Posted in Features on May 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
At the end of April, Boston four-piece Gozu released The Fury of a Patient Man. It is their second full-length behind 2010′s Locust Season, which was also issued on Small Stone, and a point of marked stylistic refinement for the band. Whether it was the clarity that holds sway beneath the fuzz of Marc Gaffney and Doug Sherman‘s guitars or the soul that shines through the vocals, the thickness that they seem to turn into shuffle at will, everything that made Locust Season(review here) such an engaging debut has been given a sense of progress on The Fury of a Patient Man, and Gozu, as a unit, have never sounded tighter.
That’s saying something, considering that even as The Fury of a Patient Man(review here) came together, their lineup was going through changes and Gaffney had an extended hospital stay. Bassists Jay Canava and Paul Dellaire both play on the record — put to tape, like the first one, by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak – and the position is now filled by Joe Grotto (yup, related), who joins the rhythm section alongside the scary precision of drummer Barry Spillberg, who makes the High on Fire-style gallop of “Charles Bronson Pinchot” as visceral as he makes the later “Disco Related Injury” swagger and groove.
But Gozu is no more Spillberg‘s show than it is any single member’s, and rather, The Fury of a Patient Manfinds its best moments when everyone comes together around a central idea, as on “Ghost Wipe,” which excellently melds some of their heaviest push with an unabashedly pop-minded chorus, the line “The loudness of a broken heart” serving as a takeaway not just from the song but from the full-length as a whole — a sort of complement to the title, furthering the emotional crux and making a point of its melodicism even as its melodies top some of Gozu‘s most fervent riffing, culmination coming in the hypnotic tidal repetitions of the 23-minute “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf,” on which the band doesn’t so much let go of the song as they do let it wander where it might, sustained lines meeting their deconstruction in a poignant, patient finale. Even this, Gozu makes asongand not a part showcase.
A triumph through the record is — it’s one of 2013′s best, make no mistake — it’s easy to imagine Gozu‘s finest hours yet lay ahead of them. The band have been recruited for a slot at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn this July (more info here), and they’ll tour with Ohio-based labelmates Lo-Pan to get there. In addition, for the 2LP release of The Fury of a Patient Man, Gozu have recently put together a collaboration with Lo-Pan vocalist Jeff Martin – reportedly a cover of D’Angelo‘s “Brown Sugar” — and while gigging in April with Fu Manchu might seem like a high point for anyone who ever based a song around a riff, on May 20, they’ll be at the Great Scott with Norwegian rippers Kvelertak, so the hits, as it were, keep coming. Well deserved.
Please find the 3,500-word Q&A with Marc Gaffney of Gozu after the jump, and please enjoy.
As one expects to a certain degree with jam-based space rock, Space Mushroom Fuzz has proven to be pretty prolific in its almost a year of releases. During that time, Adam Abrams (also of Blue Aside and Palace in Thunderland), who handles vocals, writes, records and plays guitar, bass, sometimes drums and synth, has released three full-lengths, a single and an EP — the last of which just came out last month. These self-releases were digital-only at first, but CD-Rs have followed and Abrams has collected the first two LPs — When Time Trippers Collide and Something Weird’s Going On– and the two-song Trapped in the Pastsingle onto a two-cassette boxed set called, fittingly enough, Seeing Double.
Seeing Doubleis limited to 20 copies with artwork by Ralph Walters (see also Blue Aside, Groan, etc.) and comes packaged like a book on tape from grammar school in a plastic case that houses both tapes at once, and the White Rabbit out front is nothing but appropriate for Abrams‘ ultra-trippy sonics contained within, whether it’s “Shine on You Crazy Train Pt. 1″ from When Time Trippers Collideor the robo-acoustic swirl of “Scientist Sparks” from Something Weird’s Going On. Universally, the music is immersive, if somewhat underproduced, and intriguingly unpredictable. Sometimes Abrams and drummer John Belcastro embark on a go-long-go-strange space jam, and sometimes Abrams keeps the structures relatively terrestrial, as on the still-Floydian “The Other Side of Life,” the B-side to Trapped in the Past, which shows that just because Abrams puts a track to a verse and chorus doesn’t mean he can’t also make it as bizarre as he may so choose.
And if anything is apparent throughout Seeing Doubleit’s that Abrams so chooses to make it pretty damn bizarre. There’s a real turning point in methodology perceptible between the two full-lengths for when the synth became involved, and though the two full-lengths were home-recorded, Trapped in the Pastfound Space Mushroom Fuzz with the drums done by Clay Neely of Black Pyramid at Black Coffee Sound. Sure enough, the single is the fullest sounding slice on offer, but there’s still enough richness in “There’s Something Weird Going On Pt. 2″ to convey the ’80s prog rock moodiness that Abrams is going for, low end serving as a bed for the sharp guitar solo and synth percussion. Each of the Space Mushroom Fuzz releases was recorded relatively quickly — the single took the longest — but there’s a progression at play over the course of the material on Seeing Doublethat one finds continued on the newest full-length, Man in the Shadow– not included in the cassette box set, but already released last month. One can no more stop a space rock catalog from expanding than one can stop space itself, it would seem.
So be it. I don’t know if Abrams would ever put together a band to play live as Space Mushroom Fuzz, but the studio excursions have proved interesting and varied to date and there seems to be no slowing down in the project’s will toward interstellar survey. Again, there are only 20 copies of Seeing Doublemade, so for a lucky few space rockers, Abrams and company provide a curio and collectors piece as much as a summation of the project’s first couple installments.
Space Mushroom Fuzz, Something Weird’s Going On (2012)
Posted in Reviews on April 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Even as Massachusetts trio Black Pyramid were getting ready to issue their second full-length, II (review here), early last year, the band was imploding. In short, it was ugly. Fake announcements and trolling from now-former guitarist/vocalist Andy Beresky – on the forum of this site as well, which I mention in the interest of full disclosure – seemed to be purposefully geared toward undoing the work that he, drummer Clay Neely and bassist Dave Gein (also of Second Grave) had put into the band since their self-titled debut (review here) earned such a welcome greeting when put out by MeteorCity in 2009. The real tragedy of it, aside from the flagrant and protracted shitheadedness, was that II was a killer album and almost certainly would’ve allowed Black Pyramid to continue their already underway ascent in the heavy underground sphere. As much as they could, however, Gein and Neely worked to keep their momentum going, allying themselves with Darry Shepard in the guitarist/vocalist role. Shepard, whose resumé is longer even his tenure in acts like Milligram, Roadsaw, Hackman and Maple Forum alums (also in the interest of full disclosure) Blackwolfgoat would indicate, began writing with Black Pyramid right away, and the band quickly got together a single for the track “Aphelion” that was released as a Transubstans Records split with Swedish rockers Odyssey just two months after II dropped. Doubtless the fact that Neely records the band’s material as well at Black Coffee Sound in Williamsburg, MA, aided in their being able to get the single together so quickly, but it also showed that this new incarnation of Black Pyramid wasn’t about to waste their time. The day they rolled into New London, Connecticut, to tear through a set at Stoner Hands of Doom XII in September 2012, they had just finished putting a full-length to tape, and that album – Black Pyramid’s third overall and first with Shepard out front – is Adversarial, a five-track, 38-minute stomper on Hydro-Phonic Records that continues the three-piece’s penchant for axe-slinging tales of battle, but also ups the melodic range and capitalizes on Shepard’s well-established abilities as a lead guitarist, able to move seamlessly into a spontaneous-sounding solo where many of the prior lead lines in the band’s songs sounded plotted out beforehand. That’s not to say anything against one approach over the other – Black Pyramid certainly made it work – but it’s a different kind of energy on Adversarial, and it contributes to the depth underscoring the band’s warmongering bounce.
The “different energy” has obviously extended to various other elements of Black Pyramid’s approach as well. Adversarial is a vinyl-ready 38 minutes, where II stretched to just over an hour, and begins with its longest cut (immediate points) “Swing the Scimitar,” which at 11:59 is among the longer songs any lineup of the band has to-date written – there are three longer; two were on II, one appeared on a 2010 split with Old One (review here) – and also more fluid, beginning aggressive with deep-toned riffing from Shepard to herald the band’s return before initiating the plod that will soon pick up into a faster verse/chorus progression that continues a very Black Pyramid-style balance of catchiness vs. weight of tone and groove. The vocals hover between shouts and growls; fittingly brutal for the opener, but little setup for the screaming to come on “Bleed Out.” Just past its halfway point, following another run through the chorus, “Swing the Scimitar” transitions into an instrumental jam that I can’t imagine wasn’t at one point intended to close the album, but placed as the opener demonstrates just how boldly the trio have taken to the changes they’ve undergone in the last year. Neely and Gein lock in a laid-back groove as Shepard plucks out an echoing, surprisingly psychedelic lead and tosses in some Sabbath to help move into thicker crashes that feel subdued even at their peak, which of course makes the drum start to “Bleed Out” a sort of snap back to reality after the hypnosis of the jam. “Bleed Out” is the shortest of the tracks with vocals on Adversarial at 5:39, its groove is immediate and its structure is straightforward. It’s also impeccably positioned after the opener to reignite the rush of energy, and the backing screams in the chorus (it may be Shepard in multiple layers or Neely or Gein adding) add to both the album’s breadth and its sense of extremity as stops in the latter half mark a return to a final verse, itself opening to a larger groove with some extra snare tapping from Neely for a few measures before giving way to the galloping CD centerpiece, “Issus.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Now a trio, Massachusetts bashers The Proselyte will take it to the streets and strut for 10 days solid on an East Coast and Midwestern tour in support of their forthcoming EP, Our Vessel’s in Need. The new release is listed as “coming soon,” and it follows a split with Florida’s Flyingsnakes that you can hear below, courtesy of The Proselyte‘s Bandcamp.
Some cool shows here, and on April 26, The Proselyte play O’Brien’s in Allston, MA, with Holly Hunt, Shroud Eater and Finisher, so good stuff abounds leading to the EP release. Behold the broness:
The Proselyte are welcoming spring with a 10 day run of the east coast and midwest. It’s the band’s first tour as a trio and they will be playing tunes off of their upcoming EP, “Our Vessel’s In Need.” Here is the routing:
Friday April 5th-Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie Saturday April 6th-RVA @ Wonderland Sunday April 7th-Chapel Hill, NC @ Chapel Hill Underground Monday April 8th-Lexington, KY @ Sidecar Tuesday April 9th-Cincinnati @ Chameleon Wednesday April 10th-Chicago, IL @ Ultra Lounge Thursday April 11th-Columbus, OH @ Carabar Friday April 12th-Baltimore, MD @ Charm City Art Space Saturday April 13th-Boston, MA @ Great Scott Sunday April 14th -Brooklyn, NY @ Public Assembly
Ahead of the April 23 CD release of their second full-length, The Fury of a Patient Man — now available for pre-order through the Small Stone Bandcamp — Boston soul riffers Gozu have a brand new video for the track “Bald Bull.” The clip was directed and produced by none other than Roadsaw‘s Tim Catz, and it’s got all the milk-dripping-through-beard action you could ask for. Also head-sawing!
Mark it a win for that and of course for the song itself, a highlight of the album (review here) that Gozu will support with two nights at Radio in Somerville May 3 and 4 ahead of making a stop in Brooklyn this July for a slot at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 at The Acheron (more info here). Here’s “Bald Bull,” followed by the flyer for the Radio gigs with each night’s lineup. Enjoy:
Gozu, “Bald Bull” Official Video
On May 3, Gozu will be joined by Streight Angular (whose name is somehow so hard to type it hurts), Mellow Bravo and Birch Hill Dam. The next night, it’s Cocked ‘n’ Loaded, Black Pyramid, Thunderbloods and Hey Zeus. Either way, you can’t really go wrong:
Posted in Radio on March 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
You probably wouldn’t think a song with lines like, “And so we shed these tears of blood upon the ground/As the ancestors await us in the sky,” and a chorus about butchering those who sleep at night would be so damn catchy, but kudos to Boston bass/drum duo Olde Growth for turning grim tales into potent hooks. Hell, with bassist/vocalist Stephen LoVerme‘s delivery, it practically swings. Could be a lounge arrangement in an alternate universe. That would rule a little bit.
As it stands, LoVerme and drummer Ryan Berry do pretty well even without the Rat Pack tuxedos, and their new OwlEP slays all the more for the swagger they put into it. The four-track collection was originally released in 2012 as a limited-type tour-only cassette (initial nerding out here), but the material stands up to the wider — if still pretty limited — self-release it’s now receiving. “Tears of Blood” is a highlight, but each of the cuts stands itself out, and though I noted it prior, Olde Growth‘s development since their self-titled still rings true in these songs, given new context by John Trimmer artwork and due out shortly in an edition of 100 CDs and 50 tapes.
“Brother of the Moon” broods as much as its propels, its riff sounding big enough to stand up to the band’s epic lyrical ethic while still maintaining a stonerly fuzz. As the band is essentially a rhythm section, there’s no shortage of groove throughout, but LoVerme‘s capable of carrying a melody at this point even as he offsets it with gruffer shouting. Alternately manic and doomed, “Brother of the Moon” leads into “Warrior Child”‘s blend of bass groove and subtle effects swirl, marauding its way through a verse before a shouting chorus that plays out in call and answer before bowing to a final slowdown, heavy and a not unexpected but certainly welcome guest.
The longest of this small batch at 5:22, “Tears of Blood” is a ripper straight through, engaging in Olde Growth‘s post-High on Fire battle axe rush. It’s the melody that holds the song together, LoVerme following the riff but beginning to show that he doesn’t necessarily need to while Berry punctuates each line with a snare fill, cymbal crashes, sometimes both. If anything on Owlmight foreshadow the next stage in Olde Growth‘s evolution, I hope it’s “Tears of Blood,” but that’s not to count out the handclap-ready bass drum of closer “Edge of the Sea,” which pulses with energy but finds room for a chorus slowdown that only serves to highlight the evolving dynamics of the two-piece outfit.
I dug this when it was called Tour EP 2012and I find my appreciation not at all diminished for it as Owl, so I’m glad to have the excuse to revisit it by making it The Obelisk Radio‘s Add of the Week. In addition to having the CD and tape up for preorder, LoVerme and Berry have put the EP up for a limited-time-only pay-what-you-will download at the Olde Growth Bandcamp, from whence the following is also hoisted:
If the questions asked in this Magic Circle interview seem kind of straightforward, that’s only because the doomly Boston-based five-piece have done so well at keeping themselves obscure. The band, whose self-titled debut (review here) is out now on CD/LP through Armageddon Shop, have virtually no online presence, be it social networking or otherwise, and in terms of recording info, pictures, etc., there just isn’t much out there at this point.
Difficult as that might make it to determine who’s who and how Magic Circle, the album, got made, it’s an admirable ethic. Some bands can’t go five minutes before updating their fans on which member’s farts stink the worst, or without posting a picture of one of the members sitting on plastic lawn furniture in somebody’s yard, with or without a beer, like the lamest moment of Bon Scott‘s life. And even those who protest the pervasiveness of digital engagement — i.e. me — still take part. If you’re actually against something, don’t do it.
Now, for a band playing the kind of doom that Magic Circle play — weighted and morose atmospherically, traditional in its follow-the-riff ethic, murky and dark in the sort of new New England sphere acts like Pilgrim are also helping to cast — it’s easy to take something like that as a play at cult appeal, but I think actually it’s much more cut and dry than that, and put in the context of the members of Magic Circle‘s combined decades of experience playing in hardcore bands like The Rival Mob and Mind Eraser – among many others in a variety of styles; drummer Q is also in Doomriders, for example — their opting out makes even more sense. They’re anti-bullshit. Like guitarist Chris “CC” Corry says below, “It feels gratuitous.”
Corry, who is joined in Magic Circle by Q, vocalist Brendan Radigan, guitarist Dan Ducas and bassist Justin DeTore, gives some background on how the band came together and put Magic Circle‘s Magic Circleto tape, their experience playing Chaos in Tejas last year in Austin (they’re doing it again this year), and more in the exchange that follows. Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:
1. How did Magic Circle first get together? With members also contributing to different bands, were/are there any difficulties in scheduling?
Everyone in the band has known each other for a long time. We all spent our teens and 20s in a whole bunch of hardcore and punk bands that played together on shows. Everyone in the band has always been into old rock and metal records, and myself (CC), Justin, and Brendan had talked about starting a band with a traditional late ‘70s/early ‘80s feel for a long time. Sabbath, Rainbow, WitchfinderGeneral, PaganAltar, Trouble, MercyfulFate were kinda the vibe I wanted, maybe not the way the riffs sound but just the feel and atmosphere. I’m not a virtuoso by any means, the guitarists in those bands… I wouldn’t be fit to lick their boots, but I finally just sat down and started writing. I had the skeletons for maybe four tunes we ended up using in spring of 2010.
Justin, Brendan and I have done a lot of bands together over the years, and I’ve helped the record other projects I’m not in, so that was kind of a no-brainer. I played them some rough riffs and they were in. Brendan is really the only guy I know who could do vocals this demanding. I got in touch with Q just knowing he was a real good old style drummer, and Dan had just moved back to Boston after being out in L.A. for a while, he wasn’t doing any music and he’s a good guitar player.
We recorded rehearsals of a few songs, just the basic music, and then Brendan recorded vocals over them and that was it. We had ourselves a band.
Scheduling for us is kind of tough, everyone in the band except Dan has been in several bands at all times for years (and is currently), everyone has a regular job during the week, and other commitments, wives and stuff… so it can be a chore. Sometimes there’s a month where no one can do anything but we’re not in a hurry.
2. Were you surprised at the initial response “Scream Evil” and “Magic Circle” got when you posted them on YouTube? You guys have been assiduous in keeping info about the band sparse, no website, Facebook, etc. Tell me what went into making that choice?
We weren’t sure how they would go over but at that point the record had been done for six months and we just wanted someone to hear it. Word did get around really fast which was surprising but we liked the songs and so we figured other people would too.
I don’t see the point in shoving ourselves down anyone’s throat. Facebook is a fine way to keep in touch with friends living in other states and countries, but other than that it feels gratuitous. If you like the music you can find it. I don’t see the need to force it on everyone. That’s pretty much always been the way I’ve done music.
3. How does the songwriting process usually work? How do the songs come together and when are the vocals added? Well for me I always kind of rough out the songs at home, just get some basic riffs into a structured whole, and then try and break it down into segments for the other dudes with instruments, it’s basic stuff and they’re pros so we can usually piece together a song in a couple practice sessions, and they help flesh out the arrangements, and adjust stuff. I record little clips of myself playing guitar and bring it to practice to help me remember. After that we can make a demo and let Brendan marinate on it for a couple weeks. Then he adds some vocals to the demo, and then we can kind of figure out if stuff needs to change, add a couple solos, things like that. Brendan‘s a strong vocalist so the song always changes after he adds to it.
4. Tell me about recording the self-titled. The album is so atmospheric and bleak sounding, what was the mood like at the studio? How long were you recording?
We recorded the album in Justin‘s parent’s basement in spring 2011 and we mostly had to work on weekends or after work so we could keep stuff set up there without moving anything around. Spring in New England is a little bleak to begin with. Everything’s damp, and still kind of dead. A lot of grey. I definitely wanted to have that creaky dark vibe you get on the first PaganAltar, the first Sabbath, some of the ‘70s Pentagram stuff… I tried to give the songs room to breathe. It’s a lot different than when I record hardcore and punk bands. A lot of recordings now, especially with regard to “doom,” sound too “clear” to me with the kick drum razor sharp and the guitars sounding like a Guitar Center demo, and the vocals are super in-your-face. That’s not what we want. I like when stuff sounds organic and real like you’re there hearing the band in that room.
As for the mood I’d love to tell you something crazy but we were just working hard to get things done. A lot of nights I would come over straight from work and we could record just for a couple hours in the late afternoon. Once we started on vocals, Brendan lives like an hour south of Boston so he would come up and we would try and do a whole song before we had to stop, because like I said, we were operating under the good will of the DeTore family. If anything maybe the tiredness from starting mostly at the end of the day kind of carried into the recording. It took three or four months to get everything tracked, but keep in mind it would be like work for a day or two, then nothing for a week or more. Very start/stop. Not the best way to do something but I didn’t want to rush. Everyone wanted to get it right. I mixed it a couple times over the next several months, it seemed like it was never going to really be done and come out for a while but it did eventually.
5. It’s pretty easy to read the tracklisting as being structured for vinyl sides. How on purpose was it to end each half of the record with two-part songs? Are there any plans for an LP release once the run of CDs is gone?
Well the album is out now on vinyl on the Armageddon Shop label (same as CD), and for that I’m very happy because I like records. I have an iPod for work, and the car, but most of my money goes to records. It was certainly structured to be an LP. There’s another song from the session “Lighting Her Fire,” that we self-released on a single that there just wasn’t room for on the album.
You can’t really cut an LP over 40 minutes, and even that is pushing it a bit. The two-part song thing I didn’t really think about until someone pointed it out. I added those titles really just as a nod to Sabbath using separate names on some of their instrumental sections, but it just seemed like that’s where those songs fit once we were done and needed a sequence. All the classic records I love – rock and roll, heavy metal, punk – they’re all sequenced in two sides for vinyl, you know? CD is a bit of an afterthought for me, honestly.
6. You guys did Chaos in Tejas in 2012. How was that experience for you? Will you do any other touring in 2013? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?
A bunch of bands we’ve played in have done shows at Chaos over the years. Timmy who puts the whole thing on is a very good friend and has been really supportive of all the stuff that I’ve done for a long time. It was an honor to be one of the openers on a show with Saint Vitus, Church of Misery and Gates of Slumber. I never would have thought in a million years that would be a possibility. We’re playing again this year on the show BoltThrower is headlining which again is totally crazy and a complete honor. We don’t have any tours in the works. We are scheduled for the Wings of Metal show in Montreal though with Satan (w/ BrianRoss singing!), ManillaRoad, Midnight, Voor, BloodCeremony, Megiddo, Cauchemar…. August 30-31… Other than that – a show with Pilgrim in New Bedford March 16, and a show with Nightbitch in Connecticut March 22.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bilocation Records, which previously handled the 2LP issue of Cortez‘s Cortezfull-length (review here), has released a CD of the album, and well, you’re probably going to want to check it out. The maddeningly catchy Boston-based heavy rockers’ debut album was a long time in the making, and every bit worth the wait. Cortez also still have copies of the vinyl edition (though very few) available through their Bandcamp, and if you haven’t actually heard the record, I grabbed the player so you can check it out below:
The self titled Cortez album which was released on double vinyl LP in 2012 has been released on CD viaBilocation Records. The CD contains and 8 page booklet and artwork by Alexander Von Wieding. It is available via our Bandcamp page for $12.00 plus shipping. The track-listing is:
1. Johnny 2. All Hail 3. Until We Die 4. Ride On 5. Wormwood 6. Beyond The Mountain 7. Monolith 8. Nostrum 9. Satan 10. Northlander 11. Nice Try
You might recall a couple weeks ago when battle-ready Massachusetts riffers Black Pyramid premiered the new track “Onyx and Obsidian” from their forthcoming LP, Adversarial. Well, last night — because all breaking news should hit at midnight — the trio revealed that they had partnered the track with the short video piece “Metachaos” by Italian artist Alessandro Bavari. Since I’ve never been one to let a Black Pyramid video go ignored, here we are.
Adversarialwill be released in April on Hydro-Phonic Records, and even if you’ve heard the song before, I think you’ll agree it’s worth another visit, especially with the Bavari video accompanying. Stick around for more updates on the album, artwork, tracklisting, etc. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. In the meantime, here’s the clip:
Black Pyramid, “Onyx and Obsidian” from Adversarial
Posted in Reviews on February 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
After earning some measure of viral doomly acclaim by releasing their debut single on YouTube, Boston-based five-piece Magic Circle issue their first proper full-length on CD through Armageddon Shop’s eponymous in-house label. The self-titled offering contains the two songs that made such a digital splash – those being “Scream Evil” and closer “The Magic Circle/Cloven in Two” – as well as four other cuts, topping out at a vinyl-ready 41:16. Vinyl also seems to be on the band’s mind in terms of the album’s structure, which finds the tracklisting split at its halfway point with each set of three songs ended by a longer, slash-inclusive title, the first being “The Greatest Escape/White Shores” (7:10) and the second the already-noted finale (7:40). Similarly, each side begins with a track on which frontman Brendan Radigan sings over a guitar solo, the opener “Winter Light” and “Scream Evil.” Those aren’t the only times Radigan does that, there’s also second track “Rapture” where it’s notable, but the chaotic swirl it creates – particularly late into “Winter Light” – is a standout element. Radigan comes out of Boston’s hardcore scene, namely the bands Mind Eraser and The Rival Mob, and Magic Circle’s drummer, Q, is also of Clouds and Doomriders, while guitarist/principle songwriter Chris Corry and bassist Justin De Tore can be found in Death Evocation (the latter is also formerly of NYC grinders Taste of Fear). The band is completed by guitarist Dan Ducas, but particularly because of Radigan’s pedigree, I have a hard time not likening Magic Circle’s debut to that of Brooklyn-based Maple Forum alums, Kings Destroy. Indeed, the album bears some of that out in stylistic commonality with Kings Destroy’s And the Rest Will Surely Perish, though Magic Circle’s Magic Circle delves further into genre with an affinity for Ducas and Corry’s guitars crossing over the line where trad doom meets NWOBHM; call it a Witchfinder General or Pagan Altar influence if you want, I don’t think I’d be the first to saddle them with either. Still, with a somewhat similar circumstance and aesthetic, the comparison to Kings Destroy circa 2010 seems fair. Radigan’s vocals add a drama that enhances the musical dynamic, and the band locks in familiar grooves that they’re nonetheless able to make their own. In the end, perhaps in part because I’m so used to traditional doom that plods eternal, Magic Circle feels short at its 41-minute stopping point.
That’s an asset for the self-produced affair, which still boasts no shortage of plod, from Corry and Ducas’ riffy lumber to the deep-toned thud in Q’s drums. Magic Circle do well to shift tempo though, remaining thick but not idle, at various points throughout the album, including “Winter Light,” the longest track at 8:40 (immediate points). As a launch, “Winter Light” is especially well-chosen for its repetitive verse and memorable chorus, both solid hooks offset by a purposefully disorienting break in the second half. Following that, the aforementioned solo section topped by Radigan comes across as an out-of-nowhere rush both of pace and energy, and it winds up making the song and engaging the listener on a genuinely unexpected level as the final lyrics are delivered, “Winter Light is all that I see/Winter light is shining on me,” before the guitars take final hold. “Rapture,” which follows, is the shortest track on Magic Circle at 5:14, and tries for something similar, but is obviously more compressed in its take, with a more immediately motoring riff building tension paid off in the chorus, Q, opening up the drums for a stretch before transitioning on his snare back into the head-down thrust of the verse. Two songs in and Magic Circle have unveiled two catchy hooks, and a bit of shred under Radigan in the second chorus of “Rapture” goes a long way toward backing up some of the opener’s intensity as it leads into a brief, mournful dual-guitar solo. Corry and Ducas prove quick to harmonize throughout the record, but Magic Circle don’t necessarily dwell on a single idea long enough to be redundant more than they want to be, and continuing their well-constructed track-to-track flow, “The Greatest Escape/White Shores” cuts back the force and moves into classically doomed sway. The Gates of Slumber are an obvious reference point here, as they are for a lot of the newer old school, but Magic Circle keep their own spin on their sound, Q filling the spaces where the riffs stop with organic-sounding tom work while Radigan shifts between a quieter approach in the verse and a chorus of semi-melodic shouts. Where the first two cuts had marked switches in tempo, “The Greatest Escape/White Shores” keeps largely to the same chugging middle pace, seeming to pick up in its very last throes, but suddenly ending cold instead, what might have been a Sabbathian extended solo transition cut short.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
More good news out of Boston today. Residents of the city I’m soon to call home because it’ll take too long to explain that I’ll actually live about 45 minutes south of Boston proper, The Proselyte have announced that they’ll enter the studio this snowy weekend to lay down material for a new EP. Their 2011 full-length, Sunshine, presented a proggy take on newer school heavy, and in case you missed it when a track was streamed here, I’ve included the full album below, courtesy of The Proselyte Bandcamp page.
Keep your eye out too for more updates from the band as they get ready to announce the run of gigs alluded to below. They’ll wrap with a show April 13 at Great Scott with the recently-announced Kowloon Walled City/Zozobra tour, but there’s bound to be info forthcoming. Till then, this:
Ignoring all the blizzard forecasts, Boston’s The Proselyte will enter New Alliance Audio in Cambridge, MA this weekend to record a new EP. The effort will be engineered and mixed by Drummer/Vocalist Alec Rodriguez and mastered by Rob Gonnella and Nick Zampiello(Torche, Caspian, Isis) at New Alliance East. The follow up to their well received “Sunshine” LP (Teenage Disco Bloodbath Records) will be supported by a 9 day run April 5-13 ending with a Boston show at Great Scott with Zozobra and Kowloon Walled City.
The blown-out Morricone guitar and mounting depressive folk build of Ice Dragon‘s “Season of Decay” first showed up around these parts back in October. Today the Boston trio announced that Vesa Lähde had put together a video for the song and after watching its dark, saturated and vintage-looking atmospherics, it seems like a pretty good fit for the song itself, which boasts no shortage of moody psychedelia.
Even as an excuse to revisit the song (not that you really need one), I dig it. Ice Dragon‘s latest offering is the alternately stoned/drunk The Soul’s Midnight, which you can hear in full at their Bandcamp.
Well, maybe if you’re driving you shouldn’t stop that. And if you’re having a nice family dinner, I certainly wouldn’t want to interrupt that. But pretty much any other activity in which you might be engaged, you can put it down for 10 or so minutes and check out this live clip of Elder jamming out “Dead Roots Stirring” at O’Brien’s Pub on Jan. 23. I’m not sure who filmed it, so you’ll pardon me if I don’t give credit where credit’s due, but the clip rules nonetheless with some dizzying tripped-out effects on bassist Jack Donovan. On a mentally frazzled Monday evening, it was just the thing to zone/rock out to as I wrapped up the working day.
For those of you in NYC or the surrounding area, Elder are headed south from their native Boston to play The Acheron on Feb. 16 with Eidetic Seeing, Ancient Sky and It’s Not Night: It’s Space for what’s sure to be a killer show. Looking forward to that one, and here’s why:
In related news, the Spires Burn/Release 12″ EP (stream it here) has been repressed and is available again through Armageddon Shop. Dig it:
ELDER “Spires Burn / Release 12″
Repress finally in the shop!!
This batch on awesome transparent Purple vinyl and now with download coupon, ltd to 440 copies
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I know a lot of people have been waiting for this one. Magic Circle (live review here), which features in its ranks a host of Boston hardcore luminaries dooming out as some are wont to do, have just released their self-titled debut via Armageddon Shop, the Boston/Providence record store of much ass-kickery also responsible for Elder‘s triumphant Spires Burn/ReleaseEP last year. If you’ve gotta start with two releases, those make for a pretty strong opening salvo.
Announcement and purchase link follow, snagged from the PR wire:
Armageddon Shop is proud to announce the release of:
MAGIC CIRCLE “self titled” CD
Now available via Armageddon Shop.
Recorded in 2011 at the infamous Paincave in Massachusetts, mastered by Carl Saff who did the recent ELDER 12″ we released in 2012.
Drawing from classic NWOBHM and traditional metal influences, this five piece comprised of veteran local musicians have turned out a well crafted solid as hell metal album. They’ve definitely done their listening homework over the years. Strong and catchy songs, heavy but not tuned down, recorded well but not overproduced, it captures the old DIY ethic of metal in the early 80′s. The vocals have an almost Ozzy quality at times, solid as hell. We’re totally stoked on this record!
Posted in Reviews on January 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Foremost, it was cold. I don’t know what part of the world you live in, but here on the US East Coast, we got slammed last week with temperatures that ranged on the wrong side of zero degrees fahrenheit, and even walking into the dark bar O’Brien’s in Allston, I could feel the wind through my shoes. My jacket, shirt, etc. weren’t even a consideration. But for public courtesy, they might as well have not been there. It was so cold the wind cut through my shoes. Welcome to Boston, Mass.
The Patient Mrs. and I were in town for the night and into Sunday to look at residences, and as I’d seen earlier in the week that Gozu had a gig booked, I decided to hit it up and also get the chance to check out another local venue. If I’m gonna live there, I might as well get to know the spots where shows are, and I know O’Brien’s has had many in the past just from reading lists of tour dates, so even with the unreasonable temperatures and did-someone-just-cut-my-face wind, the rock and roll must get through.
I knew little about Hey Zeus and nothing about Whitey or The Humanoids, but fortunately ran into Black Pyramid/Blackwolfgoat guitarist and all-around super dude Darryl Shepard, who was kind enough to act as my sort of tour guide for the night’s bill, pointing out guitarist Pete Knipfing and drummer Todd Bowman from Hey Zeus, both formerly of Lamont whom I’ve been subjecting to some posthumous appreciation (see here and here), vocalist Bice Nathan and bassist Ken Cmar, who ran the label Wonderdrug Records and with it released records by the likes of Tree, Roadsaw and Scissorfight, among others. Cmar reportedly hadn’t been on a stage in two decades and it was Hey Zeus‘ live debut, but they basically killed it with an opening set of that Small Stone-style rock that Boston seems to have at a permanent bleed. Straightforward, heavy, dangerous and even if you’ve heard it a thousand times before, somehow fresh.
Knipfing added vocals here and there, and he, Bowman and Cmar were tight behind the Nathan, who periodically picked up a drum stick to smash one of Bowman‘s cymbals or bang on a cowbell. The songs were familiar but engaging and if this was a first-show type of performance, these guys are going to be lethal once they really get going. Before they played, I thought it was cool to see their premiere gig, as kind of a curiosity. By the time they were finished, it felt much more like an event, and though I didn’t know anything about Whitey or The Humanoids, I knew immediately they had a hard act to follow.
The place was fairly packed out for Hey Zeus as well. O’Brien’s isn’t big, and the stage rests on an angle — it reminded me of like a smaller mirrored version of Jersey’s Brighton Bar, with a lower ceiling and a lower stage (a good thing, lest someone bump their head) — but even in a bigger room, the crowd would’ve been considerable, and though people came and went as the night wore on, Whitey still had enough people watching for vocalist/guitarist Randy to toss out a couple snide comments between songs about the sold out show they were playing. Shepard had described them to me before they went on as bluesier, but still heavy, rock, and he was dead on. Double-slide guitar made more than one appearance and there was an healthy dose of down-home rocking to what they did, drummer Kyle Rasmussen (also of Phantom Glue) punctuating as shades of grown-up punk and rockabilly worked their way in as well.
Hightlights “Rainy and Wendy” and “Straight A’s” made me interested in hearing how they might sound on a studio version — Whitey have four records up on their Bandcamp — and though they weren’t as riotous on stage as was Hey Zeus, they were still fun to watch and made a solid setup for The Humanoids, who followed. They were, by Darryl‘s much-appreciated estimation and subsequently my own, more metal. They had the vests to prove it, and I was foretold of a Manowar cover of “Black Wind, Fire and Steel” that the double-guitar four-piece sometimes used for a set closer. They’d almost have to. What else could you possibly play after that?
Power metal was a factor for sure, but there was a gritty side to The Humanoids as well, fitting for their garage-punk moniker. The crowd at O’Brien’s ate it up, and with good reason. From their upright posture to their pumping fists to three-part vocals to the classic riffing, The Humanoids‘ metal-infused-rock was battle ready against poseurs and all that was non-metal or at least non-metal and in a close enough proximity to bother anybody. They were fun and they were clearly having fun with their sound, but as in the best of cases, the musicianship backed them up and kept them from seeming clownish.
They did in fact close with “Black Wind, Fire and Steel,” and sure enough they just about nailed it. I knew I was in good hands from the time I saw the Lock up the Wolvespatch on back of the bassist’s vest and the drummer’s Bible of the Devil t-shirt, and The Humanoids lived up to those lofty ideals. Gozu was setting up and it was getting late, but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere until they were done. Their The Fury of a Patient Manrecord was still about as fresh in my head as could be, having just reviewed it two days earlier, and I grabbed a water from the end of the bar and waited for the four-piece to get going.
It hadn’t been that long since the Small Stone showcase at Radio in Somerville, so I’d had a recent enough memory of Gozu live to work from in knowing what to expect. Bassist Joe Grotto (brother and Motherboar bandmate to Mad Oak Studios‘ producer Benny Grotto) seemed more comfortable in his role than the last time out, and drummer Barry Spillberg challenging the rest of the band — Grotto, vocalist/guitarist Marc Gaffney and guitarist/backing vocalist Doug Sherman – to keep up with him as he blasted through “Charles Bronson Pinchot.” That was just one of the cuts off the new album that received a welcome showing, “Ghost Wipe” being another high point.
I guess the difference seeing Gozu this time was I was more familiar with the material so could enjoy it more. They hit up “Meat Charger” and “Meth Cowboy” from 2010 debut Locust Season(review here) and for an otherwise unremarkable Saturday night — that is, it wasn’t a showcase or a fest or anything other than a regular, albeit pretty good, show — they tore through it. At one point, Grotto blew out his head, but another was brought out on the quick and that was really the only hiccup Gozu had. The rest of the time, they spent dealing out riff after riff, Gaffney belting out the verses and even getting a little booty-shake in here and there while Sherman‘s high-hoisted guitar left him room for thrashing out and walking back and forth on the stage, picking up, it seemed, the gauntlet Spillberg was throwing down.
You don’t often see a band who are actually on the same side challenging each other like that. It was exciting, and Spillberg was as expressive in his drumming as he was precise, so all the better. I was beat when they were finished — it had been a pretty long day and there was still another to come behind it — but Gozu‘s set still felt short, which I take as a good sign. They’re an act I’m hoping to see much more often following this move (which unless a piano falls on me or The Patient Mrs.is going to happen sometime before the fall), and I think once more people get a handle on The Fury of a Patient Man, I won’t be the only one. I certainly wasn’t the only one into them at O’Brien’s, as they seemed to sum up elements from each of the prior three bands while appealing to anyone who might’ve been there to see someone earlier and stuck around. Even knowing what I was getting, I was impressed.
Gaffney had apparently been sick, not that you could tell in his vocals, so I wished him well and said goodnight to Shepard and others and made my way out of O’Brien’s and back to the hotel where The Patient Mrs. and I were staying. The wind still whip-snapped at us as we crossed the street to the car and I was glad to finally crash out when I did, but the show had been the right choice, no question. Looking forward to many more.