Fall Tour Pt. 11: Just Don’t Know

Posted in Features on October 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

michigan sunset

10.27.14 — 2:27PM — Monday afternoon — En route to Cleveland

“She’s not real pretty, but she’s rich.” – Postman Dan, on Senator Dianne Feinstein

I snapped the above picture last night before the show of the sunset in Michigan. If it looks peaceful or serene in any way, then please just imagine the exact opposite for how the rest of the night played out after the show ended. As ever, the party was at Postman Dan’s place — the Postmansion — which is an old converted church that he’s essentially corrupted in the name of riff worship and nuanced horticulture. Radio Moscow, who’d been hanging out at the show, came back as well, and Travis from Hydro-Phonic and two of the other members from Dan’s band Cruthu, and of course Mama Jo, Connie, Jim Pitts and I. Made for a crowded kitchen, but there were drinks flowing and Elonkorjuu playing through Dan’s kitchen setup — Swedish heavy prog as party music: awesome — and it escalated quickly. Charm-laden debauchery. Loud voices. Blatant social interaction. Enjoyment of good people and good times. Terrifying.

Dan had set me up with a bedroom, but once I’d charged the camera battery and dumped the pics from the show, postman dan's streetI abdicated to Steve to let him sleep in a bed and said I’d go crash in the van. Great idea. Believe it or not, it wouldn’t be the first time I slept in a van in Postman Dan’s driveway. I think the third. It was about 3:30 in the morning by then and I was ready to crash out, so I went into the driveway. It wasn’t quite at the freezing point, but it was certainly cold enough that Carl remarked this morning that the beer left out here overnight was still chilled. I set up on the back bench with my hoodie on and my bookbag for a pillow and Mystery Science Theater 3000 playing and managed to crash for about an hour, but by 4:45, I was awake and too cold to really go back to sleep, so I decided to see if I could find someplace in the house that wasn’t yet occupied.

My mistake was thinking the festivities would’ve ended by then. Dan, Scott from Cruthu and Paul from Radio Moscow were up playing pool. I couldn’t see them at first through the window and the front door was locked and my phone was dead, so I had a moment of panic that I was going to be stuck outside for the night, but they were there and Dan let me in, wondering why I wasn’t upstairs asleep. Music still playing, though they’d moved on from Elonkorjuu to something else heavy ’70s. Fair enough. Dan took me up to his room and told me to take his bed, he’d sort something out and it was 5AM and I was too cold and tired to argue. I could still hear the music coming up from downstairs, but I nodded off for about an hour and a half and then set to work sorting pictures around 6:30, which I’d fleetwood dinerfind out later was when the last stragglers fell out. I started writing the show review but was nodding off again soon enough and slept for maybe another hour between seven and eight. I’ve been up since.

No shower on the way out, but breakfast at the Fleetwood Diner in Lansing hit the spot — try the Hippie Hash — and we got on the highway shortly thereafter to head for Cleveland. The tour resumes tonight with Kings Destroy, Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Bang and the show is at House of Blues, so should be more like Minneapolis than Grand Rapids, though I’ll take it either way. I expect by the end of the night I’ll smell even worse than I already do, and there are some vicious sleepytime farts floating around the mostly-napping rear portion of this van. Might need to air that out at some point as we roll toward the cruel inevitability of the Ohio Turnpike.

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Fall Tour Pt. 10: Kings Destroy, Beast in the Field, Cruthu and Hordes, Lansing, MI, 10.26.14

Posted in Reviews on October 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the avenue cafe

Michigan’s capital city has always been good to me. I’ve been to Lansing five or six times at this point and I’ve continually found it a cool place utterly void of investment. That is to say, if anyone gave a shit or had money to spend, Lansing would be like Stroudsberg, PA, or Portland, Maine, in the ranks of those post-industrial towns that the creative types have moved to and opened brewpubs. The Avenue Cafe on Michigan Ave., which is being positioned as an alternative to the long-running Mac’s Bar down the road, has a vibe that speaks to the potential of Lansing overall. It has space, people who obviously care deeply about it and a prevailing sense of having gone it alone, no doubt reflecting the reality of the situation.

It was a night off from Kings Destroy‘s tour with Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Bang, and they joined with three Michigan locals in Cruthu, Hordes and Beast in the Field for one of the shows I’ve been most anticipating om this tour and one that, in the interest of full disclosure, I had a hand in putting together at least so far as making the intro between Kings Destroy and Cruthu guitarist and all-around excellent guy “Postman Dan” McCormick, and asking Dan if there was any shot at getting Beast in the Field out for it. I mark it an even bigger win that there was that chance now that I’ve seen them play.

Hordes

Horses! Oh no, wait. Hordes. (Photo by JJ Koczan)

They were completely different than I expected. What I knew of Lansing’s own Hordes came courtesy of their split tape with Bert, and it was drawn out and droney and more noise than song. Seems at some point Hordes got a drummer and that’s had some grounding effect on what they do, which is a blend of industrial and noise rock impulses. There was a lot of Godflesh in there, right down to how guitarist A. Hudson stands and shouts into the microphone, but some rawer crunch, and the live drummer made a huge difference alongside bassist Jon Howard‘s rumble. I was a little thrown off, to the point of wondering until I saw that tape at their merch table if I was thinking of the same band, but indeed, Hordes were Hordes. Once my mind made that jump — and I’m pleased to note it happened much more efficient than the explanation of it — their churning and chugging came together well throughout their set and made me eager to hear what they bring to their next recording.

Cruthu

Cruthu (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I always get nervous writing about friends’ bands — I’ve known Postman Dan for a decade at this point — but with Cruthu, the issue was avoided in the best way possible in that they were actually good. As I understand it, this was their second show, and you could tell they were just getting going on stage, still feeling things out in terms of relating to each other in the material, but it was still easy to get a sense of where they were headed, the vocals of Teri Brown and McCormick‘s clean guitar tone nestled right into the heavy ’70s style, Brown belting out lyrics with a powerful push. She backed off the mic at times, and it just emphasized how little she actually needed it in the first place for how well you could still hear her standing out front. Bassist Scott Lehman added copious wah to his bass and joined in on vocals for the closer, and drummer Matt Fry kept the laid back grooves moving straight through. There were a couple awkward transitions and things to tighten up, but that’s why you play out in the first place. Cruthu had already surpassed their Creation demo (review here), recorded earlier this year, in pulling off the right mix of vibe, groove and tonal presence.

Kings Destroy

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Allowed a somewhat longer set as the evening’s headliner and the only touring band of the four playing, Kings Destroy took advantage and stretched out to include some stuff not yet aired. “A Time of Hunting,” the title-track from 2013’s sophomore full-length, was played for the first time ever — and supposedly the last according to both vocalist Steve Murphy and guitarist Chris Skowronski, though I have my doubts — and they opened with “XXY” from the first album and threw in “Dusty Mummy” too, clearly relishing the chance to change it up on the small Avenue Cafe stage. Actually, I’m pretty sure the only reason Murphy was on stage at all was because the mic cable wasn’t long enough to let him leave it. He found plenty to do anyway, wrapping his scarf around his face for “Turul,” which ended the set paired well with “Embers” before it, and making shadow impressions on the wall. “Smokey Robinson” was the highlight, and is a song for which I’ve got only growing affection, but the whole set was a thrill, and it was fun to watch SkowronskiMurphy, guitarist Carl Porcaro, bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik make the most of the gig. There were people there — hell, even Radio Moscow showed up — but I wouldn’t call the place crowded. If it was a set Kings Destroy were playing for their own enjoyment (and at one point Murphy did say something about masturbation), then at least that enjoyment was infectious.

Beast in the Field

Beast in the Field (Photo by JJ Koczan)

One of the biggest problems with internet criticism is that there’s so much hyperbole out there and it comes out so readily that when you actually happen into something special like Beast in the Field – the duo of guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr – there almost isn’t a language to convey how righteous what you’re seeing is. One almost wants to be like, “Okay, but really guys, this is where it’s at.” Pries and Jahr played in front of what I hear tell is half their usual amount of amps, but it still made for a formidable wall, and rendered earplugs all but useless against the tonal onslaught. Doing headbanger calisthenics during the deceptively catchy “Wakan Tanka” from last year’s The Sacred above, the Sacred Below (review here), Pries looked like he was trying to shake his skull off, and Jahr made each tom thud count in following along with the wrecking ball of riffs slamming through the cabinets behind him. I had been very, very much looking forward to seeing them play, and Beast in the Field wound up surpassing my expectation. Like staring at a single-color canvas painted with volume. Superlatively heavy. I’ve bought one record this whole tour so far and it’s their new live album/comic book, The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne: Live at WIDR. I’m itching to check it out but need my ears to stop ringing first.

The party, and by then it was one, moved to Postman Dan‘s, less than a mile away, with most of his band, Kings DestroyRadio MoscowTravis from Hydro-Phonic and so on. I stayed upstairs for the most part and wound up sleeping in the van for a bit before I got too cold — Michigan at the end of October, might want to bring a blanket next time, buddy — and had to come back inside. I guess I’ll probably have more on that later on.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Fall Tour Pt. 9: Thick as a Brick

Posted in Features on October 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

lake michigan

10.26.14 — 3:30PM Eastern — Sunday afternoon — White Swan B&B, Gowen, MI

“He had twice devised the perpetual motion machine.” – Phil Jackson

I drove from the venue last night through some Michigan back roads. Steve had found this place on Airbnb that he said was a lake house with four bedroom that has bands stay on the cheap, and I was expecting something pretty deluxe, but I don’t think I imagined the kind of space this actually is, all wood floors, granite counters, old photographs on the walls. And as if it needed to be more idyllic, there’s a puppy running around. They call it the White Swan B&B. The guy who owns the house was a rock photographer for years and still takes pictures around here. Easy to see why and how one would be able to keep busy in such a way. thick as a brickBeautiful. I spent some time outside last night after we rolled in, breathing chilly air and just tilting my head back to zone out in the quiet. A few lights around, but the Milky Way easily visible bifurcating the sky. At one point the count was even between shooting stars and vehicles passing around the road out front of the house. Short of putting on YOB, which I only didn’t do because some fucker stole my iPod out of my car before I left to come on this tour, it was about as close to communing with gods as I come. Very, very cool, and very restorative.

When I came down into the basement last night to sleep on the couch, I found a turntable with Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick on it, which I took as an even better omen since that’s been played a couple times and sung even more in the van. Conked out around 3:45 and woke up this morning a little before breakfast, which was likewise lush and prepared by the the housecouple who own the house, Mary Jo and Ray. Unreal. Bacon, spinach and tomato frittata, potatoes, fresh coffee. Afterwards some of the guys went out on a pontoon boat, Lincoln Lake just feet away from the back door. I didn’t go, had stuff to catch up on, but a little quiet time was good too. The last couple days have been so much rushing around that the chance to stay still for a couple hours feels like twice the luxury, though here it actually is. Radio Moscow and the two ladies they’re traveling with, Mama Jo (no relation to Mary Jo) and Connie came through as well and Steve, Carl and Ray went to the grocery store to buy grillables for a barbecue and to refill the growlers the KD guys got from Hammerheart Brewing the other day, two of which were kicked last night. I asked Steve to get me an orange pepper and he did — it was glorious. I could feel the life returning.

The plan seems to be to barbecue, hang out for a bit and then hit the road to Lansing, which is about an hour away. Show tonight is with Cruthu, Beast in the Field and Hordes, all of whom I’m looking forward to seeing. Kings Destroy are headlining and have grillablesbeen looking forward to playing a longer set than they have been, and I’m dying to see Cruthu and Beast in the Field. I’m not sure where we’re staying tonight yet — I don’t think we’ll be back here since it’ll be an hour in the wrong direction from Cleveland, which is where the Pentagram, Radio Moscow, Bang and Kings Destroy tour picks back up tomorrow, but I wouldn’t mind another look at that night sky if one were in the offing. Or, you know, a lifetime considering this is pretty much my ideal of paradise, right down to the ducks out on the lake talking smack to everyone standing and sitting on the deck with the two grills, one gas, one charcoal, fired up with burgers, sausages, steaks, asparagus, kebabs, more peppers, portobello mushrooms and so on. There have been a few tough rides, but it’s not exactly like this trip has been roughing it sleeping on shitty punk rock basements or anything — there’s wifi in the van — but this place is legitimately wonderful, and there’s been music on just about the whole time we’ve been here.

 

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Fall Tour Pt. 8: Pentagram, Radio Moscow, Bang and Kings Destroy, Grand Rapids, MI, 10.25.14

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

pyramid scheme

Oh, Grand Rapids. You got wasted. The Pyramid Scheme is an excellent space, and they know it. An orange and blue squiggle design on the floor, cool ’50s-style retro lights, a sweet bar, great stage, great sound, great lights. And that’s just in back. Out front there’s another full bar with tables, booths and a collection of pinball machines that was enviable to say the least. Apparently they host a Grand Rapids Pinball League, or at least they sell a shirt that advertises such. I immediately gravitated toward the Star Trek: The Next Generation machine and sapped the supply of quarters I’ve built up over the last couple days in change from buying the gas station coffee that has more or less been what’s kept me alive thus far into the trip.

I’ve never been much good at pinball — or fun at all, really — but I dug it anyway and then ran over to the hipster coffee joint across the way and had a real cup of coffee and some kind of weirdo pistachio/hazelnut roll that tasted like neither. Soon enough Kings Destroy had their soundcheck and the show was ready to start. I got up front shortly after doors and was fortunate enough to run into some excellent people I know from out this way, Postman Dan who’ll be playing with Cruthu tonight in Lansing, Steve Rarick from Emetic RecordsTravis Witherell from Hydro-Phonic Records, also met Jeremy who runs the Pyramid Scheme and was super cool, and later on, one of the dudes from Blue Snaggletooth, who are another killer Michigan-based act with a new album on the way.

For the first time on the tour so far, the entire bill was just the touring acts, no locals opening or otherwise. Kings Destroy got things rolling a little after 8PM:

Kings Destroy

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Best show of the tour so far, hands down. I suppose that’s the way it’s supposed to go, so maybe that’s not saying much, but it’s true either way. They’ve been pretty purposeful about changing up the set at least just a little each night, and for the Pyramid Scheme, they broke out “Embers” for the first time and it occurred to me how much I’ve missed hearing that song. It fit well between “Mr. O,” and “Smokey Robinson,” the new cuts once again coming out of a pair from the 2010 debut, And the Rest Will Surely Perish, this time “Old Yeller” into “The Whittler,” which was a groove that led easily into the start of “Mr. O,” drummer Rob Sefcik rolling out a quick fill picked up by the rest of the band — guitarists Carl Porcaro and Christopher Skowronski, bassist Aaron Bumpus, vocalist Steve Murphy (I’ll be honest: it doesn’t really seem necessary to introduce these guys at this point, but I’ll do it anyway just in case) — and then launched immediately into the first verse with the line, “I am the straw that stirs the drink,” a Reggie Jackson quote that’s been running around my head since this tour started. Murphy once again came off stage for the end of closer “Blood of Recompense,” this time walking deep into the room and, at one point, almost clotheslining a group of people wrapped in his mic cable. They got out of the way and I’m glad to report no injuries sustained, save perhaps for tinnitus.

Bang

Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What a pleasure it’s been to watch these guys on stage. Even for just the three nights of the tour so far, and even playing the same set for each of them, the Philly trio’s raw enjoyment of their comeback tour has been projected clearly from the stage. Before they started, bassist vocalist Frank Ferrara introduced the band, naming himself as “some guido from Philadelphia” or something close to that, a smile on his face the whole time. He and guitarist Frank Gilcken (whose name I’ve apparently been spelling wrong for the last three days; apologies) and drummer Jake Leger have only gotten tighter over the course of these shows, and in Grand Rapids, they seemed relaxed as they went about their business, enjoying themselves and the crowd, which was readily familiar with their work, enough for a couple sing-alongs. “Our Home,” “Last Will and Testament,” “The Queen,” “Redman” and “Questions” from their 1971 self-titled debut were greeted particularly well, but people were no less into the opening title-track from 2004’s The Maze, the grooves smooth, the tones rich, the drums swinging and the vocals spot on the whole way. They thanked the crowd copiously and the other bands, and ended the set locked in and in full command of their stage presence, sound and presentation. It’s been genuinely enjoyable to watch them click as they have thus far.

Radio Moscow

Radio Moscow (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Rough night for Radio Moscow. When they had everything working, they killed it. Opening with “Death of a Queen,” they changed up the set a little bit, including “Rancho Tehama Airport” from this year’s Magical Dirt LP (review here) and “Don’t Need Nobody” from 2011’s The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz, and I don’t want to say it happened just as they were hitting their stride — because, truth be told, they hit their stride the second they start playing — but a little while into the proceedings, drummer Paul Marrone broke what was apparently a brand new head on his kick drum and had to leave stage to get a replacement. He and bassist Anthony Meier and guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs set about fixing it, and then relaunched and were off and running when Griggs broke a string on his guitar and had to replace that on the quick. Done. Then Marrone‘s drum broke again and he wound up using Rob Sefcik from Kings Destroy‘s instead — I guess because you can really only travel with so many drum-heads before all of a sudden you’re carrying a music store and how many backups will you really need on a given night? They were fine going into “Rancho Tehama Airport,” which was announced as their last song but wound up being followed by “Gypsy Fast Woman” and “Open Your Eyes,” during which Marrone‘s snare gave way and Griggs busted yet another string. They were close to the finish line anyway, so they just sort of stopped playing, thanked the crowd and cut their losses. I still can’t really say they didn’t deliver, and the audience — by then mightily sloshed — was plenty into it despite whatever interruptions to their boogie-freight-train momentum arose on their way.

Pentagram

Pentagram (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve yet to see any footage from this tour of Pentagram‘s new song, “Lay Down and Die,” but when some shows up, I’ll be interested to give it a deeper listen. Like some of the stuff on 2011’s Last Rites (review here), it seems like vocalist Bobby Liebling is really pushing himself vocally, and as much of the image of the band is wrapped up in his persona, I far prefer the idea of him as an artist who, even as he plays out a catalog of some of doom’s most classic material — “Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram),” “Forever My Queen,” “Review Your Choices,” “Be Forewarned,” “When the Screams Come,” etc. — still has an interest in moving forward creatively and in terms of his technique. Maybe that’s reading more into it than I should, but with Victor Griffin on guitar and sharing the vocal duties, drummer Sean Saley and bassist Greg TurleyPentagram are an absolute force on stage. With Liebling up front, they were going to want nothing for stage presence one way or another, but in terms of tone and volume, they came into this tour ready to give a professional-level show and that’s what they’ve done each night. Bobby had a cache of young ladies toward the front of the room hanging on his every word and/or obscene gesture, and Pentagram rocked their way through their time smoothly, taking a couple minutes to warm up through the Animals cover “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood” and “Frustration” from 1994’s Be Forewarned, but living up to the title “Relentless” by the time they got there and giving the Grand Rapids crowd something to (vaguely) remember the next morning.

Was pretty beat by the time Pentagram went on, but I still had energy enough to sink the last of my quarters into some more pinball as the night wound down after loadout. I don’t know what my high score was, but it was not impressive. The KD guys and I loaded into the van and split out to crash in a town called Gowen at a sort of Airbnb house on the shore of Lake Michigan, chilly and beautiful in kind. More to come on that.

In the meantime, some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Godflesh, Early Man, Temple of Void, Mage and Lamperjaw

Posted in Radio on October 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

I wanted to make sure I did a round of radio adds for this week. Not just because they’re fun to do and it’s a bit like submerging my head in heaviness for an afternoon, but because I’ve already got one or two records in mind to join the playlist next week (or the week after, depending on time) and I don’t want to get too far behind. As always, these five are just picks out of the bunch. Over 20 records went up to the server today, so there’s much more than this to dig into. As well as all the rest of everything up there. I don’t even know how much stuff that is at this point. Last I heard from Slevin, it was “a lot.” Nothing like more, then.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Oct. 16, 2014:

Godflesh, A World Lit only by Fire

Godflesh A World Lit Only By Fire cover

It seems that after a decade-plus of moving further away from Godflesh‘s sound in Jesu, guitarist/vocalist Justin K. Broadrick has had no problem whatsoever slipping back into songwriting for the ultra-influential early-industrial outfit. Preceded by an EP called Decline and Fall (review here) that was also released through Broadrick‘s Avalanche Recordings imprint, the 10-track A World Lit Only by Fire harnesses a lot of the churn that was so prevalent in prime-era Godflesh and, more impressively, successfully channels the same aggression and frustration without sounding like a put-on. The chug in “Carrion” is visceral, and while “Life Giver Life Taker” recalls some of the melody that began to show itself on Godflesh‘s last album, 2001’s Hymns, and subsequently became the core of Jesu, songs like “Shut Me Down” and the gruelingly slow “Towers of Emptiness” find Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green enacting a familiar pummel that — and this is a compliment — sounds just like Godflesh. No doubt some of that is because so much of the duo’s elements are electronic, and while they might sound dated after a while, electronics don’t actually age in the same way people do, but even in the human core of the band, Godflesh are back in full, earth-shattering force. A World Lit Only by Fire is a triumphant return. I don’t know if it necessarily adds much to the Godflesh legacy that wasn’t already there, but as a new beginning point, a sort of second debut, its arrival is more than welcome. Godflesh on Bandcamp, Justin Broadrick on Thee Facebooks.

Early Man, Thank God You’ve Got the Answers for us All

early man thank got you've got the answers for us all

After starting out in Ohio and making their way to New York around the middle of the last decade, the duo of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mike Conte and guitarist Pete Macy – better known as Early Man – recorded their new album, Thank God You’ve Got the Answers for us All, as they put, “inside various closets, attics and basements within the greater Los Angeles area over the past year.” I recall seeing them in Manhattan and getting their demo in 2004/2005 and Early Man was the shit. They were gonna be huge. A contract with Matador Records brought their debut and then they went five years before their next album came out, and by then, retro metal and heavy rock has passed them by. Thank God You’ve Got the Answers for us All taps some of the same younger-Metallica vibing of their earliest work on “Black Rains are Falling” and closer “The Longer the Life,” but the current of Sabbathian heavy that was always there remains strong and “Always Had a Place in Hell to Call My Own” ups the ante with a more punkish take. The recording is raw in the new digital sense, but the tracks get their point across well enough, and Conte‘s songwriting has always produced some memorable results — the keyboard-soaked “Hold on to Nothing” stands out here — but it seems like the story of Early Man is still waiting to be told. Early Man on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Temple of Void, Of Terror and the Supernatural

Temple Of Void - of Terror and the Supernatural - cover

Any given song, it can be hard to tell where Detroit’s Temple of Void come down on the spectrum of doom/death and death/doom, but whatever genre tag you want to stick on it, their debut long-player, Of Terror and the Supernatural, is fucking grim. A roaring morass of thuds, low growls, bouts of extreme violence and bludgeonry, and horror — oh, the horror. Last year’s Demo MMXIII (review here) was fair enough warning, but what the double-guitar five-piece do across these eight tracks is a cruelty of atmosphere and lurch. Squibbles perpetrate “Invocation of Demise,” which also has some surprise key work that sounds like a flute, and a moment of respite arrives with the subsequent “To Carry this Corpse Evermore” in Opethian acoustics, but as the title would indicate, “Rot in Solitude” throws the listener right back into the filth and it’s there Temple of Void seem most in their element. Buried deep in “Exanimate Gaze” is a melodic undertone and 10-minute finale “Bargain in Death” shows a fairly dynamic approach, but the core of what they do is rooted in toying with a balance between death and doom metals, and already on their first outing they show significant stylistic command. If they tour, it’s hard to imagine one of the bigger metal labels –RelapseMetal Blade – wouldn’t want them somewhere down the line. Temple of Void on Thee Facebooks, Saw Her Ghost Records, Rain without End Records.

Mage, Last Orders

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UK fivesome Mage debuted in 2012 with Black Sands (review here) and showcased a burly blend of heavy rock and metal, and tonally and in the drums, their sophomore outing, Last Orders, follows suit in copping elements of thrash, Voivod-style otherwordliness and a penchant for shifting tempos effectively while keeping a seemingly downward path. Vocalist Tom has pulled back on the ultra-dudely vocals and it makes a big difference in the band’s sound for the better. He’s much better mixed and exploring some new ground on “The Fallen,” but he boldly takes on the task with the slower “Beyond” — the longest song here at six minutes flat — and comes out stronger for it. Guitarists Ben and Woody, bassist Mark and drummer Andy showcase some Electric Wizard influence in that song, but I wouldn’t tie Mage‘s sound to any one band, as “Lux Mentis” before offers huge-sounding stomp and “Violent Skies” after feeds an adrenaline surge of chugging and turns before opening to Last Orders‘ satisfying payoff, Tom tapping into mid-range Halford along the way and closer “One for the Road” reminding that there’s still a riffy side to the band as well. Mage on Thee Facebooks, Witch Hunter Records.

Lamperjaw, Demo EP 2014

LAMPERJAW - Demo EP 2014

Formed in 2011, Virginian trio Lamperjaw make their three-track debut with the descriptive Demo EP 2014, drunken-stomping the line between sludge and Southern heavy. One can’t help but be reminded of Alabama Thunderpussy‘s glory days listening to “Throw Me a Stone,” but with guitarist Dedrian, bassist Lane and drummer Codi all contributing vocals, Lamperjaw bring something immediately distinguishing to their approach. “Blood Dreams” aligns them with the burl-bringing Southern set, some screams and a metallic chug surprising after the opener’s booze-rocking vibe, but their real potential comes out on the seven-minute “Menace of a Cruel Earth,” which moves from low-in-the-mouth whoa-yeah-style grit across a successful linear build to a harmonized, well-arranged apex. It’s always hard to judge a band’s intent by their first release, and there’s a lot about their sound Lamperjaw are still figuring out, but they’ve given themselves some directional liquidity on their first demo, and it will be interesting to hear how they proceed from this point. Lamperjaw on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Like I said, this is just a fraction of the stuff that went up to the server this afternoon, so if you get a second, I hope you’ll peruse the The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page, or whatever it is I’m calling it in my head this week. It’s the same page as always either way.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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Temple of Void Release Of Terror and the Supernatural Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

temple-of-void

Brutality always has a place, and Detroit death/doomers Temple of Void seem to have found a right balance of creeping lurch and extreme plunder. Their debut long-player, Of Terror and the Supernatural, arrives tomorrow, Sept. 30, courtesy of Saw Her Ghost and Rain Without End Records. Of course, when it comes to Midwestern death/doom, my head goes immediately to Chicago stalwarts Novembers Doom, but if you’re looking to compare the two acts, you won’t get far. At least going by “The Embalmer’s Art,” which you can hear below, the Detroit five-piece keep away from more dramatic fare and stick of a varied but consistently bludgeoning approach — not without melody in the guitar, but far more pummeling than theatrical.

Or you can check it out for yourself. To the PR wire:

temple of void Of Terror and the Supernatural

Death / Doom band TEMPLE OF VOID Release Debut Full Length “Of Terror and the Supernatural”

On September 30th the Detroit, Michigan (U.S.) Metal act TEMPLE OF VOID will release their debut full length album “Of Terror and the Supernatural” on multiple labels as well as multiple formats. “Of Terror and the Supernatural” includes Eight Tracks of early British Doom mixed with Old School American Death Metal with a running time of just over fifty minutes.

The album was recorded by Clyde Wilson ~Mt. Doom Studio / Mark Hudson ~Audiolux Studio, with Todd Konecny ~Bright White Light Studio handling the mixing and Tony Hamera with the Mastering duties. While the artwork was provided by the legendary fantasy artist Bruce Pennington (http://www.brucepennington.co.uk). “Of Terror and the Supernatural” will be released on Double LP & Cassette on Saw Her Ghost Records and on CD through Rain Without End Records. Preorders are now available through both labels Webstores. Sell your soul and enter the Temple of Void!

An Official Video for a track from “Of Terror and the Supernatural” has been filmed and will be released to the general public in the near future.

1. The Embalmer’s Art
2. Savage Howl
3. Beyond the Ultimate
4. Invocation of Demise
5. To Carry this Corpse Evermore
6. Rot in Solitude
7. Exanimate Gaze
8. Bargain in Death

TEMPLE OF VOID
Eric Blanchard (Guitar)
Mike Erdody (Vocals)
Brent Satterly (Bass)
Jason Pearce (Drums)
Alex Awn (Guitar)

http://templeofvoid.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/templeofvoid
www.youtube.com/templeofvoid
http://vimeo.com/templeofvoid
http://www.naturmacht.com/2014/07/rwe004-temple-void-terror-supernatural/
http://sawherghost.net/sawherghost/?page_id=1486

Temple of Void, “The Embalmer’s Art”

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Thank You to Everyone Who Took Part in the Small Stone Fundraiser

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

small stone records office

Look, I could tell you how much I appreciate everyone giving up a little bit of their hard-earned to help out Small Stone in the label’s time of need, but the fact is it’s not about me. It’s about Scott Hamilton, who runs the label, being able to continue putting out some of the finest heavy rock and roll the world has to offer, him worrying more about getting the Lo-Pan pressing back from the plant in time for the October release rather than if his basement is going to have mold in it leftover from the flood. Priorities. Getting things to where they need to be.

All told, the Small Stone fundraiser brought in over eight thousand dollars, and that wouldn’t have been possible without your help, so thank you. If you donated, that’s amazing. Some gave $100 at a clip, some gave $5, but what really matters is that when it came to it and someone who has been a major contributor to this weird, pan-global community required assistance, people stepped up and pulled together and showed they were willing to support somebody who needed it when they needed it. I know there have been crossover bands and every now and then some mainstream entity deigns to not completely ignore this genre, but heavy rock and roll is still a very underground phenomenon, and if we don’t help each other, it’s not like there are a million people lined up outside to pick up the slack.

So thank you for being a part of this. Even if you didn’t get to donate and you just spread the link around, that’s huge. I know Scott‘s repairs are ongoing after the flood, but the water’s gone and he’s got a desk and a shelf for label product and his amps and gear set up down there, and that’s definitely a start. As somebody who’s spent years nerding out on Small Stone‘s output, I’m just happy to know I’ll be able to keep doing that.

Now bring on the Snail record!

Small Stone Records

Small Stone on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone on Bandcamp

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VINYL WEEK: Storm Ross, The Green Realm LP

Posted in On Wax on September 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

storm ross the green realm

Six tracks of instrumental dronier-than-thou guitar-based exploration pressed in limited numbers (the first 100 in lime green wax), Storm RossThe Green Realm definitely requires an adventurous ear. Though the project takes its name from Michigan-based guitarist Storm Ross, also of Skeleton BirdsThe Green Realm nonetheless intermittently invokes a full-band feel, as on side A closer “Through the Canopy,” which backs a post-rock solo with cyclical tom runs and a steady rhythm line of synth. Oh yeah, and trombone. Because duh.

The horn is contributed by Ryan Patrick O’Reilly (he also did the stare-at-it-for-as-long-as-you-can-and-you-still-won’t-see-it-all cover art), and the percussion by Jeremy Edwards, but in terms of the storm ross the green realmsynth and guitar, effects and sundry programmed elements, it’s Ross himself driving the album. There are three tracks on each side of the LP, opener “By Lantern’s Light” and side B’s “Winterskill” mirroring each other with some abrasively high-pitched noise, but a steady drone emerges and provides a uniting theme around which the surprisingly diverse washes swirl, be it the big-guitar spaciousness and clear riffing of “By Lantern’s Light” or the manipulated-feedback-int0-synth of “Frost’s Howl,” the complexity of which is by no means limited to that transition, which is seamless, or the guitar lead that emerges in the second half, which seems to make a bed out of what was already a palpable build.

It’s interesting to note the blend of natural and electronic/computerized elements, both because Ross makes them work together well across The Green Realm and because even as they delve into noise wash and seem to move farther away from organic sounds, titles like “Frost’s Howl,” “Through the Canopy,” “The River” and “Alpenglow” offer direct references to nature. “Winterskill”‘s background drone is gorgeous and brightly toned, indeed evocative of an icy landscape. It seems to strive to portray these ideas even as it shifts later with more prominent synthesizer, less guitar, as though asking the listener to hold onto a picture even as that picture is being contorted, its proportions and perspective changed. It’s a closed-eye album, and the side split helps in processing each half — though ultimately the split itself doesn’t seem to signify any jump from one modus to another; it’s all experimental, so it’s not like Storm Ross is saving the freakout for the second part — but immersive if you’ll let it be, and by the middle of side B, “Winterskill” giving way to “The River” en route to “Alpenglow” closing out, its flow is well storm ross the green realmestablished and uninterrupted, even as “The River” squibbles out guitar noise and jars with avant-style cymbals and tom percussion.

“The River” seems to find its direction as it progresses toward its feedback finish, and “Alpenglow” continues along a similar vein, if with a more straightforward drum progression, and though that pairing gives a sense of solidarity to the back end of The Green Realm, the record as a whole still covers a vast amount of atmospheric territory, demanding more attention than an entirely ambient release but still coming across as the result of raw explorations. Again, it won’t be for everyone, nor is it intended to be, but Ross has developed these ideas to a point of skirting the line between “pieces” and “songs” and it’s a barrier he seems content to cross at will. As his first solo outing in five years (third overall), one wonders if it didn’t come together over a longer stretch of time, as opposed to a single writing session, but either way, Ross draws a unifying thread through the two sides with a feeling of reverence for the natural, and successfully challenges the audience to widen their perception of what that might mean.

Storm Ross, The Green Realm (2014)

Storm Ross on Thee Facebooks

Storm Ross on Bandcamp

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Against the Grain Announce US Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

against the grain

Just a couple weeks out from losing gear in the same Detroit-area floods that took out the Small Stone Records offices, heavy rock troublemakers Against the Grain have announced they’ll hit the road in October alongside long-running punk outfits Guttermouth and Voodoo Glowskulls. To be perfectly honest, neither is really my thing, but I have no doubt that Against the Grain‘s high-energy thrust will do well on tour with them, and it’s yet another in the four-piece’s continuing series of runs that seems to be geared toward their perfecting their craft, rugged and dirty as that craft might be. I’m glad they’ve gotten their gear back and I’m glad they’re getting out again.

The PR wire puts it like this:

against the grain

Against The Grain announce West Coast tour with Guttermouth/Voodoo Glow Skulls

Detroit’s speed rock machine Against The Grain are hitting the road with punk rock veterans Guttermouth and Voodoo Glow Skulls in October for month long west coast scheduled to start in Fresno, CA and end in Corona, CA. It will be the third 20+ date haul they’ve done this year and first packaged tour they have been a part of since their run with long time running Japanese doom/stoner band Church Of Misery in Fall 2013.

Dates include:

Sun Oct 5 – Fresno, CA – Strummers*
Mon Oct 6 -San Jose, CA – Blank Club*
Tues Oct 7 – San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge*
Wed Oct 8 – Sacramento, CA – Assembly Hall of Music*
Thurs Oct 9 – Sparks, NV – The Alley*
Fri Oct 10 – Bend, OR – Domino Room*
Sat Oct 11 – Tacoma, WA – Jazzbones*
Sun Oct 12 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon**
Mon Oct 13 – Missoula, MT – The Top Hat Lounge**
Tues Oct 14 – Boise, ID – Crazy Horse**
Thurs Oct 16 – Laramie, WY – Cowboy Saloon **
Fri Oct 17 – Salt lake City, UT – The Loading Dock**
Sat Oct 18 – Grand junction, CO – Mesa Theatre**
Sun Oct 19 – Denver, CO – The Marquis**
Mon Oct 20 – Colorado Springs, CO – The Black Sheep**
Tues Oct 21 – Kansas City, MO – The Scene Rock Bar**
Wed Oct 22 – Fort Worth, TX – Lola’s Saloon**
Thurs Oct 23 – Midland, TX – Blue Max**
Fri Oct 24 – Rio Rancho, NM – The Damn Bar**
Sat Oct 25 – El Paso, TX – Lowbrow Palace**
Sun Oct 26 – Flagstaff, AZ – The Museum Club**
Tues Oct 28 – San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick*
Wed Oct 29 – Long Beach, CA – Alex’s Bar*
Thurs Oct 30 – Corona, CA – M15*
* = w/ Voodoo Glow Skulls
** = w/ In The Whale

Against The Grain suffered a major blow as a band when their gear was destroyed by flooding in their practice space due to freaks thunderstorms occurring in Detroit in early August but due to support from all over (including a message of assistance from the Valient Thorr/Revolving Beast camp), they managed to successfully raise the money needed to assist them in getting new gear to get back on the road. On September 12th, they will be a part of a benefit show being held at The Corktown Tavern in Detroit with Axe Ripper, Rawdogs and Mud Falcon playing as support to Against The Grain. Tesco Vee has signed on to be MC’ing for the night and to host a silent auction of vintage Meatmen/Touch and Go items.

In what has been an extremely active year of 2014 A.D. for the band, Against The Grain has toured all over the states in support of their re-release of Motor City Speed Rock that Self Destructo Records put out on 10” vinyl. They’re in the middle of writing new songs for their upcoming record that will see the light of day in mid 2015 with touring plans already solidified for January 2015 with a Detroit favorite of the underground scene, more of that plus other news in development in the following weeks.

Motor City Speed Rock and Surrounded By Snakes vinyl are available at http://www.shopturbojugend.com and all digital streaming/download services (i.e. Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Mp3 and more) worldwide.

Against The Grain:
https://www.facebook.com/Againstthegraindetroit
http://againstthegrain-atg.bandcamp.com/

Against the Grain, “Sirens” Live Aug. 23, 2014

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Small Stone Records Updates on Flood Cleanup; Fundraiser Continues

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

Thee basement.

As you can see in the photo above, the flood that ravaged Small Stone Records‘ offices two weeks ago (if you missed that news, see here) is being dealt with. Progress is being made, but of course there’s still a ton to do. The fundraiser has gotten an awesome response and has been about as visible as anyone could ask, so thanks to everybody for helping to get the word out and of course for donating. Please keep it going.

http://www.youcaring.com/helpscott

Label honcho Scott Hamilton took some time out and sent some pics of the damage being repaired and updated on the progress being made:

Says Scott:

We would personally like to thank everyone who has generously kicked in… It has been beyond helpful (lifesaving) and we are very thankful to any and all involved. We are now finally clean and dry… We still have a long way to go in terms of getting this up and running again, but here is a quick pic of the progress thus far.

90% of my time has been taken up with restoring all the above… i think i have been to home depot over 40 times in the last 2+ weeks

bottom line… this fundraiser has been saving my ass… the last time i was at home depot like this was 14 years ago when we first moved in… holy shit is everything way more expensive then it used to be!

So there you have it. A lot of work being done and a lot more still to come. It’s been amazing watching this community come together to support Small Stone and help Scott get back to where he needs to be, and thanks to folks like Ripple Music for hosting a charity auction, The Heavy Co. for donating all the proceeds of their new live album, and Seb from Abrahma for putting together a series of charity auctions as well. All of this is huge and it shows Scott there’s a reason all the work he’s putting in is worth the effort.

Once again, please keep it going.

http://www.youcaring.com/helpscott

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Small Stone Records Fundraiser Launched

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was painful last week to see the pictures of the Small Stone Records offices, flooded out from powerful storms that tore through the Detroit area. Still sealed label product floating through dirty water, files and CDs, the fruit of countless hours of work on the part of label owner Scott Hamilton, simply ruined. In one of the pictures, however, you can also see a floating vacuum cleaner, and that’s also important, because it reminds us that more even than being where kickass riffs come from, this is somebody’s home.

Scott is somebody whose tastes and whose efforts have helped greatly to shape the course of American heavy rock in the last decade-plus. Whether you’re a fan of Dixie Witch or Roadsaw or Sasquatch or Wo Fat or anyone else on his enviable roster, chances are even if you don’t listen to those bands, someone in a band you listen to does. Small Stone has become the standard-bearer, and you can see the influence it has had not only in bands going for “that Small Stone sound,” but also in labels who have come up in the last several years wanting to support the music they’re passionate about in a similar way.

But again, this is about more than music. It’s Scott‘s house too, and that’s why it’s so important that this community comes together to help him out. You and I are part of a worldwide subculture. Don’t believe me? Go to a show anywhere and look around you. It’s the same every place you go, and that’s no mistake. One of our own — someone who’s directly participated in making this weird, ongoing thing to which we belong — needs our help. Frankly, that should be enough to make you want to get involved.

Donations are being taken through the middle of next month, but since it’s a water cleanup process and there’s the ever-present threat of mold, time’s a factor. Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.

http://www.youcaring.com/helpscott

In August 2014, bad storms dumped flood waters all through the Detroit area, including into the offices of Small Stone Records, the label home of Sasquatch, Wo Fat, Greenleaf, Lord Fowl, Dixie Witch, Roadsaw and so many others.

Gear and product were both destroyed and insurance in Michigan is crap, so we’re coming together to help Scott from Small Stone with some of the massive expense of cleaning up from this flood.

Scott’s support for heavy music over the last 19 years that he’s run Small Stone has never wavered and this is a chance to help somebody who’s helped us by enriching our lives with great bands and great riffs.

Every bit helps. Thank you for your support.

–Please note that YouCaring.com takes no fees from donations and unlike other sites, ALL THE MONEY YOU DONATE GOES DIRECTLY TO HELP SCOTT.

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Sleep, Red Fang, Deamon’s Child, The Jackpine Snag, Cruthu

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I guess this is the part where I complain about lack of time, blah blah blah. Last week was a mess, it’s true, as were the last couple days, but what it comes down to is I do what I can when I can. That’s been my policy all along. A couple of these discs — CruthuDeamon’s Child — are my own rips as well from discs that were sent in, and as ever, there’s more that went up than just what is listed here. So one way or another, activity abounds. I need to find out how close I am to filling the three terabytes of the hard drive used for the server, but until then, the additions will continue unabated. It’s good to keep busy.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2014:

Sleep, “The Clarity”

To call the first new Sleep track since Dopesmoker an “event” would be underselling it. “The Clarity” arrives via the Adult Swim Singles Series not only as the Iommian legends’ first outing since that landmark release, but also their debut recording with drummer Jason Roeder and their first studio work since guitarist Matt Pike and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros went on to destroy/expand minds in High on Fire and Om, respectively, for the last decade-plus. A near-10-minute stonerly sprawl finds Sleep‘s central methodology intact. Grown up some from what it was 20 years ago, expectedly, but loyal to what they were without trying to recapture a magic that’s gone with that time. Cisneros has taken some flack for not roughing up his vocals à la Sleep’s Holy Mountain, but from where I sit, his cadence and cleaner style only makes “The Clarity” more honest, and if lyrics like “Iommic life complete” and “The dealer is my refuge” are easier to understand, you won’t find me complaining. They jam out most of the song’s second half, and ultimately “The Clarity” collapses in a sudden cut, leaving you to wonder if it ever happened at all — until of course you go back to the start for another glorious hit. If this portends more to come, I’m even more excited about the prospect of new Sleep than I was before the single arrived. Sleep on Thee Facebooks, Adult Swim Singles.

Deamon’s Child, Deamon’s Child

Even before you get to the dolphin sample in “Delfine,” and the garage thrashiness of the subsequent “Alles Bio, Immer Bio,” German trio Deamon’s Child give some hints that there’s more to what they do than the standard heavy noise rock. Comprised of guitarist Sven “Missu” Missulis (aka John Reebo of Reebosound, also ex-Psychedelic Avengers), bassist/vocalist Ana Maija Muhi (who also contributed to Reebosound‘s 2010 outing, This is Reebosound) and drummer Tim Mohr (also WhiteBuzz), Deamon’s Child debuted last year with an engaging demo and follow it with a self-titled debut of increased complexity and a sound that’s varied without the pretense, culling together punk, grunge, heavy rock and noise to create songs that feel like they could turn in any direction at once. The production plays up the frayed edges, and Muhi‘s layered vocals on a chugger like “Lutscher!” sound all the more Melvins-esque. Deamon’s Child is loaded with surprises, but doesn’t feel any more haphazard than it’s meant to, and while it may take a couple listens to catch up to it, the songs are consistent in their invitation for repeat visits. Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Red Fang, TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang

A free Red Fang acoustic EP — who’s going to argue with that? Not me, though the cumbersome and corporate-style title leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, once you get through all the namebrandery, what you come out with are acoustic renditions from Red Fang of “Failure” from late 2013’s Whales and Leeches and “Malverde” and “Human Herd” from the preceding 2011 outing, Murder the Mountains (review here). Hearing guitarist Bryan Giles soften up his usually-rough vocal approach on “Malverde” is interesting, given how much of the album version of that track is about the impact of the thing, but “Failure” becomes a brooding plea rather than the threat it is at full thrust, and “Human Herd” a kind of meditation that makes for the highlight of the whole release. One tries not to read too much into what was clearly a one-off thing, but it would be cool to hear what an acoustic album track from Red Fang might sound like. Their songwriting clearly translates, and between Giles and bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam – let’s not forget guitarist David Sullivan or drummer John Sherman – they prove here they can pull it off sounding confident and comfortable. Kind of an unexpected turn from the chicanery-fueled rock we’re used to from Red Fang, but they’re as easy to dig as ever on (deep breath) TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red FangRed Fang on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

The Jackpine Snag, The Fire Tower EP

Tonally, Michigan’s The Jackpine Snag seem rooted in punk, but a strong undercurrent of the weirdo runs throughout the songs on their new EP, The Fire Tower, and whether it’s the shouting on “With Wings” or “The Missaukee Strut” or the motoring noise of closer “Gonna Wreck My Life,” the trio present an individualized approach to bruiser expression. The Fire Tower is their longest outing yet at seven songs following a four-track 2013 debut 7″, but they have no trouble changing up their take enough to hold interest, while also keeping the tracks themselves relatively lean and concise. Maybe what the EP does best is balance that efficiency with a loose, tossoff-punker vibe, but The Jackpine Snag – guitarist/vocalist Joe Hart, bassist Jason Roedel and drummer Todd Karinen – show a keen awareness of how far out they want to go and how oddball they want to get in their ragged, grungy craftsmanship. No doubt that will serve them well should they decide next to tackle a debut full-length. The Jackpine Snag on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Cruthu, Creation Demo

The debut release from Lansing, Michigan’s Cruthu, the Creation Demo culls together an initial three tracks that sound somewhat raw but hold significant stylistic promise, blending a heavy ’70s psych-blues mentality with drearier rock tendencies and analog worship. Frontwoman Teri Brown provides a soulful lift to “S.O.S.,” as guitarist Dan McCormick leads bassist Scott Lehman and drummer Matt Fry through a subtly doomed murk, but pushes into rawer, strained-throat vocalizing on “Walk with Me” that immediately stands the Creation Demo apart from much of what claims to have been recorded live in terms of sheer honesty. And to Cruthu‘s further credit, I don’t think the tracks were recorded live. Particularly in “Separated from the Herd” and “Walk with Me,” which closes, Cruthu find some room for instrumental exploration along with Brown‘s vocals, and the path they’re on suits them well as the demo plays out. I’d be interested to hear them branch out further instrumentally, get weird with some percussion or strings or psychedelics, but there’s time for such things, and they’re off to an evocative start. Cruthu on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Like I said, there’s a lot more that went up this week than is listed here. Check out The Obelisk Radio playlist/updates page for the complete list.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Scott Hamilton of Small Stone Records

Posted in Questionnaire on March 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This coming weekend, Detroit’s Small Stone Records hosts two label showcases on the East Coast. The first takes place Friday night at the Middle East in Boston and the second is Saturday at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar (info on both here). With Gozu and Freedom Hawk and Wo Fat headed overseas and new releases to come in 2014 from Dwellers, Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, Greenleaf, Wo Fat and Lo-Pan, it’s arguable that Small Stone has never had as much of an impact as it’s having now. A foray into the vinyl market seems to have paid off, and with acquisitions from across the pond like France’s The Socks, Italy’s Isaak and Portugal’s Miss Lava, the imprint’s reach only seems to be growing.

In 2015, Small Stone marks 20 years since its inception. It has succeeded against odds, trends and, frankly, logic, thanks to the vigilance and keen ear of its founder and owner, Scott Hamilton, who also plays guitar in the prog/psych rock outfit Luder. As a curator, Hamilton‘s ear is second to none, and his passion for searching out the underground’s best has led to landmark heavy rock from the likes of Dixie Witch, Sasquatch, Dozer, Los Natas, Halfway to Gone, Roadsaw, Acid King and many more. I sometimes feel like a nerd for covering as much Small Stone stuff as I do, but it’s inevitable. There’s no getting around the quality of the work being fostered by Hamilton‘s steady hand.

So I’ll probably keep going with it.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Scott Hamilton

How did you come to do what you do?

I have been obsessed with music for my entire life (both as a fan and as musician), so I am pretty sure that obsession led me into what I do now. I knew in my high school and college years that I wanted to do music in some form for a career (plus you had the added bonus of not needing cut your hair or work in a stuffy office environment), but I had no clue or connections to point myself in the proper direction to make it a reality. After many an odd job in the early ’90s at various music related gigs (playing in bands and working at record stores, radio stations, major record labels, etc.), I discovered that I both wanted and needed to start a record label. Small Stone was born out of this.

Describe your first musical memory.

This is easy…  It was my Dad blasting Jimi Hendrix, The Stones, James Brown and Santana in the house on his very vintage hi-fi system. I think by the time I was three, I was actually spinning the records from his collection myself, and mostly likely ruining a few of them in the process… Shortly thereafter, discovering bands like KISS and Aerosmith also have had a very lasting effect on me too.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

There are too many… so I will list my top five:

1. Seeing The Cult in 1985 on the Love Tour when I was a Junior in High School. To this day, one of the best concerts I have ever been too.

2. Playing in my first band in high school was awesome, even if it was the ’80s. It was great discovering that thing my bandmates and I used to call “the buzz.” The buzz is when you and your fellow musicians all lock in, everything clicks, and you go on this crazy spiritual high where the hair on the back of your neck stands up. It is was  and is the ultimate feeling that every musician and music fan is always looking for. I sometimes get it with my current band Luder when we are rehearsing and working on new material from time to time.

3. Purchasing my first KISS album… It was KISS Alive, by the way. My mother still says that KISS ruined my life.

4. About eight years ago when I had shitty day job for Live Nation, I got to stand behind Joe Perry’s rig for the majority of the concert, and that was a big deal for me… It also helped that setlist was 95 percent pre-’80s Aerosmith, and for as lame as the band is now, they were fantastic on that evening.

5. Jane’s Addiction… I must have seen them 10 times between 1988 and 1991, and that band had the magic, and also gave that “buzz” I was talking about.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I think that this happens on a monthly basis. It is just part of living, growing, and moving forward. It is usually not a fun experience, either…

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

I think it leads to greatness down the line for any individual that is creating something, be it music, art, whatever. A creative person will always feel the need to keep exploring and learning new things to better sharpen their skill sets. If I had more time, I would spend it writing riffs and melodies, and improve on any and all basic skills when it comes to a guitar, but I have limited time to do that since I have a family and a business that must come first. With that said, I am always humming something in my head, and I will sneak off to the basement for about 30 minutes per day when I can to make some music.

How do you define success?

To me, success means that I get to do what I want for a vocation versus wearing a suit at some soul-sucking corporate job. In that sense, I have great success. But on the other hand it would be nice to break a band on the roster and help get them to a level of a band like Clutch. But that has not happened as of yet, so I just keep on keeping on until I obtain that level of success in the future.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

In 1989 I was driving on the freeway about 20 miles west of Hartford, CT (on my way back to MSU from a Summer working on Nantucket). This convertible Corvette cam flying past me, and seconds later it somehow rear-ended the pickup truck in front of me. The Vette flew up in the air, flipped over the pickup and landed on on the freeway with his roof facing down — but the convertible top was down. The Vette driver was killed, blood, brains, and flesh all over the freeway. That vision has stuck with me ever since.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I would love to be involved in creating a timeless album — a classic if you will. Something that has the staying power of Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zep IV, etc., and more realistically, I would love to create a very large swimming pool in my backyard.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

70 degree days.

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records website

Luder, Adelphophagia (2013)

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Monday Full-Length: The Stooges, Fun House

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Stooges, Fun House (1970)

There are few enough unfuckwithable albums in all of creation and The Stooges put out at least two of them. The Ann Arbor four-piece would come over the years to help define the grit and anti-refinement arrogance at the core of punk and American rock in general, but their early works are psychedelic masterpieces as well. In light of the March 15 passing of founding drummer Scott Asheton, it seemed only fair to kick this week off with a prime bit of Rock Action. Hence Fun House.

It’s the second of the three ultra-necessary Stooges original-run albums, preceded by their 1969 self-titled debut and followed in 1973 by Raw Power. Asheton along with his brother Ron, who died in 2009, reunited with legendary frontman Iggy Pop in 2003 for shows and in 2007, The Stooges released The Weirdness to mixed but ultimately favorable reception. Scott Asheton suffered a stroke in 2011 and final work with the band that defined a good portion of his public life was 2013’s Ready to Die, though it will always be the first three records that serve as the band’s legacy.

I can’t claim to be any kind of expert on The Stooges or anything else, but Scott Asheton was someone whose creativity fostered and mentored that of many in his wake, and the most fitting tribute to one who kicked so much ass seemed to be kicking more ass, and if Fun House is guaranteed to do anything, it’s that. Hope you enjoy.

The reason this didn’t go up Friday was because I didn’t get home until 3:30 in the morning. I’d gone to see Ogre‘s CD release show with Eldemur Krimm in Portland, Maine, and well, that’s a solid two-hour drive. Lesson learned? Nah, probably not. Was a very cool time, and I’ll have a review up today just as soon as I get enough caffeine in my system so that my eyes are all the way open instead of all squinty like they are now. 3PM or so, let’s say. Maybe 4.

That live review aside, I’ve decided sort of unofficially — though how I’d make something like this official, I don’t even know; is there paperwork I should fill out? — that this week is Vinyl Week. I’ve got enough of a backlog of records waiting to be reviewed that I can do one each day and that way I get caught up and everybody likes vinyl. I might try to sneak a tape review in there as well — the Young Hunter/Ohioan split did me right for the late night drive back from Portland the other night — but no CDs this week, regular reviews are on hold for the time being, and I’m making vinyl the priority. Sounds crazy? Well it just might work.

So look out for writeups on Eidetic Seeing, White Dynomite, Bushfire and hopefully one or two others. It’ll be fun. Even more if my turntable holds up.

Tomorrow I’ve also got a From Beyond track premiere set to launch. You might remember their 2012 single, “The Dead Still Ride” (streamed here) was good times.

Hope this is the start of a tremendous week. I know I usually say it for the weekend, but please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Against the Grain Announce Winter Tour Dates and Motor City Speed Rock 10″ Vinyl

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

If I’ve learned one thing in this still-pretty-new New Year, it’s that there’s going to be a ton of shit going on all the time, and on that level, kudos to Detroit four-piece Against the Grain for putting their hats and beards in the ring. The dudely duders who released their third full-length Surrounded by Snakes last year (review here) and subsequently hit the road alongside Church of Misery will once more take it to the people starting next month, hitting the Midwest and the East Coast before heading back for a hometown release show for the forthcoming Self-Destructo Records 10″ vinyl issue of their 2012 Motor City Speed Rock release.

That EP is available to preorder now, and the link for that and tour dates follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

Against The Grain announce tour – Re-release of “Motor City Speed Rock” 10″

Against The Grain announce three week tour across Mid West/East Coast.

10” re-release of Motor City Speed Rock out this February via Self Destructo Records. Pre-order activated right now through the link below. Limited quantity of 500 pressed on both coke clear and black vinyl, each one hand numbered and hand stamped by Self Destructo Records.

http://www.shopturbojugend.com/

Pre-order up and running right now, all are hand numbered and stamped. Comes in coke clear and regular black 10” and all pre-orders through www.shopturbojugend.com come with an exclusive patch designed for this release.

Detroit’s own Motor City Madmen – Against The Grain start off 2014 with a two month trek across Middle America and the Eastern Seaboard in support of their vinyl re-release of Motor City Speed Rock. Originally released in 2012, it was the album that laid the foundation for their presence in the heavy music community in their city of Detroit and neighboring states alike and opened doors for them to play alongside the likes of The Dwarves, Valient Thorr, Zeke, Holley 750, Riverboat Gamblers and The Meatmen.

Self Destructo Records released their third LP entitled “Surrounded By Snakes” in 2013, which catapulted the band full on into the world of stoner rock/doom. Following the release of Surrounded By Snakes, opening slots in Detroit for Saint Vitus, Orange Goblin and a tour with Japanese doom veterans Church of Misery ensued.

Stream Surrounded By Snakes and Motor City Speed Rock in its entirety below, available for a week upload.
https://selfdestructorecords.bandcamp.com/album/surrounded-by-snakes-sdr-003

Tour Dates:
2/21 Berlin Music Pub (Fort Wayne, IN)
2/22 The Melody Inn (Indianapolis, IN)
2/23 The Earl (Atlanta, GA) w/ Lord Dying & Lazer/Wulf, Order of the Owl
2/24 The Nick (Birmingham, GA)
2/25 TBA (Tallahassee, FL)
2/26 TBA (TBA, FL)
2/27 Kreepy Tiki Lounge (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
2/28 The Mill (Charleston, SC)
3/1 The Jinx (Savanna, GA)
3/2 New Brookland Tavern (Columbia, SC)
3/3 The Maywood (Raleigh, NC) w/ Revolving Beast (members of Valient Thorr)
3/4 TBA (Washington D.C.)
3/5 The Sidebar (Baltimore, MD)
3/6 Mill Hill Basement (Trenton, NJ)
3/7 Tabb’s House (Richmond, VA)
3/8 VFW hall (Lansdale, PA)
3/9 Grand Victory (Brooklyn, NY)
3/10 Bogies (Albany, NY)
3/11 Dusk (Providence, RI)
3/12 O’Brien’s (Boston, MA)
3/14 31st St. Pub (Pittsburgh, PA)
3/15 Corktown Tavern (Detroit, MI) – Vinyl release show

https://www.facebook.com/Againstthegraindetroit
http://www.selfdestructorecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/SelfDestructoRecords
http://www.shopturbojugend.com/category/selfdestructorecords
https://selfdestructorecords.bandcamp.com

Against the Grain, Motor City Speed Rock (2014 Reissue)

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