Posted in audiObelisk on May 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Boston heavy rockers Hey Zeus will reportedly feature the track “Caveman” on an upcoming UnderdogmaRecords split seven-incher with The Humanoids sometime this summer. The four-piece of vocalist Bice Nathan, guitarist Pete Knipfing (ex-Lamont), bassist Ken Cmar (head of Wonderdrug Records) and drummer Todd Bowman (ex-Lamont) have trickled out digital singles over the last couple years, as well as a split 7″ with fellow Beantowners White Dynomite (review here), and it would seem the intent is to keep momentum going and build up a catalog of material en route to the eventual debut album. No word on the timing for that, but that’s he impression I get, anyway.
Their style is rife with the straightforward, classic delivery and harder edge that has been brought to fruition in Boston acts like Roadsaw and Cortez, but a quick listen to “Caveman” — and “Caveman” is a quick listen — and it’s readily apparent they have their own personality as well, defined through a blend of swaggering rhythms, party-ready vibe and an underlying punkishness in Nathan‘s vocals during its verses. The hook is essential and delivered with purpose, and though “Caveman” is done in under four minutes, it’s the kind of soon you loop back to the start and give another runthrough to better digest, only to find the chorus ringing in your head later, along with subtle flourishes like the layering in Knipfing‘s short solo or the double-kick and cowbell that Bowman works into the second half.
Admittedly, it’s been a while since I last caught them live, but their vibe at the time was much the same — ready to knock back a few beers and raise some hell but with more than chops enough underlying to give their delivery some force. They have a couple shows booked for this summer, presumably the single will show up at some point during the warm months as well, and more to come in terms of singles and a video to follow, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, you can find the stream of “Caveman” below.
Hey Zeus live: 07.15 Hey Zeus w/ Black Helicopter & Wolfsmyth @ Obrien’s, Allston 07.22 Hey Zeus w/ Scissorfight, Murcielago and The Road Trash Band @ Higher Ground, Burlington, VT
Posted in Reviews on May 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
In some ways, Gozu‘s Revival is defined by its barnburners. There are a few of them, and the impression they create across the Boston four-piece’s third album — first for Ripple Music — is one of a more intense approach overall than was showed either on 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) or 2010’s Locust Season (review here). Those records, both released by Small Stone, had their driving moments, but to listen to “Nature Boy,” “Oldie” or the penultimate “DD McCall” from Revival is to realize how much harder Gozu are pushing themselves across the album as a whole.
The production of Dean Baltulonis at The Wild Arctic and Benny Grotto at Mad Oak brings that out even in a swinging track like “Big Casino” or the soul-fueled “By Mennen.” It’s not necessarily about tonal thickness — that’s not what they’re going for — so much as what kind of impact each instrument can have. Add to this the fact that for the first time on record, Gozu have a cohesive lineup in guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney, guitarist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto (brother to the aforementioned Benny) and drummer Mike Hubbard, and it becomes less of a wonder that these eight songs/41 minutes are the strongest the band has yet presented in their tenure. As Gozu enter relative maturity as a group — three LPs deep — they show clear growth in performance, craft and chemistry, while keeping many of elements of the prior work intact that helped push them to the fore of their home region’s crowded heavy rock sphere. To rephrase: They kick ass early and often.
I’ll note at this point that I’m hardly an impartial observer, having been a fan since Locust Season and grown to think of them as friends, but feel no compunction in offering critique, whether it’s of Gaffney‘s vocals dominating the mix in the crashing apex of “By Mennen” (as opposed to the end of it, where the vocals stand alone and would inherently dominate the mix, being the only thing in it), or of the continued use of gag/reference song titles. “Lorenzo Llamas” is clever, but hardly does justice to the spaciousness of the side A closer itself or the manner in which it complements and sets up “Tin Chicken” as the album’s finale. In any case, if you want to take my continued respect for Gozu‘s work with a grain of salt, feel free, but Revival also stands legitimately on its own as their finest hour to date. Whether it’s the blistering, immediate zero-to-100 that “Nature Boy” brings to lead off or the sleeker groove of “Bubble Time” that follows, there isn’t a level on which Gozu aren’t moving beyond what they’ve done before.
Grotto, who played on part of The Fury of a Patient Man, and Hubbard, formerly of Warhorse, make for a rhythm section formidable enough to stand up to the melodies and layering in Gaffney‘s vocals and the crunch in his and Sherman‘s guitars alike, and though the attack here is more pointed than it has been in the past, that suits Gozu remarkably well as they lend each song a personality of its own while uniting the work as a whole through hooks, harmonies and a sense of abandon like that shown in the layered soloing that pushes “Bubble Time” over the top at the end. That song and “Nature Boy” before it build momentum into the more shuffling “Big Casino,” which rides a hypnotic chugging riff — something of a miniaturization of “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf” from the last outing — in its middle and after one more chorus trips out a bit with far-back falsetto from Gaffney and consistent punctuation from Hubbard as it fades into the crashes that begin “Lorenzo Llamas,” which builds across its seven-minute span with semi-psychedelic patience as a vocal highlight, subtly insistent riff and fluid groove add to the otherworldly feel the ending of “Big Casino” put forth. Through soloing from Sherman, interplay of the two guitars, and more forceful delivery from Gaffney, “Lorenzo Llamas” gives a fitting cap to Revival‘s first half and sets up the continued expansion of reach that follows in the second.
That expansion comes in hand with a feeling that each of side B’s tracks is in conversation with a counterpart on side A, reversing the first three songs and aligning for the longer fourth so that “Oldie” opens with a chug and hook that could be playing off the sway of “Big Casino,” “By Mennen” answers the soul of “Bubble Time” with swaggering, heavy funk — the early bassline is a highlight — and “DD McCall” follows up on the all-out thrash style with which “Nature Boy” lead off, leaving “Tin Chicken” to build on what “Lorenzo Llamas” accomplished. One doubts that kind of symmetry was something that came to mind for Gozu as they were writing — it’s not like they’re making a concept record — but it does give Revival‘s presentation another level of cohesiveness, and whether it’s the fading-out guitar harmonies of “Oldie” or Gaffney pushing his voice to its limits in that standalone part at the end of “By Mennen,” Gozu manage to add to what they did earlier without sonic redundancy.
This is true in the heads-down thrust of “DD McCall” as well as the immediate contrast that “Tin Chicken” brings with its quiet, fluid guitars, subdued drums and soft vocals. The closer pushes through a louder part and quiets again momentarily before launching into the atmospheric payoff that “Lorenzo Llamas” teased, still heavy but swirling as well before cutting back to fade out after a few quiet lines bringing it back to the intro; the song seems to kind of wander off, but it works with the trance-inducing effects display preceding. And as it goes back to its start in a different way, “Tin Chicken” also summarizes some of what works best about Revival, which is the sense of how purposefully built the album is. While the performances are crisp, the natural chemistry Gozu have harnessed onstage remains intact, and the intensity with which they bring it to bear feels like something the band has been waiting for the opportunity to do. They make the most of that opportunity, and what results is some of the best American heavy rock you’re likely to hear in 2016 in composition and execution.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Boston-area duo Mollusk have announced a July release for their second album, Children of the Chron. The record finds the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist Hank Rose and drummer Adam O’Day following up their 2014 debut, Gutter with another set of terrifying scenarios, alternately born of real life — “Ride the #9,” about the horrors of public transportation — and imagined — “Zombie Apocalypse,” which might as well be about the same thing — set to noise rock that’s raw and aggressive without losing sight of its purpose or taking itself too seriously, as the shift between tribal drums and grunge downerisms on “Blaze Cave” and “Lesbian Resume” makes plain enough to hear.
Perhaps as a means to clear their collective consciousness of the filth that was and make room for the filth that is, Mollusk have made Gutter available as a free download via a Dropbox link as a precursor to Children of the Chron coming out. That’s right. You don’t even need a download code, or to name your price as zero dollars. They’re just letting you take it. Nothing to lose but a minimum of hard drive space.
They’ve also begun to unveil songs from Children of the Chron at this point as well. “Ride the #9” and the newly-unveiled “When You’re Gone” can be heard on their Reverbnation page, if you can put up with the interface of that site, and they have a new video for “Glacier” that you can see below.
They’re a band of few words, but the info follows:
It’s Mollusk’s 2nd full length album. COTC is slower, sludgier and stonier. We are the Children Of The Chron.
Mollusk – Children Of The Chron Tracklisting: 1. Ride the #9 2. Demon Queen 3. The Children of the Chron 4. Glacier 5. Human Tidalwave 6. Blaze Cave 7. Lesbian Resume 8. Torture Chamber 9. When You’re Gone 10 Zombie Apocalypse 11. Mental Hospital
Record to be released in July 2016.Recorded by Sid Lees at HERD Studio in Roxbury MA. 1st Track and video – Glacier.
However the usage came about, it’s hard to argue with bringing together footage of a star being torn apart by a black hole with the grueling, massive doom that Conclave bring to bear. The Massachusetts four-piece’s debut LP, Sins of the Elders, is due out June 10 via Lost Apparitions Records and PATAC Records, and their new video for the track “Aethereum” reminds me of one of the very few things I miss most about having regular tv service: the NASA Channel.
I don’t know for sure, but I’d gather much of the footage culled together to make the “Aethereum” clip comes from video news releases — VNRs, for you Communications majors — and the NASA Channel used to show that kind of thing all the time. There’d be a brief explanation of what simulation or captured footage you were about to see actually was, and then they’d show you a clip of whatever length of awesome space stuff like sunspots, satellites shooting through orbit, planetary collisions, spacecraft design, really anything. It was awesome. Obviously Conclave have curated that and edited it to fit the rhythm and what’s-bleaker-than-bleak-oh-yeah-dead vibe of “Aethereum,” but when it comes to space, cosmic-level destructiveness is part of the appeal.
So it is with Conclave as well. If you missed it, the track “Black Lines” from Sins of the Elders was previously streamed here. You’ll find the “Aethereum” video below, followed by more info from the PR wire.
Hope you enjoy:
Conclave, “Aethereum” official video
Sins Of The Elders is the forthcoming full-length from Massachusetts-based doom metal faction CONCLAVE. Captured at Raven’s Head Studio in Allston, Massachusetts with Eric Braunschweiger at the recording helm, with Sins Of The Elders the members of CONCLAVE — which unites Warhorse, Grief, Disrupt, Desolate, and Martyrvor alumni — fuse their death and doom influences into a unique amalgam of heavy grooves, pounding sludge and melodic doom.
Issues the band of the track, “‘Aethereum’ was written in minor keys with a feeling of darkness in tribute to the great forefathers of doom that paved the road before us. The lyrical concept is that of falling through space, time and all ethereal planes. It brought forth thoughts of the infinite vastness of space, the extremes of temperature, light and sound or absence thereof. Other parallels were drawn from the stories of World War II naval convoys traveling to Murmansk and the conditions those soldiers lived and died under. Hell is real and it extends beyond Earth and throughout the cosmos.”
CONCLAVE: 5/13/2016 One Bar & Grill/Pearl St. – Northampton, MA 6/30/2016 Ralph’s Rock Diner – Worcester, MA * Record Release Show 6/23/2016 Grub Sweat & Beers Fest @ O’Brien’s – Cambridge, MA 8/27/2016 RPM Fest – Greenfield, MA
CONCLAVE: Jerry Orne – bass, vocals Jeremy Kibort – guitars, backing vocals Terrenza Savastano – guitars Dan Blomquist – drums, percussion
On June 3, in conjunction with Grayskull Booking, The Obelisk will present the record release show for Gozu‘s new album, Revival, at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. Due out June 10 via Ripple Music, Revival is Gozu‘s most ferocious outing yet, their first with a stable lineup and it shows the pointed trajectory their songwriting has taken, still unremittingly heavy, but less adherent to genre than they’ve ever been. I’ll have a review up before it’s out (hopefully), but the short version is it’s one of the year’s best records.
Accordingly, they’re doing it up to celebrate. It just wouldn’t be a Boston-area gig without five bands on the bill, so of course that’s where it’s at. But between bringing Sylvia down from Maine and partnering with Wormwood, Worshipper — recently signed to Tee Pee — and doom/classic metal mysteriosos Magic Circle, it’s a lineup worthy of consideration more as a festival than a regular gig, and considering advance tickets, which you can buy here, are a whopping $10, to say you’re getting your money’s worth feels like underselling it.
“I’m betting this night will have everything you need,” enthuses Gozu guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney. “Rock rolling, cocktails flowing, stomachs growing and many rock t-shirts primed for their first showing.”
“We are super excited to release this album and get it into the ears of peeps,” added guitarist Doug Sherman. “The release show will be a party with a bunch of bands/friends we respect. Come out and celebrate with us we’d love to have ya!! Massachusetts has an amazing scene and we are so blessed to be a part of it.”
Gozu also recently inked a deal with Heavy Psych Sounds and will tour Europe this fall with Holy Grove.
Here’s the release show info:
Grayskull Booking & The Obelisk Present
June 3 / 8PM / 18+
Gozu (Record Release!)
Middle East Upstairs
472 Massachusetts Ave,
Cambridge, MA 02139
Posted in Features on May 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
To run down the list of accolades that the Boston-area music scene has (rightly) foisted upon producer/engineer Benny Grotto of Mad Oak Studios over the last however many years would take a really, really long time, but suffice it to say that when an opportunity to watch him work is afforded, it’s not one you want to neglect. It’s a pleasure I first had six years ago, as Grotto — who also until recently was drumming in Slapshot — was mixing what would become Solace‘s long-awaited A.D. full-length, but of course his production credits go much further than that, including an entire pantheon of releases through Small Stone Records by Dwellers, Roadsaw — whose Craig Riggs is an owner of Mad Oak, along with Grotto and PK Pandey — Sasquatch, Gozu and The Brought Low, as well as local luminaries like The Scimitar, Black Thai and Second Grave, among many others.
But most of that, apart from the Second Grave, which is forthcoming, was done in the old Mad Oak. In January, the studio opened a new facility at 390 Cambridge St. in Allston, MA, and immediately set about filling the calendar with clients, among them reunited New Hampshire burl rockers Scissorfight, who were there tracking five songs for a new EP to be released sometime later this year. It will mark their first offering in a decade and their first with a new lineup including Doug Aubin on vocals and Rick Orcutt on drums alongside bassist Paul Jarvis and guitarist Jay Fortin that recently made their live debut to a sold-out Shaskeen in Portsmouth, NH, the first of many more live shows to come. The appeal of hearing new Scissorfight in-progress under Grotto‘s care was too good to ignore, so I headed into Allston last Wednesday to check out the tail end of the session.
Greeted outside by Jarvis‘ dog, Anna, who spent most of her time lounging on a bed made of an old flannel shirt, and Jarvis and Aubin, I made my way into the place to find Grotto, as ever, in front of a monitor filled with waveforms. A large tv on the wall behind him allowed anyone sitting on the plush couch nearby to see what he was doing, and from the spacious, clean layout of the room, it was clear that the studio had only been living in the redone space for a couple months. The floor, the ceiling, the giant monitors embedded in and in front of the wall to blast from a small stage in the control room — none of it had yet been kicked to hell by time, and the same went for the high-ceiling live room, which, if the sound of Orcutt‘s drums was anything to go by, is going to make a lot of percussionists very happy.
“From my end, I wanted to basically steal all the cool things I liked about the other studios I’d been working at, as well as minimize or eliminate the negative things that those places had,” Grotto explained. “For me, the general vibe and level of comfort were the primary issue. I wanted to set the place up in a way that really facilitates creativity and a relaxed atmosphere. We have unbelievable sight-lines throughout the whole studio, lots of comfortable places to relax, and a wealth of instruments and gear that are all easily accessible, which helps artists to get ideas down quickly before the inspiration dries up.
“One of the big advantages to the new space is that we got to design it to our exact needs, from the ground up. So we were able take all the lessons that Riggs learned building the first place, combine them with my experience over the last couple years working in a variety of studios as a freelancer, and combine all that with PK‘s extensive experience as a studio building consultant, and really dial the whole thing into what is more or less our dream studio.”
The layout of the space reminds of a complex piece of software designed to look and operate simply. The live room is flanked on either side by isolation booths, there are big doors for load-in, the control room, a break space/kitchen, bathroom, etc., but from the cork in the ceiling to Grotto controlling colored LED lights from his phone and the acoustics as tracks were played back, what Mad Oak has become is clearly the result of meticulous work.
“Craig really wanted to focus on the construction itself. He’s been on-site every day, basically working as the contractor, making sure everything is getting done to his very high standards, but he’s busting ass as a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician, everything. Very hands on. The work he and his guys have been doing in here is out of this world; the craftsmanship and attention to detail is really unlike anything I’ve seen in a recording studio.
“PK has a massive amount of experience as a studio building consultant, and we were able to make use of that experience in a major way. Specifically by tapping the Walter Storyk Design Group — which is the studio architectural firm responsible for an incredible list of studios all around the world, including Hendrix‘s Electric Lady — to design the control room. That really elevates us to a whole new level in terms of prestige — not to mention, the acoustics in here sound incredible.”
I wouldn’t argue. Fortin was about to lay down some acoustic guitar flourish on a maddeningly catchy track with the working title “Beaver Fever” — the twist: it’s actually about Giardia — but already the material sounded huge, with the trademark crunch in his and Jarvis‘ weighted tones that became a staple of Scissorfight‘s sound in their initial run. Over top, Aubin brought his own edge to sardonic lyrics, snarls and growls about drinking beaver piss. The band called it a public service. I’ll assume the same applies to “Tits Up” and “’70s Boobs,” another working title.
Those three were mostly done. Jarvis put some banjo on “Beaver Fever” that may or may not make the final cut — was cool but might’ve been a bit much with the acoustic already there; would need to hear it mixed — and Aubin will have to go back in for “Ol’ Taint Rot” and “Stove,” but the basic tracks were finished to the point that Grotto, grumbling about the response time of his wireless mouse, was already compiling tracks for rough mixes to send the band. The mental organization involved in that process is not to be understated. At the same time he was cross-fading two tracks joining together, he was also running hard drive backups and drawing on markers so he knew where preamp dials were, for the next time the band are in, or maybe just to keep a record of it. Either way, there’s nothing haphazard about the process.
Grotto told me in a not at all complaining fashion that he’s had one day off since January. Watching him work again, I believe it. The drive and the passion he puts into what he does is inspiring, and as Scissorfight step up to claim the utter dominance of New England that has basically been theirs for the taking for the last decade, there are no better hands they could be in. With smartass jokes a-flying, Fortin, Jarvis and Aubin (Orcutt wasn’t there) were completely at ease at Mad Oak, and it was clear just from being there for the few hours I was how much that was also part of the intricate design.
“The new space sounds amazing,” said Grotto. “It’s made my life so much easier. Every drummer who’s done a session in here so far has told me it’s the best drum room they’ve ever played in. The room just sings. And we laid out the gear and infrastructure in a way that speeds up the workflow, so we’re just flying through setup, and the bands play great. It’s been fantastic.”
Scissorfight‘s new EP is called Chaos County and will be out later this year. Thanks to Jay Fortin for letting me use his photos of the session.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Congratulations to Boston heavy rockers Worshipper on signing to Tee Pee Records for the release of their debut album, Shadow Hymns, this August. The hard-driving four-piece have impressed over the course of two 2015 singles — Place Beyond the Light (discussed here) and the preceding Black Corridor (review here) — as well as in a live setting so much that they’ve already picked up a Boston Music Award and, more recently, won the Rock and Roll Rumble competition of local acts. Boston loves its own, to be sure, but even so, that’s a considerable response for a band who hasn’t yet put a record out.
I asked guitarist/vocalist John Brookhouse to comment on the signing and he had this to say:
“Holy shit! I listen to my copy of the first Graveyard record constantly and to flip it over and see ‘Tee Pee’ on the back, the label that is putting out OUR first record, blows my mind. We’re all really proud of how it came out, sonically and visually. Bob did an amazing job with the artwork, so we’re excited for people to see it in person as well as to hear it.”
Worshipper release Shadow Hymns on Tee Pee Records on Aug. 28. The PR wire makes it official:
WORSHIPPER Sign With Tee Pee Records
Award-Winning Massachusetts Metal Band To Unleash Full-length Debut, ‘Shadow Hymns’, this Summer
Boston-based metal band WORSHIPPER has signed to NYC’s Tee Pee Records, the independent record label known for releasing landmark albums from acts such as High on Fire, Graveyard, Earthless and Sleep. With a sound described as “darkly epic”, WORSHIPPER has earned consistent accolades since its formation, being named the “Metal Artist of the Year” at the 2015 Boston Music Awards and, most recently, being chosen over 23 other participating bands as champions of the 2016 “Rock and Roll Rumble”, a competition hailed as “The World Series of Boston Rock” that has taken place annually since 1979.
WORSHIPPER will release its full-length debut, Shadow Hymns, on August 28. The record was recorded at Q Division, Mad Oak, and Converse Rubber Tracks Studios with producers Benny Grotto (Aerosmith, Orange Goblin) and David Minehan (The Replacements) and showcases WORSHIPPER’s melodically thunderous sound. Through its unique mix of contemporary and classic influences, WORSHIPPER prove that the horn-throwing soul of melodic heavy music’s past still burns brightly.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to be welcomed to the Tee Pee family,” comments guitarist Alejandro Necochea. “We think it’s a perfect fit and we are immensely proud to have our music released by the same label that put out some of our favorite records of the past couple decades.”
In addition to Necochea, WORSHIPPER features John Brookhouse (vocals / guitar), Dave Jarvis (drums) and Bob Maloney (vocals, bass).
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
In a little less than a month, Long Island prog-metallers Moon Tooth head out on tour to support their latest album, Chromaparagon, which was released in February. They’ll be doing essentially a month-long swing down and back up the Eastern Seaboard, playing New England with Warm at the end of May, pushing into the South early in June, and then cutting back north, meeting up with Boston trio Rozamov to continue into Upstate New York and into Canada for shows in Montreal and Toronto before rounding out June 20 in Burlington, Vermont.
All put together, it’s a not inconsiderable run, and hardly Moon Tooth‘s first, the band over the last several years having basically forced their way into East Coast the progressive consciousness through hard work and volume. As noted below, this is the first time both of these acts will hit Canada, and Rozamov do so ahead of the release of their much anticipated debut album, due out later this year. They’ll apparently be playing new material at these shows.
Word came down the PR wire:
Long Island progressive sludge rock weirdos Moon Tooth and Boston atmospheric sludge mongers Rozamov have announced a string of dates together this June. This will be both bands’ first excursion north of the border, hitting both Montreal and Toronto on this run. Moon Tooth are supporting their self released debut LP “Chromaparagon” which has reached numbers 85 and 120 on the Hard Rock and Best New Artist charts respectively.
Rozamov recently wrapped up the recording for their own first full length, and will be airing songs from the album on this run. Last year saw Rozamov release “Ghost Divine” on a split with Deathkings via Midnite Collective.
June 16th – Kingston, NY @ The Anchor June 17th – Rochester, NY @ Monty’s Krown June 18th – Montreal, CAN @ Crobar June 19th – Toronto, CAN @ Smiling Buddha June 20th – Burlington, VT @ Nectar’s