Don’t get me wrong, I dig Saint Vitus‘ Thirsty and Miserable EP for what it is, but I think the bigger impact of the 1987 release has to be what it said about who the band were and the ground it so brazenly tread upon, namely that of Black Flag. Now, Vitus had been putting stuff out through Greg Ginn‘s SST Records since their 1984 self-titled debut, and maybe having them take on Black Flag‘s track “Thirsty and Miserable,” which appeared on that band’s Damaged full-length in 1981, was an idea that came up as a way of bridging the gap between the ultra-Sabbathian Saint Vitus and SoCal’s punker elite, which famously hated the band. I wasn’t there, but my understanding is it didn’t work.
Nearly 30 years later, however, the Thirsty and Miserable EP holds a special place in Saint Vitus lore. Complemented by the two originals “Look Behind You” and “The End of the End,” the EP’s titular cover isn’t about meeting a fanbase halfway so much as showing the fuckall that had rooted itself into the band’s approach by this time — somewhat ironic since that very same fuckall is precisely what they had in common with the punk of the day. Coming off their third album, Born too Late, the band sound assured on Thirsty and Miserable of their sound and style, and listening to them run through “Thirsty and Miserable” and “Look Behind You” — both of which wind up pretty fast — and the swinging “The End of the End,” they make a convincing argument that if the world doesn’t get it, it’s the world’s problem. In hindsight, it’s easy to hear that statement and view it as being correct. Plus, they talk about breaking into a liquor store, and that’s hilarious.
This is Wino Wednesday number 199 out of 200. Next week we’ll wrap up the series and hopefully end on a positive note. Since this is the last time Saint Vitus will be featured as a part of it, I thought it important to include something special. Enjoy:
Seems a fair guess that between Wino and Conny Ochs, it’s the latter who brought the idea of covering Chris Whitley to the table. The relatively underappreciated singer-songwriter, who passed away in 2005 from lung cancer, had a discography of more than a 10 full-lengths to his credit by the time he died at the age of 45, and of course more have surfaced since. “Hotel Vast Horizon” is the title-track from the Texan’s ninth LP, released in 2003, and in performing it on their US tour, it’s Ochs who takes the initial lead vocally in the video below, backed by Wino as the song progresses.
Wino & Conny Ochs were on tour at the time supporting their debut, Heavy Kingdom (review here), after beginning with a European tour to herald the Exile on Mainstream release. Their second album, the more crisply produced Freedom Conspiracy (review here), came out earlier this year, and while most of the time when I post about the two-piece, it gets a response I’ll generously call “minimal,” as the Wino Wednesday series pushes toward its conclusion with #200, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a Wino & Conny Ochs track, because screw it, I like that stuff a lot. Can’t be Spirit Caravan all the time.
Along with “Hotel Vast Horizon,” the video includes the next cut in their set at The Satellite in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 2012, which was “Green Speed.” Taken from Wino‘s 2010 solo acoustic debut, Adrift (review here), its careening central progression and faster pace manage to show heavy roots no matter how they’re played, plugged or not, and it makes a fitting companion for “Hotel Vast Horizon” here, demonstrating what each player brings to the Wino & Conny Ochs collaboration.
Two more Wino Wednesdays after this one, which is getting increasingly hard to believe. Hope you enjoy:
Wino & Conny Ochs, “Hotel Vast Horizon” & “Green Speed” Live in L.A., Aug. 8, 2012
A little while back, sharp-dressed Los Angeles soul rockers Sugar Fly saw fit to premiere the audio of their debut single, “Blind,” in this very space. I’m not inclined to say no to that kind of thing, particularly when the groove is as tight as that coming from the newcomer outfit, who went from a trio to a stage-sustainable five-piece with the addition of guitarist Dre DiMura, also of Lunar Electric, to the already established lineup of vocalist Tia Simone, bassist Collyn McCoy (also of The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic) and drummer Noah Lifschey, also joined by keyboardist/organist Esteban Chavez since the time the single was posted.
Building an orchestra? I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Sugar Fly picked up a horn section somewhere along the line, but they’re not there yet. Still, all five members of Sugar Fly appear in the video for “Blind,” which is also released today as a download single bundled with the track “If You Want Blood,” so one gets a decent sense of what it might be like to see them onstage — which, incidentally, is where they’ll be tonight at a little place called The Viper Room. You might have heard of it sometime. I don’t know that anything big has ever really happened there. Ha.
Video and McCoy‘s announcement on Thee Facebooks follow. Enjoy:
Sugar Fly, “Blind” official video
So after months and months of working on this project, we’ve finally got something to show for it (besides a killer live show). SUGAR FLY’s single BLIND dropped today, available on Amazon, Spotify, Bandcamp, your mom… pretty much anywhere you can find digital music (iTunes in a few days I guess).
PLUS we have a killer video care of the folks at Mouser.
Like what you see/hear? We’re playing a FREE “SECRET” SHOW at the Viper Room tonight. Let me know if you want on the super secret VIP list.
Posted in audiObelisk on August 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Los Angeles sludgers Ancient Altar will release their sophomore full-length, Dead Earth, on Sept. 1. The 300-pressed vinyl comes courtesy of Black Voodoo Records, and there’s reportedly a tape to follow through Midnite Collective, which also released the band’s 2014 self-titled debut, the response to which was fervent enough to earn the four-piece a slot on the May 2015 Psycho California festival. Dead Earth makes no secret of its grim purposes across its four tracks and 41 minutes, but much to its success, the band manages to conjure a vision of atmospheric sludge that’s neither redundant in its methods nor specifically derived from the post-Neurosis school of undulation. Make no mistake, at some point along the way, someone in Ancient Altar probably heard Through Silver in Blood — whether that’s bassist/vocalist Scott Carlson, guitarist/vocalist Barry Kavener, guitarist Jesse Boldt or drummer Etay Levy, I wouldn’t speculate — but it’s by no means a defining influence, and Dead Earth seems much more geared toward innovation than emulation, or at very least the creation of an individualized identity from a variety of stylistic elements.
What the hell does that mean? In terms of the front to back listening experience, it means Ancient Altar are particularly adept at tipping their aesthetic to one side or another. Obviously the split between vinyl sides is a factor, but listening to Dead Earth digitally, its four cuts right in a row, the album moves almost seamlessly from one piece to the next, two longer cuts, opener “Leader, Liar” (12:38) and closer “Void” (12:48), sandwiching the shorter “Albion” (8:34) and “Dead Earth” (6:55), as all work in various levels of thoughtful abrasion toward a full-album flow, somewhere between aggro and a pervasive resignation that feeds into the titular theme — it’s too late to think about saving anything except ourselves. The bulk of the record is screamed, and “Albion” and “Dead Earth” especially dip into black metal atmospheres, but even in those moments, Ancient Altar refuse to be so easily categorized, and by the time they’re through the immersive beginnings of “Leader, Liar,” and they’ve trudged through “Albion” and the nadir of “Dead Earth,” they open up, not to a resounding hopelessness as the title “Void” might hint, but to a feeling of potential from within that despair. Amid clean vocals and a heightened melodic sensibility, the “Void” may be empty, but it’s also the only hope.
All of this ties in with the stated theme of the record, which is loosely that the planet is beyond saving and if our species is to survive, we’ll have to enter that void and find hope elsewhere. Of course, Ancient Altar do a better and more descriptive job on conveying it, so perhaps it’s better to leave it to them. Ahead of the album’s Sept. 1 arrival, I have the pleasure today of hosting the premiere of “Void,” which in addition to being the longest inclusion on the outing is also the richest in terms of the emotional and thematic drive on display.
You’ll find it on the player below, followed by tour dates for a run that begins tonight and more album info. I hope you enjoy:
Ancient Altar hails from the land of the unrelenting sun, crippling drought, and excess known as Los Angeles, born of arcane philosophy and a stripped-down approach to bristling, daunting, towering doom. Formed in late 2013, the band features bassist Scott Carlson and guitar player Barry Kavener splitting vocal duties, along with second guitarist Jesse Boldt and drummer Etay Levy.
Dead Earth is the band’s sophomore effort, coming just a year after their 2014 eponymous debut, which was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, and just a few months after a devastatingly stunning set at Psycho California in May. Dead Earth is a loose concept album based on war, corrupt leaders, and religion destroying planet Earth as we speak—which is happening, and only getting worse. The album depicts the only way for humanity to survive: leaving this dead earth and starting over somewhere else. The record dips and dives between themes of the utter despair of the human race’s impending doom—and a sense of hope as we triumphantly make our terrifying yet absolutely necessary escape toward a fresh start and a new future.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Los Angeles doom metallers Ancient Spell have announced a Sept. 8 release for their new album, Forever in Hell, via Minotauro Records. The full-length is their second behind a 2013 self-titled, and a newly unveiled teaser finds its tracks rife with metallic lurch and alternatingly thrashy and doomed impulses playing out in darkened, grim atmospheres.
They were a trio when the first offering came out two years ago, so it seems safe to say there’s been a pretty marked shift in the band’s overall status. How that change might ultimately manifest in terms of the record will take more than a teaser to showcase, but at least we’ve got enough to get an initial impression of the bleakness to come.
The PR wire brought news of the allegiance with Minotauro and the release:
“Death is an Ancient Spell…unbroken. Do not fear it and it will empower you to live life to the fullest.” -Ancient Spell
From the depths of the underground comes Ancient Spell…. A Los Angeles based band comprised of local musicians Donnie Marhefka on Lead Vocals, Conrad Viz on Guitars/Vocals, Jeff Clark on Bass, Rob Thompson on Drums and Dan Rado on Guitar. They have come together to bring forth yet another forging of Metal. Inspired by classic, thrash, and Doom metal, they each bring their talents to the table and create a Heavy wall of sound. The band’s first CD is now available on iTunes, CDbaby, Amazon, Google, Spotify and many other internet stores. 2 videos are available on the Ancient Spell YouTube channel, Bleeding Black and Wizard ov Doom. New album will be out on Minotauro Records on September 8, 2015!!! Doom on!!!
Influences: Saint Vitus, Slayer, The Sword, Corrosion of Conformity, Down, Lamb of God, Black Sabbath, Death
FOREVER IN HELL Under Your Spell Cease to Exist Fall ov Humanity Beyond the Gates March to Your Grave Black Flame Ritual Eternal Embers
There has been a lot of quality video from this tour, which Wino undertook with Oakland, CA’s Saviours and Nick Oliveri after the three parties — Oliveri with his band Mondo Generator — opened for Clutch on their annual holiday run leading up to New Year’s 2013. It would also seem to have been the root of Wino‘s recent studio collaboration with Saviours (give me another week or two; we’ll get there) and for the advent of the yet-to-be-realized Royale Daemons collaboration with Oliveri, assuming that’s still a thing in the offing for somewhere down the line. Vague enough? Good.
Point is the tour-as-nexus also yielded much documentation, be it in full-set videos or clips of other on-stage jams between the various players. It must have been a good one, since nobody’s quite let it completely go. Fair enough to revisit, then, as we continue to wind down the Wino Wednesday feature on the march to number 200 in a few more weeks (this is #194, if you’re counting). This time around, it’s Wino and Saviours delivering a killer take on Motörhead‘s “Limb from Limb.”
The clip comes from Los Angeles, was filmed Jan. 11, 2013, at The Satellite, and even this wasn’t the first time Wino and Saviours had jamemd out — the band having brought the legendary frontman on stage at Scion Rock Fest in 2010 as well — but clearly by the time they got out to L.A., they were comfortable sharing a stage together. Of course, the song is the closing track from Motörhead‘s 1979 sophomore outing, Overkill, and it’s no less of a classic than that album as a whole, but Wino and Saviours give it its due, the former hanging onto the microphone in a manner that anyone who saw him with Saint Vitus over the last six years will likely recognize.
Hope you enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Saviours & Wino, “Overkill” Live in Los Angeles, Jan. 11, 2013
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Los Angeles heavyweights Behold! the Monolith are taking orders now for their third album, Architects of the Void, which is set to release Sept. 29. The band have a bunch of different bundle deals set up for those who’d like a shirt to go along with their CD or vinyl (or both), and it’s their first outing since the death in a car accident of vocalist Kevin McDade in 2013, which is about as heavy as context gets, quite frankly.
The album was recorded and mixed by the one and only Billy Anderson, and the striking cover art is by Dusty Peterson. For more, we turn to the PR wire:
BEHOLD! THE MONOLITH to Release ‘Architects of the Void’ on September 29
Los Angeles stoner/doom metal band BEHOLD! THE MONOLITH will release new album Architects of the Void September 29 on CD, digital, and vinyl formats. The album can be pre-orderedat this location.
Legendary producer Billy Anderson has expertly harnessed the band’s smoke-belching locomotive style, while the songwriting is the most captivating of the quartet’s career. Guitarist Matt Price had this to say about the results:”It’s a relatively dark album, which is probably fitting. A few of the riffs and ideas had pretty much coagulated right before Kevin’s accident, and most of the others were colored by it, so yeah it feels kinda heavy and dark to me. I hope I don’t sound like a high falootin’ artisté, but it felt personal for me and Chase, so it wound up being more than just stringing riffs together, ya know? That being said Cas and Jordan came in and kicked ass and brought their own stamp to the sound. So it’s a bit different, but I think it captures the essence what Behold! The Monolith is all about!”
Architects of the Void follows critically acclaimed 2012 release Defender, Redeemist and marks the debut of vocalist Jordan Nalley who took the reigns following the tragic 2013 death of Kevin McDade in a car accident. The album will also be the first for new bassist Jason “Cas” Casanova (SASQUATCH). The album artwork was created by Dusty Peterson (Bloodbath, Six Feet Under, Oceano).
Jordan Nalley – Vocals Matt Price – Guitar Jason “Cas” Casanova – Bass Chase Manhattan – Rhythm and Lead Drums
Produced by Billy Anderson and Behold! The Monolith
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Los Angeles sludge pummelers -(16)- have entered the studio to begin recording their next album. It’s been three years since the release of the long-running four-piece’s last album, Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds, and with the ubiquitous plant delays and things of that sort, it’s easy to imagine that it will be 2016 before the record — whatever it’s called when they’re done with it — actually comes out. But progress in the direction of a new record is good news, particularly with a lineup revamp, so I’m not inclined to argue. Seems likely we’ll hear much more about it before it arrives.
When it does, it’ll be out on Relapse, who sent the following down the PR wire:
-(16)- Enter The Studio
Veteran California sludge trailblazers -(16)- have commenced recording the follow-up to their acclaimed 2012 release, Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds. Says longtime guitarist and songwriter, Bobby Ferry:
“Since our last album, time has passed and children have grown. Friends have died. Family members have died, some from cancer, some from misadventure. We’ve toured, playing shows with our heroes and new friends alike. We’ve driven thousands of miles, slept in European airports, crashed at American truck stops. We’ve held shitty jobs and worked for slave wages to keep bills paid and lights on. Most importantly, though, we’ve survived, and all of this has left a mark on us and on our creative process. Like a terminal diagnosis, the idea of -(16)- has loomed as a shadow over its members; it exists as an island of volume, feedback and riffs where our fears are articulated, confronted, and crushed beneath this musical battery we’ve spent 24 years building. This time around, we note a growing acceptance of chaos, a begrudging nod to the fact that this affliction has brought with its pain a wisdom that bleeds into our new work, makes it stronger and smarter. We are currently crafting a darker record that’s reinforced with longer, more complex songs. We’ve road-tested some of the new material, and it’s been greeted by belligerent, confused strangers and fist-pumping fans alike. We aren’t worried about progression. We aren’t thinking about evolution. We undertake this new trip in the spirit of taking the chain off an animal that’s survived a quarter-century by feeding on the most negative parts of us and our lives, and following it to see where it goes on its own.”
For the as-yet-untitled new album, -(16)- is once again reunited with producer/engineer Jeff Forrest. Following their tradition of injecting new life with new players, Ferry and vocalist Cris Jerue are also joined by drummer Dion Thurman of San Diego noise rock legends, Creedle, and bassist Barney Firks (Sylvia Juncosa). Potential song titles include “Pastor In a Coma,” “George,” “Peaches, Cream, and Placenta” and “Secrets of The Curmudgeon.”