I wish I could say this was planned out, but the simple truth is that until last Friday I had no idea how Wino Wednesday would end. Spirit Caravan — guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman and drummer Ed Gulli — sort of quietly announced they would be playing new material at Vultures of Volume II, and it was just my luck that Project Nod Zine was on hand recording the show and twice-over my luck that they kindly gave me permission to host the video of said new material. The song is called “Be the Night,” and if their announcement of its existence was subtle, so was the way in which they actually went about delivering it.
No fanfare, no notice, no, “Hey, this is the first new song this band has written in more than a decade.” They played it first, sped through its two-minute course at top speed almost as an intro to the rest of their set, and never mentioned it again. That was it. I’m not even sure most people knew what they were watching while it was being played. In fact, the lack of a big deal being made was so fervent that I’ve spent the last couple days trying to see if I could find them having done the song sometime before — in case I’m wrong and it’s not really new. Somehow, that would also make sense as a way to end the feature. Well, I can’t account for when it might have first been written, but there doesn’t seem to be any other performance before this past Friday in Hagerstown, MD (review here). If I am wrong, I hope someone will point it out.
Otherwise, it seems only too fitting to end this feature at number 200 with new material, since if we’ve learned anything over the four-year span since Wino Wednesday started in Aug. 2011 with the Premonition 13 video for “Le Hechicera de la Jeringa,” it’s that the man is positively relentless. Shows, bands, reunions, splits, collaborations, solo outings, we’ve explored a decades-long career that has left an indelible mark on the scope of American doom, and we close out with the reinforcement that, as much as he’s done, he’s not done yet. Couldn’t be more perfect if I’d planned it — which, again, I didn’t.
When and if I get news of a new Spirit Caravan or any other Wino-related release, I’ll let you know. And I’m not going to say this is the last Wino Wednesday I’ll ever do, because who knows what time, boredom and awesome show-tapers might bring, but as a weekly regular feature, at least for now, that’s a wrap. Thanks to everyone who’s liked, commented, shared, or taken the time to read any of it along the way.
Posted in Reviews on August 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The odds have been overcome, the story has been told, and really all that’s left for Pentagram at this point is to keep the momentum going. Their return to Peaceville Records comes with Curious Volume, their second full-length after 2011’s Last Rites (review here) reunited one of the most pivotal pairings in American doom: vocalist Bobby Liebling and guitarist Victor Griffin, and one could easily argue that it finds Pentagram — Liebling, Griffin, bassist Greg Turley and drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell as the latest addition in place of Sean Saley, now in The Skull — with the highest public profile they’ve ever had. 40 tumultuous (to put it mildly) years later, Bobby Liebling is legitimately a rock star, headlining at festivals like Psycho California and touring to packed houses on both coasts and in between.
It’s worth noting that part of that notoriety is owed to the 2012 documentary, Last Days Here (review here), but the band having a back catalog of largely-underrated doom classics has helped them influence an entirely new generation of listeners and artists. It boasts few surprises, but the 43-minute/11-track Curious Volume works well within Pentagram‘s strengths and proves a solid outing that will keep them on the road as they continue to expand their fanbase. One wouldn’t go into it expecting or even wanting much by way of experimentalism, and accordingly, Pentagram deliver on the promise of blending classic doom and Liebling‘s charismatic persona — see “Misunderstood” — and do justice to the band’s decades-spanning underground legacy. Recorded by Mattias Nilsson with additional vocal tracking by Travis Wyrick, it draws together with professional clarity and poise the best of Pentagram as they are today.
In doing so, it bears a significant stamp of Victor Griffin‘s songwriting. Guessing when Pentagram material was written is a trap — they had more than a decade of material before their first album came out — but songs like, “Lay Down and Die,” “The Tempter Push,” “Dead Bury Dead,” “Curious Volume,” “Close the Casket,” “The Devil’s Playground” and the closing “Because I Made It” carry a distinct feel that one can trace back through Griffin‘s work in In~Graved and Place of Skulls to Death Row, so whether the parts are new or old, they’re his. Near as I can tell, the only cut on Curious Volume that previously appeared on a Pentagram release is “Earth Flight,” which showed up on 2003’s A Keg Full of Dynamite live outing (good luck finding it), recorded in 1978, but that’s hardly the only inclusion on Curious Volume with a classic feel.
Following the opening rush of “Lay Down and Die” — which seems to directly acknowledge the notion of a live audience in its lyrics — second cut “The Tempter Push” nods directly at Deep Purple‘s “Strange Kind of Woman.” Its tense intro marked by Campbell‘s steady kick, “Earth Flight” has a classic-style shuffle, and the doomly “Sufferin'” and speedy good-timer “Misunderstood” follow suit. They could be brand new and “Dead Bury Dead” could’ve been written by Liebling or original drummer Geof O’Keefe for Stone Bunny circa 1970, but in terms of feel there’s a fair amount of variety between tracks in their approach — on “Walk Alone,” more rocking, on the title-cut, more morose, and so on — but Griffin‘s best-in-class tone and Liebling‘s vocals both tie the songs together, so that the entirety of Curious Volume remains cohesive across its span, speaking the crowd on “Lay Down and Die,” “Curious Volume” and “Because I Made It” — the opener, centerpiece and closer — but keeping listeners engaged throughout with its quality of craftsmanship and performance.
More perhaps than any other song on Curious Volume, the closer sums up the band’s position. “Because I Made It” finds Liebling and Griffin both on the other side of addiction struggles, each party very much in need of the other, and while I won’t downplay the role Turley‘s low-end plays in setting the heavy vibe of “The Devi’s Playground” or “Dead Bury Dead,” or the job Campbell does in stepping into the drummer role right before entering the studio, no question the focuses for most listening are the vocals and guitar. As much as anyone can in doom, they have made it. With Last Rites, the question going into it was whether or not Pentagram would be able to carry a full-length record across after seven years and a yet-again revamped lineup.
On that level, Curious Volume is an even more difficult record to make, because unlike its predecessor, the simple fact that it’s coming out doesn’t automatically stand it up as a triumph. It’s fortunate, then, that Pentagram have been able to sustain the momentum from their live shows and bring that energy and presence to the recording. The reflecting point of view of “Because I Made It” — in some ways, it and a couple of the other songs here seem to be retelling “Amazing Grace” — feels justified, especially given the context of Last Days Here, and the band make their victory through the classic doom that Pentagram helped to shape. No question that spectacle is a factor post-documentary, but there’s nothing one could reasonably expect of a Pentagram record 30 years after Relentless first surfaced that Curious Volume doesn’t deliver.
Can’t imagine I’m the only person around who counts “Neatz Brigade” as their favorite The Obsessed track. Hell, the dudes in Germany’s Rotor liked it enough to cover it for their Festsaal Kreuzberg live record (review here), so figure they dug it well enough. It’s been featured for Wino Wednesday a couple times — once Wino sat in with the aforementioned Rotor to do it live in 2010, and once from the reunited version of The Obsessed playing it at Roadburn 2012 — and while The Obsessed‘s 1985 Promo Demo has also been presented in full, it’s worth highlighting the song individually as well as it appears there, if only because the raw, early version kicks ass. Not sure what more of an excuse I’d need at this point.
By the time it showed up on a proper studio offering, nine years would have passed, and it’s now been 21 since The Obsessed‘s final studio offering, The Church Within, was released in 1994. Still, it passes the age-old test of, “If it came in today, what would I think?” First, I’d think, “wow, this sounds just like that Obsessed song with the line about making love in a mausoleum,” and then I’d think it’s pretty kickass. If you’ve never heard it, the production on the 1985 demo version is as raw as one might expect, but 30 years after the fact, that sound has aesthetic appeal beyond heavy metal nostalgia, and “Neatz Brigade”‘s rolling riff comes through clearly as a signature piece. One can understand why, a nearly a decade later, it would still have enough life in it to show up on an actual record.
This is Wino Wednesday #197 as we march toward what I’ve decided will be the conclusion of the feature at #200. If you’re wondering if I’ve had second thoughts about ending the series at 200, absolutely, yes, I have.
Enjoy “Neatz Brigade” in all its scratchy glory and have a great Wino Wednesday:
The Obsessed, “Neatz Brigade” from 1985 Promo Demo
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
You might recall that when it was first announced, the release date for Pentagram‘s Curious Volume was set at Aug. 28 through Peaceville. Well, that’s a week late. In fact, the legendary doomers’ return to Peaceville Records is out this Friday, Aug. 21. My understanding is it’s not a matter of the album being pushed up, but it works out to be the same anyway — it’ll be out a week sooner than we thought. The timing means that instead of being on the West Coast for a quickie run around their slot at North West Hesh Fest in Portland (info here) when the album is released, it’ll already be out, but I doubt anyone hitting up that fest or any of the other shows will mind a chance to get to know the songs for a few days first.
So, one more time, the takeaway: Curious Volume‘s out Aug. 21, not Aug. 28. Pentagram have a slew of other tour dates recently announced, and you can find them below as hoisted off the PR wire:
PENTAGRAM ANNOUNCES U.S. HEADLINING TOUR
New album ‘Curious Volume’ out August 21 on Peaceville; album trailer posted online
Legendary U.S. heavy/doom metal band, Pentagram, has announced a U.S. headlining tour, set to kick off in Philadelphia, Pa. on September 30. Electric Citizen and Satan’s Satyrs will join Pentagram for the nine city trek.
Frontman Bobby Liebling commented: “Pentagram is extremely excited about our upcoming tours in the U.S. and Europe this fall. We all are itching to perform some of our songs off of our new album ‘Curious Volume’ for you. We feel that they fit well within the other heavy numbers from the bands near 45 year history. Of course, the set is packed with the classics you know and love and ones that you may not even expect. Bring your earplugs; we are going to blow off the roof with our curious volume!”
Pentagram recently reunited with Peaceville Records for its new studio album, Curious Volume, due out August 21.
Featuring 11 classic heavy metal compositions with catchy hooks from core band members Victor Griffin, Greg Turley, and Bobby Liebling (Pete Campbell on the drums completes the band’s line-up), Curious Volume was recorded with Swedish producer Mattias Nilsson at studios located in Maryland and Virginia. Additional recording took place in Tennessee with Grammy-nominated producer Travis Wyrick, who also produced Pentagram’s previous album, Last Rites. The album’s cover artwork was provided courtesy of Richard Schouten.
Pentagram live… 8/27 – Portland, OR @ Dante’s 8/28 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel 8/29 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
Pentagram w/ Electric Citizen, Satan’s Satyrs… 9/30 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts 10/01 – Providence, RI @ The Met 10/02 – Amityville, NY @ Revolution 10/03 – Washington, DC @ Rock N Roll Hotel 10/06 – New York, NY @ Saint Vitus 10/07 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr Smalls 10/09 – Chicago, IL @ The Abbey 10/10 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme 10/11 – Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
Pentagram is… Bobby Liebling – vocals Victor Griffin – guitar Greg Turley – bass Pete Campbell – drums
If you’re so inclined, you can go back through the annals of Wino Wednesday and find plenty of Spirit Caravan clips, but their 1999 Dreamwheel EP has never been featured in full. With just five posts left in what’s apparently a series of 200, there’s still some time to correct that and you’ll have to pardon me, but I’m going to take advantage.
Dreamwheel was issued in 1999 as the follow-up to the same year’s full-length debut, the gonna-be-if-it-isn’t-already classic Jug Fulla Sun. No easy feat to be the next release after that record, but Spirit Caravan — then the trio of Wino on guitar/vocals, Dave Sherman on bass and Gary Isom on drums — did themselves a favor in issuing an EP to shift the conversation before moving on to their second and final long-player, 2001’s Elusive Truth. To go with its six-minute opening title-track, the under-20-minute EP, with its strange cover art and songs like “Sun Stoned” and “C, Yourself,” was the first association between Wino and the label MeteorCity, which would continue through the next several years with Spirit Caravan‘s The Last Embrace compilation and the first two albums by The Hidden Hand before that band went on to work with Southern Lord.
Very interested to find out where Spirit Caravan reunion goes in the next several months and beyond. They played the Maryland Doom Fest in June with Ed Gulli (ex-The Obsessed) on drums in place of Henry Vasquez, whose tenure with Saint Vitus continues, but whether or not that’s a permanent change, I don’t know. And further, whether or not they’ll work on new studio material is the real question, if Wino and Sherman will keep going as Spirit Caravan — and one hopes they will — it seems inevitable at some point, but I wonder when or if we might start to hear new songs played live, recording rumors, etc.
We’ll see how it plays out, but until then, here’s Dreamwheel for Wino Wednesday number 196. I hope you enjoy:
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Vultures of Volume II is rightfully stoked to add Internal Void guitarist Kelly Carmichael to the lineup. I’m also stoked, because The Obelisk has joined the list of sponsors for the second-annual festival, based in Maryland and set to take place at Delmar Bar & Grill in Hagerstown on Sept. 4 and 5. In addition to Carmichael, who’ll bring an electrified boogie Delta blues set to the mix, the esteemed likes of Spirit Caravan, Solace, Elder, Ruby the Hatchet and many more will play and it promises to be a hell of a weekend. I’m hoping to make the trip down for it as well, so assuming that comes together — one never knows when a piano might fall on one’s head, preventing travel to the Chesapeake Watershed or, really, anywhere — keep an eye out for the coverage.
Until then, the announcement of Carmichael‘s getting on board follows. Note no confirmation that he’s the last act to be added. Could it be that Vultures of Volume II has even more up its sleeve?
Only one way to find out:
Just when you thought this outrageous lineup for Vultures of Volume 2 couldn’t get any better we prove you wrong! We are ecstatic to have the one and only KELLY CARMICHAEL, whom many of you will most assuredly know as the six string tone maestro behind Maryland doom legends Internal Void and a former valuable member in the ranks of the mighty Pentagram!! Kelly will be bringing his electrified brand of “Raw Roots Delta Blues” to the Friday night lineup. Carmichael promises this performance to be “LOUD, HARD AND DIRTY” and we are COMPLETELY stoked to have him part of the festivities this year! SO….the question is…do you really need another reason to get your advance tickets NOW?
Just what the hell is Dee Calhoun talking about in the new Iron Man song “Eulogy for Queen City?” I have no idea, but man that guy can wail. And “Iron” Al Morris can riff, and bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann groove like madmen, so here we are. Iron Man‘s got a new track out. The rest can be sorted later.
“Eulogy for Queen City” marks the first new song Iron Man have made public since the release of their 2013 full-length and Rise Above Records label debut, South of the Earth (review here). The band have had quite a ride since that album came out, playing the UK for the first time and getting at least a fraction of their due as their tenure moved further beyond the quarter-century mark, but I guess it’s reasonable to have them working on new stuff at this point — been a quick two years since that album showed up.
The clip below — prepare yourself for some cymbals early on — was filmed at the first annual Maryland Doom Fest last month in Frederick, MD, which also featured the likes of Spirit Caravan and The Skull. As much as Iron Man have done in their time, it’s hard to imagine them being at home anywhere more than at a Maryland Doom Fest. Their career is more or less an analog for the entire MD doom scene at this point: Quality over profile, vastly underrated. They certainly seem to be in their element in the video, which was filmed by Michael “Lucifer Burns” Lindenauer.
Iron Man, “Eulogy for Queen City” live at Maryland Doom Fest
Upcoming Iron Man shows: August 15- Tennessean Sludge Fest (Murfreesboro) August 28 – All That Is Heavy, Ottawa, ON Canada August 29 – Toronto (benefit) Sept 3 – Shadow Kingdom Records Riot (Cleveland) Sept 26 – Shadow Woods Metal Fest (White Hall, MD) Oct 2 – Sidebar Baltimore
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ontario-based singer Al “The Yeti” Bones brings a considerable measure of pedigree to the lineup of Serpents of Secrecy. That band, which already boasts three of the four members of the recently-defunct Sixty Watt Shaman and also count Foghound and King Giant on their collective resumé, can add lines for Bones‘ (né Alex Petrovich) experience in Gypsy Chief Goliath, Mister Bones and underrated bruisers The Mighty Nimbus to that mix. He also released a solo album (track stream here) in 2014.
The group’s debut full-length is underway now, being recorded with the venerable J. Robbins, as the PR wire informs. Normally I’d say congratulations either to the band or to Bones himself, but I think this time it’s worth congratulating both, as everyone here seems to win out. Looking forward to that record:
SERPENTS OF SECRECY: Reactivated Southern Doom Pioneers Welcome Al Yeti Bones To The Vocal Position; Full-Length Album Underway
After weeks of auditions, reactivated southern doom bringers, SERPENTS OF SECRECY – featuring ex-Sixty Watt Shaman members, bassist Rev. Jim Forrester (Foghound), drummer Chuck Dukehart III (Foghound) and guitarist Todd Ingram (King Giant) — are very pleased to welcome current Gypsy Chief Goliaths/former Mighty Nimbus frontman, Al Yeti Bones, to the mic.
SERPENTS OF SECRECY was initially forged in 2013 but ultimately put on hold while Rev. Jim, Dukehart III, and Ingram participated in the reformation of Sixty Watt Shaman. However, following two years of performances including DesertFest Berlin and London, the increasingly difficult challenges related to schedules and logistics within the Sixty Watt camp led to the revival of SERPENTS OF SECRECY.
Recording of a full-length album is already underway in Baltimore, Maryland at Magpie Cage Studios with J. Robbins (Clutch, Wino, The Sword etc.). The first round of tracking is complete and additional sessions are planned in the coming weeks. “We were working with several candidates and heard some great vocalists but Al’s demos had the attack, passion and feel that best matched the music we’re writing,” said Ingram of the decision to bring in Yeti Bones. “His performances were the first ones where all three of us thought, ‘yep, this is our guy.’ And his enthusiasm for this project has truly been impressive. He sent us vocal takes less than twenty-four hours after receiving the rough tracks.”
“I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this band,” says Yeti Bones. “It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been involved with anything stateside, and the name SERPENTS OF SECRECY truly spoke to me. Fitting for what we are doing and the road we travel down, which is one that has been relatively silent to the public waiting for the right time to strike by unleashing this beast unto the world.”
“The songs cover a lot of ground musically and emotionally,” elaborates Forrester of the forthcoming tunes. “Much of the material was written and even recorded in a very despondent atmosphere. So the songs range from a palpable anger and aggression to very somber in tone.” “And there are some head nodding, all-consuming anthems in there as well,” adds Dukehart.
SERPENTS OF SECRECY plans to release the album in late 2015/early 2016. Further info to be announced in the coming weeks.