Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Before they split out for Europe in April and, presumably once reaching its shores decide never to return, Ohio fuzz rockers Lo-Pan will hit the road like they do with Detroit speedfreaks Against the Grain. The tour will be in the north and northeast, which should be almost thinking about thawing out by then, and is set to start March 12 and run until March 22. For Lo-Pan, they’re out supporting last year’s Colossus (review here), while the oft-touring Against the Grain will have by that time recorded their fourth album, which is set to release later in 2015.
Like I said, after this, Lo-Pan are off to Europe alongside Black Pyramid, but it’s worth noting that this will be their first tour with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, so it should be a chance for them to further solidify before they go. They’ve given themselves a high-energy companion in Against the Grain, who will no doubt keep them on their toes for the duration.
The PR wire brings details and dates, and we all like details and dates, right? Okay then:
Lo Pan & Against The Grain to tour Northeast in March
Columbus riff titans Lo Pan will be pairing up with Detroit neck breakers Against The Grain for a ten date Northeast tour in the month of March in what will be a travelling showcase of two of the heaviest bands going from the Midwest.
Both bands coming off a successful campaigns in 2014 with Against The Grain seeing the release of Motor City Speed Rock on vinyl and nonstop touring throughout the year with dates that included runs with Guttermouth, Koffin Kats and Nashville Pussy and Valient Thorr to close out the year.
Against The Grain start the year doing a two shows with Detroit’s own Koffin Kats in Chicago (Reggie’s) and in Westland, MI (Token Lounge) and a local show with notable punk/metal band Gang Green in the Detroit area (Corktown Tavern). From there, the four will be spending the month of February recording the follow up to 2012’s “Surrounded By Snakes” at Train – A Comin’ Studios in Mt. Clemens, Michigan which will be slated for a summer release.
Dates: March 12 – The Loving Touch (Ferndale, MI) March 13 – Grog Shop (Cleveland, OH) March 14 – The Lost Horizon (Syracuse, NY) March 15 – TT the Bears (Boston, MA) March 16 – TBA March 17 – TBA March 18 – Saint Vitus Bar (Brooklyn, NY) March 19 – Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia, PA) March 20 – The Pinch (Washington D.C.) March 21 – 31st St. Pub (Pittsburgh, PA) March 22 – Spacebar (Columbus, OH)
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Heavy rockers Bison Machine will release their debut album, Hoarfrost, in 2015 via Bilocation Records. The Detroit four-piece get down on some serious boogie, as the check-out-our-vinyl-master sample track “Cosmic Ark” — not to be confused with the Mos Generator song of the same name — showcases, shuffling Graveyard style to do a wild roundabout back to ’70s Detroit influences: Detroit to Örebro to Detroit. Their impending Spring 2015 tour, with dates yet to be unveiled, may or may not take them that far, but it’s a cool sound one way or another and Bison Machine seem towield it well.
The PR wire saw fit to provide the details and a bit of background on the band:
BISON MACHINE are signing with Bilocation Records
Detroit’s finest heavyrockers BISON MACHINE signed for a vinylrelease with Bilocation Records. Their album ‘Hoarfrost’ will be out during 2015 on limited high performance 180g vinyl.
“Conceived in a single family wigwam on the far eastern reaches of the city of Detroit, and thrust from the birth canal in a dusty basement in Hamtramck, Bison Machine giveth and Bison Machine taketh away.
No Prisoners; no one survives. Liveshows are things of wonderment. Volume, blues, saturation. That is the prevailing ethos. Hamtramck’s own rock spectacle, heavy and melodic. Things are broken, blood is spilled, clothes and loin cloths are rent from bodies, antler and hides are prevalent.
Picture a small child raised on the delta blues since birth, then force fed Zeppelin and Sabbath til they could no longer move, then beaten and whipped with Kyuss, Pentagram, Earthless, Dead Meadow, Willie and Waylon, Queens of the stone age and Thin Lizzy, until one day, the child rears its ugly bruised and mishapen head perched upon its grizzled, muscular, agromegalic body rippling with virility, shrugs of it’s chains, and runs down Jos Campau naked, riding a sabertooth tiger.
This is the music that poor soul would be singing.
…and no one survives.”
John deVries- guitar Breck Crandell- drums Tom Stec- vox Anthony Franchina- bass
In the time since Ann Arbor, Michigan, heavy rockers Blue Snaggletooth released their 2011 debut, Dimension Thule (review here), guitarist/vocalist Chris “Box” Taylor has changed out the entire lineup of the band other than himself. As they are now on the newly-released sophomore outing, Beyond Thule, Blue Snaggletooth is comprised of Taylor as the principal songwriter, with guitarist Casey O’Ryan bassist Joe Kupiec and drummer Mike Popovich. There’s some continuity in the references of their song titles — “Ahamkara” is a dragon in the video game Destiny and “Nameless Cults” comes from Lovecraft, etc. — but the vibe on the new record comes across tighter than on the debut, and that’s what really matters.
Their new video for relatively brief album closer “Transmutation” is similarly tight, or at very least a straightforward affair. One by one, the band walks into a building — you’ll note it’s drummer Mike Popovich who gets there first; right on time — and once inside, they proceed to jam the hell out of the song, and then they leave. It might be the quickest practice they’ve ever had, but it makes for a cool clip, bathed as they are in blacklight and surrouded by posters responsive to same. There’s a break in the middle where they touch visually and sonically on psychedelia, but the song’s primary impression clicks somewhere between punk and heavy rock, and Taylor is well suited to his position as bandleader.
I’ve been trying all week to get a second to get the clip posted, and I think once you put it on, the appeal speaks for itself. Beyond Thule is available now on clear vinyl from Blue Snaggletooth‘s Bandcamp, where the full album is also streaming.
Blue Snaggletooth, “Transmutation” official video
From the band’s latest release Beyond Thule, Transmutation. Recorded at Metro 37 Studios, Mastered by Pete Lyman at Infrasonic Sound.
Video Production: The Garage Auteurs Shot by: Brad Torreano + Robert Felts Directed / Edited by: Brad Torreano
BST is: Chris Taylor – vocals, guitar Casey O’Ryan – guitar Joe Kupiec – bass, vocals Mike Popovich – the drum kit
I managed to buy just one CD while on tour recently and it was the new live album from Michigan instrumental destroyers Beast in the Field. Recorded in 2012 as an in-studio performance at the Kalamazoo-based radio station WIDR, it’s been given the cumbersome title The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne and coupled with a sans-dialogue comic book featuring the band’s two members, guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr. At first I thought I might’ve had it wrong it and it was a DVD because of the case, but no, it’s a CD. After seeing even half of the band’s amplifier stack in Lansing, it became quickly apparent they don’t do anything small.
Like their five studio albums, The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne is out on Saw Her Ghost Records, which has overseen everything the two-piece has done since their 2007 debut, Goat Isle Seance. That record is represented here by “Deep in the Caves,” which follows a noisy solo by Pries, and is preceded by “The Destroying Angel” and followed by closer “Through the Fires in all of Hell,” both of which come from 2011’s Lucifer, Bearer of Light. That would’ve been Beast in the Field‘s newest album at the time, though interestingly, the first three cuts they played at WIDR were “Hollow Horn,” “Altar Made of Red Earth” and “Wakan Tanka,” which also appear in that order following the intro “Great Watcher of the Sky” on 2013’s stellar The Sacred above, the Sacred Below (review here, stream here). Whether Pries and Jahr had recorded by then or were hammering out the flow of the album in a live setting, I don’t really know, but in hindsight it makes for some sound continuity from the record to the live outing and gives some sense of how the duo relate shows and studio work.
Unsurprisingly, they kill it. I’d be interested to know how many cabinets they didn’t bring to the radio station that day, but whatever balance they found, the audio is clear on both guitar and drums — or at least no more blown out than sounds cool — and the sheer density of their tone and impact of their crash are both captured. Speaking of “captured,” that’s pretty much the plot of the comic book as well. Pries and Jahr load up their gear and are in their van headed to, wouldn’t you know it, Kalamazoo, when all of a sudden they’re kidnapped by naked-lady demons and taken to some approximation of an underworld where they’re torn apart and fed to a skeletal version of a four-horned goat beast. I won’t spoil the ending, if they get out of it or not. With art by Mark Rudolph, it’s an engaging complement to the recording itself, and puts The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne in different category of releases than it might otherwise reside in were it just a live album. It may still be a stopgap en route to whatever Beast in the Field do next, but there’s enough presence and force behind the band’s sound that whatever they’ve got, it’s bound to turn a few heads. Just far enough to hear a pop.
With bonus points earned for the smiling cartoon depictions of Pries and Jahr, The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne is further proof of how ready Beast in the Field are for recognition outside regional borders. For now, they remain a secret kept all too well.
Beast in the Field, Live at Dirt Fest, Aug. 9, 2014
Posted in Features on October 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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, I 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 find 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.
Posted in Reviews on October 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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.
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.
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.
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 Skowronski, Murphy, 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
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 Destroy, Radio Moscow, Travis 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.
Posted in Features on October 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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. Beautiful. 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 couple 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 been 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.
Posted in Reviews on October 26th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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 Records, Travis 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:
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.
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.
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.
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 Turley, Pentagram 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.
Posted in Radio on October 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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
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
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
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 –Relapse, Metal 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
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
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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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:
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)
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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.
Posted in On Wax on September 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Six tracks of instrumental dronier-than-thou guitar-based exploration pressed in limited numbers (the first 100 in lime green wax), Storm Ross‘ The Green Realm definitely requires an adventurous ear. Though the project takes its name from Michigan-based guitarist Storm Ross, also of Skeleton Birds, The 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 synth 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 established 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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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 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.
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 athttp://www.shopturbojugend.comand all digital streaming/download services (i.e. Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Mp3 and more) worldwide.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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.
Label honcho Scott Hamilton took some time out and sent some pics of the damage being repaired and updated on the progress being made:
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.
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.
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.