When the Deadbolt Breaks & Red Mesa Touring Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

You’re probably doing something right when your tour starts at the SX Stoner Jam, which has something like 150 bands on the lineup and will no doubt be the kind of thing that 10 years from now people who were fortunate enough to be there will still be talking about. I mean that. But for Red Mesa and When the Deadbolt Breaks, both supporting releases on Desert Records, it’s just the beginning. They’ll go from Austin to Houston and then kick around the Southwest and the mountains for a 10-day run that unless I’m mistaken marks the Connecticut-based Deadbolt‘s first time out toward West Coast. I could be wrong about that — they’ve got some history at this point — but I’m reasonably certain.

Either way, a lot of the difference between the two bands can be seen in the photos below. Red Mesa are the dudes in the desert, sunglasses on, having a good time. When the Deadbolt Breaks are framed by eerie light in the woods, hands in pockets, staring downhill at whatever it is they might be threatening. Those should be some good shows.

Dates came down the PR wire:

red mesa

when the deadbolt breaks

When The Deadbolt Breaks and Red Mesa announce ‘Path of the Heavy’ tour!

When The Deadbolt Breaks (Psychedelic Doom) and Red Mesa (Desert Rock) have announced a tour together centered around their appearances at Austin’s STONER JAM ’19 on March 14th.

WTDB will be touring in support of their sixth studio album, “Angels are weeping…God has abandoned”. Red Mesa will be touring in support of their second studio album, “The Devil and The Desert”. Both band’s albums were released on the new Albuquerque based record label, Desert Records.

Tour Dates:
March 14th – Austin, TX Stoner Jam ’19 Festival @ Spider House Cafe and Ballroom
March 15th – Houston, TX @ Rudyards British Pub
March 16th – OKC @ Your Mom’s Place
March 17th – Wichita, KS @ Elbow Room
March 18th – OFF
March 19th – Colorado Springs, CO @ Bar-K
March 20th – Denver, CO @ TBA
March 21st – Albuquerque, NM
March 22nd – Phoenix, AZ @ Time Out Lounge
March 23rd – TBA

https://www.facebook.com/WhentheDeadboltBreaks/
https://whenthedeadboltbreaks.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/redmesaband/
https://redmesarock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertrecordlabel/

When the Deadbolt Breaks, Angels are Weeping… God Has Abandoned… (2018)

Red Mesa, The Devil and the Desert (2018)

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Monolith on the Mesa Lineup Confirmed; Om, Dead Meadow, Wovenhand, The Obsessed, Cloud Catcher & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monolith on the mesa banner

So, uh, you wanna go get weird in the desert for a weekend? Sure, we all do. And if you’re up for making it the trip of a lifetime, Monolith on the Mesa has a bunch of decked-out vintage trailers available for you to hide from the New Mexico sun while you wait for the show to start. From the pre-party to The Obsessed headlining the second day, the inaugural edition of Monolith on the Mesa looks like the stuff of pilgrimage dreams. Om and Dead Meadow? Wovenhand? Tia Carrera jamming in a brewery? Duel? It’s an obviously curated lineup very purposefully put together with the setting in mind, and whether it’s the indoor or outdoor stage, it’s easy to see where it has the potential to be an incredible time. I’ve gone on at some length about the growth of US festival culture over the course of this decade. Look no further if you need an example of the fruit that would seem to be bearing.

If you make it down, congratulations on your life. You pretty much win.

Lineup and ticket links as per the social medias:

monolith on the mesa poster

Monolith on the Mesa: A High Desert Rock & Art Experience

Join Us On May 16th, 17th, & 18th In Taos New Mexico At Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership For Monolith on the Mesa A High Desert Rock Experience Like Non Other! A Music Festival with Art Visuals & Installations from Local NM Artists. And Of Course Some Of The Worlds Finest Dark, Psych, Stoner, Doom & Heavy Rock from All Over the Globe and SW Region! Browse Our Website monolithonthemesa.com For VIP And check out our Vintage Trailer Packages!!

http://www.monolithonthemesa.com/vintage-trailer-experience/

Hold My Ticket Link:
Pre party Show* https://holdmyticket.com/event/329481
2 Day Pass Ticket * https://holdmyticket.com/event/329524
Day 1 Pass Ticket * https://holdmyticket.com/event/329477
Day 2 Pass Ticket * https://holdmyticket.com/event/329482

MotherShip Outside Stage: Featuring Visuals By Mad Alchemist Liquid Light Show * Day 1: OM * Dead Meadow * Wovenhand * True Widow * EYE * Green Druid * Spirit Mother** Day 2: The Obsessed * Pinkish Black * Castle * The Well * Crypt Trip * WEEED * Cloud Catcher * The Munsens

Taos Mesa Worshipper Inside Stage: Day 1: * Tia Carrera * Wino (Acoustic) * Lord Buffalo * Pharlee * SuperGiant * YOU * Via Vengence * Deep Cross** Day 2 Duel * Stone Deaf * In The Company Of Serpents * Pale Horse\Pale Rider * Communion * Oryx * Sorex * Dysphotic * Devil’s Throne

https://www.facebook.com/events/260645364631316/
https://www.facebook.com/monolithonthemesa
https://www.instagram.com/monolithonthemesa/
http://www.monolithonthemesa.com/

Dead Meadow, “Good Moanin'” live at Endless Daze Fest 2018

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Red Mesa Announce First-Ever Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red mesa

Despite a recent back injury to drummer Roman Barham — who I think I might’ve half-met earlier this year someplace; was it Maryland Doom Fest? — Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Red Mesa will head out on tour next month in support of their 2018 album, The Devil and the Desert (review here). This will be the band’s first-ever tour, and they’ll be out for 10 days beginning Nov. 8 suitably enough at the Launchpad in their hometown before covering a good swath of the sprawling and sandy Southwest, as well as into Los Angeles and San Diego, Las Vegas and so on. It’s a good run and they’re playing with good bands along the way — you can bet that Sierra Vista show is with Fuzz Evil — and there is a date still TBA in Tucson, so if you’re there and can help out, do that. Because it’s the right god damned thing to do, and you know it.

I’ve said as much before, but a first tour is a special time for a band that, like a first album, only comes once. Kudos to Red Mesa on getting out. I hope the shows are a blast.

Dates follow:

RED MESA TOUR POSTER

Red Mesa – First Tour

November 8th-November 17th.

Red Mesa will be heading out on the road this November for their first tour!

“The Devil In the Desert” tour will kick off in the band’s hometown of Albuquerque, NM on November 8th. From there, the band will do a SW/West Coast circuit.
This will tour will promote the band’s June 2018 release of “The Devil and The Desert” album.

The band’s ringleader, Brad Frye, will be doing vocals and playing guitar. Roman Barham, Albuquerque’s local favorite promoter, drummer, and music store owner will be playing drums. This tour will feature the band’s new bass player, Josh Vigil, an accomplished musician who plays bass and flamenco guitar.

The band has booked the tour themselves using the network of bands and venues they have worked with and hosted through the years. Salem’s Bend, King Chiefs, Nebula Drag, Big Mean, Fuzz Evil and many others will be hosting Red Mesa along the way.

“THE DEVIL IN THE DESERT TOUR 2018”
Thurs 11/8: Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
Friday 11/9: El Paso, TX – Neon Rose
Sat 11/10: Sierra Vista, AZ – The Horned Toad
Sun 11/11: Los Angeles, CA – Characters Pomona
Mon 11/12: San Diego, CA – Space Bar
Tues 11/13: Los Angeles, CA – The BLVD
Wed 11/14: Las Vegas, NV – Sahara Events Center
Thurs 11/15: Flagstaff, AZ – House Party
Fri 11/16: Tempe, AZ – Cornish Pasty Co.
Sat 11/17: Tucson, AZ – TBA

Big News! This tour will coincide with the release of Red Mesa’s cover song of “Breathe” for Magnetic Eye’s The Best of Pink Floyd compilation on November 9th.

https://www.facebook.com/redmesaband/
https://redmesarock.bandcamp.com/

Red Mesa, The Devil and the Desert (2018)

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The Horned God Sign to Desert Records; Debut Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

THE HORNED GOD

Based on the comics of olde — from a time before the medium became a dominant driving force of American popular culture; when they were still for weirdos and nerds — The Horned God are set to make their debut this Fall through Desert Records. They’re the first act signed to the new label helmed by Brad Frye, also the guitarist and vocalist of Red Mesa, but apparently not the last. In addition to announcing the pickup of fellow Albuquerquians The Horned God, Frye teased that he’d be working with, “a veteran psychedelic doom band from New England.” Intrigue!

In the meantime, I’m curious to hear what’s in store for The Horned God‘s first album, which has been given the title The Horned God I, since as you can see above and in the freshly-unveiled artwork immediately below, they’re not exactly going light on the concept.

From the social medias:

the horned god cover

THE HORNED GOD – BAND SIGNING ANNOUNCEMENT!

Desert Records is proud to introduce you to THE HORNED GOD!

Hailing from Albuquerque, NM but playing a very unique style of Ancient Celtic stoner and desert rock inspired by the 1983 comic book classic Slaine: The Horned God.

Debut album coming this Fall!

Vinyl and digital formats.

The Horned God says: “Let the commencement begin! The Horned God is officially the first band signed to Desert Records Label! Epic things on the horizon… and we are so honored to be a part of this music community. Thank you, Brad Frye and Desert Records!”

The Horned God is a Cosplay band, based on the comic book masterpiece by Pat Mills, and Simon Bisley, Slaine: The Horned God.

Comic book writer Pat Mills brought the character of Slaine mac Roth, a Celtic barbarian warrior king who along with his axe Brainbiter and his ability to warp spasm in order to defend his people against the dark druid Slough Feg, to life in 1983 in his graphic novel series titled Slaine. In 1989 Pat Mills collaborated with illustrator Simon Bisley and published the three book series Slaine: The Horned God. In this series Slaine goes on a quest to collect four artifacts that once united will enable him to become high king and lead his people into battle in the hopes of saving them from Slough Feg and his army.

In 2012 the next adaptation of the story began in Albuquerque New Mexico when three friends took their love of the story and combined it with their passion of music and created the three piece cosplay stoner rock or as they call it, “Ancient Celtic inspired stoner rock, legends and lore, of love and war!!!”, musical interruption appropriately named, The Horned God.

The Horned God consist of three members, Dominic on vocals and guitar, Robson on bass and Tim on drums. This one of a kind dynamic three piece bring the story of Slaine to life with lyrical dialog and narratives ripped from the pages of the book accompanied by full costume and projected comic book cells throughout the entire performance.

https://www.facebook.com/HornedGodBand/
https://www.facebook.com/desertrecordlabel/

The Horned God, Live at the Launchpad, 2012

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Red Mesa Premiere “Sacred Datura” from The Devil and the Desert

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red mesa

Albuquerque, New Mexico-based heavy desert rockers Red Mesa release their second album, The Devil and the Desert via their own Desert Records imprint on June 1. The follow-up to the trio’s 2014 self-titled debut and their 2016 appearance alongside Blue Snaggletooth on Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Four (review here), it’s a seven-track/38-minute outing the urgency of which seems to be affirmed through the sheer act of its creation.

To wit: Split into two vinyl sides and released on that format with money garnered via crowdfunding, the beginning of the recording process found guitarist/vocalist Bradley Frye without a band. Both bassist Shawn Wright and drummer Duane Gasper split after a gig last August (that must have been some show), and rather than call it a day and go home, Frye decided to hit the somewhat ironically named Empty House Studio with producer/engineer Matthew Tobias and press forward with making the record.

That decision in itself was pretty bold, and it pays dividends throughout The Devil and the Desert, the title of which refers to its dual themes. From front to back there would seem to be a narrative of hallucinogens, the arrival of the devil, the desert itself, and so on, and musically, the material becomes more severe the deeper into the record one goes, Frye starting out with a semi-acoustic swamp blues that touches on psychedelia in “The Devil’s Coming ‘Round” — which has a few heavy riffs of its own, like a Southwestern fuzz-proffering Monster Magnet with Frye cast in the Wyndorf role — and the ethereal sandy grunge of centerpiece “Desert Sol,” before tipping the balance to more weighted fare with “Sacred Datura,” the motor-chugging “Route 666” and the trippy desert heft and spaciousness of the 10-minute closing title-track.

red mesa the devil and the desertBy the time Frye gets around to “The Devil and the Desert,” he’s traveled a significant distance even from “The Devil’s Coming ‘Round” and other early cuts like opener “Devil Come out to Play” and the instrumental “Springtime in the Desert,” which opens psychedelic and fades out only to return with more grounded acoustics. That play between the real and unreal becomes central to The Devil and the Desert, and in order to better evoke it, Frye put Tobias to work on drums/percussion and brought in studio players Jon Mcmillian (bass) and lap steel/baritone guitarist Alex McMahon in order to better evoke the sense of a full-band playing. To be blunt, it works.

The danger with using session musicians especially on an independent release is that, while generally ultra-talented, they have little investment in the project at hand. They’ll play well, but won’t share the passion of those who hired them or who composed the material they’re playing. Frye and Tobias found the right people. To listen to the fleshed out arrangement of “Desert Sol” at the album’s center, McMahon‘s baritone and lead guitar melds easily with what Frye does on electric and acoustic guitar and vocals and with Tobias‘ percussion. And since the second, more generally weighted half of the record was made with the clearly self-aware Frye and Tobias working as a duo playing the parts of a full band — Frye taking up bass as well as guitars and vocals — there’s a shift in presentation as well as general mindset just where one is intended.

So again, it works. I don’t know if Frye — whose since brought on bassist Randy Martinez and drummer Roman Barham to play in the live incarnation of Red Mesa — would say losing two-thirds of his band prior to recording was an asset, but listening to the channels switch in the bouncing verse of “Sacred Datura,” or hearing the fuzzy rhythm part back the soaring lead, one would have a hard time arguing he didn’t make the most of it, and that The Devil and the Desert didn’t turn out as broad in sound as it is cohesive in its themes. It’s a mindful outing that rather than simply working within genre confines, uses the elements of desert rock, lost country and psychedelia in carefully set balances to suit its own needs and purposes. It is an album commanding aesthetic, rather than being led by the rules of it.

Below, you can hear the premiere of “Sacred Datura” and read more about the song specifically from Brad Frye. Once again, The Devil and the Desert is out June 1 via Desert Records. Preorders are up now through Red Mesa‘s Bandcamp page.

Please enjoy:

Brad Frye on “Sacred Datura”:

The song “Sacred Datura” was initially conceived from Carlos Castaneda’s book The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Life. In the book Don Juan explains that Sacred Datura is also known as Devil’s Weed. Sacred Datura is meant to give human beings remarkable powers, such as being able to fly, uproot big trees, go into heat to become pregnant, very powerful stuff. In regards to the song, it’s more about having the power to confront your demons (or the Devil) head-on and be able to survive the encounter.

Most all the titles to songs on this record include the word ‘desert’ or ‘devil.’ I was originally going to name the song “Devil’s Weed” but I figured some hallucinogenic drug fans or plants geeks may appreciate the reference.

The other book that inspired the song was Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. There’s a chapter in the book where a boy accidentally eats Sacred Datura and has quite a trip before he eventually dies from dehydration in the canyon lands of Utah. Although I’ve never taken Sacred Datura, I used my own experiences with psychedelic mushrooms to write the song.

It’s the first track I’ve ever recorded with me playing bass. The tracking session mostly consisted of Matthew Tobias telling me to “do it again.” The whirling sound that you hear at the very beginning of the song and continues throughout the first half of the song is from a homemade Leslie rotating speaker cabinet made from some hippie dude that I bought from in the trippy little New Mexico town of Madrid.

The riff in the second half of the song is most certainly an ode to Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” riff. Seems like the kind of riff that would appear out of the cosmos on such a journey.
Plus, it being the devil’s triad (root note, with a octave up, and a flatted fifth), which was banned from the churches in Europe in centuries past, seemed fitting to have in this album.

The album was recorded at Empty House Studio in Albuquerque, NM. Matthew Tobias engineered, produced, and mixed the entire album. Doug Van Sloan Mastered the album. Side A was recorded in September and October of 2017. Side B was recorded in January and February of 2018.

Release date: 250 colored vinyl LP’s will be available for sale in early June 2018. Limited edition. Brad Frye’s new record label, DESERT RECORDS, will release the album. Look for more
releases in 2018 by DESERT RECORDS.

Red Mesa has a new rhythm section for 2018 for live shows.
Roman Barhan (Rezin Tree, Black Maria, Jagged Mouth,) will play drums.
Randy Martinez (Hounds Low, Jagged Mouth) will play bass.

Red Mesa is currently booking its first tour to play and promote the album.

Red Mesa on Thee Facebooks

Red Mesa on Bandcamp

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Review & Full Stream: Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bible of the devil still on top

[Click play above to stream the new split single from Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore. Copies are available now from the bands.]

“Got no time to lose” is one of the lines tossed out in the call and response hook to Bible of the Devil‘s “Still on Top,” which is their contribution to a new split 7″ single with Albuquerque’s Leeches of Lore. It might be true in the case of both bands, but for the Chicago outfit it seems especially so. After years of road-dogging, the antic-prone two-guitar four-piece have played it decidedly lower key since the release of their most recent album, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), via Cruz del Sur in 2012. They’ve done periodic tours in the Midwest and hit local fests like Alehorn of Power, but where the aughts and early ’10s found them belting out album after album, tour after tour, and a succession of splits with the likes of ValkyrieSlough Feg and Winterhawk, the half-decade since the last full-length has been comparatively quiet.

One single, of course, isn’t going to make up for lost time, but “Still on Top” comes across very much as a song with a message, taking a workingman’s rocker perspective and assuring both the listener and the band that yes, they’ve still got it. Interestingly, it comes accompanied by Leeches of Lore‘s “Mountain of Mom,” which may or may not be the final recorded output from a group who recently and willingly gave that same “it” up. Following their to-date pinnacle work in 2015’s Toshi Kasai-produced Motel of Infinity (review here), the avant rockers led by guitarist/vocalist Steve Hammond played what was to be their last shows in May 2017, making this, at least technically, a posthumous offering. For what it’s worth, they hardly sound dead at all.

So in terms of communication, what Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore present in “Still on Top” and “Mountain of Mom” is — at least potentially — hello and a goodbye. One hesitates to speculate on the future of either group, particularly since the latter have said they’re done and since it’s been so long since the former had any other output, but that’s how it looks on the surface, and for a release that runs neatly under the nine-minute mark and comprises just two tracks, it’s a pretty efficient check-in. Accordingly, both groups play solidly to their strengths.

For Bible of the Devil, that means a classic-sounding blend of rock and metal, with guitar work by Nathan Perry (also vocals) and Chris Grubbs in the spirit of the NWOBHM as most informed by Thin Lizzy-style good times, and an upbeat hook propelled by the rhythm section of drummer Greg Spalding and bassist/vocalist Darren Amaya. On the basic level of its approach, it could hardly be more their own if it was about “the night,” but while the method and structure may be familiar, a rawer production than one necessarily might expect from Bible of the Devil after For the Love of Thugs and Fools or the preceding 2008 triumph, Freedom Metal, gives a live feel to the proceedings such that there’s almost a garage sensibility to the initial chug and the verse, before the background vocals or harmonized guitar lead take hold.

This might make “Still on Top” an even more fitting complement to “Mountain of Mom,” as Leeches of Lore have always been (or “always were,” depending on the tense in which one wants to categorize them) a rawer band, even under the guidance of Kasai, taking cues from noise rock, punk, country, extreme metal and the great anti-genre beyond where few dare to tread. Their final lineup consisted of HammondKris KerbyNoah Wolters and Andy Lutz, but whether or not that’s who appears on the single I don’t actually know. In any case, like Bible of the Devil before them, Leeches of Lore are very much at home in the 4:09 “Mountain of Mom,” working quickly even with the title to make the listener ill-at-ease as only good art can in terms of just what the hell they’re talking about and whether or not it actually has anything to do with the song itself.

That’s a question that remains as Hammond moves vocally between cleaner singing, falsetto, and harsher shouts and the band around him between circuitous lumbering marked out by its transitional drum fills and sustained pulls of guitar and a last-minute delve into lead guitar and organ that comes close enough to punk rock cabaret to recall some of Leeches of Lore‘s more offbeat aesthetic aspects, even if the basic structure it keeps to is relatively straightforward. If indeed it is their final output — again, one never says never in rock and roll — it’s a suitable weirdo-metal farewell with early screams leading to talk of the end of the world and traffic jams and so on. One might call it “the usual,” but in the grander scheme, there’s hardly anything usual about it, and of course that’s a big part of the fun.

Like much of Leeches of Lore‘s work during their time together, “Mountain of Mom” benefits from longer-term digestion over multiple listens, but those repeat visits are well-enough earned by the quickened feel and the front-to-back linear transition the band undergoes. As was the case throughout their tenure, their reach remains underrated and underappreciated, and despite a more immediate take, the same could easily be said of Bible of the Devil, the quality of whose work has always made them something of a well-kept secret within the American Midwest. If there’s anything tying the two bands together, it’s probably that most of all, but neither should one discount the fact that throughout their careers — one maybe restarting, the other maybe over — neither of them has been willing to compromise who they are at their root or give up exploring outward from their sonic foundation. Their split may be short, but there’s no lack of substance whatsoever.

Bible of the Devil on Thee Facebooks

Bible of the Devil on Bandcamp

Bible of the Devil website

Leeches of Lore on Thee Facebooks

Leeches of Lore on Bandcamp

Leeches of Lore website

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Leeches of Lore Confirm Final Show for May 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

leeches of lore

Sorry to hear that Albuquerque weirdo heavy rockers Leeches of Lore are hanging up their collective spurs this month? You bet your ass I am. Really, really, really glad to have been able to see them live when I did? That’s also a huge yes. The band may be coming to an end as they also mark their 10th anniversary — and hey, never say never in rock and roll, right? — this month with a hometown gig at Sister Bar, but it’s also easy to argue they’re going out at the top of their game. They’ve got a new split en route with Chicago’s Bible of the Devilinfo here (), and their last album, 2015’s Toshi Kasai-helmed Motel of Infinity (review here), was unquestionably their greatest accomplishment to-date. I guess guitarist/vocalist/band-spearhead Steve Hammond decided it would also make a hell of a swansong, and I can’t argue.

The May 20 show is actually the second of two farewell gigs Leeches of Lore had slated for this month — the other was this past weekend — so if you want to see them, time is fleeting. Should it be at all within the realm of the possible for you, I can only recommend it based on my personal experience.

Hammond sent this along the PR wire:

leeches-of-lore-last-show

Leeches of Lore’s Final Days

Hey folks,

It’s been a fun 10 years, but Leeches of Lore is calling it quits this month. I’m moving out of New Mexico and can’t keep the band running at a distance.

Final Show and 10 Year Anniversary Saturday May 20 at Sister in Albuquerque NM with SuperGiant and Black Maria. This show will be a long one, encompassing our entire career. I never recommend people come from out of town to see one of our shows, but this might be the exception!

It’s hard to believe that what started as a one-off solo album turned into over 50 original songs from 5 full length albums and 3 EPs and lasted ten years!

I want to thank all of our fans from all over the world and especially our friends and family here in Albuquerque. We wouldn’t have made it this far without you.

Cheers!
Steve Hammond

https://www.facebook.com/events/523268441395460/
https://leechesoflore.bandcamp.com/
http://lorchestralrecordingcompany.com/
http://facebook.com/leechesoflore
http://leechesoflore.com/

Leeches of Lore, Motel of Infinity (2015)

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Red Mesa & Blue Snaggletooth, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four: Deserts and Mystic Waters

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-4-red-mesa-blue-snaggletooth

One can’t help but wonder if, when Ripple Music first announced their The Second Coming of Heavy series of splits in early 2015, the California-based imprint had any idea what they were getting into. They committed at the outset to make it 10 releases, each one dubbed a “Chapter,” and aside from the logistical nightmare of coordinating such a thing from recordings to cover art to pressing and the invariable presence of bands outside their window in long jackets holding boomboxes over their heads playing their own songs to try to be a part of it, even timing out the arrival of each subsequent LP seems daunting. There’s a reason most “series” of splits or comps don’t get past their first installment, and it’s because they’re a monumental pain in the ass to put make happen.

After bringing together Borracho and Geezer (review here), Supervoid and Red Desert (review here), and BoneHawk and Kingnomad (review here), The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four highlights two more acts from the American underground in desert-is-as-desert-does Albuquerque trio Red Mesa and Ann Arbor, Michigan, power rockers Blue Snaggletooth. As has been the custom of the series, each band gets a side on the limited edition vinyl to work with — Red Mesa‘s is about 22 minutes, Blue Snaggletooth‘s about 19 — and an opportunity to ply their wares to a wider audience and collectors alike by teaming up. Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth do this while at the same time complementing each other’s style and, ultimately, adding to the breadth of The Second Coming of Heavy as a whole, underscoring the core belief of the project that heavy rock and roll knows no boundaries or other limits of any kind. It can, and does, emerge from anytime, anyplace.

The first line of the release tops a speedy motor riff. It’s Red Mesa‘s “Cactus Highway,” one of their four inclusions, and the lyric is “Let’s go to the desert/Leave it all behind.” Immediately, the impression is straightforward, somewhere between a vocalized Karma to Burn and Kyuss, and through that opener and “Low and Slow,” which follows, it seems like that’s going to be the course of the thing. Nothing wrong with that. “Cactus Highway” has a touch of shuffle in the drumming of Duane Gasper, and the tone of guitarist/vocalist Brad Frye is well-suited to the Motörhead-style thrust of the track, on which he’s backed by bassist Shawn Wright, but particularly the second half of “Low and Slow” begins to hint at a broader approach. Slower overall as one would hope based on the title, it opens to a wider feel under the solo and then gets even more spacious after its final chorus. This makes it an even more jarring turn when Red Mesa shift into the jangly-party-time strum of “Goin’ to the Desert,” with its handclaps and howls and intentional barroom blues, vaguely countrified but only lasting about 90 seconds of the song’s seven minutes before thunder crashes, a cymbal washes and the three-piece shift into minimalist psychedelia, vocals and guitar gradually returning, leading to a crash-in at the midpoint of heavier riffing and subsequent build of Monster Magnet-esque heavy space rock noise wash, the apex of which gradually fades out over the last minute with more thunder and rain sounds remaining.

It’s a sudden, somewhat odd turn for “Goin’ to the Desert” to make — seeming to present people’s ideas about actually doing so measured against the terrifying reality of the ecosystem — and it completely shatters the expectation for what “Utopia,” which closes Red Mesa‘s side, might present. As plausible as it seemed going into “Cactus Highway” to get a handle on their aesthetic of dudely desertism, coming out of “Goin’ to the Desert” renders most guessing irrelevant. They finish over the course of the 6:51 track by trading volume back and forth between “Planet Caravan” impulses filtered through Southwestern nighttime skies and harder riffing, but shift into an acoustic-led psychedelic bridge in the midsection that acts as the foundation for their last build, setting up a return to the chorus that highlights the notion of just how much Red Mesa‘s side flows across its abbreviated course, and the outward progression the band effectively sets up. It feels way more like an EP than a split side simply bringing songs together — a genuine mini-album to follow their self-released 2014 self-titled debut — and hopefully speaks to where they’re headed in terms of sound overall.

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Comparatively, Blue Snaggletooth have the benefit of experience over Red Mesa. With frontman and founder Chris “Box” Taylor at the fore, Blue Snaggletooth debuted in 2011 with Dimension Thule (review here) and followed that with 2014’s Beyond Thule (discussed here) and last year’s The Last Voyage of Amra EP, settling in the meantime on a formidable lineup with Taylor working alongside guitarist Casey O’Ryan (also Bison Machine), bassist Joe Kupiec (also Wild Savages) and drummer Mike Popovich, which is the four-piece present on these three tracks as well. Beginning with the 8:30 “Sand Witch,” an opener and longest inclusion (immediate points), Blue Snaggletooth reinforce the classic heavy basis from which modern riffery stems, all the while refusing to give into cliché vintage-ism or sacrifice a modern tonal presence in the name of worshiping at the altar of their forebears. Across “Sand Witch,” “Crystal’s Gaze” and “Mystic Waters,” they demonstrate a wah-prone take that owes more to 1972 than 1968, but takes the lessons of psychedelia and suits them to their straight-ahead, mostly structured purposes.

Some echo in the chorus of “Mystic Waters” goes a long way, for example, and the swirl of intertwining guitar leads with what may or may not be Deep Purple-style organ underneath the peak of “Sand Witch” makes for an exciting stretch worthy of any size stage that thinks it could contain it. Updating that classic heavy grandeur by blending it with a humbler semi-desert fuzz is a major factor in making “Sand Witch” work so well, but Blue Snaggletooth tie their three inclusions together through a consistency of songwriting that makes each chorus a standout, and whether it’s “Sand Witch” pushing out into that dual-guitar mythology creation, or “Crystal’s Gaze” calling to mind the early fuzz triumphs of Sasquatch and drenching them in wah, or “Mystic Waters” bringing the whole thing together and making it boogie, the four-piece hold firm to their own processes and thus their identity, executing their material with confidence and a fluidity that contrasts the linear outward course of Red Mesa, emphasizing a different manner of stylistic blend in the process.

As though in conversation with their side A companions, Blue Snaggletooth start at their farthest-out point and seem to work their way back in, and while that gives The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four an overarching progression through its two sides, it’s worth noting that, like all of the offerings thus far issued as a part of the series, this LP draws strengths as much from the differences between the players involved as from the similarities. I don’t think I’ve let a review pass yet without noting my issue with the number in the name — that is, that “heavy” has had more than two comings at this point in its span of generations — but as The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four clearly demonstrates, Ripple and the bands it’s selected to be a part of this increasingly pivotal project are less about looking back at history than casting a new place within it.

Red Mesa on Bandcamp

Red Mesa on Thee Facebooks

Blue Snaggletooth website

Blue Snaggletooth on Twitter

Blue Snaggletooth on Instagram

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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