Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Why it seems like only the other day I was attempting to wrap my head to some degree around the complicated history of legendary heavy rockers Cactus, and here they are making the task even more difficult. As the reactivated Long Island outfit make ready to head to Europe for their first tour abroad in nearly half a decade, founding drummer Carmine Appice has announced the addition of new bassist Jimmy Caputo and guitarist Paul Warren. Warren is a touring member — founder Jim McCarty still contributes to the studio incarnation of the band — and has played with Tina Turner among others, while Caputo worked with Carmine and his brother, Vinny Appice, on tour in their The Appice Brothers Drum Wars outfit. Vocalist Jimmy Kunes and harmonica-ist Randy Pratt, both of whom play on Cactus‘ first album in 10 years, Black Dawn — released last fall with a new CD issue maybe impending? — are still in the band alongside Carmine.
Got it? All caught up? Cool. Here’s how the story’s told by the PR wire:
CACTUS “Redux” Carmine Appice rebuilds legendary rock band with powerful new line-up.
Coming off a very successful US tour and the release of its first studio album in 10 years, Black Dawn, the time has come for founding member and world renown drummer Carmine Appice to re-energize and rebuild Cactus. The band was once heralded by critics as America’s answer to Led Zeppelin.
Appice announced two new members to the legendary band’s line-up: bassist Jimmy Caputo and guitarist Paul Warren. Caputo replaces bassist Pete Bremy, who has left Cactus to pursue other projects. Warren, best known as lead guitarist for Rod Stewart, Tina Turner and Joe Cocker, will be the band’s new guitarist for touring, taking over for founding member Jim McCarty. McCarty remains a writing and recording member of Cactus but unfortunately is unable to tour with the band due to health reasons.
Lead vocalist extraordinare Jimmy Kunes and harmonica wizard Randy Pratt, both of whom joined when the band re-grouped in 2006 remain in the line-up.
“Nearly five decades after I formed this band, the time has come to re-invent Cactus once again,” says Appice, who also still drums for Vanilla Fudge, The Appice Brothers, and The Platinum Rock All Stars. Adds Appice: “The music remains the same and Cactus is still a ‘hot and sweaty’ band. The level, quality and consistence of the band’s musicianship is as strong as ever.”
“I saw the original Cactus live a few times, and they absolutely killed it,” says guitarist Paul Warren. “That was one of the great bands of the era, and they are still a great band, today. I am excited, and honored, to play with such an historic band!” Warren, who has his own successful solo band, is a native of Detroit and who considers Jim McCarty as one of his biggest musical influences. “Filling in for Jim McCarty will be a challenge. Not only is he a founding member of the band, he is a brilliant guitarist and one of the best to ever come out of Detroit. Jimmy could never be replaced. I plan to honor and pay homage to his work with Cactus while still bringing some of my own ‘Detroit attitude’ to the legendary music of this band.”
Bassist Jimmy Caputo has worked in a myriad of national touring acts including The Appice Brothers Drum Wars show, which also includes both Carmine and his brother Vinny.
Cactus returned in 2016 with Black Dawn, a new studio album, its first in almost 10 years. Featuring the blistering riff-rock that the band built its reputation upon, Black Dawn is a classic Cactus album with a fresh new energy that the band has not had since its heyday in the early 1970s. The new lineup of Cactus and the release of the Black Dawn CD will land just days ahead of the band’s first string of European dates in 4 years upcoming in May 2017.
The band has had a long and turbulent history. Formed in 1970 from the ashes of The Vanilla Fudge by Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert. the initial line up also featured McCarty and vocalist Rusty Day. (Appice and Bogert had originally planned a new band with Jeff Beck which was put off until 1973 because of Beck’s near fatal car crash in 1969). Jim McCarty had come from Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and was playing with The Buddy Miles Express. Tim and Carmine also found vocalist Day in The Amboy Dukes with Ted Nugent. Together, the four musicians formed Cactus, named after the peyote cactus, which provided a key ingredient in mind-altering drugs.
While Cactus saw success from the start and soon built a loyal fan base, by early 1973 the band had collapsed mainly due to lack of real support from its label and the fact that Beck was now ready play with Carmine and Tim.
It would not be until 2006, three decades after the tragic death of Rusty Day that the group reformed with Pratt and Kunes to record CACTUS V and play Sweden Rock. When Tim Bogert was forced into retirement due to complications after a serious motorcycle accident, Pete Bremy joined on bass in both in Cactus and Vanilla Fudge.
Now, with Jimmy Caputo and Paul Warren onboard, Cactus embarks on a new and exciting musical journey – just as powerful as before – and bound to be just as successful…one way or another.
See Cactus on tour in Europe Sa May 6- Stockholm,Sweden Göta Kallare So May 7- Oslo, Norway Hard Rock Café Mo May 8- Vaasa,Finland Ritz Tue May 9 Helsinki, Finland On the Rocks Thu May 11 Hannover, Germany Bluesgarage Fri May 12 Hamburg, Germany Downtown Bluesclub Sa May 13 Dresden, Germany Tante Ju Tue May 16 Bensheim,Germany Musikkafee Rex Thu May 18 Dortmund, Germany Piano Fri May 19 Verviers, Belgium Spirit of 66
Quite simply one of the best heavy rock records ever released, and more likely than not you don’t need me to tell you that. The 1970 self-titled debut from Cactus, with the classic lineup of vocalist Rusty Day (The Amboy Dukes), guitarist Jim McCarty (The Buddy Miles Express), bassist Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge) and drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge) stands among the all-timers. Put it up against Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream, I don’t care who. The first in a heavy rock holy trinity of original-lineup Cactus releases with 1971’s One Way… or Another (discussed here) and Restrictions behind it, it was originally issued on Atco Records and retains a country-blues swagger the better part of half a century later that utterly distinguishes them from their peers, and from the manic thrust of their take on Mose Allison‘s “Parchman Farm” which opens to the harmonica-laden swing of “Bro. Bill” on down through the rush of “Let Me Swim” and the finale drum showcase of “Feel so Good,” there is not a fuckwithable second to be found herein. Hyperbole? You bet your ass.
Among the many elements Cactus‘ Cactus boasts over its heavy ’70s peers from outfits like Dust, Mountain — both also Long Island bands — as well as groups like Atomic Rooster, Leaf Hound, and so on, is that it’s unabashed, unashamed fun. Even the wistful “My Lady from South of Detroit,” which is an immediate and bold departure from the opener into acoustic balladry, is basically a song about getting laid. And then they move into “Bro. Bill,” which remains one of the best heavy rock hooks ever conjured, and through Willie Dixon‘s “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” — listen to Bogert‘s bass! — revive the thrust with “Let Me Swim,” blues jam on “No Need to Worry” with McCarty‘s astonishing lead work, tie the blues and the rock together on “Oleo” (again, the bass, this time in a well-earned solo) and then wrap with the aforementioned “Feel so Good,” which, yes, does pull back from its drum solo to give the record a proper ending, and god damn, it’s just perfect. There’s no other word for it. It’s everything a classic American heavy rock album should have been and should be in its attitude, energy and execution. No pretense, no posturing — only 40 of the most efficiently killer minutes ever put to tape. Though I’ve always kind of associated it as a summer record, it remains an utter joy to revisit year-round, and seems to heat up any room in which it plays from the inside out. Fire on a platter.
As will almost invariably happen, the history of Cactus post-original lineup becomes more complicated the farther one follows it through the years. After Restrictions, the band split with Day and McCarty. Bogert and Appice brought in keyboardist Duane Hitchings, guitarist Werner Fritzschings and vocalist Peter French (Leaf Hound) for 1972’s ‘Ot ‘n’ Sweaty, which opened with a redux of “Let Me Swim,” and though Hitchings would soon lead the short-lived The New Cactus Band and Day had his own version of Cactus prior to his still-unsolved murder in 1982, it would not be until 2006 that Bogert, Appice and McCarty played together again, joining forces with ex-Savoy Brown singer Jimmy Kunes for Cactus V and playing reunion shows.
They’ve done gigs off and on in the decade since — bassist Pete Bremy replacing Bogert in 2008, Fritzschings once more stepping in on guitar for a time — but in 2016, Cactus released a sixth full-length, Black Dawn, with Kunes, McCarty, and Appice alongside Bremy and harmonica-ist Randy Pratt, and toured to support it as well. Not that one needed proof of the continued relevance of the original lineup, but the final two cuts on Black Dawn, “Another Way or Another” and “C-70 Blues,” are lost cuts featuring Day, McCarty, Bogert and Appice, and well, if those don’t qualify as bonus tracks, nothing in the universe does.
All that shuffling of personnel makes Cactus‘ Cactus seem even more like simpler times, and getting lost in the languid blues flow of “No Need to Worry,” one not only misses Day‘s raw-throated whiteboy soul, but can’t help but imagine what Cactus would’ve gone on to do had they held it together following Restrictions, which offered some jammier stylistic expansion. But maybe that’s being greedy. Any way you want to approach, the self-titled Cactus is a special, special album, and there’s nothing else — nothing they did after, nothing anyone else has done — quite like it. Classic. Essential. The words seem pale.
As always, I hope you enjoy, and I’m quite confident you will.
If you’ll forgive me, I’m going to try to be somewhat expeditious in wrapping this up. Not out of any particular hurry to be done with it so much as a hurry to get to work on the ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ post of 2017’s most anticipated albums. There are, according to my half-assed count of the list, over 150 of them, with 35 of the year’s biggest upcoming releases highlighted and the rest listed under three categories of likelihood that they’ll happen — from ‘Gonna Happen and Likely Candidates’ to ‘Definitely Could Happen’ to ‘Would be Nice’ — and like the complicated history of Cactus, it’s a lot to sort through.
My hope is basically to write that all weekend and get it posted on Monday. Here’s how the rest of the week is shaping up so far:
Mon.: 150+ Most Anticipated Releases of 2017 list. Also some news from Bison Machine and others.
Tue.: Track premiere from Altar of Betelgeuze, video premiere from Pater Nembrot.
Wed.: Either a PH track premiere or a Hymn review, and a Dr. Keyboardian video.
Thu.: Either a Hymn review or a PH track premiere.
Fri.: All Them Witches review.
Obviously all of that could change, and the day for that PH premiere is still TBA, but I’m hopeful it will be one or the other.
Quite a week this week. I had Monday off and left work early on Wednesday and was out yesterday just for being kind of wiped out, but still plenty beat. Family coming up this weekend though from Connecticut, and the universe seems to be in a pretty constant state of chaos, so I’m just gonna drink my coffee and try to get by. That’s what I’ve got.
Of course, I wish you a great and safe weekend. Please have some fun, be safe, and check back Monday for that mega-list and more besides.
When Dust‘s 1971 self-titled debut was reissued on Sony Legacy in 2013 along with 1972’s Hard Attack, I was fortunate enough to interview original drummer Marc Bell, who of course later went on to become Marky Ramone of The Ramones, about the process of revisiting those two albums from early in his career. One of the things I asked him about the process of overseeing those remasters was whether it was strange to go back to hearing that material after so long and being so known for other work. Here’s what he had to say:
It wasn’t strange; it was more of a grateful opportunity to be able to do this because we were still in high school when we did these two albums. We were on a label called Buddha/Kama Sutra, which catered to bubblegum bands. So we really weren’t on the right label that could really push the genre of music, which was heavy metal. Looking back and knowing what we were facing and now, it was a little strange in a way. Because if we did a third album on a legitimate label that knew how to handle this kind of music, I think we would have went over the top with Dust. But in the studio we were remastering it a few months ago, we were thinking of the great memories we had.
Doing shows with Alice Cooper, John Mayall, Uriah Heep then coming back to the high school — Erasmus, where I went. Seeing the album in the windows in the record store. It was really amazing for an 18-year-old teenager to see this. Then everyone wanted to be my friend in high school. Even the people that hated me. It was strange but it brings back funny and youthful memories of how well we played as a unit, three people at that time. — Marky Ramone
He was pretty on-message the entire interview, by which I mean he had the story of the band and albums down and stuck to it for the duration of our talk — something with which, I should mention, I have no problem; as long as it’s cordial, I consider it a sign of professionalism for someone to know what they want to say going into a phoner — and he was vigilant in calling Dust a heavy metal band, and one of the first in America. Ever since, that’s kind of stuck in my head as the standout point. I don’t usually think of proto-metal as metal, or heavy rock as metal, and with its liberal use of slide guitar on opener “Stone Woman” and the classically swinging rhythm of “From a Dry Camel,” I’m still not sure I’d call the self-titled debut or its follow-up metal proper. For sure it was pushing in that direction, but it would still be five years before Judas Priest offered up the visionary Sad Wings of Destiny, and to call Dust‘s Dust metal diminishes the scope of the boom of heavy rock in which it arrived. Consider, for example, that Dust formed in 1969, the same year as fellow New Yorkers Cactus, though that band’s first record landed a year earlier in 1970. Dust were a standout for sure, but they didn’t exist in a vacuum, and to call them metal takes away from the progressive elements of “Often Shadows Felt” or “Goin’ Easy,” however much Bell, guitarist/vocalist Richie Wise and bassist Kenny Aaronson might push Mountain further on “Love Me Hard” or scorch in Motörheady fashion on closer “Loose Goose.”
In whatever genre you want to tag it, Dust‘s self-titled debut remains a classic of the original heavy rock era. The band would make arguably their greatest achievement on “Suicide” from Hard Attack, but their first outing is one not to be missed — frankly, I was surprised to find I hadn’t closed out a week with it before — and I hope as always that you enjoy.
Did you read that Buried Treasure post earlier this week? The one all about driving to Maryland and back? I still feel like I’m recovering from that trip, and as such, no Connecticut this weekend. Staying home. I’ll be back down that way in a couple weeks — both CT and MD, actually — so I honestly think the quiet time will do me some good. Plus I just finished my second week at the new job at Hasbro, and that’s been a pretty big change. Lots to get used to there, many different processes to figure out still. Everyone I talk to there says it takes time, and nothing I’ve seen leads me to think they’re wrong. It’s been good so far though. They dig their board games, and it’s awesome to be in surroundings where people is into what they’re doing.
I’ve been getting up at 5AM — yesterday was earlier, actually, but the alarm was set for five — in order to write reviews and then filling in news posts and such during the day, things like the Brant Bjork announcement yesterday going up as quickly as possible, and doing some writing at night as well, so the balance still needs to be worked out, but I’ll get there. That takes time too. For now, getting up early hasn’t been so bad, even if it’s meant I’m in bed by like 10PM each night. Worth it to get stuff done.
Speaking of, there’s a lot on the docket next week. Monday and Tuesday a couple new album announcements booked for stuff on Small Stone, and also look for reviews and streams from Hyponic, Mos Generator, 16, Naevus and The Company Corvette — that’s one a day for the whole week — as well as new videos from Sea, Monkey3 and Hey Zeus, as well as all the news that’s fit to cut and paste and whatever else I can come across. Should be plenty to keep me busy on those mornings.
It’s not really applicable here — though I could make arguments either way — but if you think it’s something you might also be into, I’ve been very much enjoying Monolith of Phobos by The Claypool Lennon Delirium, which I picked up this week. It’s Les Claypool of Primus and Sean Lennon, and the two play all the instruments and share vocal and keyboard duties and some of it has a really dead-on psychedelic vibe. I don’t think I’ll review it, but it’s worth checking out if you have a spare couple minutes to track it down on YouTube or something.
Alright, gotta run, but I hope you have a great and safe weekend, whatever you might be up to. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
In a little less than a month, Long Island prog-metallers Moon Tooth head out on tour to support their latest album, Chromaparagon, which was released in February. They’ll be doing essentially a month-long swing down and back up the Eastern Seaboard, playing New England with Warm at the end of May, pushing into the South early in June, and then cutting back north, meeting up with Boston trio Rozamov to continue into Upstate New York and into Canada for shows in Montreal and Toronto before rounding out June 20 in Burlington, Vermont.
All put together, it’s a not inconsiderable run, and hardly Moon Tooth‘s first, the band over the last several years having basically forced their way into East Coast the progressive consciousness through hard work and volume. As noted below, this is the first time both of these acts will hit Canada, and Rozamov do so ahead of the release of their much anticipated debut album, due out later this year. They’ll apparently be playing new material at these shows.
Word came down the PR wire:
Long Island progressive sludge rock weirdos Moon Tooth and Boston atmospheric sludge mongers Rozamov have announced a string of dates together this June. This will be both bands’ first excursion north of the border, hitting both Montreal and Toronto on this run. Moon Tooth are supporting their self released debut LP “Chromaparagon” which has reached numbers 85 and 120 on the Hard Rock and Best New Artist charts respectively.
Rozamov recently wrapped up the recording for their own first full length, and will be airing songs from the album on this run. Last year saw Rozamov release “Ghost Divine” on a split with Deathkings via Midnite Collective.
June 16th – Kingston, NY @ The Anchor June 17th – Rochester, NY @ Monty’s Krown June 18th – Montreal, CAN @ Crobar June 19th – Toronto, CAN @ Smiling Buddha June 20th – Burlington, VT @ Nectar’s
The guitar playing is so paramount to Mountain‘s mega-classic 1970 debut, Climbing!, that I think sometimes Leslie West‘s string prowess trumps everything else, but while stellar, it’s far from all the record has to offer. Both West and bassist Felix Pappalardi shine as vocalists, and in addition to the cowbell overdose on “Mississippi Queen” and “Never in My Life,” Corky Laing‘s drums swing so heavy throughout that sometimes it seems a wonder they can move at all, let alone groove as voraciously as they do. From the organ-laced “Theme for an Imaginary Western” to the later acoustic semi-psychedelics of “The Laird,” Climbing! has versatility, poise and sonic and emotional heft. It is no coincidence that it came out in 1970 — a full 45 years ago as of this March — and so many groups went on to beef up their sound circa ’71 and ’72.
I won’t take away from the opener’s landmark status or the rhythm and blues at root in “Sittin’ on a Rainbow,” the subtle proto-prog of “Boys in the Band,” but I think for me the highlight of the album is “Silver Paper,” which gives a decidedly Northern take on a feel that Lynyrd Skynyrd would soon define exclusively as Southern rock, as it seems to draw together all sides of the record, Pappalardi and West trading off vocals, Laing doing much with a relatively straightforward drum progression, Steve Knight‘s hand bells and organ fleshing out the sound. That’s just as likely to change with any given mood though, Mountain positively nailing it as few acts ever have on their first record. Naturally that has its ups and downs as regards the entirety of a career, since while they called it Climbing!, they’d never — at least commercially, if not creatively — reach these heights again, though neither are their subsequent works or members’ contributions to outfits like West, Bruce and Laing (with Cream‘s Jack Bruce, who also wrote “Theme for an Imaginary Western”). An influence as enduring as Mountain has had doesn’t come from just one record, even a monster like this one.
Something of a given in the sphere of heavy rock, it’s an oversight that I haven’t closed out a week with Climbing! before. Actually, I thought I had until I went back and couldn’t find it, so there you go. I don’t imagine that this will be the first time hearing it for many who read this, but as an excuse to revisit it on a Friday afternoon — maybe you’re thinking about a kickass weekend coming up or even just not being at work for a couple days — I thought we could all do a lot worse.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
I didn’t get the chance to say it last week, but rest in peace Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. The former drummer of Motörhead‘s passing reminds us of the power that band wields and the generations-spanning effect they have had on rock and roll and heavy musics of all stripes. The work remains but Taylor will be missed.
So, this post, or at least the above portion of it, was originally slated to go up last Friday evening, written in Philadelphia, to which I had flown from my work trip in Chicago on Thursday night. Obviously the attack in Paris superseded that and just about everything else. What a shitshow. Particularly as an American who was conscious when his country passed the Patriot Act late in Oct. 2001, it’s sad to see Europe closing its borders to refugees and to its neighbors, ending the Schengen Agreement, but panic is panic regardless of where it’s born. Now I’m hearing about hostages in Mali. Off to war, forever and always.
What were we talking about? Oh yeah, rock and roll.
Next week is a holiday here in the States, and I’ll be traveling to Connecticut and to New Jersey to see family, so I’m not sure how much posting I’ll be doing Thursday and Friday, but I’ll have a podcast up probably Wednesday in case I’m not the only one hitting the road. Monday and Tuesday I’ve also got reviews and full-album streams slated for Moon Curse and Tombstones, so there will be plenty to listen to one way or another.
Speaking of, if you didn’t check out the Kungens Män that went up today, the jams are right on and ripe for digging in. I was into it enough to chase down hosting it, so yeah.
I meant to mention it last week, but at this point I’m well into planning out the next Quarterly Review as well. I’ve got about six records slated for each of the five days when it will take place. I’m thinking maybe the week after Xmas for it, though that has it ending on New Year’s Day, and I don’t imagine too many people will really be interested in reading reviews. Maybe the first week in January? I’ll figure it out.
We’re almost getting on year-end list time too, and the readers poll. Dec. 1 is a Tuesday, so I’ll launch that then (with Slevin‘s always-appreciated assistance), and hopefully everyone will have the chance to chime in. I always get nervous with that kind of thing that nobody’s going to bother. Please bother.
Alright. I think that should do it.
Since I likely won’t get the chance to say so before the day actually comes, a very happy Thanksgiving if you’re here in the US. It’s based on a genocidal lie, but still nice to get everyone together. All the best to you and yours wherever you might be though. I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan
Day one down, four more days to go. I forget each time how different it is writing shorter reviews as opposed to the usual longer ones, but kind of refreshing to bust through something, force myself to say what needs to be said as efficiently as possible and move on. Reminds me of working in print, with word counts and such. Only so much room on the page. Not something that usually comes up around these parts, but I guess it’s good to keep that muscle from complete atrophy. Though taking that line of thought to its natural conclusion, I have no idea why. Anyway, feeling good, ready to take on another 10 records, so let’s roll.
Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #11-20:
Holy Sons, Fall of Man
It would be hard to overstate the smoothness with which Emil Amos, who serves integral creative and percussive roles in both Grails and Om, brings different styles together on Fall of Man, his second album for Thrill Jockey under the Holy Sons solo moniker and upwards of his 11th overall. An overriding melancholy vibe suits dark, progressive pop elements on the opener “Mercenary World,” Amos at the fore playing all instruments and still vocalizing like a singer-songwriter, while the later wash of “Being Possessed is Easy” takes on ‘90s indie fragility and turns what was purposeful minimalism into an expanse of melody and “Discipline” creeps out lyrically while forming experimentalist soundscapes around a steady line of acoustic guitar. Joined by bassist Brian Markham and drummer Adam Bulgasem on “Aged Wine” – the only other players to appear anywhere on Fall of Man – Amos leads the trio through soaring leads and heavier crashing to give the album a crescendo worthy of its scope, which while astounding on deeper inspection presents itself with simple, classic humility.
WEEED, Our Guru Leads us to the Black Master Sabbath
From the opening drone-groan throat-singing of the 14-minute “Dogma Dissolver,” it seems like not-quite-Seattle trio Weeed are making a run for the title “Most Stoned of the Stoner” with their second full-length, Our Guru Leads us to the Black Master Sabbath. They earn that extra ‘e.’ A double-LP on Illuminasty Records, the album is a 54-minute trip into low tone and deep-running vibe, spaced way out, and well at home whether jamming heavy and hypnotized on “Rainbow Amplifier Worship” – a highlight bassline – or nestling into an ambient stretch like “Bullfrog” preceding. Mostly instrumental, Weeed hit their most active in “Enuma Elish” and then chill and strip back to acoustics and sax (yup) for the Eastern-flavored “Caravan Spliff,” bringing back the throat-singing in the process. How else to finish such a work than with the 15-minute “Nature’s Green Magic,” a 15-minute push along a single build that goes from minimal, pastoral acoustics to nod-on-this megastoner riffing? Weeed might be going for the gold, but they end up in the green, and somehow one imagines they’ll be alright with that. They get super-ultra-bonus points for sounding like Kyuss not even a little.
Formed in 1999 and having made their full-length debut a decade later with The Shadow Tradition (review here), last heard from in a 2012 split with Boise’s Uzala (review here), Austin, Texas, doomly five-piece Mala Suerte return with the 10-track Rituals of Self Destruction, which moves past its four-minute intro into chugging The Obsessed-style trad doom with a touch of Southern heavy à la Crowbar and a generally metallic spirit in cuts like “Utopic Delusions” that gets expanded on later cuts like the swirling, crawling almost Cathedral-ish “Labyrinth of Solitude.” Comprised of forward-mixed vocalist Gary Rosas, guitarists David Guerrero and Vincent Pina, bassist Mike Reed and drummer Chris Chapa (now John Petri), Mala Suerte sound as rueful as ever across the album’s span, rounding out with the hardcore sludge of “Successful Failure” and “The Recluse,” which builds from slow, brooding chug to a more riotous finish. It’s been a while, but it’s good to have them back.
Guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob leads Brooklyn’s Eternal Black through the riffy doom of their debut self-titled three-track EP. Unpretentious in the style’s tradition, the trio is anchored by Hal Miller’s bass and pushed forward by the drums of Joe “The Prince of Long Island” Wood (also of Borgo Pass), the rolling groove of Sabbathian opener “Obsidian Sky” setting the tone for straightforward, few-frills darkness, and Eternal Black follow it up with the workingman’s doom of “The Dead Die Hard” and “Armageddon’s Embrace,” the former started out with an extra lead layer before it unfurls the EP/demo’s most satisfying crawl, and the latter a little more swinging, but still Iommic metal at its core, Wohlrob’s gruff vocal and Wino-style riff backed by Miller’s deep-mixed rumble as Wood goes to the cowbell/woodblock (it’s one or the other) during the guitar solo. Even if Joe Wood wasn’t one of the best human beings I’d ever met, it would still be pretty easy to dig what these cats are doing, and it’ll be worth keeping an eye for how they follow this first installment.
Austin, Texas-based trio Were-Jaguars have already issued a follow-up EP to their earlier-2015 second album, II, but from its opening and longest track “Between the Armies” (immediate points), the three-piece dig into weirdo psych vibes and dense tones across their latest full-length, released through respected Russian purveyor R.A.I.G. Not at all a minor undertaking at 13 tracks, 68 minutes, it gets into garage ritualism in “Let My Breath be the Air” and unfolds immediate doomadelia on “Bishop Kills Enchanter,” but if you need confirmation that Were-Jaguars – the three-piece of Chad Rauschenberg, James Adkisson and Rick McConnell – aren’t just screwing around in these songs and lucking into a righteous result, let it come on the later “Lost Soul,” which melds a flowing instrumental roll to a host of spiritual and pseudo-spiritual samples, loses itself completely, and then returns at the end to finish cohesive, engagingly complex and sure in the knowledge that all has gone to plan. Figuring out what that plan is can be a challenge at times, but it’s there.
The Fuzzonaut split between Mexico’s Vinnum Sabbathi and Bar de Monjas takes its name from the closing track, provided by the latter act, but it serves as a fitting title for the work as a whole as well. Vinnum Sabbathi launch the six-track offering with “HEX I: The Mastery of Space,” a slow-rolling instrumental topped by samples pulled from rocket launches, and after the 1:45 droning interlude “Intermission (Fluctuations),” they melt their way into the companion “HEX II: Foundation Pioneers,” doomier in its chug, but similarly-minded overall in intent, with the warm bass, copious samples, and planet-sized riffing. Though their portion is shorter overall, Bar de Monjas answer back with relatively upbeat push in “Hot Rail,” winding up in stoner rock janga-janga before stomping their way into “The Ripper,” cowbelling there as part of an impressively percussed spin and capping with “Fuzzonaut” itself, a shroomy 7:45 creeper with big-riff bursts that rises and recedes effectively, ending with a long residual hum.
An immediate touchstone for the droning pastoral drear that Saskatoon three-piece Black Tremor elicit on their four-song debut EP, Impending, is Earth’s HEX: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, but the newcomer trio distinguish themselves immediately with an approach that replaces guitar with violin, so that not only can Black Tremor tie into these atmospheres, they can do so in a way that speak to country roots in a way their forebears didn’t at the time date. Bassist Alex Deighton, violinist Amanda Bestvater and drummer Brennan Rutherford have only just begun the work of developing their sound, but already nine-minute opener “The Church” and its buzzing follow-up “Rise” prove evocative and come across as more than exercises in ambience. “Markhor” hits with an even heavier roll and an almost Melvinsy undertone, while the title-track makes its way through horse-trod mud to emerge at the end not only clean but positively bouncing. It’s still pretty dark, but they’ve given themselves a vast Canadian Midwestern expanse to explore.
A bright tonal bliss pervades There’s Nothing, the Rock Ridge Music debut long-player from Nashville all-lowercase psychedelic post-rockers aave. The band court indie progressivism across the album’s eight component tracks, but with just one song over four minutes long – closer “Turn Me Off” (4:30) – there’s little about it that feels overly indulgent or beyond the pale stylistically. That is to say that while aave set a sonic course for great distances, they get to where they’re going efficiently and don’t hang around too long in one place. That has its ups and downs in terms of vibe, but the resonant vocal melodies of “Nothing Here” – hard not to be reminded of Mars Red Sky’s sweet emotionality, but there are other comparisons one might make – the focus remains grounded in an accessibility that goes beyond getting lost in dreamy guitars. Aesthetically satisfying, they find an intense moment in the later thrust of “Blender,” but even that retains the overarching wistful sensibility of what’s come before and that unites the material throughout.
Spacious, melodic and entrancingly heavy, Derelics’ debut EP, Introducing, indeed makes a formidable opening statement, and in a crowded London scene of post-Orange Goblin burl and Downy sludge, the trio set more progressive ambitions across “To Brunehilde,” “California” and “Ride the Fuckin’ Snake to Valhalla,” psych-funking up the centerpiece after the grooving largesse of the opener en route to the wider-spreading tones of the closer, guitarist/vocalist Reno cutting through his and bassist Nacim’s tones easily with higher-register vocals that push the limits of his range as he encourages one to “ride that fuckin’ snake,” before cutting out to let drummer Rich lead the charge with toms through a build-up bridge that returns to the echoing fullness conjured earlier, ending on a long-fading organ note. An encouraging first offering from the three-piece, and hopefully they continue develop along an original-sounding path as they move ahead. Already they seem to show a knack for melding atmospherics and songwriting toward the same ends.
True to its krautrock-style cover art, Desert Brain, the third outing from Detroit’s Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, has an element of prog at work within its psychedelic unfolding. But that’s reasonable. With four years since their second release, Spectra Spirit (review here), and the inclusion of bassist/keyboardist Eric Oppitz and drummer Rick Sawoscinski with guitarist/vocalist Sean Morrow, the dynamic in the band has legitimately shifted, even though Oppitz (who also did the aforementioned cover art) has recorded all three of their records. Still, they keep the proceedings fluid across the two vinyl sides, finding their inner garage on “Major Medicine” and tripping out easy on “What’s Your Cloud Nine, 37?” on side A before digging in with fuzz and push on side B’s “The Prettiest Sounds of Purgatory” and stretching into ritual stomp on the title cut. All the while, they’re drenched in vibe and a flow that’s languid even as it’s running you over, and while some songs barely have a chorus, they implant themselves in the mind anyway, almost subliminally.
If there was such a thing to be sounded as a “good dude alert,” it would be ringing. The reigning Prince of Long Island, drummer Joe Wood — known best for his work in long-running hard rockers Borgo Pass, but also formerly of sludge-slingers 12 Eyes, a former bandmate of mine and all around one of the best guys you could hope to know on the Eastern Seaboard — has a new band going. The Brooklyn-based trio, with Wood on drums, Ken Wohlrob on guitar/vocals and Hal Miller on bass, are called Eternal Black after an initial introduction as The Black Hand, and their self-titled EP has just been released through their own Obsidian Sky Records.
Announcement and stream follow. More to come:
Eternal Black Unleashes Their Doomy Self-Titled EP
Brooklyn-based doom band Eternal Black have unleashed their debut self-titled EP via their own Obsidian Sky Records. Steeped in the American doom tradition of Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, and EyeHateGod, Eternal Black’s music is full of heavy and bluesy riffs, Bonham-esque drums, and rumbling low-end. Sonically and lyrically, the three tracks on the EP are Armageddon blues songs.
Formed in late 2014, Eternal Black is made up of Joe Wood on drums (Borgo Pass, Bloody Sabbath), Hal Miller on Bass, and Ken Wohlrob on guitar and vocals. The group came together out of a desire to create dark songs driven by fuzz-drenched riffs and old-school heavy grooves.
The Eternal Black EP was produced by Kol Marshall (King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Absu, Ministry) and Joe Kelly (Provan, John Hovorka and the Dawn of Mechanized Farming) at the latter’s Suburban Elvis studios. Digital downloads of the album are available now via Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, and other digital music retailers. https://eternalblack.bandcamp.com https://itun.es/i6L54nk
Details for Eternal Black’s self-titled EP
Track listing: 1. Obsidian Sky 2. The Dead Die Hard 3. Armageddon’s Embrace
Produced, mixed, and mastered by Joe Kelly and Kol Marshall Recorded at Suburban Elvis Studios, May 2015 Released by Obsidian Sky Records
Band members: Hal Miller: Bass Joe Wood: Drums Ken Wohlrob: Guitars, Vocals
It is a busy few months ahead of New York blues rockers Geezer. Already this year, the trio oversaw the CD release through Ripple Music of their 2014 full-length, Gage (review here), the vinyl of which came out through STB and blew through its pressing more or less immediately following its going on sale in the Fall, and they’re soon to issue a split with Washington D.C. heavy riffers Borracho, also through Ripple, as the opening chapter of the label’s The Second Coming of Heavy series of multi-band vinyls, stepping in to replace Volume IV in that capacity. That’s not to mention working on new material with their recently-added bassist Richie Touseull, including a trip to the studio not so long ago to record a Hendrix cover as part of Magnetic Eye Records‘ forthcoming The Best of James Marshall Hendrix compilation.
Show-wise, 2015 seems to be likewise packed. Having just this past weekend done a couple gigs with Borracho that included a filmed, soon-to-be-unveiled set at The Living Room in Stroudsburg, PA, Geezer will take off in late May for a round of dates alongside Bison Machine (who opened the latest podcast), playing with Sinister Haze, The Golden Grass, Wizard Eye and others — AND — finally I’m getting here, do you think it was built up enough??? — the trio have just been added to the Eye of the Stoned Goat 5 fest in June as a replacement for Weed is Weed, where they’ll play as direct support for Mos Generator as they headline the second of the festival’s two nights at Amityville Music Hall in Long Island, NY.
Badass? Yes, it is. That’s why I hounded Geezer guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington (Obelisk Questionnaire here) this weekend for some comment on the matter. This will be Geezer‘s third appearance at the Stoned Goat, having played the last two editions of the fest in Worcester, Massachusetts, and in Brooklyn, and you can find Harrington‘s words, Geezer’s tour dates with Bison Machine and the announcement from the fest following the poster below:
Once again, due to unforeseen circumstances, Weed is Weed will be unable to join us at this year’s event… but fear not folks, we have managed to actually fill the slot with a fucking sonic wrecking ball of a band. I give you the incomparable heavy blues of… Geezer!!!
Says Geezer‘s Pat Harrington:
“Geezer is stoked to once again be a part of the Eye Of The Stoned Goat! This will be our third one and it looks to be the best one yet! So many killer bands to see and friends to catch up with. We’ll be fresh off our tour with Bison Machine and expect to be hitting on all cylinders with plenty of new tunes to get everyone grooving. Can’t wait!”
Geezer: Mind Over Mountain Tour with Bison Machine Tuesday May 26th @ 31st St Pub, Pittsburg, PA w/ Sinister Haze & Old Dream Wednesday May 27th @ Small’s, Detroit, MI w/ Wild Savages & SLO (Bison Machine: Hoarfrost vinyl release party) Thursday May 28th @ Blind Bob’s, Dayton, OH w/ Grand Mammoth & Zuel Friday May 29th @ The Living Room, Stroudsburg PA w/ Wizard Eye Saturday May 30th @ Lucky 13 Saloon, Brooklyn, NY w/ The Golden Grass & Wolf Blood