Friday Full-Length: Orange Goblin, Time Travelling Blues

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Orange Goblin, Time Travelling Blues (1998)

You wouldn’t know it to look at either my pajamas or my plans for the evening, which include experimenting with a parmesan cheese crisp recipe and watching baseball, but I must feel like partying on some level if I’m breaking out Orange Goblin‘s Time Travelling Blues. Yeah, the UK stoner doom forerunners vibe out Kyuss-style on “Shine” and bring things down a little bit on the title cut, but basically, that’s what this album is to me: A party. And not one of those parties you wind up at where you don’t know anybody and it’s all awkward and terrible. I’m talking about good friends, beers, the yard — all that nonsense. I don’t think I’ve ever actually done that with this record on, but I’d be down to try.

Time Travelling Blues is the second Orange Goblin album, released in 1998 on Rise Above. Because the band has remained so vital — if anything, becoming more so; they’re certainly bigger now than they’ve ever been — it’s strange to think of the record as being 16 years old, but Orange Goblin have kicked a lot of ass for a long time, so there you go. This one I consider the middle part of an essential trilogy of Orange Goblin full-lengths, with their 1997 debut, Frequencies from Planet 10, on one side and 2000′s third offering, The Big Black, on the other, though really none of their stuff is to be fucked with, and live they destroy. No wonder the London scene is currently flush with bands working under their influence.

Orange Goblin‘s last album came out in 2012, but with how hard they’ve toured to support A Eulogy for the Damned, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think it might get a follow-up sooner rather than later. Maybe 2015? After the half-decade between 2007′s Healing through Fire and Eulogy, I certainly wouldn’t argue.

Next week is Roadburn, if you can friggin’ believe that. Snuck up on me this year, it did, though I’ve been doing enough work in preparation. The process is going to be a little different this year than in years past, I think. Sorry to be vague. I’ll explain it all next week. I fly out Tuesday night, get to Tilburg on Wednesday and probably start typing immediately. As ever, you know I’ll cover as much as I can and update as much as I can. Before I even start, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to the fest and the 013 venue. It’s through the generous grace of both that I’m able to go at all.

When I get back, I have some serious thinking to do. Need to find a job, and in the meantime, need to adjust the balance of my day to better facilitate that — which means maybe I don’t spend a nine-to-five’s worth on blogging about doom for no money. Maybe it’s time to put ads on the site and see if I can bring in some cash that way. I don’t know. I’d only like to do ads if they have nothing to do with music. Like if I could get banners for Palmolive and shit like that, I’d be down. Otherwise it’s like throwing your editorial integrity right out the window, though that’s essentially how it’s been since the first newspaper opened and did a story about the restaurant next door. I don’t know when unemployment monies start coming in, but my student loans are in deferment, which helps. Need to talk to The Patient Mrs. and see what my options are and how long we can hold out, because if you’re an out of work editor, nobody gives a fuck. I knew it before but didn’t have to care. Now I have to care and it’s fucking killing me. Need to find something that’s not just a resumé shot into a LinkedIn abyss.

Anyway. Before I head out next week, look for a Pilgrim review. I might hit up that Satan’s Satyrs/Magic Circle/Queen Elephantine show mentioned earlier as well on Sunday, and if I do, I’ll review that too.

Enjoy the Orange Goblin and have a great and safe weekend. Please hit up the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Video Trailers Posted for Desertfest 2014 in London and Berlin

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ll admit to carrying more than a bit of jealousy in my heart for those who’ll be in either London or Berlin at the end of the month when Desertfest gets underway in both towns. Either city is a trek I’d gladly make if I had cash for the flight, and I suppose if being broke has any upside, it’s saving me from having to choose one over the other. Poor consolation for not getting over there, but frankly I’ll take what I can get at this point.

A video trailer back Stubb‘s Jack Dickinson surfaced for the London fest about a week ago, and today Berlin followed suit in posting a trailer for the fest there. Again, either way you go, you can’t really lose. Whether you’re seeing Causa Sui and Stoned Jesus in Berlin or Pombagira and Borracho in London, you’re in for an amazing weekend you won’t soon forget and an experience of a community coming into its own even as it continues to discover what that means. This is a very cool year for Desertfest. So was last year. The one before that wasn’t half bad either.

You get the point though, and the point is me, unemployed and sulking. I’m sure I’ll have more about Desertfest before it actually launches, but I wanted to post these clips together just to give a sample of the vibe of both festivals and what they have to offer the discerning gormandizers who might hit them up. Desertfest Berlin runs April 24-26 at Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin, Germany, and Desertfest London picks up April 25-27 at various venues in Camden Town. Info in the clips and at the links.

Desertfest Berlin 2014 trailer

24th, 25th, 26th April 2014 : DESERTFEST BERLIN

THURSDAY 24th – Spirit Caravan Official – Sleepy Sun – Siena Root – ASG – Sixty Watt Shaman – Pet The Preacher – ANCIIENTS – The Midnight Ghost Train – Cojones
FRIDAY 25th — Kvelertak – Causa Sui – Church of Misery Official – Elder – Huata – HULL – GOZU – BLACK RAINBOWS – Prisma Circus – The Moth – Red Stoner Sun – MANTAR
SATURDAY 26th — Clutch – Radio Moscow – The Machine – The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic – Stoned Jesus – THE GRAVIATORS – Sasquatch – Radar Men from the Moon – SardoniS – Castle – Metal Band – Powder for Pigeons – DoctoR DooM

Desertfest Berlin website

Desertfest London 2014 trailer

Desertfest 2014 is heavier than before & Taking over Camden, London during the 25-27th April.With over 60 bands from the underground stoner / doom and sludge scene peforminng this years fesitval is not to be missed, Headliners are Spirit Caravan / Kvlertak & Boris, plus weedeater, church of misery, ASG, blues Pills and many more…for the full line up please click below.

Desertfest London website

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Baron Greenback and Dead Existence Added to London Desertfest 2014

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Look at that fucking lineup. God damn. I mean, Desertfest London killed it last year with Unida and Dozer and Lowrider and Pentagram, etc., but man, with Spirit Caravan and Boris and The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and everyone else on this bill, it might be even bigger. From Pombagira and The Cosmic Dead to Weedeater and Samsara Blues Experiment, it’s the kind of thing that no doubt will make you want to be three places in once. Monkey 3, Sasquatch and Graves at Sea. Come on. That’s not even fair.

Two more added to the pile today in the form of native UK acts Baron Greenback and Dead Existence. Announcements follow courtesy of the Desertfest website:

Baron Greenback See Red at DesertFest 2014

Despite Baron Greenback’s decision to avoid labelling themselves as any particular genre, the culmination of their talents and styles lands them smack in the middle of what a good DesertFest band should be: riff-laden, thick as mud and full of heavy grooves.

With a mission to “create music which shifts through different textures and soundscapes whilst remaining interesting, captivating and challenging”, the ‘Greenback acknowledge they still need to retain a groove that people can appreciate. However, the major thing that sets them apart from the pack is a slight edge of funk to keep your mosh pit-ready toes dancing.

Since forming in South-West England in 2009, this heavy quartet have been very busy; they’ve shared stages with the likes of Serpent Venom, Alunah, Karma to Burn, Slab, Honky, Desert Storm, and more recently the mighty EYEHATEGOD, Orange Goblin, Kylesa and Graveyard. Above all, the band pride themselves on simply playing whatever style of music thunders out of their instruments naturally, and we’re certainly lucky that their musical second nature has landed them alongside the heavyweights to give them all a funky kick in the pants.

Kind Words: Cat Jones

It’s a Dead Existence Once Again at DesertFest 2014

Veteran sludge warlords Dead Existence cite “Misery” and “Hatred” as the main influences for their brand of savage metallic brutality.

Boasting tracks that push the 15 minute mark, a Dead Existence show is a safe place for those phobic of ballads, tambourines or a sense of wellbeing. The band’s experience is evident as they expertly blend elements of Doom, Sludge and Hardcore into their cauldron of hatred, concocting a potion of formidable potency. Dark, brooding and atmospheric interludes whisper reassurances in your ear, but dare to trust this feral beast and you’ll be the victim of the unrelenting and merciless fury that waits around the corner.

Brave Dead Existence at DesertFest 2014, I urge you. One thing is for sure: the only moment a lighter will be held aloft is in search of an escape route after these London-dwelling Leviathans challenge the foundations of the venue to a duel, and rise victorious.

Literary Bruises: Dan Grigg

Dead Existence, Born into the Planet’s Scars (2011)

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Boris and Weedeater Added to Desertfest London 2014

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

As you can see in the banner above, the lineup for Desertfest 2014 in London wasn’t exactly hurting as it was, but to have Weedeater get added yesterday and top off the week today with announcing that Boris had signed on to headline alongside Spirit Caravan and Kvelertak, and well, I guess we can call 2014 the year Desertfest “went for it.” Goodness gracious, that’s a solid bill. Makes me want to take out a loan to get there to see it.

While my broke, overworked and underpaid ass hangs its head in an all-too-familiar shame, here are the announcements, snagged off the Desertfest website, with compliments to Tom Geddes, who wrote them:


And so we announce our final headliner for DesertFest 2014 – Japanese experimental legends Boris!

How on Earth can you capture Boris’ sound in words? It’s beyond impossible; from drone, to sludge, to doom, to psyche, to ambient, to noise rock, to pop, here is a band that you can’t pigeonhole. But it’s in that unpredictable, ever-marching progression that the excitement lies.

Boris formed in 1992 on the extreme fringes of the Japanese hardcore punk scene before flying in every musical direction you can think of. Spending most of their life as a multi-instrumentalist three piece – consisting of Atsuo on drums, Wata on guitar and keyboards and Takeshi on bass, with all three sharing vocal duties – Boris have released just shy of a couple of dozen full lengths in their time on this mortal plane, with no two sounding too alike. Notable influences on Boris are Sleep and The Melvins – which might explain their high yield of records – as well as Nick Cave and even Venom.

The best starting points for a Boris exploration are 2005’s ‘Pink’ –which is perhaps one of their more accessible albums for the casual listener, yet still full of their signature leaps and bounds – and both 2002’s ‘Heavy Rocks’ and 2011’s ‘Heavy Rocks II’ which sit on a more laid back, straight-up stoner rock scale. If you’re more into drone, why not start with the first few releases; or even better, ‘Alter’, a phenomenal collaborative double album with SunnO))). Or you may want to try something completely different, in which case enter the batshit crazy world of 2010’s ‘New Album’ – a blend of J-Pop, shoegaze, psyche and industrial metal. The point is, these guys can do anything, and do it bloody well!

So if you want your mind blown by a band who don’t only surprise you with what’s around the corner, but change the shape of the corner itself, then you must get yourself down to the Electric Ballroom on Sunday night and stand both slack-jawed and in awe. Oh, and if you’re still not convinced, they also incorporate a massive gong into their shows, which is reason enough to be there.

Kana: Tom Geddes

Weedeater Chomping at the Herbal Bit for DesertFest 2014

DesertFest is beyond pleased to announce Saturday night’s sub-headliners, North Carolina’s southern metal bad asses, Weedeater!

An uncompromising power-trio full of sludge, groove and straight-up metal, Weedeater’s aggressive, bone-crunching madness is quite a sight to behold on stage. Fronted by the manic, growling bassist, “Dixie” Dave Collins (also of Buzzov*en and Bongzilla fame), alongside fret-master Dave “Shep” Shepherd and former sticksman Keith “Keko” Kirkum, Weedeater introduced themselves to the world at large with 2001’s ‘…And Justice for Y’all’. What we got in that record was down-tuned, crashing ferocity; and boy did it feel good. The energy that pulsed through that LP was a jolt to the heart and a kick to the face and it’s a trend that followed right through 2002’s ‘Sixteen Tons’ and 2007’s ‘God Luck and Good Speed’ – the latter of which could find itself easily on many an album of the decade list.

Right around the time of the recording of the fourth LP, Weedeater shot themselves in the foot a little bit in the form of Dixie actually shooting himself in the foot. Gladly, a few months down the line – armed with one hell of an anecdote they gave us ‘Jason…The Dragon’, a slightly more experimental take on Weedeater. The brief appearance of banjo and organ appeared without the loss of any of their earthquaking noise to which we had become accustomed.

As clichéd as it might sound, whilst sublime on record, you just can’t capture the feel of Weedeater until you’ve seen them live; only when you’ve stared into Dixie’s “I’ve seen things” crazy eyes and been showered in the splintered remnants of drumsticks can you really get a grip on them. Must see is an understatement.

Sacred Rites: Tom Geddes

Boris, Heavy Rocks (2002 & 2011)

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Borracho Join Lineup for London Desertfest 2014

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I was flattered to be asked to write the announcement for D.C. riffers Borracho joining the 2014 Desertfest London lineup. For their first show abroad, they’ll support their 2013 sophomore outing, Oculus (review here), among the likes of Spirit Caravan, Kvelertak, Pombagira, The Machine, Elder and many more, which if you’re going to do it, definitely counts as doing it in style. Kudos to the trio. No doubt in my mind they’ll find welcome from the heavy contingent in Camden Town.

Here’s the announcement as it appears on the Desertfest website (in PR wire blue, even though I wrote it):

Borracho Head into the Eye of DesertFest 2014

Since the release of their 2011 debut full-length, ‘Splitting Sky’, Washington D.C.-based heavyweight riffers Borracho have been met with a tidal surge of praise for their burly but natural approach, built around their simple stated formula: “Heavy repetitive grooves.” They’ll make their first trip across the Atlantic to show their wares at DesertFest 2014!

In 2013, Borracho’s second album, ‘Oculus’, found them down a guitarist/vocalist but no less dedicated to Heavy. Fucking. Riffs. Constructed to highlight the centerpiece groove of ‘Stockpile’, the fuzz on ‘Oculus’ brought Borracho’s nodworthiness to another level; guitarist Steve Fisher stepping comfortably into the role of singer alongside the swaying rhythm section of bassist Tim Martin and drummer Mario Trubiano.

Says Fisher of playing DesertFest: “We couldn’t be more honoured to be joining our friends in Spirit Caravan and Sixty Watt Shaman to help represent the mid-Atlantic heavy scene in London this year. To kick off our first tour in Europe by being a part of an event like DesertFest is amazing and we look forward to seeing some old friends and fans, and making some new ones.

What can DesertFest expect from Borracho? Some of the US’ finest in up and coming underground heavy rock, shipped with much love and warm vibes straight from the Doom Capitol.

Kind Words: JJ Koczan

Borracho, Oculus (2013)

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Buried Treasure: Sam Gopal, Escalator (1969)

Posted in Buried Treasure on January 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Probably the most notable thing about Sam Gopal‘s Escalator when it was released in 1969 was that the band’s namesake percussionist substituted tabla for the standard rock drumkit. Not to take away from that, as it was an interesting turn for a London-based band even in that time of Eastern-influenced psychedelic rock becoming somewhat mainstreamed (Gopal himself was born in Malaysia), but if the group is something of a footnote today, it’s more because of vocalist/guitarist Ian Willis, who by the time he left Hawkwind to form Motörhead some six years later would adopt the universally-recognized moniker of Lemmy Kilmister.

Lemmy‘s involvement in Sam Gopal isn’t exactly a secret — prior to joining, he played guitar in Blackpool-based The Rockin’ Vickers from 1965-1967 and those seeking a sample of his work before and around Motörhead were afforded an easy opportunity with 2006′s Damage Case compilation — but neither is it widely advertised, and when he finally decides that Planet Earth isn’t cool enough to hold him and departs this mortal coil, Escalator isn’t likely to be mentioned as part of his considerable list of landmark or otherwise influential works. Still, for devotees of proto-heavy rock and psychedelia, the album has much to offer in the moody wanderings of “Grass” and sweet, pre-”Planet Caravan” vibe of “Angry Faces.”

With fellow guitarist Roger D’Elia and bassist Phil Duke, Lemmy brings a nascent fuzz to “The Dark Lord,” which was included on that Damage Case compilation no doubt for its theme as much as the song itself, but the bulk of Escalator is candlelit British psych, the subtly bass-driven “The Sky is Burning” having little time for the kind of raucous blues jamming Cream were doing at that point, “You’re Alone Now” aside, or even the swagger of Jimi Hendrix, for whom a young Lemmy famously roadied. Maybe Sam Gopal were a little behind the times, then, but if so, the distinction is moot since the album fits with its general era and precedes in both tone and execution the kind of heavy-rock-into-prog explosion that UFO, Uriah Heep, the second lineup of King Crimson and, indeed, Hawkwind were about to unleash on the UK rock scene as the likes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin made their way to megastardom behind Pink Floyd, who’d already been signed to a major label (EMI) for two years.

Hearing Escalator through a filter of hindsight is inevitable, but the stoned-out push of “You’re Alone Now” seems prescient in asking, “Can you hear me on the wind?/Are you thinking of what might have been?” and as much as Lemmy‘s presence dominates even though the vocals are mostly given to a rudimentary melodic garage-type drawl fitting to the music, the songs have value beyond novelty for anyone who’d take them on as part of a larger exploration through the roots of heavy. Putting Sam Gopal next to earliest Vanilla Fudge doesn’t seem inappropriate when they get into Donovan‘s “Season of the Witch” and rough it up a bit, but the sleaze that’s inevitably brought to the already-sleazy Doors cover “Back Door Man” — a bonus track on the 2010 Esoteric Recordings reissue — helps to give Escalator a personality of its own, as much of that might be wrapped up in a reading of the album through the Lemmy context.

It was that Esoteric Recordings reissue that I wound up with, following a recommendation that I check the record out because, with or without “the Motörhead dude,” it’s quality psych. I’ve found that to be precisely the case, and found that I’m drawn to repeat listens of Escalator not because of the personnel, but because of the songs they execute. If you’re not already familiar, give it some time to settle in.

Sam Gopal, Escalator (1969)

Esoteric Recordings

Motörhead’s website

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Desertfest 2014: The Cosmic Dead and Swamp Machine Added to London Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Desertfest continues to solidify. After the huge announcement of the hyper-sludged Human Disease Promo/When Planets Collide stage a couple weeks back and the addition of Kvelertak as a headliner for both the London and Berlin installments, London has confirmed appearances from Dutch heavy rockers Swamp Machine and Scottish space-jammers The Cosmic Dead for this year, making them just the latest acts to be absorbed into the Desertfest sphere alongside Spirit Caravan, Elder, Sixty Watt Shaman, The Machine, Samsara Blues Experiment and many more. It’s good company to keep, and rumor has it there’s still more to come.

While I catch my breath, here are the announcements for The Cosmic Dead and Swamp Machine, courtesy of the Desertfest website:

***DesertFest 2014 Raise The Cosmic Dead***

Next to join The DesertFest machine are The Cosmic Dead – one of those bands who you can get a handle on just from their name; a brutal lathering of psyched-out droning, proggy, experimental goodness that infects your eardrums with pure mind-bending pleasure.

Hailing from Glasgow – via the furthest reaches of both space and your mind – this cosmonautical quartet have been flying about the universe at a rate of several thousand light-years per second, crafting the perfect vibes since 2010. Firing out three perception-warping full lengths in the last three years – each of which debuted on that almost mythical of mediums, the cassette – along with several live releases and a split with Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, The Cosmic Dead seem committed to piping out those soul-warming tones. Having toured with Naam, Golden Void and Torche, as well as playing the hallowed grounds of Roadburn, the self-proclaimed ‘foremost Hawkwind tribute band’ leave no doubt towards their stellar live credentials either.

If you wish to travel through the 4th dimension of sound and reward your ears, don’t miss these guys when DesertFest rolls into town.

Kind Words: Tom Geddes

***Swamp Machine Switched On for DesertFest 2014***

Swamp Machine make their DesertFest debut in 2014 with their signature stoner rock. Yes, we love our stoner rock, so how do we distinguish all these wonderful bands from one another?

Well, whilst everyone has their own unique magic, these guys actually sound like a steamroller smashing through your living room. It’s heavy, it’s hard and it’s oh so sludgy.

Inspired by the swamps outside of their Dutch rehearsal studio, this Netherlands powerhouse encapsulates the very spirit of sludge – giving the listener the feeling they’re slowly sinking into the swampy marsh and loving every moment of it. They formed back in 2010, and have rocketed from strength to strength, supporting the likes of Karma to Burn, Wo-Fat, and Naam along the way.

We are honoured to have Swamp Machine really packing a punch to our 2014 line-up, and we’d implore any doom metal fan to be down the front for this one. You won’t be left high and dry.

Kind Words: Phil Davies

Below you can see a list of bands confirmed for this years festival…Still plenty of bands to be announced in the coming weeks…


The Cosmic Dead, Inner Sanctum (2013)

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Groan Slice and Dice in New Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The heat is hot. Don’t look for it to make sense, and don’t look for the live footage in Groan‘s new video to necessarily be in sync with the song. I guess it’s more about the vibe, which, incidentally, comes by the slice. Like I said: Don’t look for it to make sense.

They may have vibe by the slice, but they’ve got charm in bulk, and even when he’s got it wagging at the crowd, Groan vocalist Mazzereth‘s tongue still seems somehow to be in-cheek, so yeah, I’ll post another Groan video. I’ve yet to regret doing so, and as this one brings hints of a future European tour for Spring 2014 and features one of the catchiest tracks on their late-2013 EP, Ride the Snake (review here), alongside footage snagged while on the road supporting that EP, the good time is infectious.

Granted, I’m a pretty easy sell on Groan by now, but it’s good to know their mischief making will continue into 2014. What it might bring in terms of their sound, I don’t really know, but no matter where they’re headed, they always seem to be enjoying the crap out of it, which I guess is the whole point.

So have fun:

Groan, “Slice of that Vibe” official video

The UK’s premiere heavy metal boogie band Groan certainly pull all the stops when it comes to making hilarious videos and just about everything else. “Slice Of That Vibe,” the second video from Ride The Snake (streaming here), is no exception. Taken from live footage of their recent UK tour in support of the release of the EP, this video gives you a taste for the raucous, uninhibited, glam-stoner party that is a Groan show and the antics that go on behind the scenes.

Additionally, Groan are currently working on booking a spring 2014 European tour.

Groan on Thee Facebooks

Superhot Records

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Age of Taurus Added to Days of the Doomed IV Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

London-based heavyweights Age of Taurus, who formed in 2009 and made their full-length debut earlier in 2013 with Desperate Souls of Tortured Times on Rise Above/Metal Blade, have been announced as the first non-US band to take part in the Days of the Doomed festival. Days of the Doomed IV is set to be held June 20 and 21 at The Metal Grill in Cudahy, Wisconsin (formerly The Blue Pig), and Age of Taurus join the previously announced ranks of BlackfingerThe Mighty Nimbus and Wasted Theory, among others.

Full word from the fest follows here, complete with the band’s take and hinting at other North American dates around the Days of the Doomed appearance. Dig it:

One thing that has always eluded Days Of The Doomed Fest was a little European flavor. Well, that is about to end! You may have seen their album “Desperate Souls Of Tortured Times” on a lot of 2013 “Best Of” lists, and for just reason… it absolutely slays! So with that, it is an absolute honor to announce that Rise Above Records/Metal Blade recording artist Age of Taurus will be making the trip across the pond to join us at Days Of The Doomed Fest IV!!!

Says Age of Taurus:

We’re extremely proud to announce that we’ll be crossing the Atlantic next Summer for the Days of the Doomed Festival in Cudahy, Wisconsin! Set for the weekend of 20th-21st June, the fest is going to be a truly killer weekend of all things heavy!

We’re very grateful to Mercyful Mike for this great opportunity & it’s safe to say that we can’t wait to get over there!

In addition to the fest, we’ll also be playing some other US dates – more info to follow soon.

We’ll see you on the road….

Age of Taurus, “Embrace the Stone”

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Groan, Ride the Snake EP: By the Slice

Posted in Reviews on December 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

UK reefer metallers Groan don’t leave much room for ambivalence. With their new Superhot Records EP, Ride the Snake, as with their 2012 full-length, The Divine Right of Kings (review here), they demand declaration either of allegiance or antipathy over the course of five tracks, and if you haven’t climbed on board their debauched, medieval-themed fancy dress party boat yet, then chances are the chicanery on Ride the Snake cuts like “Women of Doom” and “Slice of that Vibe” isn’t going to win you over to their side. And if not, something tells me vocalist Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen, bassist Leigh Jones, guitarists Mike Pilat and Jimmy Beedham and drummer Zel Kaute would keep doing what they’re doing anyway, since nothing seems to have slowed them down up to this point with tongue-in-cheek rockstar shenanigans, including a slew of lineup changes around Maslen and Jones, who are the sole founding members remaining from Groan‘s 2010 debut, The Sleeping Wizard (review here). That a band would shift members in their earlier going isn’t such a surprise — it happens more often than not — but Groan seem to have a steady turnover rate of people in and out on drums and guitar. Both Kaute and Beedham came in as replacements for Chris West, who first switched from drums to guitar and then left altogether — he serves as engineer on Ride the Snake, so take “altogether” for what it’s worth — and Pilat is also a recent-enough addition to not have played on The Divine Right of Kings. If Groan‘s intent with these songs was to feel out the dynamic of their new lineup (I’m not sure if Beedham was a member yet when they recorded, though it’s possible), then at very least they still sound like Groan. From the second Maslen opens his mouth on opener “Women of Doom” and tops the stoner groove with his higher-register bark, you would not likely mistake them for anyone else. No matter how you want to look at it, that works in their favor.

Maslen‘s seemingly indomitable persona is a big part of what gives Groan their identity at this point, and he’s front and center on Ride the Snake, a crotchal thrust timed to the riff-led “Women of Doom,” his voice high in a spacious mix. Though he makes an unlikely champion for the feminist cause in underground metal, and the chorus “Make room for the women of doom/Take heed or they’ll blow out your mind/Make room for the women of doom/Their beauty will smack you blind” a likewise unlikely anthem, it’s a catchy chorus, and one of several on the EP, as “Drug Lord” and “Slice of that Vibe” share a similar mindset, and even “Blessed is My Blade,” which leans less on its chorus, winds up in a memorable boogie as Pilat‘s leads and Maslen‘s vocals (with backing accompaniment) duke it out at the song’s apex. At times, Groan straddle the line of making you wonder whether or not they’re taking themselves seriously, and though they usually wind up on the “nope” side of that equation, eight-minute closer “Citadel of Chaos” is another such example of their toying with heavy metal grandiosity. Pilat, as a solo player, is a fair match with Maslen‘s over-the-top methods, and while he adds that appeal to “Drug Lord,” “Women of Doom” and “Slice of that Vibe” as well — those three being more verse/chorus in their construction — with “Citadel of Chaos,” it’s as much the guitars as the vocals stepping out front. Should Pilat remain in the band over a longer term, it could be interesting to hear how that dynamic develops over the course of writing for a full-length, but the roots of it are in these songs waiting to be explored, and with Jones and Kaute providing a solid rhythmic drive for that to play out, Groan as they are now could turn into an entirely different band than they were a year ago. Which, you know, they kind of already have.

Read more »

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Posters for Desertfest Berlin & London 2014 Revealed

Posted in Visual Evidence on December 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Both of these are pretty badass and I didn’t figure anyone would complain, so I thought I’d put up the posters for Desertfest next year. Both London and Berlin have come out in the last couple days — you’d almost think it wasn’t a coincidence! — and though each has its own personality like the fests themselves, I think looking at either you know you’re getting a heavy show. Maybe I’m biased.

Malleus handled the London poster, and Ammo, from Belgium, the Berlin one. For Malleus, these are pretty regular themes — their affection for redheads goes way back and here brings to mind some of the exploits of Fanny Jo Stingray, may she rest in piece — and with Ammo’s the pencil grays and insane level of detail bring to mind a black and white take on Earth‘s The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, though obviously the color/lack thereof makes a huge difference.

Check them out and see what you think:

Desertfest London 2014 Poster by Malleus

We are pleased to be able to unveil Desertfest 2014′s awesome limited addition screen print poster, created by the equally awesome Malleus. Malleus is a poster art trio featuring Poia and Urlo of UFOMAMMUT and we just couldn’t help get them involved again. The prints will be available next week to pre order at £20 and of course will be available at the festival.

We are also excited to be announcing the Human Disease/When When Planets Collide stage on Thursday. Expect a heavy underworld line up…

Desertfest Berlin 2014 Poster by Ammo

We are thrilled to unveil our official poster for DESERTFEST BERLIN 2014, made by the Brussels-based guy AMMO!! We really dig it, and we hope you too!

You will discover more about AMMO through an interview that will be published soon, but meanwhile, you can check his past work on!

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Sixty Watt Shaman to Play London Desertfest 2014

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

News continues to surface about 2014′s Sixty Watt Shaman reunion, in that in addition to putting out new music and performing at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 next May in Worcester, MA, the reinvigorated Maryland rockers will be joining Spirit Caravan in representing the Free State at Desertfest in London. There’s a fun bit of symmetry there, with both bands reuniting. They put out a split together in 1999, so here they are a decade and a half later. The more things change.

Riffs will be had! Find the announcement below, courtesy of the Desertfest website, with words by Rich from The Day After the Sabbath:


Sixty Watt Shaman are back! Back, that is, from an important time in stoner rock history when the southern rock infusions of bands like The Mighty Nimbus and Alabama Thunderpussy were ruling.

SWS started in 1996 in Maryland, quickly becoming an established name in underground rock but live have remained a growing concern since their third and final 2002 album with only very occasional live appearances.

The Shaman’s sound is characterised by soulful grooves, husky vocals and whiskey-drenched attitude, born from the collective experience of guys who know a thing or two about life and have put that wisdom into the form of swaggering riffs and swinging rhythm. Over the years they’ve toured the US with Nebula, Spirit Caravan, Black Label Society, Crowbar, Clutch, Corrosion Of Conformity, Alabama Thunderpussy and toured Europe with Karma To Burn.

Joining the original Sixty Watt Shaman line-up of vocalist/guitarist Dan Soren, bassist Rev Jim Forrester and drummer Chuck Dukehart III, Todd Ingram from King Giant is initiated into the gang as their new lead guitarist to help hone their sound to even higher levels and take them back into the studio. At DesertFest 2014 they will be delivering the goods with a set of well-proven classics, along with some new surprises to celebrate this seasoned outfit’s new burst of life.

Sixty Watt Shaman, “My Ruin” from Reason to Live (2002)

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Blues Pills and The Midnight Ghost Train Added to London Desertfest 2014

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Desertfest continues to take shape in London as the 2014 lineup grows. Yesterday, Blues Pills joined the lineup, and today it’s The Midnight Ghost Train, who presumably will accompany their performance by no less than 18 straight months on the road, since that’s how they do. They join a varied assemblage of acts that ranges from The Body to Spirit Caravan, so I think it’s safe to say that the 2014 installment will be the most sonically diverse yet.

The following announcements were swiped from the Desertfest website and the copy comes courtesy of Cat Jones. Dig:

DesertFest 2014 Take the Blues Pills

Blues Pills are the ultimate example of the return of pure, unadulterated blues in the modern age.

Elin Larsson, Cory Berry, Zack Anderson and Dorian Sorriaux come from three different sections of the globe: Sweden, America and France, and were drawn together over shared talent and the magic that comes along with playing the blues from the heart.

With Elin’s voice sounding like an even more powerful Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin combined mixed with warm, retro tones and knock-you-on-your-back guitar solos, Blues Pills’ new EP ‘Devil Man’ sounds akin to an amped-up Jimi Hendrix or Cream. You could even say it’s what Graveyard might sound like if they had a pair of ear-blasting female lungs at the helm. Either way, this is exactly what we need in order to keep resurrecting the heart of rock ‘n’ roll; which is, after all, what DesertFest is all about.

The Midnight Ghost Train’s wheels to screech at DesertFest 2014

Once upon a time, at the height of Tom Waits’ career, he grew weary of touring and decided to regain his strength for a bit by disappearing into the dry, tornado-ridden southern plains of the States where the women are kind and the whiskey runs rampant like a flood.

As he stumbled home on a particularly overindulgent night, he befriended a band of smiling, bearded ruffians who handed him a copy of Kyuss’ ‘Blues For The Red Sun’ plus an ounce of their finest weed and said, “Take this and call us in the morning.” Needless to say, Waits was floored by the heavy grooves and vowed to devote his life to heavy rock ‘n’ roll. And that, boys and girls, is how The Midnight Ghost Train came into existence.

Clearly none of the aforementioned is true, but with the tunes on the Topeka, Kansas natives’ new EP ‘Buffalo’ as simultaneously gravelly, heavy, bluesy and downright dirty as they are, it all might as well be. Plus, ‘Buffalo’ is a definite contender for “sexiest cover art of 2013”. And after a successful stint of European touring under their belts already this year, we have no doubt these guys will fit in perfectly at DesertFest 2014.

The Midnight Ghost Train, Live at Roadburn 2013

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Groan Release Ride the Snake EP; Touring this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve done a pretty lousy job in keeping the secret that I dig Groan. Though their lineup has seen some consistent shakeup over the last couple years and their sound has gone from fuzzed-out stoner idolatry to classic metal grandiosity, what’s remained at their core is a propensity for unabashed good times. That’s as true as ever on Ride the Snake, their latest EP and the follow-up to last year’s The Divine Right of Kings full-length (review here). I’ll have a review in the next couple weeks, but the EP is out today on Superhot Records and Groan will be supporting it on tour the next couple days (frontman Mazzereth is ready to go as you can see above), so it seemed only fair to mark the occasion, being a fan and all.

The PR wire has it like this:

Groan’s Ride The Snake EP is out now!

UK tour starts tomorrow!

Hope you’re all having a great week. Groan’s EP has officially been released on the Superhot Records Bandcamp page HERE and is available in digital download or CD. You’ll also find UK tour dates listed below.

After an incredible live show at London’s Desertfest 2013, the band returns with an all new lineup: founding members Mazzereth (vocals) and Leigh Jones (bass) are now joined by Mike Pilat (ex-Ocean Collective) and James Beedham on guitar with Zel Kaute (ex-Pettybone, Vodun) smashing the skins. The band self-produced, recorded and mixed a new five track EP named Ride the Snake with former drummer and guitarist Chris West that will be released on December 10th through Superhot Records, with a UK tour to follow that week, too.

11th Dec – Manchester – Star & Garter w/ Ovvl, Ten Foot Wizard, Molly Bloom (Facebook Event)
12th Dec – London – The Windmill, Brixton w/ Sons of Merrick, XII Boar, Vodun (Facebook Event)
13th Dec – Birmingham – Scruffy Murphy’s w/ Iron Hearse, Mage (Facebook Event)
14th Dec – Edinburgh – Bannerman’s w/ Bacchus Baracus, Atragon, Isak (Facebook Event)


Groan, Ride the Snake (2013)

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Stubb Sign to Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

This is some of the best news I’ve seen in a while: Good band signs to good label. In the case of UK heavy rockers Stubb and Ripple Music, it’s a perfect match. They were made for each other, and though it’s a ways down in the press release, you’ll also note that when Stubb head into the studio come January to record the follow-up to their righteously fuzzed 2012 self-titled debut (review here), they’ll do so at Skyhammer Studios, which is the recording space owned and built by Jon Davis of Conan, who seems to be wasting no time leaving a mark on the UK scene beyond even the considerable footprint of his own band.

Definitely one to watch for come the New Year. Look out for more as we get closer to the release date (including when that might be), and check out the announcement below in the meantime. Kudos to all parties involved:

UK Retro-power Rockers STUBB Sign Worldwide Deal With Ripple Music

RIPPLE MUSIC is proud to announce the signing of acclaimed, hard-hitting UK-based retro-heavy rockers, STUBB to their ever-expanding roster!

Stubb was formed in 2006 with Jack Dickinson on guitar and vocals, Aaron O’Sullivan on drums and Isa Bruni on bass. The power trios of the late 60′s and early 70′s were the blueprint for their loud driving, fuzzed up heavy blues rock. In 2009, Chris West joined on drums and Peter Holland on bass (both also members of Trippy Wicked), solidifying the first classic line-up. The band recorded their first full length album for Chris West’s label Superhot Records, and hit the road, gigging with such heavy rock luminaries as the Gentlemans Pistols, Firebird, Cherry Choke, Steak, Sungrazer and The Machine as well as appearing at Desertfest to a packed house Purple Turtle. Making the trip over to Europe twice with Stone Axe from the USA further cemented Stubb’s reputation as a solid live act with some serious chops.

“We are delighted to be signing with Ripple Music, who are one of the hardest working independent labels on the scene,” Dickinson said. “To be alongside the likes of Mos Generator, Mothership, Stone Axe and Grifter as labelmates is an honour and a pleasure. The new record will bring you the sound of Stubb that along with a whole load of new shades and surprises. We hope to come and play in front of new audiences and treat you all to the loud sound of three guys doing what they love.”

With the departure of Chris West, the band recruited Tom Fyfe (ex-Olde Crone) as the new drummer. Tom brings another new sound to the powerful rhythm section as they prepare to head to Skyhammer Studios with Chris Fielding, January 26 – 30 to record their Ripple Music debut. The album will mixed and mastered by Mos Generator’s Tony Reed at Heavy Head Studios, guaranteeing a sonic explosion of heaviness.

For the growing legions of Ripple fans, known as the Waveriders, Stubb will be another must-hear addition to the ranks of bands that already include such heavy rockers as Mos Generator, Devil to Pay, Mothership, Trucker Diablo and Ape Machine. You can bet that the combination of Stubb and Ripple Music will be a combustible mixture!

Be sure to catch Stubb live:
11/29 @ Hard Rock Hell Festival – Wales

Stubb, Under a Spell 7″ (2013)

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