Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
Louisiana four-piece Forming the Void issued the deceptively metallic Skyward (review here) last year and have signed to Italy’s Argonauta Records for the follow-up, Relic, which will see release on March 17. One can hear the aggressive/progressive thread continuing from the debut in the new song “Bialozar,” which is streaming ahead of the record’s arrival, but the groove underlying still owes part of its stomp to the heavier end of rock, and the blend seems all the more resonant with the vocal melody that tops. Easy to understand why they’d put the track out first, as it shows clear forward movement in sound and presentation and makes one look forward to the album. Nice tease, gents. Well played.
The PR wire sends good reason for marking your calendar:
FORMING THE VOID sign to Argonauta Records for release of new album Relic
Relic by Forming The Void is released on 17th March 2017
Following the release of last year’s impressive Skyward album, Forming the Void, originally formed in 2013 in Lafayette, Louisiana, has gained an impressive reputation for raising underground rock into realms of the previously unknown.
Atmospheric, heavy and progressive yet losing none of these earnest qualities at volume, they layer their ambitions as thickly as the riffs that help transmit their visions. Newly signed to Italian label Argonauta Records, this March will see the release of their third album Relic. Like Skyward before it, it draws on one hell of a colossal sound. New song ‘Bialozar’ is the first track lifted from said album and, as you will hear, it’s carried along on lead singer James Marshall’s soaring, practically airborne vocal about an epic voyage of a celestial beast: “Valiant mantra in mind, Radiant alive in light” / “Wings spread over the mountain, Bialozar”.
Summoning the towering hard rock riffs and progressive influence of bands like Mastodon, Baroness and Torche, it’s just one of many songs on Relic that finds the four piece illustrating their bold and adventurous ideas in the most vivid of colours.
Relic by Forming the Void is released on 17th March 2017 via Argonauta Records.
Forming The Void: James Marshall – Guitar/Vocals Shadi Omar Al-Khansa – Guitar Luke Baker – Bass Jordan Boyd – Drums
Posted in Reviews on December 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
We continue with day four of the Quarterly Review. This batch is numbers 31-40 of the total 60, not that the numbers really mean anything. I know it’s list season — believe me, I know — but there’s no actual ranking going on. It’s just basically so I can keep track and remember what day it is. That’s not to say this is done off the cuff. Actually, there’s an embarrassing amount of planning behind these things. Months. And when I start actually getting the posts ready and realize I’ve slated the same record on two different days — something that’s happened no fewer than three times so far, needing each time to be corrected — it’s a clear demonstration of the value of my planning. Ha. Anyway, we press on. Together. Into the thick of it. Thanks for reading.
Quarterly Review #31-40:
Crowbar, The Serpent Only Lies
More than 25 years and 11 albums into a landmark career that helped prove the existence of the hairy beast known as “sludge metal,” Crowbar don’t owe anyone anything, and since returning to activity with 2011’s Sever the Wicked Hand (review here) and 2014’s Symmetry in Black, they’ve played like it. Their third post-resurgence outing is The Serpent Only Lies (on eOne Heavy), and though it works largely to form – that is, Crowbar are going to sound like Crowbar: low, slow, seeming to lurch even when dug into fits of gallop on “I am the Storm” or the early going of “The Enemy Beside You” – one still finds progression especially in the vocal approach of frontman and founder Kirk Windstein, who self-harmonizes effectively on the title-track’s standout hook as well as the later pair “On Holy Ground” and “Song of the Dunes,” the latter also resoundingly spacious in a way that offsets much of The Serpent Only Lies’ head-down intensity. This might be flourish or a companion to the core Crowbar sound that remains intact throughout, but the truth is it’s not like it needs to be there – Crowbar’s audience would still go to the shows even if the band stopped growing – but it’s entirely to the credit of the New Orleans legends that more than a quarter-century later they continue to progress. I guess that’s how Crowbar gets to be Crowbar.
Depending on what you count as a full-length, The Fall of Hearts (on Peaceville) is either the 10th or 11th studio record from Sweden’s Katatonia. It follows 2013’s acoustic Dethroned and Uncrowned, which reenvisioned 2012’s Dead End Kings and brings forth over an hour of new material from founding duo Jonas Renkse (vocals/guitar/etc.) and Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström (guitar/backing vocals), as well as Niklas Sandin (bass) and Daniel Moilanen (drums), who, working with engineer KarlDaniel Lidén (ex-Greenleaf, Demon Cleaner), continue to proffer resonant melancholy in abundance. As a band, Katatonia have had a number of different phases over the years, from their deathly beginnings through the later moves into melody, but as it stands on songs like “Decima,” with its acoustic and mellotron arrangement, and the seven-minute “Serac,” which plays back and forth between serene and some of The Fall of Hearts’ most intense thrust, they remain among heavy metal’s most recognizable acts. There is no one else who sounds like them, and they sound not quite like anyone else. This collection might be more about gradual steps forward than radical shifts in approach, but Katatonia have found a way to preach to their converted and keep growing at the same time, and that’s to be commended.
Issued via Robustfellow in a range of physical editions from an oversized CD digipak to cassette bundles, the two-song I. AM. Deathless EP from yet-underrated Ukrainian progressive ritualists Ethereal Riffian warrants the ceremony with which it arrives. Its two tracks, “Drum of the Deathless” (6:19) and “Sword of the Deathless” (9:57) closed and opened, respectively, the prior 2016 live outing, Youniversal Voice (review here), and in their studio form they bring to bear a vision of psychedelic metal given to atmospheric breadth that comes at the expense neither of purpose nor impact. The opener proves the more immediate of the pair, but as “Sword of the Deathless” plays out, it finds prog-metal swirl amid low-end starts and stops intertwined layers of multi-channel spoken word, acoustic and electric guitar and percussive tension, so that as it heads into its payoff and melodic finish, the resolution is both satisfying and something of a relief from the cacophony preceding. Forward-thinking and of marked substance, I. AM. Deathless offers a quick glimpse at the band’s scope and invites listeners to dive deep therein.
There isn’t much that’s off-limits to Parisian heavy rockers Dot Legacy. To wit, the near-rap-rock mania of opener “Horizon” from their second LP, To the Others (on Setalight Records), and the laid-back psych-lounge vibes that follow on “Grey Cardinal,” only to be swept away in crashes and chants later, leading to the driving desert punkery of “211.” Three songs, three distinct feels, and Dot Legacy only get weirder from there as they toy with fuzzed momentum on “5314” and “Dakota” before the dreamy post-rock meandering of “The Twelve,” the prog-pop of “Story of Fame” and piano-laden psych-drama of closer “Pioneer.” In 35 minutes, the four-piece cover more ground than most bands do in their whole careers, but that becomes even more admirable in that they manage not to just be all over the place, but to provide a consistent quality of songwriting to complement all that quirk. Add to that the attention to detail in vocal harmonies and arrangements, and as they follow-up their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), they reveal a clear sense of a master plan at work under all the brashness and genre-hopping.
Self-released by the Los Angeles trio in late-2015 and picked up for a vinyl issue through Ripple Music, the self-titled debut from Salem’s Bend leaves little wonder as to why with its classic sensibility and the vibe proliferated by the natural-toned nod of a song like “Silverstruck.” Though still prone to a bit of Hendrix-style shred when it comes to lead guitar, the three-piece of Bobby (guitar/vocals), Kevin (bass) and Zach (drums) depart from some of the post-Radio Moscow all-thrust boogie in favor of more laid back fair and on that cut and the later “Sun and Mist,” which hits into a satisfying apex in its second half without feeling overcooked, as well as the six-minute finale “A Tip of Salem,” which nods through its initial movement before bursting out toward the end. In a crowded SoCal scene, just about anything Salem’s Bend can do to stand apart will serve them, and the fluidity they hone across these seven tracks sets them up to do just that.
Given the personnel involved, the black ‘n’ roll extremity of Thonian Horde’s self-titled debut full-length will no doubt come as a surprise to listeners. Formed in Boonsboro, Maryland, by bassist/vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis (Pale Divine, Admiral Browning, etc.), guitarists Darren “Dirty” Waters (Weed is Weed) and Dan “D-Mize” Mize (Faith in Jane), and drummer Tyler “The Beast” Lee (Weed is Weed), one might expect high-order Frederick-style post-The Obsessed doom. Thonian Horde have more in common with Immortal on their centerpiece track “Darkest Nights Shadow,” and even as the closing “Psychonaut” finds a rock groove in its chorus, it does so with the hooky edge of Satyricon more than any of the members’ other outfits. No doubt that’s the point: doing something different. Indeed, the nine-tracker is a refreshing aesthetic reboot for the scene from whence it comes, holding fast to their region’s crucial lack of pretense even as they brazenly walk their own path – left-hand, of course.
I don’t know about you, but I missed out on Hopp/Förtvivlan, which was the 2015 debut full-length from Swedish rockers Second Sun, so to have Gaphals provide gentle encouragement to check it out by getting behind the two-songer single Tachyonregenerator is most welcome. Both cuts included – “Tachyonregenerator” and “Tror Faktiskt På Dig” – bask in classic vibe without being overly showy when it comes to retroism, and are marked out by the inclusion of organ amid the natural-sounding guitar, drums and bass, the vocals presented in Swedish across both pieces. It’s a quick eight-minutes perfect for the 7” pressing it’s been given, but again, makes enough of an impression that one is inclined toward further investigation, and given that, I can’t call it anything other than a success. I’ll go ahead and chalk up one more quality Swedish act to keep track of, because Second Sun offer tight-knit progressive leanings in a crisp package on Tachyonregenerator, and even if I’m late to the party, I’m glad I got to hear it.
Some pretty clear self-awareness demonstrated in Ten Ton Slug’s self-released debut EP, Brutal Gluttonous Beast. The Galway, Ireland, five-piece had a prior live-recorded two-tracker, but these four songs mark their first studio outing, and as they draw together massive sludge riffing and more extreme, death metal-style growls, there’s precious little one might say to more accurately describe a track like “Trollhunter” – the opener and longest on the release (immediate points) – than that it lives up to the title, its second-half slowdown lurch prefacing a similar move in “Bloodburns” before the more rampaging “Subterranean” and noise-soaked burl of “Unit” take hold. Intense and vicious, but not necessarily unhinged, Brutal Gluttonous Beast finds Ten Ton Slug sounding remarkably sure in their approach, and one will await the news of their traveling to England to record with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer, since that seems to be the kind of presentation for which the tonal onslaught here is begging.
A half-decade after releasing their self-titled EP (review here), Eindhoven heavy/noise rockers Komatsu reemerge on Argonauta Records with the follow-up full-length, Recipe for Murder One. Boasting a guest appearance from Nick Oliveri on the suitably tumultuous “Lockdown,” the album leaves little to wonder what’s in that recipe in the darker-desert vibe of “So How’s About Billy” and “There Must be Something in Your Water,” which teases airy serenity in its first half only to go full-throttle for the second, but as the bass-driven lumber of the title-track and subtle melodic expansion of “The Sea is Calm Today” show, Komatsu haven’t wasted the last five years, instead constructing their own take on sonic density and sludge impulses that seems to hit with formidable impact regardless of tempo or tension level, both of which prove to be fluid elements at the four-piece’s disposal. They get the point across quickly in the stomp of “The Long Way Home,” but find suitable resolution in the nod of closer “Breathe,” rounding out a debut of significant character and depth with one last surprise in ambience it’s only fair to call progressive.
The Blue Sunshine Family Band, The Blue Sunshine Family Band
A double-guitar instrumental four-piece from Santa Rosa, California, The Blue Sunshine Family Band make their debut with a six-song/51-minute self-titled. Tracks presented as Roman numerals “I” through “VI,” though whether or not they’re actually the first six pieces the band has written, I couldn’t say. Either way, the impression immediately draws from “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” – that great king of nod riffs – and first-name-only guitarists Billy and Kevin, bassist Matt and drummer Quinten build outward from there, dipping below the eight-minute mark only on “V” (7:14) as they unfurl solid grooves and tonal heft, seeming to leave room for vocals either consciously or not. The converted will find engagement and immersion in the crash and swinging turn of “IV,” as well as the David Paul Seymour cover art, and if The Blue Sunshine Family Band is the sound of this foursome getting their feet under them, they manage to accomplish that preliminary feat and then some in these tracks.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Louisiana heavy rockers Electric Age have signed to Argonauta Records for the release of their debut full-length, Sleep of the Silent King, in Feb. 2017. The burl-bringing dudely trio offer straightforward riffing and grooves as heard and seen in their recent video for “Robes of Grey,” and though I’m not quite clear on what the storyline actually is, it would seem that the track in question feeds into an overarching narrative spanning the album. At least that’s the vibe I get from the announcement below, which came courtesy of Argonauta.
Over the last couple years, but especially in 2016, you’ve probably seen me post a lot about Argonauta releases. The Italian imprint continues to toil diligently to bring an international array of heavy to bear and that’s something I respect deeply. It’s looking like their 2017 will have a full slate as well, and Electric Age will be an early part of it. One more for the ongoing list. Preorders are up now.
Argonauta Records New signing: ELECTRIC AGE
Hailing from Louisiana, Electric Age, since forming in 2013, have taken the craft of their sludge and southern metal contemporaries, and incorporated the dynamics of more traditional metal, along with folk, doom and straightforward rock, to create the epic tale of their debut album “Sleep of the Silent King”. This southern Louisiana three piece outfit are equally at ease finding their groove within traditional song structures to extended cerebral doom riffing, while never forsaking the simple art of storytelling in the process.
The band says, “We are excited to be a part of the Argonauta family, and find solace in being with a label that truly respects the genre and shares in the love of this style of music and all it can offer.”
In their relatively short career of bringing their live performance to the people they have had the honor to share the stage with, among many others, sludge metal pioneers Crowbar, and thrash metal pioneers Anthrax.
“Sleep of the Silent King”, mixed and mastered by acclaimed producer Christopher “Zeuss” Harris, is their debut album, and is a conceptual and mythological journey through the threshold of time and consciousness, into the heart of darkness and divinity, through death and redemption, and finally into the inexorable void.
Argonauta has allowed them to tell their story to you, all there is left to do… is listen. “Sleep of the Silent King” will be available in CD from the 27th of February 2017, preorders run here: http://bit.ly/2i5O65f.
Electric Age is: Shawn Tucker-Lead Vocals,Guitar,Bass J. Ogle-Guitar,Bass,Vocals Kelly Davis-Drums,Vocal
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Interesting that White Light Cemetery should be picked up to have their second album, Careful What You Wish For, released by Ripple Music. As I listen to the newly-unveiled and winningly-titled track “Quit Work, Make Music,” my mind immediately flashes in the direction of Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay, with whom it just so happens that White Light Cemetery — who hail from Louisiana — are now labelmates. The Southern-minded heavy rockers will issue Careful What You Wish For on Jan. 13, which unless I’m mistaken (always possible) makes it the first Ripple release of the New Year. After some of the killer stuff the California-based imprint issued in 2016, that seems noteworthy in itself. So consider it noted.
You can stream “Quit Work, Make Music” at the bottom of this post. Album art and PR wire info follows:
WHITE LIGHT CEMETERY to release new album on Ripple Music | Offer up new song/sage advice for 2017; ‘Quit Work, Make Music’
Careful What You Wish For will be released on 13th January 2017
Formed in 2008 by guitarists Ryan Robin and Shea Bearden, drummer Thomas Colley and bass player Tara Miller, White Light Cemetery is the newest recruit to Ripple Music’s Southern Metal division.
Hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana, listeners should instantly recognize the hard-edged hunger of the young quartet’s furious catch-hell blues. Their sound comes appropriately soaked in the influence of classic rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Lynrd Sknyrd and Deep Purple along with the molten fury of fellow southerners Pantera and Crowbar, who White Light Cemetery toured with as main support on their Crushing The South Tour in 2013.
While the band quickly gained a sizable following and reputation across the south based entirely on their live shows, it wasn’t until 2011 that they released their first EP, Crow Sessions, featuring fan favorites such as ‘2001 Maniacs’, ‘Farewell Letter’ and ‘Dead And Bleeding’. Following a busy 2013 opening for national acts such as Down, Goatwhore and the Kyle Turley Band, they entered the studio again to record their impressive self-titled/self-released debut.
“We first saw White Light Cemetery at the last Metroplex Heavyfest and it’s safe to say they completely blew us away,” explained Ripple Music’s Todd Severin. “They gave one of the most fierce performances we’ve ever seen, incredible energy and musicianship and a singer with a voice right out of the archives of the best of classic rock.”
Their latest album Careful What You Wish For will be their first for Ripple Music and in turn the first record off the presses for the California-based label, in what promises to be another stellar year. Officially released on 13th January 2017.
White Light Cemetery: Shea Bearden – Vocals, Guitars Thomas Colley – Drums Tara Miller – Bass Ryan Robin – Guitar
In case you didn’t feel the earth shake at the time, New Orleans sludge progenitors Crowbar released their latest album, The Serpent Only Lies, last week. Out through eOne Heavy, it follows 2014’s Symmetry in Black and 2011’s Sever the Wicked Hand (review here) as the Kirk Windstein-led outfit continue their progression from an ’00s metal style back toward the lurching and roughed-up Sabbathian plod of their earliest work. One can hear that process taking place in the track “Falling While Rising,” which in addition to the sound, also provides a signature Crowbar approach in its downer lyric and Windstein‘s unmistakably guttural vocals.
The Serpent Only Lies is the 11th Crowbar album, so it’s not surprised to find them sounding very much in their element on it, but like the most landmark of multi-decade-spanning metal bands — your Iron Maidens, your Slayers; groups who’ve influenced a generation — their delivery remains powerful. Fact is, Crowbar belong in that class of acts, even if their aesthetic has always been in search of something rawer, and “Falling While Rising” demonstrates their root contribution to what sludge became in their wake, both around the fertile New Orleans scene and worldwide. As many acts who’ve tried, there’s still nobody who does Crowbar better than Crowbar.
They’ve got tour dates with Goatwhore newly announced for December. You’ll find them under the video and the PR wire info below.
Crowbar, “Falling While Rising” official video
NOLA legends CROWBAR have debuted their music video for “Falling While Rising” today. Directed by Justin Reich (ACE FREHLEY, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY), this is the first video installment from the band off their new LP.
Crowbar released The Serpent Only Lies, on October 28, 2016 via Entertainment One (eOne) in North America and via SPV overseas. “We are so excited about our 11th studio record! The Serpent Only Lies is a powerful follow up,” says frontman and guitarist Kirk Windstein. “Eliran Kantor did a brilliant job with the artwork!”
The band announced co-headlining tour dates with NOLA neighbors GOATWHORE, capping off the calendar year with style. “This upcoming tour is one that we’re all looking forward to!,” says Kirk Windstein. “These are our Brothers. Hell, Sammy Duet was in Crowbar for a few of our best records! To the fans of both bands, here’s your early Christmas present! and we are super stoked to have Lillake on this tour with us!”
Crowbar w/ Goatwhore & Lillake tour dates: 12.02.16 Little Rock, AR – Rev Room 12.03.16 Tulsa, OK – The Shrine 12.04.16 St. Louis, MO – Fubar 12.05.16 Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter 12.06.16 Ft. Wayne, IN – The Hub 12.07.16 Morgantown, WV – 123 Pleasant Street 12.08.16 Harrisonburg, VA – The Golden Pony 12.09.16 Richmond, VA – Broadberry 12.10.16 Durham, NC – Motorco 12.11.16 Johnson City, TN – Capones 12.12.16 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade 12.13.16 Savannah, GA – Jinx 12.14.16 Macon, GA – Macon Venue Project
If you ever wanted a crash course in everything right about the Man’s Ruin era of heavy rock and roll, look no further than Suplecs‘ second album, Sad Songs… Better Days. Released in 2001 as the follow-up to the prior year’s Wrestlin’ with My Lady Friend, its nine tracks still provide 15 years after the fact an abject lesson in how to offer kickass riffs with zero pretense, how to develop a natural-feeling dynamic not through production wizardry but through actually having one, and how to craft material that’s diverse in structure but flows front to back while asking so little of the listener that you and the record might as well be cracking a beer on the back porch together on a lazy Saturday afternoon, which, as it happens, isn’t a bad way to to enjoy Sad Songs… Better Days if cracking a beer is your thing. From the rolling and catchy groove of opener “White Devil” onward through the subsequent hook of “Rock Bottom” and down through the bass-led groove of the languid “Blue Runner,” the prescient shuffle of “Unstable,” which morphs into a secret cover of The Beatles‘ “I Want You (She’s so Heavy)” and “Lightning Lady” and the weirdnes that lies beyond in “Out of Town” and closer “Unexpected Trauma,” which also has a secret track attached — seems Suplecs wanted one per side; this time it’s a little countrified twanger instrumental — it wound up being the kind of album you listened to and could only nod your head in agreement: Yes. This is what it’s all about.
The story of Suplecs is complicated on some levels and easy on others. When I note them as essential to the “Man’s Ruin era,” I mean the period of between roughly 1995 to 2002 when Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records provided a guiding hand to the post-Kyuss world of heavy rock. By the time 2000 brought Wrestlin’ with My Lady Friend, the imprint had already issued pivotal outings from High on Fire, Goatsnake, Brant Bjork, Alabama Thunderpussy, Acid King, Natas, Queens of the Stone Age, etc., and with names like that — bands who went on to define a generation of heavy rock, and that’s by no means an exhaustive list — it’s easy to see how Suplecs get lost in the discussion. Their beginning dating back to 1996 when bassist/vocalist Danny Nick, fresh out of Eyehategod joined up with guitarist Durel Yates and drummer Andrew Preen, they put their first EP out in 1998, but the two Man’s Ruin outings would largely define them, even after the label folded in 2002 on the eve of what would’ve been Suplecs‘ first tour of Europe. Timing is everything.
I recall being ultra-stoked to get a demo of new material from them in 2003 or 2004 at a Small Stone Records showcase at SXSW — still have it — and sure enough, in 2005 they’d release Powtin’ on the Outside Pawty on the Inside, a rawer third album that went largely unpromoted thanks in no small part to the effect Hurricane Katrina had on New Orleans, including on the band. It would be some six years before Suplecs managed to get a record out, and 2011’s Mad Oak Redoux (review here) found them aligned to Small Stone officially for the first time and pulling together the various sides of their sound with a crisp production from the studio mentioned in the title. In no small part, it was just nice to have Suplecs back. That was five years ago. Since then, they’ve continued to play sporadic shows — they have one on Oct. 15 in Nola with High on Fire, for example, and they marked their 20th anniversary in August alongside Dixie Witch — and Nick has opened a bar called Portside Lounge, so it’s not like they’re actually finished, but clearly priorities have shifted.
Still, I wouldn’t ever count Suplecs out. Hurricanes, folded labels, and the march of time itself — they seem impervious to all of it — so don’t be surprised when or if they show up with a new record. Until then, Sad Songs… Better Days, which was reissued on CD in 2002 on This Dark Reign and on vinyl last year through Emetic Records, is about as timeless as heavy rock gets.
I hope you enjoy.
Holy shit, this week. I stayed home sick from work yesterday and Wednesday and have spent the majority of the time since Tuesday afternoon wanting to grip myself from the collarbone and tear my body open to let my guts spill out. Absolutely demolished, particularly in the mornings, which if you read these posts is when I write reviews. In that way, it was actually kind of fortunate this week was the Quarterly Review — thanks for checking it out if you did — since the majority of it was done beforehand, but wow, it has been a slog. I think yesterday was actually worse than Wednesday, and I can’t really account for consciousness today either. I’m just trying to get through it to finish out the week at work and be caught up from not being in the office the last two days. Brutal.
I don’t think you’d know that from the amount of stuff that’s gone up the last couple days though. It’s been a busy week as well as crushing, and I expect no less next week either. Look out for streams and reviews from Varego, Melmak, maybe Captain Crimson and Lamp of the Universe, as well as a review of the Lo Sound Desert documentary that’s long overdue, as well as a Långfinger video premiere, a new clip from Dot Legacy that’s been making the rounds and news about Freak Valley 2017. Amazing to think that festivals next summer have started to announce their lineups.
That said, I’ve been experimenting with advance planning myself. I have reviews slated through Oct. 26 currently, and while that’s obviously a flexible schedule pending the stream offers that come in and stuff like that, it’s kind of reassuring to have a calendar and to be able to say, “Okay, I’m finally gonna tackle the Truckfighters record on this day, the Worshipper record on that day.” An extension of the impulse driving the Quarterly Review, maybe, since that’s worked out over a period of months before it actually goes live, but either way, thus far it’s made life less stressful rather than more and at this point I’ll take what I can get in that regard. See ripping myself open above.
It’s a three-day weekend for me, no work on Monday, but I’ll be posting anyhow. I hope to continue recovery from whatever the fuck it is that has besieged me this last half-week, and be back up to speed by the time Tuesday hits. Fingers crossed.
I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Nola sludge progenitors Crowbar will release their 11th studio album, The Serpent Only Lies, via eOne Heavy on Oct. 28. The band’s last outing was 2014’s Symmetry in Black, which was preceded in 2011 by Sever the Wicked Hand (review here) — their first for eOne — which marked a resurgence that’s now five years running and finds Crowbar among underground metal’s most respected mainstays. They’ve been everywhere, they’ve seen everything, and rather than give into any of what is no doubt a copious amount of bullshit they’ve been through in their years together, they continue to push forward.
Particularly interested in guitarist/vocalist Kirk Windstein saying he went back to old Crowbar and old Crowbar influences this time out, as some of the more modern metallurgy of their recent output had marked a big sonic turn for the band.
Many tour dates, much info, and a teaser, from the PR wire:
CROWBAR ANNOUNCE THE SERPENT ONLY LIES, DUE OUT 10/28
TEASER AVAILABLE NOW!
New Orleans sludge masters Crowbar have announced their eleventh new LP titled The Serpent Only Lies, due out October 28, 2016. “We are so excited about our 11th studio record! The Serpent Only Lies is a powerful follow up.” says frontman and riff lord Kirk Windstein. “Eliran Kantor did a brilliant job with the artwork! Our first release, “Falling While Rising”, is Crowbar at its finest… HEAVIER THAN EVER!!!”
The Serpent Only Lies will be the follow up to the highly buzzed about Symmetry in Black that sold over 4,000 copies in its first week of release in 2014, the highest of any LPs in the band’s 27 year career, beating out its predecessor, 2011’s Sever the Wicked Hand.
For nearly three decades, the name Crowbar has been synonymous with HEAVY. Since rising ominously from the swamplands of New Orleans in 1990, they’ve been hailed internationally as one of the world’s foremost purveyors of crushing, melodic sludge. The Serpent Only Lies, is both an affirmation of the band’s staying power and a nod to their legacy. “To me, it’s a fresh-sounding version of old-school Crowbar,” says Windstein.
“I intentionally went back and listened to a lot of old Crowbar stuff, like the self-titled and Broken Glass albums, to get a feel for what my mindset was 20-plus years ago. I also went back and listened to the bands that influenced Crowbar in the beginning, like Trouble, Saint Vitus, Melvins, and the first Type O Negative record. So it was kinda me doing my homework.”
The result is an album that stands toe-to-toe with those early Crowbar classics while maintaining the lumbering hooks of mid-period standouts like 1998’s Odd Fellows Rest and 2000’s Equilibrium. “Even lyrically, the approach was a little more old-school,” Windstein offers. “Some of the songs have less lyrics to let the riffs breathe a little more, which I had kind of gotten away from over the years. It was a conscious thing to go back to that.”
The tour cycle for The Serpent Only Lies marks the return of original Crowbar bassist Todd “Sexy T” Strange, who left the band back in 1999 but now joins Windstein, drummer Tommy Buckley and guitarist Matt Brunson in forging Crowbar’s future. “Todd helped start the band, so having him back is important to me and, I think, the fans,” Windstein offers. “It’s a great feeling to be standing onstage next to him. It’s a breath of fresh air for the band and makes us stronger.”
“Having this be our eleventh record, we’re very fortunate because so many bands don’t last this long,” Windstein adds. “My whole outlook on music as a career is the Motörhead outlook, which is that slow and steady wins the race. If you continue to put out killer records, continue to kick ass onstage every night and continue to treat your fans with respect, that’s the stuff people will remember.”
Sep 13 JJ’s Bohemia Chattanooga, TN Sep 15 The Agora Theatre and Ballroom Cleveland, OH Sep 16 Reggies Music Joint Chicago, IL Sep 17 Harpos Detroit, MI Sep 18 Town Ballroom Buffalo, NY Sep 20 The Westcott Theater Syracuse, NY Sep 21 The Ballroom at The Outer Space Hamden, CT Sep 23 Amityville Music Hall Amityville, NY Sep 24 THE COLOSSEUM/ THE RUINS @ THE COLOSSEUM Providence, RI Sep 26 Saint Vitus Brooklyn, NY Sep 27 Dingbatz Clifton, NJ Sep 28 Shakas Live Virginia Beach, VA Sep 29 The Throne Theater Wilmington, NC Sep 30 The Sparrow North Charleston, SC Oct 01 New Brookland Tavern Columbia, SC Oct 02 The Warehouse Clarksville, TN Oct 03 Manchester Music Hall Lexington, KY Oct 06 Nighthawks Jacksonville, FL Oct 07 The Orpheum Ybor City, FL Oct 09 Churchills Pub Miami, FL Oct 10 House of Blues Orlando Orlando, FL Oct 22 Empire Control Room & Garage Austin, TX
Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I thought yesterday went pretty well, by which I mean I didn’t receive any complaints that somebody’s name was spelled wrong (yet), so I feel alright going into the second batch of releases for the Quarterly Review. Today mixes it up a bit, which is something I always enjoy doing with these, and while I’ll take pains to emphasize that the list of releases today, as with every day, isn’t in order, there was no way I wasn’t going to start with the first record below. Some albums just demand top placement.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
Eight Bells, Landless
However you define the word “heavy” as it relates to music, Eight Bells are it. The Portland, Oregon, trio release their second album and first for Battleground Records in the form of the five-track Landless, and from the opening sprawl and lumber of “Hating” through the crawling-plus-blasting chaos of “Touch Me,” a strong progressive current underscores the material – most notably the 13-minute title-track, but really the rest as well, which flows gracefully even in its harshest moments, the blackened rush in the second half of “Landless,” for example, which follows psychedelic drones and harmonies just minutes before, or the similar thrust of centerpiece “Hold My Breath,” which works in tighter quarters but manages to span genres all the same. “The Mortal’s Suite” provides some respite in airy guitar and airier vocals, giving new drummer Rae Amitay a break while showcasing the harmonies of guitarist Melynda Jackson (ex-SubArachnoid Space) and bassist Haley Westeiner. As open atmospherically as the band is in their creative scope, there just isn’t a level on which Landless isn’t superb.
Swedish four-piece Öken do themselves huge favors by refusing to be easily categorized on their 2015 self-titled Ozium Records debut full-length, which runs an immersive 62 minutes and blends doom, classic heavy/desert rock and forest psych with subtle grace throughout its eight tracks, each of which is fleshed out in an overarching naturalist atmosphere. “Väktaren” dives headfirst into boogie only after initial minimalist teasing, and “Crimson Moon” bursts to life after a hypnotic psychedelic opening to find its crux in later runs of dueling guitars. The two closing cuts, “Under Vår Sol” and “Cuauhtémoc” are an album unto themselves, the former nodding initially at Sungrazer’s serene vibes before pushing into even more open psychedelic territory, and the latter proffering riffy largesse en route to a striking classic prog finish. That Öken make these elements work side-by-side and transition from one to the other fluidly is emblematic of the confidence at work in the band, and they carry their scope with organic-sounding ease.
West Virginian roots doomers Brimstone Coven made their debut on Metal Blade in 2015 with a self-titled EP compilation (track stream here), and Black Magic is their first full-length. Its 10 tracks/54 minutes take cues varyingly from classic heavy rock, doom and the less majestic side of the NWOBHM, but Brimstone Coven’s approach is marked out by the extensive use of vocal harmonies on cuts like the prog-tinged “Beyond the Astral,” the later moments of raw-roller “Upon the Mountain” and “The Plague.” Black Magic’s production is barebones enough that this singing – credited solely to “Big John” Williams, while Corey Roth handles guitar, Andrew D’Cagna bass and Justin Wood drums – doesn’t really soar so much as nestle in and enhance the begging-for-vinyl analog-worship of the instruments surrounding, a proliferation of cultish themes distinguishing Brimstone Coven even as a song like “The Seers” finds them inheriting a trad-doom soulfulness from The Gates of Slumber.
Between its vicious aggression, inhumane chug and have-fun-enduring-this stomp, the self-titled, self-released debut LP from Pants Exploder could just as easily be definitive New York noise, but the low-end heft of their assault right from opener “It’s Ok, I’m Wiccan.” (punctuation included in title) has an element of early-Mastodonic lumber, and that’s a thread that continues throughout “End of the World” and “You Don’t Strike Me as a Reader,” which offsets its slab-of-concrete-on-your-chest push with moments of respite, but remains driving in its intensity. As in, driving your head into the ground. Also the ground is pavement. It’s fucking heavy, is the point. To wit, the mega-plod of “Um, I Curated an Art Show in College, So…” and thrust of “God Has a Plan for Me.” Capping with the seven-minute “You Smug Bastard,” Pants Exploder pays off the tension they build in a noise-wash fury that is as impressive as it is scathing.
The rather ominous The Moon Rises EP is the first non-demo offering from Asheville, North Carolina, four-piece Shallows, who blend heavy psychedelic and grunge influences across its five tracks, opener “Shimmering” and closer “Distance” mirroring each other’s spacious push while between, “Zero,” “A Mile Beneath” and the Earth-influenced “The Barn Burning” enact gorgeous vocal harmonies between Cameron Zarrabzadeh and HannahLynn Cruey atop atmospheric heavy rock, hitting into Alice in Chains-meets-Kylesa territory on the centerpiece, “A Mile Beneath,” which is a fair bit of ground to cover. That cut is the high point in showcasing Shallows’ potential, but the Western take with “The Barn Burning” and meandering post-rock echoes and organ of “Distance” only add to the breadth of this impressive, too-short collection. With a focus consistently kept on ambience throughout, The Moon Rises flows like a full-length album, and so bodes that much better for what Shallows will be able to accomplish when they get there. I’ll look forward to it.
Even before they get to the all the aggro fuzz riffing, there’s a distinct threat of violence in Monumentum’s The Killer is Me. Its four songs, “Noose,” “Whore,” “Fiend and Foe” and “Killer Me,” each seem to find the Norwegian band doling out noise-influenced heavy rock, driven by some underlying dissatisfaction on this, their first EP. Released on vinyl through Blues for the Red Sun Records, it offsets being so outwardly pissed off through groove, the starts and stops of “Killer Me” and the rolling seven minutes of opener and longest track “Noose” (immediate points) both marked out for both their tonal weight and the force with which Monumentum push their material forward – not speedy, though “Whore” is by no means slow, but dense and emitting a residual tension all the same. Somewhat unipolar in its mood, The Killer is Me still manages to give an initial impression of what Monumentum are about sound-wise, and provides them with a solid start to work from.
While the UK isn’t at all short on doom or sludge at this point, Canterbury five-piece Famyne distinguish themselves on their self-titled first EP with a traditional take and the at-times theatric harmonies of vocalist Tom Vane. Along with guitarists Alex Tolson and Alex Williams, bassist Chris Travers and drummer Jake Cook, Vane nods at Alice in Chains on lumbering opener “Enter the Sloth” without going full-on “hey whoa momma yeah” and provides a considerable frontman presence, particularly for a debut recording. Comprising three songs with the speedier bonus track “Long Lost Winter” as an add-on download with the CD version, Famyne’s Famyne EP finds its crux in the nod and push of the 10-minute “The Forgotten,” which takes a cue atmospherically from The Wounded Kings but finds its own, less-cultish niche in bringing new energy to classic doom and setting in motion a progression that already puts an individual stamp on established tenets.
There’s patient, and then there’s Ethereal Riffian, whose riffy ritualizing and exploration nonetheless brims with some intangible energetic sensibility on their new live outing, Youniversal Voice. Heavy psychedelic wash, thick riffs, theatric vocals and guitar effects, stoner roll and the occasional fit of shredding, one might hear any of it at a given point in over-12-minute cuts like “Wakan Tanka” and “Anatman,” the latter which arrives as the penultimate of the eight-song/56-minute set. The clarity, for being a live album, is remarkable, and Ethereal Riffian add to the experience with a CD version that includes a candle, elaborate packaging and artwork, and tea, so the multi-sensory impression is obviously important, and where many live outings are throwaways or a means of bowing to contractual obligation, Youniversal Voice adds to Ethereal Riffian’s studio work a substantial ambassasorial feel, conveying an onstage vibe with a fullness of sound and clarity of mind not often heard.
Desert rock trio Wet Cactus don’t make any bones about where they’re getting their influence from on their late-2015 self-titled second EP. By the time they get around to the penultimate “The Road” on the five-track/24-minute outing, they’ve dug themselves in deep into the worship of crunchy Kyuss-style riffing, and you can throw in looks for Unida, Queens of the Stone Age, Slo Burn and whoever else of that milieu, but Kyuss is at the root of it all anyway. Less grand in their production than UK outfit Steak, who operated in similar territory on their 2014 debut LP, Slab City, Wet Cactus keep it natural in the tradition of their forebears, and while there’s room for them to grow into a more individual approach, the hazy fuckall in closer “World’s Law” has a stoner charm before and after it kicks into a punkish push to close out. Cool vibe either way, and the tone is dead on. If these cats go jammier, watch out.
I won’t say a bad word about the artwork of David Paul Seymour in the context of this review or any other, but ultimately, Louisiana doomers Forming the Void are coming from someplace much more in line with progressive metal than the three-eyed goat and robed figures on the cover of their second album, Skyward, might represent. Again, that’s not a knock on Seymour, or for that matter, the band, just that the look of the record is deceptive, dogwhistling stonerisms even as moody cuts like the opening title-track and “Three Eyed Gazelle” – while thoroughly doomed in their vibe – prove more lucidly constructed. That holds true through the chugging centerpiece “Saber” as well, marked out by vocal harmonizing, and “Return Again,” which rolls through atmospheric metal and an ambient interlude to enact the record’s most memorable payoff and set up the linear course of the more patient closer “Sleepwalker.” Cohesive in mood and clearly plotted, Skyward is ultimately darker and more driven than it might at first appear.