Roadburn 2014, Pt. 1: “…This Heart of Mine”

Posted in Features on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.08.14 – 8:42PM Eastern – Tuesday – Logan Airport, Boston, MA 

I knew when the guy behind the Icelandair check-in counter called me “dude” that everything was going to be okay. Actually, the first words out of his mouth when he saw my passport were, “You know about the delay, right?” Yup. Just an hour, though that in combination with the lack of traffic compared to what I thought I’d hit made me absurdly early. Security was a breeze, even carrying a bevvy of electronics. Still no idea how long it takes to get anywhere in Boston.

First to Reykjavik and then to Amsterdam, then to Tilburg. Have been sitting here two hours now and have two more to go until the new takeoff time. I don’t mind. The batteries on everything are charged, including the book I brought, and but for being warm and smelling the mass-produced whathaveyou being served at the restaurant to my left – some name I don’t know – it’s fine. A breeze from somewhere. Is Logan Terminal E big enough for wind?

Remembering travel stuff. Don’t look at anyone too long or they’ll look back. Put the computer in the back with the bottom facing out so that it and the camera can be upright in when the bag is laid down. Lessons already learnt, remembered situationally to no doubt be filed away again soon.

I enjoy people-watching as much as the next pseudo-creative, but it gets disheartening after a while, feeling very apart. In my head I hear cop voices in stern teenager-bound derision: “You think you’re special, son?” It’s the opposite. These people have made it. Front to back, they’re here, they’re in it, they’re human. They’re special. I’d be fooling myself if I thought I could ever do or be that thing. It just wouldn’t work. Some will tell you everybody feels that way, like they’re the muck. Maybe that’s true, but they don’t live it. Existence as an awkward-fitting pantsuit.

But the place I’m going is where it works at least well enough to pretend. To put me back into position of righteousness from which to designate the squares. Not the only congregation anymore, but maybe the most revered. It’ll be a quick few days at Temple Roadburn, but fucking hell I’m ready. Please, please get me there. Get me to no sleep and vicious tone. To the wind pushing on through Weirdo Canyon, the mad stench of the 013 on Saturday night. Get me there. In red block letters at my 12: “REYKJAVIK: Delayed.”

And with this we begin.

 

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Gozu Head to Europe; Tour Starts this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This week, Boston’s own Gozu fly to Europe to begin a tour that will carry them for the next two weeks from Roadburn to the Desertfest in Berlin. It’s an enviable trip with what’s sure to be extra-righteous beginning and endpoints, and though it will have only been about half a month since I last watched them play, I consider Gozu among my gotta-see Roadburn bands. Why? Because everybody brings it toRoadburn. Tired? Jetlegged? Whatever the circumstances are, if you’re ever gonna kill, you’re gonna kill there. I’m looking forward to it.

Dates and whatnots follow, as dictated by the PR wire:

GOZU: Massachusetts Riff Rockers To Embark Upon First-Ever European Tour; The Fury Of A Patient Man Limited Edition Vinyl Out Now

Massachusetts hellions, GOZU, will take their riffs overseas next week for their first-ever European takeover! Set to begin at the legendary Roadburn Festival, the band will wage a full-on volume ambush through ten select locales in the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia and Italy, concluding with a performance at Desertfest in Berlin.

GOZU will be touting the fruit of their The Fury Of A Patient Man full-length released last Spring via Small Stone. The self-produced ten track monster earned widespread praise for its Chris Cornellian vocal swells and robust, heavy rock swagger.

A special deluxe edition of The Fury Of A Patient Man was recently released via Small Stone in celebration of the upcoming European journey. Limited to 500 copies, the 2XLP set comes on 180-gram wax with a wide spine jacket, poly-lined sleeve, and two colors – LP one is “clear green” while LP two is “solid purple.” Sides one, two and three feature tracks from the original album, while side four offers up exclusive vinyl-only numbers with one original tune (“Break You”) and GOZUed renditions of Simply Red’s “Holding Back The Years” and D’Angelo’s “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker.”

GOZU Spring Tour 2014:
4/12/2014 Roadburn – Tilburg, NL
4/13/2014 Hafenklang – Hamburg, DE
4/15/2014 Feierwerk – Munich, DE
4/16/2014 Channel Zero – Ljubiljana, SI
4/17/2014 Magnolia – Milano, IT
4/18/2014 E20 Underground – Montecchio, IT
4/19/2014 TBA
4/20/2014 TBA
4/22/2014 Das Bette – Frankfurt, DE
4/23/2014 Musicon – Den Haag, NL
4/24/2014 The Underground – Cologne, DE
4/25/2014 Astra Kulturhaus Desertfest – Berlin, DE

Order the vinyl edition of The Fury Of A Patient Man at THIS LOCATION.

http://www.facebook.com/GOZU666
http://www.smallstone.com

Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (2013)

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The Scimitar Premiere “World Unreal” from Debut Album Doomsayer

Posted in audiObelisk on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Doomsayer is a fitting title for the forthcoming debut from Boston trio The Scimitar. The band build on the methodologies of Black Pyramid, the trio from which they splintered off last year with bassist Dave Gein and guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard picking up drummer Brian Banfield in the process, but craft their own identity as well in the blend of catchy songs and plodding, thudding doom. As a riffer and lead player, Shepard – also of Blackwolfgoat, Milligram, Hackman and too many others to count — sounds right at home on Doomsayer, though it might be the heaviest aesthetic in which he’s yet resided. Black Pyramid‘s 2013 outing, Adversarial (review here), which had Shepard and Gein in the lineup with drummer Clay Neely, is probably the closest comparison point, and Doomsayer is altogether a heavier album. Less bound by the expectations of stepping into someone else’s frontman spot, Shepard flourishes on cuts like “The Taker” and “World Unreal,” and the pummel the trio elicit only lets up on the acoustic interlude “Attrition.”

So it’s heavy in heavy’s element. Fair enough. As the first audio to surface from Doomsayer in its finished mix, “World Unreal” sets up a lot of what works really well about the album, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. In the High on Fire-style thrash of “Babylon,” they heavy-rock-grooving centerpiece take on Motörhead‘s “Metropolis” and the thunder-weighted payoff of closer “Crucifer,” The Scimitar distinguish themselves from Black Pyramid and showcase a songwriting process that’s started from a position of considerable accomplishment and only likely to come further into its own. With lyrics criticizing a conspiracy-minded view of the world — the lines “You’re seeing patterns that don’t exist/You think that everyone’s an enemy” stand out — a steady, rolling groove and metallic undertone in the chorus, “World Unreal” makes a striking introduction to the outlook and heft of Doomsayer, and while the version of the song that I have the pleasure of premiering isn’t mastered, it should still be plenty loud enough to get its point across.

Please enjoy:


Doomsayer was recorded by Glenn Smith at Amps vs. Ohms Studios and mixed by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak. The Scimitar will release Doomsayer in the coming months through Hydro-Phonic Records. Shows are rare, but the trio will take part in the Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 festival, May 3 and 4 at Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester, Massachusetts. More info at the links.

The Scimitar on Thee Facebooks

Hydro-Phonic Records

The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4

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Live Review: Small Stone Boston Showcase with Mellow Bravo, Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Gozu, Roadsaw and Neon Warship, 03.28.14

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve had some pretty landmark good times at Small Stone showcases over the last 10 or so years. Some of them — admittedly, the more recent ones — I’ve even remembered. The last one in Massachusetts was 2012 at Radio in Somerville (review here) was a monster, and as my first time in the upstairs room at the Middle East in Cambridge, I can’t imagine a more fitting occasion. A six-band bill with a shared love of riffs and a record label in common, it was a front-to-back night of volume, distortion, and groove, and from Neon Warship through Roadsaw, Gozu, Lo-Pan, Wo Fat and Mellow Bravo, there was no letup. No moment when you’d want to go outside and smoke or get some air. No moment when the place to be wasn’t in front of the stage.

That’s rare enough when three acts are playing, let alone twice as many. The same lineup minus Mellow Bravo and plus Geezer would play the next night at St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn, but as I had family coming north Saturday and zero dollars for gas, this was my fix. Parking in Cambridge on a Friday night is a singular joy between what’s campus housing for this or that elite-perpetuation factory and other sundry restrictions, but I found a spot and made it into the Middle East well enough in advance of Neon Warship starting off the night. Here’s how it went down from there:

Neon Warship


Of all the acts who’d take stage Friday night, Neon Warship were the most recent addition to the label’s roster. Picked up late in 2013, the Dayton, Ohio, three-piece gave a taste of Small Stone to come with their steady rolling riffs and the post-The Sword vocal stylings of guitarist Kevin Schindel, who when he hit into his higher register made up for some of Freedom Hawk‘s absence from the bill. It was my first exposure to them live, though their 2013 self-titled debut had made an impression, and though they’ve been a band for three years, they came across initially as still getting their feet under them on stage. They were well received by what was rightly a friendly crowd, however, and flourished as their set progressed, getting more comfortable as they went on. It was short sets for everybody, however, so just as Neon Warship were hitting their stride, they were also wrapping up. I doubt it’ll be my last encounter with them, and I’d be interested to see them go longer and have more of a chance to engage the audience. They seemed to be headed in that direction.

Roadsaw

I knew when I left the house that it was going to be an evening of top-notch guitar work. What I didn’t realize was that Ian Ross of Roadsaw was going to meet the quota on his own. Don’t get me wrong — situated as early headliners no doubt to bring in the local crowd early and get them drinking; a nefarious plot that worked wonders — all of Roadsaw was on fire, including new drummer Kyle Rasmussen (Phantom Glue) who recently came aboard to replace Jeremy Hemond for reasons yet undisclosed, but Ross seemed particularly to rise to the occasion that the night presented, and whether he was tearing ass through “The Finger” from 2001′s Rawk ‘n’ Roll or leading the way through the undulating stonerism of “Black Flower,” if it wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen him play, it was certainly close. They finished out with two from their 2011 self-titled (review here) — which at this point is begging for a follow-up — “Long in the Tooth” and “Weight in Gold,” and were nothing if not in headliner form, frontman Craig Riggs sharing a mic with bassist Tim Catz after swinging his enough to dislodge its cable and all four bringing their still-too-short set to a monstrously noisy finish. Sometimes earplugs just don’t matter.

Gozu

Never say never in rock and roll, but at least for the time being this night marked the end of Gozu‘s three-guitar experiment. Lead player Jeff Fultz, who’d pull double-duty with Mellow Bravo, is reportedly on the move out of the area, so there goes that. And while his farewell with Mellow Bravo would be drunker/more emotional later on — he’d been in Mellow Bravo five years, a few months playing with Gozu — it was nonetheless a stellar sendoff. For me, they seemed to affirm the potential for Gozu as a five-piece they showed when I saw this lineup make its debut at the Great Scott back in January (review here), songs like “Irish Dart Fight” and “Meth Cowboy” benefiting both from the extra heft and and still nascent dynamic between Fultz and Doug Sherman‘s soloing. Guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney brought his own edge via a Gretsch hollow-body guitar — I don’t play, but if I had the money to spend I’d buy one just to look at it — and Joe Grotto, his foot up on the monitor, was duly animated holding down the low end, while still-relatively-new drummer Mike Hubbard made himself comfortable in the slower, more swinging terrain of “Alone,” the closer from 2010′s Locust Season (review hereand a rare enough inclusion in the set that I don’t think I’d ever seen them play it before. Certainly not since 2013′s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) was released, anyway. They didn’t get to “Meat Charger,” but “Ghost Wipe” had been a raucous enough opener that all was well. They’re ready to hit Europe next month.

Lo-Pan

Oh, it had been too long. Too long. Not quite a year since they headlined the third Eye of the Stoned Goat fest in Brooklyn (review here), but still, that’s too long to go without seeing Lo-Pan. They played a set comprised almost entirely of new material, songs from the fourth album, Colossus, they’re recording with Andrew Schneider in Brooklyn this week, some I’d heard — “Colossus,” “The Duke” — others that were completely new. Hearing a runthrough of something once live is no way to judge how it will sound on record, but as guitarist Brian Fristoe nestled into the open, winding grooves of his own riffs backed by bassist Scott Thompson and drummer Jesse Bartz while vocalist Jeff Martin soul-man crooned behind, Lo-Pan sounded like Lo-Pan, and yes, I mean that as a compliment. It means the Ohio four-piece have established their sound and know what sides of what they do they want to develop and they’ve set to the work of that. I pulled my earplugs about halfway out for “El Dorado” from 2011′s Salvador (review here), but even the stuff I hadn’t heard before was easy to appreciate. As the hardest-touring band on Small Stone, Lo-Pan lack nothing for presence on stage, and though I almost got cracked in the head by Thompson‘s bass once or twice and when the night was over, I’m pretty sure it was Bartz‘s crash cymbal ringing in my ears, they silver-plattered a reminder of how vital an act they are. It would be premature to say their best days are ahead of them since Colossus is just now in progress, but they showed the room at the Middle East that anything’s possible, even topping Salvador.

Wo Fat


Getting to see Texas trio Wo Fat play a packed room was one of the highlights of my Roadburn 2013 (review here), and with their second Small Stone outing (fifth overall), The Conjuring, on the way, brief as it was, their set was no less enjoyable here. At the same time they’re probably the best advertisement for Texan tourism I can think of, it’s probably also a good thing they’re from so far away, otherwise I’d probably wind up saying something like, “Oh, it’s only 10 hours. That’s not too far to drive to see Wo Fat again.” The TSA had rifled through guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump‘s gear, so they had to set everything up from scratch before they got going, but once they did, it was a weekend’s worth of fuzz condensed and served in a three-song can. Bassist Tim Wilson was dug in deep for “The Conjuring,” which took hold following a noisy transition from “Nameless Cults” from their 2013 Cyclopean Riffs split LP with Egypt (review here) and in turn shifted via jam into “Sleep of the Black Lotus” from 2012′s The Black Code (review here), the whole set coming across as one consistent riff and fuzz fest, grounded by the plod of drummer Michael Walter. Wo Fat are masters of getting the most out of a slow stoner groove and pushing it into or out of a faster rush (“The Conjuring” does this really well), and the swamp-voodoo lyrical themes they’ve paired with their Fu Manchu-worthy tonality fits perfectly. They don’t have Lo-Pan‘s road experience, but like their Ohio compatriots, Wo Fat clearly know what works in their approach. They wrapped up with a big rock finish — no other way to do it, really — and suddenly the night seemed too short…

Mellow Bravo

…But the fact of the matter is when you want to round out a party in Boston, Mellow Bravo are the way to go. As noted, it was guitarist Jeff Fultz‘s last show with the band, and they were in top form to say goodbye. Irrepressibly outspoken frontman Keith Pierce warned the audience that they were going long in his honor, and while the local six-piece left the room thoroughly entertained — aside from borrowing my camera to take a house-lights-up shot of the crowd, I also saw Pierce at the bar at one point, and he finished the set in the audience — it was readily apparent that for them this was more than just another show or even a label showcase. For Pierce, keyboardist/vocalist Jess Collins, guitarist Andrew Doherty, bassist/vocalist Seager Tennis and drummer Dave Jarvis, they were losing a bandmate and a friend and paying him bittersweet tribute. That’s how it felt watching, anyhow. I’ve seen Mellow Bravo a few times at this point, as well as Collins and Pierce in their acoustic side-project, Tastefulnudes (live review here), and while this was hardly the tightest, crispest set I’ve watched from them, they gave the night a suitable finale, more or less starting an afterparty while they were still playing. To say the very least of it, it was worth sticking around for.

Other bands had started to pack up, but there was still a good deal of milling about, drinking, band-bonding, etc. going on. It was just hitting two in the morning, which had the bar in get-the-fuck-out mode, so I hiked the several blocks back to my car made my way home, more than a little bummed to know what I’d be missing the next night in Brooklyn but feeling fortunate to have been able to see the show I did.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Live Review: Ichabod, Holly Hunt, Hollow Leg and Balam in Allston, MA, 03.25.14

Posted in Reviews on March 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I have yet to see a show at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston and regret having shown up. At this point, that’s a pretty good track record, since I’ve far and away spent more time in that room than anywhere else since moving north last year. Last night was Holly Hunt and Hollow Leg on tour from Florida, joined by Newport, Rhode Island’s Balam and Boston’s own Ichabod for a persistently heavy but still varied four-band bill of doom and sludge. I’d had no coffee owing to a dentist appointment in the afternoon and have no problem admitting that I’m still reeling from being laid off last week from my last remaining income-providing job, but I was ready to see a show, and I got what I went for, Balam starting off with their well-honed take on doom.

Vocalist Alexander Carellas mentioned on stage that he and a couple others in the double-guitar five-piece were sick, but the band sounded no worse for the wear up to and including his own voice, which had also impressed when I saw them last summer with Olde Growth and Keefshovel (review here). They were starting off a week-long stint of shows around the Northeast — Boston, Providence, Portland, Burlington, Poughkeepsie, New Bedford, Providence again — and fresh from a gig at Dusk in Providence with Magic Circle, playing songs from an upcoming full-length for which the recording is reportedly in progress, so it wasn’t really a surprise they were tight, but it made for a solid start to the evening nonetheless, their riffs adding trad doom edge that the sludgier Hollow Leg would contradict almost immediately upon stepping on stage.

My desire to see Hollow Leg was twofold. First (spoiler alert) they’re good. Second, they seem to be in a state of transition. Their 2013 full-length, Abysmal (review here), followed in the muck-caked Southern sludgy footsteps of its predecessor, 2010′s Instinct, albeit with more of a focus on songwriting than the debut. Their 2014 single, “God-Eater,” on the other hand, came with word of seeking out a new direction “sonically, visually and lyrically,” so I was curious to find out how that played next to Hollow Leg‘s ultra-aggressive prior approach. Sure enough, “God-Eater” was pretty easy to pick out as the second song of their set, but it wasn’t necessarily incongruous with what surrounded.

Maybe hearing it once through in a set isn’t the best way to get a feel overall, but from what I heard, the new song worked well next to “8 Dead (in a Mobile Home)” from Abysmal, though I imagine the context of Hollow Leg‘s next studio output will make the shift more obvious. I look forward to finding out, and wasn’t sorry to hear their abusive crunch in the meantime, somewhat cleaner than Sourvein but definitely of that ilk. Last I saw them was before Abysmal was released, and they had a commanding presence then, but they got on stage and clicked immediately, which was only fitting for being five shows deep into the tour. The duo Holly Hunt, also from Florida and whom I hadn’t seen previously, would soon follow suit.

Holly Hunt also had new material from an EP called Prometheus that’s set to release next month as the follow-up to the Miami-based instrumental two-piece’s 2012 Year One full-length debut. They’re one of those bands that I’ve heard from several reliable sources that “you gotta see.” Sure enough, as heavy as their recorded stuff is, it does little justice to the volume emanating from guitarist Gavin Perry‘s dual Hiwatt heads or the distinct crash of Beatriz Monteavaro, who celebrated her birthday in lumbering style. Sound-wise, they are as elemental as you’re likely to hear — elephantine riffs cycled through in vicious nod, played very, very loud. On paper it’s a simple formula, standing in front it’s enough to shake your ribcage. At one point I heard a crackle and was convinced the O’Brien’s P.A. wasn’t long for this world, but fortunately it held out under the tonnage of tonal heft Holly Hunt supplied.

Given the unromantic duty of closing out a four-bander on a Tuesday night, two-guitar fivesome Ichabod answered Holly Hunt‘s demolition with their own brand thereof, frontman John Fadden shifting with intimidating ease between clean vocals and sit-tight-because-I-can-do-this-all-night screaming, lending the set a sense of drama to go with the alternately rocking and crushing riffs of Dave Iverson and Jason Adam, the steady and inventive bass of Greg Dallaria and the drums of Phil MacKay, which somehow prove to be the uniting force between the band’s space-rock push and their seething, malevolent sludge. Their psycho-delia was fluid through two new cuts from their upcoming LP, Merrimack, as well as favorites “Baba Yaga,” “Huckleberry” and “Hollow God” from 2012′s Dreamscapes from Dead Space, the latter of which closed out the evening on perhaps its angriest note — no small accomplishment considering the company Ichabod were keeping.

With the evening-long assault of volume as a comparison point, Allston seemed especially quiet on my way out of the venue. Holly Hunt and Hollow Leg roll into Brooklyn tonight, March 26, to share a bill at St. Vitus with The Scimitar, Kings Destroy and Clamfight as a benefit show for Aaron Edge of Lumbar to help with medical bills in his continued fight with MS. Info on that gig is here, and no doubt it’ll be one for the ages. Me, I’ll take what I can get, and was glad I got to see these acts at all, let alone on a show that was so dead on, front to back. No complaints.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Ice Dragon Release New Single “Demons from Hell”

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Prolific Boston garage-doomers Ice Dragon have issued a new single called “Demons from Hell” in their traditional write-it-record-it-toss-it-out-there fashion. Word arrived last night of the cut, which steps back from some of the psychedelic experimentation of their latest full-length, 2013′s Born a Heavy Morning (review here), and follows in the nastier-riffing footsteps of their prior two-tracker, Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest  (discussed here), taking a dark and metallic approach to axe-swinging heaviness.

Like everything they do, “Demons from Hell” was recorded by the band at their home studio, Ron’s Wrecker Service, and in addition to underscoring the breadth of sound they’re able to capture on their own — one probably wouldn’t listen to 2012′s Dream Dragon and think “Demons from Hell” was captured in the same room — the new track drives home just how much the lo-fi production sound has become an essential part of their aesthetic, whether it’s Ron‘s howling vocals or the sharp-edged turns of Joe‘s bass, Brad‘s drums and Carter‘s guitar. When the latter takes a noise-caked solo over steady tom runs, you can practically hear the tape hiss, even on the digital stream.

I don’t know whether or not “Demons from Hell” will be part of Ice Dragon‘s next full-length, which is reportedly in the works, or if its sound portends what that album might sound like — when it comes to these guys, any speculation is just setting yourself up to look dumb later — or if it will receive any kind of physical release to make the most of its Zé Burnay cover art, but it’s a catchy, raw cut that stands well with the band’s earlier outings, three of which are due for release on CD through PRC Music in May (plus Ingot Eye from ultra-bleak side-project Tentacle). As always, the song is available as a pay-what-you-will download from their Bandcamp page.

Enjoy:

Ice Dragon, “Demons from Hell”

Ice Dragon on Bandcamp

Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks

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On Wax: White Dynomite & Hey Zeus, Split 7″

Posted in On Wax on March 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Even as far as 7″s go, the new Mad Oak Records/Wonderdrug Records split between riffy Boston punkers White Dynomite and heavy rock four-piece Hey Zeus is pretty brief. The two cuts included, White Dynomite‘s “Sweet Tooth” and Hey Zeus‘ “Stomach,” are done in under five minutes total, but the alliance of the two bands carries more substance than that might indicate. With members of Roadsaw and Wrecking Crew and Fast Acting Fuses in their lineup, White Dynomite are no slouches when it comes to pedigree. Recently signed to Ripple Music for a reissue of their 2013 self-titled full-length debut, they’ve also added guitarist Jay Fortin (currently of Supermachine, formerly of Scissorfight) to the ranks, and while he doesn’t play on “Sweet Tooth,” his presence is felt on the split anyway since he took the pictures of the bands on each side’s cover and handled the layout of the 7″ package, the liner card for which features a cigar-smoking chimpanzee and the cover(s) of which recall hardcore 7″s of days gone by. Eerily fitting for two bands made up of adults clearly having kid fun playing fast and brash rock and roll.

This split is the recorded debut of Hey Zeus, whose “Stomach” is the longer of the two tracks at just over three minutes. Fortin‘s photo on the cover comes from a show at the now-defunct-should’ve-been-sold-to-me Radio Bar in Somerville last July, a gig at which Hey Zeus shared the stage with The Scimitar and The Brought Low and covered Deep Purple twice (review here). Bassist Ken Cmar is the head of Wonderdrug Records, the logo of which it’s good to see again, guitarist Pete Knipfing and drummer Todd Bowman are veterans of Lamont, and vocalist Bice Nathan recorded “Stomach” at New Alliance Studios, and on the track, Hey Zeus make good on the experience of the players in question to proffer memorable, speedy, hook-minded songwriting. Less riotous than White Dynomite, they’re also tonally thicker — Cmar‘s bass has punch enough that one is tempted to duck — and take some cues from Lamont‘s Southern-on-speed methodology. They are not on swagger, which makes them all the more a match for White Dynomite, whose King Kong-size shenanigans are writ large all over “Sweet Tooth.”

Blink or misplace the needle on your turntable and you’re likely to miss the bass intro from Tim Catz that actually starts “Sweet Tooth” before John Darga‘s guitar and Craig Riggs‘ drums join in. No frills, no bullshit, White Dynomite offer sheer propulsion topped off with the classic punker vocals of Dave Unger. The four-now-fivesome recorded “Sweet Tooth” with Mad Oak StudiosBenny Grotto, and as one would expect the sound is natural and crisp  in just the right balance. For all the chicanery at work in what White Dynomite do, they’re also remarkably tight, the members channeling punk roots and donning white suits as they sprint toward and past whatever one might expect from them based on their other past and current outfits. If you can’t keep up with “Sweet Tooth” the first time, it’s easy enough to put it on again.

Two relatively newcomer acts comprised of veteran players, it’s not much of a surprise White Dynomite and Hey Zeus pair well here, and for both giving a first impression of what Hey Zeus conjure as far as driving riffs and for giving a sample of where White Dynomite are headed coming off their first album into the next stage of their tenure, it’s a 7″ that accomplishes an awful lot in less than five minutes. No substitute for efficiency.

White Dynomite, “Sweet Tooth” simian video

White Dynomite on Thee Facebooks

Wonderdrug Records

Mad Oak Records

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Titanis to Release Celestial Aggression Debut EP April 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Thickening up thrash riffs can be a tricky proposition, but Massachusetts foursome Titanis find a niche somewhere between doomed plodding and more aggressive metallurgy on “Hyperion,” the rough mix of which is the first audio to surface from their forthcoming Celestial Aggression EP, which will release at the end of April. To mark the occasion, Titanis have a gig booked with Cortez and others at JJ’s Tavern (no relation, unless they’re looking to sell) in Florence, MA, as well as a handful of other gigs over the spring and summer.

Details and introductory whathaveyou barreled down the PR wire thusly:

Western Mass natives/newcomers TITANIS announce their debut EP “Celestial Aggression”, set for release April 26th. Featuring thirty minutes of new, original music across three tracks, the sounds heard here pull from all types of influence: from doom, thrash, early hardcore, progressive, instrumental, post rock and more.

Thematically based on a various concepts of ancient society (including ancient Greece), and written over a 7 year period, this marks the debut effort of each musician, as TITANIS is the first release featuring guitarist/vocalist Niko Galanis, bassist David Willoughy, rhythm guitarist Brett Miller and drummer Patrick O’Neill.

An album release show is set for April 26th at JJ’s Tavern/13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence, MA – featuring Boston stoner rockers Cortez, Buffalo NY’s Super Killer Robots, and Easthampton’s Problem with Dragons – whose front man Robo recorded TITANIS’ debut at his studio, LOUDville, in Feb 2014.

With dates spanning across New England in the coming months, check www.facebook.com/TITANISband for more information.

Below is a rough, unmixed preview of what is to come on the album!

Track listing:
1: Hyperion (12 minutes)
2: Horus the Red (8 minutes)
3: Europa (10 minutes)

Live dates:
4/26 JJ’s Tavern, Florence MA w/ Cortez, Problem with Dragons, Super Killer Robots
5/2 Maximum Capacity, Chicopee MA w/ Vacant Eyes, Thunderforge, When the Deadbolt Breaks, Black Absence
6/5 Ralph’s Rock Diner, Worcester MA w/ Mockingbird, TBA
6/20 Cherry Street Station, Wallingford CT w/ TBA

http://titanis.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/TitanisBand

Titanis, “Hyperion (Rough Mix)”

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Ice Dragon CD Releases Now Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

If I have one regret about my anti-nonphysical media stance, it’s that it probably kept me from checking out Ice Dragon sooner. The Boston-based garage psych doomers will issue three of their earlier works, 2010′s The Burl, the Earth, the Aether, 2011′s The Sorrowful Sun and 2012′s Tome of the Future Ancients on CD via Quebecois imprint PRC Music on May 27, and they’re available now to preorderSeems likely the discs won’t last long upon their release — I don’t know how many of each are being pressed, but Ice Dragon stuff moves quick from what I’ve seen — and though everything the prolific outfit puts out is a name-your-price download at their Bandcamp, for somebody who’d rather hold an album in their hands, this is a chance that doesn’t always come along.

Word from the band and the label’s notes on the records follow:

NEWS ALERT!!! Pre-Orders are up for the cd versions of “The Burl, The Earth, The Aether”, “The Sorrowful Sun”, and “Tome of the Future Ancients” through PRC MUSIC. They’ll be out on 05/27. Heads up and what not. Very psyched for these!

ICE DRAGON The Burl, the earth, the eather CD (PRC27)

This cult Americain doom metal band will finally see its first 3 albums available on CD for the very first time! “The Burl” is a masterpiece of classic Doom Metal. Heavy, Dark, disturbing… think BLACK SABBATH’s very first album on a crash course collision with a slower, noisier ELECTRIC WIZARD and you are pretty close to the perfection that is this seminal debut album. Get this now.

ICE DRAGON The sorrowful sun CD (PRC28)

Once again PRC MUSIC invites you to immerse yourself in pure classical, drug induced, doom metal. From the school of Ozzy-era BLACK SABBATH, this second album is majestic and disturbingly heavy. Here is what INVISIBLE ORANGES had to say about “The sorrowful sun”: “Imagine if Black Sabbath combined their heavy and psychedelic sides – they tended to toggle between those modes rather than combine them – and took even more drugs, and turned everything up into screaming, red-lined peaks. They then came down hard and also wrote pretty acoustic songs – not those bullshit interludes, but real, actual songs.” Enough said. Get this now.

ICE DRAGON Tome of the futur ancients CD (PRC29)

This is PRC MUSIC 3rd re-issue. The battery of torn-paged suspicions and spells this album promotes are surely divined by some great and sinister power. It masterfully blends the witchy metal of Black Sabbath, the crushing curses of Electric Wizard, and the thick dope smoke of Sleep, but it also integrates a phantasmagoria of heavy psych-drone into that formula for an all-together eerier descent into the mouth of ritualistic madness. This is beautiful. Get this now.

http://www.prcmusic.com/store/index.php?route=product%2Fcategory&path=172
http://icedragon.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/icedragonofficial/

Ice Dragon, The Burl, the Earth, the Aether (2010)

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Gozu Announce European Dates; Indiegogo Campaign Launched

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Gozu have a busy spring planned, between the Small Stone showcases later this month in Boston and Brooklyn and their inaugural European tour, which includes slots at Roadburn and Desertfest in Berlin. Couple that with a vinyl release for 2013′s stellar The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) which includes no fewer than three bonus tracks, and it’s a hell of a lot for the Boston four-piece to take on. To help with expenses, they’ve started an Indiegogo campaign to allow supporters to, well, support them as they make their way across the capital-C continent. There are a smattering of cool rewards as well, up to and including spending time in the studio as they record their next album (sounds good to me), signed vinyl, a guitar lesson from Doug Sherman and more.

Check it all out here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gozu-european-tour-2014

Guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney smooth-talks his way into hearts and wallets alike in the video below, and if the style of the following PR wire info on the tour looks familiar, it’s because I wrote it.

Have at you:

GOZU Announce European Touring; Confirmed for Roadburn & Desertfest Berlin

The Fury of a Patient Man Vinyl Release Coming

Boston’s GOZU will be making their first trip to Europe this Spring, supporting their 2013 Small Stone release, The Fury of a Patient Man. The four-piece, who recently added drummer Mike Hubbard (ex-Warhorse) to their lineup, are slated to appear at April 12 at Roadburn 2014 in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and at Desertfest Berlin on April 15.

To mark the occasion(s), the band will release a limited 2LP edition of The Fury of a Patient Man through Small Stone and Germany’s Cargo Records, with 500 copies pressed and vinyl-exclusive tracks, including covers of Simple Red and D’Angelo. The LPs will be 180g vinyl and should be out in March.

Before they head overseas, GOZU will play two Small Stone showcases in Cambridge and Brooklyn, joining labelmates Roadsaw, Lo-Pan, Wo Fat, Neon Warship and others at The Middle East and the Saint Vitus Bar on March 28 and 29, respectively. All confirmed dates follow:

GOZU Tour Dates:
03/28 Cambridge, MA, The Middle East w/ Mellow Bravo, Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Roadsaw, Neon Warship
03/29 Brooklyn, NY, Saint Vitus Bar w/ Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Roadsaw, Neon Warship, Geezer
04/12 Tilburg, Netherlands, 013, Roadburn Festival
04/13 Hamburg, Germany, Hafenklang
04/14 Germany, TBA
04/15 Munich, Germany, Feierwerk
04/16 Ljubiljana, Slovenia, Channel Zero
04/17 Milano, Italy, TBA
04/18 Montecchio, Italy, E20 Underground
04/19 Italy, TBA
04/20 CH, TBA
04/22 Frankfurt, Germany, Das Bett
04/23 Germany, TBA
04/24 Cologne, Germany, Underground
04/25 Berlin, Germany, Astra Kulturhaus, Desertfest 2014

GOZU lineup:
Marc Gaffney: vocals/guitar
Joe Grotto: bass
Mike Hubbard: drums
Doug Sherman: guitar

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gozu-european-tour-2014
https://www.facebook.com/GOZU666
http://gozu.bandcamp.com/
http://www.last.fm/music/Gozu
http://www.reverbnation.com/gozu666
http://www.smallstone.com/
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/

Gozu Indiegogo Campaign Video

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White Dynomite Sign to Ripple Music; Jay Fortin Joins on Guitar

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Here comes shenanigans. Boston heavy punkers White Dynomite released their self-titled rager last year and have signed a deal to have Ripple Music deliver a vinyl version late this Spring. It’s the kind of record you listen to and have a hangover afterwards, as White Dynomite dress to kill and live up to the wardrobe. Squares be damned, the outfit — which already included Tim Catz and Craig Riggs of Roadsaw in addition to vocalist Dave Unger (Antler) and guitarist John Darga (Wrecking Crew) — have added former Scissorfight and current Supermachine six-stringer Jay Fortin on second guitar. His hollow-body gold-trim Gretsch is going to go really well with that suit.

I’m a little behind on the news, which came out last week while I was gone, but here’s word off the PR wire about the vinyl and the band’s video for the song “White Dynomite,” which is about as exemplary an intro as you can get. Dig it:

WHITE DYNOMITE sign with RIPPLE MUSIC!

Boston’s “punk soul explosion” WHITE DYNOMITE have announced their signing with California-based label Ripple Music and the addition of a second guitarist.

Hard rock label Ripple Music, known for their excellent taste and quality of heavy rock music, have signed the super group and will re-release White Dynomite’s debut album in late spring of 2014. Pressed on white vinyl and including extra tracks, this dose of motor-punk soul will be an instant must-have for music fans who like it hard, fast-n-loud. White Dynomite have also officially announced the addition of Jay Fortin to the band. The ex-Scissorfight guitarist joins an already-heavy, veteran line up that includes former members of Roadsaw, Wrecking Crew and Fast Acting Fuses. With this twin-guitar front line in place, the group promises to pack more action than previously thought possible.

More details on the upcoming debut by White Dynomite to come this spring!

Find out more about the band at:

www.facebook.com/WhiteDynomiteBoston
www.ripple-music.com

White Dynomite, “White Dynomite” official video

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Cortez and Borracho to Release Split 7″ April 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Obviously the gag here is “no foolin’,” right? Well there it is. On April 1, Cortez and Borracho are set to pull a fast one on the universe. The Boston and D.C. natives have teamed up for a new split single on AM Records. For Cortez, this will be the first new material to come from the band since the 2012 release of their self-titled debut full-length (review here) and their first outing to feature their current five-piece lineup, whereas the riff-riding trio Borracho seem to be wasting no time in continuing the momentum of 2013′s sophomore outing, Oculus (review here), which was one of last year’s best records. Both bands contribute one song — Cortez has “Vanishing Point” while Borracho offers “Know My Name” — and the vinyl will be pressed in an edition of 500 in black as well as translucent purple or green.

“Vanishing Point” brings a different balance for Cortez‘s sound. Adding another player will do that, I suppose, but even more than just having Alasdair Swan‘s guitar to give Scott O’Dowd room to stretch out lead-wise — note that bassist Jay Furlo matches him note for note in the pre-solo lead section — the two seem to trade off before coming together for some quick harmonies before getting back to the motor-push of the verse, punctuated by Jeremy “How’s Your Elbow?” Hemond‘s snare and given an apex in large part thanks to his fills. The shift in overall feel can be heard too in Matt Harrington‘s vocals, which come through deeper in the mix than on the self-titled, given a sense of space through present-but-not-overdone reverb.

As Borracho continue to establish themselves as a trio, they seem to be doing so at the expense of no fullness of sound. Their “Know My Name” is just about a full minute longer than Cortez‘s track at 4:40, but that’s still pretty short for the three-piece overall. Either way, the time is well spent. Over an oozingly thick, rolling groove in Tim Martin‘s bass and Mario Trubiano‘s drums — not to mention his own guitar — vocalist Steve Fisher seems to be more confident in his approach, switching from cleaner verses to a throatier, gruff take for the chorus. A descending transition is put to good use, and as ever, Borracho sound right at home dug into a steady middle pace that shows off the meat of their tones. They make a good match for the speedier work of Cortez.

Both bands have a slew of notable appearances coming up. Cortez will play the lead-in spot for the Sixty Watt Shaman reunion at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 (info here) this May, whereas Borracho head to Desertfest London in late April (info here). The split will be out by then, but it’s available now too to preorder through Cortez‘s Bandcamp and Borracho‘s Bandcamp both, as well as AM Records‘ Bandcamp. A little friendly competition never hurt. It’s also streaming at either page and on the player below. Enjoy:

Cortez & Borracho, Vanishing Point/Know My Name Split 7″

Cortez on Bandcamp

Borracho on Bandcamp

AM Records on Bandcamp

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The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 Lineup and Runtimes Finalized

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Though one hesitates to ever use the word “final” when it comes to a festival lineup, particularly when we’re still a few months out from the event taking place, The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 looks pretty damn complete. Some recent upheaval in the lineup has brought in Lord Fowl as a replacement for Phantom Glue and Kings Destroy for Kingsnake, but things seem solid and ready to proceed otherwise. Should be a packed weekend May 3 and 4 at Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester, Mass., and it’s definitely one I’m looking forward to with a killer blend of bands local to New England and not.

Complete lineup as it stands today follows, along with the runtimes for each set. Feel free to dive in:

Snake Charmer Booking proudly presents: THE EYE OF THE STONED GOAT 4 Festival

Saturday, May 3rd – Sunday May 4th 2014

2 Days! 20 Bands! 20 Bucks!

Ralphs Rock Diner
148 Grove St.
Worcester, MA 01605

Saturday, May 3rd 2014
Doors: 4:30pm
Admission: $20 (ALL WEEKEND)
Line-Up and Set Times:

SIXTY WATT SHAMAN (The Reunion!!!)
12:20am-1:15am

CORTEZ (Boston, MA)
11:20pm-12:00am

KINGS DESTROY
10:25pm-11:05pm

SUMMONER (Boston, MA)
9:30pm-10:10pm

LORD FOWL (New Haven, CT)
8:45pm-9:15pm

BEELZEFUZZ (Church Within Records – Maryland)
8:00pm-8:30pm

SECOND GRAVE (Massachusetts)
7:15pm-7:45pm

JOHN WILKES BOOTH (Long Island, NY)
6:30pm-7:00pm

SET (Worcester, MA)
5:45pm-6:15pm

BIRCH HILL DAM (Fitchsburg, MA)
5:00pm-5:30pm

Sunday, May 4th 2014
Doors: 3:30pm
Admission: $20 (ALL WEEKEND)
Line-Up and Set Times:

ORDER OF THE OWL (Atlanta, GA)
11:20pm-12:00am

THE SCIMITAR (Boston, MA)
10:20pm-11:00pm

CURSE THE SON (Connecticut)
9:25pm-10:05pm

VOLUME IV (Ripple Music – Atlanta, GA)
8:30pm-9:10pm

ICHABOD (Boston, MA)
7:45pm-8:15pm

ROZAMOV (Boston, MA)
7:00pm-7:30pm

NEON WARSHIP (Small Stone Records- Ohio)
6:15pm-6:45pm

FOGHOUND (Baltimore, MD)
5:30pm-6:00pm

GEEZER (Kingston, NY)
4:45pm-5:15pm

SKROGG (New Hampshire)
4:00pm-4:30pm

Tickets On-Sale NOW!!!!
http://www.showclix.com/event/3788105/listing

$20.00 for the ENTIRE WEEKEND!!!

Sponsored By:

Ripple Music
Electric Beard Of Doom
Grip of Delusion Radio
Three Thirteen Inc Artist Management
Heavy Planet

https://www.facebook.com/events/586404324760804/
https://www.facebook.com/TheEyeOfTheStonedGoat
http://www.theeyeofthestonedgoat.com/

Cortez, “Johnny”

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Duuude, Tapes! Space Mushroom Fuzz, Back from the Past

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on January 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Exploratory heavy rockers Space Mushroom Fuzz may have decided to call their second tape boxed set Back from the Past, but it’s actually comprised of some of their most recent material. The prolific Boston space/jam/heavy rockers led by Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside) self-released four full-lengths last year between April and December, and all four — Man in the Shadow (April), A Possible Paradox (August), Stealing Some Time (November) and Burning the Almanac (December) — are gathered here, pressed DIY in an edition of only 20 copies (I got number 4, as I hope everyone does who winds up with one) and sold on the cheap for $8 through Space Mushroom Fuzz‘s Bandcamp. At two bucks an album, it seems fair to call Back from the Past a bargain even before one actually cracks it open and listens to the music, which upon play shows development over the course of the year and the band from the jammy sensibilities of their older material to a kind of garage space rock, Abrams a steady presence on guitar and vocals, as well as periodically working on drums and bass despite being joined in those roles by Clay Neely (Black Pyramid) and John Belcastro on drums, Scott Levine on bass for Burning the Almanac, and for a couple songs, Steve Melanson on saxophone.

More than anything, the mission of Space Mushroom Fuzz seems to be to weird out and have a good time. I can dig that. A studio project, that they’d have a slew of releases isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, and that there’s a glut of material doesn’t seem to take away from any kind of completeness in the songs — that is, sometimes when I band is geared toward putting out a lot of stuff, things can get rushed so they can move onto the next project. Abrams as the driving force of Space Mushroom Fuzz allows songs to develop to a natural point across these four albums, so that the layers of effects in “Gallopie” and “Wreckage” from Stealing Some Time are as much a part of the atmosphere as the root riffs and verses (at least verses in the case of the latter, since “Gallopie” is instrumental). In addition, I don’t know if it’s just because there’s so much of it all right next to each other, but it’s easy enough to read a sonic clarity coming into focus from one side of the tape to the next. The albums are positioned such that side one of tape one is the oldest album, Man in the Shadow — still less than a year old — and it runs through so that side two of tape two is the newest, Burning the Almanac. Finding a narrative arc there isn’t hard, and by the time Burning the Almanac comes around and Levine has joined his bass with Abrams‘ guitar and Belcastro‘s drums, Space Mushroom Fuzz sound that much more like the full band they’ve become.

That seems to be something the band acknowledge themselves on Burning the Almanac opener “The Cosmic Evolution,” though if I’m to be completely honest, I’ll say it’s an evaluation I made after hearing the digital version of that record, because when I flipped the tape over to listen to side two for the first time, my player promptly made a feast of it. Technical difficulties on my part notwithstanding, Space Mushroom Fuzz continue to be somewhat elusive as an act, working around a center of space rock that’s off-center and feeling its way through an ongoing progression even as it results in more and more recorded output, but in cases like Back from the Past, it’s interesting to have them step aside from time to time and take a look at what they’ve done. Their prior tape set, Seeing Double (review here), worked similarly if not as expansively, and the compilation format suits the project. As a lead player and the figure devising these songs and directing their progression, Abrams presents a gleefully strange take on psychedelia, weaving into and through convention en route to something decidedly and purposefully different. One might expect Space Mushroom Fuzz to lead with their newest work and move backwards from there, but listening to it front-to-back, their being counterintuitive seems to be part of the fun.

Space Mushroom Fuzz, Back from the Past (Dec. 2013)

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Bandcamp

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Rozamov Announce February East Coast Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Recently pared down from a four-piece to a trio following the departure guitarist/vocalist Liz Walshak, Boston heavy thrashers Rozamov will set out on an East Coast tour next month, beginning with a show Feb. 15 at Brooklyn’s The Acheron, where they’ll match wits with the mammoth plod of Eggnogg in what I can only imagine is a show that will test the structural integrity not only of that building, but of the sundry warehouse spaces sharing the block with it. Good bill, in other words.

Speaking of, Rozamov will be back up in MA and closer to home in May for Eye of the Stoned Goat 4. Details on that and more follow below, delivered with care down the PR wire:

Rozamov Announces February East Coast Tour Dates, Playing New Material

One of Boston’s most crushing doom exports, Rozamov have announced a run of East Coast tour dates beginning February 15th at The Acheron in Brooklyn, NY. Recently reborn as a more aggressive and pummeling three piece, the band has been hard at work on their most genre-pushing and crushing music yet and will unveil some of the fruits of their labor on this run.

In addition, Rozamov is offering their most recent EP Of Gods and Flesh for free download for a limited time on Bandcamp. Of Gods and Flesh was recorded at Q Division studios in Somerville, MA by AJ Peters (Summoner, Batillus) and self-released this past summer.

FEBRUARY EAST COAST TOUR
2/15- Brooklyn, NY @ The Acheron w/ Godmaker, Eggnog, Crushed
2/16- Washington, DC @ Velvet Lounge w/ The Osedax, Gholas
2/18- Columbia, SC @ Foxfield Bar w/ Darkentries & TBA
2/19- Atlanta, GA @ The Drunken Unicorn w/ Wolves and Jackals, Crawl
2/20- Savannah, GA @ Graveface Records
2/21- Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood w/ Corpse Mountain, Heron, Dreaded
2/22- Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter w/ The Osedax, Thrones of Deceit, Vorator
2/27 – Manchester, NH @ The Shaskeen w/ Vaporizer

5/3-5/4/14- Worcester, MA @ Ralph’s – Eye of The Stoned Goat w/ Order of The Owl, Sixty Watt Shaman, Summoner, Cortez, Phantom Glue + others

Rozamov.bandcamp.com
Facebook.com/Rozamov
Twitter.com/Rozamov

Rozamov, Of Gods and Flesh (2013)

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