Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
What does a Witchfinder General Finder find? He finds Witchfinders General. Or maybe he finds the band Witchfinder General, I don’t know. I haven’t heard the song yet. Maybe London’s Groan — who’ll release their new EP, Highrospliffics, as a free download through Bandcamp on March 23 — are working on a “Whatever Happened to Celtic Frost?” kind of thing. Or maybe I’m overthinking it. I don’t know, but it’ll be fun to find out. With Groan, the safer bet is always that shenanigans will ensue.
Highrospliffics will be the first new Groan release since 2013’s Ride the Snake EP (review here) offered vibe by the slice. Details follow from the PR wire, including the tracklisting, which, if you were wondering what the hell I was talking about in the paragraph above, should have some answers:
GROAN: Cheeky English Doom ‘N’ Rollers Announce New EP, Highrospliffics, Out Via FREE Download March 23
The cheekiest of party-doom bands, London’s GROAN, have confirmed themselves as the number one party-stoner band in the UK and returned with a new EP, Highrospliffics (recorded by Sam Thredder of Slabdragger), which will be available via FREE digital download on March 23 via the group’s Bandcamp.
TRACK LISTING: 1. Run Out Of Fucks 2. Witchfinder General Finder 3. March Of The Druids 4. Buried In Leather
If you’re a stranger to the Spinal Tap-esque history of Groan, here it is: Groan were formed in 2010 and put a few demos online that rapidly caught the stoner/doom scene’s attention. They released their first album, The Sleeping Wizard, on Doomanoid Records that year. The band soon earned a reputation as an exciting, entertaining and completely ridiculous force live, with charismatic (and generally barefoot) lead singer Mazzereth acting as ringmaster general at gigs. Confused and amused fans soon grew to know this group as a party-doom band that is high and giggling, not a stoner rock band that is tuned-out and derivative.
In the nine months after the album was released, the band played live all over the country, smoked the GDP of a small African nation, wrote off a brand new Ferrari California, decorated their rehearsal room with gifts from hookers, and even split up and re-formed in a day. After a split EP with Finnish doomers Vinum Sabbatum in 2011, Groan‘s second album was released in 2012 by Dutch label Soulseller Records, The Divine Right of Kings, to great critical acclaim.
With new members Zel Kaute (Vodun, ex-Pettybone) and Mike Pilat (ex-Ocean Collective) joining on drums and guitar respectively, the band took a heavy metal sidestep with their five track EP, Ride the Snake, in late 2013. With yet another new lineup in 2014, Groan went back into the studio with founder members Mazzereth (vocals) and Leigh Jones (bass) joined by long-time drummer Zel Kaute and new guitarist Lindsay Hamilton. Across their five releases, Groan have proven their ability to write songs that marry catchy hooks with heavy riffs and plan to dominate 2015 with the release of Highrospliffics and the destruction of many live music venues.
GROAN IS: Mazzereth – Vocals Leigh Jones – Bass Lindsay Hamilton – Guitar Zel Kaute – Drums
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Desertfest London 2015 has added two more acts to its already remarkable lineup. Youngin’ Swedish rockers Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus impressed last year with their Small Stone label debut, Spirit Knife (review here), while Belgium’s Moaning Cities‘ 2014 release, Pathways through the Sail, only came to my attention when the four-piece was recently added to the Roadburn lineup, but made an impression at the time and has warranted several revisits since.
The two acts join a huge roster of bands, where even four lines down on the poster it’s like you’re still looking at headliners (as you can see below), from Red Fang and Sleep and Eyehategod to The Atomic Bitchwax, My Sleeping Karma and Black Pyramid, and the announcements from Desertfest make it official:
JEREMY IRONS & THE RATGANG MALIBUS TO ROAR LIKE SCAR AT DESERTFEST 2015!
JEREMY IRONS & THE RATGANG MALIBUS, IS ASTRAL-PROGRESSIVE PRAIRIE ROCK WITH AUTHENTIC, AUDIO-VISUAL ROOTS IN A 1970S MUSIC LANDSCAPE.
This band is the musical, northwest passage between classic rock and the unholy spirit of Pink Floyd.
It’s like finding an interstellar sound portal to a hidden space desert, that only can be seen and heard through a kaleidoscope, which is blessed by a spiritual shaman from Saturn.
The band’s latest album “Spirit Knife” is perhaps the ultimate record for inner and outer road tripping beyond all boundaries. But have no fear of getting lost, the soundscape and the groove serves as your existential guide and compass, through the purple mist of the desert.
MOANING CITIES TO SOOTHE CAMDEN’S DESPAIR AT DESERTFEST 2015!
FORMED IN 2011, MOANING CITIES ARE A YOUNG BRUSSELS-BASED QUARTET WHO RELEASED THEIR DEBUT LP LAST YEAR, ‘PATHWAYS THROUGH THE SAIL’.
The band comes from the ’60s psych revival end of the scene; think The Doors, 13th Floor Elevators, Baby Woodrose, The Heads and Wooden Shjips, or even some acts closer to home like Ride and The Stone Roses. Vocalist Valérian Meunier is especially reminiscent of the honest approach of singers like Ian Brown and Richard Ashcroft of The Verve.
The band have another strong element to them: their love of North African and Middle-Eastern instruments. On stage they wrap many of their songs in a blissed-out haze, with Timothée Sinagra’s hypnotic sitar and Melissa Morales’ ethnic percussion. They know how to wig-out too, fuzz rockers like lead single ‘Bread and Games’ will get your ass moving on the dance floor.
A nice diversion from the doom and sludge at the heavier end the festival experience, Moaning Cities will get London howling with satisfaction at this years’ DesertFest.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’re getting to the point now where, after a couple months of one-at-a-time lineup adds, the April festivals have really taken their shape and we can step back and take a look at what each has to offer. In the case of Desertfest London, this is both a year of branching out stylistically — Angel Witch, SSS, Satanic Dystopia and Cancer in the lineup isn’t a small turn from the “desert” part of the festival’s name — and looking geographically inward, bringing in UK acts like Sweet Billy Pilgrim, Amplifier, Sex Swing, Amulet, Sly and the Family Drone and others to reaffirm their commitment to English heavy amid a still-international lineup, to which Sweden’s The Order of Israfel and New Orleans’ Mike IX Williams – who’s also headlining with Eyehategod – have just been added.
Updates from the Desertfest website:
BOW IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL AT DESERTFEST 2015!
COMBINING DOOM, HARD ROCK AND FOLK, THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL MAY BE A RELATIVELY NEW NAME IN THE DOOM SCENE…
…but with an acclaimed debut album under their belts, a hectic touring schedule and plenty of pedigree in their ranks, we’re delighted to welcome them to bring the noise at DesertFest 2015!
The brainchild of Tom Sutton (ex-Church of Misery, Horisont), the songs that would make up The Order of Israfel’s debut album ‘Wisdom’ were written over the course of a decade, but the band only came together when Sutton made the move to Gothenburg in 2012 where he was joined by former members of the appropriately named DoomDogs. Uniting in a shared love of all things Sabbath, the band quickly gelled and recorded their debut for Napalm Records.
But don’t just expect all-out Sabbath grooves from these guys because The Order of Israfel bring plenty of soul and a technical edge to their unique brand of doom.
Kind Words: Tom McKibbin
MIKE IX WILLIAMS SPEAKS OUT AT DESERTFEST 2015!
AS A BONUS TREAT FOR YOU ALL, DESERTFEST HAVE COOKED UP SOMETHING A LITTLE OUT OF THE ORDINARY; MIKE IX WILLIAMS OF EYEHATEGOD FAME WILL BE PRESENTING HIS SPOKEN WORD SET.
Williams is someone who has had an interesting life to say the least; with the ups of fronting Eyehategod come the downs of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, so it is no surprise that he can craft deep, dark prose. Backed on record by the ambient tones of Ryan McKern, the pure darkness of mere words can even sometimes feel heavier than the most crushing doom.
Definitely one of the more unique spectacles at this years DesertFest, Williams’ words could be the most brutal thing you hear all weekend.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Limited to 2,000 copies, The Pretty Things‘ new box set, is nothing if not encompassing. With 13 CDs, 2 DVDs, a 10″ vinyl, hardcover book, collection of legal documents and more, it has just about the entire life’s work of the UK band, who released their first album, The Pretty Things, in 1965, plus rare demos and outtakes and live stuff and much more. Not sure if there’s anything from their alter-ego, Electric Banana, but if you’re a Pretty Things fan, there should still be plenty to keep you busy.
The PR wire sends details and the overwhelming tracklisting. Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky is out Feb. 23 on Madfish Records and is available to preorder now:
Bouquets From A Cloudy Sky: The Complete Pretty Things Collection
Release Date: February 23rd 2015
For over fifty years, The Pretty Things have proudly, unapologetically and righteously scorched their own, unique trail through contemporary music. A half-century (plus) of the raunchiest white-boy rhythm and blues, of punch-ups, dazzling highs and epic struggles, of innovation and exultation, lauded by their peers, vilified by authority, a crucial influence on successive generations of acts, The Pretty Things make it to the mid twenty teens with mojo intact and edge unblunted.
It is with great pleasure that the career of this epochal British rock ’n’ roll band is justly celebrated by way of Bouquets From A Cloudy Sky, a lavish multi-media Box Set that contains the following:
ELEVEN STUDIO ALBUMS ON CD – housed in gatefold digi-sleeves, including FORTY-TWO bonus tracks
TWO BONUS CDs with FORTY-FIVE previously unreleased demos, alternate versions, live recordings and outtakes
TWO DVDs with new documentary Midnight to Six 1965-1970, by acclaimed producers REELIN’ IN THE YEARS, plus SF Sorrow Live At Abbey Road, The Pretty Things On Film, plus promo videos and interviews
10-INCH VINYL REPLICA ‘ACETATE’, featuring Defecting Grey full length demo and Turn My Head (studio version), plus 2 previously unreleased tracks
LAVISHLY ILLUSTRATED 100-PAGE HARDBACK BOOK, featuring a comprehensive band history penned by Mike Stax (editor of Ugly Things magazine), with rare photos and memorabilia
FAMILY TREE & TESTIMONIAL POSTERS – tracing the band from Little Boy Blue & The Blue Boys and The Rolling Stones to the present day, and featuring hand-written messages from Pretty Things past and present
COURT CASE HISTORY – excerpts from confidential legal files from the band’s ground-breaking battles to retrieve their rights and songs
BRAND NEW ART PRINT BY PHIL MAY – the original of which will be randomly placed in one lucky set!
BOUQUETS FROM A CLOUDY SKY will be released on Monday, February 23rd 2015 on the Madfish label (www.madfishmusic.com).
The Pretty Things have clocked up many notable ‘firsts’ in the glorious half-century, including The first Brit rock ‘n’ roll drug bust The first banned single (Don’t Bring Me Down, 1964) The first rock ‘n’ roll prosecution of a loaded firearm The first band to record a five-minute single (Defecting Grey) The first band to record a Rock Opera (‘SF Sorrow’, 1968) The first UK band to win a Rolling Stone ‘Record of the Year’ (‘Parachute’, 1970) First band to be signed to the Swansong label (Led Zeppelin’s imprint) First band to win the Mojo Hero Award!
THE GREATEST ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BAND YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF!
Box Set Full Tracklist
Rarities CD 1: 1 Don’t Bring Me Down (Live On The Beat Room 1964) [2:16] 2 Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Live On The Beat Room 1964) [3:26] 3 Johnny B. Goode (Live On The Beat Room 1964) [1:42] 4 Cry To Me (Alternate Version) [2:44] 5 Photographer (Rough Mix From Acetate) [2:12] 6 Bright Lights Of The City (Demo) [3:00] 7 Out In The Night (Demo) [2:39] 8 One Long Glance (Demo) [2:55] 9 Children (Alternate Version) [3:02] 10 Defecting Grey (Alternate Mix) [3:12] 11 Why (Live In Hyde Park) [6:16] 12 She Says Good Morning (Live At The Paradiso, Amsterdam) [3:41] 13 Alexander (Live At The Paradiso, Amsterdam) [3:29] 14 Renaissance Fair (Live At The Paradiso, Amsterdam) [2:13] 15 S.F. Sorrow Is Born (Live At The Paradiso, Amsterdam) [3:34] 16 You Might Even Say (Philippe Debarge Sessions) [4:01] 17 Eagle’s Son (Philippe Debarge Sessions) [3:00] 18 Graves Of Grey (Philippe Debarge Sessions) [0:50] 19 It`ll Never Be (Philippe Debarge Sessions) [04:33] 20 Scene One (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [01:15] 21 The Good Mr. Square (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [04:33] 22 She Was Tall, She Was High (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [00:56] 23 In The Square/The Letter (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [03:41] 24 Rain (Westbourbe Terrace Demo) [03:20] 25 Cries From The Midnight Circus (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [03:53]
Rarities CD 2: 1 I’d Love Her If I Knew What To Do (Version 1 – Westbourne Terrace Demo) [2:16] 2 Seen Her Face Before (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [1:24] 3 Everything You Do Is Fine (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [4:07] 4 Cold Stone (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [3:28] 5 You Never Told Me Lies (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [2:04] 6 Take A Look At Me (Westbourne Terrace Demo) [4:12] 7 Wild And Free (Demo) [3:42] 8 I’d Love Her If I Knew What To Do (Version 2 – Demo) [1:39] 9 Spider Woman (BBC Radio Session) [4:32] 10 Route 66 (Live At The Hippodrome) [2:52] 11 Joey (Mono US Single Mix) [3:02] 12 Monster Club [3:51] 13 Cause And Effect [3:09] 14 Holding Onto Love (Outtake) [6:07] 15 You Can`t Judge A Book [3:01] 16 Chain Of Fools [4:53] 17 No Questions [4:20] 18 It’s All Over Now Baby Blue (Outtake) [4:04] 19 Hoochie Coochie Man (Outtake) [5:44] 20 Look Away Now (Outtake) [5:15] 21 Helter Skelter [4:54]
DVD 1: Midnight To Six, The Pretty Things 1965-70, produced by Reelin’ in the Years [2 hours duration] Bonus Material: The Pretty Things. On Film [13:00] Rosalyn (Promo Video) [2:20] Eve Of Destruction (Promo Video) [3:03]
DVD 2: S.F. Sorrow – Live At Abbey Road [1 hour]
10? Replica ‘Acetate’: Side 1: 1 Defecting Grey (Full Length Demo from acetate) (5:10) 2 Turn My Head (Demo) (2:34) Side 2: 1 Don’t Bring Me Down (Previously Unreleased Version) (1:40) 2 I Can Never Say (1:58)
Studio Album Tracklist The Pretty Things (1965): 1 Roadrunner [3:12] 2 Judgement Day [2:46] 3 13 Chester Street [2:22] 4 Big City [2:01] 5 Unknown Blues [3:48] 6 Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut [3:23] 7 Honey, I Need [1:59] 8 Oh Baby Doll [3:01] 9 She`s Fine She’s Mine [4:24] 10 Don’t Lie To Me [3:53] 11 The Moon Is Rising [2:33] 12 Pretty Thing [1:38] Bonus Tracks: 13 Rosalyn [2:18] 14 Big Boss Man [2:36 ] 15 Don’t Bring Me Down [02:08 ] 16 We’ll Be Together [2:08 ] 17 I Can Never Say [3:36 ] 18 Get Yourself Home [2:18 ]
Get The Picture? (1965): 1 You Don’t Believe Me [2:22] 2 Buzz The Jerk [1:54] 3 Get The Picture? [1:55] 4 Can’t Stand The Pain [2:41] 5 Rainin’ In My Heart [2:30] 6 We’ll Play House [2:33] 7 You`ll Never Do It Baby [2:26] 8 I Had A Dream [2:58] 9 I Want Your Love [2:16] 10 London Town [2:26] 11 Cry To Me [2:51] 12 Gonna Find Me A Substitute [2:57] Bonus Tracks: 13 Get A Buzz [4:01] 14 Sittin’ All Alone [2:47] 15 Midnight To Six Man [2:19] 16 Me Needing You [1:58] 17 Come See Me [2:39] 18 L. S. D. [02:24]
Emotions (1967): 1 Death Of A Socialite [2:41] 2 Children [3:01] 3 The Sun [3:04] 4 There Will Never Be Another Day [2:19] 5 House Of Ten [2:49] 6 Out In The Night [2:40] 7 One Long Glance [2:52] 8 Growing In My Mind [2:19] 9 Photographer [02:07] 10 Bright Lights Of The City [3:02] 11 Tripping [3:22] 12 My Time [3:05] Bonus Tracks: 13 A House In The Country [3:01] 14 Progress [2:58] 15 Photographer [2:15] 16 There Will Never Be Another Day [2:26] 17 My Time [3:11] 18 The Sun [3:04] 19 Progress [2:42]
S.F.Sorrow (1968): 1 S.F. Sorrow Is Born [3:15] 2 Bracelets Of Fingers [3:38] 3 She Says Good Morning [3:30] 4 Private Sorrow [3:50] 5 Balloon Burning [3:49] 6 Death [3:11] 7 Baron Saturday [4:02] 8 The Journey [2:42] 9 I See You [3:53] 10 Well Of Destiny [1:46] 11 Trust [2:47] 12 Old Man Going [3:07] 13 Loneliest Person [1:27] Bonus Tracks: 14 Defecting Grey [4:33] 15 Mr. Evasion [3:30] 16 Talkin’ About The Good Times [3:46] 17 Walking Through My Dreams [3:37]
Parachute (1970): 1 Scene One [1:51] 2 The Good Mr. Square [1:27] 3 She Was Tall, She Was High [1:36] 4 In The Square [1:55] 5 The Letter [1:39] 6 Rain [2:29] 7 Miss Fay Regrets [3:28] 8 Cries From The Midnight Circus [6:28] 9 Grass [4:20] 10 Sickle Clowns [6:36] 11 She`s A Lover [3:32] 12 What`s The Use [1:45] 13 Parachute [3:52] Bonus Tracks: 14 Blue Serge Blues [3:58] 15 October 26 [5:00] 16 Cold Stone [3:15] 17 Stone-Hearted Mama [3:52] 18 Summer Time [4:32] 19 Circus Mind [2:03]
Freeway Madness (1970): 1 Love Is Good [6:53] 2 Havana Bound [3:57] 3 Peter [1:27] 4 Rip Off Train [3:18] 5 Over The Moon [4:31] 6 Religion’s Dead [4:14] 7 Country Road [4:48] 8 Allnight Sailor [1:57] 9 Onion Soup [3:49] 10 Another Bowl? [2:54] Bonus Tracks: 11 Religion’s Dead (Live Lyceum 1973) [4:48] 12 Havana Bound (Live Lyceum 1973) [4:20] 13 Love Is Good (Live Lyceum 1973) [6:43] 14 Onion Soup (Live Lyceum 1973) [8:28]
Silk Torpedo (1974): 1 Dream / Joey [6:46] 2 Maybe You Tried [4:20] 3 Atlanta [2:41] 4 L. A. N. T. A. [2:24] 5 Is It Only Love [5:05] 6 Come Home Momma [3:41] 7 Bridge Of God [4:57] 8 Singapore Silk Torpedo [5:12] 9 Belfast Cowboys [6:55] Bonus Tracks: 10 Singapore Silk Torpedo (Live Santa Monica 1974) [7:06] 11 Dream / Joey (Live Santa Monica 1974) [7:21]
Savage Eye (1976): 1 Under The Volcano [6:02] 2 My Song [5:09] 3 Sad Eye [4:29] 4 Remember That Boy [5:02] 5 It Isn’t Rock ‘n’ Roll [3:58] 6 I’m Keeping [3:58] 7 It’s Been So Long [5:04] 8 Drowned Man [4:23] 9 Theme For Michelle [1:46] Bonus Tracks: 10 Tonight [3:06] 11 Love Me A Little [3:11] 12 Dance All Night [2:54]
Cross Talk (1980): 1 I’m Calling [4:07] 2 Edge Of The Night [3:20] 3 Sea Of Blue [3:14] 4 Lost That Girl [2:50] 5 Bitter End [3:17] 6 Office Love [4:12] 7 Falling Again [0:20] 8 It’s So Hard [3:15] 9 She Don’t [4:08] 10 No Future [4:29] 11 Wish Fulfillment [3:06] 12 Sea About Me [3:23] 13 The Young Pretenders [4:06]
Rage Before Beauty (1999): 1 Passion Of Love [3:22] 2 Vivian Prince [5:15] 3 Everlasting Flame [3:46] 4 Love Keeps Hanging On [8:55] 5 Eve Of Destruction [3:03] 6 Not Givin’ In [4:02] 7 Pure Cold Stone [5:47] 8 Blue Turns To Red [4:01] 9 Goodbye, Goodbye [2:45] 10 Goin’ Downhill [4:12] 11 Play With Fire [4:07] 12 Fly Away [4:31] 13 Mony Mony [4:45] 14 God Give Me The Strength (To Carry On) [6:03]
Balboa Island (2007): 1 The Beat Goes On [4:10] 2 Buried Alive [3:35] 3 Livin’ In My Skin [3:59] 4 (Blues For) Robert Johnson [8:01] 5 Pretty Beat [2:52] 6 In The Beginning [4:42] 7 Mimi [2:34] 8 Feel Like Goin’ Home [2:43] 9 The Ballad Of Hollis Brown [6:28] 10 Freedom Song [4:46] 11 Dearly Beloved [4:59] 12 All Light Up [4:30] 13 Balboa Island [4:42]
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 7th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Put into position headlining Saturday night April 25 along with Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, New Orleans sludge progenitors Eyehategod continue to reap acclaim — and, presumably, souls — from their long-awaited 2014 self-titled studio return. They’ll be in good company at Desertfest in London, along with Orange Goblin, the aforementioned Bjork, Sleep and Red Fang, all of whom prove worthy headliners for a fest of increasing diversity and prestige.
The announcement came through on GMT with verbiage by Tom Geddes:
EYEHATEGOD TO CO-HEADLINE SATURDAY NIGHT AT DESERTFEST 2015!!
ARE SLEEP NOT ENOUGH DOOMY SLUDGE FOR YOUR SET OF 2015 HEADLINERS? DIDN’T THINK SO.
That’s why DesertFest are ecstatic to announce that Eyehategod will be co-headlining the Saturday of this year’s festival, alongside Brant Bjork & The Low Desert Punk Band!
One of the cornerstones of the sludge scene since their formation in 1988, EHG have been front and centre ever since. Announcing their presence to the world with 1992?s ‘In the Name of Suffering’ and following sharply in the next year with the blistering ‘Take as Needed for Pain’, the riffs and groove of Sabbath were there, but with a colossal punch and a weight that were simply beyond heavy. Add into the mix Mike Williams’ signature snarls and EHG were always onto something special. ‘Dopesick’ and ‘Confederacy of Ruined Lives’ followed in 1996 and 2000 respectively and only added to the legendary catalogue of Eyehategod.
After a studio album drought of 14 years, last year saw the self-titled release of ‘Eyehategod’, which wasn’t so much a return to form as it was a raising of the bar. Full of power and forays into hardcore throughout without losing much of the slow, dirty sludge riffing; we may have had to wait, but this was anything but a Chinese Democracy-style disappointment.
A rare live treat over the last decade, with touring being sparse, Eyehategod are must see at DesertFest 2015. Miss this chance and you may be kicking yourself for a long, long time to come. Kind Words: Tom Geddes
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s just 54 seconds, so by no means does the snippet unveiled today of UK space metallers Enos‘ “Son of a Gun” offer a definitive glimpse at the track, which features a second drummer and guest vocals alongside the four-piece and will serve as their portion of a split 7″ with Mangoo due early in 2015 on H42 Records, but it’s a suitable teaser anyway since it makes me want to hear the rest of the song. Enos are also working on their third album and the follow-up to 2012’s All too Human, which hopefully will be out by the end of the New Year as well, lest my timing prove wrong for including it in my anticipated-albums notes. That list will be out in a week or two. Enos will be on it.
Until then, the news:
New year, new release, more gigs!
So, it’s been quite a while since we’ve posted here but fear not, we’ve been keeping ourselves busy. A few of you may have noticed that we’ve been a bit quiet on the gig front recently, there’s a reason for that! Work on our third record is coming along very well. We’ve been writing and demoing tracks over the past couple of months (any of you who came to one of our shows in 2014 will have heard one or two of them. We started airing a couple on tour with Abrahma and Mother Corona back in March). We’re quickly closing in on the point where we will be ready to commit them to tape, we’ll keep you posted!
If you simply can’t wait then we have something to keep you going! Over the summer we spent a bit of time in the studio recording a track for a split 7? with Mangoo. Due out in the spring this release will be out as a limited edition via H42 Records and features exclusive artwork by the talented Alex Von Wieding on both sides (Alex is responsible for the artwork on All Too Human). As this is a special release we decided to push the boat out with this track. Son Of A Gun features Sam Dorrell of Left Arm Pregnant (who also stepped in for Sparky on our European tour with Mangoo and Rescue Rangers in 2013) joining Sparky for some double drum kit action. We also recruited Sigrid Jakobson (whose vocals appear on Collisions and Obscured on All Too Human) for some backing vocals. Son Of A Gun was recorded at Empora Studios and produced by Mark Roberts. Here’s a snippet….
And now for some gigs….
We’re very happy to say that we’ll be starting 2015 with a couple of shows (where you will no doubt be hearing some of our new material). First off we’ll be taking to the stage at The Macbeth in Hoxton on the 20th January alongside Slabdragger, Trippy Wicked and The Cosmic Children of The Knight and Jack and The Bearded Fisherman. This is a Nightshift Promotions show in association with Rock-A-Rolla magazine. Keep an eye on their Facebook event for more details.
We are also very happy to announce our return to Paris on February 26th 2015. We’ll be playing at Glazart alongside Monolord and Salem’s Pot. This show is for Stoned Gatherings and Dead Pig Entertainment. We are very happy to be returning to Paris once more and we’re looking forward to seeing you there! Keep an eye on the Facebook event for more details.
Posted in Reviews on December 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is it. New Year’s is this week and by Friday we’ll be into 2015. A new year always brings new hopes, concerns, records and so on, but to be completely honest, I’m just not quite done with 2014 yet. So here we are. I’ve had stacks of CDs on my desk and folders on my computer from the last couple months of stuff I have been trying to fit in, and it doesn’t seem right to me to let the year go without cramming in as much music as I possibly can.
Gotta call it something, so I went with “Last Licks,” since that’s basically what it will be. The plan is that between today and Friday, each day I’ll have another batch of 10 reviews. I’m not going to promise they’ll be the most comprehensive ever, but the idea is to do as much as I can and this seems to me the best way to turn my brains into goo. When that ball drops in Times Square, there’s a good chance I’ll be typing.
No sense in delaying. You get the idea, so let’s jump in:
Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today
Recorded live as their debut on Candlelight Records and the follow-up to 2011’s debut, Return to Earth (review here), the sophomore outing from Welsh heavy rockers Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today, is distinguished by a vocalist swap bringing in Matt Williams of Suns of Thunder. Williams has a tough job in replacing Dorian Walters, who like guitarist Stuart O’Hara, bassist Paul Bidmead and drummer Darren Ivey, is a former member of Acrimony. There are times when it works and times when it doesn’t. Along with a more barebones tonality in the guitar than appeared on the debut, Williams brings a more straightforward style in his voice, and it changes the personality of the band on songs like “Freedom Engines” and the first-album-title-track “Return to Earth.” “Tribe of the Old Oak” is a catchy highlight and I’ll almost never argue with a song called “Obelisk,” but it seems like they’re still searching for the footing here that seemed so firmly planted their last time out.
Upstate New York blues rockers Handsome Jack waste little time living up to the title Do What Comes Naturally. The name of their third album, released by Alive Naturalsound, is both mission-statement aand suggestion, and on songs like the soul-inflected “Creepin’” and the rolling “You and Me,” they make it sound like a good idea. Blues and classic soul meet garage rock across cuts like the relatively brief “Leave it all Behind,” but the tones are warm throughout the record, and guest spots on harmonica and Hammond help keep a sense of variety in the material, well-constructed but still loose in its vibe. The twang might recall The Brought Low for heavy rock heads, but one doubts Handsome Jack groove on much that came out after Psychedelic Mud. Even the CD splits into sides, and as easy as it would be for something like this to sound like a put-on, Handsome Jack prevail with closer “Wasted Time” in making an outing that’s anything but.
London doomers Serpent Venom sound like experts in the form on Of Things Seen and Unseen, their second album for The Church Within following 2011’s Carnal Altar and their initial 2010 demo (review here), a righteous 48-minute lumbering slab of heavy riffs, downerism and nod. It’s not every band who could put “Death Throes at Dawn” and “Lord of Life” next to each other, but the four-piece of vocalist Garry Ricketts, guitarist Roland Scriver, bassist Nick Davies and drummer Paul Sutherland keep their focus so utterly doomed that even the quiet, minimalist acoustic interlude “I Awake” – ostensibly a breather — comes across as trodden as the earlier “Sorrow’s Bastard,” or the Reverend Bizarre-worthy “Let Them Starve,” which follows. For those who long for trad doom that has an identity outside its Vitus and Sabbath influences, Serpent Venom prove more than ready to enter that conversation on the wah-soaked soloing in the second half of “Pilgrims of the Sun.” Right fucking on.
The artwork tells the story. Owl Glitters’ Alchemical Tones (on Heart and Crossbone Records) is a wash of color. Taking tribal rhythms and repetitions and pairing them with organic low-end, chanted vocals and periodic excursions of psych rock guitar, Arkia Jahani (who seems to be the lone creative force behind the project, though Mell Dettmer mastered) brings a ritualistic sensibility to the eight included pieces, and the flow is molten from the start of “Dervishes.” Less purposefully weird than Master Musicians of Bukkake, but farther into the cosmos than Om, there’s a folkish identity at the heart of Alchemical Tones that keeps the proceedings human even on the near-throat-singing of “Hakim Sanai” or “Poets of Shiras” and “Khalifa’s Visions” an immersive pair preceding the droning closer “By the Candlelight Our Eyes Welcome Glimmers of Eternity.” Beautifully experimental – and in the case of “Mindful of Gems,” fuzzed to the gills – Owl Glitters’ second outing engages sonic spiritualism with dogmatic command and stares back at you from the space within yourself.
Sandveiss released Scream Queen, their first full-length, late in 2013, reveling in a modern sound crisply produced and more than ably executed to feature the vocals of guitarist Luc Bourgeois, who provides frontman presence even on disc alongside guitarist Shawn Rice, bassist Daniel Girard and drummer Dzemal Trtak. Cohesiveness isn’t in question as opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Blindsided” rounds out its 6:26, leading the way into “Do You Really Know” and setting the tone for big-riffed Euro-style heavy from the Quebecois foursome, who slow down on “Bottomless Lies,” on which Trtak backs Bourgeois in you-guys-should-do-this-more fashion, and ultimately hold firm to the focus on songwriting that establishes itself early. They fuzz out on closer “Green or Gold,” but by then it’s another element of variety among the organ, guest vocals on “Scar” and tempo shifts on Sandveiss’ ambitious debut, distinguished even unto the six-panel gatefold digi-sleeve in which it arrives, the art and design by Alexandre Goulet one more standout factor on an album demanding attention.
Probably the most clearly Beatlesian moment on Octopus Syng’s Reverberating Garden Number 7 is a slight “Hey Bulldog”-style cadence on side A’s “Very Strange Trip,” and that in itself is an accomplishment (one I’m apparently not the first to observe). The Helsinki four-piece in their 15th year are led by guitarist/vocalist Jaire Pätäri and emit an oozing, serene psychedelia, peaceful and lysergic in late ‘60s exploratory fashion. Reverberating Garden Number 7 (on Mega Dodo Records) echoes out vibe to spare and is deceptively lush while keeping a humble vibe thanks in no small part to Pätäri’s restrained vocal approach and curios like “Cuckoo Clock Mystery,” which boasts an actual cuckoo clock to add bounce to its arrangement. Nine-minute closer “Listen to the Moths” is the single biggest surprise, and an album unto itself, but its unfolding is only the capstone on a collection of psychedelic wonder sincere in its stylistic intent and execution. It fills the ears like warm air in the lungs.
Destructive Australian trio Sun Shepherd put the bulk of Procession of Trampling Hoof to tape in 2011. Closing bonus track “Exploding Sun” is a demo from 2006, but it fits with their extended tracks and big riffs piled onto each other in densely-weighted fashion, if rougher in presentation. More Ramesses than High on Fire, who prove otherwise to be a key influence tonally for guitarist/vocalist Anson Antriasian, must-hear bassist Leigh Fischer and drummer Michael Barson, though their approach is decidedly less thrash-based. The first five of the six songs find Sun Shepherd’s first full-length a pummel-minded blend of sludge and doom. Antriasian’s vocals are semi-spoken, but fitting theatrically on “Goat-Head Awakening” with the grueling riff-led nod, the tension released as they pass the halfway point of the 10-minute run, a raw atmosphere bolstering the chaos of their slower-motion marauding. With the welcome flourish of stonerly soloing on “Engulfed by Ocean of Time,” one can’t help but wonder what the Melbourne natives are up to three years later.
Fuzz-toned elements of Sleep and Sabbath pervade the stoner-doomy self-titled The Church Within debut from Oslo three-piece Purple Hill Witch, who carry the bounce well in immediately familiar riffs and groove. Swinging drums from Øyvind and the inventive basslines of Andreas underscore Kristian’s purely Iommic riffage and blown-out vocals, somewhere between Witchcraft’s earliest going and Witch’s self-titled. If that gives Purple Hill Witch an even witchier feel, “Final Procession” sounds just fine with that, as do shorter tracks like the later “Aldebaranian Voyage (Into the Sun)” and centerpiece “Karmanjaka” on which the stoner side comes out in force. They finish by using all 11 minutes of the eponymous “Purple Hill Witch”’s runtime, breaking in the midsection for a murky exploration that’s creepily atmospheric without veering into cult rock cliché. They bounce resumes and slows to a crawl to close out, but the jam serves Purple Hill Witch well in expanding the band’s sonic reach and the album’s weedian sensibility. Not that they were keeping it a secret.
A burly dual-guitar five-piece with roots in Germany and Switzerland, Giant Sleep start out their self-titled, self-released first LP with a brief intro titled “Argos” before getting to the question, “Why am I angry all the time?” as the central, recurring line of “Angry Man.” That song, like “Henu” and “Reproduce,” gets its point across quick in heavy rock fashion and develops its argument from there, a progressive metal vibe pervading especially the latter, which is penultimate in the 10-song/52-minute effort, and underscores the high-grade craftsmanship accomplished throughout. “Dreamless Sleep” is probably my pick of the bunch for its airier tone and resonant minor-key hook in the guitars of Markus Ruf and Patrick Hagmann, vocalist Thomas Rosenmerkel belting out the chorus before making way for plotted solos atop Radek Stecki’s bass and Manuel Spänhauer’s drums, but it’s not so far removed from its surroundings. As a whole, the album could be more efficient, but it wants nothing for songwriting, and especially as a debut, Giant Sleep hits its marks readily.
Opener “Las Noches del Desierto” is the only one of Star Collider’s five tracks under 10 minutes. Flux seems to be the norm for Finnish post-stoners Acid Elephant, who recently brought in vocalist Martin Ahlö but here revolve around the core of bassist/guitarist/vocalist Miksa Väliverho, guitarist/vocalist Ilpo Kauppinen and drummer Roope Vähä-Aho, employing a host of others on obscure vocals, percussion and djembe throughout the 64-minute sophomore outing, recorded in 2012 and released late in 2013. Whoever they are now, Acid Elephant on Star Collider call out heavy psych, drone/jam and riff-based impulses in their extended cuts, gradually getting longer from “Red Carpet Lane” (10:46) until closer “Bog” hits 18:29. To their credit, their songs leave impressions to match their length, and even as it’s finishing its instrumental run, “Godmason” (15:58) is highlighting its resonant central riff, having emerged from a wash of feedback and amp noise at its beginning, preceded by the droning centerpiece “7th Stone.” Satisfying and unpredictable, Star Collider balances experimentation and engagement smoothly without losing its focus on individualism.
Posted in Features on December 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Please note: These are not the results of the Readers Poll. That’s still going on. Please feel free to submit your list.
Making and releasing a first full-length album is a special moment in the life of any band, and that’s why I wanted to single out some of the best debuts of the year. I’ve never done this before, and so maybe with a top 10 I’m testing the waters a bit, but it seemed a worthwhile project anyway. It was a long (inner) debate about whether or not to include EPs and singles here too, but in the end, it just seemed to work better with albums.
Not to take anything away from shorter releases, but putting out a debut EP is much different than a debut LP. First of all, a debut LP can come after several EPs or singles or demos or whatever and still be considered first. What a first album says to the listener is, “Okay, we’ve come this far and we’re ready to take this step.” Some bands, once they start putting out albums, never go back to EPs. Others who’ve been around for 30 years still release demos every now and then, but even so, a group only ever gets one crack at their first album, and it can be one of the most important things we ever do.
Compared to how many come out any given month, year, century, etc., very few debut long-players ever wind up being classics, and who knows what the future might hold for any of these acts on this list, but that not knowing and that excitement are part of the fun.
Let’s get to it:
The Top 10 Debut Albums of 2014
1. The Well, Samsara
2. The Golden Grass, The Golden Grass
3. Spidergawd, Spidergawd
4. Atavismo, Desintegración
5. Blues Pills, Blues Pills
6. Steak, Slab City
7. Comet Control, Comet Control
8. Elephant Tree, Theia
9. Black Moon Circle, Black Moon Circle
10. Temple of Void, Of Terror and the Supernatural
A couple honorable mentions. First to Valley of the Sun‘s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk, which I still didn’t know what to do with the release date for. Officially 2014, but kinda released in 2013 too. I was back and forth on it. Also Wasted Theory‘s burly debut, Monolord‘s Empress Rising, Child‘s Child, the Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart sprawling one-song LP from Sylvaine.
Some notes: Actual time spent listening played a big role in the structuring of this list. More so than the Top 30 of 2014, I would say. The Well‘s Samsara and the self-titled debut from The Golden Grass featured pretty high on that list as well, and that’s because both of them were records that I continually went back to and found satisfying after they came out. In both bands I think there’s significant stylistic potential, but more importantly, they both came out of the gate with their mission solidified and ready to roll.
With Spidergawd‘s Spidergawd, the progressive take on classic heavy rock boogie was blinding, but righteous. Their second album is due early next year on Stickman and I’ll have more on it to come in the weeks ahead. Atavismo‘s Desintegraciónhit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Just four songs, but the atmosphere was gorgeous enough that after listening I went back and asked the band if I could host a stream in hopes that more people would hear it. Fortunately for anyone who listened, they were kind enough to comply.
On sheer impact alone, I think Blues Pills‘ Blues Pills warrants inclusion on this list, but in my own listening, I put on the top four so much more often that I couldn’t really justify placing it any higher. But in terms of a first album coming out and really propelling a band to the next level, I think for a lot of people it’s probably the debut of the year. Fair enough. Steak‘s Slab City found the London four-piece physically and stylistically right in the heart of the California desert and their passion for that place and its sound came across heartfelt on the recording, which only heightened the appeal.
And while I’m still sorry to see Quest for Fire go, the debut from offshoot Comet Control helped ease that sorrow neatly with a blend of driving heavier space rock and psychedelic vibing. Cool album, bodes well. You could say the same for Elephant Tree‘s Theia, I suppose. Their take on psychedelia melded with screamy sludge successfully where I think a lot of bands would’ve fallen flat trying the same thing, and that’s definitely something noteworthy in an initial offering, particularly one not preceded by an EP or other kind of release.
To round things out, two very different records. Black Moon Circle‘s self-titled took a popular stylistic course — melding heavy rock and psychedelic jamming — and showed the trio beginning to make it their own. That’s something I hope will continue on their second outing, which, like that of Spidergawd, is coming on quick early in 2015. And finally, Temple of Void‘s extreme, deathly take on doom courted genres smoothly and delivered its punishment with efficiency while holding together a coherent atmosphere of darkness and aggression. It was a sadistic joy to behold.
If you missed it, there were a couple debuts included on the Top 20 Short Releases of 2014 list as well — Gold & Silver, Wren, Death Alley, and so on — so if you’re looking for more of that kind of thing, you don’t have to look too far. I hope if there was a debut album this year that particularly caught your attention, you’ll let me know in the comments.