Eternal Black Announce June 13 Release for Slow Burn Suicide; New Song Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

eternal black

Preorders are up now for Eternal Black‘s second album, Slow Burn Suicide, which is fair enough because the June 13 release date is coming up faster than you (or I, anyhow) think. In accordance with the order of things, the Brooklyn-centered three-piece are streaming the track “The Ghost” from the record as an initial teaser for what the entirety holds, and its sound is true to what their 2017 debut, Bleed the Days (review here), set forth, while drawing at the same time toward a rawer approach. The guitar has more bite. The bass seems to hit with more force. The drums crash and roll with a barely-restrained intensity. It’s doom, make no mistake, but it’s fascinating to hear Eternal Black purposefully trying to bring something of their own to the traditions of the style, let alone openly discussing doing so as they do in the PR wire info below. The edge suits them.

I have to think that if Hellhound Records was a going concern in 2019, these guys would get a serious look.

To the announcement:

eternal black slow burn suicide

Eternal Black To Release New Album, Slow Burn Suicide, on June 13th, 2019

Pre-order available on Bandcamp; Includes a New Track, “The Ghost,” for Immediate Download and Streaming

Brooklyn-based doom band ETERNAL BLACK will release their second full length album, Slow Burn Suicide, on Thursday, June 13, 2019. Comprised of nine new songs, Slow Burn Suicide is the follow-up to their debut album, Bleed the Days. Fans can pre-order the album on Eternal Black’s Bandcamp page (eternalblack.bandcamp.com) and download or stream a new track titled “The Ghost” right away. The album will also be available on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services. Details about CD and vinyl versions will be coming soon.

Official statement from the band:

“Our mission on this album was ‘Keep Doom Ugly.’ We felt the raw edge of foundation Doom has been lost. Everything has become too self-indulgent. The meandering 12-minute tracks have been done to death. We wanted to push back against that trend. Restore the grit and grime to a sound that used to make the hair stand up on your arms. As before, we looked to the foundation Doom bands and dragged that sound back into the present. It can still be raw and innovative. On this album, the heavy parts are heavier and the grooves are groovier. In places, we’ve given the songs a little more light and made the dark parts darker. Slow Burn Suicide is a step forward while still honoring what came before.”

For the new album, Eternal Black again worked with the production team of Joe Kelly and Kol Marshall (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Ministry, Begotten) at Suburban Elvis Studios in New York. The duo has produced all of Eternal Black’s studio recordings including Bleed the Days and their self-titled EP. The album was mastered by Tony Reed of Mos Generator, who also mastered their previous album.

Formed in late 2014, Eternal Black is made up of Ken Wohlrob (End of Hope) on guitar and vocals, Joe Wood (Borgo Pass, Bloody Sabbath) on drums, and Hal Miller on bass. The group came together out of a desire to create dark songs driven by fuzz-drenched riffs and old-school heavy grooves.

http://eternalblackdoom.com
https://eternalblack.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/blackhanddoom
https://instagram.com/eternalblackdoom/
https://soundcloud.com/eternalblackdoom

Eternal Black, “Ghost”

Tags: , , , , ,

Sàbba Sign to DHU Records; Pentacle Vinyl Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sabba

New York trio Sàbba released their debut EP, Pentacle, in the early hours of 2019. The tape edition largely gone (Sludgelord Records still has it) and I wouldn’t expect much different as the response when DHU Records gets behind the vinyl release for a very, very limited pressing of 66 copies. I think they’ll probably do a second run somewhere down the line — or at least I’d kind of hope? — but if you ever needed an example of it paying to get your preorders in, this has to be it. 66 copies! That’s like nothing. The wax is clear, and if you haven’t heard the tracks yet, they’re name-your-price on Bandcamp. I’d just hate to see you miss out on it twice. You know me. Looking out.

DHU sent the following down the PR wire:

sabba pentacle

SÀBBA sign to DHU Records to release debut Pentacle

DHU Records is proud to announce the signing of Brooklyn, New York’s Occult Doom band SÀBBA to release their debut record “Pentacle” on extremely Limited Edition vinyl!

Sàbba is a Brooklyn bred doom metal/stoner rock band with themes ranging from total obliteration to daunting practices of the occult. Sàbba, meaning Sabbath in southern Italian, offers a sound which mushrooms from psychedelic, trance-inducing hypnotism into a brick wall of crushing annihilation.

“Pentacle” will be the first release in the Exclusive Press series Limited to 66 copies on Crystal Clear Lathe Cut which will be pressed by Royal Mint Records

Info and details for pre orders coming real soon

Side A:
A1. Pentacle
A2. Smoke Goddess

Side B:
B1. IVPITER

Pentacle was Recorded and Mixed at AVERNVS BK Studio in Brooklyn, NY
Mixed by Kevin Dawkins
Engineered by Kevin Dawkins and Mike Calabrese
Produced by Sàbba

Art Design by Kevin Dawkins
Cover photo by Hex Kim

SÀBBA
Drums- Kevin Dawkins
Guitar/Bass- Mike Calabrese
Vocals- Valerie Russo

https://www.facebook.com/sabbadoom/
https://www.instagram.com/sabbadoom/
https://sabbadoom.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://twitter.com/dhu_records
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Sàbba, Pentacle (2019)

Tags: , , , , ,

Conan Announce Secret Show at Saint Vitus Bar This Friday with Yatra and False Gods

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

conan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I don’t at all think you need me to tell you to go see Conan whenever the opportunity should happen to present itself. With the brand-newly-announced secret show with Yatra and False Gods at the Saint Vitus Bar as an offshoot from their tour with Black Label Society and The Atomic Bitchwax, that’s one more chance to do so. The UK three-piece have made a couple stops at the venerable Brooklyn institution at this point — I saw them there in 2015 (review here) — but it’s a sight to behold and sound to… well, have your ears blown out by. Their volume, in that room. Safe to say you’ll be hitting the water cooler in back by the bar once or twice during the set. Or, you know, just drinking more generally.

Conan continue to support their 2018 album, Existential Void Guardian (review here), and are working toward the release of yet another new record this year, all the while coming back to the States in June around an appearance at Maryland Doom Fest 2019 where, as one would expect, they’ll be headlining. Hard to argue with the logic there, and whenever I hear something about the next Conan LP showing up, I’ll let you know. Unless it’s a secret. I can keep secrets.

Not this one though:

conan new poster

CONAN – Semi-Secret Show at Saint Vitus Bar

CONAN Live:
May 09 Hampton Beach, NH – Hampton Beach Casino #
May 10 Brooklyn NY – Saint Vitus Bar
May 12 Richmond, VA – The National #
May 13 Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head Live #
May 14 Toronto, ON – Opera House #
May 15 Toronto, ON – Opera House #
May 22 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theater #
May 23 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theater #
# = w/Black Label Society
* = w/Atomic Bitchwax

June 23 Frederick, MD – Maryland Doom Fest ^
June 26 Boston, MA – Great Scott ^
June 27 Portland, ME – Geno’s ^
June 28 Montreal, QC – Turbo Haus ^
June 30 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class ^
July 01 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups ^
July 02 Indianapolis, IN – Black Circle ^
July 03 Chicago, IL – Reggies ^
July 04 Rock Island, IL – RIBCO
July 05 Omaha, NE – Slowdown
July 06 Rapid City, SD – Haycamp Brewery
July 07 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive
^ = w/Witchkiss

Lineup:
Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

http://www.hailconan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hailconan/
https://www.instagram.com/hailconan/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/hailconan
http://label.napalmrecords.com/

Conan, Live at Saint Vitus Bar, March 4, 2018

Tags: , , , , ,

Live Review: Desertfest NYC Night Three, 04.28.19

Posted in Reviews on April 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The final day of a festival is always bittersweet, in any context. This being the first Desertfest NYC, it was a time to step back and take stock of the event, the crowd, the proceedings, what worked well, what could be tweaked in the future, and in what ways generally it could grow — because if the Desertfests in Berlin, London and Antwerp are any indication of intent, growth is the idea.

So what about it? The venue worked. The Well is a cool spot, and you almost feel like you’re getting away with something out on that back patio. The tent for the main stage worked. The food worked. The free iced coffee cans from Stumptown Roasters certainly worked for me, if we’re defining “worked” as “kept me upright.” The sound worked. The lights worked for the most part. And the location worked. I got street parking both days, no problem. Mark it a win based on that alone.

The second stage room was intentionally smaller and got to be a squeeze, and with the way the door was, you were either in or out — there was no peaking through to see the band onstage. Not that that’s the ideal way of seeing live music, but it’s better than nothing. It was easy enough to get there early, but I heard people noting it just the same. And it was cold. Yesterday more so than the day before. The sun teased a couple times but wasn’t out for more than about 20 minutes at any point, and then it was night, so it got colder. Rain held off, which was a relief, but there was definitely a flux of people going inside for a bit to get warm before going back out to be in front of the main stage. April in New York. That’s a possibility.

But on the whole, given the crowd size and response, the fact that it ran so well from front to back, and the general spirit of those playing and attending comingling and having a good time, I wouldn’t call it anything but a success. Desertfest is a brand, and they were feeling out a new, tough market in New York, but they pulled it off. I was given a t-shirt and I’ll wear it proudly. I hope they do another.

But holy crap was I tired.

Really, just a mess. Doing a festival is one thing. Doing it not completely removed from the rest of one’s life is quite something else, and I could feel myself showing signs of wear and tear especially early in the day before what little adrenaline my deeply flawed body could produce got to work and got me through. That coffee didn’t hurt either. You’ve made a customer for life, Stumptown. I mean that. I don’t usually even drink iced coffee.

Felt like an earlier start than it was at 3:15PM:

Unearthly Trance

Unearthly Trance (Photo by JJ Koczan)

As sadly will happen, Fatso Jetson canceled their trip east to open the third and final day of Desertfest NYC 2019, and I guess it was something of a scramble, but the fest kind of wound up with the opposite. If Fatso Jetson are desert rock, Unearthly Trance are dystopian-expanse-of-concrete-under-a-dark-grey-sky metal. Local heroes from Brooklyn, their 2017 comebacker full-length, Stalking the Ghost (review here), was followed last year by a split with Relapse labelmates Primitive Man (review here), and the few years they spent apart clearly did not dull their impact or atmospheric breadth. Playing in the tent with the sun outside, they were still unremitting in their darkness, and their slow, churning sonic gruel was served up cold to the early crowd, which was perhaps still bleary-eyed from the night before but primed to get bleary-eyed all over again, in no small part to keep warm. That’s a thing, right? Whatever. Unearthly Trance were loud as fuck and bleaker than they were loud. They’ve always been more of an export than a NY-scene band, at least since about 15 years ago, but they gave Brooklyn a showing of some of its best homegrown, and so could’ve hardly been more fitting for that spot.

Sun Voyager

Sun Voyager (Photo by JJ Koczan)

That’s a good band. They’ve got their kinks and quirks to work out — don’t we all — but the second they realize how much power they actually command from the stage, it’s all over. They’ve got newly-announced tour dates in June that begin in Denver at Electric Funeral Festival and will see them bum around the Midwest for a while, and that’s only going to help. More of that. But already their presence is significant. I haven’t seen them since they released Seismic Vibes (review here), which was a debut I was anticipating to an almost embarrassing degree, so they were an absolute must for my weekend, and hearing them do “Open Road” and “God is Dead,” two of the most potent hooks from among the many boogie-driven brainmelters on the record was more than welcome. They would close with the Budgie cover they just issued digitally, “Crash Course in Brain Surgery,” but their energy was infectious and as I stood there and watched I imagined what it might’ve been like to see Nebula 20-plus years ago when they were just really starting to hit it. It couldn’t have been much different. Sun Voyager are awash in potential now and starting to put the work in to pay that off. I will continue to hope they get there.

Ruby the Hatchet

Ruby the Hatchet (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Forerunners of Philadelphia’s burgeoning heavy psychedelic movement, Ruby the Hatchet brought presence and the chops to back it up in kind to their set outside on the main stage. The Tee Pee rollers were fresh off Grim Reefer Fest in Baltimore on April 20 and were on the West Coast earlier this year supporting 2017’s Planetary Space Child LP (review here), and I’ve seen them live a few times at this point, so to find them locked in wasn’t really a surprise as such. The difference was just what they were able to do in being so locked in. It was a classic heavy rock show. Frontwoman Jillian Taylor led the way through the show, with Johnny “Scarps” Scarperia setting the foundation in riffs somewhere between psychedelic rock and proto-doom, Lake Muir‘s bass and Owen Stewart’s drums pushing the groove forward and the keys — it was quite a setup — of Sean Hur adding texture beyond what one finds in the standard boogie rock of the heavy ’10s. Their next album will say a lot for what the ultimate story of Ruby the Hatchet will be, but their live show left nothing to question about who they are as a band, and the Uriah Heep cover for a finale was a particularly nice choice. Hail heavy prog.

ASG

ASG (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve never been a huge fan of North Carolinian four-piece ASG. Not for lack of respect for the work they do, the time they’ve put in touring, the quality of their records, and so on. Sometimes it just doesn’t click, and I’ll readily acknowledge that’s me and not the band, who obviously weren’t hurting for proponents as they packed out the tent outside at The Well, the chilly air getting chillier and the vibe getting its collective buzz on. I grabbed a can of coffee — honestly, if it had been a bucket, I’d have grabbed that — and watched them for a while and tried to figure out the mental block was stopping me from getting on board. Their 2018 album, Survive Sunrise, was a pick in the Year-End Poll, and I’ve been writing about the band on and off since I saw them in 2011, but everybody else had me beat by far in terms of being into it. My loss, I’ve no doubt. It usually is with that kind of thing. Gave me a chance to go inside and get warm.

Duel

Duel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Does Duel‘s reputation precede them yet? Maybe, given the fact that the room with the Desertfest NYC second stage was filling up 80 minutes before the Austin, Texas, four-piece were slated to go on. Part of that was wanting to keep warm, but the band were setting up their gear and looked surprised to see the expectant faces staring back at them. Fair enough. Duel have a pair of killer studio records under their collective belt for Heavy Psych Sounds in 2016’s Fears of the Dead (review here) and 2017’s Witchbanger (review here), and they’re about to unleash the third, Valley of Shadows (review here), on a speedy turnaround May 17 and do the bulk of their label’s impending West Coast package tour earlier next month as preparation for heading to Europe for a month on the road there. So yeah, Duel seemed to be in a good place as they came back on stage at their appointed time and destroyed that tiny room in a way that would’ve translated well to the stage outside, playing like a band taking their delivery to the next level and doing their best work to-date on all fronts. They were riotous and a pleasure to watch. It once again got slammed in the small second stage space as they rose to the occasion, and while everyone there may or may not have known what they were in for, they will next time. Duel are very quickly making themselves essential. A do-not-miss reputation won’t, and maybe doesn’t already, hurt.

Monolord

Monolord (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not sure if Monolord‘s new album — which will also mark their jump from RidingEasy Records to Relapse — is done, or if they’re just already touring for it, but the Swedish trio might as well have been flashing a sign from the stage that said, “NOW IS THE HEADLINING PORTION OF THE EVENING.” Indeed, they and Elder who would follow made up the headliner spots and in the case of Monolord, their primeval riffing, ultra-grooving largesse, chemistry boomed like it was in a meth lab and still-just-dudes-who-like-to-play-loud stage presence was already a highlight of the weekend by the time the first song of their set was done. They’re on the road in the US only briefly this time, having done the Psycho Smokeout on the West Coast as well as this, but they’ll be back for sure after a summer spent in Europe. And I don’t know when they’re record’s coming out, but you’d be a fool not to hold a place on your best-of-the-year list for it whenever it actually happens, because if Monolord have proven anything to this point in their career, it’s consistent. Other bands play, Monolord kill. Make the t-shirt with the spoof logo and sell a million of them. You’re welcome.

Green Milk from the Planet Orange

Green Milk from the Planet Orange (Photo by JJ Koczan)

All three members of Tokyo’s Green Milk from the Planet Orange played seated. Or at least for the most part seated, since I don’t think any of them stayed sitting the entire time, up to and including the drummer, but the arrangement gave their set on the second stage a jazzy feel, with their mega-freaked-out astro-prog heavy grind enhancing that mood. A neon green bass was visible even on what all day was the dark side of the stage, and they likewise were a beacon of weirdness in an undulating sea of riffery. A band on their own wavelength aren’t always easy to listen to — and I’d imagine Green Milk from the Planet Orange‘s new record, which they had for sale outside in the merch area, is plenty frenetic — but the trio made the math add up in their sound and were fun even as they dared the crowd to keep up with them. Most couldn’t, frankly, but that’s the nature of the kind of progressivism a band like that taps into. It’s never been and it never will be for everyone. It was awesome to witness, however, and for the technical prowess and the weirdo vibes coming off the stage, they were a highlight unto themselves. You need that sore thumb band sometimes.

Elder

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Elder are arguably the most forward-thinking band in the current American heavy rock underground. By starting out young, they’ve become the spearhead of a generation of acts, and the work they’ve done throughout this decade is unmatched in its scope and the sheer will toward exploring new ideas. Plus it’s heavy. And plus, it rocks. I mean, there are a lot of krautrock bands out there. They’re in Europe. And the US has its fair share of heavy in various stripes, whether it’s desert rock or psych or doom metal or whatever the hell else we’re on this week, but what Elder tie together with their sound is a signature blend of influences that no one else can match, and their style of songwriting is inimitable. The way their parts interact with each other like Nick DiSalvo, Michael Risberg, Jack Donovan and Matt Couto have a musical conversation on stage. The way they’re able to build tension subtly and find just the right moment to swap out trajectories and head someplace else. It’s brilliant in the very real sense of luminosity. They are important, yes, because their influence will continue to spread, but they’re also incredible just to stand back and watch play. Every bit the headliner at this stage in their career, and I suspect they will remain that way for as long as they choose to do so. This is a special band doing special work on their own terms. Long may they reign.

Mick’s Jaguar

Mick's Jaguar (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not going to pretend I had it in me to stand there for the entire Mick’s Jaguar set. I didn’t have it in me to stand there for the entire Elder set — I had to go sit inside for a couple minutes at one point or another — but I’d seen every band on all three days of Desertfest NY, so you’re damn right I stuck around and waited for them to go on. I love how New York’s version of party rock is still just a little mean. It’s the punk lineage, or at least the spirit of that culture, because even when a band like Mick’s Jaguar come out on the second stage and start tearing into songs from 2018’s Fame and Fortune (review here), there’s still a little edge of “fuck you” to the good time they’re having. Like they’re saying, “fuck you we’re fun.” And they were a blast. It was late and dark in the room, but a lot of people had gone home after Elder, so Mick’s Jaguar were kind of the pre-after-party for the after-party happening after the show. I knew vaguely what to expect going into the set, but as tired as I was and as much as I still had that hour drive home ahead of me, I knew staying for one more song was the right way to go, and hey, no regrets.

The actual after-party was being held at The Anchored Inn around the corner. I said goodbyes at the venue and farted my way over there for a couple minutes to see how the cool kids live. They live boozy. I tried not to put my backpack in anyone’s face, failed, and then once again took my leave. Maybe I hadn’t been ready after all for Desertfest NY to end. Maybe I was delaying that drive home.

Either way, the toll would be paid this morning. Got to bed before 1AM, but the alarm went off at 5:50AM to get up, pack the car and drive back to Massachusetts so The Patient Mrs. could go to work. It had been traffic all weekend, so I should’ve expected no different. Left at 7:30AM, got in at 1:30PM. Stops for diaper-change, gas, etc., but yeah. Still six hours for a trip that’s ideally not much over four.

That had me pretty much comatose for the afternoon, but I started this review during the baby’s nap and I’m finishing it now after he’s gone to bed. I’m falling asleep while I type and I still need to sort pictures, so I’ll leave it here, but before I go, heartfelt congratulations to Matte Vandeven and Reece Tee on a job well done, and thanks to them, Sarika, Jake and everyone else involved in the festival crew for having me along for it. I felt welcomed in a way that warmed my heart and set the tone for the entire experience. It was much, much appreciated. Here’s to the next one.

More pics after the jump:

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Live Review: Desertfest NYC Night One, 04.26.19

Posted in Reviews on April 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Black Cobra (Photo by JJ Koczan)

An unfamiliar context in familiar environs. Desertscene and Sound of Liberation, who together are behind Desertfest in London and Berlin as well as numerous other events, are playing it smart. New York is a hard town to do a festival, and if they’re thinking of making this an annual event, they’re building from the ground up. It’s not about rolling into Brooklyn and trying to nudge arguably the most entitled audience in the US — because fucking everything comes through New York, and is expected to — into embracing your brand, but about introducing what you do in a way that allows that audience to feel like it’s getting in on something on the ground floor.

To that end, the first night of the first Desertfest NYC was held at the Saint Vitus Bar with a welcoming spirit and a due course of volume. To those who’d point out there are no deserts in New York, congratulations on your cleverness. Please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for your sticker. For those of more discerning cognition, the point was the music, always, and Desertfest NYC 2019 both embraced the space it was in and the audience it drew in delivering an inaugural night that felt like a kickoff as much for the parties behind it as those in attendance.

Four bands would lead in to two days of nine apiece, and the venue for Saturday and Sunday is The Well, but the Saint Vitus Bar is not only pro-shop from top to bottom, but an intimate enough space to still feel like something special might happen. Whatever the future holds for Desertfest in New York City, I’ll gladly argue that something special already did.

Here’s how the night went:

Heavy Temple

Heavy Temple (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Have you told two friends yet about Heavy Temple? I sincerely hope so, and I hope they do likewise. It was my first time seeing the latest incarnation of the Philly purveyors of hard fuzz, who seem to have sacrificed little of their forward momentum for once again swapping out two-thirds of the lineup around founding bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk. Now in the company of guitarist Lord Paisley — and congratulations to him on the stage name, because that is marvelous — and drummer Baron Lycan (not bad either), Nighthawk remains the commanding presence at the heart of the band. They’re new in this form, but at least some of what they played was readily familiar from 2016’s shorty-long-player Chassit (review here), and with Nighthawk righteously softshoeing her basslines in true “taking them for a walk” fashion” and Paisley and Lyan certainly more than just along for the ride, they showed that the band’s potential has not at all dimmed for the tumult in personnel. They’re recording — guitars next, apparently — and have tour dates lined up with Ecstatic Vision (info here). I’d say by the end of that run they’ll be on fire, but they already were.

High Tone Son of a Bitch

High Tone Son of a Bitch (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I seem to have a preternatural aversion to bands with two frontmen, which is a terrible generalization to make across the board, but true nonetheless. Some people don’t like two guitars. I tend to feel like if you’re going to have more than one person whose primary function is as a singer, you need to earn that aesthetically, either with some harmonies or arrangement depth, etc. Oakland, CA’s High Tone Son of a Bitch brought some aggro noise spirit to both traditionalist heavy rock and Southern-tinged riffing, and indeed there was some interplay between their two vocalists, which helped. They’re a band requiring context, with members of Noothgrush and Kalas aboard and the fact that they were together in the early part of the century before losing guitarist Andrew Kott to drug addiction, and taking more than a decade off only to recently begin a comeback. Even for those without the background though, they seemed to hold their own. They’ve been touring with Weedeater — always helps — and were still getting their feet (back) under them amid some competing vibes onstage, but they acquitted themselves well and their new material seemed to pick up where they left off 15 years ago, so all the better.

Here Lies Man

Here Lies Man (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There was talk afterward of Black Cobra stealing the show — and fair enough — but I’d never seen Here Lies Man before, and among the entire weekend’s lineup, they were high among my most anticipated sets. Their two full-lengths for RidingEasy Records, 2017’s Here Lies Man (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), have both garnered significant critical praise, but they have yet to capture the kind of word-of-mouth-holy-crap-you-gotta-see-this-band backing they deserve. With shared vocals among guitarist Marcos Garcia, drummer Geoff Mann and bouncing bassist JP Maramba and keyboardist Will Rast prominent in the front-of-house mix, they showed just how far they’ve taken the central conceit of the group they started with — “what if Black Sabbath played afrobeat” is how it’s been phrased in the press releases — and made something new from it that’s neither entirely one or the other but all the more a defined Here Lies Man sound. They jammed with character and held down air-tight rhythm and melody with a sense of artistry and professionalism, and as they move toward their third full-length, they only seemed to be poised for people to catch on to what they’re doing. They were, in short, really, really good. You like bands? Okay cool. Here’s a band. Fucking dig in.

Black Cobra

Black Cobra (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Hey, guess what. Black Cobra were completely dominant. Well of course they were — that’s what they do, and they do it remarkably well. There was some trouble early on with Rafa Martinez‘s bass drum trying to run away from him — only reasonable, since he was kicking the shit out of it at the time — but he and guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian took the Saint Vitus Bar stage and pummeled, pummeled, pummeled their way into a massive oblivion of thrash-infused heft, delivered with the efficiency of a band 15 years removed from their first EP who have long since attained plug-in-and-destroy status via touring that, for years during that stretch at least, was well into what most humans would consider “excessive.” They’re three years out from 2016’s Imperium Simulacra (review here), and I certainly wouldn’t mind if they did a follow-up to that offering, which was their most dynamic to-date, but let’s face it, if Desertfest NYC wanted to be sure everyone stumbled out of the bar feeling like their asses had just been handed to them, they called the right band. I thought maybe I’d try an experiment and try to review their set without once referencing an act of violence — really, I thought of it while they were playing and people were moshing, chuckled out loud to myself at the notion and was interested to try — but obviously such a cause would be hopeless. With the venue duly laid waste, Black Cobra wrapped their set and gave the addled room over to the after-party, every bit in the fashion of the headliners they truly are.

One thing I wanted to mention that didn’t fit in the review: I got pushed at this show. I was taking pictures of High Tone Son of a Bitch and was up front for it, and I stepped to the other side of the stage, saw the guy I was getting in front of was wearing a SonicBlast Moledo shirt, said “nice shirt,” turned to take a picture of the stage-right guitarist, and the dude pushed me as if to move me out of his way. I don’t imagine this was someone from the area. I spent a decent few minutes afterwards thinking about the ownership of space, personal agency of one’s body, how one responds to being bullied, my own history in this regard, and so on, and landed pretty much on my initial reaction, which was a hearty go fuck yourself. It’s a show, and shit happens, but if you want to be up in front of the stage so bad, get there first. Otherwise, feel free to kiss my ass.

I saw the same guy after the set as he was walking to the back, and as he passed me, I gave him a little shove. Equal and opposite reaction. No words were exchanged — I didn’t think it required verbal follow-up — and that was it. I didn’t see him again and if I did, I don’t think there would’ve been any residual acrimony. But these moments affect one’s evening, if temporarily, and I was glad to be in a place I enjoy so much and surrounded by so many good people — the New York Faithful Family Reunion 2019 in full effect — who helped put me back in the proper mindset without even knowing they were doing it. It was a great night.

Today the show moves to The Well and it starts in a couple hours, so I’ll leave it there and just say I’m looking forward to it. More pics after the jump if you’re interested.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Mad Doctors Premiere Video for “Shit Hawks at Blood Beach”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the mad doctors

Let’s face it, when someone like Brooklyn’s The Mad Doctors comes to you and says, “Hey we’ve got a video for a song called ‘Shit Hawks at Blood Beach’ do you want to premiere it?,” the correct answer is not no. All the better that the clip in question takes animation influence from the likes of Bill Plympton and Terry Gilliam and probably eight or nine other animators I’m not cool enough to recognize and looks as disturbing as the track itself — which features guest spoken vocals from Matt Witte alongside the core Mad trio of guitarist/vocalist Seth Applebaum, bassist Joshua Park and drummer Greg Hanson — sounds, with the band’s weirdo take on surf rock chilling out a bit from some of the more uptempo fare surrounding on 2017’s No Waves, Just Sharks (discussed here) from whence it comes in order to set a creeper vibe like Faith No More‘s “RV” if someone had parked it in the sand and left it there for a month to bake in the sun.

Oh, it’s strange and oh, it’s fun. The clip, directed by Jordan Wason, is an inventive work of line animation and stop motion that much like the song seems to grow more psychotic as it plays out, starting innocently enough if with something sinister happening beneath. Soon enough there’s a plastic gun and garbage and bottles and oil paint being used to convey, what, sunburn, maybe? But like an existential sunburn? It’s hard to read and that’s pretty clearly the intention, but again, it meshes really well with the echoing guitar jangle of “Shit Hawks at Blood Beach” itself, which takes the innocence of early-’60s surf — before punk had the chance to dirty it up — and turns it into a bad trip unfolding right in front of the listener. Watch it fullscreen and be creeped out. I think it’s better that way. This isn’t the kind of thing I cover every day, and nothing against the standard or anything, but that’s kind of why I like it.

The Mad Doctors released a single in January called “Fuck Sean Hannity” that’s available name-your-price at their Bandcamp and well worth your time. Their work sees release through Hanson‘s imprint, King Pizza Records, and they play Pizzafest VI at The Gutter in Brooklyn on June 6. More info on that here.

Please enjoy:

The Mad Doctors, “Shit Hawks at Blood Beach” official video premiere

Jordan Wason on “Shit Hawks at Blood Beach”:

“The animation blends together antique photos and found toys from Brooklyn’s own Glass Bottle Beach at Dead Horse Bay. The beach is a former landfill from the 1930s, and some ghosts from the photos may be of the same era as the trash buried there. I thought it was appropriate to let them play together again, reunited at Blood Beach.”

The Mad Doctors on “Shit Hawks at Blood Beach”:

“Jordan is an amazing animator and we are stoked he took on the project — stylistically, his sensibilities lie at the crossroads of 80s/90s underground film, Svankmeyer/Brothers Quay stop motion, mixed media, and a dash of roadshow exploitation and that really suits our tastes. His choice of song makes perfect sense as it’s probably our strangest and most atmospheric. The vocals/monologue by Coach n Commando’s Matt Witte really set it apart for us and it’s cool to see it all set to some truly unsettling images. It’s rad to release it so close to the anniversary of ‘No Waves, Just Sharks’ release and we can’t be more excited to share it.”

“Shit Hawks at Blood Beach”
Music by The Mad Doctors
Lyrics and vocal performance by Matt Witte
Video concept and animation by Jordan Wason
Band photo by Jeanette D. Moses / Blood Sweat and Beers NYC

Off the album “No Waves, Just Sharks” by The Mad Doctors, available from King Pizza Records.

The Mad Doctors are:
Seth Applebaum – Gtr/vox
Joshua Park – Bass
Greg Hanson – Drums

The Mad Doctors on Bandcamp

The Mad Doctors on Thee Facebooks

The Mad Doctors on Twitter

King Pizza Records website

King Pizza Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Live Review: YOB, Voivod & Amenra in Brooklyn, 04.04.19

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

YOB (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I arrived at the Warsaw in Brooklyn early enough to go to the market across the street and buy gum, go inside the venue and use the restroom, come back out and meander a bit and still be first in line to get in the door to see YOB, Voivod and Amenra, so yes, I was eager to see the show. And I’ll confess that after seeing Voivod in August at Psycho Las Vegas (review here) and Amenra at Høstsabbat (review here) in Oslo this past October, the band I was most overdue in seeing was YOB. It would be my first YOB gig since the release last year of Our Raw Heart (review here) on Relapse and going back even further than that to 2015. It’s been an adventurous couple of years, but still, that’s unacceptable.

Fortunately for me and everyone else in the venue — and perhaps, given the volume, everyone on the entire block — YOB were headlining. Amenra were soundchecking before doors opened and this would be my first time seeing them not in a festival setting. Being somewhat used to the Belgium-based forerunners of European post-metal with a high-grade production value in terms of lights, projections, strobe effects and so on, I was interested to find out how it would translate to a smaller stage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were blisteringly intense. The drastic contrast of their ambience and weighted sway seemed especially powerful as I stood by the low-end side of the stage for the lurching “Plus Près de Toi” from 2017’s Mass VI. They’ve been to Brooklyn at least once each year since that record came out, but in this context, they brought a headliner presence to the opening slot. There wasn’t one band of the three who wouldn’t readily headline their own tour.

Amenra probably aren’t a band I’d seek out on their own, but I’ve never regretted watching them play when I’ve had occasion to do so, and from where I sit there’s no denying the creative force behind cuts like “Razoreater” and “A Solitary Reign,” both of which were aired at the Warsaw ahead of the finale of “Diaken” from the last album. They’re maybe a bit tighter in their conception of what they do than I can fully appreciate, but they remain sonically devastating, and for the contrast with Canadian sci-fi metal legends Voivod alone, it was a fascinating experience. The sheer incongruity of the one into the other was a sight to behold, but once the switch was flipped and Voivod went on, the whole vibe in the room changed and went along with them, the Quebecois four-piece running through a set of classics and newer songs, smiling all the while.

They are a very, very specific kind of fun. It’s not everyone’s kind of fun, otherwise Voivod would’ve become Metallica, but their alien-rhythm punk-metal-proto-thrash-prog remains not so much ahead of its time, but from its own dimension. The opened with “Post Society” and vocalist Denis “Snake” Bélanger mentioned ahead of “Obsolete Beings” that they’d recently won the Juno award for metal with their latest album, The Wake, from whence that song comes, but if it was more recent stuff or “Into My Hypercube” from 1989’s Nothingface and “The Lost Machine” from 1993’s The Outer Limits, they were absolutely unmistakable, and as was the case last summer in the sweltering Las Vegas heat, theirs was among the most unabashedly joyful performances I’ve ever seen from a band that might be considered in any way. Voivod were having their very own kind of fun.

It was infectious, and I think if there was going to be a vaccine, it probably would’ve been developed sometime in the last 38 years. They ended the night with “Voivod” and a heartfelt shout to founding guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, who passed away in 2005, before the band got even that portion of “their due” that they’ve received up to now. I’m not sure I’d put a percentage to that, but I know it’s on the low side, and when they were done, Snake, founding drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, bassist Dominique “Rocky” Laroche and guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain took time to pass out their setlists and shake hands in the crowd. It sounds corny to say, but they were essentially sharing their love for what they do with the audience, both while they were playing and after. They’re one of the most admirable bands on the planet, for that as well as the decades of aesthetic innovation.

And then YOB played. Ha.

Let’s face it. YOB have been at it one way or another for the last 20-plus years, and they’ve only ever pushed themselves forward. I think every single seeing-YOB-is-a-spiritual-experience cliché has been exhausted at this point in their career — true though it otherwise might be — so I’ll spare you that, but I think it’s worth taking a minute to appreciate the relentless creativity that drives the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster. And that’s not just a question of longevity. YOB don’t put out records because, “okay, well, we gotta go get back on tour, so we need to make an album.” They do it because they have something to express emotionally or something to contemplate and process through music. Their work has never ceased growing, and as they opened their set by tearing a chasm through the universe with “Prepare the Ground,” I couldn’t help but think how incredibly special and rare a band they are. To wit, there is one YOB. Eight billion people walking around the planet or something like that. One YOB.

The set was “Prepare the Ground,” “Kosmos,” “The Lie that is Sin,” “Marrow,” “Grasping Air” and “Burning the Altar,” and if six songs doesn’t sound like much to you, I humbly invite you to go listen to any single one of those cuts somewhere on the internet and be bowled over by them. “Marrow” had eyes moistened throughout the venue, and they brought out bassist Levy Seynaeve from Amenra to do guest vocals on “Grasping Air,” which I have a hard time thinking of as anything other than a dream come true. Even before that though, “Kosmos” and “The Lie that is Sin” made for a particularly resonant pairing ahead of “Marrow,” building on the momentous nod of “Prepare the Ground” with methodical groove that is continually YOB‘s own. Like I said at the outset, it had been too long. I didn’t realize until I was standing there watching them just how much too long it had been. Much too long.

No encore, but none necessary after “Burning the Altar.” I was kind of in a daze after that, to be honest, but stayed a couple minutes to chat rather than darting back to the car. It was a scheduling glitch that got me to see this show in Brooklyn rather than Boston, but no regrets. Nights like this one don’t happen all the time, and to not take advantage when they do is to genuinely miss out.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

Read more »

Tags: , , , ,

Slush Premiere “On the Silver Globe” from Lizard Skin

Posted in audiObelisk on March 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

slush

Brooklyn trio Slush make an offering of Lizard Skin on March 29, self-releasing the seven-song/50-minute long-player as their follow-up to the fuckall charm of 2016’s American Demons (review here). An current of experimentalism runs beneath the tube-blower fuzz of songs like “Golden Seam” and the slow-marching “Skeleton Queen,” prevailing through a sashimi-raw production that makes its anti-presence felt quickly on opening track “Graveyard,” however misleading — and there’s intent behind that, make no mistake — the leadoff’s punkishness might otherwise be, like if Ramones grew up listening to Nebula, or maybe the other way around.

Fuck it. Point is, Slush come out throwing curves at your head, and that doesn’t really stop just because once “Graveyard” and “Golden Seam” lead into the title-track and “Skeleton Queen” there’s a little bit of context for comparison. It’s freaked out. Not in the same way as the psych-blamo of the three-piece’s alter-ego unit Hot Knives — why not combine the two bands; Hot Slush; you’re welcome — but freaked out enough to make the title-track a down-home acoustic grunge number with a considered arrangement of backing vocals and some accomplished noodling. Because when you’re going to have expectation take a back seat, you might as well just tie it to the roof of the car instead.

Them Slushies cap side A with the slow-nodding tonal thickness slush lizard skinof “Skeleton Queen” and drift into hypnosis past the halfway-point of the tracklist centerpiece only to cut to feedback and turn out a more active ending, driven there by the restless drums of Tom Barnes as bassist Joe Dahlstrom and guitarist/vocalist Alex Boehm careen around the newfound central groove. It’s plenty heavy but a locked in moment all the same and soothing for that, a quick bit of security ahead of the B side’s own headed-out movement, which begins with “Megalodon,” renewing the vocal approach of “Graveyard” atop a shuffling progression that leads to a noisy solo late in the track with enough swagger that it’s easy to roll with it.

And of course before they get down to business in the 12-minute let’s-just-do-it-all-at-once finale “On the Silver Globe,” there’s “Cortex the Killer,” a mostly-instrumental (but for the last minute or so) exploration of Western-style acoustics and string-ish drone that’s no less trance-inducing than anything “Skeleton Queen” brought forth, but of course in its own context. And maybe it’s the initial lumber of “On the Silver Globe” that takes my weary head to the Melvins, but the start is barely the start of what the capper has to say, digging into earliest-Electric Wizard-style unabashed Sabbathery with reckless glee and teasing the inevitable into-oblivion jam a couple times before the actual point of departure. I won’t spoil it, but once you’re inside, there’s no getting out. Not that you’re looking for one.

The thing about even that stretch of freaky freaked-out freakery though is that Slush know what they’re doing, and that’s where the biggest distinction comes in between Lizard Skin and American Demons. For sure, both have exploration as a key component, and I expect and hope that would continue to be the case with whatever Slush might do next, but there’s a sense of purpose behind these songs that brings them to a different level in terms of execution. Side A makes that plain and side B reinforces it, with “On the Silver Globe” as something of a victory lap for the accomplishment of their intent.

Keep an open mind and check out the premiere of “On the Silver Globe” via the player below. Some comment from the band follows. Album is out Friday.

Please enjoy:

Slush on “On the Silver Globe”:

“On the Silver Globe” is a stolen title — I got it from a movie by Andrzej Zulawski, one of my favorite directors (most famous for his gorey, psychedelic rumination on infidelity, Possession, starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani). Silver Globe was supposed to be Zulawski’s magnum opus. It’s a visually stunning sci-fi masterpiece to rival the best by Tarkovsky, but to make a long story short it’s a miracle the film ever got made (look it up! the history of the movie itself is wild).

Sonically, I was really trying to stuff everything I love about rock and roll into one song. I wanted to weave blown-out, dense riffs with a heavy garage drone and still maintain a hypnotic, entrancing effect throughout… I remember bringing it to the band and Joe and Tom gave real movement to it right away, which was the missing necessary element for such an excessive, indulgent song. It always feels good when a song clicks right away. Although my memory is terrible, generally speaking, I do recall playing it for the first time and us all taking it in the same direction pretty much instinctively.

The undulating feel Joe and Tom both give the song also inspired the lyrics, which loosely allude to a Lovecraftian tale of human sacrifice by drowning and subsequent transcendence into outer space. Each song on Lizard Skin has a similar underlying narrative and together they compose a complete, semi-secret story that lies beneath the album’s surface. As the last song on the album, “Silver Globe” also serves as the ending to that story.

Out March 29, Lizard Skin was self-produced and mastered by Bob Weston of Chicago Mastering, and will be pressed as a double LP on natural white vinyl.

SLUSH is:
Joe Dahlstrom (bass)
Tom Barnes (drums)
Alex Boehm (guitar and vocals)

Slush on Instagram

Slush on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,