High Fighter, Scars and Crosses: Trials to Bear

Posted in Reviews on July 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

high fighter scars and crosses

What ultimately stands High Fighter‘s Svart-delivered debut long-player, Scars and Crosses apart, aesthetically, is its aggression. The Hamburg, Germany, five-piece of vocalist Mona Miluski, guitarists Christian “Shi” Pappas and Ingwer Boysen, bassist Constantin Wüst and drummer/backing vocalist Thomas Wildelau made their debut in 2014 with the impressively cohesive The Goat Ritual EP (review here), and at its foundation, the story was much the same. Though High Fighter have been duly embraced by the heavy rock community in Europe and beyond, they’re really a metal band. That’s audible in their tonality, their attention to detail, in the clean singing and screams and growls of Miluski and in the arrangements of how and when she switches between them.

Mixed and mastered by Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Leeches of Lore, etc.) from a recording by Jens Siefert at RAMA Studio in Mannheim, the album’s 41-minute span is vehemently straightforward, with some flourish of effects in the guitars and bluesy undertone, but interested primarily in thrust, and when there’s any letup at all as on the swaying start of “Portrait Mind,” it doesn’t last long. It’s an active listen, and the energy with which they deliver the included eight tracks gives the impression of an active band — punching someone in the face, after all, can be a real workout — but what’s going to be the deciding factor for many listeners particularly within the sphere of the heavy underground is whether they view High Fighter‘s metallurgy as righteous in its defiance of a genre status quo that’s only gotten lazier over the last half-decade or a group simply trying to meld styles to whatever degree of success depending on the audience’s point of view.

Listening to the command with which Miluski and the band behind her execute this material makes it easier to argue toward the former. Adrenaline is a major element at work even in the slower chug and wah of the penultimate “Down to the Sky,” but in its more intense moments — looking at you, “Blinders” — Scars and Crosses plays to modern metal sensibilities with a viscerally screamed verse and soaring clean chorus. The dual guitars of Pappas and Boysen careen through riffs of winding thrash on that song but are no less comfortable dug into the more rolling groove of the preceding “The Gatekeeper,” which also trades melody for screams between its verses and choruses, but swaps the structure to suit the groove and the linear built taking place over the song’s five and a half minutes.

high fighter

Following 6:33 opener and longest track (immediate points) “A Silver Heart” and the subsequent “Darkest Days” — which features a choice “ough” grunt from Miluski and the most satisfying direct linear build on offer — “The Gatekeeper” expands the context of Scars and Crosses to a degree, finds High Fighter leaning more toward groove than assault, but as noted, “Blinders” is perhaps the most raging cut on the record, so the balance is readjusted almost immediately as side A rounds out. What unites those two tracks, the first two, and the four still to come on side B is the songwriting and the confidence in execution that High Fighter show across the board. The Goat Ritual showed solid potential, but Scars and Crosses takes pivotal steps in positioning High Fighter where they would seem to want to be sound-wise — in a space between worlds that few bands would be so bold as to willfully inhabit.

“Portrait Mind” continues the thread at the launch of the album’s second half but also boasts a highlight guitar solo, while the subsequent “Gods” seems to nod back at “The Gatekeeper” with a desert rock riff reconstituted to suit High Fighter‘s purposes, giving a fuller look at what might become an expanded context over time for their approach. That continues in “Down to the Sky” as they draw back on some of the urgency in order to let a fluidity take hold for a few minutes in the song’s first half, Wildelau‘s kick offering firm punctuation throughout and signaling the launch of the solo section in the final third with an uptick in pace leading back to the chorus. This leaves the title-track with an even more difficult task of summarizing the album as a whole.

It does so with a central push derived in part from Kyuss‘ “Odyssey” that arrives offset by a slowdown hook and layered-in lead work that solidifies around a still-upbeat but nod-ready groove before expanding outward with effects on the guitar, vocal harmonies and a move into the apex of the record itself before a final minute filled only by the hum of feedback. Certainly that says it all as much as anything I could come up with, and “Scars and Crosses” rounds out the album by emphasizing what are already the band’s strengths in songwriting and performance while also giving a look at possible sides of their personality they might play with going forward. Make no mistake, they’re already a solid band, and I think Scars and Crosses deserves consideration among 2016’s most accomplished debuts, but High Fighter give no indication in these songs that this is the sum total of what they have to say as a unit, and that only bodes well for their future progress.

High Fighter, “Blinders” official video

High Fighter on Thee Facebooks

High Fighter website

High Fighter on Bandcamp

Svart Records website

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Keep it Low 2016 Lineup Complete; Electric Citizen, Samavayo, Deadsmoke and Salem’s Pot Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

keep it low 2016 final header

With the final additions of Electric CitizenSamavayoDeadsmoke and Salem’s Pot, the lineup for Keep it Low 2016 in Munich, Germany, is complete. Presented by Sound of Liberation at the Feierwerk venue, the fest boasts John GarciaColour HazeElder and Greenleaf at the top of the bill and pulls acts from around Europe and the US together for a two-nighter focused on vibe and groove, but still pretty varied in its spirit overall between the likes of 1000mods and Deadsmoke. Wherever they’re at sound-wise, you’d be hard-pressed to find a dud in the bunch.

Last announcement from the fest follows here:

keep it low 2016 final poster

KEEP IT LOW 2016! Oct. 21st & 22nd… Electric Citizen, Salem’s Pot, Mother’s Cake, Samavayo & Deadsmoke complete the line-up!

We are pleased to tell you that our 2016 line-up is now complete: 21 bands that will blow your mind!!

Today, the American 70’s heavy rock influenced four-piece Electric Citizen, the Swedish catchy spooky doom rock quintet Salem’s Pot, the German not-quite-like-anything else stoner/heavy rock outfit Samavayo and the monolithic Italian doom sludge trio Deadsmoke joined the bill alongside previously announced John Garcia, Colour Haze, Karma To Burn, Elder, Greenleaf, The Atomic Bitchwax, Monkey3, 1000Mods, Toner Low, Black Rainbows, Fatso Jetson, Moaning Cities, Duel, Bright Curse, Grusom and Swan Valley Heights!

All those 4 bands released amazing new albums during the spring that you can listen to by clicking on the links above.

Also, due to the unfortunate cancellation of Kind, we are able to add John Garcia’s touring support band, Austrian Alternative Space Rockers Mother’s Cake! And we are very happy about that!

KEEP IT LOW 2016 will happen on October 21st and 22nd in FEIERWERK (Munich) and will greet with 3 stages and outside beergarden & skatepark. On this upcoming edition we are setting up a cozy and rain protected outside area with food and drink station. We also decided to play already on 2 stages on the Friday night and ending both KIL nights with aftershow parties and Dj Sets (Friday until 3 am and Saturday until 5 am).

Hard Tickets (2-day passes) are available on Woolheads for 65 €! Online tickets are also available on Eventim!

You can purchase tickets on http://woolheads.com/ but be quick! E-Tickets are also available on http://www.eventim.de/

https://www.facebook.com/Keep-It-Low-Festival-486297638124519
http://www.keepitlow.de/

Samavayo, Dakota (2016)

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Keep it Low 2016: Karma to Burn, Moaning Cities, Grusom & Swan Valley Heights Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

keep it low 2016 new header

Europe’s fall festival season continues to take shape as Munich-based Keep it Low 2016 returns with a new round of adds to its lineup that includes Karma to BurnMoaning CitiesGrusom and Swan Valley Heights. The Sound of Liberation-presented fest already has John GarciaElder and Colour Haze at the top of its bill, and though its prevailing reputation is for being a laid back event, it’s getting hard to ignore the increasing reach of heavy it’s bringing in. It’s two days as opposed to, say, the vaguely concurrent Desertfests in Belgium and Athens, which are three, so I wonder how many more acts there are to join the bill, but I guess we’ll see when we get there. As the poster says, “More TBA.”

From the PR wire:

keep it low 2016 new poster

KEEP IT LOW 2016! Oct. 21st & 22nd… Karma to Burn, Moaning Cities, Grusom & Swan Valley Heights Confirmed!

Our line-up for Keep It Low 2016 is shaping up more and more! Today, next to one more headlining act, the mighty Virginia-Riff-Machine Karma To Burn, we are happy to present you some fresh and talented newcomers: Moaning Cities, hailing from Belgium and presenting their new album on tour with Monkey 3 and 1000 Mods (better don´t miss their fantastic set of psychedelic, folk and melancholic songs); Danish heavy-psych-blues rockers Grusom (whose the impressively dark debut was released last year) and Munich’s local Swan Valley Heights (who just released their self-titled debut album).

17 Bands announced, yet some more great acts to come… stay tuned and keep it Low!

KEEP IT LOW 2016 will happen on October 21st and 22nd in FEIERWERK (Munich) and will greet with 3 stages and more than 20 bands, outside beergarden & skatepark. On this upcoming edition we are setting up a cozy and rain protected outside area with food and drink station. We also decided to play already on 2 stages on the Friday night and ending both KIL nights with aftershow parties and Dj Sets (Friday until 3 am and Saturday until 5 am).

Hard Tickets (2-day passes) are available on Woolheads for 65 €! Online tickets are also available on Eventim!

You can purchase tickets on http://woolheads.com/ but be quick! E-Tickets are also available on http://www.eventim.de/

https://www.facebook.com/Keep-It-Low-Festival-486297638124519
http://www.keepitlow.de/

Karma to Burn, “62” official video

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Colour Haze Announce Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 Due this Month; Premiere “Circles (Paris)”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on June 10th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

colour haze

Heavy psych masters Colour Haze announce Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015, a new live release through Elektrohasch Schallplatten, due this month on CD with vinyl to follow in July. Comprising two discs with more than two hours’ runtime, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 chronicles the Munich trio’s early 2015 run alongside The Sun and The WolfRadio Moscow and Cherry Choke on the Up in Smoke Vol. 5 tour to support their latest studio full-length, To the Highest Gods We Know (review here).

That record, which was a return to normalcy after a tumultuous release process for 2012’s double-LP, She Said (review here), and both albums feature heavily in the setlist for Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015. With recordings from shows in Frankfurt, Paris, Köln, Würzburg and Berlin, tracks like “She Said,” “Transformation” and “To the Highest Gods We Know” shine with different interpretations and varied arrangements for the stage that make it plain why the band wanted to document the tour to give their worldwide audience a look at what’s rarely seen or heard outside Europe.

For more than 20 years, Colour Haze have worked to craft an unmatched legacy in heavy psychedelia. Across their 11 studio albums, they’ve cast an influence that knows no borders and emphasizes the timeless nature of instrumental chemistry at its best. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek (also the head of Elektrohasch), bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred MerwaldColour Haze previously released the limited live outing, Burg Herzberg Festival 18. Juli 2008, in 2009, but Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 will be the first official Colour Haze live offering through Elektrohasch, and if the title is anything to go by, it might not be the last.

Colour Haze play their first US show in a decade in August at Psycho Las Vegas. Below, you can stream the premiere of “Circles (Paris)” from Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015. More info on exact release dates — it’ll probably be an “out now” situation — when it comes in.

Cover art and tracklisting follow:

colour-haze-live-vol-1-europa-tournee-2015

Colour Haze, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015:
CD 1
1. Periscope (Frankfurt)
2. Moon (Frankfurt)
3. Uberall & Call (Frankfurt)
4. She Said (Paris)
5. Aquamaria (Würzburg)
6. To the Highest Gods We Know (Köln)
7. Circles (Paris)

CD 2
1. Transformation (Berlin)
2. Grace (Berlin)
3. Tempel (Köln)
4. Love (Paris)
5. Peace Brothers and Sisters! (Frankfurt)
6. Get it On (Köln) (Bonus Track)

http://colourhaze.de/
http://elektrohasch.de/

Colour Haze, “Circles (Paris)” Premiere

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Keep it Low 2016: John Garcia, The Atomic Bitchwax, Fatso Jetson & Bright Curse Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

keep it low 2016 header

Man, I saw Fatso Jetson earlier this year, and let me tell you, wherever they are is where you want to be. They’re one of four bands to join the ranks of Keep it Low 2016 today, along with John Garcia, NJ’s venerable The Atomic Bitchwax and London trio Bright Curse, which only makes an already strong lineup stronger. Interesting that the news from Sound of Liberation mentions a new Garcia full-length. The former Kyuss/Vista Chino singer (along with UnidaHermano, etc.) has made some mention of a new full-band outing to be issued under his name and an acoustic solo record as well, but I haven’t seen concrete word of a release date yet for either. “By the time October gets here” makes for a decent ballpark figure though, so I guess I’ll run with that.

Details from the PR wire:

KEEP IT LOW 2016! Oct. 21st & 22nd… John Garcia, The Atomic Bitchwax, Fatso Jetson & Bright Curse Confirmed!

4 new bands joined the KEEP IT LOW FESTIVAL 2016 line-up this afternoon, bringing the total of bands to 13 so far!

Alongside Colour Haze, Elder, Greenleaf, Monkey3, Toner Low, 1000Mods, Black Rainbows, Duel and Kind, we are stoked to welcome to our 4th edition the almighty John Garcia (coming with his full band, a new album, and surely some Kyuss classics in the set!), legendary US Fuzz Rock Riffmasters The Atomic Bitchwax (still promoting their terrific 2015’s album “Gravitron”), Fatso Jetson (Desert rock godfather Mario Lalli is always welcome at our festival) and Bright Curse (which released their excellent debut album “Before The Shore” last week).

KEEP IT LOW 2016 will happen on October 21st and 22nd in FEIERWERK (Munich) and will greet with 3 stages and around 20 bands, outside beergarden & skatepark. On this upcoming edition we are setting up a cozy and rain protected outside area with food and drink station. We also decided to play already on 2 stages on the Friday night and ending both KIL nights with aftershow parties and Dj Sets (Friday until 3 am and Saturday until 5 am).

Hard Tickets (2-day passes) are available on Woolheads for 65 €! Online tickets are also available on Eventim!

You can purchase tickets on http://woolheads.com/ but be quick! E-Tickets are also available on http://www.eventim.de/

https://www.facebook.com/Keep-It-Low-Festival-486297638124519
http://www.keepitlow.de/

Fatso Jetson, “Swollen Offering” Live, April 2, 2016

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Keep it Low 2016: Elder, Greenleaf, Black Rainbows, 1000mods, Duel and Kind Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

keep it low 2016 header

Seems I missed a recent announcement from Keep it Low 2016 — aka Keep it Low Issue #4 — whereby the Munich-based autumnal gathering added Kind1000mods and Duel to its lineup. All three interesting picks. It’ll be Kind‘s first time abroad, and working with Duel means involvement from Heavy Psych Sounds, so it’s not such a surprise that in the latest round of additions, we also get Black Rainbows joining on. Elder take their place at/near the top of the bill as well, and probably the biggest question there is for Keep it Low 2016 at this point is whether or not the new Elder LP, which I hear is in the works, will be out by the time October gets here. I know I’m curious as hell to know what the trio have come up with this time around.

Also bringing their formidable presence to Keep it Low 2016 are Greenleaf, whose new album, Rise Above the Meadow, stands tall among the finest heavy rockers of the year so far, and the previously announced Monkey3Colour Haze and Toner Low. It already looked like a good time. Now it looks like an even better one.

Dig it:

keep it low 2016 poster

Keep It Low – Festival 2016 gets even better with the addition of:

– Massachusetts’ ultimate progressive stoner rock trio Elder (whose last album “Lore” is considered as one of the best releases of 2015),

– Sweden´s fantastic Heavy Rockers Greenleaf (who released their new album “Rise Above The Meadow” via Napalm Records in February),

– and Italian fuzz-fueled rockers BLACK RAINBOWS (who released a few weeks ago their fifth LP “Stellar Prophecy” via HeavyPsych Sounds)!

– the Hellenic grooviest psychedelic quartet 1000mods,

– the brand new Texas-based southern heavy rock outfit DUEL (featuring 2 ex Scorpion Child members)

– and Boston’s tripped out stoner doom supergroup KIND_band (featuring members of Elder, Black Pyramid, Sasquatch, Roadsaw and Rozamov).

Kind released their debut album “Rocket Science” last year via Ripple Music, Duel unleashed their first full length “Fears Of The Dead” in February via Heavy Psych Sounds, and 1000Mods are currently working on their third one, to be released next fall.

IMPORTANT: Our Early Bird action lasts until Monday, May 1st! You can purchase yours on http://woolheads.com/ but be quick! E-Tickets are also available on http://www.eventim.de/

Elder, New Song Live at the Sinclair, Cambridge, MA, 03.16.16

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Keep it Low 2016 Announces First Bands; Colour Haze, Monkey3 and Toner Low to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

keep it low 2016 header

I was dying to get to Keep it Low this past Fall and didn’t make it, and here we are again and Sound of Liberation has begun announcing bands for Keep it Low 2016. This is the fourth edition of the laid-back, Munich-based fest, the vibe of which I feel like bleeds through even the press releases, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this is the year I can actually make the trip happen. What was the problem last year? Oh yeah, that’s right. No money. Ever. Ugh.

The first three bands have been announced as being Colour HazeMonkey3 and Toner Low, which are enough to pique interest on their own, never mind however many others are going to be added over the next half a year. Well, you know me. I’ll be here, daydreaming about booking a flight all the while. Something tells me this is gonna be one to see.

From the PR wire:

keep it low 2016 poster

KEEP IT LOW 2016! Oct. 21st & 22nd… Colour Haze, Monkey3, Toner Low confirmed!

It’s time to unveil our first bands for KEEP IT LOW FESTIVAL 2016, that will happen on October 21st and 22nd in FEIERWERK (Munich)! We are thrilled to tell you that Psychedelic Rock purveyors Colour Haze will perform one of their rare 2016 shows on October, Friday 21st. We love them here, Munich is their home town, and it has become sort of a ritual to let them play on the first night of Keep It Low.

Then, on Saturday 22nd, we’ll have the great pleasure to welcome the Swiss Heavy Psych outfit Monkey3, presenting their trippy upcoming 6th album, and The Netherland’s Stoner Doom trio Toner Low, who hadn’t played in Germany for a while… we wanted that fixed!

KEEP IT LOW 2016 greets with 3 stages and around 20 bands, outside beergarden & skatepark. For the ones keeping it really low, we decided to end the festival with an aftershow party (+DJ) on the 22nd in one of the concert rooms.

Our Early Bird – Hard Tickets (2-day passes) are available on Woolheads for 56 €! Online tickets are also available on Eventim!
Grab yours quick :)

More bands will be announced in April, but meanwhile… Keep It Low!

http://woolheads.com/cms/shop-2/festivalmerchandise/keep-it-low-2-tages-festivalticket-2016/
https://www.facebook.com/Keep-It-Low-Festival-486297638124519
https://www.facebook.com/events/203352083353676
http://www.keepitlow.de/
https://www.soundofliberation.com

Colour Haze, Live at Poolbar Festival 2015

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Keep it Low 2015 Adds My Sleeping Karma, Steak and Sgt. Sunshine

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

keep it low festival

By way of being completely honest, I knew My Sleeping Karma were being added to the third Keep it Low festival, which is set for Oct. 16 and 17 in Munich. I know because I asked. I’ve been giving some pretty serious thought — now that I have an income again — toward getting on a plane and making my way out for the two-day event, whose lineup is nigh-on-unfuckwithable, what with Causa SuiColour HazeFatso JetsonSamsara Blues Experiment, and so on, but the chance to see My Sleeping Karma was something that I knew would put it over the edge in my mind. And so the confirmation of their appearance has done precisely that. I’m going to do everything in my power to make it happen. Flights will be booked.

SteakSgt. Sunshine — stop and imagine seeing Sgt. Sunshine live for just a minute; I mean, seriously — and A Great River in the Sky were also confirmed for the lineup. It goes like this:

New announcement! 4 more bands confirmed for Keep It Low – Festival 2015:
– German mind-blowing sonic quartet MY SLEEPING KARMA
– the British fuzzed-out sandy rock tornado Steak
– Swedish heavy psych jammers Sgt.Sunshine
– and the new psychedelic outfit A Great River In The Sky.

95% of the line-up has now been unveiled, and KEEP IT LOW VOL I & II had been sold out in advance, so to be part of the big family happening with Beergarden, Skatepark and the coolest bands, better get your ticket now! Limited Hardtickets and online/print-at-home tickets can be ordered on www.keepitlow.de/tickets (55€ + shipping/taxes). Rock on!

MY SLEEPING KARMA is a German Instrumental quartet that takes you into a mind-blowing sonic experience. They are no beginners, no amateurs, and when they hop on stage they make you forget about everything around you: they take you by the hand into the deepest and hidden corners of your very soul.

MY SLEEPING KARMA combines the organic aspect of psychedelic groove rock with emotional shades of aphasian landscapes.With ‘Moskha’, their fifth album released in the Spring 2015, MY SLEEPING KARMA achieved their strongest record to date. The sound and tone of the album perfectly fits into the Instrumental Progressive – and Ambient Post Rock realms. From the start the listener is kidnapped by the spherical sound, between enormous atmospheric compositions with pure rock riffs and psychedelic melodies perfectly intertwined into this scenery.

Immerse yourself, both with the risk of completely losing yourself in this brand new masterpiece, because you might not be able to emerge again.

STEAK are from London, UK. Gritz lovin, whore hoppin’ mud slingin’, if you want fuzzed up stoner grooves, then you want a piece of STEAK…

Within four years, STEAK have established themselves as one of the British stoner rock scene’s most satisfying acts. Following the sandy steps of their American elders Fu Manchu or Kyuss, STEAK’s enthusiastic stoner rock sound is driven by ballsy riffs and contagious grooves, sparingly tinged with moments of pure cosmic escapism.

After two critically acclaimed EPs ‘Disastronaught’ and ‘Corned Beef Colossus’, and a serie of successful gigs across Spain, France, Switzerland and the UK, STEAK released last year their debut album ‘Slab City’ via Napalm Records. Just listen to that psychedelic purr, it will surely make you lift off and soar through the sky!

SGT. SUNSHINE is a three piece rock band formed in Malmoe, Sweden by the guitarist and lead singer Eduardo Fernandez, bass player Pär Hallgren and Christian Lundberg on drums. They recorded some demos around 1998-99 that placed them amongst one of the leading underground rock bands of the time.

For over 15 years, Swedish rockers have released 3 albums (2002?s Sgt. Sunshine – an album that many years later still rings in the ears of those who were fortunate enough to hear it – 2007?s Black Hole and 2013?s III), carving out a potent and sparkling blend of desert groove and heavy psych jamming.

Currently signed on Heavy Psych Sounds Records, SGT. SUNSHINE is working on their new album that will be released beginning of 2016. We might have new songs to listen @ Keep It Low!

www.keepitlow.de/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-It-Low-Festival/486297638124519
http://keepitlow.de/

My Sleeping Karma, Live at Keep it Low I

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