Frydee Witchcoven: “House of Death”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Bless their black hearts, Witchcoven is a new doomly duo from multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis, of Hour of 13, Tasha-Yar and many others. In Witchcoven, Davis is joined by vocalist Etienne “Hellscream” Chelleri, also of Slovenian black metal outfits Bleeding Fist and Naberius and whose lyrics on the demo track “House of Death” reference Black Widow‘s “Come to the Sabbath” with their insistent cadence. Not a bad place to start, and Davis‘ cult credentials are well in order. I can’t imagine it’ll be more than 15 or 20 minutes before Witchcoven is signed, so I figured I’d post the above clip of “House of Death” on the same day it went live so I could claim later I got in on the ground floor. Always thinking, this one.

The story this week is pretty much the same story as last week: Lots to write, not enough time, work to do, so on. You know the deal by now. Including this one, I put up seven posts today, and I guess that’s pretty good productivity. While I’m thinking of numbers, here are a few that stuck out to me from this week:

  • Over 120 people added their top 12 of 2012 to the readers poll since Monday.
  • Over 200 albums were added to The Obelisk Radio this week.
  • The Obelisk Radio now includes over 10,000 songs.

Wild stuff, and of course huge thanks to everyone who’s shown there support here on the blog and on the forum as well. It means more to me than I can say and every time someone reaches out with an email to say thanks, or to say, “Hey, you should check out this band,” or drops a comment, or likes a post, or tunes in to hear YOB or Kyuss or whatever happens to be playing at that second, it’s huge. I’ve spent a lot of time over the better part of the last four years doing this — you might say I’m spending my Friday night doing it right now — but I really never had any idea this site would turn into what it has and if you’ve been digging it for a while or if this post is the first thing you’ve ever seen, I deeply, deeply appreciate your being a part of it.

Alright, enough feelings. I always get mushy when the doom is on. Hope you enjoyWitchcoven, hope you have a great and safe weekend. I hope to get to kick around the forum for a bit as it was kind of a nutty week and I have a lot to catch up on, so if you get a second and want to say hey, that’d be awesome. I’ll also be adding records to the radio station, so keep your eyes out. If there’s anything you want to hear, I’m happy to take requests and fulfill them to the best of my ability.

Next week, reviews of Blaak Heat Shujaa and Dali’s Llama, more year-end wrap-type stuff (I guess that Kadavar post was a hit if the Thee Facebooks likes are anything to go by), and I’ll finally get that Bell Witch interview posted — transcribing it is on my weekend to-do list, right next to attending my four-year-old nephew’s Xmas pageant at his school tomorrow. It’ll be an afternoon of extremes. Looking forward to it and looking forward to seeing you back here Monday. Cheers.

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audiObelisk: Bloody Hammers Stream “Souls on Fire” from Self-Titled Debut LP

Posted in audiObelisk on November 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster


With goats on their brains and fuzz in their pedals, North Carolinian witch rocking foursome Bloody Hammers issued their self-titled debut on vinyl just this past Friday, Nov. 23. Soulseller Records, whose capable hands recently steered Groan‘s The Divine Right of Kings toward the public, provided their stamp of association, and the band, who previously sold out the CD version and all US-based LPs, once more rode their undeniable hooks to devil-worshiping glory.

Wavy logo font? Penta-goat head? Purple and black? They’ve got all the superficial trappings of post-Electric Wizard cult metal, and some of their fuzz bears that out, but the overarching thickness of “The Last Legion of Sorrow” and the nigh-on-gothic drama in bassist Anders Manga‘s vocals reminds more of an American-styled Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, andBloody Hammers’ pop sensibilities seal the deal in that regard. Their debut strikes an odd balance, not quite placed in one camp or another, and as the penultimate track, “Souls on Fire” most excellently shows their roundabout route to individuality.

A Sabbathian cadence (think “Under the Sun” in the verse) and mounting tension of drum stomp give way to organ-led melodic sweetness, the vocals high in the mix and slightly blown out, but winding up with swagger enough to deliver the rousing titular chorus. Aside from being among Bloody Hammers‘ most memorable cuts, “Souls on Fire” is also among the band’s best blends of the varying sides of their sound. It’s my pleasure to be able to stream the song today, and you’ll find it on the player below, followed by links to where you can get the album.

Please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Bloody HammersBloody Hammers is available now on Soulseller Records. For more info, check out the Bloody Hammers Bandcamp or their page on Thee Facebooks.

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Corrosion of Conformity Announce New Batch of Tour Dates with ASG and Royal Thunder

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 24th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

I think I’m gonna go to this show. I don’t know yet whether I’ll go to Brooklyn or Philly, but I haven’t seen trio C.O.C. — whom I’ve been secretly referring to as “C.O.Three” to myself mostly because I don’t have any friends who would know what I was talking about if I said that kind of thing to them — since they played last New Year’s Eve with Clutch, and, well, I’d kind of like to sing along to “Psychic Vampire” and maybe pick up a t-shirt if they have appropriate fat-dude sizes. Their self-titled album (review here), has an enduring appeal that’s hard to ignore as 2012 winds down and list time comes.

Dig the good news, fellow worshipers:

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY Announce North American Fall Tour Presented By Scion A/V

Eye For An Eye Reissue To Drop November 6 Via Candlelight Records

Following a hearty summer of live takeovers throughout North America and Europe, today North Carolina crossover kings CORROSION OF CONFORMITY announce a string of Fall and Winter dates through November and December. Presented by Scion A/V, the tour will include support from a host of esteemed ear-bleeders including Zoroaster, ASG, Royal Thunder, YOB, and Saviours. Additionally, the band will play a string of special shows with High On Fire, Goatwhore and LoPan on select dates. See full itinerary below. Tickets for all CORROSION OF CONFORMITY headlining shows go on sale TODAY through all local ticket outlets. Go HERE to get yours now!

The journey comes in conjunction with the North American release of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY’s Eye For An Eye full-length, set to drop November 6 through Candlelight Records. Originally issued in 1984, the special reissue has been remastered/packaged and includes the Six Songs With Mike Singing EP, both of which have been long out of print. A deluxe digibook edition of the album, limited to 1000 for North America, will be available at limited retailers and via Candlelight’s official webstore. The digibook version includes extended liner notes and a rare pictorial gallery.

CORROSION OF CONFOMRITY Fall/Winter Tour 2012
11/06/2012 Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Zoroaster, Royal Thunder
11/07/2012 Kingdom – Richmond, VA w/ ASG, Royal Thunder
11/08/2012 North Star – Philadelphia, PA w/ ASG, Royal Thunder
11/09/2012 Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY w/ ASG, Royal Thunder
11/10/2012 El ‘N’ GeesNew London, CT w/ ASG, Royal Thunder
11/11/2012 Mavericks – Ottawa, ON w/ ASG, Royal Thunder
11/13/2012 Revolutions – Kingston, ON
11/14/2012 Corktown Pub – Hamilton, ON w/ ASG, Royal Thunder
11/15/2012 London Music Hall – London, ON w/ ASG, Royal Thunder
11/16/2012 Harpo’s – Detroit, MI w/ ASG, Royal Thunder
11/17/2012 Mojoe’s – Joliet, IL w/ Zoroaster, Royal Thunder
11/18/2012 Cosmic Charlies – Lexington, KY w/ Zoroaster, Royal Thunder
12/11/2012 The Biltmore – Vancouver, BC w/ Saviours
12/12/2012 The Crocodile –  Seattle, WA w/ YOB, Saviours
12/13/2012 Dante’s – Portland, OR w/ YOB, Saviours
12/14/2012 Oak Street Speakeasy – Eugene, OR w/ YOB, Saviours
12/15/2012 Harlow’s – Sacramento, CA w/ YOB, Saviours
12/16/2012 Uptown Theater – Oakland,CA w/ Saviours
12/18/2012 Catalyst – Santa Cruz,CA w/ High on Fire, Goatwhore, LoPan
12/19/2012 The Brickhouse – San Diego, CA w/High on Fire, Goatwhore, LoPan
12/21/2012 The Observatory – Santa Ana, CA w/ High on Fire, Goatwhore, LoPan

Formed in Raleigh in 1982, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY quickly transformed heavy music. Politically charged and socially aware, the band has influenced countless others and today remains humble about their accomplishments. With over 1.1 million albums sold in the United States, the band continues to find new fans via nonstop touring.

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Black Skies and Caltrop to Tour to the West Coast

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

The only bummer about the news that North Carolinian acts Black Skies and Caltrop have teamed up for a tour is that they’re not coming north and playing a show with Hull. I guess you can’t win ‘em all, and good for you West Coast types getting these bands out your way. Why shouldn’t Long Beach have the best weather in the universe and killer gigs? Seems only fair.

Black Skies‘ last album, On the Wings of Time, will be a year old by the time this tour is over. I never gave it a proper review (to my regret), but it’s a solid record and I’ve included the stream from their Bandcamp page below if you want to check it out. Caltrop‘s latest, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes (review here), was also a hoot.

Here are the dates [PLEASE NOTE: Dates updated as of Sept. 24]:

North Carolina bands Caltrop and Black Skies announce Fall tour dates

Friends through the North Carolina Triangle Area metal scene, Black Skies and Caltrop were obvious tour mates as the two both share psychedelic sludge leanings and Southern heavy rock roots. This November, the two bands will hit the road for a coast-to-coast tour.

Oct 31 – Lexington, KY @ Sidecar
Nov 1 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s Music Joint
Nov 2 – Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s
Nov 3 – Omaha, NE @ The Sandbox
Nov 4 – Denver, CO @ Aqualung’s
Nov 5 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
Nov 6 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
Nov 7 – Seattle, WA @ The Comet
Nov 8 – Portland, OR @ Plan B
Nov 9 – Eureka, CA @ Little Red Lion
Nov 10 – San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
Nov 11 – Long Beach, CA @ Blue Café
Nov 12 – Tempe, AZ @ Yucca
Nov 13 – Albuquerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
Nov 14 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory
Nov 15 – Texarkana, AR @ Arrow Bar
Nov 17 – Atlanta, GA @ 529
Nov 18 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Chapel Hill Underground

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Hour of 13 Interview with Chad Davis: Naming the Threes

Posted in Features on August 24th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Last year when I conducted an Hour of 13 interview, it was with then-vocalist and Obelisk contributor Ben Hogg about having landed the singer spot as a replacement for Connecticut-based Phil Swanson. What changes a year can bring. This time, speaking with North Carolinian multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Chad Davis, it was about the band splitting with Hogg following a tour with Kylesa last summer and eventually having Swanson come back on board for the recording of the band’s appropriately named third album, 333.

Also Hour of 13‘s Earache Records debut, 333 marks the third time Swanson has joined the band — once for their 2007 self-titled debut and again for 2010′s The Ritualist before now — but Davis seems to take the tumult in stride. He’s uncomfortable talking about the situation with Hogg, I think the interview transcript shows that, but gives some sense of what led to the dissolution of Hour of 13 as a touring act. The live lineup also featured bassist John Mode and guitarist Brandon Munday, who’ll do a smattering of shows this October with the Swanson-fronted incarnation rounded out by a new drummer, but as to larger touring, Davis makes his position clear when he says, “To me, it’s not really a necessity.”

Nonetheless, the band has joined the growing roster of acts playing Roadburn 2013, and their cult-minded traditional doom continues to resonate with audiences around the world, who’ve responded with suitable clamor to 333, which Davis reveals was written both before going into Epiphonic Studios to record and after he got there, songs like “Who’s to Blame?” and the righteous closer “Lucky Bones” — also released on a limited Svart Records vinyl with Hour of 13′s earlier Razorrock Tapes recordings — given a sense of spontaneity for how freshly composed they were. The first two albums, Davis notes, took three days each. 333 took two weeks.

And maybe that’s the last of the three threes in the title. One for it being the band’s third album, one for it being Swanson‘s third return, and one for the three days it used to take Hour of 13 to make a record. Whatever the case, Davis‘ commitment to Hour of 13‘s bleak musical and conceptual aesthetic remains firm, and in the interview that follows, he discusses not only lineup shifts and live gigs, but what drives the project and the processes at work in Hour of 13 as opposed to his black metal outfits Anu and Set or the psychedelically jamming Tasha-Yar, who’ll reportedly add the recently-streamed “Casting Lots” to a series of other improv recordings for a new CD in the next month or so.

Including what got him into Epiphonic earlier than he intended and working long-distance with Swanson, Davis illuminates on a range of topics. You’ll find the complete Q&A after the jump.

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Wino Wednesday: A Spirit Caravan Four-Parter From 2002

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 1st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy Wino Wednesday

It shames me to say it, but there was no Wino Wednesday last week. Can you believe it? I don’t really have an excuse for my behavior — or, I suppose, lack of behavior — but I wanted to make up for it right off the bat this week and get back on the winning track with some live Spirit Caravan. As we come ever closer to a full year of Wino Wednesdays, it seems only right to make up for the lost time.

They’re not HD (I don’t think anything was a decade ago except rich people’s lives), but below you’ll find four clips of the trio Spirit CaravanWino on guitar/vocals, Dave Sherman (Earthride) on bass and Gary Isom (everybody) on drums — killing it live in North Carolina. This show was filmed about a month before the band called it quits following the release of their So Mortal Be single, and it’s among the latest into their tenure that I’ve seen. I don’t know what the situation was like in the band at this point, but the songs still sound awesome.

For a bonus, they even start the third part with a take on “Mourning” from The Obsessed‘s The Church Within, and while I’m not going to advocate for watching it out of order and missing out on the full 20 minutes, that’s pretty badass. However you approach it, hope you dig and as always, have a happy Wino Wednesday:




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Caltrop Interview with Sam Taylor: Measuring Space in Time

Posted in Features on May 15th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

My general assumption when it comes to conducting interviews — especially for people with whom I’ve never spoken before — is that the other person has no idea who I am, what I may have written about their work or any of it, and neither do they have interest in knowing. In that regard, guitarist/vocalist Sam Taylor of North Carolinian foursome Caltrop caught me a little off-guard when he asked if I was the one who wrote the review of his band’s latest album, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes (Holidays for Quince) that appeared on this site.

Without mentioning that I’m the only person who does reviews here, I said I was. I’d been asking about the pairing of obscure and concrete ideas that, to me, the album title and the names of several of the songs — “Shadows and Substance,” “Form and Abandon,” and so on — seemed to be driving toward. When I brought it up, Taylor already had some idea of what I was talking about. I was wrong, as it happened, in my interpretation. The real answer, go figure, was both more specific and more vague: 10 million years is how long it takes energy to form in the sun and eight minutes is as long as it takes to get to the earth. I was way off.

But I mention it not just to point out how off-base I was in estimating what I thought the album was trying to convey, but also to note that in his response, Taylor seemed to be speaking more to the review than to the question I’d actually asked, which was something unique among all the interviews I’ve done so far for this site. I’ve spoken to people who’ve seen their reviews beforehand before, and sometimes I’m more comfortable about that than others — it depends on the review and the amount of typos I find in it later — but Taylor was directly answering the case I made, and even having been wrong, that was exciting.

For me, it was also a thrill to talk to someone from Caltrop, of whom I’ve been a fan since their self-titled EP my way in 2005. I’d missed the release of 2008′s World Class (also on Holidays for Quince), but caught up to it later, and found the band’s growth as a heavy and intricately pastoral act as engaging as it was progressive. Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes, four years later, loses nothing creatively for the length of time, and as Taylor explains in the interview that follows here, the process by which he and the rest of the band — bassist/vocalist Murat Dirlik, guitarist Adam Nolton and drummer John Crouch — rounded out the record is as interesting as the record itself, basically moving away from their joint writing process to each write a whole track and bring it in to the others.

Below, Taylor talks about some of Caltrop‘s motives for taking this approach with Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes, gives his feelings as regards his band’s close relationship with Brooklyn post-metallers Hull, with whom Caltrop has toured several times (the two groups also appeared in each other’s press shots: see if you can spot them here and here), and discusses a range of other topics, including touring-life vs. real-life concerns and the reasoning behind noting who’s singing which part of a song between him and Dirlik in the liner notes of the album.

You’ll find the (mostly) complete 3,500-word Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.

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audiObelisk: Tasha-Yar Offers 22 Minutes of Blissed-Out Lo-Fi Psych Jamming with “Casting Lots”

Posted in audiObelisk on March 22nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve written about North Carolina space rockers Tasha-Yar a couple times now. A review here, an interview there. They’ve been included in a podcast or two, and their sound has continued to develop and continued to fascinate. Their 2011 full-length, The First Landing, found them starting to come into their own, and the music they’ve made since has only furthered that process.

This is something I know because every now and then a package shows up, usually from drummer Tim Greene, containing a new recording of Tasha-Yar music. Generally, there’s a handwritten note inside, like the one you see below (click to enlarge), explaining what it is I’m hearing and when it was put to tape, what they were going for and, sometimes, the personnel involved, which seems to be as nebulous occasionally as the music itself.

Such is how I came across “Casting Lots,” a 22:30 jam Tasha-Yar recorded last month that’s equal parts massive and endearing. Pretty sure most of it is improvised, but it was so psyched-out, so natural-sounding and so hypnotic, that I asked the band if they’d let me post it for streaming, and fortunately they said to go for it.

So, with the hope that those packages keep arriving and with the hope that it’s as warm and sunny where you are as it is in North Jersey this fine afternoon, please enjoy getting lost in Tasha-Yar‘s “Casting Lots” on the player below:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

“Casting Lots” was recorded Feb. 9, 2012, at Tasha-Yar‘s practice space in North Carolina. For more on the band, check them out on Thee Facebooks here, and to stream The First Landing and purchase a copy of the CD/DVD, hit them up on Bandcamp.

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Caltrop, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes: Time Marching to the Swamp

Posted in Reviews on March 21st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

As the album title indicates, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes sets itself to the task of organizing difficult concepts against easier ones. For the human mind to fathom 10 million years would take almost that long, but eight minutes you know. You have some idea of what you can do in that time, whereas 10 million years might as well be infinity. The music of North Carolinian four-piece Caltrop, for whom Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes marks their third outing (the first being a 2006 demo) and second through Holidays for Quince Records behind 2008’s World Class, works in similar fashion, blending such intangible qualities as pastoral vibes and progressive complexities against heavy riffs and thick, weighted grooves. Guitarist Sam Taylor and bassist Murat Dirlik (who also painted the album’s cover) trade vocals back and forth within and between songs, adding further variety to an already diverse eight tracks as guitarist Adam Nolton and drummer John Crouch fill out the Caltrop lineup – the former bolstering and playing off of Taylor’s work and the latter adding subtly technical snare fills to “Light Does Not Get Old” and proving equally capable of driving forward noise rock crunch and punctuating airy ambience within the 5:35 span of “Form and Abandon.” Caltrop are good at playing one side off the other, and Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes shows that just because a recording is raw or natural-sounding it can’t also be cerebrally engaged or melodic.

Both opener “Birdsong” and “Ancient,” which follows immediately, feature landmark guitar solos in their second half, but in fact they’re two very different songs, having in common mostly their tandem efforts to set the course for Caltrop’s breadth on their second full-length. The first cut feels like a journey and is; Taylor’s vocals leading the way with the guitar almost as much as the bass comes to prominence on the fuller, fuzzier Dirlik-fronted “Ancient.” Of the several things one might accuse Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes of being, redundant is not one of them. The album has its indulgent moments and ultimately requires more than a few listens to really sink in – the winding progressivism of “Ancient” alone feels like a test, warm and naturally-toned though it is – but every second of its 53:14 demonstrates its purpose, and Caltrop leave nothing wanting for individual take or even rocking simplicity. They sound like a band who enjoy making simple things complicated, and one good at it to boot. “Light Does Not Get Old” kicks in immediately from “Ancient” and is the most direct transition on the record, bluesy guitar leads backed by jazz rhythms stepping aside for lighter-touch modern-metal timing – Dirlik on bass and Crouch on drums both turn in remarkable performances throughout – as setup for the verses from Taylor. Neither he nor Dirlik is an overly technical singer, but as the music within these tracks shows increasing complexity throughout the album’s progression, their vocals serve to play up and maintain a natural, human feel to the recording. Mostly dry, mostly single-layer, they don’t soar by any stretch, but they serve the songs – and that’s more important.

A bit of slide guitar in “Shadows and Substance” (another invocation of the album title’s idea of vague vs. concrete, perhaps?) provides a pathway over the barrage of tom work from Crouch, and soon the shuffle is underway, Dirlik providing choice fills amid an insistent riff. There isn’t a chorus, per se. Instead, Caltrop continue to pummel that main, cyclical guitar line until gradually it seems to develop a solo and embark from there on a long fadeout. One imagines it’s something that works better in a live setting – minus the fade, plus about five more minutes of balls-out jamming – but it adds a level of intrigue as the 13-minute “Perihelion” begins its deceptively humble intro. Of all the tracks on Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes, “Perihelion” is one of two (near as I can tell) on which Taylor and Dirlik share vocal duties, and certainly the one on which they do the best job of it, the guitarist coming in later to provide despondent contrast to the pastures Dirlik constructs in earlier parts. The fuzz is warm, again, and gentle, and the vocals sweet, and “Perihelion” is easy to get lost in by the time its build really begins toward the five-minute mark. At 6:11, Nolton, Dirlik and Taylor step back to let Crouch introduce the progression of the second half, which he does with frenetic percussiveness, the other instruments joining in first as single-hit punctuation and then soon a full-on descending riff-and-solo interplay that opens into loose-sounding crashes before taking off into the culmination. Taylor takes over on vocals for a twice-repeated bluesman’s lament capped by the lines, “Lord knows I can’t take it anymore/I’m trying to ease your mind/Whoa yeah.”

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audiObelisk: Nate Hall Premieres “Kathleen” from A Great River Solo Debut

Posted in audiObelisk on March 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Whatever else North Carolinian pastoral psych specialists U.S. Christmas might have going on in their sound at any given time (there’s quite a bit when they want there to be), one thing they’ve always excelled at is infusing Americana elements into their work, taking the environment around them and distilling it to audio. Last year’s The Valley Path did that clearer and more evocatively than they’d ever done it before, and was precise and coherent in its mission.

As such, when A Great River — the Neurot Recordings solo debut from U.S. Christmas guitarist/vocalist Nate Hall — came my way, the first thing I listened for was that unmistakable tinge of mountaintop sepia. It’s not a country twang, but definitively of its place musically and even more specifically Southern in its melancholy. A Great River has that feel in common with Hall‘s band, and joins the ranks of highlight Neurot solo outings from Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till (both Neurosis) in its appreciation of classic folk, from Bob Dylan, whose influence shows up prevalently throughout, to a more stripped-down look at the brilliance of arrangement that has found a home in Wovenhand‘s David Eugene Edwards.

Foremost, the album is honest. Recorded in a single night last March, its “first album” feel is undercut by psychedelic flourish and the emotional depths Hall brings to the surface, and while there are still avenues of progression to be explored, a song like the Townes Van Zandt cover “Kathleen” — which I’m fortunate enough to be able to premiere on the player below — remains the beautiful and lush work of a singer-songwriter beginning what will hopefully be a long journey.

Please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Nate Hall‘s A Great River is due out on Neurot in May. For more on the album (including Scott Kelly‘s take), check out Neurot‘s artist page here, or look up Hall on Thee Facebooks here. Special thanks to Earsplit PR, Neurot and Hall for their generous permission in letting me host this track.

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audiObelisk: Caltrop Premiere “Blessed” From Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes

Posted in audiObelisk on March 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

It feels like cheating somehow to post the song “Blessed” from North Carolinian foursome Caltrop‘s new album, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes. I almost want to put out a spoiler alert with it — WARNING: THIS SONG CONTAINS AN ALBUM-DEFINING APEX.

Maybe that’s not the kind of thing that would fit on a government warning label, but it certainly applies to “Blessed,” which is the penultimate track on Caltrop‘s second full-length for Holidays for Quince Records. Like the rest of the tracks, it follows a blindingly creative direction that never lets go of its immediacy or tonal warmth, but really, to pick one song to premiere that represents Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes as a whole is impossible. The record is too varied, too progressively structured and too engaging as a single work to be so easily parsed.

So I picked what, to me, most feels like the culmination of it. We start off with winding, jazzy fuzz, but soon Caltrop — guitarist/vocalist Sam Taylor, bassist/vocalist Murat Dirlik (who also painted the butterflynoceros on the album cover), guitarist Adam Nolton, and drummer John Crouch — veer into the song’s proggy crux. Other parts of the record feel more informed by the band’s time on the road alongside Brooklyn post-metallers Hull, in what they’re playing more than how it actually sounds, but “Blessed” balances the same kind of tonal sweetness that made 2008′s World Class such a joy with neo-Southern lead work and an overarching build that sweeps you into it before you even realize you’re gone.

And then the warning above applies. “Blessed” has forward motion so subtle but so effective, I couldn’t help pick it to stream, and I hope you’ll agree when you enjoy it on the player below:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes was recorded and mixed by Nick Petersen in Chapel Hill, NC, and mastered by James Plotkin. The album will be available April 3 as a CD or download and can be pre-ordered through Holidays for Quince here. For more info, check out the band on Thee Facebooks or hit up their website.

Caltrop on tour:

04/12 Charleston, SC Tin Roof
04/14 Charlotte, NC Snug Harbor
04/20 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus w/ Hull
04/21 Richmond, VA Strange Matter “Year of Shit III”
05/19 Asheville, NC The Get Down
05/22 Harrisonburg, VA Blue Nile
05/23 Pittsburgh, PA 31st Street Pub
05/24 Columbus, OH Carabar

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Corrosion of Conformity Interview with Mike Dean: Riding the Current on a River of Stone; Enter Now to Win Free Vinyl!

Posted in Features on January 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

You have to understand, even if the forthcoming self-titled Corrosion of Conformity full-length wasn’t their first as a trio — as this trio — since 1985′s Animosity, the record would still be a landmark, just for the fact that it’s C.O.C. The stalwart North Carolinian heavy Southern rockers haven’t had a record since 2005′s In the Arms of God, mostly due to guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan‘s ongoing tenure with the supergroup Down, leaving bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woody Weatherman and returned drummer Reed Mullin the task of picking the band back up and moving forward as a three-piece.

But the announcement yesterday that this lineup of C.O.C. will headline Sunday night, April 8, at the London Desertfest is just the latest endorsement it has earned. Dean, Weatherman and Mullin toured twice in 2011 with Clutch, including their New Year’s tour last month, and played the 2011 Maryland DeathFest and Roadburn festivals (among others), supporting the single Your Tomorrow on Southern Lord. The track “Your Tomorrow” would wind up as one of the strongest on the album Corrosion of Conformity as well, but the record does an excellent job meeting and surpassing any aesthetic expectations that could be put on it.

Because, hey, let’s face it, if you’ve got a trio lineup of C.O.C., they’ve got a lot to live up to. Animosity is a crossover classic, and coupled with everything the band was able to accomplish after Keenan joined, then Corrosion of Conformity needs to cover a lot of ground to be a success. The album’s greatest attribute, however, is that it seems to ignore all of that in favor of just rocking out on some killer songs. As a result, cuts like “Rat City” and “Leeches” and “What We Become” hone in on the band’s hardcore past without seeming like a put-on while “Psychic Vampire,” “The Moneychangers” and “Come Not Here” bring in elements of the riffy Sabbathian groove that was always present in their sound, however prevalent it may or may not have been.

If you’re interested, the full album review is here. Just prior to their heading out with Clutch to put 2011 to bed, Dean and I spoke about what brought C.O.C. back together in this form and how it was composing the new album without Keenan, recording it with longtime producer John Custer, his own process for composing lyrics, and much more. Like the music on the self-titled, he was honest and straightforward in his responses, as you can see in the interview that follows here.

–Special thanks to Candlelight Records for letting me give away THREE copies of the new C.O.C. album on vinyl! Enter to win by sending your name and address below. Contest runs until Jan. 20!

[Please note: This contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered.]

Complete Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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Corrosion of Conformity, Corrosion of Conformity: Reclaiming Their Tomorrow

Posted in Reviews on January 5th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

From their teenage punker beginnings to being a Grammy-nominated major label darling to influencing a generation of heavy Southern bands, few acts can claim either the enduring relevance or creative scope of Corrosion of Conformity. The North Carolinian band, which passes its 30th year in 2012, and true enough to form, they do so with the beginning of a new age – or at very least, a bold new foray down a familiar path. 2010 saw C.O.C. regroup and tour with what was billed as the Animosity-era lineup, meaning the trio of guitarist Woody Weatherman, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and drummer Reed Mullin. They released the Your Tomorrow 7” and hit the road to much acclaim from traditionalists who’d been aching for some of C.O.C.’s earlier, crossover-style material. Absent from this mix was guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, who’d joined on guitar for 1991’s Blind and come to take the vocalist position as well, leading the band through their commercial peak on Columbia Records albums Deliverance (1994) and  Wiseblood (1996). His ongoing tenure in the Southern metal supergroup Down seemed to be the stumbling block keeping C.O.C. from getting together to issue a follow-up to 2005’s excellent In the Arms of God (Down released their third album in 2007 and toured extensively to support it), and Dean, Weatherman and Mullin – the latter who didn’t play on the last record but was back in the fold after playing with Dean in his Righteous Fool side-project – eventually decided not to wait any longer. Their new album, Corrosion of Conformity (Candlelight Records), is the band’s first studio LP as a trio since 1985.

This in itself makes C.O.C.’s latest a landmark, but moreover, it’s the defiance of expectation that really sets Corrosion of Conformity apart. One might look at the fact that they chose to make it a self-titled as a kind of statement that this lineup is somehow definitive, maybe a subtle “fuck you” to Keenan, but I don’t think that’s the case. Rather, naming the record after the band feels appropriate for these songs because what these songs do is essentially distill 30 years of natural and genre-transcending progression into a cohesive set of 11 tracks that play out over 43 minutes. In every move they are C.O.C., and that seems to be more the basis of choosing the title rather than showing anyone up. I acknowledge that’s speculation and opinion on my part as a listener and a fan of the band, but I’d gladly offer the forward-looking development of these tracks as supporting argument. Dean, Weatherman and Mullin could easily have slopped together 35-40 minutes of crossover punk, called it Animosity 2 and ridden the coattails of their past glories to reunion-act glory, but they didn’t do that. Instead, with Corrosion of Conformity, they take the band’s past scope and form something cohesive and – most of all – new from it. Whatever else you take away from this review, take that. C.O.C. are not rehashing what they’ve done before. As much as these songs may be carved from a lineup dynamic that existed 27 years ago, the ensuing time has meant that the players are different people than they once were, and the album shows that right from the beginning of opener “Psychic Vampire.”

In a way, the first 40 seconds of Corrosion of Conformity tell the whole story, and even more so when one considers the efficiency and lack of pretense with which the album is executed front to back. It’s perhaps in that spirit that C.O.C. most capture the simplicity of their earliest days, but one can’t deny the grunt at the beginning of “Psychic Vampire” and the riff-led groove that ensues as epitomizing a side of the band, just as does the faster, more propulsive 10 seconds that follow and open into the verse groove. Without warning, Dean, Weatherman and Mullin have established much of the course of the record, which sets its dynamics through pacing changes and balances Southern heavy rock with unabashed punk-born fury. “Psychic Vampire” sets itself out among the strongest cuts on the album in doing so and is based in large part on these two opening riffs, which play out in juxtaposition as Dean takes the frontman/vocalist role for two distinct choruses that he keeps through much of the material, backed capably by Weatherman and Mullin. Where some other tracks, particularly later in the set, need time to sink in, the likes of “Psychic Vampire” and “River of Stone,” which follows, are more immediately memorable. Weatherman’s riffing, as captured by longtime C.O.C. producer John Custer’s excellent recording job, is part of that, keeping a tonal consistency with In the Arms of God while also capitalizing on the added rawness of having one six-stringer versus two.

Mullin distinguishes himself right away on “River of Stone,” which is the longest song on Corrosion of Conformity at 6:12. His double-bass drumming is consistent throughout the first part of the track, but not rushed in terms of pace. The song opens in its chorus, but is mostly head-down forward motion, playing off some of the faster crossover elements that were hinted at with “Psychic Vampire” and are brought to the fore on “Leeches” still to come. Most of the song’s extra length comes from a break at 3:20 wherein Dean’s bass, soaked in wah, leads to a solo from Weatherman that carries the song back to its verse and chorus. Again, they show tempo flexibility and establish a solid flow, and Custer makes his presence felt as a shout rises in the mix to transition back into the verse that leads to the chorus finale. Dean’s vocals surprise in their capability to carry the song, and though it’s not a shock C.O.C. would want to establish this early, he impresses throughout the album in both arrangement and occasionally deceptively melodic execution. Not, however, on “Leeches,” which is two-plus minutes of crossover rawness that goes directly to the Animosity roots. It’s the shortest song on the album, and possibly the rawest, though Weatherman rips several leads worthy of the band’s legacy, and Mullin handles the changes fluidly while the vocals trade off leads and backing shouts. “Rat City,” which arrives just before closer “Time of Trials,” works in a similar vein, but “Leeches” is more outwardly aggressive, making the interlude that comes with “El Lamento de las Cabras” feel well earned.

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ASG Sign to Relapse

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kudos to North Carolinian heavy rockers ASG on living the stoner rock dream and getting picked up by Relapse. The acronymic outfit kicked a good deal of ass with Weedeater and Naam in NYC earlier this year, and though they haven’t had a record out in four years, their work on the road has obviously paid off. So well done.

Here’s the announcement, plus tour dates and new album details, off the PR wire:

Relapse Records is extremely proud to announce the signing of North Carolina’s finest psychedelic stoner punks, ASG! Impossible to pigeonhole, ASG has been wheelin’ and dealin’ in kickass rock ‘n’ roll since forming in 2001. The band has previously released four albums with including their most recent, critically acclaimed effort Win Us Over in 2007. ASG has gained a reputation for their wildly energetic live shows, and has found themselves on the road with heavy-hitters Motörhead, The Sword, CKY, Fu Manchu, Torche and The Dwarves among others.

ASG plan to enter the studio in February 2012 to record their highly anticipated Relapse debut with producer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Children of Bodom, Fu Manchu). More details will be announced shortly. Additionally, the band has confirmed a string of Southern US dates in January plus a special appearance at next year’s Hellfest in France. A complete list of tour dates are included below.

ASG guitarist/vocalist Jason Shi commented on the signing: “To be part of such a well respected music label like Relapse and to be included in their roster of bands both past and present is quite an honor for us. We plan to record our first release on Relapse in the winter of 2012 with Matt Hyde and are very excited for everyone to hear it! We are amping!”

01/04 Savannah, GA The Jinx
01/05 Jacksonville, FL Brewster’s Pit
01/06 Satellite Beach, FL The Sports Page
01/07 New Smyrna, FL Beachside Tavern
01/11 Orlando, FL SIP Art Gallery
01/12 Lake Worth, FL Speakeasy Lounge
01/13 Vero, FL Filthy McNasty’s
01/14 Daytona, FL Frank’s Front Row
01/20 Wilmington, NC Soapbox (w/ Hail!Hornet, SSS)
01/21 Charlotte, NC Tremont Music Hall (w/ Hail!Hornet, SSS)
06/15 Clisson, France Hellfest 2012

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Frydee Weedeater

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 23rd, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Some things to note in the Weedeater clip above: First and foremost, that room looks to be about the size of my office. Second, they come out to the theme song from Sanford and Son. Third, there’s a bottle of Robitussin taped to the side of “Dixie” Dave Collins‘ amp with a straw sticking out of it that he drinks from at several intervals, including as they transition from “God Luck and Good Speed” to “Wizard Fight,” when he chases it with what I assume is whiskey.

Another reason I decided to go with Weedeater was because earlier today I did a phone interview with artist Joe Wardwell. Wardwell‘s paintings draw a lot from heavy rock and doom for inspiration and a gallery show he has going on in NYC through October is titled “Untied We Stand” — a line taken from “God Luck and Good Speed” — so the song’s been in my head. I’ll hopefully have that Q&A posted in the next week or two. In the meantime, you can check out Wardwell‘s work here. It rules and the interview was great as well. Dude loves his Boris, loves his Sabbath, loves his Melvins. Right on.

Given all that, I couldn’t possibly have chosen anything else to close out the week — not to mention Weedeater‘s earth-swallowing volume or tonal weight, which is suiting me perfectly on this tired-as-hell Friday afternoon. The reason I’m signing off early (usually I’d wait to cap another ultra-exciting couch-bound Friday night with a post, but it’s about 4PM now) is because I’m heading out in a bit to make my way down to Philadelphia, again, for the start of the Small Stone showcase, which kicks off tonight at The M-Room. I don’t want to miss Infernal Overdrive, and I think they’re opening, so I need to haul ass a bit.

Thanks to everyone for checking in this week. It was crazy on this end, between the Brooklyn show and Kyuss Lives! Wednesday night, and it isn’t over yet. I’ll be in Philly the next two nights, then back to Jersey Sunday to do school work. Next week it starts all over. I do hope to get some more album reviews posted next week, but I’ll be checking out Akris at the Cake Shop in Manhattan on Tuesday, and I hope to get my massive interview with Rwake frontman CT posted, so we’ll see what there’s time for. In the meantime, keep your ears posted for a Windhand stream that’s coming Thursday and hopefully another that I can’t quite reveal just yet in case it falls through.

Some news for The Maple Forum coming soon as well, it looks like.

So big stuff yet to come. Not sure yet how I’m going to handle posting from/about the showcase, but if you check in over the weekend, you might find some stuff on it up.

Either way, great and safe couple days. See you on the forum and back here for more shortly.

 

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