Posted in Features on February 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win. Winner is chosen one week from today.]
Feelin’ saucy? Well go ahead and get yourself in on the chance to win a free t-shirt and a copy of Vermilion Whiskey‘s new album, Spirit of Tradition. The Lafayette, Louisiana, double-guitar five-piece put the thing out just last week and if you leave a comment on this post, you can get your very own disc and a shirt with artwork by Mont Doom.
Bolstered via a mix by Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump and a mastering job by Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed, Spirit of Tradition lives up to its name in bringing together Southern heavy rock and metallic charge. Frontman Thaddeus Riordan and guitarists Ross Brown and Carl Stevens lead the way with Jeremy Foret on bass and Buck Andrus on drums, and Vermilion Whiskey ask nothing more than that you consume as irresponsibly and as often as possible.
You know how these things go at this point, so I’ll just remind you to please leave your email in the form when you leave a comment on this post. Without it I can’t contact you to let you know you’ve won, and it seems like an awful bummer to bother to enter and then basically make yourself ineligible. As always, I don’t keep email address, I don’t sell info. I wouldn’t know how to if I wanted to, and I don’t want to, so there. I’m way more about giving away free shit than adding spam to your inbox.
If you haven’t yet had a taste, you can hear Vermilion Whiskey‘s Spirit of Tradition in full below. Good luck to everyone who enters! And if you don’t, why the hell not?
Vermilion Whiskey, Spirit of Tradition (2017)
[TO ENTER GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post with your email address in the form. You’ll be contacted at that address if you win. Winner is chosen one week from today.]
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Yesterday, members of Thou and Thrill Jockey Records issued the Many Waters: Baton Rouge Flood Relief 2017 benefit compilation. Proceeds go to the Greater Baton Rouge Good Bank in the wake of the flooding that took place in the area last summer. It’s 33 tracks long, and in addition to Thou taking on Neil Young, it’s got live stuff from Sumac and Mike Scheidt and Golden Void doing a cover of The Pretty Things, as well as art by Becky Cloonan. Hard enough to argue with that if the cause was lining a pocket, let alone feeding flood victims.
Give them your money:
Many Waters – Baton Rouge Flood Benefit Compilation produced by Thou
Many Waters is a new compilation produced by Thou with help from Thrill Jockey to be released on January 30th, with proceeds going to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank to assist their efforts in aiding those affected by the Louisiana floods of August 2016. The compilation features a range of exclusive tracks from acclaimed metal acts as well as Louisiana DIY mainstays, including The Body & Full of Hell covering Devo, Thou covering Neil Young, Golden Void covering Pretty Things, special live tracks from SUMAC and Old Man Gloom, and a solo live recording by Mike Scheidt of Yob.
From Joshua Nee, drummer of Thou: “I spent the better part of three weeks after the flood driving around neighborhoods looking for homes to help out. Every day after work and pretty much all day on the weekends was spent gutting damaged homes. A practice space we had been sharing with a slew of other bands was totally wrecked, and countless bands I know had their spaces and equipment destroyed.
When Mitch was getting this benefit together, he asked what organization would make sense to donate to. I told him the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, as they had been really amazing and helpful during the aftermath of the flood, and they themselves had even been completely flooded out.
I was thrilled to have so many local Louisiana bands on the compilation. All of those bands come from the same DIY community based background. Punk, pop, metal, whatever. They represent all kinds of music, but they all come from a similar, supportive culture.”
Tracklisting: 1. Cikada – 30 Dollar Bag 02:45 2. The Body & Full of Hell – Gates of Steel 03:44 3. Thou – Don’t Let It Bring You Down 04:23 4. Solid Giant – Dead Souls 06:57 5. Christworm – Mad World 06:33 6. Aseethe – Void 13:41 7. SUMAC – Hollow King (Live) 15:04 8. Thrush – Effete 04:44 9. Empty Vessels – Above Ground 02:41 10. The World Is A Vampire – Christian Brothers 05:28 11. Hand Grenade Job – Threat Assessment 03:32 12. Sandworm – Taverner 01:22 13. Old Man Gloom – Zozobra (I-III) [Live] 12:23 14. Recluse – Deluge 01:31 15. Cajun Clam – Seer Sucker Suits 02:46 16. Pudge – Moo Moo 01:39 17. Heavy Mantle – Weights and Measures 01:18 18. I’m Fine – Brindle Party Plus One 03:52 19. Donovan Wolfington – Slower Loris 03:28 20. Pope – The Ballad of Little Stevie 03:03 21. Black Abba – Demons 01:52 22. Gland – Kratom 8r 01:56 23. Mea Culpa – Ghost 03:17 24. All People – Ruff Dreams 02:30 25. Caddywhompus – First Date Anthem Part 2 01:32 26. Wildhoney – Thin Air (Drew Scott Remix) 03:33 27. Sharks’ Teeth – Melting Belief 03:58 28. Ize – Heart on Your Sleeve 04:01 29. A Living Soundtrack – Expanding Consolidation 04:57 30. Treadles – Feral Human 01:57 31. Mike Scheidt – Throw off the Dark 04:32 32. Proud/Father – La Paz en la Aqua 06:21 33. Golden Void – Sickle Clowns 04:08
Certain tracks were mastered by metal extraordinaire James Plotkin, while the whole compilation features mastering donated by Keith Souza and Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets. Artwork was donated by Becky Cloonan, renowned for her work with DC and Marvel Comics.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
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 JJ Koczan
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 JJ Koczan
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 JJ Koczan
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.