audiObelisk Transmission 048

Posted in Podcasts on May 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

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The second hour starts a little early this time around, and what I mean by that is when you’re like five minutes into hour two and trying to figure out on the tracklisting below what improv-sounding brilliant cut you’re hearing, pay careful attention to when hour one ended. Just 11 seconds from the start of the second half of the podcast. So yeah, that 18-minute wonder gets filed under hour one instead, but it comes with a wink and a nod. I just couldn’t bring myself to file something under hour two without a one at the front of the time stamp, which shows you how sad and compulsive I am because I’ve only been time-stamping these podcasts for two months now. What a dork.

It’s good stuff this time around though. Always is, I suppose, but starting out with Goatsnake into The Machine and then on from there, it builds a flow that makes some sense one into the next in a way that, listening back to it after I put it together, was especially satisfying. Hopefully you agree as you make your way though.

As always, hope you enjoy:

First Hour:
0:00:00 Goatsnake, “Grandpa Jones” from Black Age Blues
0:04:36 The Machine, “Coda Sun” from Offblast!
0:09:55 Galley Beggar, “Pay My Body Home” from Silence and Tears
0:18:51 Steve Von Till, “Night of the Moon” from A Life Unto Itself
0:25:48 Venomous Maximus, “Through the Black” from Firewalker
0:29:42 Black Pyramid, “Open the Gates” from Dead Star 7”
0:34:59 Ape Skull, “A is for Ape” from Fly Camel Fly
0:39:54 Sunder, “Deadly Flower” from Demo
0:43:53 Eternal Fuzz, “Sea Change” from Nostalgia
0:47:37 Geezer, “Long Dull Knife” from Long Dull Knife
0:53:31 Fogg, “Joy of Home” from High Testament
0:59:49 Shiggajon, “Sela” from Sela

Second Hour:
1:18:07 Blown Out, “Thousand Years in the Sunshine” from Planetary Engineering
1:34:01 Les Lekin, “Loom” from All Black Rainbow Moon
1:47:14 Undersmile, “Knucklesucker” from Anhedonia

Total running time: 1:59:00

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 048

 

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Live Review: Ufomammut, Usnea and Mountain God in Brooklyn, 05.19.15

Posted in Reviews on May 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ufomammut (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The circumstances by which I found myself in the Tri-State Area were complex enough that I feel no need to recount them, but the point is, if you’re in town anyway, and Ufomammut are rolling through Brooklyn to hit the Saint Vitus Bar on their first US tour ever, supported by Portland’s Usnea and locals Mountain God opening, the obvious choice is to go. Yes, I was at a show in Boston on Sunday, but that seemed like long enough ago that it didn’t matter. It’s fucking Ufomammut. You show up.

Mountain God (Photo by JJ Koczan)I missed the three-piece at Roadburn in 2011, but saw them there in 2009, and even six years later, the impression they left behind was resonant enough that I could see them clearly on the Main Stage bludgeoning the room with their cosmic mastery. The image is vivid. They’ll play Maryland Deathfest this weekend and are out supporting their 2015 Neurot Recordings outing, Ecate (review here), the latest in a line of records a decade long proving their utter supremacy of sound. I felt fortunate to have the planets align in such a way as to allow me to make it to the show.

As I understand it, Mountain God were something of a late addition to the bill. Cool by me. Playing as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi, bassist Nikhil Kamineni and drummer/backing vocalist Ryan Smith (also Thera Roya), they had new material on offer and included two cuts from their 2013 Mountain God (Photo by JJ Koczan)Experimentation on the Unwilling demo (review here), so yeah, sign me up. Their particular brand of atmospheric sludge has only become more visceral over the last couple years, and as expansive as their 2015 single-song Forest of the Lost EP (review here) is, its churn still seems to stir the guts. So it was on stage as well.

Worth noting that for all three bands, the stage was d-a-r-k dark. Most of all for Mountain God and Usnea, but even for Ufomammut the only real light was toward the back of the stage, and there wasn’t much of that. Might as well have been taking pictures in Boston, it was so fucking dark. So it goes. Mountain God‘s new songs, “Nasca Lines” and “Taxidermist,” pushed the limits of their extremity well, Ianuzzi‘s blown-out vocals cutting through his and Kamineni‘s rumbling tonal morass — a heft that would become a theme for the night. The interplay of Ianuzzi and Smith proved especially effective throughout, but either way, ambience remained thick and the effect remained crushing.

Usnea (Photo by JJ Koczan)They finished out with “Experimentation on the Unwilling” itself, a memorable pummel of a riff at its center, and received greetings and well-earned congratulations at the front of the stage while breaking down their gear to make way for Usnea, touring with Ufomammut from their base of operations in Oregon. It was my first exposure to the death-doom four-piece, who made their debut on Relapse last year with their second full-length, Random Cosmic Violence, and I found they were a completely different band from what I expected them to be. As in, I thought they were another band. It was a pleasant surprise when their ultra-nodding brutality held sway for the duration, both guitars tuned to the key of slow-motion destruction as drums and bass stood center-stage to punctuate and foster feel-it-in-your-stomach resonance. Can’t claim to have known the material, but the first impression was a positive one.

And by positive, I mean overwhelmingly negative — the downer vibes so dense they couldn’t seem to let any light escape. Right on. I knew Ufomammut would be headed for more psychedelic terrain, and indeed they were, so to have Usnea follow Mountain God‘s tectonics with their own lumbering doom was a solid fit and welcome complement to the bill. If I’d had any cash, I Usnea (Photo by JJ Koczan)probably would’ve picked up a CD of Random Cosmic Violence, but the water bottle I had in my camera bag I bought with quarters and I didn’t think I had that much change on hand. Maybe next time. Their closer was “Detritus,” the 15-minute finisher from their sophomore outing, and it was as vehement an endorsement of their wares as anything I might recount in a review, plodding and stomping en route to a building finish that left nothing else to say when it was done. Many bands would have trouble following it.

Ufomammut, however, are a different breed. I’m almost surprised this was their first US tour. It’s easy to imagine them — as so many of their contemporaries from around Europe did — coming to the States and playing to upwards of 20 people at The Continental in Manhattan a decade ago before any of this stuff caught on and it was suddenly reasonable to be positioned in front of the stage at the Vitus Bar next to a photographer from The New York Times (“Uh, I run a blog,” was my barely-stammered response when she asked who I was shooting for) at a sold-out show. As if the experience wasn’t surreal enough, Ufomammut — guitarist Poia, drummer Vita and bassist/vocalist Urlo arranged left to right — Ufomammut (Photo by JJ Koczan)played off a setlist that seemed to be written in code, with notations for synths and the mysterious light-up samplers and effects they had on foot-switches while a video screen projected behind.

Devastatingly heavy? Why yes, they were, but that’s really just one component of the experience. Watching Ufomammut play is like being stirred in a cauldron of something thick and molten. Somehow, it swirls, but on the surface level it doesn’t even seem like it should be able to move at all. Each song seemed to take them deeper into space, the entirety of Ecate rearranged for stage presentation and followed by “Oroboros” from Oro: Opus Alter (review here), “Stigma” from 2008’s Idolum and, finally, “God” from 2004’s Snailking, which was brought to a brutal finish as though the trio were trying to pull apart the remnants of the galaxy on a molecular level, some great cosmic code punched in to result in the end of all things in multi-dimensions. It was like that. Sound as force. Senses colliding, and Urlo headbanging with his entire body the whole time. The further they went the more righteous they became, and the room — sweltering, dark, vibrating — went with them all the while, that great cauldron made flesh. To call it breathtaking would be speaking literally.

Ufomammut (Photo by JJ Koczan)There was a moment after they were done that required a return to earth, more of a snap back than a gentle release, and you could feel it from others in the room as much as from yourself. An exhale and realization of the impressionist galaxial scope just witnessed, blurred lines fitting for the summer’s haze that seemed to be settling over the Manhattan skyline on the way into the city. Even having seen the band before, I did it too. People made their way to the bar and out blissfullly stunned, and I did likewise, almost tempted to call Ufomammut‘s arrival on North American shores overdue if they hadn’t rendered things like space and time so irrelevant.

A couple more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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YOB Announce First-Ever Australian Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

YOB undertaking the considerable voyage to Australia has been a while in the making. About two and a half years ago, there was word they were heading out that way with Elder and teaming, on arrival, with Beastwars, from New Zealand, for a round of shows. Seems fitting that they go, now, in support of their best album to date, last year’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), and have that much more anticipation ahead of them. The Eugene, Oregon, trio will also be at Maryland Deathfest later this month, alongside their Neurot Recordings labelmates in Ufomammut and Neurosis, among the requisite ton of others.

The Australian tour is presented by Life is Noise, who sent the following announcement down the PR wire:

yob (Photo by Aaron Edge)

YOB (USA) Australian Tour August 2015

life is noise is proud to present the Australian debut of one of the finest doom metal bands in the world: Yob.

In 2014, Yob released the best doom metal album of the year. Universally praised, Clearing the Path to Ascend topped Rolling Stone’s list of the best metal albums and was critically lauded by everyone from Pitchfork to The New York Times. Never has doom metal been at the forefront of the public consciousness like this, and it’s easy to see why: though it’s come almost two decades into their existence, Yob have made not just the best album of their career – they’ve made what will come to be regarded as one of the defining records in the pantheon of doom metal.

Which is not to say any of this came easy. Few bands hit their creative stride after seven records and almost twenty years, and Yob’s recording career has led them to stints with Metal Blade and Profound Lore before settling at their current home with spiritual siblings Neurosis at their label Neurot Recordings. The Neurosis comparison is obvious, but for every moment of earth-shaking post-metal, there are flourishes of old-school, soul-crushing sorrow that hark back to Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus; for every Earth-like meditation, there’s a measured catharsis of energy that recalls the explosive sludge of Melvins.

What makes Clearing the Path to Ascend such a landmark record is its stellar two-track second half. While the album’s opening act bathes in layers of funereal dirge and existential dread, its penultimate and closing tracks mark one of the genre’s finest half-hours as the trio push through to the other side of hell. With every repetition, Mike Scheidt’s riffs grow all the more hypnotic, his pious incantations ever-more compelling. Yob have succeeded where many of their contemporaries fail, imbuing the oft-tired tropes of a monolithic genre with untold emotion and transcendent zeal. This is doom metal reborn.

Yob’s live show is everything you’d want from a power trio. From frenetic riffs and furious drumming to slow, crushing doom, a Yob gig is less a performance and more a communal brain-fuck. They hold their audience transfixed with brief moments of brooding, atmospheric, almost ambient respite, before pulverising them with a massive, brutal crush of noise.

Witness Yob on their first ever Australian tour on the following dates:

Perth – August 19 – Rosemount Hotel
Melbourne – August 21 – Max Watt’s
Sydney – August 22 – Manning Bar
Brisbane – August 23 – Crowbar

Tickets on sale now through http://lifeisnoise.com.au, Oztix and venue outlets.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1439941099649475/
https://www.facebook.com/quantumyob
http://www.yobislove.com/
http://www.neurotrecordings.com/
https://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings
http://lifeisnoise.com.au

YOB, “Marrow” live at Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, Dec. 12, 2014

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Neurosis Playing Maryland Deathfest this Month; Confirmed for Heavy Montréal in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

neurosis

Is posting about Neurosis playing Heavy Montréal just an excuse for me to put on “Locust Star” and turn my sitting on the couch into a mini-nodfest? Yes, yes it is. That, however, is among the more valid reasons I can think of for doing just about anything — “it’s an excuse to listen to ‘Locust Star'” — so whatever, it’s news I’m happy to share. This month, the five-piece will lay waste to Maryland Deathfest and in August it’s on to Montreal, where they’ll join a swath of soon-to-be-blown-off-the-stage recognizable names from the more commercial end of the spectrum. A single-day pass costs about $80, but should you happen to be in that part of the world, it seems like a small price to pay to witness the astonished, confused and converted faces you’re bound to see while Neurosis play.

I was hoping for some word of their new album being finished, but nothing doing this time around. If and when I hear something, I’ll let you know. For now, to the PR wire:

heavy montreal

NEUROSIS Confirms Performance At Heavy Montréal This August; Band Prepares To Invade Maryland Deathfest

Today, NEUROSIS confirms the band’s invitation to perform at this year’s upcoming installment of the massive Heavy Montréal Festival, in Montréal, Quebec.

NEUROSIS is one of the latest acts to be confirmed for Heavy Montréal, having just been announced alongside the likes of The Devin Townsend Project, Sanctuary, Obscura, Cattle Decapitation, Revocation and more, joining the roster of artists already confirmed to play at this year’s event, including Slipnot, Faith No More, Korn, Lamb Of God, Iggy Pop, NOFX, Mastodon, Meshuggah, Testament, Nuclear Assault and countless others. The open air Heavy Montréal gala will overthrow Quebec’s largest metropolis on August 7th – 9th, and NEUROSIS will take the stage on the opening night, Friday, August 7th.

Prior to their Heavy Montréal debut, NEUROSIS will make their return to the brutalizing Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend. Running from May 21st through 24th, the band’s Neurot Recordings kin Yob and Ufomammut will perform the opening night of the event, while NEUROSIS is set to play the final evening, headlining the Edison Lot A stage, following performances from Skepticism, Winter, Goatsnake and Tombs on the same stage.

Additional NEUROSIS live actions will be announced in the very near future.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
5/24/2015 Edison Lot – Baltimore Maryland @ Maryland Deathfest
8/07/2015 Parc Jean Drapeau – Montréal, QC @ Heavy Montréal

Following the release of their Live At Roadburn 2007 album and reissues of some of the band’s most seminal recordings throughout 2010 and 2011 – including their Souls At Zero and Enemy Of The Sun LPs and the Sovereign EP – NEUROSIS released one of their most ambitious albums to date, with 2012’s impressive Honor Found In Decay, all through their own cultivated Neurot Recordings. The album showcased the band taking their esoteric but leveling and categorization-free style of extreme music to even diverse areas of exploration, and following the record release show for the album, the outfit disbanded with longtime visuals that had been a part of their live set for decades, thereby empowering their anthems in a more human approach. Since the album’s release, NEUROSIS has been more active tour-wise than they have since before the turn of the millennium, and seemingly shows no time of ending the campaign any time soon.

As their ongoing legacy nears its thirty-year mark, NEUROSIS has become an institution of heavy music. From their beginnings as a hardcore punk band in the mid-’80s to their gradual evolution into a transcendent and genre-defying collective, the Oakland, California natives have broken ground at every turn, pioneering a sound that influenced heavyweights including Isis, Mastodon and High On Fire and inspiring endless legions of fans with their expansive, mind-altering works.

http://www.neurosis.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
http://twitter.com/neurosisoakland
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Neurosis, “Locust Star”

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Ufomammut, Ecate: Oltre L’Inifinito

Posted in Reviews on April 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

ufomammut-ecate

For really longer even than the last decade, Italian trio Ufomammut have been engaged in a battle against themselves. Each new work from the cosmic doomers has had to be bigger, to reach farther, than its predecessor. In 2008, Idolum — their fourth album — solidified this as a central element of their process. Arriving after a 2007 collaboration with Lento, it marked a particularly triumphant moment for the partnership between the band and producer Lorenzo Stecconi, who has helmed all of their recordings since, and in a way has been a blueprint for the various thematics running throughout the band’s synth-laden crushing riffs, far-back, spaced-out vocals and dense rhythms. When their subsequent outing, Eve (review here), arrived in 2010, it had one mission at its core, which was to outdo the record before it. Composed as one long piece — something they had originally intended for Idolum — it was ultimately broken down into tracks for the CD release, but one could hardly call it a failure. For one thing, it led to Ufomammut being signed to Neurot Recordings, the label founded and run by members of Neurosis, for their next outing, which likewise expanded on Eve. Oro would be released in two parts — Oro: Opus Primum (review here) and Oro: Opus Alter (review here) — in 2012, and as they moved past their 15th anniversary last year, an occasion they marked with the XV live DVD/documentary (review here), the central question regarding their seventh album, Ecate, is whether or not Ufomammut could possibly continue their push forward into bigger, wider ranging sound. What are the limits of human consciousness translated to volume?

Any new Ufomammut album brings with it a certain “event” presence. Their works have become so masterful in their presentation of a psychedelic aesthetic and doomed tonal weight that followers new and old — a number in which I count myself — know that there’s reason to be excited. With Ecate, guitarist/keyboardist Poia, bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Urlo and drummer Vita do indeed push beyond Oro, but what they find isn’t something even more grandiose. Perhaps inspired by stopping, really for the first time, to reflect on their past work with the XV release and their “Magickal Mastery Tour” comprising songs from their catalog back to earlier records like 2005’s Lucifer Songs, 2004’s landmark Snailking, and their 2000 debut, Godlike SnakeUfomammut have arrived with the six-track/46-minute Ecate at a place that both progresses their sound and taps into its very core. Like the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey. After flying through the universe in space and time, the character Bowman doesn’t find some overblown interstellar phenomenon. He winds up in a bedroom — a place where the human species is most quintessentially itself; sleeping, screwing, making itself ready to face the world around it. So too in songs like the building opener “Somnium” and bombastic, three-minute follow-up, “Plouton,” do Ufomammut explore the characteristics that make them who they are musically. Waves of claustrophobic riffs churn amid synthesized swirl and percussive thud, a largesse of sound conjured and given shape out of what seems an ether of brazen impact. Once it starts, there is no getting away from “Somnium.” It is a gravity well of tone, introducing much of what Ufomammut will unfold on the songs to come, and thus, emphasizing many of the best aspects of their style. Following the bursting supernova of “Plouton,” “Chaosecret” keeps a more open vibe through its first six minutes or thereabouts, turning for its remaining four into one of Ecate‘s most crushing moments just when it seems to be fading away, marching toward a more and more furious end.

ufomammut (Photo by Andrea Tomas Prato)

The album is structured into two roughly mirrored halves, in each of which three songs play out, two longer with a shorter one in the middle. “Chaosecret” is the longest cut at 10:47, but neither “Somnium” (9:55) nor closer “Daemons” (10:30) are far off. Following the closing slams of “Chaosecret,” “Temple” launches side B with an initial wall of feedback and more straightforward riffing, perhaps even more than “Plouton” exposing the elemental aspects of Ecate as a whole, obscure, manipulated samples playing out behind the plod, Urlo‘s vocals forward but still buried under the hypnotic riff repetitions, it taps into the overwhelming wash of Ufomammut at their finest, and transitions fluidly into the shorter, ambient “Revelation,” the four minutes of which are dedicated to developing a synthesized swirl and vast reach beyond what has already been set within the other songs. The drone fades gradually, and with the immediate rumble and rhythmic force of its early going, there’s little question when “Daemons” arrives as to what might be its intent. Its push never really subsides, though a verse emerges, still backed by fervent chugging, and leads the way back into an explosive chorus with more strange, indecipherable samples and a thrust toward Ecate‘s final resolution. No real surprise in the thunder or the rage that pays off “Daemons,” but the keyboard lines that follow and smooth the way out of the album prove even more resonant, almost cinematic, before they too fade away. Working from a conceptual basis in the goddess Hecate, who moves between the dead, living and immortals, Ufomammut remain steadfast in their commitment to progressing on the levels of songwriting and performance, but what their seventh full-length ultimately proves is that records don’t necessarily need to constantly get bigger and bigger to show that progression. Ecate tears away at anything less than needed for the band to make their statement, and as the album that will bring them to North America to tour for the first time, they could not hope to arrive carried by sturdier machinations.

Ufomammut, Ecate (2015)

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Ecate at Neurot Recordings

Neurot Recordings

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Brothers of the Sonic Cloth Announce West Coast Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

brothers-of-the-sonic-cloth-Photo-by-Invisible-Hour

My only complaint about Brothers of the Sonic Cloth going on tour is I won’t get to see them. Beyond that, it’s good to see the Tad Doyle-fronted Seattle three-piece getting out in support of their Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here), which was released on Feb. 17. The album slays, if you haven’t heard it, and while I keep my fingers crossed that at some point this outfit comes east, I’m glad to know at least someone will get to have their ass handed to them, even if it’s not me just yet.

The PR wire puts it like this:

brothers of the sonic cloth tour dates

BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH: Seattle Doom Trio Confirms West Coast Tour

Seattle’s BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH — featuring legendary guitarist/vocalist Tad Doyle, formerly of Tad and Hog Molly, veteran bassist Peggy Doyle and drummer Dave French (The Anunnaki) — will bring their apocalyptic tidings to the streets next month for a long-anticipated run of West Coast performances. Slated to launch on May 21st on their home turf, the trek will quake eight stages through May 30th in Boise and follows the trio’s previously announced record release show at The Columbia City Theater in Seattle with additional live dates to be broadcast in the weeks to come.

Comments Doyle, “After having done our first U.S. West Coast tour back in 2012, we are stoked to be able to bring our songs out on the road once again to a town near you. We look forward to seeing our friends and making new ones as we trudge the highways with 1,500 filthy watts of amplification and drums big enough to be heard from the other side of a mountain range.”

BROTHERS OF THE SONIC CLOTH:
4/18/2015 The Columbia City Theater – Seattle, WA
5/21/2015 Chop Suey – Seattle, WA w/ Baba Yaga
5/22/2015 Dante’s – Portland, OR w/ Atriarch, Rabbits
5/23/2015 Starlight Lounge – Sacramento, CA
5/24/2015 Parkside – San Francisco, CA
5/27/2015 Sister – Albuquerque, NM
5/28/2015 Hi-Dive – Denver, CO
5/29/2015 Metro Bar – Salt Lake City, UT
5/30/2015 Neurolux – Boise, ID

Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth is currently available on CD or LP at THIS LOCATION.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brothers-of-the-Sonic-Cloth/63586406187
http://www.taddoyle.com/botsc
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, “Lava”

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Live Review: Enslaved, YOB, Ecstatic Vision and Witch Mountain in NYC, 03.21.15

Posted in Reviews on March 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

enslaved 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Driving the four-plus hours from Massachusetts to NYC to see Enslaved, YOB, Witch Mountain and Ecstatic Vision on Saturday wasn’t the practical choice, but it was the only choice. True, three of the four would be much, much closer to me this week, but to catch them in a bigger room and with Witch Mountain wasn’t an opportunity I wanted to miss. I left much earlier than I needed to, leaving as little as humanly possible to chance in terms of sitting in traffic, stressing out, etc. Turned out to be one of the easier rides south that I’ve had.

A positive omen? Maybe. I had time to hit Academy Records before the the show, which was a rare pleasure, and plenty of opportunity to catch my breath before doors to Gramercy Theatre opened. Last time I was there was for PentagramKings DestroyBang and Blood Ceremony, and as ambivalent as I was at being back in Manhattan itself, it would prove to be a night surrounded by old friends, laughs and good vibes. More than anything, that made trip worthwhile.

But there was a show on as well, and a killer one at that. An early start for a packed night had Witch Mountain on at 7:30, and here’s how it went from there:

Witch Mountain

witch mountain 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A couple new faces in Portland’s scene-preceding four-piece, Witch Mountain. Very new, as it happened. As in, this was their second show. Led by founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nate Carson, the band had played Pittsburgh the evening prior, and that was the first gig with newcomer vocalist Kayla Dixon and bassist Justin Brown (also of Lamprey). Night two of the band’s Mk. III lineup was a short set, but they made the most of it and showcased the potential for continued growth. Dixon had a distinctly metallic presence as frontwoman, and the entire band, Brown included, seemed to relish the opportunity to have a bigger stage on which to unfurl their doom. Again, their time was brief, but “Psycho Animundi” from last year’s Mobile of Angels (review here) more than ably demonstrated Dixon‘s vocal range, while “Veil of the Forgotten” and particularly the end of “Shelter” from 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) thrust into an almost power metal presentation, already edging up to the boundaries of a shifting personality for the band. Especially for it being night two, it was an encouraging sight. I’d expect over time Witch Mountain will loosen up further in presence as they continue to tighten sonically, but I felt fortunate to see that process at its beginning.

Ecstatic Vision

ecstatic vision 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Of the four bands on the bill, I wondered most about how Ecstatic Vision‘s sound would translate to the spaciousness of Gramercy Theatre. The Philly three-piece would hardly be the first act in history to play space rock in a high-ceiling room, but for their being a newer band despite the experience of guitarist/vocalist Doug Sabolik and drummer Jordan Crouse in A Life Once Lost, it was a point of curiosity. Some of Sabolik‘s flourish, the chimes on his mic stand and melodica, weren’t as prevalent as they had been when I saw the band open for YOB at the Saint Vitus Bar in December (review here), but they did well all the same, and bassist Michael Connor‘s tone came through the house clear and warm in kind. Their custom lighting, the rope lights around the drums, strobe, and so on, left Connor more or less out of the equation, and that seemed to create some imbalance on stage, but unless you happened to be the black metal purists positioned in front of me as I watched Estatic Vision space out on encompassing, fluid psychedelic jams, there was little to argue with as they warmed up and settled into their engaging vibe. They still don’t have much recorded but are expected to make a debut sometime later this year on Relapse. Still worth keeping an eye on.

YOB

yob 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Would YOB do “Marrow” in that room? Yes, they would. Three of the four cuts from last year’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) — also my pick for the best album of 2014 — were aired, with opening duo “In Our Blood” and the scorching “Nothing to Win” leading to the aforementioned 19-minute record-closer, which was followed in turn by the title-track of their 2011 sixth album, Atma (review here), the Eugene, Oregon, three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster crisp in their delivery but not at all dead-eyed in the here’s-another-show way one might expect after their having spent the better part of the last three weeks on the road. The run with Enslaved ends this week, but YOB will continue to tour their way back west before returning in May to the East Coast for Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore. In New York, their response showed a considerable crossover response from the clearly-there-for-Enslaved contingent, particularly as the culmination of “Marrow” hit and they followed it by the gallop-laden “Atma,” which seemed all the more furious in comparison. I’ve seen YOB at least five times in the last 12 months and have yet to come out of a set without any regrets. Foster‘s snare was loud in the house mix, but so was everything else, so, you know, it kind of worked itself out. Every accolade YOB gets, they earn. I know they did that European stint last year with Pallbearer, and that was a month-plus on the road, but it’s still a change to think of YOB as a touring band after their years of keeping shows limited. While I wonder what the rest of 2015 will hold for them, I also couldn’t help but notice how sustainable and decidedly un-worn they looked on stage, like they could just keep going. I doubt they’d have met any complaints if they had.

Enslaved

Enslaved (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Last time I saw Enslaved in New York was early 2013. They played the Bowery Ballroom (review here), which is a not-insignificant space in itself, but not as sizable as the Gramercy, and I think it says something about the long-running Norwegian outfit’s growing US fanbase that their return to Manhattan would be in a larger venue. They’re supporting the release of their 13th full-length, In Times (review forthcoming) on Nuclear Blast, but new material or old, they had the room on their side from the word go. Bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson joked with the crowd between songs, and by the time they got down to playing the title-track from In Times laughingly promised the crowd that it would be the last new song they played. For what it’s worth, I didn’t notice much of a change in reception for recent or older material. Sure, a song like “The Watcher” from 2008’s Vertebrae, with its mega-chorus, or a by-now staple like “Ruun” from the 2006 LP of the same name is bound to get a response, but “Thurisaz Dreaming” and “Building with Fire” sat well alongside those and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here), and wherever the band headed, the crowd went along. Of course, their stage presentation was air-tight, Kjellson holding down a frontman role flanked on either side by guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, while keyboardist/vocalist Herbrand Larsen made a case for up-front featuring of his own with stellar command of the clean-sung parts — I saw Enslaved for the first time eight years ago at SXSW, and I’d mark Larsen‘s growth as a vocalist among the foremost catalysts enabling their musical progression in that time; that growth was, I’ll note, already underway for several years by then — and drummer Cato Bekkevold sat swallowed up by his expansive kit surrounding. They came out one at a time to start their set and for the encore, and each time Bekkevold sat down, he disappeared. Good for a laugh, but he also used that whole drumset, and flawlessly. Their encore was “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights, “Fenris” from 1994’s sophomore outing, Frost, and the title-cut from 2004’s landmark Isa, and when it was over, there was nothing left for the audience to do but leave, having so thoroughly been handed its ass on a platter by the five-piece, whose reach seems only to continue growing with time.

If you want the short version, the show was a win, but what made it even better was seeing old friends throughout the night and catching up, and that was something that continued even as security started shuffling people out of the downstairs lounge. On my way back north on Sunday, it was the memories of good times and good music that seemed to make the trip shorter, both thoroughly appreciated.

Speaking of old friends, this review is dedicated to Loana dP Valencia of Nuclear Blast, alongside whom it has been my complete and utter pleasure to work for the last decade.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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audiObelisk Transmission 046

Posted in Podcasts on March 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

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I was coming down to the end of this one and decided that I couldn’t let it go without including one more track to push it toward the two-hour mark, and the weirdness of Skunk Hawk’s “Lovers of Pompeii” won out. All bets were off after JPT Scare Band anyway. Nothing to lose between that and Jonas Munk and Headless Kross. Kind of all over the place stylstically there, but each song is so immersive on its own that I figured it would work one way or another. Heaven forbid you change it up once or twice in 60 minutes. Ha.

The first hour gets pretty heavy as well — I suppose it starts that way, with Ufomammut leading off, but look out. Once Wren kicks in from the Jarboe & Helen Money track, that, Gale and Watchtower get into some serious heft. Not that the others don’t, but you know what I mean. Blah blah blah riffs. Oh yeah, and I totally snuck in some new Acid King there, because that record is killer. So dig on that for sure if you haven’t yet. As always, hope you enjoy:

First Hour:
Ufomammut, “Plouton” from Ecate
Royal Thunder, “Time Machine” from Crooked Doors
Boarchucker, “Red Rain” from Swine Throne
Suzukiton, “Snakehead” from Suzukiton II
Jarboe & Helen Money, “Hello Mr. Blue” from Jarboe & Helen Money
Wren, “Before the Great Silence” from split with Irk
Gale, “Burn Your Person” from Vol. 1
Watchtower, “Living Heads” from Radiant Moon
Leather Nun America, “Bourgeois Pig” from Buddha Knievel
Worshipper, “High above the Clouds” from Black Corridor/High above the Clouds
Acid King, “Red River” from Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere

Second Hour:
Headless Kross, “Rural Juror” from Volumes
Jonas Munk, “Absorb” from Absorb Fabric Cascade
JPT Scare Band, “Sleeping Sickness” from Acid Acetate Excursion & Rape of the Titan’s Sirens
Skunk Hawk, “Lovers of Pompeii” from Skunk Hawk

Total running time: 1:59:24

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 046

 

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