Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
A lot has happened in the three years since NJ’s The Atomic Bitchwax made their triumphantly riffed return to Tee Pee Records with The Local Fuzz (review here), what with bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik joining drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet, sundry tours in Europe and so on, but they’re still (shit-)kicking, and this Thursday, they’ll start yet another European run in Berlin. The modus this time around seems to be fest appearances, and right on since the Bitchwax kill no matter what the setting might be. If you’re over there, look for them at Void Fest, Lake on Fire, Yellowstock and the others listed below.
No word on a new release from my beloved Garden State’s most powerful power trio, but the tour is presented by Sound of Liberation and if there’s a chance of a new song or two in the set, all the more reason to show up.
The Atomic Bitchwax’s summer tour : Kick-off on Thursday!! 23 dates in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal & England! Do not miss them!
Check-out the dates right here :
31.07 (Ger) BERLIN – Jaegerklause 01.08 (Ger) BAD KOETZTING – Void Fest 02.08 (Ger) GOESSNITZ – Open Air Goessnitz 03.08 (Pol) WARSAW – Fonobar 04.08 (Pol) WROCLAW – Alive 05.08 (Ger) COTTBUS – La Casa 06.08 (Ger) KARLSRUHE – Alte Hackerei 07.08 (At) MILLSTATT – Bergwerk Sauzipf Warm Up 08.08 (At) WALDHAUSEN – Lake On Fire Festival 09.08 (Bel) GEEL – Yellowstock Festival 10.08 (Uk) LONDON – Borderline 11.08 (Fr) PARIS – Glazart 12.08 (Lux) LUXEMBOURG – Rorcas 13.08 (Ch) MARTIGNY – Palp Festival 14.08 (Ch) OLTEN – Coq d’Or 15.08 (Ger) HOHENSTEIN – Voice of Art Festival 16.08 (Por) MOLEDO – Sonic Blast Festival 18.08 (Ger) COLOGNE – Underground 19.08 (Nl) NIJMEGEN – Merleyn 20.08 (Ger) HAMBURG – Hafenklang 21.08 (Dk) COPENHAGEN – Loppen 22.08 (Ger) KIEL – Schaubude 23.08 (Ger) MANNHEIM – Psi Rock Festival
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
A heads up from my beloved Garden State in that Jersey City atmospheric black metallers Hercyn are about to issue a limited split CD with Brooklyn post-metallers Thera Roya. You might recall Hercyn released a 24-minute single-track EP last fall called Magda (review here), which they’ve since followed up with an acoustic version, and the allegiance between the two acts gets even more traction with the fact that Thera Roya used to be known as The Badeda Ladies, whom I was fortunate enough to see late in 2012 at The Grand Victory in Brooklyn (review here).
I’ll be interested to hear what kind of growth the moniker swap has brought that trio, and Hercyn have already proved themselves to be stylistically adventurous, so their inclusion on All this Suffering is Not Enoughis one to look forward to as well. It’s out Aug. 5 and they’re playing a release show in Jersey on Aug. 2, should you happen to be in that part of the world:
Hercyn and Thera Roya releasing split CD
This spring, Jersey City’s epic black metal band Hercyn joined together with Brooklyn’s own gloomy doom band Thera Roya to record a a CD split entitled “All This Suffering Is Not Enough” on the DIY outfit Ouro Preto Productions.
The release finds both American bands contrasting Hercyn’s epic atmosphere and weaving black metal with Thera Roya’s gloomy and sorrowful doom / post-metal. Hercyn deliver Dusk and Dawn, a 14 minute sprawling black metal piece with sub-layers of synth and acoustic strings. Thera Roya’s side of the split features Gluttony, a 9 minute slowly thundering song drenched in emotion. Both bands have worked in private on the creation of the split. All production and recording was handled’s by Hercyn’s Tony Stanziano (ex-Annunaki, ex-Blood Feast). “All This Suffering Is Not Enough” follow’s Hercyn’s 2013 self-released 24 minute epic Magda (listen here) and Thera Roya’s self-titled (listen here).
The split will see an official summer release of August 5th in hand numbered CDs and will be highly limited to 333 total copies. Pre-orders will be announced shortlyhere.
In celebration of the split, both bands will share the same stage August 2nd at the Lamp Post in Hercyn’s hometown (382, 2nd street, Jersey City). The release showis free, music starts at 10pm. Opening the show is special guest, Bible Gun – a dramatic piano and saxophone duo from Montclair, New Jersey (listen here). Early copies of the split CD will be available for purchase at the show.
There doesn’t seem to ever be a break with this stuff. 16 records joined The Obelisk Radio playlist today, and that’s still got me behind on checking out more to add. I don’t know what the state of that hard drive is, but I might not be far off from needing to add a second one. It’s become an archive for me.
Diligent and admirable bastard that he is, Slevin is working on an automatically refreshing script that will allow listeners to see what was played over the last 24 hours, which will be a big help if a file is missing its ID3 tags — that being how the player identifies the songs — as I know things sometimes are. I get asked regularly what was played at a specific time, so hopefully this will be able to answer that question.
So things are in the works, but of course there’s a ton of music to talk about in the meantime, and that’s the fun part anyway.
The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 11, 2014:
All Them Witches, Effervescent EP
There are at least two distinct jams at work in the 25-minute single track that makes up Effervescent, the 2014 EP from Nashville psych-blues rockers All Them Witches. The Fender Rhodes of Allan Van Cleave and airy guitar of Ben McLeod feature heavily in both, as bassist Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer Robby Staebler (interview here) provide a foundation on which to space out, and the two pieces find a bridge in hypnotic, psychedelic stretching and backwards noise beginning at around 13 minutes in before building back up. All throughout, the vibe is central, there is movement, and the four-piece demonstrate that the chemistry they showed burgeoning on last year’s brilliant Lightning at the Door(discussed here) was no fluke, but the beginning of a grand and creative exploration that finds its next installment here. It may be a stopgap — formerly their primary means of release, they’ve recently pulled their full-lengths down from Bandcamp; one expects big, got-signed-type news from them at any moment — but Effervescentis fluid and rich, and as deep as you want to go in listening to it, it’s willing to take you there and further. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Nyarlathotep, The Shadow over Innsmouth
Some six years after releasing their initial The End is Always Near demo, New Jersey black metal outfit (whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I know personally) Nyarlathotep follow-up with the Lovecraftian full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth. Based around the short story of the same name, the album breaks down into five extended tracks plus an intro of rage-fueled atmospherics. Using programmed drums to their advantage on “Old Zadok Allen” — the only proper song here under 10 minutes — they add an industrial feel with a keyboard-led midsection backed by vague, ambient screams. The density in the material is striking, but even at their most unbridled — as on the blasting, solo-topped early moments in the title-track – Nyarlathotep hold their commitment to setting a mood firm, and the blown-out, distorted soundscape they create across the release is grim and otherworldly enough to be worthy of its subject matter. It is a complex, biting execution that won’t be for everyone, but that seethes in its quiet parts and gnashes its pointed teeth with monstrous force. Nyarlathotep on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Oklahoma City trio Idre specialize in ambient fluidity and deeply-weighted tonal crush. Their self-released, self-titled debut long-player is comprised of two extended cuts — “Factorie” (26:41) and “Witch Trial” (13:17) — that each impress with their patience, their impact and their ability to contrast the generally claustrophobic feel of post-metal with an open-spaced, salt-of-the-earth pulse. Within its first 10 minutes, “Factorie” has moved from undulating waves of riffing to vast, strumming, Across Tundras-esque roll, and never does it seem to be meandering without purpose in the noisy stages to come. It builds and collapses, and when they seem the most gone, the clean, twanging vocals return to finish out, leading to the parabolically constructed “Witch Trial,” which marries Earth-style drone and galloping drums effectively to create a decidedly Western feel while still building toward, and eventually moving through a sonically pummeling apex. Once again, vocals are sparse, but perfectly placed almost as if to remind the listener of how small a human being can be in so wide a space as the Midwest. Like that landlocked region, Idre‘s Idreis expansive and lets you see for miles. Idre on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean
Led by the substantial pipes of vocalist B. Fain Kistler, Norman, Oklahoma, four-piece Rainbows are Free seem keen on finding the place where classic doom and heavy rock meet, and on their second full-length, Waves ahead of the Ocean (released by Guestroom Records), they just about get there. Kistler is a singer worthy of comparison to Grand Magus‘ JB Christoffersson, but Rainbows are Free are less grandiose overall, early songs like “The Botanist,” the title-track and the cumbersomely-titled opener “Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place beyond Hell” nestling into heavy, engaging grooves marked out by the choice riffing of Richie Tarver, the bass work of Chad Hogue and drums of Bobby Onspaugh. Unpretentious and professional in their presentation, they doom up an otherwise Clutch-style boogie in “Cadillac” before going full-on trad metal in “Snake Bitten by Love,” and ably making their way through a Dio Sabbath push on “Burn and Die,” which works well despite feeling a long way from the upbeat rockin’ of earlier highlight “Sonic Demon” and leads smoothly into closer “Comet,” the six-and-a-half-minute spacier thrust of which seems to be seems to be where Rainbows are Free most choose to harken to the psychedelia one might expect from their moniker. They most drive toward the epic in their finale, and the payoff there is churning and insistent in a way that more than justifies the song’s position on the 37-minute record, but even then have a keen eye for structure and holding the attention of their audience. An impeccably put together album from a band more than ready to turn heads. Rainbows are Free on Thee Facebooks, Guestroom Records on Bandcamp.
Panopticon, Roads to the North
Despite the bluegrass influence and liberal inclusion of banjo amidst its blackened onslaught, Panopticon‘s Roads to the North (released on Bindrune) is perhaps most American of all for its pulling together seemingly disparate elements in defiance of European traditionalism. Billed as and creating the standard for American folk metal, it nonetheless is in conversation with European black metal — a conversation that in my head looks something like it’s being chased à la Benny Hill for its heresies — while purposefully working against its tenets. Roads to the Northis the fifth full-length from the one-man project of Kentucky’s Austin Lunn, and made in collaboration with Krallice‘s Colin Marston (among others), it elicits a sprawl through both its metallic extremity and its devotion to the aesthetic it pioneers. It makes for a heady 74-minute listen, but Panopticon are cohesive throughout — five records deep, they should be — and one doesn’t embark on an album like Roads to the Northlightly or without wanting full immersion into an evocative and blistering landscape. That’s just what you get. Panopticon on Thee Facebooks, Bindrune Recordings.
For the full list of albums added to The Obelisk Radio this week and to see the latest updates, click here.
Posted in Features on June 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
From 1PM-3PM today, I’ll be a guest on Diane’s Kamikaze Fun Machine on New Jersey’s venerable institution of the weird, 91.1 WFMU. If you’re in the area, you can tune in directly, but you can listen from anywhere in the world at http://wfmu.org
I am thrilled beyond belief and very, very excited to do this. I don’t get invited to take part in things like this very often, and I’ve picked some killer tracks — a lot of new stuff, and almost all within the last few years — to mark the occasion. If you haven’t heard any of the new Godflesh yet, I’m bringing that along, and a lot of fuzz and heavy psych stuff too. Lots of heavy psych, actually. I kind of went on a tear selecting tracks.
But there’s some brutality too. I’m carting along two full CD’s worth, which is more than we’ll be able to fit for a two-hour show probably by double, but I thought it would be good to have stuff to choose from. I’m crazy stoked, honored to have been asked to go there at all and I really, really hope you’ll be able to check it out.
Again, WFMU streams live online at http://wfmu.org, and all of Diane‘s playlists are available on her show’s page, which I would highly encourage you check out and basically use as a blueprint for stuff you should dig on. FMU has been doing support-worthy freeform radio since long before I knew what absurdity was, so if you’re someplace in the world where you can’t listen via radio, it’s definitely worth your time to listen, whether you do so when I’m on or not.
There’s a running comments page with the live-updated playlist (also a pronunciation guide for my last name in case you’ve ever wondered), so if you get the chance, please say hi. I can’t wait to get on the air!
I haven’t walked away from seeing Clamfight play in the last four years without thinking to myself how devastating a live act they’ve become, so their new live tape, Thank You Delaware, is a welcome arrival as documentation of that phenomenon. Released by Contaminated Tones Productions with the first 20 copies in a limited blue liner, the six-song set seems to have been recorded late in 2013 in a North Jersey club called Dingbatz. At very least, that’s where the pics in the j-card insert come from, and at the start of side two — actually the sides are divided into “Side Clam” and “Side Strips” — drummer/vocalist Andy Martin makes some mention of being in Jersey playing with Tarpit Boogie, so it seems like a safe assumption. The title is a gag as it winds up, since at the end of the set, Martin says, “It’s been real, Delaware,” when they’re most definitely in NJ. They can thank whatever state they want, I’m still going to be on board.
That bias level for the Maple Forum alums and my personal affection for these dudes – Martin, lead guitarist Sean McKee, guitarist Joel Harris, bassist Louis Koble – no doubt colors my opinion of Thank YouDelaware, but I’ve found since the “tape revival” began that some of the stuff I enjoy most of all are releases just like this one; live, raw recordings that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s not a bootleg, because it’s on a legit label — Contaminated Tones specialize in varying forms of extremity — and endorsed by the band, but it’s of that ilk. The label on the tape is pasted on, there aren’t a lot of them around, and while it’s not a DAT-in-the-pocket audience recording from 1974, neither is it overly clean in such a way as to detract from the impact of the live feel. A solid balance, in other words. You get the brutality from “The Eagle” and you get a taste of McKee‘s soaring lead work in the jam around the title-track from 2013′s sophomore full-length, I vs. the Glacier, from which the bulk of the material on the tape comes.
“The Eagle” and “Sand Riders” as a one-two are more or less staples of Clamfight gigs, and they sit well together in that role. I’m glad to have a live recording of “Block Ship,” and “Ghosts I Have Known” was a favorite from their 2010 debut, Vol. 1, that doesn’t always get played, so cool to hear that put to tape as well. If you’ve ever gone to see a band and then heard one of their live albums, you know that sometimes they can come off completely different recorded. Vocals are off, there’s too much separation. You lose the feeling of watching them. With Thank You Delaware, the four-piece’s wall of noise and vicious stage domination is preserved. It’s a big, heavy-slamming sound, and it rounds out at its most raucous with “Stealing the Ghost Horse,” though the intro jam has since developed even further than how it sounds here to boast some of McKee‘s best lead work. The tape finishes with excerpts from an interview conducted by Contaminated Tones in 2010 that recounts, among other things, some vomit-related band shenanigans. Very Clamfight, to say the least.
If you’re not into tapes, fair enough. I’m not likely to change your mind about that. For those not immediately biased along format lines, Thank You Delawaresuccessfully captures the thrashing heft that Clamfight bring to their live performance. Maybe it’s a fan-piece and I’m a fanboy, but that’s not about to diminish my enjoyment at all, and if you’ve dug into I vs. the Glacier, this makes a more than satisfying companion.
Clamfight, “Ghosts I Have Known” from Thank You Delaware (2014)
I only purchased two CDs at this year’s Roadburn festival. One was Rotor‘s 2, which I was far less than thrilled to discover later that I already owned (it was their first one I wanted), and the other was Love Monster, a 2001 compilation of Dave Wyndorf‘s pre-Monster Magnet demos, recorded in 1988. This one, which I didn’t already own, has been on my radar for a while, and though I was royally, epically broke at the fest, I used some of the Euros left in my wallet from 2013 to pay for the disc, which came out on Wrong Way Records basically as a fan-piece for Monster Magnet heads who maybe by then were missing the band’s more psychedelic side.
Remember, this was 2001, the same year Monster Magnet put out God Says No, right around the height of their commerciality, so in a way a release like this was bound to happen. 3,000 copies were made, and indeed, the seven tracks do capture some of the space-rocking spirit of Monster Magnet‘s earliest work — their landmark debut, Spine of God, would see US release in 1992, following a self-titled EP in 1990 — but there’s more to it than that. The material was recorded on a 4-track by Wyndorf himself, so it’s pretty blown out and raw, but there are shades of pre-industrial new wave on “Atom Age Vampire” and Wyndorf adjusts his attitude-drenched vocals accordingly, and “Brighter than the Sun” coats classic garage riffing in echo like the prototype for a psychedelic punk movement that never really existed. Rawness notwithstanding, a lot of what would prove so pivotal to Monster Magnet‘s sound is there on Love Monster, which if nothing else underscores the clarity of vision at work in the band from its launch.
There are seven tracks on the CD, with the penultimate “Five Years Ahead” a cover of obscure New York psych rockers The Third Bardo‘s 1967 single, and the closer “Snoopy” a 10-minute effects-laden noise-buzz freakout, but really, the appeal of Love Monsterwhen it was new would’ve been the chance to hear where Monster Magnet came from some 13 years earlier. Now, another 13 years after that, the EP still has that appeal, however rough it might sound, and in the clever lyrics of “Poster” and the bright-toned bliss of “War Hippie” one can hear one of psych rock’s most accomplished songwriting processes beginning to take shape. What Monster Magnet would go on to accomplish and the influence they’d wind up having didn’t come solely from the songs on Love Monster, but they were a step on the way to getting there, and for that, I was more than happy to shell out a couple of my remaining Euros for the disc.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
New Jersey natives Pharaoh will round out a Philly-Baltimore-D.C. weekender tonight with a set in Montclair, in my beloved Garden State, alongside the formidable likes of Dutchguts, Ilsa and Seven Sisters of Sleep. I’m late in posting the news below about their forthcoming full-length debut, Negative Everything, but I figured better that than never. It’s been five years almost to the day since I reviewed the trio’s The Demonstration 2009demo, and though they’ve had a couple singles out since then, I’m looking forward to finding out where the last half-decade has taken their sound. Time flies. Also birds.
A389 will have Negative Everythingout in the coming months, as the PR wire informs:
PHARAOH: New Jersey Trio Completes Tracking Of New LP For A389
Following two 7″ releases released through A389, Somerville, New Jersey-based trio, PHARAOH, has completed the tracking on their debut LP for the label.
PHARAOH’s hardcore-influenced sludge reverberation can be traced to legendary acts like Bloodlet, Neurosis, Grief and Starkweather, the band demonstrating their craft through a bruising, slow-motion dirge of through monolithic amplification. Through regional touring and multiple recordings, including their 2010-released I Murderer 7″ and 2012-released This House Is Doomed 7″, the past few years have earned the band a respectable cult status in line with the likes of A389 labelmates Ilsa and Seven Sisters Of Sleep.
Now for 2014, PHARAOH’s debut LP, Negative Everything, is being finalized for release. With nearly fifty minutes of new material, Negative Everything takes the band’s intoxicating low-end tunes to new levels of musicianship with more swirling lead guitar mayhem and thunderous rhythms. The album was tracked and produced by the band and mastered by Will Putney at Machine Shop. Upon receiving the final masters, A389 will confirm a late Summer release date for the LP.
PHARAOH will raid Philly for a show tonight, Friday, May 16th, followed by shows in Baltimore and Washington DC the next two nights before joining Seven Sisters Of Sleep, Ilsa and others in Montclair, New Jersey this Monday, May 19th. Additional tour actions will be scheduled as the release of Negative Everything closes in.
PHARAOH Live: 5/19/2014 The Batcave – Montclair, NJ w/ Seven Sisters Of Sleep, Ilsa, Dutchguts, Thera Roya
Posted in audiObelisk on February 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
In a couple days, Philly-adjacent four-piece Gholas will head out on a weekender that will take them from Columbus, Ohio, through Chicago and Pittsburgh, finally looping south to Washington D.C. before heading back up I-95 to their home in New Jersey (a record release show at Kung Fu Necktie is set for later this month with Sadgiqacea and Lord Dying). The occasion for the roadtrip is the release of their second album, Litanies, which is out today on Dullest Records as the follow-up to 2010′s Zagadkaand a prior EP, 2008′s Here I am, Here is Infinity, and which offers just under 40-minutes of vicious and unadulterated pummel.
Their roots are in hardcore. One can hear it easily enough in the vocals of baritone guitarists Bob and Chris (also in the fact that the band is first-names-only), their guttural shouts coming across gruff and raw-throated over the alternately crushing and pummeling tracks on Litanies. The two baritone guitars don’t hurt Gholas‘ overarching tonal thickness, either. Along with Joe‘s bass, they’re able to make a turn like that of the gruelingly slow end of “The Sleeper” into the faster rush of closer “The Fighters” all the more weighted, while drummer Dave handles that and all shifts of pace within the songs with suitable fluidity. While the closing duo both range over nine-minutes, Gholas are never far from a sense of immediacy, the initial thrust and multi-channel vocal tradeoffs of opener “…And the Lives Come Flooding” setting the table for a varied and sometimes disorienting album to come, with shades of Swans-via-Neurosis showing themselves in the guitars and the sense of fluidity that allows the band to transcend aesthetics for an approach less adherent to genre than working in defiance of it.
That’s not to say one can’t hear shades of sludge in the lurching riff of “The Worm,” Converge-style post-hardcore in “With Terrible Purpose” or ambient doom in the surprisingly brief “Call out to the Supplicants,” just that when taken as a whole, Litaniesultimately shows little interest in staying put in one realm or the other stylistically. It works to Gholas‘ advantage over the course of the album, which as a result is best approached front-to-back, rather than one song at a time or in vinyl-style sides. It’s a linear flow, a broader-than-it-at-first-seems range and 39 minutes of multifaceted bludgeoning. You will not hear me complain.
Some of Litanies‘ most atmospherically dense and complex stretches come about in “The Sleeper” and “The Fighters,” but even earlier than that, Gholas establish a brutal course that proves well worth following to its conclusion.
Player, release info and tour dates follow:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Philadelphia doomhaulers GHOLAS lurk the murky depths of noise, down tuned guitars, no wave, not quite metal and a tad space gazing as only four unfortunate miscreants that spent their formative years in the festering wasteland that is New Jersey could. Their songs are harsh down tuned blasts of sound that scratch the surface of an unhealthy obsession with the writings of Frank Herbert, Philip K Dick and Arthur C. Clarke, among others.
Their latest LP, entitled Litanies, finds the band trimming down their attack while still incorporating the grating noise and ambience of their previous outings into a more concise and, at times, direct aural assault on people’s ears. Litanies was recorded in the winter of 2012/2013 at Red Planet and engineered and mixed by Joe Smiley, with masterful mastering courtesy of James Plotkin.
GHOLAS ON TOUR: 2.13 Columbus OH @ Cafe Bourbon St, The Summit w/ Earthburner 2.14 Chicago IL @ The Burlington 2.15 Pittsburgh PA @ The Rock Room w/ Dendritic Arbor 2.16 Washington DC @ Velvet Lounge 2.26 Philadephia PA @ Kungfu Necktie Record Release Show w/ Lord Dying, Sadgiqacea
Technically speaking, the limited-to-50-tapes Demo isn’t Green Dragon‘s first outing, though it is the North Jersey trio’s first on their own, their debut having been on a 2013 split tape with Purple Knights (review here). The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Zack Kurland, bassist Jennifer Klein and drummer Nathan Wilson released a video for an earlier recording of “Downflame,” which opens this cassette, late in 2012, but in the time since, they seem to have dropped the “The” from the front of their name and come further into their sound. Demo is exactly that: a rudimentary showing of what Green Dragon have to offer sonically, and its four songs — the aforementioned “Downflame,” as well as “Psychonaut,” “Earth Children” and “Book of Shadows” — strike with the urgency and exploratory feel of a band’s earliest going. So if it isn’t precisely their first release, it’s not far off.
Kurland, who was also in Purple Knights and Sweet Diesel , leads the trio’s charge in gritty riffs and blown out vocals. The tape repeats all four tracks on both sides, and altogether each side is just over 14 minutes long, so any way you go, it’s a quick look at Green Dragon‘s approach, which nestles itself somewhere between garage shuffle and doomly grooving. Klein and Wilson add a fervent swing to “Psychonaut,” pushing the song’s Motörhead-style riff into more swaggering territory as Kurland drawls out intonations that would be nearly indecipherable were it not for the included lyric sheets in both the cassette and CD versions of the release. They never get into the same kind of malevolent psycho-delic melodicism as Uncle Acid, but some of the sway in “Earth Children” and the guitar in “Book of Shadows” hint in that direction if presenting a ’90s alt-rock crunch, while “Downflame” shows more of a classic metal root, hitting its stride in Iron Maiden-style hits and gallop in its second half.
A steady underpinning of Sabbath influence serves as a uniting factor and whole the key is remembering that it’s a demo release, Green Dragon show off some sonic fluidity between the tracks as the feedback that ends “Psychonaut” fades out an into that which starts the rolling bass groove of “Earth Children.” It might be me reading into it, but the second two cuts feel more complex than “Downflame” and “Psychonaut,” with “Earth Children” pushing more into psych ground and hitting a fuller stride in the bridge after its second chorus, leading to Kurland ‘s repeating the line, “Earth children are free,” and “Book of Shadows” sounding altogether more patient and assured in its pacing. If those are earlier or later in terms of the songwriting, I don’t know, but listening to the demo front to back — and then flipping over to side two and doing so again — it’s easy to read a narrative of progression into the material. At that point, whether or not it’s there is a secondary consideration (though still relevant of course). You can hear it.
What that might mean for Green Dragon‘s progression remains to be seen, but the balance of elements they devise on Demointrigues as a solid demo should, and the gnarl in Kurland‘s guitar and Klein ‘s bass feels particularly suited to the compression of a tape, though I’ll say as well that both the CD and digital versions work with a little more frequency room to space out. Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure release. “You’ve just encountered a Green Dragon…”
Posted in Reviews on February 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Second week in a row I’m trying this, since the universe didn’t seem to collapse on itself after the first one — unless you count how bad I fucked up lineups; they’re fixed now. Once again we cover some pretty wide ground geographically and stylistically (also alphabetically!), so let’s get to it:
Buddha Sentenza, South Western Lower Valley Rock
Released last year as their debut on World in Sound Records, the 14-track full-length South Western Lower Valley Rock is Buddha Sentenza‘s follow-up to 2009′s exploratory Mode 0909 (review here). The 46-minute outing from the German instrumental fivesome pairs longer pieces like the classic rocking “Arrested Development” (5:04) and prog-jamming “The Monkey Stealing the Peaches” (2:49) off of brief transitional interludes taking their name from letters in the Greek alphabet. I’m not sure what “A-B-G-D-E-Z-I” is meant to indicate — the tracks being “Alpha,” “Beta,” “Gamma” and so on — but they pair remarkably well with the other pieces, and the emergent feel is not unlike that of My Sleeping Karma‘s 2012 outing, Soma, methodologically as well as aesthetically. Perhaps the highlight of South Western Lower Valley Rockis its longest component, “Debris Moon,” which in just under nine minutes weaves nighttime atmospherics and heavy psych ambience into what’s still a subdued track, never quite paying off the tension it creates until the subsequent “Epsilon” shifts into the aforementioned “The Monkey Stealing the Peaches,” giving even more of a clue that Buddha Sentenza are working in a whole-album mindset, rather than thinking of South Western Lower Valley Rockin terms of its individual tracks. The album makes sense on this level, and on CD presents an immersive, linear listening experience that casts a deceptively wide stylistic berth between keyboard-infused krautrock worship, heavy rock and psychedelia, offering fluid motion from in less skilled hands could easily come across as disjointed elements. They make that My Sleeping Karma comparison almost too easy, but the interludes are ultimately essential in creating the flow, as the ease of movement between the desert crunch of “Tzameti,” “Eta” and Eastern-vibing closer “Psychonaut” underscores. Some of Buddha Sentenza‘s best moments are in playing styles off each other.
Chrome, Half Machine from the Sun: The Lost Tracks from ’79-’80
While the liner notes tell of their having been designated “too accessible” at the time, the 18 songs on Chrome‘s Half Machine from the Sun are still plenty weird. As the title indicates, the release is a compilation of yet-unissued cuts from 1979-1980, the era of Half Machine Lip Moves and Red Exposure for Chrome‘s key collaboration between guitarist/vocalist Helios Creed and drummer/vocalist Damon Edge and arguably the point at which that incarnation of the band’s far-out blend of proto-punk, New Wave, psychedelic rock and experimental pop was at its most potent. Sure enough, Half Machine from the Sun crisscrosses genres on an almost per-track basis, be it the weirdo electro stomp of “Looking for Your Door,” the space rock noise wash of “Morrison” or “Sub Machine,” which turns an almost manic drum beat into the foundation of an otherworldly guitar and vocal exploration. They can and will go anywhere, as “Charlie’s Little Problem” and the creeper keyboards of “Ghost” showcase, but if there’s anything tying Half Machine from the Sun(which is out through King of Spades Records following a successful crowdfunding campaign to have it pressed to CD) together, it’s the fact that nothing is tying it together. Tape loops, analog synth, bizarre vocals, structure out the window — and yes, this is still the “accessible” side of Chrome — these songs nonetheless leave any number of memorable impressions, even if that impression winds up in an overarching sense of “God damn this band was weird.” Gloriously so. Chrome, under the direction of Helios Creed, have reportedly been at work on new material, so maybe all the better to give fans advance notice via this collection, which provides 73 minutes of alternate universe brainfodder to sate the curious and the passionate alike. A fan piece, but a welcome one.
The self-released debut EP from New Jersey-based progressive black metallers Hercyn, Magda, arrives in a full jewel case — the pressing is limited to 100 copies — wrapped in twine. I guess that’s meant to take the place of shrinkwrap, and in that, it’s certainly a more natural-feeling option. Magda‘s namesake track is a 24-minute blend of Euro-doom melancholy, blackened gurgles, grand riffing and ambient weight from the Jersey City trio of guitarist Michael DiCiania, guitarist/vocalist Ernest Wawiorko and bassist Tony Stanziano. About the only thing holding back the EP’s organic vibe is the fact that the drums are programmed, which gives the complex, ambitious “Magda” a mechanical base for what’s otherwise a relatively human sound; the guitars are buzzsaw sharp, but not necessarily without tonal warmth, and particularly in blastbeaten stretches, one almost wants something less precise to go along with the rawness in those guitars, as well as in the bass and Wawiorko‘s vocals. Nonetheless, as lead and rhythm layers intertwine past “Magda”‘s midpoint, there’s beauty in the dismal and a sense of the potential in Hercyn to fluidly cross genre boundaries even more than they already are. That lead is well plotted and sustained, and tempo and chug vary as the song reaches and moves beyond its apex in the second half, with the band offering a bit of Enslaved and Woods of Ypres influence in the interplay of keys and strings. I don’t know if they’ll try to find an actual drummer — for a first release, Magdahardly seems half-assed in its presentation, so maybe this is it; I hear industrial is on its way back — but Hercyn have started with a work of striking intricacy, and prove wholly comfortable in the longer form. An impressive and hopefully portentous debut.
Acid fuzz like a field you could lay down and lose an afternoon in is the contraband trafficked by L.A. freakouts The Warlocks, whose amorphous sonic ooze is every bit in mirror to their lineup, which has seen no fewer than 20 cats come and go and stick around over the course of the last decade and a half. With guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/bassist Bobby Hecksher as the core around which the eight tracks of the 40-minute Skull Worship swirl, the oft-shoegazing psychedelia isn’t given to complete chaos, but man, The Warlocks go way, way out and don’t seem overly concerned with how they’re getting back. Joining Hecksher for the adventure are guitarist JC Rees, guitarist Earl V. Miller, bassist Chris DiPino and drummer George Serrano, as well as Tanya Hayden, who stops by to add some cello to “Silver and Plastic,” which sounds like what I always secretly hoped Radiohead would deliver instead of the pretentious mopey schlock they put out until they decided they were too smart for albums or whatever. The Warlocks, who had a couple records out on Tee Pee before jumping to Zap Banana/Cargo Records for Skull Worship, at times call to mind the very, very British moments of Crippled Black Phoenix, but then the psychedelic wash of “Chameleon” or “It’s a Hard Fall” takes hold and the whole vibe is groovier, thicker, more multi-colored molasses, whatever other attitude it might convey. The album hits its stride just when you think it might start to drag, and the closing “Eyes Jam” sounds like its backwards cymbals, feedback and drones could just go on into perpetuity, like if the record never returned and the loop kept repeating. Some heady moments, but should be right on the level for those properly tuned in.
Immediately and throughout much of the duration of Polish psychedelic pop rockers The White Kites‘ debut LP, Missing (out on Deep Field Records), the vibe is Beatles. Lots and lots of Beatles, from the Sgt. Pepper-style organ circus swirl of opener “Arrival” on through the McCartney piano bounce of the penultimate “The Missing.” It is a 50-minute album, and much of the lighthearted atmosphere it creates stems from its modern interpretation of the legendary Liverpudlians in their psych era. Hard to rag on a band for digging The Beatles — it’s like yelling at a fish for breathing underwater. And as a seven-piece that includes flute, recorders, keyboards, citole, a variety of percussion, clarinet, ukulele and so on, The White Kites aren’t lacking for sonic diversity — vocalist Sean Palmer has quite a task in tying the album together — but as intricate and progressive as Missing gets, it’s still taking the Lennon/McCartney byway to get there. The corresponding songwriting team for The White Kites seems to be Palmer and bassist/keyboardist Jakub Lenarczyk (presented as Lenarczyk/Palmer), and they’re more than capable in their charge, but hints of early Pink Floyd and King Crimson seem to be waiting to emerge from “Turtle’s Back” and “Beyond the Furthest Star,” like they’re trying to get out and be more prominent in the band’s sound but are overpowered by the traceable poppiness. That doesn’t stop Missing from being enjoyable — unless you’ve never liked The Beatles, maybe — or “Beyond the Furthest Star” from being the highlight, it just means that The White Kites have room to shift the sonic balance should they choose to do so their next time around. Until then, impeccable production and imaginative arrangements throughout give an impression of a band just beginning their discovery.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
With drummer Bob Pantella and guitarist Garrett Sweeny having spent much of last year working in Monster Magnet on the album Last Patrol(review here) and subsequent touring, there hasn’t been much word of late out of the Riotgod (or, alternately, RiotGod) camp since the release of their sophomore album, Invisible Empire (review here), in 2012. They did tour in support of that record that year, even going so far as to play the legendary Wacken Open Air festival, but 2013 was comparatively inactive, with their only show being a Halloween appearance at The Stone Pony in their native New Jersey. Things look to be picking up in 2014 for the four-piece, however, as they’re set to issue their third long-player through Metalville Records.
Dubbed Driven Rise (or, alternately, Driven•Rise), the album is set to release on March 18 and will mark the band’s first studio outing without bassist Jim Baglino, who also parted ways with Monster Magnet last year, replacing him with Erik Boe, who came aboard in time for the band’s winter 2012 tour. The foursome’s classic heavy rocking approach is rounded out by the considerable pipes of vocalist Mark Sunshine, and if cuts like “Davos” and “Melisandre” are anything to go by, somebody in the band has been watching Game of Thrones.
The PR wire takes it from here with album art and track details:
RIOTGOD to Release Driven Rise March 18th on Metalville Records
Red Bank, New Jersey’s RIOTGOD (featuring Monster Magnet drummer Bob Pantella) are set to release their third album Driven Rise on March 18th in North America via Metalville Records. Today the artwork and track listing have been revealed.
Driven Rise Track Listing: 1. Driven Rise 2. They Don’t Know 3. Grenade and Pin 4. Sidewinder 5. Prime Moment 6. Positronic 7. Davos 8. Melisandre 9. You’re My Waste of Time 10. Beg For Power
RIOTGOD Lineup: Bob Pantella – Drums Garrett Sweeny – Guitar Erik Boe – Bass Sunshine – Vocals
Posted in On Wax on November 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Maybe it’s not the deepest critique I’ve ever made, but what’s not to like here? Monster Magnet‘s Last Patrol(review here) is one of 2013′s best albums, so to have it arrive in a limited 2LP package geared specifically toward collectors and the types of fans who’d chase down such an artifact is all the better. Pressed by Napalm Records in what the back of the gatefold refers to in all-caps as “Strictly Limited Edition,” Last Patrolcomprises two subtle magenta swirl platters and on vinyl feels even more like the sonic event it is in the band’s catalog.
Prior to its release, Last Patrolwas billed as a psychedelic return to form, and in a couple of the extended jammers — the title-track and “End of Time” — it certainly taps into some of the long-running New Jersey stoner innovators’ early Hawkwind fetishizing, but the prevailing sensibility is more brooding, and there are moments where that psych tendency crashes hard into a heavy reality, whether that arrives in the sarcasm rooted in the lyrics of “Paradise” or the underlying scathe of “Mindless Ones,” which in itself has some measure of swirl but still drives like heavy rocking Monster Magnet at their most unbridled.
The limited version of Last Patrolmaintains the atmosphere overall, but the listening experience is far different. Spreading the nine tracks of the album proper and the two bonus cuts, “Strobe Light Beatdown” and “One Dead Moon” over the course of two LPs means that each of the four sides save for side A only has three songs on it. By the time opener “I Live behind the Clouds” and the following “Last Patrol” are done, it’s time to get up and flip the record, and where in a more linear mode of listening, one might just get carried off by the flow of one song into the next, here the process is more interactive. “Three Kingfishers” into “Paradise” into “Hallelujah” is a quick listen.
If there’s a downside, it’s that the changing of LPs takes away from the smoothness of some of the song-to-song transitions, like “Hallelujah” into “Mindless Ones” and “End of Time” into “Stay Tuned,” but the tradeoff is you’re a more conscious audience. Last Patrolin this form doesn’t let you get so swept away by psychedelic hypnosis that you miss a minute of it, and ultimately this serves the tracks in a different way than either the CD, digital (or presumably) the single LP versions possibly could. The inclusion of bonus material, whether it’s the more upbeat “Strobe Light Beatdown” or the building “One Dead Moon” further distinguishes this version, and for fans who’d take on a package like this one, these are songs well worth hearing.
Casual Monster Magnet fans probably won’t feel the need to dig in on this level, but this doesn’t seem to be geared toward that audience anyway. It’s for the Monster Magnet fan who’s waited a long time for the band to put out something like Last Patrol — more complex in its personality than anything they’ve done in the last decade — and as I count myself among that number, I’m happy to be able to dig into a package that’s a gorgeous and honest as the album itself. To see the John Sumrow art alone in this iteration, I’d feel compelled to frame it if I didn’t want to keep listening so much.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
There’s a fascinating bit of scene-symmetry here. The Atomic Bitchwax, when they formed in the late ’90s out of the dismantling of bassist Chris Kosnik‘s prior outfit, Godspeed, featured then-Monster Magnet guitarist Ed Mundell, and were widely regarded in their beginnings as a Monster Magnet side-project. Now, with Mundell long out of the Bitchwax and more recently (three years as opposed to seven or eight) out of Magnet, along comes the announcement that Chris Kosnik, the last remaining founding member of The Atomic Bitchwax, is to serve as the new bassist for Monster Magnet, replacing Jim Baglino, who left earlier this year. Got all that?
I’m not sure where this leaves The Atomic Bitchwax, who’ve continued to play shows — they ruled on the Rocks off Concert Cruise around Manhattan in June — since the release in 2011 of The Local Fuzz(review here), but since Bitchwax drummer Bob Pantella was going to be busy playing in Monster Magnet anyway, it makes a weird kind of sense to have Kosnik join him there in the rhythm section. Hey man, Red Bank isn’t exactly a huge town.
Kudos and best of luck to Kosnik. Here’s the announcement from Monster Magnet frontman Dave Wyndorf from the band’s forum, followed by their upcoming North American tour dates:
Monster Magnet welcomes new bass player Chris Kosnik
We’d like to welcome bassist Chris Kosnik into the Magnet family of undying reverberation.
Chris is a fantastic player as many might already know.
He’s a founding and current member of Atomic Bitchwax and has chopped wood with Godspeed and Black Nasa.
What else can we say? The guy rocks.
MONSTER MAGNET North American Tour: 11/14: Grand Rapids, MI @ Intersection 11/15: Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews 11/16: Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge 11/17: Minneapolis, MN @ Mill City Nights 11/19: Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater 11/20: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge 11/22: Seattle, WA @ Neumos 11/23: Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theater 11/24: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater 11/26: San Francisco, CA @ The Independent 11/27: Los Angeles, CA @ House of Blues 11/29: Tempe, AZ @ Club Red 11/30: Albuquerque, NM @ Launch Pad 12/2: Austin, TX @ Red 7 12/3: Houston, TX @ Fitzgeralds 12/4: Dallas, TX @ Trees 12/6: Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade 12/7: Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend 12/8: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage 12/10: Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace 12/12: Boston, MA @ Sinclair 12/13: West Chester, PA @ The Note 12/14: New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Posted in Features on October 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Any way you want to look at it, Last Patrol is a landmark in the Monster Magnet catalog. Before you even get to the music and whether or not the band accomplished the goals of their ninth album overall and second for Napalm Records — incidentally, I’ll gladly argue they did with anyone who might be interested in picking up the other side — the sheer fact of their shift from the straightforward hard rock sound of their string of albums from 2001′s God Says Noto 2010′s Mastermind(review here) to a moodier, more psychedelic feel derived from earlier works like 1991′s genre-defining Spine of Goddebut and subsequent psych-rockers Superjudge(1993) and Dopes to Infinity(1995), makes Last Patrola defining moment. I’m hesitant to call it a turning point, as it would be foolish to speculate on what whims might catch hold for guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and founder Dave Wyndorf between now and when he next puts together a full-length for the band, but it’s unquestionably the biggest stylistic turn they’ve made in the 15 years since their 1998 blend of classic attitude and driving hard rock, Powertrip, propelled them to international acclaim and genuine rock stardom.
So before you even press play, or maybe about 15 seconds after, as opener “I Live behind the Clouds” starts to unfold with its catch-you-off-guard brooding sensibility — all on purpose, all for effect — Last Patrol(review here) stands out from a decade-plus of Monster Magnet‘s output and signals, if nothing else, a reshuffling of sonic priorities. It also helps that it’s hands down one of the best records to come out in 2013. As seen in the gorgeous John Sumrow artwork, the Bullgod (Magnet‘s mascot since their first album) has gone galaxial, and extended pieces like the title-track and “End of Time” thrive on the apparent danger that at any moment they could fly completely off the rails, while stompers like “Hallelujah” and “Mindless Ones” find Wyndorf, bassist/guitarist Phil Caivano, guitarist Garrett Sweeny and drummer Bob Pantella locked into an irresistible push that seems all the more vibrant playing off quieter stretches in “Paradise,” the Donovan cover “Three Kingfishers, “The Duke (of Supernature)” (streamed here) and ultra-ambiguous closer “Stay Tuned.”
Between the name of the album, the palpable full-circle sonic impression it leaves and that song, I immediately speculated in hearing it that it might be the final offering from Monster Magnet, that perhaps it was a way for Wyndorf to tie loose ends stylistically and placate a section of his fanbase by “getting weird again,” which was something he also discussed three years ago in an interview for Mastermind. But no. It’s not. Wyndorf is quick to delight in the ambiguity of the title and the album’s message and musical journey, having both reconciled himself to a “no one’s gonna get it” mentality and pushed to simply enjoy the process of creating Monster Magnet songs. There can’t really be any doubt he’s working from a master plan — that is, the shift in approach with this batch of material didn’t just happen. That’s not how Monster Magnet works and even Wyndorf refers to himself in a kind of directorial role, saying he wanted to do this even as Mastermind was still coming together. But that’s not to say either that he, Caivano and the rest of the band aren’t having a good time, or that they don’t sound like it in the final outcome of these songs. Quite the opposite.
Not surprisingly, there was a lot to talk about. Monster Magnet will embark starting Nov. 14 on their first coast-to-coast US run in a decade, taking the temperature of the touring climate here after years of focusing on Europe, and extra intrigue is added with the departure of bassist Jim Baglino, who didn’t play on the album but has been a figure in Monster Magnet live shows since the turn of the century, this being their first outing since 1992 without guitarist Ed Mundell, and more. For what it’s worth, Wyndorf seemed to take a special kind of pleasure in discussing the process of recording Last Patrolwith Caivano, thriving in what he describes as a chaotic writing and tracking process in taking these songs from the bare demos he created for them to their realized, complete versions, and so I wanted to focus on that. The word “fun” was used 25 times, if that tells you anything. Wyndorf‘s passion for this process came through in his voice, his quick back-and-forths with himself, and it’s my sincere hope that it comes across in this interview as well.
After the jump, please find the complete 7,400-word Q&A of my interview with Dave Wyndorf, and please enjoy.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Returning with a vengeance — and also a new song — after their summer hiatus, Maple Forum alums Clamfight have announced a slew of fall tour dates. In addition to a slot at Stoner Hands of Doom at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia, on Nov. 7, the four-piece are doing two gigs THIS. VERY. WEEKEND. with Philly rockers Thee Nosebleeds and in addition to regular-type local stuff, they’ll head south following SHoD to bang out a couple evenings in the good company of Hollow Leg and Shroud Eater, among others.
In their typical style, the band sent along this update:
We’re back gang….and find ourselves another season’s worth of Neolithic archaeology lyrical fodder richer, but one gall bladder poorer.
So it goes.
Here’s where to get palm muted/yelled at about rock art:
This weekend we’re out and about and possibly falling over with Philly’s best rock and roll band, THEE NOSEBLEEDS (sorry, rock that nasty requires all caps).
Friday 9/27 we’re at the El ‘N’ Gee in New London, Connecticut with Thee Nosebleeds, the Cryptics, and Empty Vessels.
Saturday 9/28 we’re at the Firehouse Saloon in Rochester, New York with Thee Nosebleeds, Baba Yaga, and Pink Elephant.
October 26th we’re at the Boot and Saddle in Philadelphia with Screaming Rattler and Wizard Eye (who a little bird with 6 foot long dreadlocks tells me are hitting the studio shortly to record a new full length).
November 7th we’re at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia for the opening night of Stoner Hands of Doom 13 with A.P.F, Pill Buster, Compel, and more In honor of how excited we are to be part of such an amazing festival (the rest of the weekend includes Wizard Eye, Beelzefuzz, Admiral Browning, Lo-Pan, Backwoods Payback, Faces of Bayon, Second Grave, Wasted Theory and many, many more) we’ll pressing 100 copies of a seven inch of our new song “Bathosphere.” We have no plans to release it in any other format and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
November 8th we’ll be in Orlando Florida to challenge Hollow Leg and Shroud Eater in between some serious air boat racing/alligator wrasslin’ we’re going to play a show at a location to be announced.
November 9th we’re at the Jinx in Savannah Georgia with Hollow Leg and Shroud Eater and Crazy Bag Lady.
November 12th we’re at JR’s in Philadelphia with Devil to Pay, Heavy Temple, and the Cloth.
November 22 we’re at Mojo Main in Delaware with Braincandle and Count Von Count.