Posted in Whathaveyou on December 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Dallas octane rockers Speedealer played a few gigs in November that they highlighted as a ‘return’ for the band, but they seem to have been doing shows for a while before that as well. Their last studio release was 2003’s Bleed, so one way or another, it’s probably fair to call anything they do a return. One recalls (vaguely and through a Shiner Bock-filtered haze) seeing them at SXSW in the mid-’00s — was it the tiki bar joint on Red River with JJ Paradise Players Club? — and being fairly blown out of the room, though to be fair, that was kind of how it went in Austin at the time. I haven’t seen word of a new record or anything, but even if they’re doing 10 days out to test the waters, they gotta have a reason. These things don’t happen by mistake, you know.
The two bands joining them on the run, as it happens, are both heralding new albums. In the case of fellow Texas trio Mothership, it’s the forthcoming High Strangeness (info here), which is out March 17 on Ripple Music. Less is publicly known at this point about Against the Grain‘s next full-length, but the Detroit-based speed rockers have at least announced their intentions toward a 2017 release. There’s plenty of year ahead, so let’s get there first and then we’ll see what comes.
Run has been tagged as the “Southern Disruption Tour 2017.” Poster and dates follow here, as seen on the social medias:
Speedealer w/ Mothership & Against the Grain: Feb 9 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade. Feb 10 – New Orleans, LA – The Siberia. Feb 11 – Birmingham, AL – The Nick. Feb 12 – Nashville, TN – The End. Feb 13 – Memphis, TN – Hi Tone. Feb 14 – Little Rock, AR – White Water Tavern (no speedealer). Feb 15 – Oklahoma City, OK – The Blue Note (no Speedealer). Feb 16 – Austin, TX – The Sidewinder. Feb 17 – San Antonio, TX – Hi-Tones. Feb 18 – Dallas, TX – Three Links. Feb 19 – Houston, TX – FitZgeralds.
Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
One can’t help but wonder if, when Ripple Music first announced their The Second Coming of Heavy series of splits in early 2015, the California-based imprint had any idea what they were getting into. They committed at the outset to make it 10 releases, each one dubbed a “Chapter,” and aside from the logistical nightmare of coordinating such a thing from recordings to cover art to pressing and the invariable presence of bands outside their window in long jackets holding boomboxes over their heads playing their own songs to try to be a part of it, even timing out the arrival of each subsequent LP seems daunting. There’s a reason most “series” of splits or comps don’t get past their first installment, and it’s because they’re a monumental pain in the ass to put make happen.
After bringing together Borracho and Geezer (review here), Supervoid and Red Desert (review here), and BoneHawk and Kingnomad (review here), The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four highlights two more acts from the American underground in desert-is-as-desert-does Albuquerque trio Red Mesa and Ann Arbor, Michigan, power rockers Blue Snaggletooth. As has been the custom of the series, each band gets a side on the limited edition vinyl to work with — Red Mesa‘s is about 22 minutes, Blue Snaggletooth‘s about 19 — and an opportunity to ply their wares to a wider audience and collectors alike by teaming up. Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth do this while at the same time complementing each other’s style and, ultimately, adding to the breadth of The Second Coming of Heavy as a whole, underscoring the core belief of the project that heavy rock and roll knows no boundaries or other limits of any kind. It can, and does, emerge from anytime, anyplace.
The first line of the release tops a speedy motor riff. It’s Red Mesa‘s “Cactus Highway,” one of their four inclusions, and the lyric is “Let’s go to the desert/Leave it all behind.” Immediately, the impression is straightforward, somewhere between a vocalized Karma to Burn and Kyuss, and through that opener and “Low and Slow,” which follows, it seems like that’s going to be the course of the thing. Nothing wrong with that. “Cactus Highway” has a touch of shuffle in the drumming of Duane Gasper, and the tone of guitarist/vocalist Brad Frye is well-suited to the Motörhead-style thrust of the track, on which he’s backed by bassist Shawn Wright, but particularly the second half of “Low and Slow” begins to hint at a broader approach. Slower overall as one would hope based on the title, it opens to a wider feel under the solo and then gets even more spacious after its final chorus. This makes it an even more jarring turn when Red Mesa shift into the jangly-party-time strum of “Goin’ to the Desert,” with its handclaps and howls and intentional barroom blues, vaguely countrified but only lasting about 90 seconds of the song’s seven minutes before thunder crashes, a cymbal washes and the three-piece shift into minimalist psychedelia, vocals and guitar gradually returning, leading to a crash-in at the midpoint of heavier riffing and subsequent build of Monster Magnet-esque heavy space rock noise wash, the apex of which gradually fades out over the last minute with more thunder and rain sounds remaining.
It’s a sudden, somewhat odd turn for “Goin’ to the Desert” to make — seeming to present people’s ideas about actually doing so measured against the terrifying reality of the ecosystem — and it completely shatters the expectation for what “Utopia,” which closes Red Mesa‘s side, might present. As plausible as it seemed going into “Cactus Highway” to get a handle on their aesthetic of dudely desertism, coming out of “Goin’ to the Desert” renders most guessing irrelevant. They finish over the course of the 6:51 track by trading volume back and forth between “Planet Caravan” impulses filtered through Southwestern nighttime skies and harder riffing, but shift into an acoustic-led psychedelic bridge in the midsection that acts as the foundation for their last build, setting up a return to the chorus that highlights the notion of just how much Red Mesa‘s side flows across its abbreviated course, and the outward progression the band effectively sets up. It feels way more like an EP than a split side simply bringing songs together — a genuine mini-album to follow their self-released 2014 self-titled debut — and hopefully speaks to where they’re headed in terms of sound overall.
Comparatively, Blue Snaggletooth have the benefit of experience over Red Mesa. With frontman and founder Chris “Box” Taylor at the fore, Blue Snaggletooth debuted in 2011 with Dimension Thule (review here) and followed that with 2014’s Beyond Thule (discussed here) and last year’s The Last Voyage of Amra EP, settling in the meantime on a formidable lineup with Taylor working alongside guitarist Casey O’Ryan (also Bison Machine), bassist Joe Kupiec (also Wild Savages) and drummer Mike Popovich, which is the four-piece present on these three tracks as well. Beginning with the 8:30 “Sand Witch,” an opener and longest inclusion (immediate points), Blue Snaggletooth reinforce the classic heavy basis from which modern riffery stems, all the while refusing to give into cliché vintage-ism or sacrifice a modern tonal presence in the name of worshiping at the altar of their forebears. Across “Sand Witch,” “Crystal’s Gaze” and “Mystic Waters,” they demonstrate a wah-prone take that owes more to 1972 than 1968, but takes the lessons of psychedelia and suits them to their straight-ahead, mostly structured purposes.
Some echo in the chorus of “Mystic Waters” goes a long way, for example, and the swirl of intertwining guitar leads with what may or may not be Deep Purple-style organ underneath the peak of “Sand Witch” makes for an exciting stretch worthy of any size stage that thinks it could contain it. Updating that classic heavy grandeur by blending it with a humbler semi-desert fuzz is a major factor in making “Sand Witch” work so well, but Blue Snaggletooth tie their three inclusions together through a consistency of songwriting that makes each chorus a standout, and whether it’s “Sand Witch” pushing out into that dual-guitar mythology creation, or “Crystal’s Gaze” calling to mind the early fuzz triumphs of Sasquatch and drenching them in wah, or “Mystic Waters” bringing the whole thing together and making it boogie, the four-piece hold firm to their own processes and thus their identity, executing their material with confidence and a fluidity that contrasts the linear outward course of Red Mesa, emphasizing a different manner of stylistic blend in the process.
As though in conversation with their side A companions, Blue Snaggletooth start at their farthest-out point and seem to work their way back in, and while that gives The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four an overarching progression through its two sides, it’s worth noting that, like all of the offerings thus far issued as a part of the series, this LP draws strengths as much from the differences between the players involved as from the similarities. I don’t think I’ve let a review pass yet without noting my issue with the number in the name — that is, that “heavy” has had more than two comings at this point in its span of generations — but as The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four clearly demonstrates, Ripple and the bands it’s selected to be a part of this increasingly pivotal project are less about looking back at history than casting a new place within it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ripple Music‘s steady ascent continues with the next edition of the label’s dubiously-titled The Second Coming of Heavy series of limited split LPs. After broadening the reach to international terrain the last time out in bringing together Michigan’s BoneHawk with Sweden’s Kingnomad (review here), The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Four once again pairs two US bands — Red Mesa from New Mexico and Blue Snaggletooth from Michigan — in keeping with earlier chapters that highlighted the work of Geezer and Borracho (review here) and Supervoid and Red Desert (review here). As with the entire series, cover art is supplied by Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje, and the release date is set for Dec. 9.
Each band has a song streaming now that you can check out under the PR wire info below:
The return of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IV | New split album from Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth
The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IV is released on vinyl on 9th December 2016
Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of the year’s most ambitious projects, The Second Coming Of Heavy Series.
Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multicoloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.
Following on from the series’ first installment released in 2015 featuring Geezer and Borracho; Chapter II’s split between Supervoid and Red Desert earlier this year and last June’s BoneHawk and Kingnomad offering, the latest installment brings you brand new music from Albuquerque trio Red Mesa and Ann Arbor quartet Blue Snaggletooth.
RED MESA – Coming at you from yonder, down the mountain atop the deserted mesas of New Mexico, like their name suggests Red Mesa instill a sense of desert haze. Touting a varied psychedelic-stoner sound that begs for maximum volume with a high octane, pedal to the metal attitude, the Albuquerque trio – consisting of vocalist/guitarist Brad Frye, bassist Shawn Wright and drummer Duane Gasper – will take you on a vivid journey. Utilizing elements of doom, punk rock and psychedelic fuzz, Red Mesa are the living embodiment of hard riffing hallucinogens.
BLUE SNAGGLETOOTH – If anyone is proving that you can honor hard rock’s past while pumping fresh blood into its future, it’s Blue Snaggletooth. Billing themselves as purveyors of “Psychedelic D&D Rock & Roll,” the Ann Arbor, Michigan quartet combine elements of hard rock, heavy metal, and psychedelia (all pre-1975), and fuse those styles with lyrics inspired by classic sci-fi and fantasy. While the results are likely to please anyone into stoner rock, Blue Snaggletooth have no truck with irony or tongue-in-cheek glances at the past, and instead embrace their classic influences to build a sound that’s physically powerful but with plenty of sinewy groove.
The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IV will get an official vinyl release on 9th December 2016 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.
Track Listing: 1. ‘Cactus Highway’ by Red Mesa 2. ‘Low And Slow’ by Red Mesa 3. ‘Goin’ To The Desert’ by Red Mesa 4. ‘Utopia’ by Red Mesa 5. ‘Sand Witch’ by Blue Snaggletooth 6. ‘Crystal’s Gaze’ by Blue Snaggletooth 7. ‘Mystic Waters’ by Blue Snaggletooth
Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ll admit I’m a little surprised at the shape this Quarterly Review has taken. As I begin to look back on the year in terms of what records have been talked about over the span, I find it’s been particularly geared toward debut albums, both in and out of wrap-ups like this one. There’s less of that this time around, but what’s happened is some stuff that doesn’t fall into that category — releases like the first two here, for example — are getting covered here to allow space for the others. Let’s face it, nobody gives a shit what I have to say about Russian Circles anyhow, so whatever, but I’m happy to have this as a vehicle for discussing records I still think are worth discussing — the first two releases here, again for example — rather than letting them fall through the cracks with the glut of new bands coming along. Of course things evolve as you go on, but I wish I’d figured it out sooner. Let’s dive in.
Quarterly Review #31-40:
Russian Circles, Guidance
From the warm wash of guitar that begins “Asa” onward, and no matter how weighted, percussive and/or chug-fueled Russian Circles get from there, the Chicago trio seem to be offering solace on their latest outing, Guidance. Recorded by Kurt Ballou and released through Sargent House, the seven-track offering crosses heavy post-rock soundscapes given marked thickness and distinct intensity on “Vorel,” but the record as a whole never quite loses the serenity in “Asa” or the later “Overboard,” crushing as the subsequent “Calla” gets, and though the spaces they cast in closer “Lisboa” are wide and intimidating, their control of them is utterly complete. Six albums in, Russian Circles are simply masters of what they do. There’s really no other way to put it. They remain forward thinking in terms of investigating new ideas in their sound, but their core approach is set in the fluidity of these songs and they revise their aesthetic with a similar, natural patience to that with which they execute their material.
Following their 2014 RidingEasy Records debut, …Lurar ut dig på prärien (discussed here) – which, presumably met with some pronunciation trouble outside the band’s native Sweden – Salem’s Pot return with Pronounce This!, further refining their blend of psychedelic swirl, odd vibes and garage doom riffing. They remain heavily indoctrinated into the post-Uncle Acid school of buzz and groove, and aren’t afraid to scum it up on “Tranny Takes a Trip” or the slower-shifting first half of “Coal Mind,” but the second portion of that song and “So Gone, so Dead” take a more classically progressive bent that is both refreshing and a significant expansion on what Salem’s Pot have accomplished thus far into their tenure. Still weird, and one doubts that’ll change anytime soon – nor does it need to – but as Pronounce This! plays out, Salem’s Pot demonstrate an open-mindedness that seems to have been underlying their work all along and bring it forward in engaging fashion.
International House of Mancakes – yup – is the follow-up to Bridesmaid’s 2013 long-player, Breakfast at Riffany’s, and like that album, it finds the Columbus, Ohio, instrumentalists with a penchant for inserting dudes’ names into well-known titles – see “Hungry Like Nick Wolf” and “Ronnin’ with the Devil” – but it also expands the lineup to the two-bass/two-drum four-piece of Scott Hyatt and Bob Brinkman (both bass) and Cory Barnt and Boehm (both drums). Topped off with KISS-meets-Village People art from W. Ralph Walters, there are shortages neither of snark nor low end, but buried underneath is a progressive songwriting sensibility that doesn’t come across as overly metal on cuts like “Ricky Thump” and doesn’t sacrifice impact or heft for the sake of self-indulgence. Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in “It’s Alectric (Boogie Woogie Woogie),” International House of Mancakes unfolds a heavy rock push that, while obviously driven in part by its sense of humor, earns serious consideration in these tracks for those willing to actually listen.
Too thick in its tones to be a completely vintage-style work, the sleazy vibes of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s Keep it Greasy! (on Rise Above) are otherwise loyal to circa-1971 boogie and attitude, and whether it’s the rewind moment on opener “U Got Wot I Need” or proto-metallic bass thrust of the “Hawkline Monster” or the brash post-Lemmy push of “Tired ‘n’ Wired,” the album is a celebration of a moment when rock isn’t about being any of those things or anything else, but about having a good time, letting off some steam from a shit job or whatever it is, and trying your damnedest to get laid. Radio samples throughout tie the songs together, but even that carries an analog feel – because radio – and the good Admiral are clearly well versed in the fine art of kicking ass. Familiar in all the right ways with more than enough personality to make that just another part of the charm.
The invitation to completely immerse comes quickly on the 13-minute “Delusion Sound,” which opens Landing’s Third Sight (on El Paraiso), and from there, the Connecticut four-piece sway along a beautiful and melodic drift, easing their way along a full-sounding progression filled out with airy guitar and backing drones, moved forward patiently by its drum march and topped with echoed half-whispers. It’s a flat-out gorgeous initial impression to make, and the instrumental “Third Site” and “Facing South” follow it with a tinge of the experimentalism for which Landing are more known, the former led by guitar and the latter led by cinematic keyboard. To bookend, the 14-minute “Morning Sun” builds as it progresses and draws the various sides together while creating a rising soundscape of its own, every bit earning its name as the vocals emerge in the second half, part of a created wash that is nothing short of beautiful. One could say the same of Third Sight as a whole.
While they’ve spent the last few years kicking around the deeper recesses of Brooklyn’s heavy underground, Reign of Zaius mark their debut release with the 26-minute Planet Of… EP, bringing together seven tracks that show what their time and buildup of material has wrought. Opener “Hate Parade” reminds of earliest Kings Destroy, but on the whole, Reign of Zaius are rawer and more metal at their core, the five-piece delving into shuffle on “Out of Get Mine” and showing an affinity for classic horror in both “They Live” – which starts with a sample of Roddy Piper being all out of bubblegum – and “Farewell to Arms,” previously issued as a single in homage to Evil Dead. The charm of a “Dueling Banjos” reference at the start of “Deliver Me” leads to one of the catchier hooks on Planet Of…, and the shorter “Power Hitter” closes with a bass-heavy paean to smoking out that digs into punkish summation of where Reign of Zaius are coming from generally as they continue to be a band up for having a good time without taking themselves too seriously.
Kind of a mystery just where the time goes on Sydney rockers Transcendent Sea’s self-released 50-minute first album, Ballads of Drowning Men. Sure, straightforward cuts like “Over Easy” and “Mind Queen” are easily enough accounted for with their post-Orange Goblin burl and boozy, guttural delivery from vocalist Sean Bowden, but as the four-piece of Bowden, guitarist Mathew J. Allen, bassist Andrew Auglys and drummer Mark Mills get into the more extended “Throw Me a Line,” “Blood of a Lion” and closer “Way of the Wolf” – all over 10 minutes each – their moves become harder to track. They keep the hooks and the verses, but it’s not like they’re just tacking jams onto otherwise structured tracks, and even when “Way of the Wolf” goes wandering, Bowden keeps it grounded, and that effect is prevalent throughout in balancing Ballads of Drowning Men as a whole. It takes a few listens to get a handle on where Transcendent Sea are coming from in that regard, but their debut proves worth at least that minimal effort.
Brothers Rael and Ryan Andrews, both formerly of Lansing, Michigan, art rockers BerT, revive their heavy punk duo Red Teeth with the four-song Light Bender 7” on GTG Records. Both contribute vocals, and Ryan handles guitar and bass, while Rael is on drums and synth through the quick run of “Light Bender, Sound Bender,” “Tas Pappas,” “134mps” and “Elephant Graveyard,” the longest of which is the opener (immediate points) at 4:49. By the time they get down to “Elephant Graveyard,” one can hear some of the Melvinsian twist and crunch that often surfaced in BerT, but whether it’s the ‘90s-alt-vibes-meet-drum-madness of “134mps” or the almost rockabilly riffing of “Tas Pappas,” Red Teeth – whose last release was eight years ago – have no trouble establishing personality in these songs. Approach with an open mind and the weirdness that persists will be more satisfying, as each track seems to have a context entirely of its own.
One can hear the kind of spacious darkness and through-the-skin cold of New England winters in this new split EP from Connecticut crushers Sea of Bones and grinding New Hampshire compatriots Ramlord from Broken Limbs Recordings. What the two share most of all is an atmosphere of existential destitution, but there’s an underlying sense of the extreme that also ties together Sea of Bones’ “Hopelessness and Decay” (10:36) and Ramlord’s “Incarceration of Clairvoyance (Part III)” (10:10), the latter of which continues a series Ramlord started back in 2012 on a split with Cara Neir. Both acts are very much in their element in their brutality. For Sea of Bones, this is the second release they’ve had out this year behind the improvised and digital-only “Silent Transmissions” 27-minute single, which of course was anything but, and for Ramlord, it’s their first split in two years, but finds their gritty, filthy sound well intact from where they last left it. Nothing to complain about here, unless peace of mind is your thing, because you certainly won’t find any of that.
Philadelphia-based five-piece Holy Smoke formed in the early hours of 2015, and the exclamatory Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo! three-track EP is their debut release. Opening with its longest cut (immediate points) in “Rinse and Repeat,” it finds them blending psychedelic and heavy rock elements and conjuring marked fluidity between them. As the title indicates, it’s a demo, and what one hears throughout is the first material Holy Smoke thought enough of to put to tape, but on “Rinse and Repeat” and the subsequent “Blue Dreams” and “The Firm,” they bring the two sides together well in a way it’s easy to hope they continue to do as they move onto whatever comes next, pulling off “The Firm” particularly with marked swing and a sense of confidence that undercuts the notion of their being their first time out. They have growing to do, and by no means would I consider them established in style, but there’s a spark in the songs that could absolutely catch fire.
Posted in Reviews on October 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Today we hit the halfway mark on the Fall 2016 Quarterly Review. Always an occasion worthy of song — or, you know, another batch of 10 records — which happens to be precisely the plan. We pick up much where we left off yesterday in working across a broad spectrum of heavy, and though there are some major releases in here as seems to be the case increasingly, please make sure to note some of the deeper underground stuff as well, whether it’s Hands I Annul Yours or Astral Cult, as nothing here is included by mistake. Some of this I’m late on, some of it isn’t out yet, but all of it is pretty current, so if there’s something here you’ve missed, bigger name or smaller, I hope you get some use out of the lot of it. Here goes.
Quarterly Review #21-30:
Blues Pills, Lady in Gold
Blues Pills – like their Nuclear Blast labelmates in Witchcraft, Graveyard and Kadavar before them – have modernized. Their second album behind what became a landmark self-titled debut (review here) in 2014, Lady in Gold arrives with a slick production casting off the vintage vibes while holding onto classic sensibility and rightfully continuing to feature the soulfulness of vocalist Elin Larsson, joined in the band by guitarist Dorian Sorriaux, bassist Zack Anderson (ex-Radio Moscow) and drummer André Kvarnström (ex-Truckfighters). Its 10 tracks/40 minutes are unmistakably pop in their construction, and deftly, complexly arranged, and play to an alternative vision of commercial accessibility in rock that I’m not sure exists anymore even in Europe. Or needs to for an album like Lady in Gold to be successful. As they weave into and out of gospel and R&B conventions, Blues Pills take a bold step away from what one might have expected coming off their debut and ultimately define themselves precisely through that boldness. Whether that works for them in the longer term will have to remain to be seen. For now, Lady in Gold can be jarring at first, but one would be hard pressed to come up with something else out there that sounds quite like it.
Los Angeles three-piece Arctic make their entry into Southern California’s crowded sphere of heavy/psychedelic rock with their self-titled debut on Outer Battery Records. To call them skate rock seems fair enough, since guitarist Justin “Figgy” Figueroa (also Harsh Toke), bassist Don “The Nuge” Nguyen and drummer Frex are all professional skateboarders, but the core of Arctic’s five-track/half-hour-flat runtime is in mixing classic stoner impulses with heavy psych jamming. Most of the record is instrumental, including 8:51 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Over Smoked,” but vocals pop up to surprise on centerpiece “Burnt Ice” and return again in form drawled enough to justify their having called the nodding closer “High” as they do. At very least they make it believable. Between the dankness throughout, the guitar-led fuzz boogie of “Cryptic Black Sun,” the natural vibes, the Arik Roper cover art and the utter lack of pretense, Arctic summarize much of the appeal of the West Coast’s current heavy movement, and so, should have no trouble continuing to make their name as part of it.
Three new tracks from Poland’s Major Kong is nothing to complain about. The Lublin trio have been not-at-all-quietly stomping out quality riffs for more than half a decade now, and with “Energy Whip,” “Escape from the Holodeck” and “Pollution Halo,” the instrumentalists are in and out of Brave New Kong in under 14 minutes, working quickly and efficiently with a crisp but still thick production that pulls away from some of the focus on crush from late last year’s Galactic Cannibalism EP (review here). That may well be the Brave New Kong to which the title refers, or it’s entirely possible they’re just having fun with their own moniker – subsequent offerings will tell the tale – but Major Kong continue to be a well-kept secret for Poland’s fertile heavy underground, and if nothing else, they sound like a group due for a third full-length album, which will hopefully arrive sooner than later.
One could make the argument that given the swath of cultural icons passed away, 2016 is the Year of Death to which Hands I Annul Yours are alluding to in the title of their latest Major Destroyer Records three-song tape, but aside from the fact that they specify it was 2013, one seriously doubts they give a shit about famous people dying. Beginning with the drone and feedback noise of “Year of Death Part I,” the cassette moves into a 19-minute stomp and crush that’s as misanthropic as it is weighted, and much as there is one, the prevailing sentiment is less reflecting on loss than it is rolling out claustrophobic heft. Fair enough. Following the tape-only “Verloren,” “Year of Death Part II” boasts more sample manipulation and a discernible lead from the guitar, but finds its way toward abrasion as well, rounding out Year of Death with a dissolution into feedback that would seem to bring it full circle.
Fortunately, the fact that Storm Ross named the opening track of Welcome, Sunshine “We Need to be Fugazi Now, More than Ever” is only the start of the 37-minute/10-track LP’s experimentalist charms. The follow-up to the Michigan-based guitarist’s 2014 return full-length, The Green Realm (review here), this new collection finds Ross himself once again making his way through soundscapes manic and pastoral with like ease, and as one piece feeds into the next on “Please Don’t Kill My Family” and “Benzie County Farm Fire, 1973” or the synth-infused, tech-shredding “Atheon” fading into the penultimate post-rock drift of “The Smiler” later (think Dylan Carlson solo gone sentimental for the West, plus a late uptick of noise), the sense of Welcome, Sunshine as a whole work is even more palpable than was the last outing, even as Ross jumps from one style to another or incorporates keys, percussion, etc., following various whims toward a universally progressive payoff. Limited to 300 copies on yellow vinyl or on cassette through Already Dead Tapes and Records.
Virginian doomers Sinister Haze follow-up their 2015 debut EP, Betrayed by Time (review here), with the raw and scummed up Laid Low in the Dust of Death LP on STB Records. Recorded by Chad Davis (Hour of 13), it’s their first outing to feature Naam’s Eli Pizzuto on drums, and they do trip out a bit on guitar, but if you’re thinking slow space rock here you’ve got the wrong picture. Guitarist/vocalist Brandon Marcey (ex-Cough) and bassist/vocalist Sam Marsh lead the charge – the low-end is particularly satisfying in its roll throughout – and fellow newcomer JK (Lost Tribe) adds to the mix as well, so the spirit of Laid Low in the Dust of Death is bare-bones and classic, but positively covered in its titular dust. And maybe one or two other kinds. Six tracks split easily onto two sides, Sinister Haze’s first full-length outing comes across as a reaction against cleanliness in doom – call it gutter doom – flowing in its 12-minute closer “A Buried Dream,” but still clearly from the gut.
The flute-laden heavy rock with which Denver’s Love Gang open their debut EP might stand among the best outcomes of Colorado’s marijuana legalization. A four-piece with a full sound only enhanced by the organ/woodwind work of Leo Muñoz, Love Gang self-release their first outing as four tracks that sap classic prog of its pretense and offer ‘70s heavy chemistry without leaning on vintage production. Guitarist/vocalist Kam Wentwork, bassist Grady O’Donnell and drummer Shaun Goodwin, together with Muñoz, get down to business on “Can’t Seem to Win” and the instrumental “Lonely Man,” go bluesy on “Highway” and boogie to a finish in “Sands of Time,” all the while sounding ready in their songcraft and execution for whatever label might come calling to stand behind their work. It’ll be somebody. Some bands take time to develop into their own sound, and some break the doors down out of the gate. Love Gang are the latter. Whenever they get around to a first full-length, I hope they remember to weird out a little bit.
Though five of the eight tracks on Nap’s debut, Villa, have words at one point or another, it’s probably still fair to note the psych-inflected German trio as a mostly-instrumental outfit. The lyrics, when they’re there, arrive in short verses, lines included it seems more to create the impression of a human presence rather than affirm a structure. They are vague in theme for the most part, but there, though there isn’t a song in the bunch that goes as far as a chorus. No complaints. Nap, as a project, feel much more given toward the spacious and atmospheric exploration one finds in the midsection of second cut “Sabacia” than the four or five lines in the driving riff subsequent. As the record plays out, they incorporate elements of surf – surprisingly more on “Duna” and closer “Autobahn” than “Xurf,” but it could also be a Yawning Man influence surfacing – resulting in an overarching progressive feel that serves their fluidity on this first album.
Heavy rocking Buenos Aires three-piece Manthrass issued their debut, Blues del Destino, last year and were subsequently snagged for release through South American Sludge Records, no doubt for the record’s cohesive, hard-driving bluesy push, natural tones and easy-grooving feel. The shuffle of “Una Flor” is a highlight, but neither will you find me arguing with the Pappo’s Blues cover “El Brujo y el Tiempo,” with a burlier vocal and a rolling progression that seems to sum up a lot of where Manthrass are coming from to start with, though closer “Navegar” gets down with more raucous fare. A quality first full-length with a crisp production balanced by a fervent live feel in the energy from the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mariano Castiiglioni, bassist/vocalist Ángel Rizzo and drummer/backing vocalist Fede Martínez, who are clearly versed in modern heavy as well as the classics, and are able to control their own destiny here accordingly.
Commencement comes on Astral Cult’s second album, The Sacred Flame, via the ritualized psychedelic incantations of “Prayer,” and from there, the Californian four-piece unfold a molten vision of heavy space rock that stands apart from a lot of what bands further sound in San Diego or even San Francisco are doing, vocalist Alexandre Lapuh, guitarist Ryan Musser, bassist Stefan Henskens and drummer Brazdon Goodwin (since replaced by Cristian Gonzalez) finding their footing in a lumbering and deceptively doomed “Quetzalcotl” after so much lysergic preaching on “Call of the Wild” and “Beacon of Darkness.” The range is surprising, but more so is the fluidity Astral Cult conjure between what are often disparate styles, the four-piece nearly hitting the 13-minute mark on the closing title-tack as they lay the two sides together, one into the next. It’s a rarer blend, but The Sacred Flame, at nearly an hour long, gears itself for maximum immersion.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Michigan heavy rockers Bison Machine are reportedly — and it’s their report, so, you’d have to figure they know what they’re talking about — getting ready to hit the studio to record their second full-length. Before they go, the four-piece, who recently welcomed back guitarist Dusty Jones, who had gone on to play with SLO, with whom Bison Machine also released a split (review here) early this year, will complete one final round of Midwestern tour dates, hitting Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Chicago and Detroit next month.
I don’t have any title or recording info on the new album yet, but I’ll be keeping an eye and an ear out for sure, having dug their debut full-length, Hoarfrost (review here), which Kozmik Artifactz released in 2015, and the teaser for new material they gave in their video for “Cloak and Bones” (posted here) over this past summer.
In addition to the tour, which launches on Nov. 11, Bison Machine will join Mondo Drag and Crypt Trip in Detroit on Oct. 9. Info on all of the above and a tour trailer follow, courtesy of the PR wire:
Bison Machine – November tour
Bison Machine will be hitting the midwest one last time before they hunker down to work on the follow up LP to ‘Hoarfrost’. The band will also be introducing back into their lineup Dusty Jones of SLO as a second guitarist. There are some serious touring plans for early next year including a full run out West.
Bison Machine have one show before hitting the road in November.
Oct 9th at El Club in Detroit with Mondo Drag, The Well and Crypt Trip.
The night also includes DJs Heavy and Beyond as well as Tarot readings.
Stay tuned to our Facebook and Instagram (@bisonmachine) pages for new tour news and a special announcement regarding our end-of-tour hometown show on Nov. 25th.
November Tour Dates 11/11 – Ann Arbor MI – 3rd Death Star 11/12 – Toledo OH – Culture Clash Records 11/13 – Logansport IN – The Record Farm 11/14 – Chicago IL – TBA 11/15 – Chicago IL – Live Wire Lounge 11/17 – Green Bay WI – Lyric Room w/ US Bastards and Against the Grain 11/18 – Milwaukee WI – Cactus Club w/ label mates Moon Curse, also with ATTALLA 11/19 – Fort Wayne IN – The Brass Rail w/ US Bastards and Against the Grain 11/25 – Detroit MI – Loving Touch
It’s very true that Detroit trio Lavamoth could’ve just made a regular old performance video — three longhair dudes in a room playing a song but not really playing it while maybe the camera changes a couple times. They went a different route. Yeah, they’re rocking out in their new clip for “Moving On,” but they’re doing it in a spaceship after being beamed off the surface of the planet and jumping to light speed. I don’t know what video game they got that background from, but they make the most of it and I’m sorry, but watching the stars go by while they play really only adds charm to the straight-ahead heavy rock they’ve got on offer.
You might recognize guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Kevin Edwards and drummer Mick Stone from 500 ft. of Pipe, who had three records out between ’97 and ’03 before going the way of most of the pre-social media generation of second wave (maybe third wave?) stoner rockers. They’re joined by bassist Wayne Crouton of metallers Shotgun Logic, and the groove is right on from the start. I don’t know if they’ve got an album together or a demo or an EP or a split or any other kind of release, or if it’s just this single for now, but the track was cool and the video was right on, and I don’t really need much more than that to go on at any given point.
Thanks to Chris Taylor of Blue Snaggletooth for the recommendation on this one.
Lavamoth, “Moving On” official video
LAVAMOTH’s video for “Moving On” teleports them on a journey through time and space at hypersonic speeds…They Rock there way through the galaxy and beyond…(c) 2016 The High Clopse Music BMI
Fuzzed-out,anthemic guitar riffs,combined with tribal,pounding drum and bass. Stoner Rock songs about space and time travel,messed up dope deals,dirty cops, and life in Detroit…Former members of Detroit’s own 500 Ft. Of Pipe & Shotgun Logic…laying down some new tracks to melt your brains…
Kevin Edwards~ Guitar/Vocals/Moog Synth Mick Stone~ Drums Wayne Crouton-Bass
Posted in Reviews on August 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It would seem that as Ripple Music‘s split series presses forward in number it’s doing likewise in sound. As well it should. The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three once again brings together two acts on a single LP, two bands in the earlier stages of their career but who each seem to be working toward making a stylistic mark.
Topped off as were the prior editions (and reportedly all those still to come) with artwork by Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje, this next installment in the ambitiously-titled run pairs Michigan heavy rockers BoneHawk and Swedish semi-cultist harmonizing newcomers Kingnomad, who represent the biggest geographic leap The Second Coming of Heavy has yet taken — they’re the first non-US band to be featured — and a coinciding stylistic shift, nestling as they do into a storytelling laid back fuzz never quite given to boogie rock, but definitely taking some cues from that scene as well as garage doom, finding a place between the two almost immediately and residing there comfortably until the jammy trip-out on closer “The Suicide King.” For them, this represents the first physical release they’ve had since getting together, and for BoneHawk, their four songs here provide a follow-up to their well-received 2014 debut LP, Albino Rhino, of which Ripple also did a pressing earlier this year.
The two bands share little in common tonally or conceptually apart from a basic affinity for riffs, but those who’ve followed The Second Coming of Heavy through its first two chapters with Geezer and Borracho (review here) and Supervoid and Red Desert (review here) should come into this matchup with fairly open expectations. Thus far, Ripple has done well in finding complementary but still distinct acts.
Prior to this, BoneHawk issued a Spring 2016 7″ honoring Thin Lizzy, and right at the start of their first track on side A, “The Scout,” that vibe comes through in the dual guitars Matt Helt (also vocals) and Chad Houts (also backing vocals), who are joined in the immediate bounce and shuffle by bassist Taylor Wallace and drummer/backing vocalist Jay Rylander, though their tones are of course thicker and more purposefully fuzzed, and they owe perhaps more of their raucous, party-style vibe to Red Fang. That’s an easy tag these days for upbeat heavy rock bands, and I think Red Fang‘s reach is still expanding, but it’s by no means the end of the story for BoneHawk, who cast their identity in the classic rock interplay of guitar and remind of the also-predatory-fowl-minded Virginian troupe Freedom Hawk on second cut “Fire in the Sky,” which slows the roll from the opener a bit in order to bask in a smooth nod that comes not at the expense of a hook, but rather to enhance it.
In terms of tempo, they play this back and forth twice, and in doing so demonstrate a clear attention to presentation that I would imagine extends to their live show as well. Either way, “Los Vientos” — driven by Rylander‘s creative drumming — revives the forward momentum of the opener while stepping away a bit from the party vibe of the opener, the energy of which is maintained through pacing but not necessarily mood. “Aurora,” their six-minute finale, starts with an introductory bassline from Wallace and digs into a fluidity marked by toy piano flourish in its chorus and and a funky groove in the second half that gives way to double-guitar freakery deftly brought back to earth before the ending fade.
An aesthetic shift is quick to perceive as Kingnomad‘s “Lucifer is Dead” lurches to life with warm-toned fuzz, laid back roll and vocals one might be tempted to call shoegazing were they not so intricately harmonized. They craft a hook around the title-line, and the song, which the band — guitarist/vocalist Mr. Jay, bassist Maximilian, guitarist Marcus and drummer Mr. N — has stated was the first thing they wrote together, explores these textures somewhere between Dead Meadow and the eerie melodicism of Ghost, but brings something rawer to it as well in the shuffling second half of the track and on the trippier fuzz of “Sibylline Oracles” as well.
More developed in terms of the two guitars working together, “Sibylline Oracles” also brings in an organ and ends with acoustic strum, so the growing reach of the band becomes evident barely 10 minutes into their half of the split, which can only serve them well going forward. “God of Stone and Sand” revels in its spacious tonality and imbues a classic stoner riff with a sense of individualized personality thanks to more harmonies in the vocals, while “The Suicide King,” as noted, steps back to let a jammier, more psychedelic feel take hold. Like BoneHawk before them, Kingnomad have crafted an easy flow to their portion of the LP, and much to their credit as a new band, they don’t give into the cliche of having “The Suicide King” set up for a linear build, showing patience and a will to let their songs go where they want to go.
Easy to get why Ripple would include both bands as they seek to expand the definition of the “heavy” whose coming they’re heralding, and as The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three rounds out, one looks forward even more to the next collection for the increase in scope this one represents. This second coming — and I’ve quibbled about the numerology in each of these reviews so far, so you’ll pardon me if I skip it this time — is only growing more multifaceted, like heavy rock itself.
BoneHawk & Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three (2016)