Posted in audiObelisk on January 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Behold, the first taste of Black Pyramid‘s forthcoming third LP, Adversarial. The Massachusetts marauders of riff have made the track “Onyx and Obsidian” available for streaming, and their battle axes swing as hard as ever. The album was recorded and mixed by drummer Clay Neely at Black Coffee Sound and it’s the first full-length work the band has done since Neely and bassist Dave Gein joined forces with guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard.
That’s not the only change afoot with Black Pyramid, who’ve also realigned label-wise to release Adversarial this spring on Hydro-Phonic Records. The imprint previously issued Black Pyramid‘s Stormbringer8″ vinyl and subsequent CD compilation, and has also worked with Blue Aside, Olde Growth and a slew of kickass bands from the Codfish State and beyond, so at least we know they’re in good hands on that front. I haven’t seen a solid release date yet for Adversarial, but as a preliminary impression, “Onyx and Obsidian” bodes well.
In its finished, mastered by Matt Washburn form, please enjoy “Onyx and Obsidian” on the player below:
Posted in Reviews on January 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
When Boston rockers Gozu made their debut in 2010 with Locust Season, the album was greeted with no shortage of hyperbole within the heavy rock set. Their strong sense of songwriting, ballsy riffing, diversity of approach and penchant for melody made the four-piece an immediate standout among a crowded scene, and they came out of the gate with the professionalism of a band putting out their third album, not their first. Locust Season (review here), however, was a first album, and so it’s not necessarily surprising to find that on the sophomore outing, The Fury of a Patient Man (Small Stone), Gozu seem to have undergone some shifts in sound in the three years since their last time out. The above-listed elements, thankfully, remain consistent, and if you were someone who heard and upon whom the debut made an impression, there will be little doubt when you put on The Fury of a Patient Man that you’re listening to Gozu. Guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney has the same soulful sensibility in his voice, a little melancholy but still able to keep pace with fellow six-stringer Doug Sherman’s riffing (bass duties are split throughout by Jay Canava and Paul Delair; Joe Grotto has since joined as a permanent bassist), and Barry Spillberg’s drums are likewise at home punctuating movements either stomping, as on “Disco Related Injury” or rife with a more furious galloping, as on “Charles Bronson Pinchot.” Gozu’s penchant for joke and/or referential song titles – another piece of the puzzle returned from the first album – winds up undercutting some (not all) of the emotionality on display throughout, as on the later “Ghost Wipe” and “Traci Lords” or even opener “Bald Bull,” but the 10 component tracks on the 62-minute album nonetheless convey a range of moods, from the earlier more rocking swagger of “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” (sorry boys, on the show it was “Signed, Epstein’s Mother”) to the echoing largesse of 24-minute closer “The Ceaseless Thunder of Surf,” and no matter what heading they’re given, the songs do a lot of speaking for themselves. I’m not sure if the tradeoff of grabbing attention with a clever play on names like “Charles Bronson Pinchot” is worth the distraction from the contents of the track, but it’s moot. They are what they are, and what matters most from the point of launch is the strength of the material.
In that department, Gozu deliver a record to justify the three-year wait since the debut. However seriously they may or may not wish to present the superficial trappings of their band-dom, Gozu are no joke. Their arrangements are rich and complex without being pretentious, and immediately from the deft switches to and from falsetto in the verse of “Bald Bull,” Gaffney leads the charge through material that shows just how much growth the band has undertaken. “Bald Bull” and “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” make a strong opening duo and effective summary of Gozu’s approach on the album – both three and a half minutes long, perfect for hard rock radio in some alternate universe – balancing soulful layering and harmonies against top quality stonerly riffing and driving heavy groove. There is just the slightest undertone of metal, and certainly “Charles Bronson Pinchot” ups that with a High on Fire-type riff that Spillberg meets with thrashy aplomb, nestling into the quickened chug clearly in his element and winding up no less at home in the increasingly dreamy midsection of the song as it develops with airier guitars and a slow build. It’s a switch from the more grooving heavy rock of the first two tracks, but that’s clearly the idea. Gozu are shifting the expectation of their audience – putting listeners where they want them – and in terms of the album as a whole, it’s the right move. Because the material is still basically accessible and “Charles Bronson Pinchot” catchy and not out of line vocally with what Gaffney brings to either “Bald Bull” or “Signed, Epstein’s Mom,” the listener is more apt to go along with the change, and likewise as “Charles Bronson Pinchot” gives way to the quirky verse of “Irish Dart Fight,” more alike to some of earlier Queens of the Stone Age’s start-stop progressions, but given different context by the vocals and the fuller payoff in the chorus. Sherman and Gaffney don’t spend much time playing off each other on guitar, but the solo in the second half of “Irish Dart Fight” sounds all the more accomplished for the backing rhythm, and it seems that altogether Gozu are tighter as a unit in terms of their performance than they were three years ago. Progress has been made.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
So here’s how it apparently went down. A week ago, the dudes in Boston-based doomly three-piece Ice Dragon got loaded on a bottle of mead gifted to them by the band Merlin. One imagines from listening to Ice Dragon‘s prolific level of output that it’s not the first time they’ve been drunk on mead, nor will it be the last. While bombed in the viking tradition, they decided to record a new single, called “The Soul’s Midnight.”
The result was fittingly dark, moody and languid. Here’s what they had to say about it at the time:
We just finished a great bottle of homemade mead, given to us from our friends in the band Merlin. We can’t figure out how to tag them because we’re drunk. Anyway we made a new song too and rather than be assfaces and give a “release date” and leak the cover art and tracklisting and all that stupid bullshit bands do nowadays. HERE YOU GO. It’s free. Don’t make fun of us if it sounds bad, please. We made it tonight. We’re drunk.
Fair enough. Last night (Jan. 18), they posted a revisited version of “The Soul’s Midnight,” this time recorded while high. What could possibly drive them toward such scientific aims, discovering — at last — the differences between putting a song to tape under varying influence? I don’t know, but the track is killer and the nihilism only adds to the enjoyment level.
Ice Dragon posted the results of this bold experiment last night. Here’s that post, followed by both versions of “The Soul’s Midnight,” which is up for pay-what-you-will download at the Ice Dragon Bandcamp:
So, we made a HIGH version of “The Soul’s Midnight”. The original is still on there and that is now the drunk version. We’re not “signed” so we can do whatever the hell we want, and this is what we want. We hope you want it too.
Might want to re-download if you already did. Or not.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Over the weekend, your buddy and mine, Darryl Shepard (also Blackwolfgoat, Milligram, etc.) announced that he and his Black Pyramid bandmate Dave Gein had formed a new band, The Scimitar, with drummer Brian Banfield. The name comes from a song Shepard wrote with Gein and drummer Clay Neely in Black Pyramid, and with a new album from that band expected this year — it’s mixed and last I heard was being mastered — I can’t help but wonder if the difference won’t show itself in terms of the amount of live shows being played by The Scimitar. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Until then, Shepard says they’re working on material and will start playing out in the spring:
I’d like to announce the formation of a new band called The Scimitar. It consists of myself and Gein from Black Pyramid as well as drummer Brian Banfield. Black Pyramid will be playing out much less in 2013, so Gein and I decided to start a new project. It will basically be just an extension of BP, same style of songwriting, same tunings, etc. We have two songs near completion, and we’re working on a cover of Motörhead’s “Metropolis”. Black Pyramid isn’t going anywhere, just think of The Scimitar as an extension of that band. We should be ready to play shows in March or April.
Posted in Radio on January 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some bands have a tone that just goes beyond fuzz. So it goes with Boston-based space-psych trio Sonic Titan, who play with such distortion as to make you think their guitars have beards. The trio digitally released their second full-length, EvenHigher, last March and it flew under my radar, but I’ve been digging its quirky interludes, fast-paced changes, and yes, its hairy tonality, and wanted to take a second to highlight it in case anyone else had yet to check it out.
Steve McCaul‘s bass warrants a headphone listen on its own, but there’s a lot of intricate work going on in Tom Symes‘ drums as well, while guitarist/vocalist Shaun Anzalone leads the charge with classic riff rock and vocals that strike a balance of impeccably mixed modern shouts and the swaggering soul of yore. “No Illusion” works in a Never Say Die-era Sabbath mold, at least initially, and “Esoteric Warning,” despite the severity of its title, has a bit of funk to its pulse. There’s a lot to immerse yourself in, and I’ve really just been introduced to the aptly-titled cosmic strangeness and guitar solo glory of “Weird Forest,” but Even Higher is an album I’m looking forward to getting to know better, and I’m glad to have the chance to add it to regular rotation on The Obelisk Radio.
It’s only been a little over two months since Boston-based space rockers Space Mushroom Fuzz released their second album, Something Weird’s Going On, and only about six since their first full-length, When Time Trippers Collide (review here), was unveiled, so the two-piece have set a solid course of working quickly. Yet, I can’t help but notice that the song “Trapped in the Past,” for which they just today unveiled a new video, isn’t on either of those two albums.
The natural conclusion is that Space Mushroom Fuzz — the duo of Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside/Palace in Thunderland) and John Belcastro — already have more new stuff in the offing, which is an even more impressive pace than I previously thought. Either way, the video for “Trapped in the Past” is rife with a sort of low-budget psychedelic strangeness, Wonka-esque light flashes and periodic moments of clarity. It’s a trip, and you’ll find it on the player below.
I also thought I’d include the stream of Something Weird’s Going On from the Space Mushroom Fuzz Bandcamp page in case you wanted to dig a little further. Please enjoy:
It just can’t be a coincidence that the quickie solo in “Eightball,” which is very much about cocaine, sounds like Kerry King on an ’80s Slayer record. Who also would’ve thought that “Who’s got blow/Eightball/Bring it all/Come on” would make for such a catchy chorus? It’s one of about six for six on Lamont‘s 2005 EP, Muscle, Guts and Luck, alongside ripped like “Raise a Little Hell,” and the raucous closing pair “On the Lam” and “Burn it Down.”
You might (you might not) remember I wrote a post about Lamont‘s Thunder Boogie full-length, well, Muscle, Guts and Luck was released in 2005 on Underdogma Records and came into my possession as a gift from longtime Obelisk reader and all-around good dude Mike H., who I’m pretty sure is more O.G. on this site than I am. He found it in a shop in Maine called Bull Moose – apparently a bit of a local chain up that way — and sent it over with holiday-type cheer. Much appreciated, even before I put the thing on and heard the killer Boston-Southern riffing of “Water Me Down,” which, if it showed up today on a Roadsaw or Infernal Overdrive record, would still have me stoked. I guess seven years isn’t that long anyway, but this stuff hasn’t aged a bit.
Muscle, Guts and Luckis only 23 minutes long, so it’s right there in EP territory, but it’s packed anyway. Each track has something killer on offer, whether it’s the aforementioned chorus righteousness, Jase Forney‘s bass-fill excellence on “Raise a Little Hell” and really everywhere else, Pete Knipfing‘s used-to-be-a-punker shouts, drummer Todd Bowman‘s quick changes in “Cannonball,” on which Michele Morgan also adds backing vocals behind Knipfing. ”Cannonball” particularly reminds me of some of the ballsy groove that showed up on what would turn out to be the last album from NY regional favorites Puny Human, 2007′s Universal Freak Out, and it’s not surprising since the two releases share a producer in Andrew Schneider.
According to the Oct. 14, 2005, issue of the Boston Phoenix – because, that’s right, I do research — Forney busted his sternum and a couple ribs and bruised his heart and spleen while working on Lamont‘s tour van around this time, forcing the band to can most of the tour they’d have done around Muscle, Guts and Luck. I’m not sure if bruised muscle, flattened guts and shitty luck were what they were going for with the title, but at least it’s genre appropriate. If you can get your hands on a copy of the EP, either at a Bull Moose like our dear friend Mike H. or anywhere else, consider it recommended listening. The more time I spend listening to these dudes, the more I think a reunion is in order.
Elder, classic cable-access style. Not sure what could be better than that. Rich from the respect-worthy The Day after the Sabbath blog sent over the above clip, which was taped in 2010. The band’s second album, Dead Roots Stirring, wasn’t out yet, but they still close out with “The End” and the title-track from the record, so that material is represented along with “Riddle of Steel Pt. 1,” “Hexe” and “White Walls” from their 2008 self-titled debut. It’s a badass video, a great way to end an amazing week, and Rich also sent over a link to download high-quality mp3s of the full performance, which I’m glad to say will be added to The Obelisk Radio over the weekend.
About this week: Wow. Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to check out the stuff that went up over the last few days. Usually I think of December as being kind of a quiet month, but with more than 200 Thee Facebooks likes on the Top 20 of 2012 and the kind of response to today’s Devil to Pay video premiere that I’m relatively sure the internet types call “viral,” I couldn’t feel better about heading into the holidays next week. Thank you all for reading, commenting, liking, sharing, helping to spread the word that this site exists. Today felt really good.
Over the weekend, I’ll be adding more than 100 albums to The Obelisk Radio, including as I mentioned the Elder performance above, as well as some classic Trouble, Kylesa, Mastodon, and many others. There’s still a lot of updating to be done, but I’ve been enjoying the process, so I’ll keep plugging away and hopefully you get the chance to listen and enjoy some of the tunes. I was stoked this afternoon when “Big News I” came on, and then later I heard The Atomic Bitchwax covering Deep Purple’s “Maybe I’m a Leo.” It had been a while for that one, so that was cool as well. Lots of good stuff on the playlist at this point, and while we’re still working out some kinks on the back end and there are adjustments to be made, I hope you enjoy the work in progress.
I will be posting next week, so if you’re around I hope you’ll be able to check in. Monday is Xmas Eve and that brings familial obligations, and of course Tuesday is Xmas Proper, but I’m back in the office for at least part of the day Wednesday and if I can post prior to that, I will. I’ve got an awesome interview with Arthur Seay of Unida/House of Broken Promises that I’d like to post before 2013 hits, and a whole stack of CDs wanting reviews, so although I’ve pretty much put the year to bed (I was thinking I might do a separate list of the top 10 EPs and demos — might be a fun complement to the bigger top 20), there’s still a lot more to come as we head toward the New Year. As always, I hope you’ll stick around.
And as always, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ve been hearing and reading about blizzards in the Midwest, so if you’re out that way, stay warm and stay safe. I’ll see you on the forum and back here next week for more good times.
Similar to my thinking in going to the Six Organs of Admittance show last Friday, it seemed to me that if I’m going to be living up that way in the next year, I better get used to buying records in Boston. I’d been to Armageddon Shop there before, and I’ve visited the Providence store as well, but a return trip seemed warranted and The Patient Mrs. gave the all-clear, so off to Harvard Square we went.
Like a lot of places, Armageddon seems to be phasing out CDs in favor of donating the room to vinyl, which at this point I can’t even argue with. New records are coming out only on LP and CDs have lost preference to either end of the extreme — i.e. vinyl or digital, or both. Even as someone who would still rather have a CD than a record, I can understand the appeal. So it makes sense. It’s good business. And in the meantime, they still have a whole wall and then some dedicated to mostly used compact discs and I was happy to peruse the space once again while the crew put on the flute-laden tones of the last Blood Ceremony full-length.
I wound up with two discs for my effort, not really on the cheap but not exactly off it either. For $9.99, I got Black Spirit‘s Black Spiritand for $6.99, Endless Skies by Ashbury. The former is an Italian band and an album I posted about earlier this year, full of post-kraut progressive indulgences but not really off-putting or lacking unifying melody. The latter — and I’ll say this honestly — I bought because the art was badass. I looked at the wizard holding up his hand to gather the clouds about the village below, saw that it was a Vintage/Rockadrome reissue and decided there was no way to lose. A safe bet I was comfortable making.
Of the two, Black Spirit‘s album is the older. It came out in 1978, was their only release, and even this Ohrwaschl version is light on info. You get the lineup and the tracklist (inside the liner in what looks like a direct replica of the vinyl sleeve) and that’s pretty much it. The cover art — also righteous, but in a different way than Ashbury – appears twice, on the jewel case and the outside panels of the liner notes, and even under the CD tray as well, not to mention on the CD itself. It’s a lot of purple to live up to, but the music on the album’s five tracks gets driven home with a bluesy feel and some lightly accented vocals, and 12-minute closer “Old Times” is high-grade classic heavy rock that maybe could’ve come out five or six years earlier and been a hit, but I guess was a little behind the times for ’78.
Same applies to Ashbury, come to think of it, except with the Arizona duo they’re playing a kind of proto-metal that, by the time Endless Skieswas released in 1983, the genre had moved past. “Vengeance” has a kind of metal-ness to its riff, but a song like “Take Your Love Away” is more Blue Öyster Cult than Judas Priest. Nothing against it, since the guitar playing is ace, the tracks groove and the whole thing has a vibe worthy of its wizard cover, and considering the side-of-the-van-worthiness of that wizard, that’s saying something. To imagine though that the mid-’70s arena melodies of “Madman” came out the same year as the first Slayer record makes it even more fascinating. In any case, I lucked out.
It wasn’t the biggest haul I’ve ever pulled in, not the stack of discs I sometimes come away with, but for the quality of what I got, I’d hardly call it a loss. Two albums that happen to share in being out of place for what they were doing at the time, the math actually works out pretty well. There was never any doubt, but I’m more or less certain that whenever I end up living there, it won’t be the end of my record buying habit. Good to know. If you’re so inclined, check out Armageddon Shop’s website here.
Posted in audiObelisk on December 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
These Roadsaw demos from 1998 might be old hat by now if you’re a regular on the forum, but I thought after listening that they were definitely worth highlighting here as well in case anyone may have missed them. Darryl Shepard, now of Black Pyramid and Blackwolfgoat, played guitar with the band at the time and found the there songs on an old CDR and decided to put them up for anyone interested.
Well, I guess that would be me. What’s cool about these tracks is that it would be another nine years before the two that made the cut helped serve as the defining statement of Roadsaw‘s return in 2007. By then, Ian Ross had replaced Shepard on guitar to join founders Craig Riggs (vocals) and Tim Catz (bass) and drummer Hari Hassin, but Roadsaw – despite originally issuing Rawk ‘n’ Rollin 2001 — had been inactive for roughly half a decade before aligning themselves to Small Stone and reissuing that album, so both “Bad Ass Rising” and “Blackout Driver” had already stood the test of time for almost 10 years before they showed up on the reissue of Rawk ‘n’ Roll in 2007.
And the third track, “While You Waited” was never previously issued in any way at all, so this is the first time it’s coming out. Basically, for Roadsaw fans, they’re a curio kind of listen and a bit of insight into the band’s process as it was at the time. I included the original post from Shepard beneath, and you’ll find the tracks on the player below. Please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
I found a CD-R of Roadsaw demos from 1998 in a box last night, figured I’d post ‘em for people to check out. These were recorded between “Nationwide” and “Rawk ‘n Roll”. Two of the songs, Blackout Driver and Bad Ass Rising were re-recorded with Ian Ross and later appeared on “Rawk ‘n Roll”. The other song, While You Waited, never appeared on any release in any form. Andrew Schneider recorded these tracks at New Alliance in Boston. The line-up was Craig Riggs (vocals), Tim Catz (bass), Hari Hassin (drums) and yours truly on guitar. So here’s a little piece of Roadsaw history, hope you dig it.
Posted in Reviews on December 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
In light of the fact that we’ll be moving there at some point within the next eight months, The Patient Mrs. and I decided to head up to Massachusetts this past weekend. She got a job at a university in Bridgewater and I’d never seen the town, and well, if I’m gonna live there it made sense to have a look. Since going to shows is a big part of what I do with my time, it also made sense to check out Six Organs of Admittance at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston, about half an hour away. The whole thing was very sensible.
The theory was it’s not like I’m going to stop seeing bands, it’s just that the places I’ll be seeing them will be different. A different scene. That’s okay though. I’ve heard Boston is very welcoming to outsiders. Ha.
Helping ease my transition was the simple fact that the joint Ben Chasny and his East Coast cohorts in Six Organs of Admittance – on the West Coast, he reportedly played with members of his other band, Comets on Fire, but no dice for the Eastern run — was called the Brighton. I couldn’t help but be immediately comfortable in a place that shared its name with the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ, where I’ve seen (and played) more shows than I have time to sit and remember. Several cans of Sapporo and the company of The Patient Mrs.herself may also have helped. Nothing to be terrified of here.
Opening act Major Stars were on when I got there. The band is local to Boston but Drag City labelmates with Six Organs, once did a split with Comets on Fire and a bit given to the driving psychedelic swirl that also provides the pulse of Six Organs‘ latest album, Ascent (review here), so if nothing else, they made sense on the two-band bill. Frontwoman Sandra Barrett (ex-L.A. Drugs) won the prize for tightest leather pants of the evening — I didn’t even know there was a contest and so had left my own at the hotel — and guitarists Wayne Rogers, Kate Biggar and Tom Leonard provided ample churn behind her chic-but-more-than-capable croon.
They rode the line between heavy psych and indie pretty hard, but the three guitars had distinct tones among them and that added a level of interest in watching them on stage with no prior listening experience. Rogers walked back and forth in a way that was almost hypnotic, and Biggar‘s instrument was gorgeous in a museum-quality sense. Bassist Dave Dougan and drummer Casey Keenan had their work cut out for them in holding the varied assault together, but ultimately, they were up to it. Keenan would wind up pulling double-duty in Six Organs as well, and he did so having already made a positive impression on the crowd, which seemed much more familiar with Major Stars‘ work than I could claim to be.
As regards Six Organs of Admittance, they were just what I was looking for. I’d just spent about five hours on the road to Boston and, only the night before, had driven to and from Philadelphia to catch High on Fire (review here). To hit two shows in a row is one thing, but to do it one city to the next is another. But Chasny, electric guitar in tow — this was the first time I’ve seen him play electric, which he did neither at Roadburn 2009 nor at that awful night in Brooklyn — along with Keenan, second guitarist John Shaw of Magik Markers and bassist Andrew Mitchell (who formerly accompanied Chasny on live guitar), opened with the driving jam “Waswasa” from Ascent, which was consuming in its frenetic freakout from the word go.
Being the only material put together with a full band in mind, where prior Six Organs outings were Chasny solo affairs with periodic guest spots, Ascentobviously featured heavily in the set. Fine by me, since despite bitching about the cash I shelled out for it, I actually quite enjoyed the album. Mitchell‘s fuzzy bass on “One Thousand Birds” — which Chasny joked was about “a hundred birds” — was a highlight, and for someone who’s been so subdued every other time I’ve seen him on stage, Chasny tore into his many solos, leaving Shaw to cover the rhythms while he proffered a swaggering mastery straight out of classic rock. It was a long way from Compathia, but damn if it wasn’t a good time.
The moods varied throughout from bombastic chaos to Dead Meadow-style shoegazing psych, but Six Organs kept a firm grip no matter how far out they went either way, the insistent rhythm and tossed-off sounding verses of “Even if You Knew” standing out as particularly vivid. When they wanted to be, they were raucously heavy in a psych sense — that’s to say, not beholden to tonal thickness — but there was no ideological genre allegiance, and so they were free stylistically to roam as they pleased. At the end of the set, Chasny came back out and did a couple songs solo. It felt a little perfunctory, which I chalked up to residual adrenaline from the full set prior and a conscious shift from one modus to the other. I’ve never gone from playing psychedelic freak rock to quiet, intimate folk, but I can imagine it’s not as easy as flipping a switch. He seemed a bit like he was reminding himself to slow down.
Nonetheless, the glimpse at the “usual” Six Organs of Admittance methodology was welcome, if only as it provided contrast to what Chasny has done with the project on Ascentand by extension with this tour. Boston was the first night, but if there were more than one or two hiccups, I didn’t notice. The band seemed to operate smoothly, Keenan‘s drumming fluid with the two guitars and bass, and Chasny took well to the frontman role, his presence on stage only enhanced by the unhindered conviction with which he delivered the material.
If this was my first show in Boston attended while also thinking about the city on some kind of residential level, I couldn’t have really asked for more than I got. The Patient Mrs. and I cabbed it back to the hotel, I took the dog out — my dog is so housebroken that your dog is embarrassed about it, and rightly so — and we crashed. Saturday was to be spent looking at houses down in Bridgewater, and it wouldn’t have done to sleep through such things.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 3rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Dates are forthcoming, but Boston heavy psych forerunners Elder have announced they’ll be touring Europe around their previously announced Roadburn 2013 appearance with Danish trio Pet the Preacher. I’ve run the scenarios through my head a dozen times, and it all comes out to there’s no way this could possibly be a bad thing.
Elder continue to support their 2011 album, Dead Roots Stirring and this year’s limited Spires Burn/Release10″, and I have a hard time imagining a better flag to fly upon their reaching European shores than those releases.
More to come, but here’s this in the meantime:
We are excited to officially announce that this spring US heavy psych rockers ELDER will join forces with their Scandinavian brothers PET THE PREACHER (DK) for a two-week tour across Europe.
ELDER have gained a steady following since their sophomore album Dead Roots Stirring (MeteorCity Records), which established them as one of the US’s most innovative stoner rock bands. They will be performing at the 13th annual Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland, on April 20th.
Hailing from Denmark, PET THE PREACHER have been turning heads with their debut album The Banjo and in january 2013, Bilocation Records will release the follow-up double-EP Short Stories: Papa Zen & Meet The Creature. Crossing genres from stoner/blues to prog rock, the trio embodies the modern definition of spirited rock n’ roll.
Stay tuned for exact dates in the very near future.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Way to go to Boston-based crushers Phantom Glue. Word came down just a bit ago that the four-piece have signed with Black Market Activities, the Metal Blade imprint helmed by Guy Kozowyk of The Red Chord. Phantom Glue‘s 2010 self-titled debut (review here) was a rager, so hopefully their new alliance gets them some roadtime as they prepare to unleash their second album, A War of Light Cones early next year.
The PR wire tells it thusly:
Black Market Activities signs PHANTOM GLUE
Black Market Activities officially announces its newest signing: Phantom Glue. BMA will release the band’s new album, A War of Light Cones, in early 2013.
From Boston, Massachusetts, Phantom Glue name The Jesus Lizard, Neurosis, and Trouble as key influences, pounding out what Exclaim Magazine has termed “a heated bastion of caustic riffs and unearthly girth”.
Beneath the band’s self-proclaimed “avalanche of distortion” lies a rich conceptual foundation where lyrics and artwork combine to evoke a Lovecraftian universe. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Oates, also the band’s lyricist and resident cover artist, describes new album A War of Light Cones as “a nightmare/occult alternate history of Colonial America”. Standout track “Perils”, for example — released in August on alt weekly The Boston Phoenix’s Born of Fire, Vol. 2 compilation, alongside other Boston bands like Doomriders — tells the tale of a trapper catching a creature whose pelt grants psychic gifts.
Phantom Glue’s second album and their first for BMA, A War of Light Cones was produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at GodCity Studio (Converge, Cave In, Today Is The Day). Ballou’s connection to Phantom Glue dates back to the 90s when he and Matt Oates were bandmates in The Huguenots.
Phantom Glue’s lineup is completed by guitarist Mike Gowell, bassist/vocalist Nick Wolf, and drummer Kyle Rasmussen.
BMA boss Guy Kozowyk states, “We are proud to welcome Phantom Glue into the BMA family. As someone who grew up in Boston and still lives in the area, it means a lot to me to have a strong New England contingent on BMA. With the recent Hivesmasher album and now Phantom Glue, we’re helping represent some of the exciting stuff going on here right now.”
It’s okay though. I’m pretty sure Lamont were only in such a hurry to kick your ass on Thunder Boogie because they had to get to that date with your girlfriend.
During their time together, Boston-based trio Lamont put out two EPs and two full-lengths. Thunder Boogie was the first, arriving a decade ago in 2002 on Traktor 7 Records after the 1999EP and Muscle, Guts and LuckEP and preceding their swan song, Population 3. They broke up in 2007 — guitarist/vocalist Pete Knipfing went on to play in Mess with the Bull — and since then, info on the band has become sparse to the point on nonexistence. Even their MySpace page is gone by now.
A pretty familiar story — band does stuff then breaks up — and I’d leave it there were it not for the unencumbered freeballing swagger of Thunder Boogieitself. The basic fact of the matter is if this record came across my desk for review today, I’d fall all over myself to give it a glowing overly-detailed review, and while 10 years on, it’s not exactly groundbreaking for heavy or stoner rock, it’s clear even now that Lamont‘s penchant for speed-riffing and driving grooves — rushed from the start of the blazing “Hot Wire” — wasn’t about innovation as much as it was about drinking, classic rock worship, big hooks and no bullshit.
Like the best of Boston’s heavy rock scene then and now, there’s a strong undercurrent of punk in what Lamont does. Nine tracks in 31 minutes means there isn’t much time for screwing around, and “Vegas,” “I Saw Red” and “One White Line” ensure the first half of Thunder Boogie is filled with strong choruses, motor-ready rock and a blinding sense of pace that, even when it slows, hardly gives you time to process before Knipfing, bassist Mike Cosgrove and drummer Todd Bowman are on to the next thing. By the time they get around to “Thunderboogie,” “Hell’s Got Me Runnin’,” “Psychopath” and the infectious closer “Agent 49″ — which tops seven minutes only because of the bonus track — they’re well dug in, dripping attitude on the gang vocals of “Psychopath” or the post-rockabilly brashness of the finale.
Thunder Boogiefinally came into my possession just hours after acquiring the Johnny Arzgarth haul, presented to me by the man himself, whose reaction earlier when I’d told him about my trouble finding any of Lamont‘s material was, “Oh yeah, let me call Pete,” in the manner of a person who gets things done. So be it. I don’t know how I’d ever be able to pick up any of Lamont‘s other releases — unless, I was to, say, move to Massachusetts sometime in the next year and immediately begin perusing CD stores — so the chance to hear this one was certainly much appreciated.
The video’s kind of lo-res, but should be enough for you to get the point:
Posted in Reviews on November 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
First thing’s first: As one of the two presenting parties for the show — the other being BrooklynVegan, whose promotional assistance was massively appreciated for this weekender tour — I probably shouldn’t even be reviewing it at all. On the other hand, however, Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight rule, and after plugging the living crap out of it beforehand (see here, here and here), it seems like I’d be leaving the story unfinished without some kind of wrap-up. I felt a little bit like I was going to my own birthday party.
It was the first night of a three-gig weekender, at Union Pool in Brooklyn. The other two shows, Saturday and Sunday, were in Rochester and Allston, Mass., but this one had the added bonus of being free, so all the better. Yeah, C.O.C. and Royal Thunder were playing down at the St. Vitus bar the same night, but though that provided a bit of pre-show anxiety, the crowd was by no means lacking for any of the bands. Even as Clamfight got going, the room had plenty of people in it, for which I was thankful.
I’d shown up to the venue early to deliver the NJ/Philly-based outfit their I vs. the Glacier CDs, due out for release on The Maple Forum on Jan 22. It wasn’t long before they were out on the merch table, so hopefully a few people got early copies, which is always awesome. They got going circa 9:30PM and delivered a set of their epic riffy thrash. Their set was almost entirely new songs — that would prove to be a theme throughout the night — with “The Eagle” as a highlight alongside the slower, more languid guitars of “River of Ice,” which guitarists Sean McKee and Joel Harris made all the groovier while drummer/vocalist Andy Martin slammed his drums so hard he collapsed his floor tom and broke every stick he brought with him for the three shows, leaving Louis Koble‘s steady bass to the task of holding the songs together.
Martin, who has been occasionally known to throw up the night’s alcohol on stage but was doubtless pacing himself for the weekend ahead on Friday, has emerged as a solid frontman presence in the band, despite being behind the drums. He plays with charisma and the shouts and screams he lets loose feel like cruelties directed at the microphone. The band would do well to push his kit more to the front of the stage — not necessarily with anyone behind, but playing more on a lateral, à la Weedeater – and give their set even more of an unhinged atmosphere. As it was, they more than gave a favorable impression to the crowd, and capped off with “Stealing the Ghost Horse,” which also closes I vs. the Glacier and is arguably the most expansive Clamfight song yet, with a sense of drama to offset some of the brashness found elsewhere and a one-man clean/harsh call and response from Martin that’s as memorable live as it is on the album.
This was the first time I’d seen them since being delivered the master for I vs. the Glacierand knowing the songs better just made their set more fun to watch. McKee is relatively understated on stage — well-headbanged hair often obscuring his face entirely — but standing alone to Martin‘s left, he tears into a slew of killer solos, while Harris and Koble keep the riffs flowing on the other wise. Their live dynamic is beginning to come into its own. There are kinks to be worked out — more shows will help — but the potential remains strong and they did right by their new songs, as did Brooklyn’s own Kings Destroy, who turned the lights low and played cuts off their new record, the title of which I’m pretty sure I’m not at liberty to reveal.
I’m not aware of any album title, nor would I be at liberty to disclose any such title were I aware of its existence. Turn your head and cough. Ha.
As if the lighting at Union Pool needed to be any more challenging to my novice-ass picture-taking, Kings Destroy basically played in the dark but for a projection of what looked like shards of light that cut through. Their new songs — the likes of “The Toe,” “Decrepit” the more upbeat “Casse-Tête” and “Storm Break” — are a distant cry from where their first album, And the Rest Will Surely Perish (also aMaple Forum release, fancy that), once came. Part of that has to be due to the departure of bassist Ed Bocchino as a songwriting factor, but if it’s guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski coming up with the guitar parts around which this current batch of material is based, the results are intricate, complex and more and more atmospheric. I’m not about to decry the first album — I wouldn’t if I could — they’ve just flipped the formula on its head and as a result are less tied to genre stylistically.
They’ve also become a force on stage. Union Pool isn’t a huge room, but neither is it small, and that’s how the five-piece made it look, bassist Aaron Bumpus, drummer Rob Sefcik and vocalist Steve Murphy delivering a pro-grade run through a well-constructed set of their latest, the chaos all the more palpable for the fact that it was basically happening in the dark. The band all around has grown from their time on stage in Europe and the US, Skowronski and Porcaro keeping individual identities in a wash of tone and feedback, Murphy cutting through the morass, Bumpus touching on creative fills that just hint at the mountain of talent on which he seems to stand, while Sefcik‘s propulsive thunder proved no less weighted fast or slow. Their new stuff runs a risk of throwing some people off who perhaps expect a direct port of the straightforward side of the debut, but they’re on the way to mastering their aesthetic, and the direction they’re headed inis rich and progressive in a way that they’ve barely hinted at being to this point.
So yeah, by the time they finished with the creepy awesomeness of “Turul,” the first two bands of the night had me in a full-on nerdout. I can admit it. I wasn’t exactly going for impartiality here to start with, just trying to let you know how it went down. And if I wasn’t a fan of the bands, I probably wouldn’t have signed on to release their stuff on The Maple Forum, so if you have to take the review with a grain of salt, well, fine.
A note about the hazards of no cover charge: As Kings Destroy were wrapping up, Guy Who Clearly Just Wandered In saw me standing by the side of the stage in front of Black Pyramid drummer Clay Neely‘s kit and asked if I was in a band. It’s not an unreasonable suspicion — black t-shirt, jeans, long hair, beard; I’ve got the uniform. Now, I don’t want to go around making unreasonable assumptions about the behavior of others, but with the stickers on his $500 leather jacket, the crazed look in his eyes, dual-blonde accompaniment and “I’m everybody’s best buddy and the life of the party” demeanor, I had no choice but to presume he was on cocaine.
This is not an unreasonable assumption to make about anyone on a Friday night in either the Manhattan or Brooklyn boroughs of New York City, but I think that given the evidence — circumstantial though it is — I wasn’t necessarily in the wrong for being on my toes. I told him that, no, I wasn’t in the band, and that Neely, standing next to me, was their drummer. Sweat running down from the well-tended crop of spiky hair on his head, he persisted, as though I was simply obscuring the fact that I was in a band, indeed the band that was playing next, and we were just involved in some kind of playful joshing. No sir, I insisted, I’m not in a band, not in that band. Finally, and in a sterner tone that was not quite a yell but nonetheless definitely the “daddy voice” I’ve put on while scolding my dog for chasing a squirrel toward the road, I told him, “Dude, I’m not in that band. I’m just weird looking. I promise you,” and walked away to watch the end of Kings Destroy‘s set. So to the hazards of no cover: You ne’er know who’s gonna walk in.
It turned out — much to his surprise — that I wasn’t in Black Pyramid. Neely, bassist Dave Gein and guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard (who killed it just six days prior performing as Blackwolfgoat at the Small Stone Boston showcase) were in Black Pyramid, and no sooner were they set up and ready to go than were they laying waste to everything in their path, including the room, which by this point was fairly well packed out. Up front were a few headbangers — a rarity for New York anything — and the band’s energy fed off their own as they led off with “Stormbringer” and then went into “Aphelion” from their 2012 split with Odyssey, the first studio cut with Shepard‘s vocals and guitar, its axe-wielding groove making it an immediate highlight.
There were a few new cuts in the set from Black Pyramid‘s next album, which was finished being recorded only hours before the band pulled up to play Day Four of this year’s SHoD, and it’s worth noting how much more at home Shepard seemed on the material he helped compose. He stepped into kind of an awkward situation when he joined the band late last year before the release of their second full-length, II, and though he’s done well to make the prior material his own — as “Stormbringer,” “Visions of Gehenna” and the finale “No Life King” showed — there’s a difference between his performance of the songs he adopted versus the songs he wrote. It’s not an easy thing to make someone else’s work yours — that’s why most covers suck — but what he brings to Black Pyramid is about 20 years of writing killer riffs, plus an ability to toss off embarrass-your-lead-guitarist solos like he was taking off a pair of shoes. He makes some of the older leads look easy to the point of silliness.
His vocals on both new material and old fit the songs excellently, though, and he, Gein and Neely were as tight as I’ve ever seen Black Pyramid, including at Roadburn 2011, which if it wasn’t their prior apex had to be close to it. I’m hardly objective in their case either, even if I haven’t released anything of theirs, but the crispness of their presentation made me look forward all the more to when I might get the chance to hear the studio versions of the new tracks and give them an overly-worded track-by-track review, which no doubt will also carry with it a disclaimer disavowing any and all critical credibility. But it’ll be fun, and that’s what matters.
Ditto that for this gig. It was a great time. All three of these bands are made up of killer dudes, and when I rolled out of Union Pool and headed back to Jersey, I was more than a little wistful at the thought of following the tour up north to Rochester, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, I rolled into my humble river valley at around 1:30AM, found that the internet had finally come back on after Hurricane Sandy, and spent the remainder of the evening — all 25 minutes of it — beginning to chip away at the weeks of neglected emails that I hadn’t had the chance to answer. Some you win, some you lose. I felt lucky to see these three acts on the night I did, and hopefully they get together and do it again.