Posted in Whathaveyou on May 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In my ongoing and inevitably-doomed-to-failure quest to be somewhat less than 100 percent behind on absolutely everything, this news about Venomous Maximus touring that I now present to you came down the PR wire yesterday. The Texas metallers, signed as of March to Napalm Records, have announced a round of dates to herald a July 2 reissue of their 2012 full-length, Beg upon the Light (review here), and included is a stop at Days of the Doomed III on June 21 in Wisconsin, where they’ll join the likes of Dream Death and In~Graved in riffly demolition at The Blue Pig outside Milwaukee. Good fun.
So sayeth the PR wire:
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS Announce North American Tour Dates
Debut Album Beg Upon the Light Out July 2nd on Napalm Records
The Texan Dark Occult Metal outfit VENOMOUS MAXIMUS has already risen to the status of a heavy hitter in the depths of the underground. Now, the band is ready to finally unleash their album debut Beg Upon The Light. The album will be released in North America on July 2nd via Napalm Records. Today the band has unveiled the tracklisting, which includes three bonus tracks.
In support of the new release, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS will be hitting the road this May and June. The tour sees the band playing select shows with Royal Thunder, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Valient Thorr amongst others. A complete list of dates can be found below.
Singer Gregg Higgins has a message for fans coming out to the shows: “Hide your daughters and bring a crucifix!”
Beg Upon the Light is full of heavy riffs and driving drums, which create the perfect foundation for the musical and lyrical direction of the songs, which bring the enthralled listener into the realm of the Occult! The Texans turn the mix of Stoner and Doom Metal into a deadly blend that goes right into your blood. Pounding and powerful songs filled with energy set the stage for the glorious vocals of frontman Gregg Higgins, the grand marshal who leads through these occult hymns Beg Upon the Light combines occultism, heavy riffs and the perfect Stoner attitude to create a pitch-black and irresistible album.
Tracklisting: 1.Funeral Queen 2 Path of Doom 3. Give Up The Witch 4. Father Time 5. Dream Again 6. Moon Child 7. Battle for the Cross 8. Venomous Maximus 9. Mother Milk 10. Hell’s Heroes 11. The Mission (Bonus Track) 12. The Rider (Bonus Track) 13. The Gift (Bonus Track)
Venomous Maximus Live: 5/18 – College Station – Stanford Center – Loudfest! 5/24 – Austin, TX – Mohawk – w/ Dillinger Escape Plan, Royal Thunder, Ancient VVisdom 5/25 – San Antonio, TX – Fitzgeralds w/ deadhorse 6/18 – Little Rock, AR – Downtown Music 6/19 – Nashville, TN – The End w/ Windhand 6/20 – Indianapolis, IN – Indy Jukebox w/ Devil To Pay 6/21 – Milwaukee, WI – Blue Pig Bar – Days of Doomed Fest 6/22 – Chicago, IL – Reggies w/ Valient Thorr 6/24 – Cincinnati, OH – The Comet 6/25 – Johnson City, TN – The Mecca 6/26 – Atlanta, GA – Purgatory 6/27 – Birmingham, AL – The Bottle Tree w/ Stoned Cobra 6/28 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia w/ Holy Grail
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The band let the news out earlier, but the PR wire makes it official: Texas metallers Venomous Maximus have joined forces with Napalm Records, who will reissue the band’s previously self-released Beg upon the Light(review here) come this summer ahead of a new studio album for 2014. Congratulations to the band, who will also put in an appearance at Days of the Doomed III this June, perhaps right around the time Beg upon the Light gets its second look.
That release date is still to come, so stay tuned for more on that and on Venomous Maximus‘ next effort. Until then, the news is good:
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS signs with NAPALM RECORDS, prepare summer release
Today, NAPALM RECORDS announces the signing of Texan doom occultists VENOMOUS MAXIMUS. The label will be releasing the band’s debut album, Beg Upon the Light, worldwide this summer, with their first new album for NAPALM slated for 2014. Says vocalist/guitarist Greg Higgins, “We are pleased to announce that we’ve signed with NAPALM RECORDS. They are going to release Beg Upon the Light this summer and another new full-length we are working on in 2014. All of this comes to a surprise, because this project was meant to be something that no one would ever hear about. So as time went on and we started to be successful, we always agreed to do everything ourselves, to keep it our way. The only way we were ever going to work with anyone was if we knew they were dedicated to worship the past as we were. Now that we are here with NAPALM, we will continue to create this hidden message. But with their help, they will be revealing this to the masses, and we are okay with that now. Because of the records we first created only for ourselves will be released with everything we dreamed from the beginning, destiny has come for us to work with NAPALM RECORDS. Our hearts are in Texas but our souls come from Europe. Now having a family in Europe that takes care of the land where we arose, our spirits fly, where we are able to focus on the beautiful.”
Adds Sebastian Muench, A&R for NAPALM RECORDS, “Sometimes, very seldom, you get the chance to discover a band that brings back the same feelings you first had when you listened as a teenager for the first time to Metallica’s Ride the Lightning or Black Sabbath’s Paranoid – you just know you’ve found something very magical and you are hooked for life. VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is such a band, and and we are thrilled, excited, and tremendously honored to call them part of the NAPALM family.”
Posted in Reviews on September 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Having proffered tonal sweetness and instrumental heavy psych groove since their self-titled debut made its way to the ears of an eager European scene in 2006 via Elektrohasch, the German four-piece My Sleeping Karma make a jump to Napalm Records for the release of their fourth album, the CD/2LP Soma. If one that’s going to bring them to the attention of a wider audience, it’s also a move for which they’re ready. Their last album, Tri (review here), was released in 2010 and found the band focusing on various aspects of Hindu theology, using the names of gods as themes running throughout the mostly instrumental tracks. With the prior Satya (review here) in 2008, it was Buddhism at the thematic fore. Musically, they’ve remained consistent despite working through these varied conceptual influences – you could hear Seppi’s guitar tone on the debut and on the latestand recognize the same smoothness in it then as now, though what he’s playing is more developed – and Soma takes for its basis the Hindu drink of the gods that shares its name. Each of the 55-minute full-length’s six central, mostly extended (six minutes and up) tracks is named for an “ingredient” in the soma, and each is also companioned by a transitional interlude, making the album as a whole an 11-track CD, beginning with “Pachyclada” and ending with “Psilocybe,” as each pair of songs between is separated by and interlude. This would be, at worst, a disruption of Soma’s progression, were it not for the fluidity of the material itself. If My Sleeping Karma wanted to base their fourth album around a drink, they did right in choosing something liquid, as there’s no better descriptive basis for the songs themselves – they flow as a liquid would, to be clearer about it. Rather than distract from that process, the interludes add to it, bolstering an already rich atmosphere and adding instrumental complexity and ambient vibing to the ebbs and flows within the more expansive, dynamic tracks. On any level you could want to evaluate it, Soma is a triumph in how it accomplishes the task it sets for itself – tonally, atmospherically, engagingly. It crafts memorable parts serving a greater whole and to call it manna doesn’t seem inappropriate (however disparate the cultural basis might be for doing so might be) given My Sleeping Karma’s otherworldly psychedelic range.
Most of the elements at work musically on Soma will be familiar to those who’ve experienced My Sleeping Karma’s sweetly-honed jamming before. Their apparent methodology remains consistent despite the varying themes – they jam – in a variety of moods and vibes, perhaps, but they jam nonetheless. Songs like “Pachyclada,” “Ephedra” and “Eleusine Coracana” are not without their structures, their peaks and valleys, but they have a direction underlying their largely open-feeling development. At an even nine minutes, opener “Pachyclada” is the longest piece on Soma (immediate points tallied to whatever scope might be kept) and sets the tone for what follows with strong hits from drummer Steffen punctuating the prevalent bassline of Matte as Seppi’s guitar gradually swells to prominence. One thing My Sleeping Karma has always done well is craft a chorus out of the instrumentation, and Seppi is quick to establish that of “Pachyclada” in a flicker of a lead that returns as a sort of mini-theme within the song itself, cycling through several times in the first half before a heavier tangent emerges in the second, still keeping to the same kind of idea, but turning it into a build that reaches a satisfying apex before calming and riding out, Norman’s keys adding proggy swirls and a sort of howling tonality to complement the guitar. From its very beginning, the song is rich and encompassing – on headphones its pull is even greater – and the rainy transition it makes into the first of the album’s five interludes is no less smooth than anything on “Pachyclada” itself. The interludes are a point of interest both sonically and conceptually, as they manage to be vastly different among themselves while also tying the material before and after them together. The one between “Pachyclada” and “Ephedra” is Seppi’s guitar alone, echoing layers of simple sweetness, but to contrast, the later interlude between “Saumya” and “Somalatha” is key-led, almost trip-hop in its construction, so there’s more at work there than just moving from one track to the next. With drums at the fore between “Ephedra” and “Eleusine Coracana” and Matte’s bass accompanying birdsong between “Eleusine Coracana” and “Saumya,” it’s as though each member of My Sleeping Karma was given an interlude of their own, finally culminating in the breathing-topped, beating-heart contemplative minimalism of the interlude between “Somalatha” and closer “Psilocybe.”
Posted in audiObelisk on August 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
In the six years since their self-titled debut appeared on Elektrohasch, German heavy psych foursome My Sleeping Karma have ascended to one of the most singular approaches in the European scene. Their sound is synth-laden but often quiet and minimal, jam-based but structured, crisply toned but warm, technically intricate but never showy, and the richness in their instrumental approach has only grown as their material has gotten more complex.
Their last album, 2010′s Tri (review here), reached a level of development that the self-titled and its 2008 follow-up, Satya(review here), had only hinted toward, and having found a new home on the rising tide of Napalm Records‘ affiliation with the heavy underground, My Sleeping Karma answer the next-levelisms of Tri with Soma, a full-length the otherworldliness of which is writ large across its concept. The title refers to the Hindu drink of the gods, and each song is an ingredient, the mystical parts uniting toward one greater whole. In the best case scenario, this happens anyway with an album, but the flow My Sleeping Karma — Seppi on guitar, Steffen on drums, Matte on bass, Norman on keys — craft across these tracks is all the more appropriately presented in liquid form. There is a grace in their psychedelia that few bands can boast.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting “Ephedra,” the second ingredient, for your streaming pleasure. The song stands among the most effective of Soma‘s linear builds, which are offset by companion interludes no less gorgeous or lush than anything surrounding. My Sleeping Karma, fresh off performances at both the Yellowstock and Aquamaria festivals, have included more info on the album’s themes below — along with release info and well-sourced arguments in its favor — but whether or not you indulge in Soma‘s conceptual aspects, the lushness of “Ephedra” speaks for itself. I hope you enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
MY SLEEPING KARMA have already achieved an considerable status in the music scene by releasing superb albums and playing incredible live shows. The fourth album “Soma” follows the band’s own individualistic and atmospheric path towards enlightenment. Following the meaning of the album title (“Soma” is the intoxicating drink of the gods), the instrumental Psychedelic Groove Rock of the German quartet enhances the consciousness in a truly hypnotic and bewitching manner. The multilayered compositions move skilfully between heavy rock riffs and enchanting melodic parts with a high level of calmness and beauty. “Soma” is visually complimented by Sebastian Jerke’s artwork that is filled with astonishing details and beauty. “Soma” offers the perfect movie soundtrack to everybody’s own inner journey. Just be warned, you may never want to leave again!
“Unparalleled, innovative, psychedelic. My Sleeping Karma makes addictive!” — Thorsten Zahn, Metal Hammer Germany
“When a song has melody and makes you feel, especially with no vocals….its a rare thing to find that kind of trance these days, this band does exactly that” — John Garcia, Kyuss Lives!
“The new My Sleeping Karma album, ‘Soma’, is a sprawling, slab of solid yet laid-back psychedelic rock. A heady mix of Red Sparowes, Hawkwind and even Pink Floyd they have created soundscapes for the ultimate come-down! This is a perfect record for the morning after the night before!” –- Ben Ward, Orange Goblin
We’re more than halfway through 2012, and we’ve already seen great releases from the likes of Orange Goblin, Pallbearer, Conan, C.O.C., Saint Vitus and many others, but there’s still a long way to go. The forecast for the next five months? Busy.
In my eternal and inevitably doomed quest to keep up, I’ve compiled a list of 13 still-to-come releases not to miss before the year ends. Some of this information is confirmed — as confirmed as these things ever are, anyway — either by label or band announcements, and some of it is a little bit vaguer in terms of the actual dates, but all this stuff is slated to be out before 2013 hits. That was basically my only criteria for inclusion.
And of course before I start the list, you should know two things: The ordering is dubious, since it’s not like I can judge the quality of an album before I’ve heard it, just my anticipation, and that this is barely the beginning of everything that will be released before the end of 2012. The tip of the fastly-melting iceberg, as it were. If past is prologue, there’s a ton of shit I don’t even know about that (hopefully) you’ll clue me into in the comments.
Nonetheless, let’s have some fun:
1. Colour Haze, She Said(Sept./Oct.)
I know, I know, this one’s been a really, really long time coming. Like two years. Like so long that Colour Haze had to go back and remake the album because of some terrible technical thing that I don’t even know what happened but it doesn’t matter anymore. Notice came down yesterday from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek that the recording is done and the long-awaited She Saidis on the way to be pressed on vinyl and CD. Got my fingers crossed for no more snags.
2. Enslaved, RIITIIR (Sept. 28)
The progressive Norwegian black metallers have put out 10 albums before it, and would you believe RIITIIRis the first Enslaved album that’s a palindrome? Kind of cheating to include it on this list, because I’ve heard it, but I’ve been through the record 10-plus times and I still feel like I just barely have a grasp on where they’re headed with it, so I think it’ll be really interesting to see what kind of response it gets upon release. Herbrand Larsen kills it all over these songs though, I will say that.
3. Mos Generator, Nomads(Oct. 23)
Hard for me not to be stoked on the prospect of the first new Mos Generator album since 2007, especially looking at that cover, which RippleMusic unveiled on Tuesday when it announced the Oct. 23 release date. It’s pretty grim looking, and even though Mos once put out a record called The Late Great Planet Earth, I’ve never thought of them as being particularly dark or doomed. I look forward to hearing what Tony Reed (Stone Axe, HeavyPink) has up his sleeve for this collection, and if he’s looking to slow down and doom out a bit here, that’s cool too. I’ll take it either way.
4. Ufomammut, Oro – Opus Alter(Sept.)
No, that’s not the cover of Oro – Opus Alter, the second half of Italian space doom grand masters Ufomammut‘s Oro collection — the first being Opus Primum (review here), which served as their Neurot Recordings debut earlier this year. That cover hasn’t been released yet, so I grabbed a promo pic to stand in. I’m really looking forward to this album, though I hope they don’t go the Earth, Angels of Darkness Demons of Lightroute and wind up with two records that, while really good, essentially serve the same purpose. I’ve got my hopes high they can outdo themselves once again.
5. Witchcraft, Legend(Sept. 21)
I guess after their success with Graveyard, Nuclear Blast decided to binge a bit on ’70s loyalist doom, signing Witchcraft and even more recently, Orchid. Can’t fault them that. It’s been half a decade since Witchcraft released The Alchemist and in their absence, doom has caught on in a big way to their methods. With a new lineup around him, will Magnus Pelander continue his divergence into classic progressive rock, or return to the Pentagram-style roots of Witchcraft‘s earliest work? Should be exciting to find out.
6. Wo Fat, The Black Code(Nov.)
After having the chance to hear some rough mixes of Texas fuzzers Wo Fat‘s Small Stone debut, The Black Code, I’m all the more stoked to encounter the finished product, and glad to see the band join the ranks of Lo-Pan, Freedom Hawk and Gozu in heralding the next wave of American fuzz. Wo Fat‘s 2011 third outing, Noche del Chupacabra (review here), greatly expanded the jammed feel in their approach, and I get the sense they’re just beginning to find where they want to end up within that balance.
7. Blood of the Sun, Burning on the Wings of Desire(Late 2012)
As if the glittering logo and booby-lady cover art weren’t enough to grab attention, Blood of the Sun‘s first album for Listenable Records (fourth overall) is sure to garner some extra notice because the band is led by drummer/vocalist Henry Vasquez, better known over the past couple years as the basher for Saint Vitus. Whatever pedigree the band has assumed through that, though, their modern take on classic ’70s heavy has a charm all its own and I can’t wait to hear how Burning on the Wings of Desire pushes that forward. Or backward. Whatever. Rock and roll.
8. Swans, The Seer(Aug. 28)
This one came in the mail last week and I’ve had the chance to make my way through it only once. It’s two discs — and not by a little — and as was the case with Swans‘ 2010 comebacker, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky(review here), the far less cumbersomely titled The Seeris loaded with guest contributions. Even Jarboe shows up this time around, doing that breathy panting thing she does. Unnerving and challenging as ever, Swans continue to be a litmus for how far experimentalism can go. 3o years on, that’s pretty impressive in itself.
9. Swallow the Sun, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird(Sept. 4)
Apparently the Finnish melo-doom collective’s fifth album, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, came out earlier this year in Europe, but it’s finally getting an American release in September, and as I’ve always dug the band’s blend of death metal and mournful melodicism, I thought I’d include it here. Like Swans, I’ve heard the Swallow the Sun once through, and it seems to play up more of the quiet, weepy side of their sound, but I look forward to getting to know it better over the coming months.
10. My Sleeping Karma, Soma (Oct. 9)
Just signed to Napalm Records and tapped to open for labelmates Monster Magnet as they tour Europe performing Spine of Godin its entirety this fall, the German four-piece are set to follow-up 2010′s Tri(review here) with Soma. Details were sketchy, of course, until about five minutes after this post initially went up, then the worldwide release dates, cover art and tracklist were revealed, so I updated. Find all that info on the forum.
11.Eagle Twin, The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale(Aug. 28)
Way back in 2009 when I interviewed Eagle Twin guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley about the band’s Southern Lord debut, he said the band’s next outing would relate to snakes, and if the cover is anything to go by, that seems to have come to fruition on The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale, which is set to release at the end of next month. As the first album was kind of a mash of influences turned into cohesive and contemplative heavy drone, I can’t help but wonder what’s in store this time around.
12. Hooded Menace, Effigies of Evil(Sept. 11)
You know how sometimes you listen to a band and that band turns you on in their liner notes to a ton of other cool bands? I had that experience with Finnish extreme doomers Hooded Menace‘s 2010 second album, Never Cross the Dead (review here), except instead of bands it was hotties of ’70s horror cinema. Needless to say, I anxiously await the arrival of their third record and Relapse debut, Effigies of Evil. Someone needs to start a label and call it Hammer Productions just to sign this band.
13. Yawning Man, New Album (Soon)
Make no mistake. The prospect of a new Yawning Man album would arrive much higher on this list if I was more convinced it was going to come together in time for a 2012 release. As it is, Scrit on the forum has had a steady stream of updates since May about the record — the latest news being that it’s going to be a double album — and Scrit‘s in the know, so I’ll take his word. One thing we do know for sure is that the band in the picture above is not the current Yawning Man lineup. Alfredo Hernandez and Mario Lalli out, Greg Saenz and Billy Cordell in. Bummer about the tumult, but as long as it’s Gary Arce‘s ethereal guitar noodling, I’m hooked one way or another.
Since we closed with rampant speculation, let me not forget that somewhere out there is the looming specter of a new Neurosis album, which the sooner it gets here, the better. Perhaps also a new Clutch full-length, though I doubt that’ll materialize before 2013. And that’s a different list entirely.
Thanks for reading. Anything I forgot or anything you’d like to add to the list, leave a comment.
Now a trio for the first time in their career, Swedish outfit Ereb Altor mark a lineage that spans well over a decade despite having issued their first album, ByHonour, in 2008. Their mission on that record was an almost singular homage to their countrymen forebears in Bathory, taking that outfit’s seminal Viking approach and recontextualizing it into powerful melodic Euro-doom. For the core duo of founding multi-instrumentalists Crister “Mats” Olsson and Daniel “Ragnar” Bryntse, it was a departure even from their main project, Isole, which had released its debut just three years prior.
From 2008 on, both acts would continue to exist almost independent of each other, and Ereb Altor continued to develop a personality distinct from that of Isole on their second album, 2010′s TheEnd, which pushed further into the epic Viking style and kept the plod and melodic presence of its predecessor. Some of the novelty had gone out of their loyalist approach, but Ereb Altor‘s sophomore installment still showed they weren’t a fluke or a one-off tribute band to anyone who might have thought otherwise. That Ragnar and Mats would be joined by a full-time drummer, Tord, for their third album was much less of a surprise — makes for easier touring, songwriting, etc. — than that album itself wound up being.
The record, which was released just at the end of June, is called Gastrike, and while it holds fast the epic nature of Ereb Altor‘s songwriting, it also shifts away from the doomed sensibilities of the first two albums toward a harsher black metal feel. Songs like “Dance of Darkness” or the blistering closer “Seven” (also the seventh track, as it would almost have to be) rip into a side of Bathory‘s sound perhaps more commonly heard in the overall sphere of the metal underground, but which is a marked turn for Ereb Altor as a unit. That they managed to do it so well speaks to both their level of devotion and the universal nature of quality metal songcraft.
Hoping to get some insight into what might have prompted the change in direction, I hit up Ereb Altor for the following Six Dumb Questions:
1. Ereb Altor seems to be really branching out with Gastrike in terms of the band’s sound. Was there something purposefully you want to change from By Honour and The End? Were there any shifts in the songwriting process from the past albums?
Yes, it was our purpose to have a different approach on the new album. It’s been in my head right after the release of The End. I had an idea of building a concept with stories from the area where we live. Dark myths, legends and ghost stories and therefore the music had to sound darker to fit the concept. We haven’t changed the way we write songs and I think you can hear that if you listen carefully, it’s all Ereb Altor wrapped up in a black coat.
2. How involved was Tord in the songwriting and what does having a full-time drummer mean to Ereb Altor? Does having Tord in the band open up the possibility of doing more shows? How does it change the dynamic between the two of you?
Tord was only involved with some thoughts and input about the actual drumming since all songs were already written when he was recruited. We needed a good drummer and he was the right man for the work. He’s a good musician and he will probably be able to help out in more ways in the future and the fact that it’s easier for us to do more shows nowadays. The dynamic between Ragnar and me are the same as usual.
3. What does it mean to you to be moving away from the Bathory Viking metal style, or do you see Gastrike as a different interpretation of a similar idea?
I think we needed to move away a little bit to avoid repeating ourselves. I still think there’s some flavours of this particular style in our sound though. Perhaps it has some influences from the earlier works of Bathory as well.
4. Tell me about balancing time and musical ideas between Isole and Ereb Altor. When Ereb Altor started out, it seemed like a side-project paying homage to Bathory, but as the band has put more music out, it’s become a distinct entity of its own. How do the two bands relate for you? Is there ever material you write that you’re not sure which band it would work best for?
To me Ereb Altor never was a side-project. I always write songs specific for each band and most of the times I’m not writing for both band at same period of time. I just put focus on one band at the time. Both bands are very close to my heart and none of the band means less to me than the other one.
5. Is there any way to tell yet what the future holds for Ereb Altor? Are you thinking of Gastrike more as an experiment on the part of the band, or do you think Ereb Altor will continue to work more on the side of black metal than doom? Or is genre not a concern for the band at all?
Genre is not a great concern, I will follow my instinct and do what’s come from inside. As I mentioned Gastrike is a little bit like a concept album and I will probably not abandon the epic touch completely. Actually I had almost a whole album sounding like the first albums but without lyrics and to me the lyrical concept of Gastrike didn’t fit that music. My vision is to unite these two styles but only future can tell how Ereb Altor will sound for sure.
6. What’s next for the band? Will you tour for Gastrike before going back to work on Isole? The last couple years seems to have been a back and forth with a release each year. Is that the pattern you want to keep going for the two bands?
We’re working on getting a European tour for Ereb Altor right now as well as some festival appearances. I can’t reveal anything at the moment. And I already have lots of ideas for the future sound of ErebAltor.
When it comes to Isole I think we’ll start writing material quite soon but there is no new release planned at the moment.
Actually a new Ereb Altor album feels closer somehow.
Posted in Features on June 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
One faces the prospect of a “final” Candlemass album as one might face a gallows, and yet, it’s hard to imagine bassist, founder and principle songwriter Leif Edling would have it any other way. For nigh on 30 frickin’ years, Candlemass has produced some of the genre’s most essential doom, whether it was helping to pave the way for Sabbathian traditionalism on their 1986 debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, infusing a sense of majesty onto 1989′s Tales of Creation, or returning to reclaim their thorned throne with 2005′s Candlemass reunion outing.
That’s a pretty long gap, 1989 to 2005, and that goes to show that if time has been anything to Candlemass, it’s been turbulent. They changed frontmen after Epicus, bringing Messiah Marcolin in to replace session vocalist Johan Längquist — with whom they’d later reunite for a special 25th anniversary set at Roadburn in 2011 delayed a year by, what else, a volcano — and ’90s era offerings like Chapter VI (1992), Dactylis Glomerata (1998) and From the 13th Sun (1999) never managed to capture quite the same spirit as their counterparts of the 1980s. Candlemass broke up in the mid-’90s while Edling pursued his Abstrakt Algebra project, and despite a few live releases and compilations that followed From the 13th Sun, it wouldn’t be until 2005 that the band really got its footing back.
Even when they did, the tumult continued. Marcolin — thought by many to be an essential component in the band’s sound — was unceremoniously removed from the picture as the band made ready to follow-up the self-titled, and Texas native Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus was brought in as his replacement. The resulting King of the Grey Islands (2007) was a triumph, and 2009′s Death Magic Doom found Candlemass touring the US for the first time in more than two decades, but it was also their last album for Nuclear Blast. Shortly after it was announced they’d signed to Napalm Records, word followed that Psalms for the Dead (released today, June 8, and reviewed here) would be the last Candlemass record.
And even that wasn’t the end of the drama. Last Saturday, June 2, the band broke the news that Lowe, in turn, was out of Candlemass, would be replaced for all subsequent tours by Mats Levén — who nearly took the spot in the wake of the fallout with Marcolin and who also sings for Edling‘s ongoing second band, Krux — and that Hammond organist Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, Spiritual Beggars) would also be joining for live shows. So, if nothing else, Candlemass earns plenty of points for consistency.
The interview that follows took place May 17, on what was announced as the only press day Edling would be doing for the album, so the Lowe situation had yet to unfold, but the discussion did turn to the band’s development with the singer over the course of his three LPs with them, what went into the decision to have Psalms for the Dead be their last record, who’s doing the voiceover on closer “Black as Time,” just what inspired “Dancing in the Temple (Of the Mad Queen Bee),” their Roadburn set with Längquist, his plans for when the band is done, a recent run-in with counterfeit Sabbath memorabilia, and more.
You’ll find the complete Q&A here after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Reviews on May 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Notable for it being the band’s 11th studio full-length and for marking their transition from Nuclear Blast, which released their last three LPs as well as a handful of live albums, EPs, singles and DVDs, to Napalm Records, Psalms for the Dead is most of all a landmark for reportedly being Candlemass’ last album. Of course, history teaches us to be skeptical when it comes to people who’ve played music all their lives suddenly deciding not to play music anymore – after all, Candlemass already called it quits before and came back with their 2005 self-titled six years later, and bassist, founder and principle songwriter Leif Edling has waffled on the idea already – but working on the assumption that they are in fact finished recording and releasing albums, Psalms for the Dead puts an appropriate stamp on this last era of the band. To ask it to summarize the whole almost 30 years Candlemass has been around would be unfair, but as the third collection featuring the vocals of Robert Lowe (also Solitude Aeturnus) behind 2007’s stellar King of the Grey Islands and 2009’s Death Magic Doom (review here), Psalms for the Dead at least rounds out Candlemass’ allegedly final run with more of the quality doom fans have come to expect from one of the genre’s most pivotal and influential acts. Edling, who’s been the driving force behind the band since they began as Nemesis in 1982, upholds his standard, and while Psalms for the Dead will never be regarded as the definitive Candlemass release – probably not even by this lineup, as memorable as the songs on King of the Grey Islands wound up being despite how rushed the album was – where it stands in line with the likes of all-time genre classics like 1986’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus or 1988’s Ancient Dreams is irrelevant. It’s legitimately better than was Death Magic Doom and worthy of being the band’s final statement. That might be the highest compliment it could possibly earn.
As always, the music is majestic. Edling and guitarists Lars “Lasse” Johansson and Mats “Mappe” Björkman deliver classic metal riffs and solos with crisp professionalism, drummer Jan Lindh provides ample push whether to more upbeat material like opener “Prophet” or the slower, low-end heavy grooves of “Waterwitch,” and Lowe’s voice is clear and his delivery powerful. Lowe, who stepped into his role as Candlemass vocalist having already fronted one of the forebears of modern doom, has come to fit even more with Edling’s writing style. As he steps back to let Johansson lead the melody through an extended guitar solo section, the verse and chorus never seem to be completely gone, and that’s a credit to him as a vocalist for leaving an impression, but also to Edling as the writer and to Johansson’s performance. The whole band seems to be contributing throughout Psalms for the Dead, and the album is stronger for it. Getting underway with a strong trio of tracks helps a lot, with “The Sound of Dying Demons” built around a solid chorus and what might be Lowe’s most impassioned delivery as Candlemass’ singer and “Dancing in the Temple (Of the Mad Queen Bee)” having a quirk factor to go with its organ-inclusive rush. Varying the pace well, the band nonetheless maintains a consistently bleak atmosphere, and “Dancing in the Temple (Of the Mad Queen Bee)” has an immediate hook from just how bizarre the title is, and that’s half the appeal. Some will doubtless think it’s silly – it is – and dismiss it on that level, but at 3:38, it’s the shortest cut on Psalms for the Dead, so it’s over quick, and its increase in tempo after the stomp of “The Sound of Dying Demons” works well placed as it is.
The organ adds a progressive feel, following Björkman’s riffing in classic fashion, and “Dancing in the Temple (Of the Mad Queen Bee)” works because it’s as musically stripped down as it is lyrically nonsensical. Candlemass follow it with “Waterwitch,” the only track on Psalms for the Dead to top seven minutes, and move into a slower march, upping the atmospherics while also keeping the doom foremost. “Waterwitch” moves the nine-track offering into its second, middle, third. The strong opening salvo has made a solid impression, and Candlemass really start to show the personality of Psalms for the Dead with the sound of “Waterwitch,” which isn’t really vibrant, but engages in its riffy largesse and via the drama in Lowe’s vocals. It’s hard to make “Waterwitch” sound crucial – the chorus is basically the title repeated – but he does as well with it as anyone could, and though the track is hardly a high point of the album, it doesn’t really hold it back, either, fading out to make way for “The Lights of Thebe”’s keyboard-introduced semi-Eastern chugging. Psalms for the Dead is structured for linearity, not easily broken into vinyl sides (unless you get into adding bonus tracks), and “The Lights of Thebe” is the centerpiece, proffering a steady Candlemass narrative that finds Edling working in his element musically and lyrically, playing epic ideas off likeminded riffing. Still, though one might think of it like their take on “Egypt (The Chains are On),” there’s not much to stand the song out from its surroundings in terms of impact to bolster it into the centerpiece position. However, if this is to be middling Candlemass after 30 years, then it’s still a pretty high level, and it pairs well with the title-track, which follows. Organ again features heavily, filling out the verse while the guitars take their time to reel back for the bridge and chorus, and Lowe rests well in the subdued lines, changing key as the music picks up and relaxes. The middle section features from of Psalms for the Dead’s best riffing, and sure enough, by the time “The Killing of the Sun” comes on, one does feel fully engrossed in the album.
Posted in audiObelisk on October 11th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Swedish doomers Isole have a penchant for the epic. The Gävle four-piece will issue Born From Shadows — their third album for Napalm Records following two earlier full-lengths on their countryman imprint I Hate Records — on Oct. 25 in North America and Oct. 28 in Europe. The album follows the strong progressive Eurodoom of 2009′s Silent Ruins (review here) and continues a prolific streak for Isole, who’ve now put out five albums in six years.
More important than the number of releases, though, is the fact that Isole have carved an identity for themselves in the course of that time. Guitarist/vocalists Christer Olsson and Daniel Bryntse began playing together under the name Forlorn in 1990, and the clarity of vision and maturity they’ve gleaned in the time since shows itself in these songs. They bring in a few of the epic/Viking elements they also explore as members of Ereb Altor, but it’s Isole‘s careful handling of melody that really makes their material stand out.
At nine and a half minutes, there’s plenty of room for it to do so on the title-cut of Born From Shadows, which the label was kind enough to let me host for streaming. In the song, you’ll also find some growls and screams and heavier influences at play, which give the track even more heft. Check it out on the player below, followed by some bio info from Napalm‘s website. Hope you dig:
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Isole’s fifth release Born From Shadows is the continuation of a story that began in 2005 with Moonstone on the debut album “Forevermore” and then “Shadowstone” on Bliss of Solitude. On Born From Shadows the two stones symbolize two opposites that finally come together to become one: darkness meets light, death meets life, and good meets evil.
With their first releases, Isole was able to secure an excellent reputation within the doom metal underground. They have now elevated their status even further with their last two albums, Bliss of Solitude and Silent Ruins. Their current work, Born From Shadows, impressively maintains their well-earned position and lays any doubts as to their superiority to rest. The Swedish quartet understands more than any other band how to effectively merge hypnotic melodies with viscous guitar lines. Once again the album was recorded and mixed by Isole at Apocalypse and Gustavo Sazes (ArchEnemy, Firewind) provided his artistic know-how to convey a feeling of mysticism and darkness through his symbolic artwork, while JensBogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Enslaved) took on the mastering responsibilities.
Posted in audiObelisk on October 7th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Blues-rocking Norwegian four-piece Lonely Kamel make their debut on Napalm Records (who, with Monster Magnet, Karma to Burn and Brant Bjork already on their roster, are becoming quite the purveyors of the riffy arts) with Dust Devil. The name sounds like a handheld vacuum cleaner, it’s true. Contrary to such appliances though, Dust Devil doesn’t suck. Rather, Lonely Kamel come off like graduates from the University of Roadsaw (with a minor in Sixty Watt Shaman), infusing loud, driving heavy rock with a sensibility straight off the Delta.
There’s varying levels of that inflection throughout Dust Devil, but these veterans of Roadburn, Stoned From the Underground andDuna Jam — they clearly have their Eurofest credentials in order — handle it with smoothness and ease, right from the sliding ’70s classicism of opener “Grim Reefer” to the Clutch-esque fuzz groove of “Ragnarörkr.” The only real challenge in picking a track to stream was trying to find one that summed everything up.
In the end, I went with “The Prophet.” At about five and a half-minutes, you get the bluesy side of the band through guitarist Thomas Brenna‘s vocals and the heavy rock of the rhythm section of bassist Stian Helle and drummer Espen Nesset. Rounded out by Lukas Paulsen on guitar and backing vocals, Lonely Kamel impress right up to the song’s surprisingly noisy finale. Even there, though, the groove is paramount.
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Blues, grooves, and a bottle of booze! Stoner rock! LonelyKamel‘s third album proves once again that it is absolutely not necessary to be surrounded by desert sands and cacti in order to produce genuine stoner rock. The four Norwegians are living proof of this fact, and don’t stop there. With the release of Dust Devil, they unquestionably provide the genre with a refreshing brand of unrelenting and passionate dedication. The opening two tracks, “Grim Reefer” and “Evil Man,” reveal the road on which Lonely Kamel will travel.
It offers much more than typical stoner riffs and captivating rhythms, adding sing-along choruses and hypnotic melodies to its winding course. Short trips to the world of blues and psychedelic round off this unforgettable journey by ensuring a welcomed change of pace. Dust Devil is the Nordic alternative to the desert sands, and for fans of the stoner rock genre a definite must-have!
Posted in Reviews on September 7th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t get down that way as often as I used to, but once every year and a half or so, Asbury Park does me just right. Last night was one such occasion. I left the office a bit after 8PM, sloshed my way through the rain Southbound on the world famous Garden State Parkway, down to admirable Asbury mainstay The Saint, where West Virginian instrumental riffers were joined by Jersey‘s own The Atomic Bitchwax and The Ominous Order of Filthy Mongrels, who were about halfway through their set when I forked over my $12 and got in.
Despite having On the Radar-ized them as far back as last April, and despite my fandom of guitarist Mike Schwiegert and vocalist Kevin LeBlanc‘s prior bands (Lord Sterling and A Day of Pigs, respectively), and despite living a mere 90 minutes away, it was my first time catching The Ominous Order of Filthy Mongrels live, and I was glad to have the chance to do so. They’ve got some classic crossover in their sound that they offset with noisy crunch and thick tones, and with their first full-length reportedly in the can, there seems to be much more to look forward to.
The five-piece were something of a standout on the bill for how aggressive they were, but there was no denying the formidable presence they brought to the stage. LeBlanc is a natural frontman who plays to the strength of his screams, and Schwiegert — joined on guitar by Dave Anderson — excellently displays his hardcore roots without giving in to East Coast chest-thumping cliche. The material they played was pummeling, and it looked as though they were having fun finding out just how heavy they can be.
The Atomic Bitchwax, on the other hand, seemed just to be having fun. Not counting the couple minutes I saw at Roadburn, it was the first I’d seen them since the release of their latest album, The Local Fuzz (review here), and while they capped their set with about 20 minutes of that 42-minute instrumental riff-fest, they ran through a handful of other songs first, including “So Come On,” “Shitkicker” and the Core cover, “Kiss the Sun,” which served as a reminder of just how much a part of the Bitchwax guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan has become since coming on board prior to the release of 3 in 2005.
Rightfully so since he used to be in Core, Ryan took lead vocal on that song as per usual, but bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik seems to have stepped back on some of the material from 3 and 2009′s TAB4 as well — “Destroyer” from the former comes to mind — though both had smiles on their faces for “Gettin’ Old” from the band’s classic 1999 self-titled debut. The Atomic Bitchwax being rounded out by “Monster Bob” Pantella on drums, Kosnik is the only remaining founding member, but without hesitation, I’ll say their set at The Saint was among the tightest I’ve ever seen them, and I’ve seen them plenty.
Kosnik and Ryan were completely locked in on bass and guitar, their fingers rapidly making their way through the band’s signature winding riffs with speeds approaching Slayer levels at times during “The Local Fuzz.” That album probably took some flack for moving so far away from 4‘s pop-based songwriting modus — it’s easy to see it as a kind of “diarrhea of the riff” — but live, it made more sense, and it seemed almost as though the band were stripping everything down to the essential parts, and answering those who likewise denigrated 4‘s hyper-accessibility by saying, “Well, you want fuzzy riffs, here they are.” And there they were. For about 20 minutes solid.
And I guess if Karma to Burn is going to get a lead in, there probably isn’t one more appropriate than that. The trio’s anti-bullshit stance is long noted, most recently evinced on their second album for Napalm Records, V, but as they ran through a set of their numerically-titled instrumental pieces, it became increasingly clear that something was amiss, particularly with guitarist Will Mecum.
When drummer Rob Oswald (ex-Nebula) came around his kit early on to fix the foot of his bass drum, Mecum cursed audibly and with frustration. I don’t know what the situation is with the band, if he was pissed at Oswald for something or if he stubbed his toe — I refuse to speculate or spread rumors needlessly — but something had him off his game. He played much of the set like some men operate heavy machinery: with his ballcap pulled down over his eyes and his shoulders slumped in contempt.
And though he spent a significant amount of time facing the wall to the side of the stage, leaving Oswald‘s near-flatly-set toms high cymbals and bassist Rich Mullins with the task of acknowledging the audience in a manner not unlike someone trying to explain away a domestic disturbance to the cops the neighbors called, (prior to their going on, Mullins had told me the tour was, “a lot of work”), they sounded really good. It was almost in spite of themselves.
They’re clearly three very different individuals — Mecum with his grit and seemingly endless supply of riffs, Mullins with his gaunt rocker’s looks and stage presence, and Oswald the beardo wizard in back launching into impossible-looking fills — and again, I don’t know what the situation is in the band, but Karma to Burn has become so influential in heavy rock because there’s a special chemistry among the players, and that came through in the songs. They cut the set short, nixing “41″ from 2009′s Appalachian Incantation among others, and obviously it was a bad night for the band, but I didn’t leave The Saint disappointed.
The music was right on and I got to see a new band for the first time, a local staple who were mind-bogglingly tight, and an act who’ve left an indelible mark on their genre. It was a good night, I got to see some good people. For $12 on a rainy Tuesday, you can’t reasonably ask much more than that. It was a bummer that it was a bummer for Karma to Burn, but hopefully they’ll make it up on the rest of the tour, which hits Boston tonight (Sept. 7, with formidable locals Black Thai and Ichabod) and Brooklyn tomorrow, once again with The Atomic Bitchwax on the latter bill as a replacement for the apparently-defunct Black Pyramid.
More pics after the jump. Thanks to The Saint for being so brightly lit.
Posted in Reviews on May 25th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Among the many routes to take, Karma to Burn has always been one of the most direct lines to the riff. The West Virginian trio’s instrumental approach is among the most bullshit-free in all of heavy rock, and that has remained the case following their reunion in 2009. With the release of Appalachian Incantation last year (review here), guitarist Will Mecum, bassist Rich Mullins and drummer Rob Oswald (ex-Nebula) joined forces with Napalm Records and successfully began to incorporate the vocals of Dan Davies of Year Long Disaster, in which Mullins also plays, essentially merging the two bands into one, pulling double duty on joint tours, etc. Appalachian Incantation marked a successful reunion, and the aptly-titled follow-up, V, which sure enough is Karma to Burn’s fifth album overall, takes on the weighty task of re-beginning a creative development on the part of the band.
It’s not an easy thing to do. One reunion album is hard enough to pull off, but by getting back together and releasing a second full-length, you’re more or less saying that this thing has stuck and you’re rolling with it. You’re no longer a reunion band, you’re just a band. The second return album completely does away with the novelty of the first, and you reopen yourself to judgment based not on the fact that people are glad you’re back together again, but based solely on the merit of the work itself.
I doubt it’s anything Karma to Burn has lost sleep over, and if V is any indication, they’re keener on affecting a decent presentation of their sound than doing anything outlandishly new with it. No question that V is the band’s most produced album to date. Recorded by John Lousteau (who’s previously worked on albums by Motörhead, Foo Fighters and Danko Jones) at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606, the songs are crisp and clear – Mullins’ tone in particular sounds better than it ever has on a Karma to Burn record – but still in possession of some measure of the band’s original grit. There’s enough separation to enjoy Mecum’s guitar and Mullins’ bass in equal measure, and Oswald’s drums may have been replaced digitally, but if they were, it’s not offensively synthesized sounding. His snare is low and deep and serves as excellent punctuation for many of the tracks, including the sort-of-centerpiece, “The Cynic,” which is one of the three songs included on V with Davies on vocals.
Posted in Reviews on February 21st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
When I’d called Starland Ballroom earlier in the evening to ask what time Monster Magnet went on, and been told 9:30PM, that was a dirty fucking lie. I rolled in at 9PM thinking I’d catch the tail end of Seventh Void, and instead, A Pale Horse Named Death — fronted by Life of Agony drummer Sal Abruscato on vocals and one of the total three guitars — was just starting up. Thanks a lot, box office girl. True, I didn’t want to risk a Sunday night DWI and I had to get up for work this morning, but there was a bit of spite added to my lack of drinking, to be sure.
It wasn’t crowded, but there were more people than I thought would be there. The least crowded I’ve ever seen Starland was for Candlemass — which was shameful, how empty it was — but by no means was it packed even by the time Monster Magnet took the stage. For A Pale Horse Named Death, there was a decent amount of people who’d shown up early or because they’d heard it was the LOA drummer’s band and maybe they’d play “Through and Through” or something. They didn’t. Instead it was a mediocre but passable kind of doom rock, topped off with the charm of Abruscato inviting everyone in the crowd back to his house after the show for sausage and peppers, which I can only imagine would have been delicious.
Johnny Kelly, drummer for Type O Negative and Seventh Void — which also features Type O guitarist Kenny Hickey — played in A Pale Horse Named Death, pulling double duty for the evening. I think it was their first show, but they were clearly enjoying themselves, and having grown up as a heavy metal Jersey boy, I have trouble begrudging them the good time they looked to be having. However, someone should really point out to Abruscato that it was Death riding the pale horse, and that the horse itself was not Death. Five dudes in the band, you’d think someone would have been on that already.
The first time I saw Seventh Void was at The Trash Bar in Brooklyn, and they weren’t nearly that good at Starland, but they put on a more than respectable show anyway, playing songs off their Heaven is Gone full-length and what sounded like some new material, Hickey of course shouting a song (“Last Walk in the Light”) out to departed Type O Negative bassist/vocalist Peter Steele. That was bound to happen, and Hickey has stepped into the frontman role nicely in Seventh Void, which is encouraging to see. I doubt they’ll hit the commercial heights of his and Kelly‘s former band — the shitbag musical climate having something to do with that as well — but at least they’re still working.
You have to understand, back in 1993, at the tender age of 12, I used to call Pure Rock Q104.3 every single day and request Type O Negative‘s “Black No. 1,” and they, Life of Agony and Monster Magnet were the local bands that made good. As a kid just really figuring out what I liked, it was a big deal to see their videos on MTV. I think everyone has those bands. So it’s not that I didn’t enjoy this show, and it’s not that I didn’t know what I was going to get, I just have my attachments to these dudes’ work (the fauxhawk bassist and girlie-shirt second guitarist of Seventh Void notwithstanding) already set, and that’s not about to change.
It was the first time Monster Magnet played New Jersey in years, and it was clear the varying camps of supporters present at the Starland Ballroom. There was the “Space Lord” contingent, who maybe got into them from their 1998 mega-hit, the local loyalists, who’d have shown up even if they were playing the pits of hell (or worse, Asbury Park — zing!), and the stoner rock heads hoping for some older material in the set list. I count myself a bit in the latter two camps, and to the band’s credit, they did their best to feed everyone — opening with “Nod Scene” was a nice touch — and still manage to push the songs from their latest album, 2010′s Mastermind.
My heart sank when I snapped a picture of their setlist and read that “Spine of God” wasn’t on it. I’d like to think maybe it’s because new guitarist Garrett Sweeny (also of Riotgod), who was brought in to fill the rather sizable shoes vacated by Ed Mundell, doesn’t know it yet, but it could just as easily have been some other reason. Any way you slice it, it was a bummer. That had more or less been the one song that got me off the couch, but I guess you can’t have everything. Gotta make room for “Tractor” and “Crop Circle.” “Dinosaur Vacume” was pretty good though.
They played several songs from Mastermind, including starting the encore with single “Gods and Punks” and “Bored with Sorcery,” but the high point of the new material was unquestionably “Dig that Hole,” even if Dave Wyndorf‘s quoting of the n-word does rest gratingly on my liberal sensibilities. Wyndorf basically had the show resting on his shoulders and he delivered a solid set, Sweeny and Phil Caivano working well together on guitar, Jim Baglino and Bob Pantella doing the same on bass and drums. Everything was tight, everyone played well, but it was pretty clearly a show, and by that I mean if you were looking for a raw outpouring of emotion or some kind of beastly psychedelic trip, you were probably elsewhere.
I will say this, however: It’s time for Dave Wyndorf to grow a beard. And not a little one. A big, honking beard. And he needs to let it go gray. And he needs to never be seen again in public without a Hawkwind t-shirt and some gnarly jeans on, and he needs to cut his hair just short enough so it can still be messy, and it’s time for him to put on some huge-ass mirror sunglasses and take the stage like the Rick Rubin-looking biker space rock god we all know he is underneath. He might even need a bandanna. I’m completely serious.
He’s obviously not doing the “check me out, I’m on pills” thing anymore, right? But the stage show hasn’t really changed, it’s just become less believable. Time to adapt. Time to unleash the weirdo within. He could hit the jam band circuit and have these fucking hipsters eating out of his hands in no time flat and and start bringing a crowd again in the US, but it’s a change that needs to be made. Every time he threw his hands in the air singing, I couldn’t help think to myself, “Dude, it is time to get strange on these motherfuckers.” Also, “Play ‘Spine of God!’”
I was splitsville before they closed with “Powertrip” — some of us do, in fact, have to work another day in our lives — and I caught an easy Sunday night back north on 287 to get to the valley around 1:00. Easily worth the trip, but not necessarily ideal. You know how it goes. At least I wasn’t asleep at the wheel like after the Pentagram show in Brooklyn.
I took some extra photos, which you can see after the jump.
Posted in Features on December 13th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Brant Bjork‘s ninth solo album in just over that many years, Gods and Goddesses saw him refine the fuzzy desert tones and grooves that have typified his work since the beginning. With cleaner, clearer, more professional production, the guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and legendary drummer for Kyuss and Fu Manchu displayed a commercial and classic rock awareness the likes of which his fanbase hadn’t yet seen from him. His prior album, Somera Sól (released under the Brant Bjork and the Bros. moniker) approached some of that sound, but the production value made all the difference.
Perhaps most notably, Gods and Goddesses found Bjork bringing in longtime-friend/bassist Billy Cordell (formerly of Yawning Man), who was able to match exquisitely the grooves Bjork was putting down. At the end of the slow-rolling album closer “Somewhere Some Woman,” Cordell helped bring an entirely new and decidedly darker dynamic out of the typical Brant Bjork desert-sun-affected rock. Between that, the twists of “Blowin’ up Shop” and opener “Dirty Bird” — which might be the most Brant Bjork-sounding Brant Bjork song ever — Gods and Goddesses was an easy highlight of 2010.
He said in our interview that he hoped Gods and Goddesses would help him bring some attention to his solo career, and it’s apparently worked out, as he announced just last week that he’s signed with Napalm Records for future Brant Bjork releases. It’s a smart move, given the response he’s been able to get at European festivals like Roadburn and Hellfest and that he’ll be touring next year as part of the semi-reunion act, Kyuss Lives. One just hopes it’s not too long before he issues a follow-up.
…Not claiming to be the first to do so, mind you. Yeah, I’m about a week behind on this, but screw it, here’s “Gods and Punks” from the recently-reviewedMonster Magnet album, Mastermind. Let the debate begin: