Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The forthcoming South of the Earth will be the first Iron Man album in four years — nothing compared to the decade between Generation Void (1999) and I Have Returned (2009; review here) — and the first with “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun as the frontman, and though a handful of EPs as the band ironed out their approach over the last couple years have given some hint of what to expect (i.e., doom), South of the Earthstill feels like an event. Release date still to come.
While we wait on that, the album art and finished tracklisting for South of the Earthhave been made public, and you can find them below along with a preview of the record:
Maryland doom legends Iron Man are happy to announce completion of their fifth full-length album, “South of the Earth.”
Recording and mixing took place at Hudson Street Sound in Annapolis, Maryland with producer/engineer Frank Marchand III. This was Iron Man’s second project with Marchand, who was also at the controls for the band’s 2009 album “I Have Returned.” “South of the Earth” was mastered at Bias Studios in Springfield, Virginia.
Digital distribution of “South of the Earth” will be handled by MusicLive365/Sony. The album’s physical distributor will be announced soon.
The track listing for “South of the Earth,” which is set for a summer release, is as follows:
South of the Earth Hail to the Haze A Whore in Confession The Worst and Longest Day Ariel Changed the Sky IISOEO (The Day of the Beast) Half-Face/Thy Brother’s Keeper (Dunwich pt. 2) In the Velvet Darkness The Ballad of Ray Garraty
Iron Man “South of the Earth” personnel: Alfred Morris III – guitars, backing vocals Screaming Mad Dee – voice, piano, keyboards Louis Strachan – bass, backing vocals Mot Waldmann – drums, percussion
I continue to dig the hell out of Baltimore heavy psych rockers The Flying Eyes. The still-youngin’ four-piece will release their third full-length, Lowlands, on July 26, 2013, through Berlin’s Nois-O-Lution Records. To herald its arrival and precede a European tour with Brooklyn’s Golden Animals (more on that in the coming weeks), The Flying Eyes have just posted a new video for the song “Under Iron Feet” from Lowlands, that you can find below with some background on the band in case you missed their two albums to date, 2011′s Done So Wrong(review here) and their 2009 self-titled debut (review here).
Things to watch for: The Conan-esque wheel being pushed while the band plays atop, silhouettes, and grade A heavy psych rock that shows The Flying Eyes have obviously been paying attention to how it’s done during their extensive road time in Europe.
The Flying Eyes, “Under Iron Feet” official video
THE FLYING EYES are a heavy, psychedelic rock band hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. Their name comes from a 1962 science fiction novel about giant, disembodied eyes that descend from outer space to control humanity.
The Flying Eyes have played supporting gigs with national acts such as Dead Meadow, The Raveonettes, The Black Angels and Dan Auerbach among many others. They founded and host “Farm Fest”, a DIY music festival in the Maryland countryside. Farm Fest 2012 (“Farmageddon”) featured Black Moth Super Rainbow, Celebration and White Hills.
The Flying Eyes have achieved a notable following in Europe with sold out club tours and highlights including: the Burg Herzberg Festival (sharing the main stage with Jeff Beck and Hawkwind), an appearance on the legendary Rockpalast television show, the Orange Blossom Special festival (DE), Stoned From The Underground (DE) and Trutnov Open Air (CZ). They are currently finishing their album “Lowlands” (produced by Rob Girardi and mixed by “Frenchie” Smith who discovered them at SXSW), which was paid for entirely through the support of their loyal social media following. The band plans to support the release of the album with another European tour in late Summer 2013.
02.08.2013 – DE Bad Kötzting, Voidfest 03.08.2013 – DE Stuttgart, Zwölfzehn 04.08.2013 – DE Dresden, Chemiefabrik 06.08.2013 – DE Halle/Saale, Hühnermanhattan 07.08.2013 – DE Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg 08.08.2013 – DE Frankfurt/M., Nachtleben 09.08.2013 – CH Vinelz, Open Air am Bieler See 10.08.2013 – CH Sargans, Out In The Gurin 13.08.2013 – DE Kassel, H.Schmiede 14.08.2013 – DE Riegsee, Private Open Air 15.08.2013 – DE Ludwigshafen, Club London Underground 16.08.2013 – DE Nürnberg, Misty Mountain Festival 17.08.2013 – DE Groß Lindow, Open Air Groß Lindow 19.08.2013 – PL Szczecin, Morion* 20.08.2013 – PL Zielona Gora, Rock-Out* 21.08.2013 – PL Poznan, Pod Minoga* 22.08.2013 – PL Gdynia, Desdemona* 23.08.2013 – PL Warszawa, Harenda* 24.08.2013 – PL Krakow, tba* 29.08.2013 – DE Jena, Black Night * 30.08.2013 – DE Schüttorf, Komplex* 31.08.2013 – BE Brussels, DNA Café * 01.09.2013 – BE Wortel, Jeugdklub ‘t Slot* 02.09.2013 – DE Hannover, Mephisto @ faust * 03.09.2013 – DE Bremen, Meisenfrei* 04.09.2013 – DE Bielefeld, Forum* 05.09.2013 – DE Ahaus, Logo * 06.09.2013 – DE Siegen, Vortex* 07.09.2013 – DE Hamburg, Haus III70* 09.09.2013 – DE Freiburg, White Rabbit * 10.09.2013 – DE München, Backstage * 17.09.2013 – CH Genève, Le Kab * 18.09.2013 – ES Barcelona, Rocksound* 19.09.2013 – ES Madrid, La Boite* 20.09.2013 – ES Leon, Taberna Belfast* 21.09.2013 – ES Hondarribia, Psilocybenea* 23.09.2013 – FR Chambéry, Brin De Zinc * 24.09.2013 – DE Konstanz, Kulturladen* 27.09.2013 – DE Kiel, Schaubude* * = w/ Golden Animals
The Flying Eyes Adam Bufano- Guitar Mac Hewitt- Bass and Vocals Will Kelly- Vocals and Guitar Elias Mays Schutzman- Drums
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Book, saddle and go. As ever, Maryland groove stalwarts Clutch are hitting the road. The foursome continue to kick it in support of their tenth album, Earth Rocker (review here), released earlier this year on their own Weathermaker Music. On Friday, they start a European run that’ll take them into mid-July. Word has also come out of a North American stint that’ll bring them across the land and back. Those dates and more info can be found below, hot off the PR wire:
CLUTCH Gear Up For European Tour — New North American Tour Dates Announced!
Maryland rockers clutch are off to Europe this week for a five week tour that includes festival dates and club shows. CLUTCH have announced the next North American legs of the “Earth Rocker” World Tour. The tour starts in Edmonton Alberta for the Alberta’s Own Festival. The US run of dates kicks off September 14th in Baltimore, MD with an appearance at “The Shindig Festival”. Support on the headline tour in September will come from The Sword and Crobot. Support on the October and November shows will be provided by The Sword and American Sharks. Tickets for fan club members go on sale Wednesday June 5th and for the general public on Friday June 7th and Saturday June 8th. Go to pro-rock.com for fan club early ticketing.
In addition to the new dates, CLUTCH has also confirmed that they will be returning to the newly opened Starland Ballroom (which was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy), this December as part of their annual holiday tour. Dates for the rest of the holiday shows will be announced later.
Any fan’s dream is to know what it’s like to be on the road with a Rock and Roll band, but you may be surprised to see what it’s really like – long periods of boredom, broken up by brief periods of intense activity and most of all hard work. The working man’s Rock and Roll Band, CLUTCH will be posting a tour blog throughout their European tour on how it really is. The first post is available today and can be read on the band’s Facebook Page andhttp://www.pro-rock.com.
European Summer Tour Dates 6/7: Zeppenlinfeld, Germany @ Rock im Park* 6/8: Nurburgring, Germany @ Rock Am Ring* 6/10: Potsdam, Germany @ Waschhaus 6/11: Heidelberg, Germany @ Karlstorbahnhof 6/13: Madrid, Spain @ Gloos Club 6/14: Barcelona, Spain @ Music Hall Barcelona 6/15: Bilbao, Spain @ Sala Santana* 6/17: Bordeaux, France @ Le Krakatoa 6/18: Lyon, France @ Transbo Club (at Le Transbordeur) 6/19: Milan, Italy @ Flame Festival* 6/20: Zurich, Switzerland @ Earshakerdays @ Volkhaus* 6/21: Schmitten, Switzerland @ Scmittnet Openair Festival* 6/22: Cognac, France @ Les Anciens Abattoirs 6/23: Clisson, France @ Hellfest* 6/26: Thessaloniki, Greece @ Principal Club Theater 6/27: Athens, Greece @ VOX IERA Odos 6/29: Bremen, Germany @ Tower 6/30: Dessel, Belgium @ Graspop Metal Meeting* 7/1: Deventer, Netherlands @ Burgerweeshuis 7/2: Eindhoven, Netherlands @ Effenaar 7/4: Hisingen, Sweden @ Metaltown* 7/6: Munster, Germany @ Vainstream Rockfest* 7/7: Luxembourg @ Kulturfabrik 7/8: Norwich, UK @ Waterfront 7/9: Nottingham, UK @ Rock City 7/10: Manchester, UK @ The Ritz 7/11: London, UK @ The Forum
North American Dates 8/31: Lacombe, AB @ Alberta Downs – (Alberta’s Own)* 9/14: Baltimore, MD @ Carroll Park – “The Shindig” * 9/15: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel 9/16: Birmingham, AL @ Iron City 9/17: Jacksonville, FL @ Freebird Live 9/19: Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre 9/20: Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre 9/21: Vienna, WV @ Fishbone Gill & Grill 9/22: South Bend, IN @ Club Landing 9/24: So. Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground 9/25: Buffalo, NY @ The Town Ballroom 9/26: Port Chester, NY @ The Capitol Theatre 9/27: Huntington, NY @ The Paramount 9/28: Hampton Beach, NH @ Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom 10/27: Charleston, SC @ The Music Farm 10/28: Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre 10/29: Chattanooga, TN @ Track 29 10/31: Louisville, KY @ Expo Five 11/01: Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall 11/02: Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom 11/04: Corpus Christi, TX @ House of Rock 11/05: Austin, TX @ Emo’s 11/07: Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater 11/08: Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre 11/09: West Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues 11/10: San Diego, CA @ House of Blues 11/11: Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades 11/13: Grand Junction, CO @ Mesa Theater & Club 11/14: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre 11/15: Wichita, KS @ The Cotillion 11/16: Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note 11/17: Bloomington, IL @ The Castle Theatre 11/19: Joliet, IL @ Mojoes 11/20: Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theatre 11/21: Ft. Wayne, IN @ Piere’s 11/22: Columbus, OH @ The LC Pavilion 11/23: Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore Detroit 12/27: Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
Posted in Reviews on May 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
With nearly 40 shows under their collective belt in support of their 10th album, Earth Rocker, Maryland roaddogs Clutch are still really just beginning the touring cycle. Fresh off a couple weeks’ break following a long run with Orange Goblin, they returned to Manhattan last night with The Sword and regular tour compatriots Lionize opening, playing a set that included all but two of the tracks from the new album as well as a few classics from their vast catalog.
There aren’t a lot of bands who can get away with this. The rock and roll cliche is that when you hear, “Here’s one from the new album,” it’s time to go get another drink. Clutch, and their fanbase, are an exception to the rule. Earth Rocker (review here) has been out for about a month and a half, and it was the new songs that people wanted to see, to get to know in a live setting, to find out where the band — guitarist Tim Sult, vocalist Neil Fallon, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster — would decide to throw in a jam here and there, and to learn how the new stuff meshed with the old.
Clutch last came through in December as part of their annual holiday tour (review here), and they had played a few of the Earth Rockercuts then, but now with more gigs behind them, the songs were unquestionably more refined. And there were more of them. Save for “Unto the Breach” and “Mr. Freedom,” the entirety of Earth Rockerwas spread throughout the set — eight tracks — mixed with a few cuts from its unofficial companion piece, 2004′s Blast Tyrant(the two albums shared a producer in NJ-based Machine), including “Cypress Grove,” “The Mob Goes Wild,” “Profits of Doom” and “The Regulator,” as well as “Mice and Gods” from 2005′s Robot Hive/Exodus, “The Yeti” from 1998′s ElephantRiders, and the finale, “Electric Worry,” from 2007′s From Beale Street to Oblivion.
The real kicker here is that no matter what Clutch play at a given show, they both picked the setlist right and left something out. 10 albums deep, there’s no way they can get to everything in a single night, so they’re probably right not to try, and with the expectation that a New York crowd probably doesn’t have a lot of first-timers in it — they’ve done and continue to do really well in the area; the sheer size of Terminal 5 can stand as testament — the way for Clutch to give their audience something it hasn’t seen before is to play the new songs. Frankly, that’s what I was there to see.
And they did not disappoint. Opening with “Earth Rocker” into “Book, Saddle and Go” and “Cyborg Bette,” the rush was immediate and their energy palpable. Fallon as ever was back and forth on stage, gesticulating wildly to emphasize the lyrics while Sult, Maines and Gaster held down the still-funkified rhythm behind. “Earth Rocker” seemed a little slower than on the album, but they got up to speed with “Book, Saddle and Go,” and when “Cyborg Bette” slammed into its last verse and chorus — “Cyborg Bette/You done me/Wrong for the last time…” and so on — it was clear by the sing-along just how quickly the crowd had taken to the new material.
Any night I get to see Clutch, I feel like I’ve won out, and any night I get to see them play “The Regulator,” all the more so. Maybe it was because the bulk of the newer songs are faster and more straightforward, but the slowdown mid-set seemed even more dynamic, Fallon picking up a guitar and easing into a more melodic delivery. By then, they’d run through “The Mob Goes Wild” — suitably riotous — and “Profits of Doom” en route to working a jam onto the end of “D.C. Sound Attack” that only added to one of Earth Rocker‘s best grooves, cowbell included. Clutch are known to alternate which member of the band picks the setlist each night, and I don’t know who got this one, but it flowed well and “The Regulator” made a good marker after “Mice and Gods” and “Cypress Grove,” which was shouted out to all the ladies in the house as much good vibing ensued.
In December, “D.C. Sound Attack” had seemed rough in some of its transitions, but that was resolved and the song executed as smoothly as everything else. It feels like a given to say Clutch are one of the tightest live acts I’ve ever seen — like, well duh, of course they are — but it’s worth highlighting just how impressive they really can be on stage, and that even in a space like Terminal 5, with two balcony levels above the floor and a stretch back to rival Roseland Ballroom,not at all intimate, they managed to bring the crowd along with them for the party they were throwing. I’m sure it helped that those in attendance were so willing to go, but still. To seem human in a place like that is a feat and they pulled it off like it was nothing. One more reason to keep coming back.
“Oh, Isabella” followed “The Regulator” and led to “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…” which closes the new album. Sult‘s guitar did well in conveying the grandiose sensibility of the final moments, but I wondered if Clutch wouldn’t go so far as to add a second for that part, whether it’s Fallon handling it or someone else, just to give it that extra push when it kicks in at the end. I guess they probably have another 300 shows or so to figure out if that’s a choice they want to make, but it’s a great live song anyway, and fit surprisingly snug with the subdued “Gone Cold” following, that in turn giving way to “The Face,” a highlight of Earth Rocker and probably the song I was most hoping — aside from “The Regulator,” which is a constant on my wish list — they’d play.
Similar in its scope to the ending of “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…,” “The Face” makes an impression on the album through its sheer size and its story of rock and roll redemption. Live, it’s obviously rawer, but its epic riff sounds no less epic, and Fallon nailed the rhythm of the verses, making it all the more thrilling to watch. Hopefully it’s one that stays in the set for years to come. For the encore, Clutch threw in “The Yeti” and added a jam to the end that transitioned into “Burning Beard” — it wasn’t easy, but they got there — and then capped with “Electric Worry,” as one has come to increasingly expect over the last couple years.
For me, it was a laid-back kind of night. I’d worked late the few days prior and been pretty beat, so hitting up a Clutch show was more like seeing old friends — also helped that there were plenty of those in the crowd — than something to stress over. I got to relax, lean back and belt out a few killer tunes along with the band, and I don’t think there’s anything more I could’ve reasonably asked for a Thursday night. They were done just before midnight, I got back to my humble river valley a couple minutes after one, and woke up this morning with “The Face” still stuck in my head. It was the best Clutch show since the last one and it’ll be the best until the next one. That’s how they do.
Posted in Features on March 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was fortunate enough last fall to be asked to take some pictures of Clutch while they were recording their 10th studio album, Earth Rocker, at producer Machine‘s North Jersey studio, the Machine Shop. When I got there, vocalist Neil Fallon was putting down the chorus for what would become the album’s fourth track, “D.C. Sound Attack,” and the hook was so immediately strong that right away when I got back to my car I wrote down the words so I wouldn’t forget them when I had the song stuck in my head for however many months it would be until the album finally came out. It looked like this:
That was the first clue I had that Earth Rocker was going to be both something special and a very different album than Clutch‘s last, 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West. Where Strange Cousins pushed further into the mid-paced blues and jam explorations of recent years, even that tiny sample was enough to show that Earth Rocker was after a bigger sound, and in its finished product — released this week on the band’s own Weathermaker Music imprint — it got there. The massive room of a song like “The Face,” or the rush of its title-track, “Cyborg Bette,” “Crucial Velocity” or “Book, Saddle and Go”; it all adds up to a revitalized feel, and one well earned by the hard-touring Maryland stalwarts.
Clutch tour. That’s their thing, and it’s why it took so long to get this record together. In the four years since Strange Cousins hit, a collection of acoustic reinterpretations coupled with a Weathermaker reissue of 2004′s Blast Tyrant — their first collaboration Machine — and a Record Store Day 2012 picture disc single for the track “Pigtown Blues” filled the space between LPs, but Clutch were only ever off the road long enough to regroup for the start of the next run. Yeah, it was time to get an album out, but hey when Motörhead calls, you answer.
The point is, if absence made their fanbase’s collective heart grow stronger, Clutch weren’t actually absent. They were going door-to-door. Still, in no small part because of its energetic material, Earth Rocker (review here) arrives as an extra satisfying listen, like the album is its own bonus. “D.C. Sound Attack” is a highlight, as is “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…,” as is the side-A-closing slowdown “Gone Cold,” as is each track for one reason or another. How have Clutch chosen to celebrate the new release? The only way they seem to know how. By touring.
Teamed with London-based destroyers Orange Goblin for the first US leg going on now, Clutch — Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster — have embarked on what’s sure to be years of slogging in support of Earth Rocker. I spoke to Fallon prior to the start of the shows, after the band had gotten home from a stint through Europe in January/February, which as he noted in our conversation, was their best batch of gigs there to date.
After the jump, please find the complete Q&A with Neil Fallon of Clutch about the album, touring and much more, as well as selected pictures taken at that first in-studio (the first two below) and Clutch‘s 2012 CMJ party and performance, where they previewed Earth Rocker material for a short but memorable set.
If you’ve never seen it, Iron Man‘s merch stand makes a hell of an impression. A case that opens to several panels, the shirts, CDs and LPs that the Maryland doom stalwarts have on offer rest securely behind a transparent sheet of plastic, almost like a museum display. I’d happened into this wonder of hands-on marketing on I don’t even know how many occasions prior, but last month at Eye of the Stoned Goat 2 in Delaware (review here), it was the Iron Man Shall Rise demo that caught my eye among all the other fodder for window-shopping.
They probably didn’t think much of it at the time, but the Iron Man Shall Rise demo turned into more of a landmark than Iron Man could or really should have imagined at the time. Its three tracks — “Jumping in Head First,” “Time is the Enemy” and Juggernaut Too (Perpetual Force)” — represent the final appearance of vocalist Joe Donnelly in the band. For that alone, Iron Man Shall Rise should be a noteworthy release, but the tracks were recorded in 2010 by John Brenner of Revelation/Against Nature and released on his Bland Hand Records imprint, made especially for an appearance at that year’s Doom Shall Rise festival in Germany.
That appearance didn’t happen, and by the time Iron Man put out the DominanceEP a year later, it was current frontman Dee Calhoun on the mic, having been announced as the band’s new singer in January 2012 following the band’s appearance in October 2011 at Hammer of Doom, also a German fest. But even as Donnelly‘s swansong, Iron Man Shall Riseis hardly centered around his performance. Rather, of all the Iron Man discs I’ve heard, this one is the most about guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III, and particularly the rich blanket of fuzz he weaves with his classically doomed tone. Along with bassist Louis Strachan, Morris‘ all-too-underappreciated sound is at the fore on the shuffling “Jumping in Head First,” as Donnelly and then-drummer Dex Dexter are somewhat buried behind, and when the six-stringer kicks in with a lead, even Strachan takes a backseat. As does the rest of the planet.
It’s not necessarily a surprise that Brenner, himself a veteran of the Maryland/D.C. doom scene, would want to highlight Morris‘ work on this demo recording, but in light even of Iron Man‘s EPs over the last couple years — the aforementioned Dominance (review here) and Att hålla dig över, which followed in 2012 — Iron Man Shall Rise has a different sound than anything the band has done, the layers of riffs and backing leads in “Time is the Enemy” giving way to the consuming fuzz of “Juggernaut Too (Perpetual Force),” presumably a sequel to the track “Juggernaut” from 1999′s Generation Void. Here again, Morris‘ guitar work is consuming, an initial lead making way for the verse before Donnelly‘s half-snarled chorus.
Save for a few fills, Dexter‘s drums are more or less inaudible behind the guitar and bass, and that Morris lead returns to its prominent position at the end of the track, which is more or less just a stop. It’s a curious kind of release — very much a demo — and if you think you’ve heard every side of their sound that Iron Man have to offer and you haven’t heard these tracks, then you’re mistaken. In another dimension, Iron Man Shall Rise came out with “kvlt” marketing and got the band hipster cred. Seriously. It happened.
Posted in Reviews on February 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
By the time Marylander stalwarts of groove Clutch release Earth Rocker through their own Weathermaker Music imprint on March 19, it will have been nearly four years since they last issued a studio album. That record, 2009’s Strange Cousins from the West, pushed the four-piece’s blues/funk fetish to its furthest reaches to date, with cuts like “Abraham Lincoln” and “Let a Poor Man Be” enacting a successful blend of the blues and Clutch’s long-running thread of heavy rock consistency while “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” and “Minotaur” offered the lyrical quirk that fans have come to expect over the course of their career. Four years is the longest stretch ever between Clutch offerings, but during that time the band was hardly idle. In addition 2010’s “King of Arizona” digital single, Live at the 9:30 double-DVD set (review here) and overseeing Weathermaker reissues in 2011 of the three albums initially released on DRT Records – 2004’s Blast Tyrant, 2005’s Robot Hive/Exodus and 2007’s From Beale Street to Oblivion (group review here) – the first of that set also including the Basket of Eggs EP of tracks from throughout their catalog reworked acoustically – as well as releasing a new single, Pigtown Blues, for Record Store Day in 2012, Clutch toured the holy hell out of Strange Cousins from the West (live reviews here, here, here and here), only really stopping to start up again in the US or Europe. Doubtless they could have kept going – theirs is a fanbase loyal and prone to showing up – but speaking as a fan of the band (which, make no mistake, is the point of view from whence this review comes) it was past time for a new album, and if you want a sense of how Earth Rocker relates to Clutch’s discography as their 10th outing, there’s really no need to look past the title. Where Strange Cousins from the West was long, somewhat meandering, vague in its origin, From Beale Street to Oblivion clear in its place but also on the longer side of a title, and Robot Hive/Exodus had that pesky slash offering grammatical complexity, Earth Rocker – the mere phrase – lands with a stripped-down thud as one imagines a large book might on a dusty table. The band has noted their drive to write faster songs and between that and their returning to producer Machine to record, Earth Rocker has no little amount in common with Blast Tyrant nearly a decade later. Even the syllabic rhythm of the two titles is the same, and you know Clutch get down with some syllabic rhythm.
If that’s the starting point, so be it, but Clutch – vocalist/sometimes-guitarist Neil Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster – are in no way repeating themselves with Earth Rocker, and whatever similarities of approach the latest work might share with Blast Tyrant, those similarities are filtered through the subsequent years of blues influence and road dogging. These songs are not a step backward. They are, however, some of the most straightforwardly heavy rocking tracks Clutch have written since Blast Tyrant, or, I’d argue, the preceding album, 2001’s Pure Rock Fury, albeit with a thicker, larger production sound. An impeccably structured 44-and-a-half-minute collection of 11 tracks, Earth Rocker is also the shortest of the band’s full-lengths (by about three minutes, but still), and telegraphs its side A/B split no matter the format, with the subdued blues moodiness of “Gone Cold” just as potent a centerpiece for the linear listen (CD/digital) as it is a cap for the first side of an LP, following the quick rush of an initial salvo in “Earth Rocker,” “Crucial Velocity,” “Mr. Freedom,” “D.C. Sound Attack” and “Unto the Breach,” all of which feed into a considerable sense of momentum. The opening duo of “Earth Rocker” and “Crucial Velocity” are especially indicative of the record’s course, coming on short, crisp and tight in casting aside (for the moment and relatively speaking) funk groove in favor of forward thrust. In its verses, “Earth Rocker” is a bold declaration of intent, with an acknowledgement of audience in the chorus that’s not to be overlooked. Gaster and Sult introduce the song with a tense quiet beginning, but when the track begins to move, it doesn’t stop again, Fallon injecting mwa-ha-ha-ha bogeyman laughter into the chorus as though the very notion of being an “earth rocker” – one who might proclaim, “I don’t need your stinking laminates/I don’t need your VIP/I don’t need your validation/’Cause I wear mine on the sleeve” – is something other or intimidating. He’s probably right, and as the song hits its peak, the frontman offers the plainspoken perspective, “Yes I’ve lost many battles/And even more days/But if I had to do it over/I’d do it just the same,” leading to a last chorus that in a few minutes has gone from mission statement to victorious decree. Not a bad jump to make in just three and a half minutes, and though the pace continues on “Crucial Velocity,” the lyrics move to a semi-sci-fi thematic with Fallon being pursued perhaps by his own future and escaping in an Oldsmobile.
“Rocket 88” was a 1951 single by Ike Turner and his band Kings of Rhythm that legend has it featured the first distorted electric guitar, so with that reference, the chorus of “My Rocket 88/Fastest in the land/Crucial, crucial velocity!” taps into more than one kind of escapism, Fallon going self-referential in the third verse with the lines, “Everybody, everybody keeps telling me/Neil you got to quit your lowdown ways.” The band behind is suitably motoring, Sult adding wah flourish while Gaster claims debt from his snare (beating it like it owes him money) and Maines builds himself a summer cottage in the pocket of a signature start-stop verse groove. On some level, this is Clutch sounding like Clutch, but it’s also bigger and tonally heavier than they’ve been since they last collaborated with Machine. The faster songs are refreshing without sacrificing their rhythmic presence, and they set up Earth Rocker to unfold its diversity with “Mr. Freedom” and the subsequent tracks. It’s a tricky turn between “Mr. Freedom,” – as politically-minded lyrically as the title would indicate – “D.C. Sound Attack,” “Unto the Breach” and “Gone Cold,” but they pull it off and keep a flow going without so much as batting an eye, keeping hints of the opening rush in “Mr. Freedom” while dialing back the tempo slightly, upping the funk for “D.C. Sound Attack” and delving, as previously noted, into quiet blues for “Gone Cold.” Clutch aren’t strangers to political material – digging back through lyrics, even “One Eye Dollar” as it appears on 1999’s Jam Room is easy to read that way – and “Mr. Freedom” stands on the shoulders of cuts like “Mr. Shiny Cadillackness” from From Beale Street to Oblivion and “Freakonomics” from Strange Cousins from the West in a line of recent excursions into progressive social commentary. Like the first two tracks and Earth Rocker as a whole, however, it’s also more blatant in calling out those who play on fear for political ends or find cause for righteousness in the superficial trappings of patriotism, not even through the first verse before Fallon gives it straight: “Every time you open up your mouth a load of horse shit comes flying right back out.” The stance notwithstanding (I’m not one to debate even if I felt a need), Sult’s wah should be enough to win any conservative holdouts. Maines, who at times can seem to be lost in the mix beneath layers of guitar, fills out the chorus well as part of what I consider heavy rock’s best rhythm section alongside Gaster, and though “Mr. Freedom” is the shortest piece on Earth Rocker at 2:45, it lacks nothing in impression left. I haven’t seen the preachy rear someone’s vehicle since I first heard it and not thought of the second verse line, “And every bumper sticker on the back your car makes you feel a little more real.”
When it hits, “D.C. Sound Attack” is a highlight among highlights. Its groove is a little funkier, Gaster riding the riff while Fallon throws in some blues harp for the quick intro into the first verse, and the layering in the chorus makes it a standout as the vocals respond to their own calls and the lyrics, “Hell hounds on your trail/What a pity/But that’s the price you pay/Shakin’ hands in Necro City” lead to a cowbell-infused bridge no less memorable, calling for the titular D.C. sound attack. Of all the material on Earth Rocker, “D.C. Sound Attack” is a takeaway – one of those songs that will likely feature in the live set for years to come, and one well suited to that environment in spite of what the layering adds to the guitar and vocals in the studio version, the lyrics still consistent in their roughly sociopolitical lean with the much more blatant “Mr. Freedom.” Gaster’s drums prove as integral to the song’s ultimate success as Sult’s riffing, and the overall result proves immediately infectious where a track like “Crucial Velocity,” because it moves faster, needs a few listens to really sink in on the listener. That’s the case as well with “Unto the Breach,” which follows “D.C. Sound Attack” and revives the initial speediness of “Crucial Velocity” and the title cut. As it’s positioned between “D.C. Sound Attack” and “Gone Cold” – both distinguished right away in the tracklist – it’s easy to pass over “Unto the Breach” as an afterthought, but it fits well on side A, reviving the uptempo thrust and exuding a lyrical paranoia full of hobgoblins, Morris men, and the Swiss guard, dropping references to the Gutenburg press and of course the title call, snatched from Shakespeare’s Henry V. All these actors end their revels in just 3:31, so “Unto the Breach” is nothing if it’s not densely packed, and whatever landmark “D.C. Sound Attack” may have provided before it or “Gone Cold” might provide after, “Unto the Breach”’s full-run chorus is effective and engaging. Another track, less intricately arranged in its layering, that seems to be built for the stage, Sult taking a wah solo to break up the thud from Gaster’s drums and Maines poking through with low end just before the last verse/chorus rush. It’s a deceptive song in the spirit of “Child of the City” from From Beale Street to Oblivion, but its qualities emerge over a longer term of listens and its merits ultimately prove greater than one might initially believe.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Book, saddle and go! Clutch know full well that nothing goes with a tour like another tour, so to complement the first leg of their US dates in support of the forthcoming Earth Rocker (which will be reviewed here before the week is out) they’ve announced another run of shows, this time with Lionize and The Sword opening.
All this and then they go to Europe. Behold their schedule and be exhausted by it:
The Earth Rocker World Tour Heats Up!
With less than a month remaining before the release of CLUTCH’s highly anticipated new album Earth Rocker the band is pleased to announce the second leg of the Earth Rocker North American tour! Leg two kicks off May 1st in Richmond, VA and will run through May 26th in San Antonio, TX. Support on this run comes from The Sword and Lionize.
Tickets go on sale to fan club members Wednesday February 27th and for the general public Friday March 1st and Saturday March 2nd. Tickets for the first leg of the tour are beginning to sell out, make sure you get yours while you still can!
CLUTCH will kick off the first leg of the Earth Rocker North American tour March 8th in Cincinnati, OH and it runs through April 20th in Baltimore, MD. Support on the first leg will come from Orange Goblin, Lionize and Scorpion Child.
CLUTCH will also appear at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. Exact info on show times and locations will be released soon. Make sure to stay tuned to http://pro-rock.com for the latest info.
As the summer season draws near, new European tour dates for CLUTCH are starting to be announced. A full list of dates including numerous high profile festival appearances can be seen below.
More shows are expected to be added in the coming weeks.
Earth Rocker World Tour 3/8: Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s 3/9: Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works 3/10: Sauget, IL @ Pop’s 3/11: Little Rock, AR @ Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom 3/12: Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom 3/14: Dallas, TX @ Palladium Ballroom 3/15: Austin, TX @ SXSW 3/16: Austin, TX @ SXSW 3/18: Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep 3/19: Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot 3/21: Los Angeles, CA @ House of Blues 3/22: Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee 3/23: Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Café Las Vegas Strip 3/24: Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues 3/26: San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom 3/27: Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory 3/29: Seattle, WA @ Showbox at the Market 3/30: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater 3/31: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House 4/1: Missoula, MT @ The Wilma Theater 4/2: Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory Concert House 4/3: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom – SOLD OUT! 4/5: Calgary, AB @ Flames Central 4/6: Saskatoon, SK @ Odeon Events Centre 4/7: Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall 4/9: Winnipeg, MB @ The Garrick Centre 4/10: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue 4/11: Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s 4/12: Chicago, IL @ House of Blues 4/13: Grand Rapids, MI @ The Orbit Room 4/15: Syracuse, NY @ Westcott Theater 4/16: New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place 4/18: Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy 4/19: Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE – Indoor 4/20: Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live – SOLD OUT!
Earth Rocker North American Tour Leg 2 5/1: Richmond, VA @ The National 5/2: New York, NY @ Terminal 5 5/3: Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall 5/4: Portland, ME @ State Theater 5/5: Boston, MA @ House of Blues 5/7: Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend 5/9: Tampa, FL @ State Theater 5/10: Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution 5/11: Orlando, FL @ House of Blues 5/12: Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall 5/14: New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues 5/15: Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage 5/17: Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory 5/18: Columbus, OH @ Rock on the Range* 5/19: Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue 5/21: Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hill Ballroom 5/22: Fargo, ND @ The Venue 5/23: Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theater 5/24: Pryor, OK @ Rocklahoma* 5/25: Houston, TX @ House of Blues *Denotes Festival Date*
European Tour Dates: 6/7: Zeppenlinfeld, Germany @ Rock im Park* 6/8: Nurburgring, Germany @ Rock Am Ring* 6/13: Madrid, Spain @ Gloos Club 6/14: Barcelona, Spain @ Music Hall Barcelona 6/15: Bilbao, Spain @ Sala Santana* 6/17: Bordeaux, France @ Le Krakatoa 6/18: Lyon, France @ Transbo Club (at Le Transbordeur) 6/19: Milan, Italy @ Flame Festival* 6/20: Zurich, Switzerland @ Earshakerdays @ Volkhaus* 6/23: Clisson, France @ Hellfest* 6/26: Thessaloniki, Greece @ Principal Club Theater 6/27: Athens, Greece @ VOX IERA Odos 6/30: Dessel, Belgium @ Graspop Metal Meeting* 7/4: Hisingen, Sweden @ Metaltown* 7/13: Stavern, Norway @ Stavern Festival* *Denotes Festival Date*
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Looks like Pittsburgh imprint Shadow Kingdom Records and underappreciated Maryland doom stalwarts Revelation will be continuing their alliance with a release of the latter’s newest album, Inner Harbor (review here), in April. As they usually do, Revelation self-released the album digitally last year and highlighted a more progressive sound, still melancholic, but steeped in a kind of resigned mellowness of spirit as well. If you didn’t hear it then, it’s worth hearing now.
The members of Revelation‘s other outfit Against Nature (same dudes, different band) will be playing a show in Philadelphia earlier in April as well that a trailer has just been released to help promote. Find that after the PR wire info about the Inner Harborrelease:
Shadow Kingdom Records To Release REVELATION’s “Inner Harbor” In April
April 30th, 2013 will see the release of Inner Harbor, the newest album from long-running prog rock/doom outfit REVELATION.
In existence since the mid-80′s REVELATION has earned the respect of many bands and fans from all around the world and are often credited with creating the Progressive Doom Metal genre. They’ve taken the very best sounds of Rush, Black Sabbath, and early Heavy Metal to create yet another masterpiece amongst a catalog of many with Inner Harbor. This is quite possibly the band’s most fluid and laid-back release to date. While the sound is difficult to pinpoint, one can hear classic REVELATION mixed in with a dash of 70′s Italian Progressive Rock. The music flows through you so smoothly and freely, that you’re going to feel like you’re in a state of deep relaxed meditation.
The combined creative forces of drummer Steve Branagan, guitarist/vocalist John Brenner and bassist Bert Hall Jr. are responsible for over twenty full-length releases – split between REVELATION and their eclectic alter-ego AGAINST NATURE – and countless demos and EPs. Inner Harbor was made available as a digital release last year by the band’s own Bland Hand Records (www.againstnature.us/BH/) and will see worldwide distribution on CD format by Shadow Kingdom Records in April. Pre-orders are being taken at the newly revamped Shadow Kingdom Records Webstore atwww.shadowkingdomrecords.com.
In other news, Revelation‘s alter ego Against Nature will be playing a rare gig in Philly on April 6 with Beelzefuzz, Wizard Eye and Lucertola at The M Room. A video promo for the show has been put together by Lucertola‘s Tad Leger (also Blood Farmers) and you can find it below:
Maryland’s Sixty Watt Shaman released their third album, Reason to Live, in 2002. Hard to believe it’s been that long, but I guess it has. I remember getting the album from Spitfire Records at the time and thinking it was pretty damn heavy, and sure enough, the first impression has lasted for a decade-plus, even if the band hasn’t. Sixty Watt Shaman broke up after Reason to Live, with drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell joining forces with The Mighty Nimbus and playing with Victor Griffin in Place of Skulls (he also features in Griffin‘s new outfit, In~Graved) and bassist Rev. Jim Forrester moving on to a variety of projects, including the current Serpents of Secrecy, whose details remain — you guessed it — a mystery.
They reunited in the later part of the last decade with their final lineup of Forrester, Campbell, guitarist Joe Selby and guitarist/vocalist Daniel Kerzwick, and have done shows here and there, mostly locally, but Reason to Liveremains Sixty Watt Shaman‘s last studio outing to date, and on the album, the 12-minute “All Things Come to Pass” serves all-too-fittingly as a closer. The song boasts a raging, burly jam, with Kerzwick repeating the title line ad infinitum, and that jam has two guests: Scott “Wino” Weinrich on guitar and Scott Reeder on bass.
If you have to have two names on a song, those are ones to have. Wino and Reeder, both former members of The Obsessed, leave a stamp on the extended cut to the point that after the big rock finish more than eight minutes in Kerzwick, calls them each out by name and says thanks. The impression given is that the jam was put to tape live with everyone in the studio at the same time, and while I don’t know if those were the actual circumstances of the recording, it sounds natural enough and it’s a killer groove, so I’m not about to complain.
“All Things Come to Pass” doesn’t use the full 12 minutes. There’s an acoustic hidden track afterwards, but as that’s got a cool vibe and this clip had the better sound quality of the ones I could find, we get the finish of Reason to Live in its entirety.
Posted in Reviews on February 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Baltimorean outfit make no direct claims about their fifth album being narrative in its structure, but there can be little question that Arbouretum’s Coming out of the Fog ends in a different place than it began. In a concise but peaceful 39-plus minutes, the four-piece move from “The Long Night” to the closing title-track, “Coming out of the Fog,” which contrasts the darker push of the opener with a soothing melody and soft strum from founding guitarist/vocalist Dave Heumann. With “All at Once, the Turning Weather” positioned near the album’s center, the metaphors may be mixed, but the hopeful movement is nonetheless conveyed over the course of the eight analog-recorded tracks. The Arbouretum lineup that also brought forth 2011’s excellent The Gathering – Heumann, bassist Corey Allender, drummer Brian Carey and Matthew Pierce on keys and extra percussion – has returned and that album’s lush tendency for creative genre defiance has been retained as well, Arbouretum working with patience and grace to walk a line between heavy psychedelia, doom, folk and indie rock(s), and while the album flows easily and naturally, there is a definite structure to Coming out of the Fog as well, each side ending with a quieter piece, be it “Oceans Don’t Sing” or the aforementioned title-track. Something else Arbouretum’s latest shares with its predecessor is a strong launch point – “The White Bird” was one of The Gathering’s high points, and “The Long Night” has an immediate appeal here as well, residing on the heavier end of the band’s sound without unveiling the full tonal crunch that will make itself known on “The Promise” still to come. Heumann begins solo on guitar and introduces the first two lines of the verse vocally before Allender’s bass and Carey’s drums join in. A not-overbearing hook persists in both the verse and the chorus, and Pierce makes his presence felt playing off the guitar in a bluesy solo section as the rhythm section holds fast to the established groove before shifting on a stop back into a final verse, where they end rather than reviving the chorus for a last runthrough – more a testament to the weight of that progression than an oversight – there’s nothing on Coming out of the Fog that feels like a misstep when it comes to songwriting.
Or, for that matter, performance. Heumann gives the music plenty of space to breathe, but when singing, he’s very much at the fore vocally and shows no hesitation in carrying the band when appropriate. On second track “Renouncer,” a dug-in distorted riff is complemented by the vocal line following it, but with the heavier “The Promise,” Heumann is all the more up front in his delivery, and where’s “Renouncer”’s chorus has a gentle bounce, “The Promise” announces its arrival with sharp snare hits from Carey and an insistent, thick rhythm bolstered by Pierce’s added percussion. At no point on Coming out of the Fog are Arbouretum trying to be heavy for heaviness’ sake, instead using aural heft as a tool in their varied arsenal to evoke a specific feeling or add to the overarching atmosphere of the album. Such is the case on “The Promise,” which meets Heumann’s solo with a layer of surprisingly abrasive feedback noise that comes on with two minutes left in the song and remains for the duration of the instrumental jam remaining even as the rest of the music fades out, working to setup the transition into “Oceans Don’t Sing.” A contrast in sound winds up making the flow between the two tracks work, as the side A finale, even at the peak of its build, is given more toward Americana twang, filled out by a pedal steel guitar. At 3:24, when the song opens wider, Pierce’s piano adds to the breadth, and Heumann’s vocal doesn’t quitesoar, but is masterful nonetheless in keeping the fragility of earlier in the track. A pair of heavy rockers in “All at Once, the Turning Weather” and “World Split Open” start out side B, the former stretching Arbouretum’s sonic naturalism into psychedelics late into its run while the latter affirms the earthier fuzz of “Renouncer” while setting it to a more active rhythm. Both are exceedingly engaging, especially for listeners from the fuzzier end of the musical spectrum, rife with tonal warmth and a maintained balance of influence that still finds Arbouretum sounding like no one so much as themselves. Take your pick for which is the high point of the album; it could just as easily be any cut on Coming out of the Fog, depending on your mood when you hear it.
Clutch have posted a brand new lyric video for the track “Earth Rocker” from the forthcoming album of the same name. As the Maryland groovers wrap their current European tour, they prepare to take the show Stateside next month alongside Orange Goblin and Lionize. Dates and other info follow below, courtesy of the PR wire. Earth Rocker is due out March 19.
Everybody hear me now?
CLUTCH Release Earth Rocker Lyric Video
Earth Rocker Presale Now Available
CLUTCH’s first ever lyric video for the song “Earth Rocker” is in and can be viewed here. The video was created by Ramon Boutviseth and his team at Studio RB Films.
CLUTCH’s new album Earth Rocker is available for pre-order exclusively at http://www.clutchmerch.com. Fans can pre-order the record individually or partake in the special fan-friendly bundle packages that are being offered. WEATHERMAKER MUSIC has confirmed a March 19, 2013 North American release date for the CLUTCH Earth Rocker CD and Vinyl.
CLUTCH will kick off the first leg of the Earth Rocker North American tour March 8th in Cincinnati, OH and it runs through April 20th in Baltimore, MD. Support on the tour will come from Orange Goblin, and Lionize. Unfortunately our friends Kyng will not be able to be with us on this tour. Please visit their website for additional information.
Additionally CLUTCH will appear at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. Exact info on show times and locations will be released soon. Make sure to stay tuned to http://pro-rock.com for the latest info.
Fans can keep up on the progress of Earth Rocker by visiting the new website www.earthrocker.com. The website is a hub dedicated to all things Earth Rocker. Fans can expect to see frequent updates including photos, videos from the studio, song title announcements and samples of new songs.
Earth Rocker European Tour 2/5: Oslo, NO @ Parkteateret – SOLD OUT! 2/6: Press Day in Stockholm, SWE 2/7: Stockholm, SWE @ Tyrol
Earth Rocker North American Tour 3/8: Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s 3/9: Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works 3/10: Sauget, IL @ Pop’s 3/11: Little Rock, AR @ Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom 3/12: Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom 3/14: Dallas, TX @ Palladium Ballroom 3/15: Austin, TX @ SXSW 3/16: Austin, TX @ SXSW 3/18: Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep 3/19: Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot 3/21: Los Angeles, CA @ House of Blues 3/22: Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee 3/23: Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Café Las Vegas Strip 3/24: Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues 3/26: San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom 3/27: Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory 3/29: Seattle, WA @ Showbox at the Market 3/30: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater 3/31: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House 4/1: Missoula, MT @ The Wilma Theater 4/2: Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory Concert House 4/3: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom 4/5: Calgary, AB @ Flames Central 4/6: Saskatoon, SK @ Odeon Events Centre 4/7: Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall 4/9: Winnipeg, MB @ The Garrick Centre 4/10: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue 4/11: Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s 4/12: Chicago, IL @ House of Blues 4/13: Grand Rapids, MI @ The Orbit Room 4/15: Syracuse, NY @ Westcott Theater 4/16: New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place 4/18: Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy 4/19: Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE – Indoor 4/20: Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Venerable and perpetually underrated Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man have reportedly set to the process of putting their next full-length to tape. In the time since 2009′s I Have Returned (review here), the four-piece led by guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III have seen a handful of drummers come and go, replaced their singer, reissued their first album (review here), and dropped two EPs, late 2011′s Dominance (review here) and 2012′s Att Hålla Dig Över — in addition to playing gigs — so they’ve hardly been idle.
Still, given the lineup shifts, it should be interesting to hear how they do on a full-length with vocalist Dee Calhoun, who’s brought new character and metallic fortitude to their live show.
Behold the announcement and anticipate the doom:
Maryland doom legends Iron Man are set to begin production on their fifth full-length album. The as-yet-untitled album is scheduled for a spring 2013 release.
For this release, the band will again team up with engineer Frank Marchand, who was at the controls for Iron Man’s last full-length effort, 2009’s “I Have Returned.”
This will be the first full-length Iron Man release to feature vocalist “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun and drummer Mot Waldmann, who each appeared on the band’s “att hålla dig over” EP in 2012. Calhoun debuted with Iron Man in 2011 on the band’s “Dominance” EP.
“When I was brought in just over two years ago, I made it my mission for this band deliver the heaviest, hardest-hitting record of Iron Man’s long career,” Calhoun said. “Based upon this material, I think we’re about to succeed.” Iron Man main man, guitarist Alfred Morris III, added “this album will be a crushingly heavy collection of melodic percussion. Iron Man is given another chance to touch the world!”
Iron Man: Alfred Morris III – guitar Screaming Mad Dee – voice Louis Strachan – bass Mot Waldmann – drums
Posted in Reviews on January 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve had an itch to catch Baltimore’s Arbouretum live really since I caught wind of their 2011 album, The Gathering (which I didn’t review here because I didn’t think it would fit; I’ve since stopped caring), but especially since hearing about their sharing the stage with Om in their hometown the same weekend I was there and not being able to make that gig. Hearing their new record, Coming Out of the Fog, which is due out Jan. 22 on Thrill Jockey, only added to the urgency, and when I heard they were sharing a two-band bill with long-running alt country pioneers Freakwater at The Bell House on a Tuesday night, the decision basically made itself.
The ride in was easy enough. I’d stayed at the office late to split on time to get there for a 9PM start and miss most of the tunnel traffic, and when I got to The Bell House, I paid the door charge and was somewhat surprised to find rows of foldout chairs set up in front of the stage. I was taken aback, since last time I was there was to see YOB in May 2012, but I grabbed a seat up front and proceeded to make an activity of waiting the 10 or so minutes for the band to come out. It was mildly awkward and I felt a bit like the curtain behind Brian Carey‘s drums was going to rise and we were all going to be treated to a live The Creation of Adam à la Arrested Development (“Where is god?” “There is no god!” etc.), but no, in another couple minutes, Arbouretum emerged from the side door and the show began.
This being my first time watching them play and a big part of my attraction being their tonal warmth, I was particularly interested to see what kind of amps guitarist/vocalist David Heumann was playing through. It would be just as easy to imagine full stacks from some obscure fuzz factory, or even Dead Meadow-style Orange combos, given the sonic richness and fullness that pervades from Heumann and bassist Corey Allender, though the reality was far more understated. Heumann ran two small Egnater half-stacks arranged separately (it was a bit of linguistic near-irony when one of them started smoking mid-set; I couldn’t get “ignitor” out of my head), and while the striking visual aspect wound up working in the opposite direction from what I’d figured, his tone was unmistakable, and the band quickly went to work straddling and crossing the lines between heavy psychedelia, folk, indie and doom, as few other than them seem to be able to do.
My familiarity is really with the last couple albums (I was kind of hoping they’d have any of the first three on their merch table and I’d be able to get caught up, but no dice), but I recognized a goodly portion of the material they played, the memorable “Oceans Don’t Sing” standing out from Coming Out of the Fogalong with “Renouncer” and “The Promise.” The three cuts from the new album ran in order as they do on the record behind set opener “Mohammed’s Hex and Bounty” from 2007′s Rites of Uncovering. It seemed a curious choice to me to start off with — one would expect something more recent, and, if they’re playing tracks two, three and four from the new one, then “The Long Night,” which leads off Coming Out of the Fog, wouldn’t have been out of place — but it very quickly became apparent they knew what they were doing.
The lightly rolling groove of “Renouncer” and more lumbering fuzz of “The Promise” — on which Matthew Pierce turned from his Rhodes to add percussion and complement Carey – were an excellent setup for the instrumental build of “Oceans Don’t Sing,” which also proved a highlight for showcasing Heumann‘s voice, like an earthier David Bowie gone west. The setlist was probably tailored to the show, that is, playing with Freakweather, Arbouretum probably weren’t looking to blast out eardrums — though before they got going, Heumann warned that parts would be pretty loud and they were — but the flashes of heavy that came through the songs seemed to be met with appreciated from where I was sitting. Catchy almost in spite of itself with the vocals following the guitar line in a bouncing melody, “Renouncer” rumbled a subtle threat in Allender‘s bassline, and “The Promise” paid that off with a noisy finish and a solo that Heumann didn’t seem to want to let go.
Contrast was a big part of what made it all work. Arbouretum balanced heaviness and sweetness of melody and tone and ranged dynamically in terms of pace and volume. Rites of Uncoveringopener “Signposts and Instruments” followed “Oceans Don’t Sing” with a similar if less countrified linearity and the subsequent “St. Anthony’s Fire” provided the most raucous stretch of the set. Longer than everything else and seeming to range even further than the studio version (which appears as part of a 2012 split with Hush Arbors called Aureola), “St. Anthony’s Fire” gave way to a legitimately huge-sounding jam led by Heumann‘s guitar, which broke into an extended heavy solo, periods of shred offset only by the crunch elicited when the guitar, percussion and bass came together with Carey‘s thudding drums. Maybe it was the fact that I was sitting right in front of it, but Heumann’s lead was particularly impressive, sounding soulful and even a little funky as it moved along in a world seemingly of its own.
Little doubt that’s what Heumann was thinking of when he warned earlier they’d get loud, and the band lived up to the warning. The crowd at The Bell House had been filtering in throughout their whole set, but there were enough people in the room by the time Arbouretum got around to “St. Anthony’s Fire” to give a genuine response, and it was a cool moment to witness, cheers coming up after Heumann finished that solo. I had been hoping for “The Long Night” or even “The White Bird” from The Gathering, which still gets stuck in my head on the regular, as a closer, but they finished with the title-track to Coming Out of theFog. It rounds out the album as well and might have been somewhat faster live owing to the sheer momentum they built during “St. Anthony’s Fire,” but they made it work anyway, despite what looked like some technical difficulty in Allender‘s backing vocals.
Given that it was still early when they finished, I thought maybe I’d stick around for a bit and catch at least some of Freakwater, even just for myself if not to write about it later, but the temptation of being able to go to a show in Brooklyn and still get back to Jersey before midnight won out. I waited for the band to emerge so I could buy a copy of Coming Out of the Fogand then headed out, the freezing rain that would turn to snow overnight just starting to fall as I crossed the street to my car.
If you’re clever, you can spot me taking some pics in the video below for the title-track to Clutch‘s forthcoming album, Earth Rocker. The band recently announced the first of what I assume will be many rounds of tour dates, bringing Orange Goblin with them as they crisscross the countryside.
I’ll also be seeing them this weekend in Allentown, PA, on their New Year’s tour, so look for a review of that this week. In the meantime, here’s “Earth Rocker” filmed live at the Machine Shop studio in scenic Belleville, NJ: