Live Review: YOB, Occultation and Ecsatic Vision in Brooklyn, 12.13.14

Posted in Reviews on December 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

YOB (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Saint Vitus Bar stage is as tall as my leg just a little bit above the knee. This is a thing I know because when I returned to the by-now-infamous Brooklyn venue for the second of YOB‘s two nights this past Saturday and was once again pressed up against the stage by the packed-in crowd, I could feel the bruises from when the same thing happened the evening prior. Apart from a standard-operating-procedure stiff neck and maybe lingering road fatigue, I was unailing. I’d taken better care during the day to drink water, brought ibuprofen, ate some food of substance. Friday night’s amateur-hour shit was out the window. Like I’ve Ecstatic Vision (Photo by JJ Koczan)never done this before. Embarrassing.

Support acts were switched, Kings Destroy and Tombs tagging out and Occultation and Ecstatic Vision tagging in, the latter making their way up from Philadelphia to open with added intrigue because of their recent signing to Relapse Records, through which they’ll issue their debut full-length next year. I’d hit protest traffic on my way across Manhattan, a sign-carrying sea of humanity flanked and backed by police escort, but couldn’t even hold it against them. I’ve protested before and have found it ultimately a hollow reminder of how little voice a public can actually have, but I get the impulse to get in public and shout your cause into that unlistening, unconcerned abyss. When I got to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, I saw a police staging area with cops decked out in riot gear, the shields, the plastic masks, the batons out and at the ready. It was not hard to identify one side’s position on the other.

Got to the venue early anyway. Ecstatic Vision went on a little before nine amid murmurings of the Vitus Bar‘s midnight karaoke start ecstatic vision 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)time and kicked smoothly into a heavy psych groove that, while formative, only became more engaging as their set went on. The trio recently-down-from-a-four-piece have been announced as openers for YOB‘s upcoming March 2015 major-market tour with Enslaved, so the two acts will feature on the same bill again soon enough, but their space-rock push propelled by rope-lit drummer Jordan Crouse meshed well with their flashing lightshow, colors bouncing off the black walls and curtains of the Vitus Bar stage, guitarist/vocalist Doug Sabolik (who, like Crouse, is a veteran of metal outliers A Life Once Lost) periodically running the headstock of his guitar through the chimes hanging off his mic stand, eventually hard enough to knock one or two off them off.

Sabolik‘s effects and pile of amps were impressive enough, but as with most heavy psych, it’s the low end holding it all together, and bassist Michael Connor did so fluidly, his lines providing the foundation of Ecstatic Vision‘s Hawkwindian-style jams while still finding room for righteous fills. It was my first time seeing the band. It won’t be my last. They played a somewhat abbreviated opening set, but it was a prime sampling of an emergent sound and stage presence that seems likely to continue to grow in all the right directions as their instrumental dynamic takes shape. No doubt by the time they get off that March tour, they’ll be even more on their way. Occultation, who followed, Occultation (Photo by JJ Koczan)would boast a significantly less colorful aesthetic.

Native to Brooklyn, Occultation released their second album, Silence in the Ancestral House, this year on Profound Lore. A cult-rocking studio trio, live they play as a four-piece with Viveca Butler (ex-Aquila) on vocals and keys, Annu Lilja on bass, Edward “Nameless Void” Miller on guitar, and M.D.V. on drums, and much of what they hit into seemed to come from the new record. Fair enough. They’re a name that has been tossed about more and more as the year has started to wind down, and they brought a significant sense of atmosphere to their live presentation, their sound somewhere between Ghost‘s clean riffing and more extreme metallic forms. It was a leap in aesthetic from where Ecstatic Vision had started things off, but clearly that was the intent, and no stretch to hear why they’ve gotten the critical response they have.

They played longer than had the openers, and the Vitus Bar crowd knew them and welcomed them, Occultation (Photo by JJ Koczan)and what they had in common with Ecstatic Vision was a current of potential. I was on the fence for most of the set, but eventually their hoods-up cultistry and hooks won me over, as well as the variety they brought to their songs. Whatever it was they closed with, they picked the right tune. Their style is in a tough spot and it can be hard for a group with similar influences to really distinguish itself from the pack, I saw nothing to make me think Occultation couldn’t get to that point. The room was packed by the time they finished, and they gave a solid local lead-in to YOB, who took the stage greeted as returning heroes.

I don’t know how many people in the crowd had also been there on Friday night, but I imagine it was a decent portion. Last time YOB were in Brooklyn, early in 2013, they did a similar two-show stint (review here), and I know from that they got a lot of return business. Provided one doesn’t have any pressing real-life obligation, who wouldn’t want to see YOB two nights in a row? Or 15? They changed the setlist some from the evening prior, pulling back from playing this year’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) in full by switching out “Unmask the Spectre” for churning The Great Cessation opener “Burning the Altar,” which, following “Marrow,” felt like the beginning of a second set more than the continuation of one already in progress. “Prepare the Ground,” which opened 2011’s Atma, led the way into the newer cuts — “In Our Blood,” “Nothing to Win” and the YOB (Photo by JJ Koczan)aforementioned “Marrow” — and “Burning the Altar” was itself backed by Atma‘s “Adrift in the Ocean” and set-closer “Quantum Mystic,” from 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived.

If nothing else, the set emphasized YOB‘s propensity for badass opening tracks. Between “Prepare the Ground,” “In Our Blood” (which is more stylistically ranging than some of their bigger-riff-focused hooks of the past, but still fits the bill), “Burning the Altar” and “Quantum Mystic,” four out of the seven songs guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster played were album leadoffs. That material has always been some of the band’s most immediate and, in their way, accessible, so it’s exceedingly satisfying live. I’d argue “Nothing to Win” works in a similar vein, albeit more angrily and with Foster‘s drums and Scheidt‘s misconception-shattering screams as its primary modes of impact.

Positioned with the contrast of “Marrow” and “Adrift in the Ocean” — two longer pieces marked out by sections of quiet, finger-plucked guitar exploration and a sense of linear build — it was as dynamic a YOB set as I’ve seen, YOB (Photo by JJ Koczan)showcasing both their sonic individuality and their presence on stage as one of the foremost American heavy acts of their generation, relentlessly forward moving with aural heft and passion to match, whether it’s Scheidt throwing two fists in the air to share in the audience’s excitement, Rieseberg sharing a between-song chuckle with the front row before his face once again disappeared into his hair or Foster raising his arms high over his head for the next crash. Whatever else they may be — and on the heels of Clearing the Path to Ascend, they’ve been met with a swell of critical and fan acclaim, with more to come I’m sure — YOB are a special band. You could hear it in how quiet the Saint Vitus Bar crowd got after cheering each song, waiting to hear the first note of what was coming next.

This time, I managed to stay up front the whole set, and I’m glad I did. They made the trip down to Brooklyn and back to Massachusetts easily worthwhile, and since there’s a good chance the Saturday show was the last gig I’ll see in 2014, I couldn’t think of a better way for the year to go out, so thoroughly consumed by YOB as it has been.

More pics after the jump. Thank you (again) for reading.

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Live Review: YOB, Tombs and Kings Destroy in Brooklyn, 12.12.14

Posted in Reviews on December 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

yob friday 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

At around 11AM, I started to get antsy. By the time I left Massachusetts, it was 12:30PM, and it would be five and a half hours later that I rolled down Manhattan Ave. in Brooklyn to the Saint Vitus Bar for the first of YOB‘s two-night residency with support from Tombs and Kings Destroy. It would be the first time I’d see the Eugene, Oregon, trio since the release of their much-lauded 2014 Neurot Recordings debut, Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), and I wasn’t going to miss it. yob soundcheck (Photo by JJ Koczan)I did not stop for food or drink on my way south.

YOB were soundchecking when I got in, and there’d be some time yet before the show actually started. I watched them bust through a couple fuses on the Sunn bass head on loan from Kings Destroy and get their sound dialed in through the Vitus Bar P.A., noticing that the shape of the venue’s stage had changed since last I was there. It’s been added to in the front, what used to be a jut-out in the middle is not even all the way across. Since the show was sold out, there were no seats on the side either. It looked like a pro shop, which of course it is whether the booths are there or not, and there were few people milling around, getting drinks and whatnot. It was a boon to me at that point not to be in the car anymore.

By my count this was the 20th time I watched Kings Destroy play a set in 2014. That is not an kings destroy 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)exaggeration. Possibly the only thing I can say about them at this point — and I mean it as a high compliment — is that if they were playing tonight somewhere near me, I’d go. They also had a soundcheck and got started shortly after 9PM, soon thereafter announcing from the stage that their third, self-titled album will be out on War Crime Recordings in April as they ran through a couple of its highlights, “Smokey Robinson,” “Mr. O.,” “Embers” and “Green Diamonds,” opening with “The Whittler” and rounding out with “Blood of Recompense” and “Turul,” a one-two punch culled from last year’s A Time of Hunting.

The latter was particularly charged and since it’s not one they play all the time, I was glad to see them break it out as a finale. Of all their material, it’s probably the oddest song they have, but the weirdness suits them and underscores the impressive amount of sonic ground they cover and the efficiency with which they cover it. They played mostly in the dark, with a projector screen behind, but after seeing them on the West Coast, the East Coast and in between, the home turf was a fun way to round out the year. I should be so lucky to go another 20 in 2015.

Somehow — and I’m not 100 percent sure this is true now that I’m saying it — I’ve never seen Tombs. At least not that I can remember. Thetombs 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan) Brooklynite outfit, led by guitarist/vocalist Mike Hill, released their third album, Savage Gold, this year on Relapse, and were duly in command of their genre-blending style, a potent, metallic-vibed stew of blackened squibblies, doomly atmospherics and thrashing intensity. His foot on the monitor or his guitar held out in front of him, Hill was every bit the frontman, but the whole band was air-tight, bassist Ben Brand and drummer Andrew Hernandez II, and recently-added guitarist Evan Void (also of Sadgiqacea) crisp in the delivery of cuts like “Edge of Darkness” and “Seance” from the new album en route to the closeout, “Path of Totality,” the title-track from Tombs‘ 2011 sophomore breakout full-length. They were a band I always figured I’d run into sooner or later. I wish it had been sooner.

I came into the show thinking of it as the first of two nights, so it was hard to consider Friday a standalone, but even if you take into account Saturday’s lineup, with Occultation and Ecstatic Vision opening, there was a varied but still tombs 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)cohesive spirit to both bills. It gave Friday a carefully curated vibe, and that carried over to Saturday too. These weren’t just bands who would draw, they were bands someone wanted you to see. It made a difference in the mood of the show, and by the time Tombs were wrapping up after Kings Destroy and before YOB, the Vitus Bar was so packed in that clearly the plan had worked.

Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to watch YOB play three-fourths of Clearing the Path to Ascend at Roadburn in The Netherlands, and doubly fortunate to have heard the record beforehand. But I didn’t know the songs at that point, hadn’t spent any significant amount of time listening to them, and absent from that set was the album-closer “Marrow,” which, if you’ve heard it, you know is a big difference. It’s my pick for song of the year, for whatever that’s worth, but there was no guarantee it would make an appearance either night. Still, was worth a shot. As it turned out, after opening with the unearthly rolling groove of “Ball of Molten Lead,” which continues to sound as weighted as its title, guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster played Clearing the Path to Ascend front to back, in its entirety, closing out with the yob friday 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)scorchingly noisy “The Lie that is Sin” from 2009’s return, The Great Cessation, and the title cut from 2011’s Atma.

Whatever they played, I’m sure I’d have been into it, but having watched them play full-album sets previously for The Great Cessation, 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived and 2003’s Catharsis, I’m glad to be able to put Clearing the Path to Ascend in that category as well. The four songs, “In Our Blood,” the drum-led tempest “Nothing to Win” — which Foster made look easy, in defiance of both logic and physics — “Unmask the Spectre” and “Marrow” itself, were a worthy focal point, and the flow of the material was no less palpable live than it is listening to the album. Being faster and more aggressive, “Nothing to Win” got a particularly fervent response (myself included), but I don’t think I was the only one appreciating what it meant to be watching “Marrow” and seeing YOB‘s most progressive moment to date come to life right there on the stage. To call it powerful would be understatement.

I was, by then, a wreck. That whole not-eating-or-drinking-anything-all-day thing? Yeah, it caught up with me right around the time they hit into “Unmask the Spectre.” I couldn’t keep my head up without getting dizzy yob friday 3 (Photo by JJ Koczan)and pressed up against the stage up front, I was fiercely nauseous and feeling like I was going to pass out. I leaned over on the stage during “Marrow” and headed to the back of the venue thereafter, getting two rounds of two waters from the bar and putting my head down on my arm to recover. I heard a good-spirited “Man down!” from someone. I wasn’t even drunk, just dehydrated. It made me glad I was sticking around the area for the second show, since watching “The Lie that is Sin” and “Atma” from way in the back wasn’t how I was hoping it would go down, but even so, I can’t and won’t complain. I was lucky to be there at all.

And I’d be lucky to go back for more the next night. More on that tomorrow. For now, more pics after the jump and thanks for reading.

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Blind Idiot God to Release Before Ever After in Early 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

blind idiot god (Photo by Peter Gannushkin)

Veterans of SST Records and the band that spawned drummer Tim Wyskida, who would go on to be the coal burning to propel the mega-lurch that was minimalist doomers Khanate, Brooklyn instrumentalists Blind Idiot God are set to release a new album early in 2015. Titled Before Ever After and recorded by Bill Laswell, it’s the first Blind Idiot God album since 1992 and it will be out on guitarist Andy Hawkins‘ recently formed label, Indivisible Music. The cover art is by Seldon Hunt, and reportedly the band will be playing live, or at very least, they went ahead and added bassist Will Dahl to make that a possibility. Seems likely they’ll show up somewhere or other.

The PR wire tells the tale and far be it from me to delay:

blind idiot god before ever after

BLIND IDIOT GOD SET TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM CO-PRODUCED BY BILL LASWELL

All Instrumental Full Length With Original Artwork By Seldon Hunt
Three tracks featured in Alex Winters’ HBO documentary, Downloaded
Before Ever After slated for early 2015 street date

Indivisible Music announces new Blind Idiot God (BIG) studio album co-produced by Bill Laswell. “Andy Hawkins is a nut, a perfectionist for his amplification and the guitar, and we recorded it right,” Laswell explains about the new record. “Every detail is there. It’s probably the best thing they’ve done.” The 74-minute opus titled, Before Ever After, is slated for an early 2015 street date. The gatefold double-vinyl LP artwork was created by noted artist Seldon Hunt (Neurosis, Earth, Melvins, Sunn). Formats will include vinyl, CD and digital. The release will be celebrated with live performances in and around New York and will be co-promoted by MerchTable, local vinyl retailers and others TBA.

Blind Idiot God is Andy Hawkins on guitar and Tim Wyskida (Khanate) on drums. Gabe Katz, the band’s original bass player is featured on the album but moving forward Will Dahl is the band’s new bass player live and in the studio. Touring in support of the new album is planned for 2015. “Moving from the studio to the stage is always great,” Hawkins explains, “the music opens up dynamically, both performance wise and sonically. The human ear has a much greater dynamic range than any recorded medium and we excel at taking full advantage of that fact.” The band has shared the stage with artists like John Zorn (a collaborator who released their third album on Avant Records), Helmet, Black Flag, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Die Kreuzen, Don Caballero, Jesus Lizard, Napalm Death, HR, Eekamouse among many others.

The band has three previous studio full-lengths, two EPs and has been featured on several film soundtracks, including the opening credits for the Alex Winter cult film Freaked (with Henry Rollins on the track as guest vocalist). “I was able to record with them once,” says Rollins, “I know it is rare for them to have vocals in their music, so I felt lucky to have been an exception. I remain a fan.” Three tracks from album (“Barrage,” “High And Mighty,” and “Shutdown”) are featured in Alex Winters’ new HBO documentary about the rise and fall of Napster titled, Downloaded. “One of the most revered and influential bands to come out of the SST era,” Alex Winter enthuses, “they are as great and bold today, as ever. This is a spectacular album.”

The thirteen tracks on Before Ever After are 1. “Twenty Four Hour Dawn,” 2. “Night Driver,” 3. “Antiquity,” 4. “Earthmover,” 5. “FUB,” 6. “Barrage,” 7. “High and Mighty,” 8. “Voice of the Structure,” 9. “Under the Weight,” 10. “Ramshackle,” 11. “Wheels of Progress,” 12. “Strung,” and 13. “Shutdown.”

Indivisible Music is helmed by Andy Hawkins and is based in Brooklyn, NY. The label was established in 2014 “to promote that which cannot be divided, the elemental idea of music for its own sake. Guiding the elemental idea of music through all obstacles, physical or otherwise. The end of genre or classification, recondite musical knowledge declassified for direct effect.” Visit the label online at indivisiblemusic.com.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blind-Idiot-God/143091995750556
indivisiblemusic.com

Blind Idiot God, Blind Idiot God (1987)

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Mountain God to Release New EP in February

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

By the time it comes out, it’ll be about a year since the first announcement from Brooklyn’s Mountain God of their forthcoming EP, Forest of the Lost. Why the delay? Well, aside from playing shows, which they’ve done all year, most recently at Brooklyn’s Sludgefeast this past weekend alongside Naam for their final gig, It’s Not Night: It’s Space and an impressive assemblage of others, they’ve also had a few lineup changes, trading out drummer Ian Murray for Ryan Smith (also of Thera Roya) and losing keyboardist Jon Powell to a move, only to fill the gap with noisemaker/vocalist Chris “Dickler” Dialogue, formerly a bandmate of Mountain God bassist Nihil Kamineni in AlkahestKamineni, who also handles recording for the band, and guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi remain from the original lineup (pictured above), and though both Murray and Powell played on Forest of the Lost, it seems like Mountain God‘s expanding conceptual basis — not to mention their biography — is only going to get more complex as time goes on.

If you look out the right side of the plane, you’ll see this off the PR wire:

mountain god logo.jpg

On February 20th, 2015, Mountain God will release its sophomore record, “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, located somewhere in the deepest recesses of mankind’s history. The village children, left to their own devices, disappear into the night searching for proof of a local witch, all the while their parents engage in acts of depravity and debauchery.

As the story reaches a climax, the listener is challenged into thinking about the cast of characters, and the true nature of good, evil, neutrality, and indifference. Musically, the record is a melding of 60s and 70s psychedelics and aesthetics with the heaviness, crunch, and shattering riffs of traditional doom and metal.

“Forest” builds on the ground covered in “Experimentation on the Unwilling” (released July 2013), exploring new sounds and textures, all the while continuing down the pathway of socially conscious topics.

The band will play a record release show February 20th in Brooklyn, and the track will have a physical release. Mountain God will release more information about each of these points later in the year.

https://www.facebook.com/MountainGodBand
http://mountain-god.bandcamp.com/releases
http://archaicrevivalrecords.bandcamp.com/

Mountain God, Live at Sludgefeast, Brooklyn, NYC, Nov. 15, 2014

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Fall Tour Pt. 22: Pentagram, Blood Ceremony, Bang and Kings Destroy, NYC, 11.01.14

Posted in Reviews on November 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

gramercy theatre

Especially traveling with Kings Destroy, who are from the city, it was hard not to think of the New York show as the apex of the tour. That doesn’t likely make Providence an afterthought to the bands, but it wound up being one of the biggest crowds of the run, and I know for me, getting to work in the photo pit alongside the likes of Frank WhiteGreg ChristmanKen Pierce and Rodrigo Fredes, and seeing a few old friends in the crowd, it was a special night. Really by any measure.

Doors were a little bit before seven, I think. I got to witness some of the staff peptalk before the gig: “This is an older crowd, beer drinking, dope smoking,” etc., and was asked if I had any questions at the end of it. Nah man, I’m clear. I’ll watch out for that dopesmoking. Maybe get out a little flashlight and point it at somebody’s vaporizer. Ha.

I’m not sure I can claim impartiality on any of these bands by now — calling this a “review” is stretching it — but I’ll give a rundown anyway:

Kings Destroy

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Some of the guys were apprehensive about an early 7:30 start time, but Kings Destroy wound up with one of the best, if not the best — not like I was taking headcounts — crowd of the tour, and they greeted it with suitable thrust. Particularly with their pedigree in Killing Time and Uppercut and so on, big stages continually are no threat, and spread out, with guitarist Carl Porcaro over in command of his own side of the stage, they seem completely at home. Drummer Rob Sefcik holding court behind, they pushed “The Mountie” to the front of the set with “Old Yeller” behind and closed out with “Blood of Recompense” once more bringing vocalist Steve Murphy down from the stage to stand on the barrier and directly engage the audience. The last two nights, I’ve been pleased to see bassist Aaron Bumpus step out from behind guitarist Chris Skowronski and come forward both when his bass takes the fore in “Embers” and at other points, his tone coming through full and deep from his Sunn head. He’s been Kings Destroy‘s secret weapon all along, but in Vermont and NYC, he’s also rightly taken a more focal position, which suits him and the band well. “Smokey Robinson” gave way to “Mr. O” for the liveliest part of the set in terms of pacing, and Kings Destroy delivered their hometown a kick in the ass as only returning conquerors can.

Bang

Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Jammed a little bit more on “Questions” at the end of their set, which was awesome. This was probably also the biggest crowd they’ve played to on this tour, though not the biggest space — that would be Minneapolis — but they’ve also had a week-plus to get themselves to this point playing almost every night, and they handled themselves well. Out in the crowd, I could see a few heads singing along to “Redman” and “Keep On” and I got into it as well on the vaguely sociopathic “Last Will and Testament” and “Our Home.” It must be strange for guitarist Frankie Gilcken and bassist Frank Ferrara, or maybe it was at the start of the tour, to be out again as basically a new band playing older material. Reunions are funny things. Bang, with the foundation-strong classic style met so well by drummer Jake Leger, have handled it as smoothly as they handle the groove of “The Queen,” and once again they just looked like they were digging the hell out of playing those songs. That’s been consistent from day one, but I went to the back of Gramercy Theatre to watch a bit from the seats, and even so far away, their love of what they do radiated out and brought a smile to my face.

Blood Ceremony

Blood Ceremony (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Toronto foursome cut a couple songs out of their set as compared to Burlington the night before, but I’m glad to have seen them two nights in a row for being able to better appreciate the consistency of their delivery, how much of the theatricality is worked on, really given a sense of performance to coincide with the music. Vocalist Alia O’Brien once again donned the fringe, and bassist Lucas Gadke broke his strap for the second evening in a row. Guitarist Sean Kennedy has a pretty subdued stage presence, quiet almost for playing so loud, but he held it down on “I’m Coming with You” and “Return to Forever,” O’Brien switching off flute and organ and draping her Blood Ceremony cloak over the Pentagram bass drum, logo facing out. Michael Carillo‘s kick work shook it off once, but it stayed the second time, and though it was a shorter set than the night before, they still nailed their finest woodsy riffery in “The Magician,” finishing big but still fitting with their ’70s prog cultistry. They’re one of those bands that I’ve always felt I should probably be more into than I have been, and seeing them twice in two days only reaffirms that yeah, Blood Ceremony have it together and have rightly earned the influential status they’ve attained.

Pentagram

Pentagram (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was told that Bobby Liebling flipped me off at one point early in Pentagram‘s set, but I missed it entirely. Doubt it was an insulting thing, I don’t think I’m on that dude’s radar enough for him to want to give me the finger even in passing, but just rock and roll. Either way, a distinction. One of his boots seemingly held in check by red duct tape, Liebling immediately took charge of the Gramercy Theatre stage, Pentagram giving the full room what they came for in hard stares, heavy riffs and classic doom. Guitarist Victor Griffin seemed particularly spirited, and bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley went right along as well. At this point, Pentagram are a given live. After the relatively small space in Vermont, to have them slam into NYC and hand the city its ass, with some stiff competition uptown in the Samhain reunion, again, it felt like the payoff for the tour. Packed house — I don’t think it was sold out, but pretty close — and some moshing for good measure, but more than that, just a victory lap from the modern incarnation of a legendary band who seem to be writing their legacy with each stop they make on the road.

After the show, I drove up to Steve KD’s house and crashed in the same room as the other night, slept through the time change and woke up around 9:30AM to find coffee and bagels, which was perfect. A leisurely start to the final day of the tour, something of an epilogue to the whole affair, and yeah, I’m tired, and I’m ready to go home, but this run has been really great and I know how fortunate I am to have been able to be along for it in the way I have. More later and Providence tonight. Killer.

Pics after the jump, you know the drill. Thanks for reading.

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Fall Tour Pt. 21: Cockroach en Fleur

Posted in Features on November 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

empty gramercy

11.01.14 — 4:14PM — Saturday afternoon — Gramercy Theatre, NYC

“Don’t hit anybody in this neighborhood.” — C-wolf, on driving in Manhattan

We were up early this morning. My watch was set for 7:30 and I was conscious not that long after. Time to head to Manhattan. We stayed in Montpelier, the capital of Vermont, but there was barely a look at it on the way out of town. Fair. I wasn’t awake enough to soak any of it in anyway, so it would’ve been lost on me. We left somewhere right around 9AM. Load-in was reportedly 3 o’clock and it was going to be six hours on the road. Weather? Miserable. Rainy and cold. Stopped in Connecticut at a Wendy’s for lunch. I didn’t get anything.road in vermont I’ve been sick enough, I don’t need to add that to it, especially with the finish line so close.

The drive was long but not actually terrible until we got near NYC. I fell asleep in the van around Stanford, Connecticut, and woke up sitting in traffic on some on-ramp heading into the city. Won’t complain about that. The KD guys are excited to be back in New York, near home. I am ambivalent at best. Already walked in and asked to get a photo pass and got a “needs clearance with Klaus” (Pentagram’s tour manager) for the first time on the tour. Cool. 10 shows later I’ll go ahead and get right on that. The magic of Manhattan.

Oh yeah, and that 3PM load-in? Got here at four and heard “you’re early!” Good for a chuckle.

In the existential sense.

As opposed to weed candy.

Anyway.

None of the other bands are here yet. Pretty sure beating Pentagram to the venue is a first for the tour. riverI expected they’d drive all night in their RV, which is what they’ve usually done. A bang on the door got a “What the fucking fuck?” from the guy running the place, and it turned out to be Bang. Again, New York magic. I’ve always been back and forth love/hate with Manhattan, and with the rise of Brooklyn over the last decade, the once central borough itself has little culturally left to offer. City of cocaine, concrete and cupcakes. Even the museum costs $15 to get in and they judge you if you don’t make the suggested donation. Whatever.

Lots of AC/DC on the way down today. Some Baroness to change it up. Now it’s Danzig over the house P.A., no doubt in winking acknowledgement that the Samhain reunion is happening across town tonight. How the Gods Kill. Timing is everything.

Grey weather and lack of sleep in my head. Cough continues to nag, but it’s climate more than anything. Show reportedly has an 11PM curfew, and Providence is relatively close, so should be able to get a decent night’s sleep. And the show will be good. Show’s always good.

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Sleepy Cheese Debut Thank God it Hurts EP

Posted in audiObelisk on October 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

sleepy cheese


One-man psych outfit Sleepy Cheese will make its debut on Halloween via Forged Artifacts with an EP called Thank God it Hurts. Four tracks tied together through a series of voicemails, the bedroom-recorded sound is minimal in places and intimate, but still carries some blown-out threat, vocals coming on in rasps throughout “Be Good,” “Credit Card,” “Roach” and “The Glory.” There’s a raw and exploratory feel that remains fervent just about the whole way, but going along with that is a very personal root that serves as the foundation from which the material emanates. There’s a human core under the inhuman sounds, in other words.

The fervent buzz in Sky Traceable’s guitar and the rasp that accompanies the molten, slow-progressing groove of “Be Good” brings to mind some stoner take on black metal, but that’s hardly scratching the surface of what’s at play stylistically throughout Thank God it Hurts. At the end of the opener, we’re also treatedsleepy cheese thank god it hurts to the first in a series of recorded voicemails that string a thread through the four songs and create a narrative of a breakup in progress. Since a lot of what Traceable has to say lyrically is indecipherable, the voicemails go a long way in amplifying the mood, the fuzz that starts “Credit Card” sounding that much more mournful even before the organ and drum march starts in for the severance that came just before.

All told, it’s a short release, and things only get crazier as “Roach” launches with a creepy voice talking about a “stupid, stupid phone” before moving into shoegaze-gone-mad screaming and sleepy rollout, and by the end it can be kind of hard to take, but resolution comes with “The Glory,” on which Traceable is first scolded for drunk-dialing before the EP’s most satisfyingly classic-styled riff gives a glimpse at what retro rock might’ve become if it had spent the money on pills instead of vintage equipment. By the time he gets there, Traceable has more or less wrapped the narrative, but there’s an effects-drenched sample included in the song itself, which ties everything together before “The Glory”’s last push and the sudden, clean-break ending.

Sleepy Cheese’s Thank God it Hurts will be out on Halloween via Forged Artifacts, but you can check it out on the player below. Please enjoy:

Sleepy Cheese on Thee Facebooks

Thank God it Hurts on Bandcamp

Forged Artifacts

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The Golden Grass Euro Dates Confirmed; New Single Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the golden grass

Hot on the heels of their new EP, Realisations, which was released a few weeks back to help raise funds for their impending European tour, Brooklyn classic rocking trio The Golden Grass have shored up the run of that tour and have revealed the details of a new 7″ that they’ll have along with them containing the tracks “A Curious Case” and “The Pilgrim.” Like their earlier-2014 self-titled debut (review here), the single will be under the banner of Svart Records, and though the official street date isn’t until later in November, the band will have copies to sell on the road, their tour including a stop at Yellowstock Winter Fest in Belgium on Nov. 29. Surely they’ll be bringing the warm vibes with them wherever they go.

The PR wire has details and the friggin’ awesome cover art for the single by Flatbush Brown:

the golden grass a curious case

THE GOLDEN GRASS to tour Europe next month, to release special 7″ single

Swamp Booking, in conjunction with Svart Records, is proud to announce the debut European tour by one of the most exciting new groups of the global underground heavy rock scene, The Golden Grass. Formed in early 2013 by Adam Kriney (La Otracina) and Michael Rafalowich (Strange Haze/Whooping Crane/Tav Falco’s Panther Burns), the band came together to write uplifting and feel-good heavy boogie rock music, complete with soaring soulful harmony-laden vocals, epic psychedelic/prog passages, Southern/country vibrations, and top-notch musicality.

Before The Golden Grass had even played a single show, their infectious classic sound caught the ear of Beastmilk’s Mat McNerney, who heard some early demos, and within weeks, the group was signed with Svart Records. The band has toured the Eastern USA extensively, playing with a slew of bands across the underground heavy/rock/psychedelic/metal scenes, resonating with headbanger and hippie alike, establishing an instant cult following wherever they performed.

The Golden Grass will bring their incredible live concert experience to Europe this November. Confirmed dates/venues are as follows:

November 13 – Liege, Belgium @ Inside Out
November 14 – Charleroi, Belgium @ Le Vecteur
November 15 – Drachten, Holland @ Iduna
November 16 – TBA
November 17 – Bruxelles, Belgium @ Spione Bar
November 18 – Haag, Holland @ Dystopia Den
November 19 – Hamburg,Germany @ Rock Cafe
November 20 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Stengade
November 21 – Aalborg, Denmark @ 1000fryd
November 22 – Lund, Sweden @ Rocknroll Klubben
November 24 – Helsinki, Finland @ On the Rocks
November 25 – Tampere, Finland @ Klubi
November 27 – Malmo, Sweden @ Grand
November 28 – Siegen, Germany @ Vortex
November 29 – Geel, Belgium @ Yellowstock Winter Fest

Hot off the heels of this maiden European tour, The Golden Grass will release a special two-song 7″ vinyl single via Svart Records. Featuring two dazzling new tunes,”A Curious Case”/”The Pilgrim” showcases the band’s abilities to bring those feel-good times with soulful hard-rockin’ grooves. But as you CAN and SHOULD expect with each new release from The Golden Grass, you’ll meet unexpected new musical ideas from this power trio. The group’s artwork and graphic design is always a priority, and with this release, it is no exception, as it features absolutely hilarious illustrations by Brooklyn artist Flatbush Brown that truly complete that feel-good vibe of the band. Set for release on November 28th but available for sale during the tour, cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for “A Curious Case”/”The Pilgrim”
Side A: A Curious Case
Side B: The Pilgrim

https://www.facebook.com/thegoldengrass
http://thegoldengrass.bandcamp.com/
http://www.svartrecords.com/

The Golden Grass, Realisations (2014)

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Family Announce Tour Dates with Beak, Order of the Owl and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Family Tree FINAL

Haven’t heard much from Brooklyn crunch specialists Family since their 2012 release, Portrait (discussed here), but they’ve obviously spent the two years since it came out making good friends. From Moon Tooth and Weedeater to Lunglust, The Cloth, Beak, Hosoi Bros., Laser Flames on the Great Big News, Order of the Owl and Horseskull, their upcoming tour is rife with badass accompaniment. They’ll alternate between sharing the road time with Order of the Owl and Beak, and that’s already some pretty nifty shakes, but this is one of those lists of tour dates where you go back and check out the acts listed as being played with in each town, since it’s obvious some effort was put into curating each of these bills. Very cool stuff.

The tour starts Nov. 5 out on Long Island and takes off from there around the East Coast and Midwest, with the routing as such:

family tour flyer

FAMILY FALL 2014 TOUR DATES

Wed 11/5 – Long Island, NY – Amityville Music Hall w/Meek is Murder, Bangladeafy, Moon Tooth
Thurs 11/6 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie w/Sunburster, Bardus, The Cloth
Fri 11/7 – Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus Bar w/Weedeater, Full of Hell, Lazur/Wulf, Tiger Flowers
Sat 11/8 – Cambridge – TT the Bear’s w/Tiger Flowers, Lunglust, Jack Burton vs. David Lo Pan
Wed 11/12 – Pittsburgh, PA – Gooski’s w/Slaves BC, Edhochuli
Thurs 11/13 – Columbus, OH – Ruby Tuesday w/Denounce Your Martyr, All My Friends Are Dead, Silence the Ocean, Asylum Effect
Fri 11/14 – Chicago, IL – Township w/Beak, TBD
Sat 11/15 – St. Louis, MO – Fubar w/Beak, Quaere Verum, Ashes and Iron, Fumer
Sun 11/16 – Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone Cafe w/Beak, Hosoi Bros, Hombres
Mon 11/17 – Nashville, TN – Springwater w/Beak, Sheep Shifter, Laser Flames on the Great Big News
Wed 11/19 – Atlanta, GA – 529 w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Dead Register
Thurs 11/20 – Charlotte, NC – The Milestone w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Viajando
Fri 11/21 – Wilmington, NC – Reggie’s w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Mountain Thrower
Sat 11/22 –Raleigh, NC – The Maywood w/Beak, Order of the Owl, Horseskull

www.familyslays.com
www.familyslays.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/family.slays
www.twitter.com/familyslays
www.soundcloud.com/familyslays/sets/family-portrait

Family, Portrait (2012)

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on October 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Woody is right. It’s been a minute since the last time there was a Spine of Overkill column featured here, but truth be told, his stint has lasted much longer than any of the other contributors in that little experiment, and since his stories are so cool, I’m happy to post them whenever he wants to send them over. Once every six months? Fine. Not like I’m working on a schedule. I’ll take what I can get.

This time around, the Mighty High guitarist/vocalist brings us a quality tale of seeing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest together at Madison Square Garden in 1982. Enjoy:

Jeez, it’s been six months since the last time I did anything for the Obelisk? Sorry H.P. You deserve better than that so I’m coming back with a big one. I could have sworn that I already wrote about the Judas Priest/Iron Maiden U.S. tour of 1982 but I did not. Thanks for your patience and to the dude on Twitter who reminded me of my metal duty to the Obelisk.

I’ve been a full blown Priest fanatic ever since hearing a live radio broadcast on WLIR from the British Steel tour. (I Rippled about that monumental day here). Next to Motörhead, Judas Priest was THE band for me. Every time I went to the record store I would discover yet another great album from them. The string of records they pumped out in the ’70s and early ’80s is fuckin’ impressive — Hell Bent for Leather, Sin After Sin, British Steel, Sad Wings of Destiny and so on. Not to mention the monumental live powerhouse of Unleashed in the East. Come on! It doesn’t get any better. 1981’s Point of Entry was a pretty big disappointment. “Heading out to the Highway,” “Solar Angels,” and “Desert Plains” kicked ass but crap like “You Say Yes” and “Troubleshooter” was totally bogus. When they played the Pier on the west side of Manhattan that tour I didn’t bother to go see them.

Then in July of ’82 Judas Priest released Screaming for Vengeance. I could tell by the album cover that it was going to be a lot better than Point of Entry and the opening priest and maiden-1400double barreled assault of “The Hellion/Electric Eye” confirmed that. The title-track, “Riding on the Wind,” “Devil’s Child,” “Bloodstone” and, of course, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” were added to the list of my mother’s least favorite songs to hear thudding through my bedroom door. I usually skipped over “Fever” and “Take These Chains.”

Earlier in ’82 Iron Maiden released their third album, Number of the Beast. The first two Maiden albums were flat out incredible and this was the first one with new singer Bruce Dickinson. While I preferred the raw vocal stylings of Paul Di’Anno I had no problem rocking out to the new album. Hearing songs like “Number of the Beast,” “The Prisoner,” “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” and “Run to the Hills” for the very first time was special. It was obvious Maiden were influenced by Priest but they had a Deep Purple/Rainbow/UFO angle that made them totally unique.

Priest started getting some pretty heavy radio airplay with “You Got Another Thing Comin’.” One day at the end of the summer I hear a radio ad that Judas Priest was coming to NYC to play Madison Square Garden. Who’s opening? Iron Maiden. Holy shit. My heart was pounding. It seemed to good to be true — the two best metal bands on the same bill and it was happening on a Saturday night, Oct. 2. A couple days later I’m at work. The plan was to hop on the MetroNorth train into Manhattan as soon as I got paid at the end of the day. My friend Gavin (R.I.P.) from school was working with me that day and he decided to come along with me. He asked me who I was going to the show with and I said I didn’t know. Then he came up with the idea that he would go to the Priest show if I went to see Santana with him, also at the Garden. Alright, what the hell. I always liked the first few Santana albums even if I wasn’t into their current album Zebop, featuring the big hit “Winning.” We hit the city, scored our tickets and most likely bought lousy pot in Bryant Park.

That Santana show turned out to be really cool. The crowd was full of rowdy Mexican low riders and ’60s burnouts. Just about everyone had a massive afro and a thick mustache (even some of the ladies). I will never forget the enormous cloud of pot smoke hovering over the crowd at the top of the arena. Still the biggest cloud I’ve ever seen. Carlos and his band boogie’d hard with plenty of percussion discussions amongst the drummers. As good as it was, I knew Priest would be even better.

Saturday October 2nd finally rolled around and I was fuckin psyched. I’d played the hell out of my Maiden and Priest albums all Zeptember but didn’t listen to any of them all day Friday and Saturday. That remains a rule for me – never listen to the band you’re going to see on the day of the show. It’s bad luck. For some reason Gavin decided to bring along a girl named Pam to the show. Nice girl but not metal at all. Neither was Gavin. He was into Neil Young (UGH) and the Grateful Dead (BLECH). Suddenly I realized this wasn’t such a great arrangement after all. I didn’t want to be the third wheel on their stupid date! At least they brought some weeeeeeeeed and shared it with me. The train was full of wasted teenagers screaming out band names and song titles. One guy kept yelling “lick my butt!” I thought it was hilarious but my companions thought it was atrocious behavior.

I got my usual Fosters oil can when we hit Grand Central for the walk over to the Garden. The streets were clogged with metal heads and peddlers selling nickel bags, mesc and bootleg shirts. I bought a killer black jersey with red sleeves. On the front was the cover of Screaming for Vengeance and the back had Number of the Beast. Later when I unrolled mine I discovered that it said “IRON MAID” on the back and “EN” was silkscreened on the elbow. It must have been folded under when they made it. Fuck it, I didn’t care. It was still mint as hell.

Finally the lights went down and Iron Maiden hit the stage. Ourpriest ticket seats were pretty crappy — up high and off to the side but I could care less because the sound was loud as hell. Maiden opened up with “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and everyone went nuts. Everyone except for the two people I came with. They sat their holding hands and trying to talk. I ignored them and just rocked out. “Wrathchild,” “Run to the Hills” and a few more from the new album were blasted out. Then Eddie himself came out during the song “Iron Maiden.” I had seen lots of pictures of him onstage in Kerrang magazine but had no idea he’d make an appearance. So cool. They finished up the set with a big singalong on “Drifter.”

The crowd was so fired up on metal and you could hear a lot of headbangers say that Priest might not be able to top that. Soon enough the lights went down and the opening notes of “The Hellion” blasted the Garden. The stage set up was massive. Two levels with the drummer upstairs and the rest of the band downstairs. All you could see was stack upon stack of Marshall amps. Since my seats were on the side I could see Halford crouching down behind the amps on the upper level ready to make his entrance. “Up here in space I’m looking down on you” he sang as he rounded the corner. Dressed completely in black leather he had the cover to Screaming for Vengeance painted on the back of his vest. Impressive.

Priest’s set was flawless. “Riding on the Wind,” “Heading out to the Highway,” “Metal Gods,” “Sinner,” “The Ripper,” and so on. The regular set finished with an absolutely stunning “Victim of Changes.” “Livin’ After Midnight” was the first encore and they left the houselights on so everyone could see how hard the crowd was fist pumping and singing along. The pot cloud hovering above was not as big as the one at Santana but still impressive. “Green Manalishi” was up next and, finally, the Harley revved up and hit the stage for “Hell Bent for Leather.” Fucking unreal.

Over the years I’ve discovered that some of my friends were at the show before we knew each other. My friend Vinny came to the show from Queens. He said there was a girl behind him who screamed “K.K. I wanna have your baby” all night. Another friend Eric was there and enjoyed lighting banners on fire with his crew of derelicts from Brooklyn.

32 years later, almost to the day, Priest will be playing Brooklyn. Vinny and I will be there. It’s going to be a great night but a far cry from ye olde ‘82. You just don’t get nights like that anymore.

Iron Maiden, “Drifter” Live in 1982

Judas Priest, “Victim of Changes” Live in 1982

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The Golden Grass Release New EP Realisations; Euro Tour Fundraiser Underway

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the golden grass

I know they’re just band-recorded four-track takes, but the way the swelling electric solo gives way to the acoustics in “The Robin Song,” which leads off The Golden Grass‘ new digital EP, Realisations, is killer anyway, and for the rawer sound, that track is even more ’70s stylized. The Brooklynite good-vibes trio are pretty fresh on the brain, for having seen them just last weekend, but I’m not about to complain about something new to dig into as well, and Realisations comes as part of a fundraiser they’ve got going to help fund their first European tour, set to start Nov. 13 and cap Nov. 29 with a slot at Yellowstock‘s Winterfest. They have limited physical pressings as incentives for the crowdfunding whathaveyou, which are tempting both for the songs and the collectible hierarchy of “I have it and you don’t,” as well as a slew of other merch packages.

Info on the EP follows with the stream from their Bandcamp:

the golden grass realisations

“Realisations” is a newly assembled collection of 4-track cassette recordings, spanning the past year and a half of the band, specially selected and curated to help raise funds for our 2014 Euro Tour in November. It consists of 4 of our warm/analog home-studio-recorded tracks, including 2 demos, a sound-collage experiment, and 1 alternate version! A 33 minute EP of feel-good analog vibes!

This album is available (at this price) until Dec 01, 2014 only. After that date, the album will go up to $15 for digital download.

You can also get a digital download of this album for only $10 via The Golden Grass 2014 European Tour Indiegogo Fundraiser here (until fundraiser ends!): www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-golden-grass-2014-european-tour-fundraiser/contributions/new?perk_amt=10&perk_id=2315698

This album will also be available in a VERY limited edition lathe-cut vinyl run of 30 copies on a clear 11″ record! That’s right, only 30 copies, clear vinyl, and an 11″ record! Only available through the Indiegogo fundraiser here (until fundraiser ends): www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-golden-grass-2014-european-tour-fundraiser/contributions/new?perk_amt=100&perk_id=2315806

“REALISATIONS”

1. The Robin Song
[Lyrics: Kriney | Music: Kriney]
2. Wheels (June 2013 Demo)
[Lyrics: Kriney | Music: Rafalowich/Kriney/Noval]
3. A Curious Case (Alternate Version/April 2014 Demo)
[Lyrics: Kriney | Music: Noval/Kriney/Rafalowich]
4. Down The Line (April 2014 Demo)
[Lyrics: Kriney | Music: Kriney]

Adam Kriney – Drums [All Tracks] / Vocals [All Tracks]
Joe Noval – Bass Guitar [All Tracks]
Michael Rafalowich – Guitar [All Tracks] / Vocals [3] / Acoustic Guitar [1] / Wurlitzer [1]
Recorded/Mixed/Produced By Adam Kriney
Mastered By Andrea Zavareei
Cover Artwork By Psydefects
Band Logo By Adam Burke

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-golden-grass-2014-european-tour-fundraiser
https://thegoldengrass.bandcamp.com/album/realisations
https://www.facebook.com/thegoldengrass

The Golden Grass, Realisations EP (2014)

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Naam and White Hills to Headline Brooklyn’s Sludgefeast Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

naam

A local fest, with local headliners, but because it’s in Brooklyn, that also means those headliners are world class acts who’ve been around the globe and then some. Naam and While Hills will take the stage at The Paper Box on Nov. 15 to cap a fest that’s been dubbed Sludgefeast. It’s not all Brooklyn bands — the geographical radius seems to have been about two hours north or south with acts from New Paltz, New Haven and Philly — but it’s a strong showing of what Brooklyn heavy has to offer anyway, even apart from the headliners, with BlackoutEidetic Seeing and Mountain God featured, among others. I don’t know the venue, or at least I don’t think I do (I saw Wolves in the Throne Room one year on my birthday in Brooklyn in a place I might describe as a paper box, but to be honest with you, I don’t remember much else about it), but a good time is a good time and Sludgefeast for sure looks like one of those.

The PR wire has lineup and other info for the calendar marking:

sludgefeast poster

The Bent Unit and Some Pig Present: SLUDGEFEAST

A day of heavy music in Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, November 15
The Paper Box: 17 Meadow St, Brooklyn NY 11206

Brooklyn-based music review blog The Bent Unit and booking agency Some Pig Presents are proud to announce the first annual one-day heavy music festival SLUDGEFEAST. SLUDGEFEAST was conceived as a way to celebrate the best in metal, sludge, doom, psych rock and more from Brooklyn and beyond. In a city where indie, electronic, and revivalist genres dominate the airwaves, SLUDGEFEAST looks to give heavy music its rightful claim, especially as metal and its subgenres see a renaissance of sorts in other parts of the country.

Headlining the inaugural SLUDGEFEAST are Brooklyn’s own NAAM and White Hills. Both are torch-bearers of New York’s heavy scene, and no strangers to the international touring circuit. Since 2009 NAAM has been putting their unique brand of pummeling psychedelia to wax courtesy of Tee Pee records, and are currently awaiting release of their third full length. SLUDGEFEAST will see them newly returned from a 6-week European tour, including appearances at the Berlin Swamp Fest and Valada Reverence Festival. White Hills, described by NPR as a “relentlessly heavy psych-rock band with scorching wah-wah and fantastic outfits,” will hold the festival’s penultimate time slot, and is internationally reputed as a forerunner of modern, heavy space-rock.

Filling out the bill will be Brooklyn-based bands including noise/sludge outfit No Way, self-proclaimed “cave” rockers Blackout, psych-drone shamans Eidetic Seeing, doom titans Mountain God, sludge punkers Wonderbreed, and hardcore/metal masters Blackest. Joining us from the vast outside are Chimpgrinder (Philadelphia, blues/doom), It’s Not Night: It’s Space (New Paltz, space/drone), Grizzlor (New Haven, sludge/noise).

SLUDGEFEAST 2014 is more than a concert: it’s an unholy celebration of the dark, the heavy, the infernal. It’s the dawn of a new reign of heavy music in Brooklyn…

http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/683149?utm_medium=460163
https://www.facebook.com/events/1469229753358544/
www.sludgefeastny.com
www.thebentunit.com
www.somepigpresents.com

Naam, Live in Brooklyn, June 1, 2014

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On Wax: Geezer, Gage

Posted in On Wax on October 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

geezer-gage-lp-and-cover

Way less of a surprise when you put it on paper than when you hear it, but it’s amazing what an impact an additional 14 minutes of music can have on a release. Primo New York blues rockers Geezer issued their Gage EP last year digitally, but aligning with STB Records, they’ve made it available as a full 36-minute 12″ in limited pressings — the only one left at this point is the OBI strip version, and its availability is due to a manufacturing holdup; STB‘s witchcult grows — with notably gorgeous orange and red splatter work and a strikinggeezer-gage-side-a front cover from Alexander von Wieding. It’s a beautiful package, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s followed the development of the label, but just as noteworthy is the sound of Gage itself, which has gone from a loose collection of jams — the last of them, “Dude, it’s Molecular,” was recorded live — to a genuine LP.

Gage distinguished itself immediately from Geezer‘s Handmade Heavy Blues full-length by showcasing a more languid, heavy psych approach from guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, bassist Freddy Villano and drummer Chris Turco. They were still plenty bluesy — the die-hard edition of STB‘s release of Gage was pressed to black 190g vinyl to evoke a vintage 78rpm feel, and the music justifies that — but “Ancient Song” and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” unfolded a jammy spirit, easy-moving and grooved out, that the first album didn’t yet have, playing off the long-established chemistry between Harrington and Villano ingeezer-gage-front-cover Gaggle of Cocks but moving in a distinct direction. “Ancient Song” and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” opens and close side A, respectively, with the shorter slide-guitar blues number “Thorny” in between, a fuzzy distortion vague and buried in the background behind Harrington‘s surprisingly smooth vocal, a departure from his generally gruff, whiskey-soaked delivery.

“Thorny” has a bit of psychedelia to its echo, but the context of the track is completely different when one considers “Ancient Song” before it and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” after, the two longer jams fleshing out heavy vibes and, in the case of the latter, unfurling a heavy rock hook of a cadencegeezer-gage-back-cover that reminds of Halfway to Gone‘s “Great American Scumbag” while reveling in its own wall of fuzz on the way to its jammed-out payoff. Over on side B, “Tales of Murder and Unkindness” (14:27) doesn’t so much distinguish itself for how psychedelic it is, but how far-ranging. It’s almost three songs in one, with a spaced-out beginning, more straightforward play of verses and chorus, a chugging jam, riff-out and final hook marked out by the lines, “And when we come for you/There will be blood.” “Tales of Murder and Unkindness” manages to successfully flow from one movement to the next, ending with an Echoplex swirl that gives way on the LP to the live guitar noise that begins the jam “Dude, it’s Molecular,” a rolling groove emerging that the trio carries to a natural conclusion.

For anyone who might have heard Gage in its original incarnation, “Tales of Murder and geezer-gage-side-bUnkindness” gives the STB version a much different personality, fortunately without pulling away from the laid back vibe of the self-release, however foreboding the extended track might at times be. If anything, it signifies how much Geezer are still in the process of discovering their sound, and refining their approach to be more than just a blues side or a psychedelic side. I’d be interested to know when it was written in relation to, say, “Ancient Song,” but that’s only so I might be able to cheat and make a more educated guess as to where they might be headed next. I was intrigued to find out before, but with the vinyl of Gage, the plot’s just gotten that much thicker.

Geezer, Gage (2013/2014)

Geezer on Thee Facebooks

Geezer on Bandcamp

Gage at STB’s webstore

STB Records on Thee Facebooks

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Live Review: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Danava in New York, 09.26.14

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

uncle acid and the deadbeats 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The tour had started two nights prior at Underground Arts in Philadelphia. The night before, they were in Boston, and it would’ve been a much shorter drive to hit that show, but it was my 10th wedding anniversary. A drive down to New York to pop into Manhattan and catch Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats with Danava at Bowery Ballroom didn’t seem unreasonable. Traffic on the way down, on the other hand, was. I still managed to get to the venue before they opened the doors to the upstairs room where the show was actually happening — I’d never seen a line inside the downstairs bar before — so though I felt like I was going to be late the whole danava 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)time, I still managed to get a spot up in front of the stage. Doomly serendipity.

Portland, Oregon’s Danava, who are veterans of Kemado Records, were the lone openers. A double-guitar foursome, they weren’t unknown to me, having made a somewhat less than favorable impression at Roadburn in 2012. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing them, to be quite honest. I don’t even remember what it was about their Roadburn slot that had me so irked — maybe just the simple fact that they were on before Conan and the room was so crowded– but by the time their set was three songs in, it was clear I was the one with the problem and not the band, who boogied down on winding ’70s-style riffage like they were born to do it, bangs-sporting guitarist/vocalist Gregory Meleny trading riffs with Pete Hughes, also of Sons of Huns, in a flurry of shuffle and push met head-on by the bass and drums, not quite retro but definitely skipping a couple decades in its influence.

It was a sold-out show, and people came early, so Bowery Ballroom was plenty packed for Danava‘s set. danava 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)“Shoot Straight from a Crooked Gun” and “White Nights of Murder” from their most recent album, 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows, were both aired, but the primary impression I had of them was mostly of my own jackassery after our paths last crossed. Again, not sure what my deal was or where the distaste came from, but they were more than solid and held the fickle attention of a Friday night Manhattan crowd. For that alone they deserve some measure of credit. I guess one of these days I’ll have to go back and dig into their records, but at least I know for the next time they come through that it’s worth showing up. Lesson learned.

Old tube televisions, one or two with built-in VCRs — there was a time when these things were a premium — were spread throughout Uncle Acid‘s amp backline, and they’d flicker on and off with static as part of the UK outfit’s lightshow, otherwise minimal. Guitarist/vocalists Kevin “Uncle Acid” Starrs and Yotam Rubinger and bassist/backing vocalist Dean Millar were backlit, their faces obscured, as the lights above switched colors from red to blue to green, orange, yellow, etc., each song in the set seeming to come with its own hue. Light-up cat’s eyes were attached to uncle acid and the deadbeats 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)cymbal stands on either side of Itamar Rubinger‘s drum kit, and they remained on for the duration, feeding into the band’s schlock horror cultistry and malevolent mystique, the crowd eating it up from the start of “Mt. Abraxas” onward.

For a band to sell out a place like Bowery Ballroom is not an inconsiderable achievement, and NYC is far from the only city on the tour to receive the band thusly, but that it’s Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ first run through the US only emphasizes the passionate response they have received. In the UK, they toured with Black Sabbath, and after a couple shows in London, they made their official live debut at Roadburn in 2013 with a slot on the Main Stage curated by Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard. Their two latest albums, 2011’s Blood Lust (review here) and 2013’s Mind Control (review here), are among the most lauded records in this half of the decade, and their influence is already being felt in a burgeoning movement of garage doom that one expects will only continue to grow. They’ve got a lot riding on their next full-length, but Uncle Acid are already a uncle acid and the deadbeats 3 (Photo by JJ Koczan)big fucking deal, and they were greeted accordingly in Manhattan, the audience roaring like something off a live record as the first recognizable strains of “I’ll Cut You Down” emanated from the stage.

I wouldn’t dare understate the power behind that song’s foreboding swing, murderous threat and otherworldly melody, but it was one highlight among several, “Crystal Spiders,” new single “Runaway Girls,” “Death’s Door,” “13 Candles” and “Mind Crawler” doling out rapturous hooks in Starrs‘ and Rubinger‘s vocals. They finished the regular set with “Withered Hand of Evil” and made an encore out of “13 Candles,” “Desert Ceremony” and the thudding “Devil’s Work,” a catchy finish but subdued in comparison to a lot of what preceded. No doubt this was by design, as was the entirety of the presentation, but the scale and realized sensibility with which Uncle Acid conjured up their demons and those of the multitudes in attendance — who almost to a head stuck through until the end — seemed to show a band rising to the occasion of the fervency they’ve induced. That is, while their ascendancy uncle acid and the deadbeats 4 (Photo by JJ Koczan)was already well underway by the time they started playing out, they’ve more than caught up with it. It would not be a surprise if on their next US tour, they play on even bigger stages.

Walking back the couple blocks to my car, it felt good to be back in New York. It had been a full year to the day since I last went to a show in Manhattan, which I think was the longest stretch I’ve had in more than a decade. I stopped into a cafeteria with some fantastic smelling Middle Eastern food and got a bottle of water for the road and then hit it, back up the FDR and toward the drunk-driver nightmare that was I-95 North heading into the weekend.

More pics after the jump. Special thanks to Jon Freeman for making this one happen and thanks to you as always for reading.

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VINYL WEEK GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a Signed Copy of Geezer’s Gage 12″ on STB Records

Posted in Features on September 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

geezer gage

PLEASE NOTE: This contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered.

You know the drill. Leave a comment on this post to enter for your chance to win the gorgeous slab of wax shown above, signed by the band themselves. Geezer‘s Gage was released this past weekend by STB Records and, true to form, they went quick. The NYC trio self-released the EP last year, but STB presents its first physical pressing in a gorgeous orange/red vinyl swirl limited to 125 copies with full-size art by Alexander von Wieding and a couple photos on back by yours truly. That’s the “Not So Standard” edition (the OBI strip version was delayed at the press; “Die Hard” edition has one copy left as of this post), and it lives up to its name.

I’m extremely grateful to the trio for offering up this signed copy of the EP, and all the more for its limited numbers. I’ll have a review up in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more, but the short version is you don’t want to miss your chance to own a copy, especially at the price here, which is nothing.

VINYL INFO:

Not So Standard Edition – Limited to 125 Pieces
Vinyl – Orange and Oxblood mixture configurationWell, looky whose pictures got used on the vinyl sleeve. How's about that?

The not so standard edition boasts a beautiful configuration of two colors form the inner part of the cover art. Orange and dark reds. The swirl created by this mixture is bar none and really compliments the cover art and labels.
Comes in a high quality hand numbered reverse board jacket

Artwork and design by – Alexander von Wieding
Layout by – Justin @Justinedgedesigns (instagram)
Label Design – Niklas Olsson (Spelljammer)

*Leave a comment on this post to enter. Winner is chosen one week from today. Please make sure to include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you if you win.

Thanks for entering and for your support!

 

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