing Colour Haze on Tuesday night, so will hope to have a review of that up Wednesday. I also travel back to the US on Wednesday, so might take Thursday off? I’m going to play it by ear a little bit and see what surfaces.

But in the meantime, thank you once again for your incredible support, whether you’ve made a donation or just shared the link, it’s huge for me. Genuinely life-changing. I will aspire to live up to the faith shown in me.

Oh, and I put a YouTube playlist with the new Sleep at the top of the post because if my gratitude was a new record, that’s the one it would be, and on the off-chance you haven’t heard it yet, you really should. I reserve the right to close out a week with a proper discussion of it again sometime probably years down the line. If you’d like to read the review of it, it’s here.

For not at all the last time, thank you. I promise something will be up Monday one way or the other.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Live Review: Elephant Tree, Morag Tong and Wychhound in London, UK, 05.16.18

Posted in Reviews on May 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Elephant Tree (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The kind of evening to vibrate the plugs in your ears. I’m loath to do this, but there’s a lot of context to this one that needs quick covering, so here are a few bullet points so we’re all on the same page:

  • I’m in London with my wife who is a college professor leading a study abroad trip for students. The baby and I got to tag along. Good deal.
  • While in Canterbury, the house where we were staying was burgled overnight. Among the stolen: My laptop, my camera, my glorious cosmic backpack. Sucked. Years of writing and music, gone. No backups (I know, I know…). Patient Mrs., Pecan and self fine though, so could’ve been worse.
  • One of my wife’s students very generously let me borrow her camera and take it to The Black Heart in Camden Town to shoot Morag Tong‘s release show with Elephant Tree and Wychhound on the bill.
  • I took my first Uber to get there. You don’t actually need to know that, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless.

I met guitarist/vocalist Jack Townley and drummer Sam Hart from Elephant Tree outside The Black Heart before I even got through the door and was warmly greeted. All the more appreciated after a long day. A week after Desertfest London, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of crowd — people could be fired up just as easily as burnt out — but it was for sure the former inside; already packed and the show, which would happen upstairs in the venue itself as opposed to the downstairs bar, hadn’t even started.

It had been half a decade since the last time I was fortunate enough to be in The Black Heart. The upstairs bar had moved from the back to the side of the venue, but beyond that, not much had changed. Downstairs was much the same as I remembered, with the big bar in the center and tables and enclaves off to the sides, a place one could both get rowdy or have a quiet conversation. Outside, people smoked like fiends. Inside, I found Elephant Tree bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, also formerly of Stubb and Trippy Wicked, old friend Chris West of an ever-increasing number of bands, among them the newly formed Glanville, whose EPK was on my stolen laptop, and met a woman Jack introduced as Sister Rainbow, who had the hair to match and for whom this would mark her 36th Elephant Tree show. Being my first, I told her she had me beat by a wide margin.

Soon enough after, things got started upstairs with Wychhound on first. The Londoners have been around a few years, and have a new EP out called Earth Orbiter following up their 2015 self-titled, which they tracked as a five-piece with vocals. Instrumental now, they made good use of the dynamic between Roberto Pini and Miles McDonald on guitar in setting the foundation for their sound, which was someplace between Kyuss-style desert worship and the heavier explorations of Pelican with shades of Russian Circles-esque post-heavy in some of its more daring moments. Bassist Neil Neighbour and drummer Sid Naghdi provided a foundation of weighted groove and allowed the guitars space to wander when they were so inclined, and some of the most effective moments came in combining forward drive with that emergent sense of space.

Even in this age of immediate access, sometimes it’s nice to go in blind — plus I, admittedly, had a pretty busy day — so I hadn’t gotten to check Wychhound out before, but their atmospherics on a piece like “Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 (SL-9)” were readily apparent and still left room for rawer, head-down riffing in the material surrounding. It was enough to make me visit their Bandcamp and snag a download, which I guess was the idea in the first place. Some growing to do, perhaps, as they continue to come into their own sound, but they were a right on way to start the night and full enough in tone that, yes, I had to keep adjusting my right earplug because the low end was making it vibrate.

Speaking of tone, fucking Elephant Tree. Their self-titled debut (review here) on Magnetic Eye was easily one of the best records of 2016, and especially after missing them last year at Psycho Las Vegas, as soon as I found out they were playing while I’d be in town, I knew I had to see them. The three-piece did not disappoint, and that wasn’t a surprise. That is, I knew they’d be good. I’d seen videos and was of course familiar with the album and all that. I knew they’d be good. What I didn’t expect was that they’d be so much fun.

Peter Holland is at very least two things, and I say them both with utter affection and zero sarcasm. He is among the most charming drunks I’ve ever encountered, and he is insanely talented. At this point I’ve seen him play in three different bands and he’s never failed to make a mark in each of them in terms of sound. His voice is immediately recognizable, his smile infectious and his style of play was as perfect a match for Townley‘s guitar on stage as it had been on the record. Also, he broke a string before they went on. They still started more or less on time, laughing and making fun of each other in the process. Then, in the first song, Hart‘s drum stool busted. Hardly missed a beat, kept playing, and fixed it before they started the next cut. Later on, one of Townley‘s pedals got stuck on and he couldn’t turn it off, making a kind of wash of low end psychedelic waves out of a verse riff in the process. No fucking complaints there.

The point is there was no stopping Elephant Tree from rolling out their massive nod. And when I say massive, I don’t just mean it sounded big, but it sounded like it had a physical presence. Tone you could chew like gum. Between the laid back groove and the laid back vibe and the lady in the crowd making seal noises — no, it wasn’t Sister Rainbow; she was down the front rocking out as only someone on their 36th show with a band could hope to do — it was impossible not to have a good time, so I put my borrowed camera down and did exactly that for a little bit. Just let it go and enjoyed myself, and whether it was the evening’s highlight “Aphotic Blues” or the album closer “Surma” or “Dawn” — which was precisely as built for a sing-along as it seems, with Townley and Holland sharing vocals — I had no regrets. Townley brought a frontman presence to the guitar/vocal spot and though there were times when the bass threatened to swallow everything in its path, his solos cut through and gave the whole thing an entirely new sense of space. What a blast.

By way of plainly stating the obvious, they were my highlight, but Morag Tong were still to go, playing cuts from their Last Knell of Om debut full-length, which is officially out tomorrow, May 18. I’d been lucky enough to hear the album prior to seeing them — it, too, was on the desktop of my stolen laptop, and I believe slated for the next Quarterly Review, though of course I can’t be sure of that because my notes… well, you get the idea — and knew a bit of what was coming. They started out with guitarists Alex Clarke and Lewis Crane both on e-bow guitar (dueling e-bows!) and would go on to play the complete album, swapping the order to finish with “To Soil” and letting drummer Adam Asquith initially bide his time before unleashing his growling vocal between “Transmission” and “New Growth.” Equal parts psychedelic and doom, they were clearly proud of the work they’d done — and rightly so — and hypnotic in their presentation enough even on stage to give a sense of the underlying element of drone on the record.

Back into the (new) notes they go for the next Quarterly Review. Swapping out the saturated red light for a cooler-toned blue, they were a fitting end to a day that had started as a huge bummer some 17 hours earlier and had a massive turnaround in spirit and mood — more on that later. As they lurched out their meditative immersion, I made my way back downstairs to say a few quick goodnights and Uber myself back to Maida Vale, having had a night so satisfying that I almost forgot about the events of the morning prior. A night of volume and heart in kind, and the kind of night that I was so glad to be a part of that I’m still wearing The Black Heart‘s paper wristband on my right arm. And I hate those damn things.

Thanks for reading.

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Age of Taurus Announce The Colony Slain Due May 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

age of taurus

Don’t know about you, but May 18 sounds like the distant future to me. It’s not. I guess somehow I just missed all of April and it’s still March in my head, despite the semi-decent weather. I don’t know. Either way, it’s just a little over two weeks until the new Age of Taurus album, The Colony Slain, is released on Rise Above Records, and they’ve got  new track called “In Dreams We Die” streaming now that’s rife with trad-doomly righteousness. It’s been five years since they put out their debut full-length, Desperate Souls of Tortured Times, and though I haven’t heard the full-record yet, the single certainly sounds invigorated. You know, at least as far as doom goes.

The PR wire has info. Audio’s at the bottom. You know how we do:

Age of Taurus The Colony Slain

Age Of Taurus To Release “The Colony Slain” May 18th via Rise Above Records – First Single Streaming

“Many centuries ago, when the world was slightly younger and a little less ravaged by time’s unrelenting grasp, there existed a sprawling empire of unrivalled power. Yet, whilst its might and influence stretched across great oceans and through vast mountain ranges, its immense dominion was born not out of prosperity and industry, but from rampant fear and blind obedience…”

So begins the arcane tale behind The Colony Slain, the second full-length album from doom metal diehards Age Of Taurus. The album is set for release May 18th via Rise Above Records.

Nearly five years on from the release of acclaimed debut Desperate Souls Of Tortured Times, singer/guitarist and conceptual mastermind Toby W. Wright is ready to unveil a new, ultra-dramatic chapter in the turbulent saga of the Taurean Empire. Showcasing a new line-up featuring new bassist Leo Smee (With The Dead/ex-Cathedral) alongside Wright, drummer Darius Claydon and most recent recruit, guitarist Daniel Knight, The Colony Slain is the sound of a great band reborn in heavy metal glory.

Formed in 2009, Age Of Taurus have already established themselves as a doggedly unique force within the modern world of doom. Ever the stubborn mavericks, they have once again conjured a collection of songs that defy lazy notions of doom metal as a one-dimensional creative cul-de-sac. Still rooted in the rumbling sonic bedrock of Trouble, Candlemass and Sabbath but increasingly steeped in the gritty swagger of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and in thrall to numerous left-field, progressive ideas, songs like fiery opener Taken To The Tower and the rampaging In Dream We Die eschew the languorous repetition of much modern doom in favour of subtly elaborate song structures that proudly salute the spirit of old school heavy metal. With nods to everything from radio-friendly hard rock to gritty crossover thrash, The Colony Slain is a flat-out celebration of the metal code.

Rejuvenated and refocused, Age Of Taurus have returned from the wilderness bearing the most potent of gifts. Living, breathing, thunderous proof of doom’s timeless allure and the inspirational power of the riff, The Colony Slain brings past, present and future together in a riot of heartfelt heaviness and, as the story says, unrivalled power. A new age is dawning and this story never ends…

The Colony Slain Track Listing:
1. From the Hills to the Halls
2. Taken to the Tower
3. The Trial of Blackwynn Chaise
4. In Dreams We Die
5. The Lost Garrison
6. Beyond the Westward Path
7. For Treason We Rise
8. The Walls Have Ears
9. To Seal a Mountain
10. As Ice Into Blood
11. The Colony Slain

Age of Taurus is:
Toby Wright – Vocals/Guitar
Leo Smee – Bass & Synthesizers
Darius Claydon – Drums
Daniel Knight – Lead Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/AgeOfTaurus/
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords/
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

Age of Taurus, “In Dreams We Die”

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats Announce Fall & Winter Touring; New Album Due this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

UK garage doom forerunners Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats spent much of 2016 on the road touring the crap out of their 2015 fourth album, The Night Creeper (review here), which was by far their grimeiest yet. It’s important to add the ‘yet’ there because the band are set to have a new album out this Fall through Rise Above Records, which also reissued their long-lost 2010 debut, Vol. 1 (review here), late last year.

The band were relatively quiet in 2017 apart from that reissue, so one imagines the new record has been through a wringer of a writing process, and in addition to, you know, actually hearing it, I’ll be interested to find out who recorded/is recording the thing, since so much of the band’s approach comes down to sonic aesthetics and capturing that grainy, classic and threatening sound.

One more to get excited about, and from the looks of the announced European and UK tours, they’ll once again be doing some considerable road time.

From Rise Above‘s social medias:

UK’s scuzziest ambassadors of blood-curdling fuzz, UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS, prepare to hit the roads of mainland Europe and Scandinavia this November/December in support of their much anticipated fifth album, due out this autumn.

Support will come from the mistresses of reverb-soaked garage rock, L.A. WITCH, who will be returning to Europe after their own successful headline tour this March/April.

Uncle Acid and the deadbeats UK tour dates announced. Supported by Blood Ceremony!

Begin: transmission

“These will be our first European shows in two years and we’re hungry to get back out and lay waste to many of our favourite cities. You will enjoy the show experiencing the latest PsychoVision screen technologies with piles of cranked up, ear splitting valve amplification to melt your minds. The nightmare shall resume!”

The specially commissioned artwork for the tour is by legendary Italian poster artist Enzo Sciotti (Fulci, Argento, Romero).

Stay tuned for further tour dates and album release info.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats live w/ L.A. Witch:
15.11 BE Brussels AB
16.11 NL Amsterdam Paradiso Noord
17.11 DE Hamburg Knust
19.11 SE Gothenburg Pustervik
20.11 NO Oslo Rockefeller
21.11 SE Stockholm Nalen
23.11 FI Helsinki Tavastia
25.11 DK Copenhagen Gra Hall
26.11 DE Berlin SO36
27.11 PL Warsaw Hybrydy
28.11 DE Dresden Beatpol
29.11 AT Vienna Arena
01.12 DE Munich Strom
02.12 IT Milan Legend
03.12 FR Villeurbanne Transbordeur
04.12 CH Zurich Dynamo
06.12 DE Karlsruhe Substage
07.12 DE Osnabruck Rosenhof
08.12 DE Koln Luxor
09.12 FR Paris La Maroquinerie

Uncle Acid live w/ Blood Ceremony:
16.01 Leeds Brudenell
17.01 Newcastle O2 Academy 2
18.01 Glasgow G2
19.01 Belfast Limelight 2
20.01 Dublin Academy Green Room
22.01 Manchester Gorilla
23.01 Birmingham O2 Institute 2
24.01 Cardiff The Globe
25.01 London Koko

https://www.uncleacidband.com
https://www.facebook.com/uncleacid/
https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords/
http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Melody Lane” official video

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