Reunited New York doomers Blood Farmers are taking orders now for their sophomore album, Headless Eyes. A self-release, Headless Eyes is the first Blood Farmers long-player to surface in the 19 years since their self-titled debut came out on Hellhound, and it has been awaited since the band first started doing shows again a few years back. Their fetish for all things horror comes through both in the title of the album and its graphic design, handled by drummer Tad Leger, who’s given a sampling of the art for anyone who’s yet to pick up a copy of the CD. He’s joined in the band by vocalist Eli Brown and guitarist/bassist Dave Szulkin.
Blood Farmers‘ debut was reissued on Japan’s Leaf Hound Records in 2008 with a bonus track — their 1991 demo, Permanent Brain Damage, had been put out by the same label in 2004 — and the band has toured and made fest appearances leading up to the Headless Eyesrelease, hitting Europe in 2011 alongside Black Pyramid and also playing Days of the Doomed in Wisconsin.
Click the image below to get a feel for the art — front and back cover, plus liner, etc. — for Headless Eyes, which comes with an update from Leger and the tracklisting. I’ve also included a clip of the title-track so you can have a taste of Blood Farmers‘ grainy, VHS-style doom. Enjoy:
Here’s a peek at some of the sickening art that houses each copy of the new Blood Farmers album, Headless Eyes. It’s not pretty but that was our goal when creating it really. Thanks to all the kind folks who have supported this release. All sales go straight to the band. NO labels, distributors or anyone involved in this. So please help us spread the word. Our sincere thanks to the TRUE Doom culture!
Tracks are: 1.Gut Shot (6:17) 2.Headless Eyes (10:49) 3.The Creeper (4:51) 4.Thousand-Yard Stare (6:34) 5.Night Of The Sorcerers (10:15) 6.The Road Leads To Nowhere (5:59)
I had never smelled anything so disgusting as Panda Express. Turned a corner and there it was, a punch of grease and ginger powder in the olfactory. Then I passed PizzaVino, which near as I can tell doesn’t actually serve wine. JFK looks like someone’s vision of a terrible Cold War post-nuclear-fallout future in progress. There is a man with a long grey goatee and one eye wandering lost. Pardon our appearance.
There’s a lot about this trip I don’t know yet. The bands I know: Pentagram, Radio Moscow, Kings Destroy, playing each night in that order. First show is tomorrow, Feb. 22 in Seattle, where we’re flying tonight. Lesbian and Ancient Warlocks are on the bill at El Corazon, which is good news because I’ve seen neither and I’d like to. After that Portland. After that, I’m not really sure. San Francisco, maybe. I could look it up, and probably will at some point. Transport, where we might stay on any given night, and so on. Much mystery.
Everyone in the airport looks like someone. Me too. I know I’m on the same flight as the Kings Destroy cats because it was the same reservation. Traffic was two hours-plus to get here from Jersey, and that’s not counting the four hours to get from Massachusetts to NJ last night. Quite a commute. I have no doubt it will be worth it when I land and whatever it is that’s supposed to be happening happens. The weather is shit until then and I think Lee Renaldo just walked past with an entourage. That would fill my New York quota probably for the rest of the year. A member of Sonic Youth: 300 points.
Last time I was at this airport was at least eight years ago. I had a friend who was coming back from war. In uniform, the whole bit. He had a layover here at some absurd hour of the morning – maybe eight? We drive out here to see him. I was so hungover that as we were driving up I opened the door and puked out the side of the car. Then he poured shots of whiskey. At eight in the morning. He’s a lawyer now.
Posted in Radio on February 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Written and initially recorded in 2007, Hull‘s “Legend of the Swamp Goat” coincides timing-wise with their debut EP, Viking Funeral as some of the earliest material from the band. The Brooklyn now-foursome never released the song to my knowledge, but it now emerges on a 7″ of the same name released in a variety of colors DIY through their own Iron Works Orchestra imprint to mark the occasion of a European tour with Boston’s Elder that will begin at Roadburn and end at Desertfest in London. It is, however, more than just a dug-up lost recording trotted out because they needed something for the shows. Guitarist/vocalist Nicholas Palmirotto went back in and tracked vocals and reworked the guitar, and the song is newly mixed and mastered, so while it also predates Hull‘s first full-length, 2009′s Sole Lord, it’s also their first studio output since their brilliant 2011 album, Beyond the Lightless Sky(review here). Sure enough, the single — which clocks in at just over five minutes long and features a laser etching on the B-side — is a blend of new ideas and old.
I wouldn’t speculate on which layers are new and which ones older, but the sweeping lead that takes hold at 1:52 certainly reminds tonally of any number of Beyond the Lightless Sky‘s triumphant solos. Likewise, the multiple tracks of vocals show a complexity of arrangement that the band simply hadn’t yet developed on Viking Funeral– destructive as the debut was — and Palmirotto‘s voice holds the confidence of an approach that’s way more coming off its second record than making an initial demo. Fellow guitarist/vocalist Carmine Laietta, bassist/vocalist Seanbryant Dunn, then-guitarist/vocalist Drew Mack (currently in Cleanteeth) and drummer Jeff Stieber blend acoustics and electrics throughout and lock in a solid groove, showing some stoner roots in the verse rhythm, resulting in a Sleep-style march that Hull have since largely left behind. That, taken into account with the title “Legend of the Swamp Goat” itself and the swaggering riff-led midsection, give a somewhat lighthearted feel. It’s not exactly congruous with Sole Lord or Beyond the Lightless Sky, which were conceptual works both in theme and structure, but it’s fun, and the intensity of the final rush that caps “Legend of the Swamp Goat” gives a metallized apex that shows how willing Hull were even seven years ago to play various genre elements off each other, and how effectively they could do it.
Something of a curio, maybe, in terms of their overall catalog, but if the tour was an excuse for the single to surface, then three years beyond Beyond the Lightless Sky, I’m inclined to take what I can get. When or if a third Hull full-length will arrive remains to be seen, but the Legend of the Swamp Goat7″ offers more substance than a stopgap and provides a listen unlike anything else in the band’s to-date discography. Paired alongside their recent vinyl reissue of Viking Funeral, it provides an insight into Hull‘s beginnings that may also offer some hint of where they may be headed.
Hear “Legend of the Swamp Goat” now as part of the 24/7 stream of The Obelisk Radio, and take a listen via the player below, snagged from Hull‘s Bandcamp page, where the 7″ can also be ordered:
Man, I don’t care who you were on that stage, if it’s a personality contest, Jim Starace was gonna win it. One of the best local rock shows I ever caught in NYC (and one I saw a couple times) was Puny Human around the time Universal Freak Outcame out in 2007 with Solace at Ace of Clubs in Manhattan. That was the tail end of shows in Manhattan, I guess, but they were so right on. Heavy, a good time, phenomenal songs. Their earlier two records on Small Stone (lots of Small Stone around here these days, but I figured I’d roll with it to close the week), 2001′s Revenge is Easyand 2003′s It’s Not the Heat, it’s the Humanity, probably get most of the love. It was those albums that had the band opening for Clutch. But I thought Universal Freak Out was such a boot to the ass of an NYC scene that was just starting to take itself way too seriously, and from “Wake up Williamsburg” to “Number of the Beauty” to “Twin Fever,” it remains in my eyes a record that doesn’t have nearly enough worshipers to its credit.
Starace — who was joined in Puny Human on Universal Freak Outby brothers Josh (bass) and Jason (guitar) Diamond as well as drummer/backing vocalist John Bongiorno replacing Iann Robinson, who played on the first two full-lengths — passed away late in 2012, and while the album was already something special in my eyes, it’s since become all the more precious, from the “oh, frickin’ yeah” in “The Real Johnny Charm,” which also boasts a Danko Jones guest appearance, to the sheer cleverness running through “Planting My Impatience” and the hooks that run across all its tracks. It’s a close to perfect heavy rock record. Very New York, which is probably why the rest of the galaxy didn’t fall at its feet — that and as I recall they weren’t doing much in the way of touring by then — but a collection of songs that really tapped into something special in East Coast riffing and a singular sense of humor and presence that unfortunately Starace took with him.
It’s strange to me to think of something just seven years ago as a bygone age, but to look at the “NYC scene” now — first of all, there isn’t one, it’s the Brooklyn scene — it really is a completely different generation. Where have you gone, Atomic Number 76? Brooklyn’s not bad though, just new. More varied, if anything. Anyway, I loved this Puny Human record when it came out and I still do. Hope you do too.
Last night, I drove down to New Jersey in a snowstorm. It was hellish. Tonight I drove back to Massachusetts in cold but otherwise far more preferable climate conditions. Tomorrow The Patient Mrs. has family coming to celebrate her birthday, which was this week. They’re bringing the kids and staying over to Sunday. I do not expect much in the way of sleep. Add to that the six-plus inches of snow we’re supposed to be getting starting at noon tomorrow and yeah. I’m not expecting a restful couple of days. Doesn’t matter, I have work to do anyway.
Next Friday, I fly out of JFK Airport — yup, another trip south in less than a week’s time; if you’re not familiar with the Eastern Seaboard, it’s four hours each way in the car — to join Kings Destroy on their tour with Pentagram and Radio Moscow. I am unreasonably excited for the trip. I will have my camera and my laptop and a number of charging utilities to try and keep it all up and running and I will update as much as I am able on the shows and the travel. I expect to have some time and that by the end of the week, all the members of Kings Destroy will be very tired of listening to me type. Apologies in advance, gents.
Much to do before I go. Monday, a full stream of the new Backwoods Payback EP. Tuesday, a track premiere from Million Dollar Fix. Wednesday… well, it’s Wino Wednesday, isn’t it? That’s an event unto itself. Thursday brings a video premiere from The Graviators and then whoosh, I’m out. I’d like to try to sneak a review or two in there and a new podcast as well, but frankly I’ve got I lot of ducks to get in a row for job-type work, so I expect to be somewhat pressed for time. You know whatever I can do I’m going to try to get done.
We’re getting on two in the morning and I don’t know if anyone is going to see this so late anyway, but if you do, I hope you check out the Puny Human and dig it and I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Questionnaire on February 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If The Brought Low are on stage, you can safely bet that you’re going to have a good time. With thickened blues-via-punk grooves from bassist Bob Russell and drummer Nick Heller and a touch of twang in the vocal delivery of guitarist Ben Smith, the NYC trio’s songs present a character to heavy rock that no one else captures in quite the same way. At this point, experience is a factor. 2014 marks 15 years of The Brought Low, which formed in 1999 after the dissolution of Smith and Heller‘s prior outfit, the hardcore band Sweet Diesel. Their first, self-titled album was released on Tee Pee in 2001, and it would be half a decade before the follow-up, Right on Time, surfaced through Small Stone. Their aptly-titled 2010 Third Record(review here) was very much that, literally as well as figuratively in terms of expanding their range of influence and solidifying the progression of their first two outings. It delved further into blues and sad country, but still held firm to its rock and roll roots, ultra-memorable songs like “The Kelly Rose” and “Old Century” positioning The Brought Low as a band out of time even as they were utterly in their element being so.
Northeast regional shows have always been The Brought Low‘s trade, but they get out from time to time if the occasion suits, as SXSW has a couple times. Their latest release, an EP through Coextinction Recordings (stream here), arrived in 2011 and the band continues to work on their next full-length, while Smith and Heller step aside as well for periodic reunion gigs with Sweet Diesel.
The Obelisk Questionnaire: Benjamin Howard Smith
How did you come to do what you do?
I was very lucky to have been born into a big, artistic, musical family. My father wrote plays, my mother wrote novels, my sister sang in the church choir and my brothers played in rock bands. Playing music and being creative wasn’t an act of rebellion for me. It was something I was expected to do, like, “When are you going to learn how to play an instrument?” My brother taking me to see The Who movie The Kids Are Alright is what made me want to play guitar though it took a couple stops and starts before I really made the effort to learn how to play. A friend once said to me, “You love music so much you should really learn how to play,” which made a lot sense.
Describe your first musical memory.
When I was two years old my family did a house exchange and spent the summer in North London. Upstairs there was a record player and a stack of 45s including “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones, or as I called it, “GET NO!,” which I made my siblings play over and over and over and over and over and over…
Describe your best musical memory to date.
As a musician? As a music fan? As a human being? So many. You know, the first thing that comes to mind is Christmas morning, 1980, coming down and seeing a row of records propped up on one corner, like diamonds, across the living room couch. It was The Clash, London Calling, and Ramones, Rocket To Russia, and probably something by Led Zeppelin and Rush as well. The smell of new records and getting a paper cut under your thumbnail opening them and looking at the packaging and reading the lyrics and discovering all this new music. It’s still one of the greatest joys in life and still happens to this day. Well, you know, the discovering new music part, not the diamond LP display. Though that would be awesome too.
When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?
Nothing comes immediately to mind though I think all your beliefs should be tested and examined and questioned. Otherwise it’s not a belief; it’s just something you were taught and arbitrarily decided you agreed with. Or maybe that is belief. I’ve had lots of beliefs since I was born. Some of these beliefs I still follow to this day. Others I have examined and decided I no longer agreed with. I don’t know. What’s with the serious questions, man?!?! Shouldn’t we be talking about Les Pauls and Black Sabbath already?
Where do you feel artistic progression leads?
Death. No, just kidding. For argument’s sake you could say AC/DC and Motörhead and plenty of folk and blues artists have had little use for it and it hasn’t seemed to hurt them any. By the same token, other musicians constantly evolve and change and push themselves. Both instincts can lead to great music. Also, if you play music for any amount of time you will, generally speaking, evolve and progress as a player. For myself, I am certainly a different person and musician than I was when I started out in bands.
How do you define success?
I’ve always felt as long as I could find someone who wants to put out my records, I have succeeded. I actually see some money now thanks to some of our songs being licensed to TV shows but in the end it’s a nominal amount and not enough to live on let alone support a family. I feel extremely blessed though for all the good fortune I’ve had as a musician. I have many talented friends who have not had the opportunities I have. Music has helped me see the country and even some other countries. Music is how I met my wife. Music is how I’ve made the majority of my friends over the last 20 years including some people whose records I used to buy. How cool is that? I have friends who are in more successful bands, some who actually make a living as a musician. Some of them are in bands with people they hate and are watching their children grow up on their iPads. I have always played in bands with my best friends and have had the joy of watching my daughter grow up first hand. Success is relative. Ultimately the success I’m most concerned with is the artistic achievement. Greatness is always the goal.
What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?
Nothing. I’m glad I have seen everything I have, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. All of it is part of me and is something I have learned from or lived through, even if it was disturbing or upsetting. That said, I’m not a homicide detective or a combat soldier and the things I have seen in my life don’t compare to what people see who live in worlds where death and violence are a constant presence.
I will say, I lived in Manhattan on September 11th and stepped onto 5thAve., which looked down at the World Trade Center, moments after Tower One fell and I am glad I didn’t see that with my own two eyes. Also, I truly detest the sight of another human’s feces. So anytime I stepped into a bathroom and saw another person’s shit, I wish I hadn’t seen that.
Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.
A soul album. Like Stax, Muscle Shoals-style Southern soul. With horns and ballads and backup singers, the whole nine. And guitar solos. If I had infinite time and resources I’d be in about 10 different bands playing 10 different styles of music.
Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?
All of it. The seasons, life, watching my daughter grow up, taking on new challenges. I am pretty cynical by nature and generally pessimistic about humanity but let’s be real, we all, all of us here in America and in the world where we can read stoner rock music blogs on our computers live lives of tremendous ease and good fortune. Life is good. Yes, we sometimes have personal struggles, financial, physical or otherwise, but really, compared to so many in the world, we have so much. I am very thankful for all the good fortune I have had in my life; having a great family, growing up in the greatest city in the world, having the best friends a guy could ever want. Whatever happens next, I’m down.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was fortunate enough to get a taste of Mountain God‘s forthcoming single-track EP release, Forest of the Lost, seeing them in Brooklyn late last year. They’ll be playing the piece in full this April at the same venue, the Grand Victory, and they’ve slated a handful of other killer gigs as well for the spring, including O’Brien’s in Allston, MA, with Summoner and Second Grave and at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn with Syphilitic Lust. Not sure when they’ll record or if they already have, but I’m looking forward to hearing what the four-piece concocts to follow up on their 2013 demo tape, Experimentation on the Unwilling (review here).
The band sent show details and some background on Forest of the Lost down the PR wire:
Mountain God, the atmospheric doom band from Brooklyn NY, have announced a series of dates in support of their first album, “Experimentation on the Unwilling”. Since the album was released in July of 2013, it has been described as “moving forward irresistibly, often leaning into a rather hypnotic territory before another well placed riff shakes you out of your daze and gets you pumping your first again.” Their spring dates include gigs at St Vitus and the Acheron, and culminate with what should be a hellish show with fellow Brooklyn band Throaat, and Boston mainstays Summoner and Second Grave. A limited run of “Experimentation” cassettes will be available at each show.
In addition, Mountain God will be road-testing material for their new EP, tentatively titled “Forest of the Lost”. The EP is a concept record, consisting of a single song broken down into different movements. The diverse track twists and turns over the course of 20 minutes, focusing on the plight of a medieval village, whose children disappear into the night searching for proof of a local witch, all the while their parents engage in acts of depravity and debauchery. The EP, slated for a spring/summer release, is a melding of 60s and 70s psychedelics with the heaviness, crunch, and shattering riffs of traditional doom and metal. The band will be performing this EP at the Grand Victory on April 23rd, along with bands Jovian Drifts, We are all Savages, and Eidetic Seeing. This is the first time the song will be played in its entirety.
Upcoming Mountain God Shows: Thursday February 20 at St Vitus/Brooklyn NY w/Syphilitic Lust, Arsantiqva and Jotunheim Wednesday, March 5th at The Acheron/Brooklyn NY w/Mortals and Immortal Bird Saturday, March 22nd at O’Briens/Allston MA w/Throaat, Summoner, Second Grave Thursday, April 23rd at Grand Victory/Brooklyn NY w/Jovian Drifts, We are all Savages, Eidetic Seeing
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Brooklyn it’s-okay-to-have-fun-while-you-play-rock-and-roll rockers The Golden Grass have their new LP in the can. I don’t have the release details or I’d give them, but like the preceding One More Time b/w Tornadosingle, it was engineered by Andréa Zavareei and mixed by Jeff Berner, so it’s not out of line to expect the same kind of crisp, classic-but-clear warmth in the sound of the full-length.
Maybe a spring release? That, again, would make sense with the sound of the trio, who serve as a fitting reminder that just because a song is heavy doesn’t mean it has to be mad about it, but we’ll see how it goes. The hint they drop below about doing some shows alongside Aqua Nebula Oscillator is particularly fascinating in that regard, and The Golden Grass have detailed other dates coming up in the next couple months, including a weekender split between Providence and Brooklyn and a couple other Friday nights worth noting, most importantly that at the BSP Lounge with the formidable assemblage of White Hills, It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Eidetic Seeing and Queen Elephantine. That gig is presented by Hudson Valley Psych Fest, though I’m not sure if it actually is the fest itself. I’d believe you if you told me it was. It could be.
Friday March 7 at Kung Fu Necktie/Philadelphia/PA w/ RINGO DEATHSTARR + PURPLE + SORE SAINTS Friday March 28 at Dusk/Providence/RI w/ HESSIAN + NIGHTBITCH + ALPHA OWL Saturday March 29 at The Paper Box/Brooklyn/NY w/ HESSIAN + BLACKOUT Friday April 4 at The Acheron/Brooklyn/NY w/ SATAN’S SATYRS + TBA Friday April 18 at BSP Lounge/Kingston/NY w/ WHITE HILLS + ITS NOT NIGHT: ITS SPACE + EIDETIC SEEING + QUEEN ELEPHANTINE
Late April/Early May select tour dates with AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR (details coming)
It’s billed as “A Music Film,” but Geezer‘s new live video for the song “Pony” could just as easily have been dubbed “A Drinking Film,” since that seems to be most of what’s going on while the band is playing. Filmed on a Monday night at The Anchor in Kingston, NY — The Midnight Ghost Train must have also been on the bill, since there’s a shot of the merch table with their Buffalovinyl on it — it captures Geezer more or less as they are: Unpretentious and grooving. Interspersed with shots of patrons at The Anchor who probably didn’t make it to work the next morning, Geezer roll their way through “Pony,” which can also be found on their 2013 debut full-length, Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues, with an engaging push.
Whatever you ultimately decide to call it, the clip was directed by Samantha June of Arius Photo out of New Paltz, and there are moments where, as glasses fade into and out of focus, it feels both like a whiskey commercial and an anthropological study — “We now approach the booze rockers in their natural habitat” — but chiefly, it is Geezer‘s somewhat unassuming presence, their unwillingness to be anything other than what they really are, that comes across, and the song itself — a soundboard recording? — unfolds into a lazy kind of bounce marked out by starts and stops executed cleanly by bassist Freddy Villano, guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington and drummer Chris Turco, meeting stoner rock at the place where it departs from their titular heavy blues, but refusing to stand on one side or the other of that line.
Geezer have been tapped to play the Small Stone Records showcase at St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn on March 29 and will also feature at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 in Worcester, Massachusetts, which runs May 3 and 4. More info and music at the links under the video.
Posted in Reviews on December 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was like someone dared the weather to be as miserable as possible. Just an awful night. Cold, bordering on freezing rain falling more or less in buckets, city wind blowing in your face. Visibility was pretty low as I drove over the Brooklyn Bridge to get to Hank’s Saloon, but screw it, I was going. My curiosity about The Golden Grass had been piqued by their debut single, and having managed to sneak a little family time in after the workday on what was a short post-Thanksgiving trip south, I made sure that even with the rain I got to Brooklyn in plenty of time to see them share the stage with fellow locals Weird Owl and Worthless.
The latter were on first, playing an engaging shoegazey psychedelic rock in a five-piece congregation that made the small stage at Hank’s – one of the room’s assets, in my opinion — appear even more crowded than usual. Flourishes of synth/organ from Nicole Zamfes and effects gave suitable echo and swirl to their material, with a current of guitar, bass and drums at the core to keep material fluid but anchored in a light, contemplative feel. Bassist Skyler Toski‘s vocals came through with an English accent, while guitarist Curtis Godino had more of an indie delivery, and the blend worked well, the drums not crashing so much as keeping a steady beat to ground the complexity around them in songs like “Slumber Time Blues” and “Summer of Love” from Worthless‘ debut tape. The only issue was the P.A.
Godino‘s mic had a persistent crackle, and the right side of the P.A. cut out on more than one occasion. It happened to Toski too and frustration was evident. Soon enough it would be the running theme of the night, which was twice a bummer since the downshift in mood didn’t exactly mesh with the sunshine in Worthless‘ jams. Still, they made the most of what they had, and while they sounded and seemed on stage as though they were still sorting out the dynamic between players in creating their sonic texture, the late ’60s vibe was appreciably realized. I dug it. The obvious thing to say would be they didn’t at all live up to their name, but there you go.
I wasn’t sure where all the people had come from when I turned around following the end of Worthless‘ last song, but Weird Owl pulled in a good crowd. The Tee Pee Records veterans released an EP this fall called Healingthrough Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre‘s A Recordings (info here), and “Change Your Mind” from it was a recognizable highlight of their set. The tracks for that were recorded by Jeff Berner (Naam, La Otracina, etc.), and as he’d also recently worked with The Golden Grass on an upcoming release, he turned out to see the two bands play. Weird Owl, who upped the synth level even from Worthless‘ material, with John Cassidy trading off between bass and keys (and tambourine), and J. David Nugent furthering the slowed-down space rock feel with an array of synth as guitarist/vocalist Trevor Tyrrell added an effects wash of his own.
Both the exploratory drift of their performance and the stretches wherein drummer Sean Reynolds stepped up to drive the material forward were welcome, but technical problems persisted. More P.A. crackling and cutting out. Watching them play, it was kind of hard to get lost in the groove with the interruptions, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Of more concern to me standing in front of the stage was the incense burning on the floor. I guess for a while I was standing right where the smell was coming up and hadn’t realized it and then it hit me all at once. I had to move to the back of Hank’s and wound up staying there for the rest of Weird Owl‘s set, though for what it’s worth, a new song that Tyrrell later referred to as “Craft” when I asked was a standout jam no matter where you were standing at the time. Weird Owl have been around a while at this point and this was the first time I’d seen them. It made me want to pay another visit to Healingand their two Tee Pee outings, 2009′s Ever the Silver Cord be Loosedand 2011′s Build Your Beast a Fire (track stream here).
And as for The Golden Grass, well, part of what made me want to catch their live show so badly was the sense of positivity that bleeds through the songs on their first single, One More Time b/w Tornado. There’s no shortage the world over of rock acts paying homage to the style and substance of the heavy ’70s era, but there is a shortage of those who are willing to let themselves look like they’re having fun doing it. The Golden Grass do not suffer from this if-we-don’t-seem-miserable-we-won’t-be-artsy phobia either on the single or their 456th Div.tape (review here), and I was pleased to find that the same applied to their stage presence, whether it was guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich boogieing down as he took a solo in “Please Man,” drummer Adam Kriney propelling a shuffle all his own on drums while simultaneously contributing a major of the singing, including harmonies with Rafalowich on “Stuck on a Mountain” and others, or bassist Joe Noval grinning, satisfied, as he held down yet another warm, engaging groove. The Golden Grass were a damn good time, and that was the whole point.
Only trouble? They got it the worst when it came to the night’s technical problems. It turned out there was something wrong with one of the power bars that everything was plugged into, and Rafalowich‘s guitar (along with the Xmas lights on stage) cut out a few times early on. Kriney called for tape, but it had already been taped. Some kind soul swapped out for a different outlet a few songs in, but the toll was taken on the mood and the crowd. Having come from a ways away, it was a bummer to see, but the songs themselves were still right on, even through the technical problems. They opened with the B-side of the 7″, “Tornado,” and played the memorable “Stuck on a Mountain” and “Please Man” from the 456th Div.tape, hit “One More Time” — their signature cut as yet — jammed with a drum solo on “Wheels” and finished up with a song I hadn’t heard yet, “Sugar and Spice,” which nailed the lighthearted vibe perfectly. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t, but I hope it makes it onto the album when that arrives.
It was a rough night technically, I think probably most of all for The Golden Grass, but none of the three bands let that derail them. I picked up a copy of One More Time b/w Tornadoand said a quick-enough goodnight before heading out into the rain. It was around one in the morning. I was fortunate enough to have been offered a place to crash in Manhattan, and woke up a bit before 6:30AM to start the drive back north. No regrets for the travel, no regrets for the weather, no regrets for the P.A. I had wanted to see if The Golden Grass would be able to convey the same sense of positivity in their live show as they do on the studio versions of their songs, and even in rough circumstances, the answer was a resounding yes.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Trading singers and covering industrial pioneers, Kowloon Walled City and Batillus have united in a bi-coastal split 7″ that will be the third in a series put out by Brutal Panda Records. Fade Kainer of Batillus joins Kowloon Walled City for a rendition of “Anthem” by Godflesh – no word on whether it will synch up with Jesus Christ Superstar as well as the original, but one can hope — and Scott Evans will join Batillus to take on Ministry‘s “Lava.” Sound like a neat idea? It is.
The PR wire has more info, band links and the goods on where a pre-order for the 7″, due out on Dec. 10, can be placed, so get up if you wanna get down:
KOWLOON WALLED CITY / BATILLUS Announce Split 7″
San Francisco’s KOWLOON WALLED CITY and Brooklyn’s BATILLUS have teamed up for a split 7″ of cover songs as part of the the third release in Brutal Panda Records’ split 7″ series. Recorded at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland, CA and mixed by Scott Evans at Antisleep, the split features KWC playing a cover of the Godflesh classic “Anthem” with Fade Kainer of BATILLUS on vocals. Side B features BATILLUS covering Ministry’s “Lava” with Scott Evans of KWC on vocals.
The split will be officially released on December 10th and is available for pre-orderhere. Also released in the 7″ series were splits from BLACK TUSK / FIGHT AMP and HELMS ALEE / LADDER DEVILS. The fourth and final release will be a split between WHORES and RABBITS with details to emerge soon.
Posted in On Wax on November 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I think I finally figured out what I like so darn much about We are Here, the six-song debut from Brooklyn heavy plodders Blackout. It often happens early into a stoner rock band’s career that they have one riff to rule them all. There’s one song that everyone in their scene knows them for and at least for a while, that’s their hit. With Blackout, almost every riff is that riff, so by the time you get around to the end of side B and the we’ll-just-go-right-over-these-skulls march of “Seven,” the scale of judgment is completely thrown off. I’m not saying it’s revolutionary — the three-piece seem purposefully bent on not fucking with what the Melvins got right the first time around — just that, while formative, it’s done remarkably well.
The vinyl edition of We are Herearrives, with a download card, pressed on 180g wax, but rather than the pressing info (one can only imagine it’s limited to some number or other), the highlight of the album is the crushing weight of it. There’s an almost garage sense of dirty echo to Christian Gordy‘s guitar, Justin Sherrell‘s bass and Taryn Waldman‘s drums, and that gives the recording, which was helmed by Rob Laasko and mastered by Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk, a raw feel, but it lacks nothing for heft in part because of that space created in the audio and how well the three-piece fills it with nodding, unashamedly heavy groove, at least partially derived from Sleep, but already en route to an individual push.
Part of the reason I say that comes down to Gordy‘s vocals, which have a compressed effect on them on each of the tracks. In another context, this might get redundant, but as We are Heredoesn’t overstay its welcome and as so much more of the focus to songs like “Indian” and the side A closer “Smoker” is on the riffs, the compression gives the songs just a touch of something to distinguish them, just something to make them weird, and both in theory and in the actual finished product of the album, the effect is to make Blackout stand out. They’re not trying too hard to be unique, they’re not trying too hard to fit into a genre. They’re being themselves and writing songs, and what came out of that on their debut is all the stronger for it.
Things get pretty blown out as “Seven” heads toward its inevitable collapse and the needle makes its return, but in the context of the heft thrown around on “Amnesia” and the ensuing creeper progression in “Smoker” — which, the more I hear the record the more it replaces “Seven” as my pick of the bunch — it works, and if it’s an added level of quirk in line the vocals and garage stomp, that’s fine too. Included with the record and download is an insert with the lyrics on one side and Blackout‘s should-be-iconic band photo on the other, so any way you want to look at it, We are Hereis as complete a document of the band’s arrival as one could ask.
If you’ve got the time, The Golden Grass have the vibe. Their 456th Div. tape is available now on In for the Kill Records in a limited edition of 50. I don’t know what of that number are left — the Brooklyn trio were taking Paypal orders on their Thee Facebooks — but considering there weren’t that many to start with, it’s likely there aren’t that many remaining, but even though the audio is fairly rough, 456th Div. offers listeners something different even from the band’s more official debut, the One More Time b/w Tornado7″ single. That release has clean studio versions of two songs, and the A-side appears here as well, but it arrives coupled with two April 2013 demos — one for “Please Man” and one for “One More Time” — and the live track “Stuck on a Mountain” that, to date, I haven’t come across anywhere else. Between that and the Boy Scout-esque patch with which the cassette arrives, it proves a fitting curio both for collectors or someone interested in the development of the band in their early going.
“One More Time” is almost maddeningly catchy. With lead vocals from drummer Adam Kriney (La Otracina) and backing tracks from guitarist Michael Rafalowich (Strange Haze), it’s a smooth summertime roll that comes on friendly and stays crisp front to back. In its finished, studio form, it’s a classic rocker all the way, comfortably paced and worthy of the sing-alongs for which the chorus seems to be asking. The demo version that closes here, as expected, is more bare-bones, without the vocal interplay. Fortunately, throughout all the material but most especially the live track “Stuck on a Mountain,” which was recorded at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar on Sept. 6, bassist Joe Noval comes through at the fore, where all too often with tape compression the low end suffers most. Of course a lot depends on your system and equalizer, but he’s there. This being my first exposure to “Stuck on a Mountain” and “Please Man” — both of which may or may not show up on The Golden Grass‘ full-length debut, reportedly tracked last week with Jeff Berner (Naam) — the songs didn’t have the immediate familiarity of “One More Time” (there’s nothing to make you feel like you know a song like listening to it a bunch of times), but were immediately engaging nonetheless and fitting with the positive spirit and classic rock warmth that seems to typify all of The Golden Grass‘ material that I’ve encountered thus far.
I already alluded to it, but the actual sound of 456th Div.is raw. If it’s going to be your first exposure to the band, the 7″ is probably the way to go, but as a further precursor to the LP and a complement to the single, it makes sense. The four-song program repeats on sides one and two of the plain white tape, and at louder volumes, there’s a considerable hiss. This would seem to be less in the interest of the songs themselves, though particularly for the demo cuts and the live track it makes sense in that, “Dude, my buddy just dubbed this for me” kind of way, and if the options are no physical pressing of this material or 456th Div., I’d certainly rather have the than not, hiss or no. As The Golden Grass move quickly into the making of their debut, one might think of 456th Div.in combination with the 7″ as a document of their beginnings, and on that level as well as getting a whatever-the-aural-version-of-a-sneak-peak-is at two yet-unheard songs, I’m glad to have gotten a copy.
The Golden Grass, One More Time b/w Tornado (2013)
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Working with Hate Eternal‘s Erik Rutan as producer, Brooklyn’s Tombs have entered the studio to record a follow-up to their massively lauded 2011 sophomore outing, Path of Totality. No word yet on a release date for the third Tombs record, but one could reasonably expect a Summer 2014 release on Relapse, unless somehow it takes them eight months to get it put to tape. Anything’s possible, I guess, but certainly anticipation will be high for the new album when it arrives.
The PR wire has confirmation and comment from guitarist/vocalist Mike Hill:
TOMBS Begin Recording New Album
Brooklyn, NY’s Tombs have announced that they will be entering the studio today to begin recording their follow-up to 2011′s critically acclaimed Path of Totality. The band will be working with famed producer Erik Rutan (Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal) over the next two weeks at his Mana Recording Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida. Stay tuned for updates from the studio!
Tombs vocalist / guitarist Mike Hill commented on what to expect from the highly anticipated new album: “The new material is darker and more extreme than the last record. The addition of [bassist] Ben Brand and [guitarist] Garett Bussanick have really stepped up the playing and musicianship to a new level.”
Tombs have released two full-lengths and one singles / rarities collection via Relapse Records, all of which are available for streamingvia Bandcamp here.
What I like most about Mountain God‘s debut demo tape, Experimentation on the Unwilling (released on Archaic Revival Records), is that it gets more and more fucked the further into it you go. Based in Brooklyn, the four-piece band incorporate a dreary kind of psychedelia, and come across partially indebted to Electric Wizard on the nodding “Fields of Life” or side two closer “Maarrat al-Nu’man,” but seem less fixated on the darker aspects of pop, and so are less generally anchored and all the more chaotic for it. The five tracks included on the tape would sound blown-out no matter what media they appeared on, but Mountain God – which features Alkahest members Nikhil Kamineni and Jonathan Powell on bass/vocals/engineering and keys/vocals, respectively, as well as guitarist/vocalist Jared Fishman and drummer Ian Murray — make their atmospheric intentions clear on their first outing, and the format on which they’ve chosen to present it plays a role in that as well.
So do the keys, actually. And the multiple vocalists. And the overbearing buzz of the guitar distortion. Really the whole thing is feeding into an overarching sense of mood — foggy, vaguely demented, generally but not necessarily outwardly threatening — but it’s Powell‘s keys that make the most striking impression, and they do so most of all on “Prophet,” which rounds out side one. With just a few single notes that reach up from the chaotic, swirling morass, Powell pushes the song into a different league of individuality and memorability — somebody had The Downward Spiralwhen they were in high school – and elsewhere on Experimentation on the Unwilling, as on the preceding “Fields of Life,” the keys lend a horrific ambience to what would otherwise be almost expected churn. The sheer nastiness that comes across on the opening title cut and spacious chug of “Fallout” would likely be enough to distinguish Mountain God anyway, but the listening experience is that much richer for the creeping melodies that ensue from the keyboard.
Particularly from a demo, I wouldn’t ask much more than that kind of rudimentary show of personality, but Mountain God‘s songs have more to offer than nascent aesthetic and generalized potential. For the consuming tones of “Fallout” alone or the lyrical narrative of the lysergically-riffed “Prophet,” Experimentation on the Unwillinggives more to dig into than it might initially seem, and taken as two whole sides on the tape, it’s immersive and hypnotic in keeping with its atmosphere. I hope these guys have a fog machine. They might need two or three by the time they get around to writing their next batch of material. In the meantime, their debut is available currently in a physical edition of 100 cassettes that seem to just be waiting for vinyl companionship.
Mountain God, Experimentation on the Unwilling (2013)
Posted in Reviews on November 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Odd matchups seemed to be the running theme of the night, whether it was UK doomers Orange Goblin doing a six-week tour with the thrash outfit Holy Grail and Atlanta tech metallers Lazer/Wulf or the show also serving as St. Vitus bar’s Halloween party and more than a handful of patrons arriving in costume throughout the night. For what it’s worth, I didn’t dress up — I mean, at least not any more than the public identities we create for ourselves counts as “dressing up,” anyway. Existentially speaking, we’re all in costume, man. So dig that for your pagan ceremony.
I can only imagine those who did dress up were hot as hell for having made the effort. The show was sold out and more or less packed by the time Polygamyst went on as openers and local support for three touring acts. I had seen them over the summer with Mirror Queen and The Atomic Bitchwax at a boat show, so I knew their wares were metal, but apparently the ensuing months had vocalist George Souleidis, guitarist Phi Moon (also Mirror Queen) and drummer Chadius Broccolius of their second guitarist and bassist, the latter of whom was replaced by James Corallo, also of Mirror Queen. Hammering out a lineup is inevitable as a band continues to get settled, but Polygamyst were nothing if not in the spirit of the show. Broccolius played most of the set with a mask on, his beard poking through the bottom, Moon had a wig, war paint and bandanna — Uli Jon Roth? — and Souleidis seemed to be a sultan of some sort or other, robes and all.
Their set was no less ready to party, running through classic metal wails enough to justify closing out with a cover of Judas Priest‘s “Breaking the Law,” which got some early moshing going as a sign of things to come. Corallo fit well with Moon‘s amorphous lead style, and though he shed the wig as time wore on, Souleidis seemed even more confident as a frontman than he had just five months prior. That could be an effect of having more shows under his belt, or it could be the fact that St. Vitus wasn’t being tossed around the East River while Polygamyst were playing. Either way. When jazzy quirk-prog trio Lazer/Wulf took the stage, a tone was set for sonic diversity that would only continue as the night wore on.
Guitarist Bryan Aiken had a mic set up mostly to thank the crowd and let out various maniacal laughs, “let’s go!” exclamations and periodic melodic vocal lines, but the crux of Lazer/Wulf‘s approach was instrumental. As one might expect five weeks into a six-week tour, Aiken, bassist Sean Peiffer and drummer Brad Rice were ridiculously tight, and it’s a good thing, since their kind of technical, progressive metal completely falls flat when the situation is otherwise. Theirs didn’t. They were well received by a Vitus crowd that seemed to know little about them, myself included, and they had stretches of thrash-style groove that went along well with what I’m told the kids call “djent” but a decade ago just used to be a Meshuggah influence. Not really my thing, but they won over the room and their enjoyment of what they were doing was infectious, even if it was as different from Polygamyst as Holy Grail would be from them when they took the stage.
Studded armbands, uniform black stage garb, a record each out on Prosthetic and Nuclear Blast, plus Kirk Hammett bangs on vocalist James-Paul Luna, Holy Grail had their thrash credentials well in order. I’ve never been huge on revivalist thrash, and though the band traces their roots back to White Wizzard and Bonded by Blood, they weren’t really going for the hightops and Alcoholica thing. “Call of Valhalla” showed some metalcore influence — a surefire generational tell — and one could hear shades of Shadows Fall in the dual-guitar harmonies, but whatever they were doing, they were obviously doing it right. Fists were pumped, moshing was had, axes were shredded, blahs were blah blahed. Holy Grail didn’t have to win the room; the room was already with them. The title-track from their 2013 outing, Ride the Void, went over particularly well, and one of the other dudes up front sang along so hard to “My Last Attack” that I thought his face was going to explode. Fair enough.
So there you go. Sold out night, three bands deep. Temperature up. Things had been moving at a decent clip up to Holy Grail, who played a long set, and Orange Goblin didn’t wind up going on until after 11:30PM. Didn’t really matter. After driving four hours south from Massachusetts a couple days before, that trip was far enough out of mind for the next day that I wasn’t stressing about it like I had been at Truckfighters last time I was at the Vitus bar; the late night was no threat. All the better for stargazing en route back to the humble river valley I used to call home and where I’d be staying for the evening. In any case, when Orange Goblin stormed their way into “Scorpionica” to open their set, it was well worth being awake to see. They came out to AC/DC‘s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll),” and a more fitting theme for the band — now coming up on their 20th year if you count from their getting together as Our Haunted Kingdom in 1994 — would be hard to find.
Returned guitarist Joe Hoare, who’d sat out a not insignificant amount of road time in Europe on account of an injury to his Achilles tendon, looked to be in good spirits despite what had already been a long slog back on the road alongside bassist Martyn Millard, drummer Chris Turner and vocalist Ben Ward, still supporting the 2012 studio release, A Eulogy for the Damned(review here), and subsequent live album, A Eulogy for the Fans(review here), and Ward — his fists raised in what seems to be a permanent conquest — was as engaging as I’ve seen him. He is a mountainous walking advertisement for whiskey, and among underground metal’s best frontmen, but his performance is also about more than the show. “Acid Trial” from A Eulogy for the Damnedand “Rage of Angels” from 2002′s Coup de Gracefollowed “Scorpionica” in succession and showed how little the foursome’s potency has diminished in the last decade, even though one could argue they’re just getting their due recognition now in the States thanks to tours like this one and their earlier-2013 run with Clutch.
I don’t think they were through “Rage of Angels” before I realized I had brown liquor running down my back. Who threw or spilled what remains a mystery, but yeah. That happened. Hazards of the trade. It was fairly rowdy up front for the duration — I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to seeing people moshing to doom — but I stuck it out for a while before dropping back to the other side of the pit around the time “Shine” from 1998′s sophomore outing, Time Travelling Blues, made its appearance. They’d later include the title cut from that album as well, which was a welcome addition, though I’d hoped for “Blue Snow” as well. Some you win, some you lose.
Speaking of, that song was aired, with Hoare and Millard stepping in for backing vocals in the call and response, and after “Cities of Frost,” Exodus and Generation Kill frontman Rob Dukes joined the band onstage for a raging take on “Your World will Hate This” from Coup de Grace. By then, Orange Goblin could’ve done little to derail their own momentum — following it with “Time Travelling Blues” was a risk, but it paid off — and the guest spot was met with due excitement, as was the Black Sabbath cover “Into the Void,” the rolling groove of which was expertly handled like the precious artifact it is. It should probably say something about Orange Goblin‘s recent surge that more recent songs like “They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls)” from 2007′s Healing through Fireand the Eulogysingle “Red Tide Rising” would appear so late in the set along with the cover and “Quincy the Pigboy,” which like “Scorpionica” comes off 2000′s The Big Black, but the songs stood up, and “Red Tide Rising” made for a riotous closer.
There was karaoke slated for afterwards and the vibe seemed like it was going to stay lively for some time. That’s not my scene, but I can see the appeal. My car, which has a bent rim, 185,000 miles that I’ve put on over the last eight years, and shakes like a massage chair, was around the corner and I drove empty roads back through Jersey to crash out and hit the highway in the morning.