Posted in Radio on December 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Orange County, NY, four-piece Sun Voyager bookended 2013 with demo releases. The first was Cosmic Tides, which arrived in January with three tracks and was issued on cassette, and the latest is Mecca. Also three songs and not yet given a physical pressing that I know of, Meccafinds its breadth in a laid back atmosphere of heavy psychedelia and rolling low end groove. The two guitars of Carlos Valle (also vocals) and Steve Friedman run through a varied level of effects from wah to cave echo, sometimes using a slide to evoke a swamp blues feel amid the pastoral sunshine of their tones and Valle‘s semi-shoegaze vocal approach, which follows the riffs on “Mecca,” “Space Queen” and “Suns of the Future” with burgeoning confidence and poise. Bassist Stefan Mersch is essential in keeping the songs together and moving forward, locking in smoothly with drummer Kyle Beach while the guitars move through and around the central figures of the songs. This is a pretty familiar construction for heavy psych, but Sun Voyager put it to use well, capturing a terrestrial sound that’s at once loose and swaggering and richly exploratory.
They get underway with “Mecca,” which clocks in at five minutes flat of immediately engaging, guitar-led fare. The initial groove rolls slow and subtly bluesy with space-echo lead guitar behind Valle‘s verse, which rests comfortably on the plush bassline. A tension is built leading to a swell in volume, but they’re not quite ready to give away the chorus yet. “Mecca” rises and falls in volume and energy, fluid all the while and progressively gaining volume as it pushes past the three-minute mark. It remains languid as Valle drops the title line, “The Mecca has arrived,” a couple times before feedback ends the song and cuts to Mersch‘s bass starting “Space Queen.” Both “Mecca” and closer “Suns of the Future” are around the five-minute mark, but “Space Queen” approaches eight and its feel is suitably jammed-out. Doubly hypnotic thanks to repetitive lyrics, “Space Queen” is arguably the easiest cut on Meccato get lost, with a solo topping the jam that leads not to a massive crescendo — there is one, it’s just not overblown — but instead to a quieter finish, peaceful, psychedelic, and improvised-sounding, ending with a standalone feedback hum that gives way to the more active shuffle at the launch of “Suns of the Future.”
Last of the three, “Suns of the Future” is more upbeat, with steady kickdrum hits from Beach propelling its verses, an open chorus and effective tradeoffs between louder and softer stretches united by the delivery of Valle, which carries just the slightest tinge of Americana twang. A natural, classic heavy vibe persists, but Meccais thoroughly modern, and along with the memorable songwriting, that bodes well for where Sun Voyager might go from here. You can check out Mecca(and Cosmic Tides, for that matter) now as part of the regular playlist on The Obelisk Radio, and get a sampling of the tracks on the Bandcamp player below. Either way, enjoy:
Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
By the time I rolled into Williamsburg’s The Grand Victory after a more-than-long-enough work day, 100 and Zero were already well into their set of aggressive NY-style noise punk. They were first on a four band bill shared with grinders Scowl, atmospheric sludge metallers Mountain God and thick riff specialists Eggnogg, all local to Brooklyn. Fair enough. Scowl followed shortly thereafter, with drummer Chris Dialogue recognizable as the former vocalist of Alkahest. He handled backing vocals in Scowl as well on the small Grand Victory stage, and put his microphone to use — as did bassist Derek Stephan and vocalist MattViel who paced pack and forth in front of the stage, leaving only guitarist Zack Birmingham mic-less — as much, if not more, for banter between the songs, which were mostly short, grinding blasts with the occasional stoner groove thrown in for good measure.
Hell, I can get down with a little stoner extremity every now and again and nothing says charm like when band members spend entire minutes before the next cut calling each other assholes, so yeah, right on. They said they were playing a short set, and it might’ve been in just the material involved, but there was the back-and-forth as well to coincide with saying the next song was about football, or about “sucking on that glass dick, whatever that means,” and such. It was almost an overdose of snark, but all in good fun. When they were done, Mountain God loaded on and were immediately a completely different vibe, their sludge given texture through the keyboard work of Jonathan Powell. Both Powell and Mountain God bassist Nikhil Kamineni used to be in Alkahest as well, but as was evident on their Experimentation on the Unwillingdemo tape reviewed last month, the new band is working from its own amalgam of influences.
I recognized some of what they played from that tape, which I always take as a good sign, but the real highlight of their set was the new song “Forest of the Lost,” which worked in multiple movements and got more to the core of their blend of doom riffing and ambient depth. The vocals of guitarist Jared Fishman come across in a wash of echo throughout most of the studio versions of songs, but live he was inevitably clearer and that gave the set a more tangible resonance. Riff-wise, “Forest of the Lost” tapped into a classic metal malevolence — maybe some Cathedral in there, but thoroughly doomed either way — and though the bulk of the long, unfolding progression was instrumental, what vocals there were came across in a blend of screams and cleaner singing, a noise rock vibe cutting through the tonal morass of Kamineni‘s bass and his own guitar as drummer Ian Murray turned an otherwise chaotic churn into cohesive forward motion.
They’ve reportedly got a new release in the works centered around some incarnation of “Forest of the Lost,” which was well past 10 minutes long on stage, so I took that as a good sign, and when Mountain God finished, Eggnogg took the stage quickly as the last act of the night. It had been more than a year since the last time I saw them — my loss — and in the interim, the prior trio of Bill O’Sullivan, guitarist Justin Karol and drummer Jason Prushko added bassist Corey Dozier to make a four-piece. This move put O’Sullivan from bass to rhythm guitar — as well as vocals — resulting in Karol taking on more of a lead-player role, in which he excelled. In the past, seeing Eggnogg live, I’ve regretted that some of the funk influence that shows up in their studio output, be it last year’s LouisEP (review here) or 2011′s Moments in Vacuumsophomore full-length (review here), is somewhat lost in favor of their pure, unabashedly stoner stomp, enjoyable as that is.
Sure enough, the songs they played at The Grand Victory – a new one to start from their forthcoming, “mostly done” third full-length, You’re all Invited, plus “The God’s Will Destroy the Hive” and “Northern Lights” from their 2009 debut The Three, and an eponymous encore — carried that much more of the funk for the simple fact that Karol was able to devote his attention completely to his solos when they arose. “Northern Lights,” which was the elephantine highlight of their set, soulful as he plucked notes and even threw in a little stoner-rock softshoe, which as far as I’m concerned is always welcome. Together with O’Sullivan‘s low vocal register and the rumble of Dozier‘s six-string bass, Eggnogg were indeed another notch above the already heavy watermark that past shows I’ve seen from them had set. More importantly, Dozier – although he spent a decent amount of time off the stage, playing in front of it or to the side — blended well with the trio tonally and in terms of presence, and provided a thickened match for both guitars and the marching snare of Prushko, which impressed all the more with some subtle ghost notes and increasing character of play.
Of Eggnogg, you could say they seem to be getting to where they want to be in terms of their sound. I frickin’ loved Moments in Vacuumand put on Louisregularly as well, so the chance to see and hear new songs from them was thoroughly appreciated. I don’t know when You’re all Invitedwill see release, but as far as I’m concerned the sooner the better. I’d hoped to be able to pick up a CD copy of their Apocryphacompilation — the only physical pressing of Louis, which couples it with their 2010 NoggEP — but to no avail, and by that I mean there were none available. Still, well worth the trip to the city to catch them with Mountain God, also in a process of coming into their own, albeit in a much different fashion.
I thought maybe there was a late show happening afterwards, as for a time there were a few extra people walking around with instruments, but maybe they were playing across the street at Trash Bar or something and decided to walk over. When Eggnogg finished, the sound guy put on Songs for the Deaf to let the place clear out. I shuffled back to my car and made the trek back to Jersey to crash — a trip that seems even more arduous now than when I lived there — the dark and quiet roads of my former river valley rendered largely invisible by a dense, rolling fog.
Some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.
Posted in On the Radar on December 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Fuck. Yes. I nerded out pretty hard when Rochester, NY, heavy rockers Velvet Elvis knocked me on my ass with their debut long-player, In Deep Time(review here), last year. Well, Velvet Elvis seem to have been shortlived, which is unfortunate, but guitarist/vocalist Randall Coon and drummer Scott Donaldson have teamed up with guitarist/vocalist Sean Mcvay and bassist/vocalist Dan Reynolds – both of Rochester-based outfit Abandoned Buildings Club – to form King Buffalo, and if the languid, naturalistic grooves that pervade their aptly-titled debut demo, Demo, are anything to go by, that pairing is working out pretty well. The demo has three songs that you could easily split into two 10″ vinyl sides, and for having been recorded over the course of two days at the band’s practice space comes through clear and naturally, the airy guitars leading the charge of an organic vibe that recalls some of the heavy psych of recent King Buffalo tourmates All Them Witches, a light rural touch and Neil Young influence in the vocals on the open verses of “Pocket Full of Knife” leading to a jammy march that’s immediately and viciously engaging, becoming only more so when the quiet break swaggers into a stop and subsequent full-tone fuzz riffing.
In my head I’ve started to write a list of crucial American neo-heavy psych bands pulling from the blues and Americana where and when they want to and blending it with a classic stonerly influence, and I might just have to add King Buffalo to it. Drop it into another context, maybe speed it up a bit, and “In Dim Light” could be a Fu Manchu riff, but King Buffalo put it to work in a spacious field rather than a surf-ready beach, nascent harmonies topping thick riffs such that the potential for what the band might do on a debut full-length is exciting even on multiple listens, Donaldson‘s Sleep-esque snare march making the groove all the more righteous en route to the choppy modulated guitar solo and a Doors-echoing break leading to resurgence of the main riff to finish. Put them together and “Pocket Full of Knife” and “In Dim Light” add up to just about match the 11:15 of third track “Providence Eye,” but the closer’s more or less in a world of its own, starting out with wandering notes over rhythm strum and diving into a bowl of proggadelic noodles that unfold to riffy triumph around the two-minute mark.
Maybe that’s quick for an 11-minute song, but King Buffalo play it smart in loud quiet tradeoffs, each more satisfying than the last, jamming heavy psych-style after the second before bringing the chorus around to bear again. Then it’s time to boogie. A shuffling riff takes hold and gets a touch of quirk via space-rocking synth, and several stages of an instrumental conclusion play out in driving rhythms slowing, speeding up, changing to classic heavy ’70s groove and meeting with echoing leads before Donaldson and Reynolds are finally tasked to wrap the whole thing up with the drum and bass that have all along been the anchor of the psychedelic fray. Man, that’s groovy. The demo came out in mid-November, and King Buffalo reportedly already have plans to record an LP that will hopefully surface sometime in 2014. Until then, whether you heard Velvet Elvis or not, the demo warrants getting down:
In addition to a Funkadelic t-shirt spotting — always an encouraging sign — on bassist Joe Noval, the expertly-edited video teaser below for The Golden Grass‘ debut 7″ has clips of both songs included, “One More Time” and “Tornado.” The Brooklyn trio, comprised of Noval as well as guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich (Strange Haze) and drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney (La Otracina), will issue the single on Svart Records and Electric Assault Records next week, and preorders are available now.
They’ve also got a few tour dates lines up that will take them out to Cincinnati for the Cincy Pysch Fest, and they’ll be headed north to Maine for a gig at Geno‘s in Portland, Maine, on Nov. 8. Fingers crossed they add a Massachusetts date so I can finally see what I’ve been fussing about all this time and maybe pick up a copy of their 456th Div.tape if there are any left (they only made 50).
Until then, here’s the teaser for the single:
The Golden Grass, One More Time/Tornado 7″ Preview
Here is the 7″ Preview Video of the forthcoming The Golden Grass 7″ on Svart Records/Electric Assault Records! Shot and directed by Max Warmbrodt!
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
New Paltz, New York, trio It’s Not Night: It’s Space celebrated the first anniversary earlier this week of their debut full-length, Bowing Not Knowing to What(review here). Since the album’s release, the space-rocking instrumentalists have signed to Small Stone for the impending follow-up, and while word has yet to come through about that, the band has announced a series of weekender and take-a-day-off gigs over the next couple weeks that will take them around the Northeast and pair them with some cool acts, including Eidetic Seeing, Moon Tooth, Queen Elephantine and Olde Growth.
Solid company to keep, and the prospect of the band working out new material on the road makes it all the more an exciting prospect. It’s Not Night: It’s Space also have shows lined up for Halloween and into November (they’re playing Nov. 15 with Geezer at The Anchor in Kingston, NY), so make sure to check the Thee Facebooks link below to keep up to date with their cosmic doings.
Until then, here’s what we know:
(((Philly, Long Island, New Paltz))) Our Hiatus Ends in THREE DAYS! it’s been four months since we played to an audience and we are fiending for your energy. that’s the longest we’ve ever gone since we started the band three years ago. we are looking at an epic stretch of Five Weeks of shows. it’s gonna be delicious.
It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Moon Tooth, Carved Up & Dead Empires 10/18 Teri’s Bar. Philadelphia, PA. 10/19 Centerville Studios. LI, NY. Nick Lee’s Birthday / Halloween RAGER at Centerville HQ 10/20 BSP Lounge. Kingston, NY.
It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Queen Elephantine, Eidetic Seeing & Black Norse 10/24 Brooklyn NY The Archeron 10/25 New Paltz NY Snug Harbor 10/26 Boston MA Space Mountain (It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Queen Elephantine, Olde Growth & Keefshovel)
Posted in Reviews on August 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A four-band bill at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar after a full workday with a drive to Massachusetts afterwards lurking on the horizon, moving ever closer to reality — I will say immediately that attending the opening night of Truckfighters‘ latest US tour was probably the least responsible decision I’ll make all week. Well, maybe not, but still: Resoundingly irresponsible. Part of doing it was proving to myself that I could, and sure enough, I came out of it on the other end alive, despite the best efforts of I-95′s endless stretch to claim my heavy eyelids as part of its likewise endless stream of trophies. Behold, the living dope.
But if you have to be an eternal sucker, at least an act like Truckfighters put on a show to make it worth your while. The Swedish trio of bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm, guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren and drummer Andre “Poncho” Kvarnström were joined by NYC locals Kings Destroy, Iron Tides and Mirror Queen on a surprisingly diverse and at times surprisingly aggressive lineup at the Vitus, and the night proved quickly to have been worth the commute there and back again. Mirror Queen, who were fresh back from a European jaunt with Tee Pee labelmates Earthless and The Atomic Bitchwax that included a stop at Stoned from the Underground sounded crisp and tight, and since the last time I saw them was on the Rocks off Concert Cruise in June, part of the fun this time out was watching their set not get toppled by the choppy waters of the East River.
Not that that wasn’t its own kind of excitement, I’m just saying it’s a little easier to get a sense of the chemistry between lead guitarist Phi Moon and guitarist/vocalist Kenny Sehgal when they can stand up and play. That chemistry, as it happens, is formidable and was in top form at the Vitus bar, Moon tearing into technically and spiritually engaging press-me-to-8-track classic rock solos on the right side of the stage while Sehgal, bassist James Corallo and drummer Jeremy O’Brien jammed out on “Into the Nebula” from the band’s 2011 outing, From Earth Below. A contingent of (apparently Australian?) bros in the front of the stage wearing red Truckfighters tanktops quickly let it be known they were going to be the biggest douchebags in the room for the duration, and much sweaty man-on-man-but-supposedly-not-at-all-homoerotic moshing and grabassery did ensue.
That didn’t impede enjoyment of Mirror Queen, however, who round out as they did the last time I saw them with a jam on Captain Beyond‘s “Mesmerization Eclipse.” It’s a bouncing groove that’s always welcome in my cranium, but it did little in the end to foretell the aggression that would come with Brooklynites Iron Tides, who arrived with their own floodlites and an assortment of homemade-looking amps and cabinets — but for the Verellen heads behind bassist/vocalist Markus — to remind of the raw volume and power of earliest Zoroaster while keeping an underlying touch of New York noise in the jagged playing of guitarist Matt. They were loud, angry and, well, let’s go with “loud” again. Drummer Michele locked in impressive grooves throughout, and though Iron Tides had an EP for sale in the back (got it) that came out last year mixed and mastered by Hull drummer Jeff Stieber, most of what they played was reportedly new.
It was easy enough to guess that by Markus‘ remembering on stage who started what song, which gave their set a bit of humor and charm to go with its aggressive churning and tonal push. Their lights triggered by foot-switches, Iron Tides were nonetheless cohesive in their aesthetic and tight through the more angular aspects of their sound, which were complemented by stretches of ambience driven by Matt‘s guitar, sometimes seeming to nod at earlier Isis but never fully giving itself over to the heavy/atmospheric tradeoffs that have by now become post-metal cliche. Though their sound was obviously much different, I’d put Iron Tides in a similar category to Brooklyn heavy acts like Blackout and Polygamyst, who also take various familiar elements and seem to be making efforts to craft something of their own from them. Their effort in this regard and overall fervor were appreciated.
Kings Destroy hit probably the angriest set I’ve ever seen them play. Tossing in older cuts like “The Whittler” and “Dusty Mummy” alongside the newer “Blood of Recompense,” “The Toe” and “Turul” from this year’s A Time of Hunting(go buy it), they only seemed to get more pissed off after the aforementioned tanktop brigade — who, by the way, all matched — got into some hooliganry with vocalist Steve Murphy as he came down from the stage. I noted when one of them tried to pull him off again, the result was a fast as-he-was-jumping-to-the-floor kick square to the chest — no doubt a move leftover from Murphy‘s days in Uppercut. Laughed a bit at that.
Despite the shenanigans, Kings Destroy were tight and heavy as ever, made only more malevolent for the meanness that seemed to accompany their delivery. By the time they got around to “The Whittler,” it was like they were throwing the songs at you. They’re probably the single band I’ve seen most over the last two-plus years (live reviews here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and I already look forward to seeing them with Pelican in October if I don’t run into them between now and then — they’re playing Vitus again on Thursday with Caltrop, should you happen to be in town– so please take it as coming from the voice of experience (oh yeah, their first record also came out on The Maple Forum, so there’s that) when I say that it wasn’t a put-on, or “show-anger.” Whatever it was, they played like they were fucking pissed off and it came through in the songs. Even “Turul” at the end was nastier than I’ve ever heard it, and while it’s always had a certain undefinable sneer, with the quiet riffing from guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and the everyone-together-now timed hits driven by bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik there isn’t much room for all-out belligerence. They made room.
There seemed like a long break between Kings Destroy and Truckfighters, but once the latter got on stage, they were hard to miss. The crowd seemed to know the opening riff to “Desert Cruiser” was coming even before Källgren started playing it, and once Cedermalm and Kvarnström joined in, they locked in immediately from the start. I knew from seeing them at Desertfest in April that even with the new drummer addition they were as riotous as ever, and even though Kvarnström is a quieter presence behind the kit than was Oscar “Pezo” Johansson, now of Witchcraft, “Desert Cruiser” and longer jams like “Chameleon” from 2007′s Phiand “Last Curfew” from 2009′s Maniawere as unbelievably tight as one could ask, the band stomping a sneaker print in the line between technical precision and showmanship as few can. I think Källgren alone put more energy into his performance than 90 percent of the entire bands I’ve seen this year, not including his own of course, jumping up and down, running back and forth, headbanging and all the rest.
And that’s the thing about Truckfighters. Because if they were just a band who got crazy on stage, you’d go, “Well okay, that’s cool,” and move onto the next thing. But not only are they out of their collective mind when they play, but over the years they’ve become increasingly progressive songwriters, so that a riff as epically memorable as that opening and comprising much of “Desert Cruiser” can exist next to a cut like “Majestic” from Mania, the sprawl of which outlasts even its 13-minute runtime, and they don’t miss a beat going from one to the next. Cedermalm tipped the mic into the crowd for the opening track, at one point Källgren jumped off the stage and made his way through to the bar in back of the Vitus, playing the whole time — I think it was during the jam on “Monte Gargano,” but don’t quote me on that — and when the set was over, Cedermalm also got off stage to add to his already considerable bass cacophony by running his strings on the torso of some kid in a Big Lebowski t-shirt. They’re fun to watch, but if they didn’t have the songs to back them up — which I’m glad to argue they do — they wouldn’t get beyond the novelty factor.
In the end, they obviously did, and I think they wore out the crowd in the process. I had competing impulses of exhaustion and dehydration fighting it out, but though I knew it was the wrong choice on a practical level, I didn’t at all regret inconveniencing later-me to see the show. Catching Truckfighters again as they started this tour was obviously the onus for my being there, but front-to-back it was a killer show. I didn’t make it all the way back to Massachusetts, but stopped in New Haven, CT, to crash for a few hours before resuming the trip this morning. I’ve felt like I got my ass kicked all day, but this one was well worth a beating.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
New York-based ambient horrifiers Gnaw have announced they’ll return Oct. 15 with a new full-length. Horrible Chamber — which I can only assume is what it feels like you’re trapped inside while you’re listening, because, seriously, Gnaw are fucked up sounding — will serve as the band’s Seventh Rule Recordings debut and as the follow-up to 2009′s This Face (review here), the screams of which one can still hear in the middle of the night if one pays close enough attention.
No cult posturing, but all the terror. The PR wire sends sound and vision:
GNAW: NYC Noise Merchants Unleash Album Details; Teaser Video Posted
New York’s favorite malignant noise instigators and recent Seventh Rule signees, GNAW, will unleash the diseased fruit of their sonic discontent this October. GNAW is the maniacal anti-creation of Alan Dubin (Khanate, Old, O.L.D.), Carter Thornton (Enos Slaughter), Jun Mizumachi (Ike Yard), Brian Beatrice and Eric Neuser. Together they’ve manifested a terrifyingly claustrophobic, seven-track journey of sound where the collective sentiments of fear, trauma, rage and repugnance collide into a cathartic state of brooding, audio disease. Fittingly titled, Horrible Chamber, the follow-up to 2009′s This Face, was recorded at Seizures Palace by Jason LaFarge (Swans, Akron/Family, Khanate, Angels Of Light) and mixed by Brian Beatrice at audioEngine and mastered by James Plotkin (OLD, Scorn, Khanate, Khlyst etc), with additional elements recorded by Beatrice, Dubin, Thornton, and Mizumachi in various chambers.
Comments the band in a distant shriek: “We are thrilled that Seventh Rule is about to unleash Horrible Chamber upon the masses. We have been working hard creating an extremely unique record that will make people feel ecstatic about feeling bad.”
Horrible Chamber will be unleashed via Seventh Rule Recordings on October 15 2013. Preorder details to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
Horrible Chamber Track Listing: 1. Humming 2. Of Embers 3. Water Rite 4. Worm 5. Widowkeeper 6. Vulture 7. This Horrible Chamber
GNAW will bring their scathing odes to the stage later this month with two tri-state area shows with additional live rituals to be announced shortly.
GNAW Live: 8/23/2013Stanhope House – Stanhope, NJ w/ Prana Bindu, Sonic Suicide Squad, Capacities, Ubasute 8/25/2013 Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY w/ Wehrmacht, Prime Evil, Undivided, Vermefug, Thrash Or Die
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
If it seems strange that a band with one full-length out would have enough material backlogged for a double-CD compilation, take that strangeness as indicative of the kind of weirdo horror doom Blizaro traffic. The Rochester, NY, trio — which features two-thirds of Orodruin in guitarist/vocalist John James Gallo and drummer Mike Waske, who are joined by bassist Mark Rapone – will mark a decade of existence with Strange Doorways, which is set for “coming soon”-type release through I, Voidhanger Records. News off the PR wire also makes mention of a follow-up to Blizaro‘s 2010 full-length, City of the Living Nightmare, expected in 2014 on Razorback Records.
Blizaro also self-released a long-player in 2012′s Blak Majiciansthat will be included on Strange Doorways. Here’s the announcement off the PR wire:
Out in October via I, Voidhanger Records: BLIZARO “Strange Doorways” 2-CD Anthology
Known mainly as the founder of superb doomsters ORODRUIN and now-defunct black metallers CRUCIFIST, singer/guitarist John Gallo has many alter egos and exciting musical incarnations, though BLIZARO is certainly the most adventurous and unpredictable of all.
BLIZARO’s songs are like dark portals leading to mysterious and macabre dimensions populated by mutants, ghosts, ghouls, and other unearthly presences. Like the Crypt Keeper from the infamous Tales From The Crypts comics, John Gallo tells us their stories of horror and madness using his own peculiar doom rock language, assisted by the unquestionable talents of Mike Waske (drums) and Mark Rapone (bass).
Musically, the band shortens the distances between the American way of doom and the school of Paul Chain and Black Hole, at the same time combining the so called “dark sound” and the heavy-psych/prog rock styles of the Seventies with the frightening synth-driven soundtracks composed by Goblin and Fabio Frizzi for Italian horror movies like Suspiria and The Beyond.
Next Autumn/Winter BLIZARO are going to release their highly-anticipated sophomore album, “Cornucopia della Morte” on CD, once again under the banner of the excellent horror metal label Razorback Records. A vinyl version shall follow next year on I, Voidhanger Records, but first we will celebrate BLIZARO’s first decade of life by releasing a monumental 2-CD anthology that will offer a complete pan on the band’s doom eccentricities.
Aptly titled “Strange Doorways” and wrapped in the stunning, visionary artwork conceived by Costin Chioreanu, the box-set will feature all the BLIZARO demo recordings: “Horror Rock” (2006), “Blue Tape” (2008, with a cameo from Peter Vicar of Reverend Bizarre fame!), an expanded version of “The Old Wizard Of Winter” (2009), and the amazing “Blak Majicians” album (2012). Plus lots of rare, unreleased and never-heard-before tracks directly from John Gallo’s vaults.
The 2-CD release will come with a luxurious 20-page full-colour booklet featuring extra artwork by Costin Chioreanu (who has drawn new covers for each demo!), rare band photos, plentiful liner notes by John Brenner of REVELATION, and track-by-track commentaries provided by John Gallo himself!
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Saint Vitus at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn last year was one of the coolest shows I’ve ever seen. I’m still not really over it, to be honest with you, and here we are coming up on a year since it happened. Of course, I reviewed it at the time, but it was one of those nights that you just keep going back to. It becomes a touchstone; a standard for other gigs to meet and fall short to. Vitus at the venue that bears their name would’ve been enough, but to have the top-notch Southern sludge of Sourvein and Weedeater both as well? I’d have gone to see any one of those bands and called it a good night. All three was something special.
The place was packed out. I didn’t care. I stayed up front for as long as I could, and then when beer started getting tossed around made my way to the back for a dryer vantage. Vitus were stellar and guitarist Dave Chandler seemed particularly tickled that there was a venue with the same name as his band. You have to figure, right? Here’s a guy whose band hasn’t gotten shit for recognition for two and a half decades and all of a sudden the friggin’ New York Times is writing up the show. It was fun to watch. Wino‘s vocals were dead on — you can see his seething in the Wino Wednesday header above; the pic comes from that night — Mark Adams and Henry Vasquez killed it, whether it was the raging “War is Our Destiny” or the super-plod of “The Troll,” and the crowd was duly appreciative of the one-of-a-kind experience to which they were being treated.
Venerable Brooklyn-based filmographer Frank Huang (check out his site here) captured the full Vitus set in all its glory, and it’s with a deep personal pleasure that I present it to you on this, the 99th consecutive Wino Wednesday. Please enjoy:
This one is something special, and since the story Chris “Woody High” MacDermott is telling is so excellent, I don’t even want to spoil it with too much intro. Here, 30 years to the day, are Woody‘s memories of seeing Motörhead for the first time ever, July 31, 1983, at L’Amour in Brooklyn.
It certainly doesn’t feel like THIRTY FUCKIN’ YEARS ago that I first saw Motörhead, but the ticket stub clearly states 7/31/83. And not only was it my first time seeing my favorite band but it was also my first trip to the legendary metal club L’Amour in Brooklyn.
I have no idea how I heard about the show. Probably from one of L’Amour‘s radio ads. They’d loop the opening riff to Van Halen‘s “Mean Streets” as background music and an announcer would read off the list of upcoming shows — Twisted Sister, Johnny Winter, Saxon, etc., etc. Earlier in ’83, L’Amours opened a second location called L’Amours East in Elmhurst, Queens. A lot of bands would play both clubs on consecutive nights. But when Motörhead came to town they had to outdo everyone and play three nights in a row – - Friday, July 29, in Queens then Saturday and Sunday in Brooklyn. The Sunday show was going to be all-ages. (The Queens show was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show and later released on CD). I was 15 years old at the time with a fake ID acquired at the Postermat on 8th Street in Greenwich Village. It worked buying beer at Milk-N-Things in Pelham and Jack Daniels at the liquor store next to it, but I had no idea if it would get me into a Brooklyn nightclub. The drinking age was only 18 back then but I didn’t want to get shut down trying to see Motörhead. The Ticketron outlet in the New Rochelle mall must have been gone because I had to take a MetroNorth train into Manhattan to buy a ticket at the Grand Central location. I can still remember the thrill of buying that ticket. I had worked all morning on a Saturday at my job making trophies in the garage of my science teacher. We finished early that day and when he paid me I walked straight to the train station. I didn’t have time to go downtown to buy any records on this trip but I did pick up a Hustler magazine and a Foster’s oil can for the train ride home. Even just a 20-minute visit in NYC provided more thrills than a month up in Westchester County.
In June of ’83. Motörhead had released their latest album, Another Perfect Day. I just happened to be in Bleecker Bob’s the day that it came in. Man, I was fuckin’ stoked. I knew they had a new album coming but had no idea when I’d actually see it. There it was in the bins alongside a 12″ single for “I Got Mine.” Even though they were both expensive imports ($5.98 for the single alone!), I knew I might never see them again. The cover to Another Perfect Day really tripped me out. It looked like someone had the cover to Overkill painted on the back of their denim jacket in watercolors and then left it out in the rain. There was also a cool insert with lyrics on one side and a hilarious comic strip on the other. The band photo on the cover of the “I Got Mine” single was cool. They all looked completely hungover. Brian Robertson‘s designer jeans and silver jewelry looked a little silly but, hey, he was in Thin Lizzy and he looked better than he did on the cover of Fighting. I instantly loved the record. I thought it kicked ass from start to finish and I thought Brian‘s guitar playing was incredible. Totally different from Fast Eddie‘s but it still sounded like Motörhead. There was zero radio airplay and no one else at school had the record so I wasn’t influenced at all by other people’s opinions. Kerrang gave it a decent review but I didn’t give a shit what they had to say neithers.
Anyway, it was complete torture waiting for the end of July to roll around but eventually it was Sunday, July 31. My friend Wayne was supposed to go to the show with me but he made the mistake of telling his parents the truth and got shut down. I, of course, completely lied to my mother. Never in a million years would she go for it. The only reason she let me go to shows at Madison Square Garden was because I bought the tickets with the money I was earning. As long as I put a certain amount in the bank every week, my metal habit was barely tolerated. I had a big decision to make. Should I blow off Motörhead or travel to Brooklyn alone? There really was no choice. (I must mention that about a year later I had to bail out on Wayne for a Metallica show at L’Amour at the last minute. I’m still not over it.)
After an uneventful MetroNorth train ride into Grand Central I had to confront the reality of not knowing how the hell I was going to get to Brooklyn. Don Cherry asked the question “Where Is Brooklyn” on his classic Blue Note album in 1966. Here I was as a 15-year-old dipshit with a Motörhead ticket inside my velcro Motörhead wallet with the same problem. I asked the token booth clerk how to get to 62nd Street in Brooklyn and he told me to take the B train. After a few confused attempts, I finally found where to get on the B and I was on my way. The summer of ‘83 was the first time air conditioning was added to some subway cars. The one I was riding on definitely did not have any for the very long ride into Bensonhurst. When I finally got off the train I had no idea where the club was. I spotted a dude in a Twisted Sister shirt puffin’ on a joint so I asked him. Without exhaling (or offering me any) he just pointed down the street. As I turned the corner I saw a completely industrial block full of headbangers. I could hear someone blasting a Motörhead tape out of a parked car. People were hanging out and drinking beers. Every single person had on some kind of metal shirt and most had a denim vest with something painted on the back and covered in patches. There were lots of bullet belts, studs and spikes, too. I thought I was hot shit in my Motörhead shirt with an Iron Maiden button on it. Not so much.
Stepping inside L’Amour was unreal. The DJ was cranking some of the best metal I’d ever heard and a lot of it was brand new to me. I will never forget hearing Accept‘s “Fast As A Shark” for the first time there. The crowd was singing along to the “hi-dee-hi-doh-hi-da” intro and I had no idea what was going on when I heard a big needle scratch. When the furious double-bass drums kicked in I was completely floored. People were seriously losing their shit and headbanging like crazy. The first band hadn’t even played yet! It was also the first time I heard “Nuns Have No Fun” by Mercyful Fate. Everyone but me seemed to know the words. I didn’t even bother trying to ask anyone about where to get these records or which ones to buy. It was like I was trying to start a fire with two twigs and they had flame throwers. I had a lot of catching up to do. The DJ announced some upcoming shows, including one the following week by Raven and Metallica and people went completely berserk.
There were two opening acts. The first was ThePoisonDollys, an all-female metal band. I’m pretty sure the second one was Cities. I don’t remember much about them because once Motörhead stormed the stage they were ancient history. There was no intro tape or anything. The DJ stopped playing records and everyone just started screaming “MOTÖRHEAD” at the top of their lungs. The first one out was Philthy behind the drums, followed by Lemmy and Robbo. There were only one or two people in front of me on Robbo‘s side of the stage. There were three Marshall stacks behind him. Lemmy had three more on the other side. Phil‘s drum set was huge. They started checking their instruments and it was significantly louder than Judas Priest and Iron Maiden at Madison Square Garden. That was a loud show. It was also louder than the Ramones show I saw in the front row of Iona College in New Rochelle the year before which was also loud as hell. Holy shit, this was gonna be awesome.
After screaming something into the mic about today’s show being for the young, Lemmy fired up the bassline to “Back at the Funny Farm,” the opening song on Another Perfect Day. When the band came in the noise was tremendous. You could see everyone sort of lean back for a second. Me and everybody else were banging their heads ferociously. This was at least a year before “moshing” became a regular thing at metal shows and it was glorious. The whooooshing sound of your noggin’ rockin’ only added to the deafening cacophony of Motörhead at full bore. It was no big deal if the dude behind you or next to you rested an arm on your shoulder to steady himself from time to time. The sound was so powerful it could knock you off balance. No worries. There were a few skinheads and punkers around, too but there were no hassles at all. I miss those days.
Most of the set were songs from Another Perfect Day — “Marching off to War,” “Tales of Glory,” “One Track Mind,” etc. They only played a few older songs like “America” and “Iron Horse.” No “Ace of Spaces,” “Bomber” or “Overkill.” I was dying to hear those songs but didn’t really care what they played as long as it was fast and loud. Robbo used some kind of fancy guitar synthesizer on the song “Another Perfect Day” to replicate the stuff he did on the album. I was totally blown away seeing a guitarist that great up close. I was also impressed he could rock that hard wearing satin shorts and a mesh tank top. The club was hot as hell and Robbo kept a bucket of water nearby and he’d splash himself in between songs. He wouldn’t take off his guitar or anything. I thought he’d electrocute himself. He would also duck behind his amps pretty regularly for a second and come back sniffing like crazy. It was obvious all three of them were jacked up to the max. I thought it was so cool how blatant they were about everything. Philthy had a big rotating fan behind him. He had horrible B.O. and it was just getting blasted into the crowd on top of the soundwaves. Lemmy had on a black t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, jeans, bullet belt and white boots. Earlier that day while waiting to get into the club I saw Lemmy come out of the backstage area and cross the street to get on the bus in the same outfit except for flip flops and cut off denim shorts. Bullet belt included.
When the show was over I was basically in a metal daze. I couldn’t hear a fuckin’ thing and my mouth must have been hanging open. It took almost three hours to get home but it was worth it. The next morning my ears were ringing very loudly. I loved the sound. I was amazed that they continued to ring for EIGHT MORE DAYS. After seeing Motörhead at L’Amour life was never the same.
Motörhead, Live at L’Amour East, Brooklyn, July 29, 1983
Posted in Features on July 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In the influential and seemingly ever-expanding canon of formative ’70s proto-heavy, the name Dust has echoed for much longer than its four letters might lead you to believe. Aside from launching the careers of future Ramones drummer Marc Bell (aka Marky Ramone) and KISS producer Richie Wise (guitar/vocalist) and bassist Kenny Aaronson, who went on to play with Bob Dylan, Blue Öyster Cult and many, many others, Dust‘s two albums, 1971′s Dust and 1972′s Hard Attack stand as documents of the formation of what would soon become American heavy metal, full of the riff-led, blues-driven sensibility that collectors have hounded after for years both from Dust and similarly-minded acts from the era.
The 40th anniversary of Hard Attackpassed in 2012, but Sony/Legacy stepped in to reissue both Dust albums earlier in 2013 on a limited single-CD and double-LP collection in time for Record Store Day. Both albums are remastered for a full, louder sound, and with liner notes documenting the young trio’s getting together, writing, recording, touring and disbanding, it’s as complete a recounting of what Dust was able to accomplish during their time and their enduring influence over heavy rock as one could ask. What’s more, the songs sound fantastic, whether it’s the driving-but-melodies thrust of “Chasin’ Ladies” from the first album, or the Beatles-meets-Who exploration of “Walk in the Soft Rain” from the second. Whatever they’ve gone on to accomplish in the years since, there was still obviously a sense of reverence on the part of the band in putting Hard Attack/Dusttogether.
All the better to talk to Marky Ramone about putting the complete package together. In the interview that follows, the former Dust drummer recounts some of what it was like to be in the band circa 1971 and how they got started, still in high school, what brought about the end of Dust and how the reissues came about now, how it felt to revisit the material and so on. His current outfit, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, is currently on tour in Europe and will hit the road in the States as well this fall, while Wise has continued his work with KISS, Gladys Knight and others, and Aaronson can be found in the modern incarnation of influential glam rockers New York Dolls.
Hard Attack/Dustis available now on Sony/Legacy. Please find the Marky Ramone Q&A after the jump and please enjoy.
The third track on the second Kings Destroy record, “Casse-Tete” (or, more properly, “Casse-Tête”) follows “Storm Break” and “The Toe” to round out an initial trio of heavy, lumber-rocking bruisers with the moodiest feel yet to come on A Time of Hunting. By the time you get there, after the chugging downer vibes of the opening duo, any sense of hope at all would be a shift, but if the image above of a be-suited guy in a diver helmet leaning against a fake palm tree at Coney Island is anything, it’s a suitable visual representation for the loneliness at the heart of “Casse-Tete” itself. Probably all the better that Kings Destroy based the video around it, then.
Actually, threaded in with performance footage of the dual-guitar fivesome belting out the insistent groove in a strikingly stark white room, we get to follow an entire narrative surrounding our diver friend. He’s walking down streets crowded and abandoned, isolated in either case, at home trying to figure out the puzzle that the lyrics inform us has missing pieces, and finally, discovering the same determination the track seems to as it segues after the last chorus into its final rush, the line, “It’s a shame it’s not a game,” repeated before arriving at “You’re insane,” as if to remind that those times you think it’s you against the world, there’s a pretty good chance the world is right.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting the premiere of the Lucia Grillo-directed video for “Casse-Tete,” and if you take away anything from it, take my recommendation that as soon as you’re done watching it, you track down a copy of A Time of Hunting, which I feel is one of the year’s best and most difficult-to-define albums — the disparity of comparisons in the reviews I’ve seen backing me up on that one — their sound never having been quite so doomed and yet unlike anything commonly residing in the genre. I could go on. I won’t. Watch the video:
Kings Destroy, “Casse-Tete” official video
Kings Destroy Live Shows
July 26 Brooklyn, NY St Vitus w/ Dawnbringer, Polygamyst and Crypter
Oct. 17 Brooklyn, NY Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase w/ Pelican
Oct. 18 Brooklyn, NY Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase w/ Pelican
Oct. 19 Allston, MA Great Scott w/ Pelican
Kings Destroy are Carl Porcaro and Christopher Skowronski (guitars), Steve Murphy (vocals), Aaron Bumpus (bass) and Robert Sefcik (drums). A Time of Hunting is available now on War Crime Recordings. “Casse-Tete” was directed by Lucia Grillo. Thanks to the band and label for letting me host the premiere.
Posted in audiObelisk on June 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
In just over a month’s time, Baltimore heavy psych rockers The Flying Eyes will be making a return trip to Europe for an extended, two-month tour. Joined for the majority of the trek by like-minded Brooklyn duo Golden Animals, the four-piece are out supporting their newly-released third album, Lowlands(you can see their video for the track “Under Iron Feet” here), while Golden Animals will be marking the issue of their new full-length, Hear Eye Go.
So although both acts have records they’re pushing, a month-plus on the road together is an occasion worth marking, and they’re doing exactly that with the release of a new split 7″ single on H42 Records. Set for release Aug. 1 — the same day The Flying Eyes‘ tour begins, by amazing coincidence — in an edition of 400 hand-numbered copies in red, black or “weird clear,” “Raise Hell”/”Never was Her Name” gives just a quickie sampling of where each band is at and provides lucky Euro-type showgoers with something to remember the tour by.
The Flying Eyes‘ contribution “Raise Hell” strikes first with an engaging sub-retro classic rock fuzz shuffle, stomping out the lines “Show me how to pray/So I can raise some hell” for a chorus that sounds like it’s ready to do just that, and Golden Animals‘ “Never was Her Name” offers a brief, two-minute meditation on its title line and amid meandering psychedelic guitar, the two-piece honing a moody sensibility that’s not at all cornball in its theatricality. H42 Records will start taking pre-orders shortly for 90 copies, while the rest will be available at shows only.
Today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting both “Raise Hell” and “Never was Her Name” for streaming. You’ll find them on the player below, followed by the dates and more info on the upcoming European tour. I hope you enjoy and get to use these songs as a springboard to check out Golden Animals and The Flying Eyes‘ new records :
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The Flying Eyes Over Europe 2013
THE FLYING EYES are a heavy, psychedelic rock band hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. Their name comes from a 1962 science fiction novel about giant, disembodied eyes that descend from outer space to control humanity. They have achieved a notable following in Europe with sold out club tours and highlights including: the Burg Herzberg Festival (sharing the main stage with Jeff Beck and Hawkwind), an appearance on the legendary Rockpalast television show, the Orange Blossom Special festival (DE), Stoned From The Underground (DE) and Trutnov Open Air (CZ). They recently finished their album “Lowlands” (produced by Rob Girardi and mixed by “Frenchie” Smith who discovered them at SXSW), which was paid for entirely through the support of their loyal social media following.
Modern-day psychedelic pioneers, GOLDEN ANIMALS, are a rock duo formed in Brooklyn, but owe much of their sound and vision to the 3 years they spent submerged in the rattling, secluded heat waves of the Southern Cali Desert. Their sound is a dead-ahead, no bullshit, loud, minimalist vehicle for strikingly well crafted, powerful songs. Referencing influences from Billie Holiday to Dr. John to Lou Reed to The Doors with many stops between, they believe in the simple as a means to the powerful.
01.08.2013 – DE Leipzig, Plaque 02.08.2013 – DE Bad Kötzting, Voidfest 03.08.2013 – DE Stuttgart, Zwölfzehn 04.08.2013 – DE Dresden, Chemiefabrik 06.08.2013 – DE Halle/Saale, Hühnermanhattan 07.08.2013 – DE Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg 08.08.2013 – DE Frankfurt/M., Nachtleben 09.08.2013 – CH Vinelz, Open Air am Bieler See 10.08.2013 – CH Sargans, Out In The Gurin 13.08.2013 – DE Kassel, H.Schmiede 14.08.2013 – DE Riegsee, Raut Oak Open Air (private) 15.08.2013 – DE Ludwigshafen, Club London Underground 16.08.2013 – DE Nürnberg, Misty Mountain Festival 17.08.2013 – DE Groß Lindow, Open Air Groß Lindow 19.08.2013 – PL Szczecin, Morion* 20.08.2013 – PL Zielona Gora, Rock-Out* 21.08.2013 – PL Poznan, Pod Minoga* 22.08.2013 – PL Gdynia, Desdemona* 23.08.2013 – PL Warszawa, Harenda* 24.08.2013 – PL Krakow, Kawiarnia Naukowa* 28.08.2013 – CZ Prague, Klub 007 Strahov* 29.08.2013 – DE Jena, Black Night * 30.08.2013 – DE Schüttorf, Komplex* 31.08.2013 – BE Brussels, DNA Café * 01.09.2013 – BE Wortel, Jeugdklub ‘t Slot* 02.09.2013 – DE Hannover, Mephisto @ faust * 03.09.2013 – DE Bremen, Meisenfrei* 04.09.2013 – DE Bielefeld, Forum* 05.09.2013 – DE Ahaus, Logo * 06.09.2013 – DE Siegen, Vortex* 07.09.2013 – DE Hamburg, Haus III70* 09.09.2013 – DE Freiburg, White Rabbit * 10.09.2013 – DE München, Backstage * 11.09.2013 – IT Milano, Lo-Fi * 15.09.2013 – IT Roma, Sinister Noise * 17.09.2013 – CH Genève, Le Kab * 18.09.2013 – ES Barcelona, Rocksound* 19.09.2013 – ES Madrid, La Boite* 20.09.2013 – ES Leon, Taberna Belfast* 21.09.2013 – ES Hondarribia, Psilocybenea* 23.09.2013 – FR Chambéry, Brin De Zinc * 24.09.2013 – DE Konstanz, Kulturladen* 27.09.2013 – DE Kiel, Schaubude* 28.09.2013 – SE Gothenburg, Showdown * 29.09.2013 – DK Copenhagen, Loppen * * = w/ Golden Animals
Same logo, new decade. New York City-based doom outfit Blood Farmers‘ last new-ish release was a reissue of their demo Permanent Brain Damage that came out through Japan’sLeaf Hound Records in 2004. The tracks for that were recorded circa 1991. Their only full-length to date was 1995′s Blood Farmers, which came out on Hellhound Records (reissued by Leaf Hound in 2008), but tonight the trio of bassist/vocalist Eli Brown, guitarist Dave Szulkin (also The Disease Concept) and drummer Tad Leger (also Lucertola) have unveiled their latest work, “Headless Eyes,” and made available their first studio recording in 18 years.
I’ll give you a second to think about where you were in 1995.
“Headless Eyes” comes from Blood Farmers‘ forthcoming sophomore outing of the same name, and while I don’t have a release date handy for the album Headless Eyes, I’ve been fortunate enough to catch Blood Farmers live a couple times now — at Days of the Doomed II last year, at Stoner Hands of Doom XI in 2011, and at Roadburn that same year — I can attest that the band brings a suitably plodding, horror-obsessed atmosphere to the song that’s done justice by the studio version. One big difference is the use of sampling to go along with Brown‘s lyrics, and of course the clips come from the 1971 movie, Headless Eyes, in which a deranged artist loses an eye while robbing somebody and becomes a serial killer who — spoiler alert — gouges out ladies’ eyes with a spoon.
In the song, the samples at several points coincide directly with Brown‘s vocals, and that gives a cool, almost echoing effect to go along with the lumbering riff and rhythm. Just before the eight minute mark, Leger counts in a faster solo section reminiscent of the churning break in Sabbath‘s “Sweet Leaf,” and they put it to some good use. Not to be missed.
More on the album as I hear it. In the meantime, doom on this:
To be honest, I don’t know how limited the new tape from NY/NJ-based basement psych duo Purple Knights and NJ trio The Green Dragon is. I know my copy is marked “Batch 1 — 5/5,” so I’m guessing that when all is said and done, there won’t be a lot of them floating around, but I’d think that if you were up for getting in touch with the bands and acquiring one for yourself, they wouldn’t tell you no.
I’ve posted a couple videos from Purple Knights before. The twosome is comprised of Ben Smith and Zack Kurland, both of Sweet Diesel, the former also of The Brought Low, the latter pulling double-duty in The Green Dragon, and to the best of my knowledge, the tape Purple Knights and the Green Dragonis their first physical output behind a self-titled Purple Knights digital-only EP. I won’t take any credit, but the first time I heard the band’s gritty, underproduced but still warm approach, I immediately thought they should get on putting out a series of super-limited tapes, and I told Kurland as much. No doubt in my mind he’d already had the thought, but it’s nice to be proven right by the sound of Purple Knights and the Green Dragon, which even though it takes a few surprisingly rocking turns throughout the 27-minute duration, is remarkably suited to the inherent compression of the format.
As to those surprising turns: The tape is split (obviously) into two sides, the first dubbed “Purple Knights” and the second “The Green Dragon” with an emblem sticker on each side to indicate which is which. Not to read too much into the atmospheres, but Purple Knights find room for a surprising breadth in a short span of time, also keeping a considerable flow between the four songs on each side, proffering blown-out buzzsaw riffs — seriously, put some screams on it and you’ve got black metal — that nonetheless hearken directly to Judas Priest traditionalism on the first half of the release while The Green Dragon – comprised of Kurland on guitar, Jennifer Klein on bass and Nathan Wilson on drums — kicking into a bassy classic rock groove on the latter, finding a niche in a space somewhere between crusty classic psychedelic rock and more driving demo-type energies on “Johnnie’s Spider” before offering final shelter on the Lamp of the Universe-esque “Acadia” to close out.
But what’s really most shocking about Purple Knights and the Green Dragonare its straightforward aspects, whether it’s Green Dragon‘s “Johnnie’s Spider” or the classic metal of Purple Knights‘ “Heathen Realms” opening side one with some showoff guitar soloing and garage-metal chugging set to drawling, echoing vocals for a malevolent feel. Played directly off the spacey explorations of “Whiteout,” it’s a side of Purple Knights that Kurland and Smith haven’t really shown yet, and while the production on the tape is rough to the point of harshness as the minimalism of “Whiteout” gives way to the ultra-aggressive “Touching Stone,” the duo find a way to work that to their sonic advantage, masking the full expanse of their reach in the overarching rudimentary feel.
I have to wonder at this point how Purple Knights or Green Dragon might sound in a real, out-of-the-basement studio, but if either outfit were to put out a couple more of these kinds of releases before getting there, I don’t think they’d be doing themselves a disservice in allowing some of the ideas presented on Purple Knights and the Green Dragonto further solidify across a series of recording sessions. Whatever their intent, they complement each other well on this split but are still working in different enough realms to be distinct. Particularly for a first pressing from either band, I wouldn’t ask anything more than that and I’m looking forward to what the next batch holds.