Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight Team up for a November Weekender

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 7th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Black Pyramid, Kings Destroy and Clamfight. Well damn.

They should just go ahead and call it the “WEEKENDER TO END ALL WEEKENDERS.” I think maybe I’ll get in my car and follow them around for all three dates, but like, not tell them I’m going to do it and just keep showing up at the shows and being like, “What?”

Black Pyramid, fresh off SHoD XII and the recording of a new album, Kings Destroy, also fresh off recording a new album (and also playing with Pallbearer next week in Brooklyn), and Clamfight, the album art for whose Maple Forum debut is apparently done at last — all three teamed up? That’s worth the price of gas for sure.

Good bands and good people mean good shows. You should go to any and all of the following:

Friday, 11/9 – Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, 11/10 – Monty’s Krown, Rochester, NY
Sunday, 11/11 – Radio, Somerville, MA

Expect more news to come in the next few weeks and months about new records from all three of these bands — and by “news,” I mean fanboy slobbering. Awesome.

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Black Pyramid Interview with Clay Neely: Unfolding a Spiral Truth

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

It felt so fucking good to watch Black Pyramid play last year’s Roadburn festival. Standing there in the mid-size Green Room of the 013 Popcentrum in Tilburg, it was like seeing an ambassador of the future of American doom on display for the European audience for the first time. Like I was at a World’s Fair or something. I’m not a person who often gives in to patriotism, but I was happy my countrymen were able to give such an excellent showing of themselves to a crowd that had never seen them before.

Flash forward a couple months later and guitarist Andy “Dinger” Beresky announces on the forum that he’s quitting the band and proceeds to go on a months-long bridge-burning expedition, trolling his own threads with pseudo-mysticism and purposeful confusion, sending misleading emails to Black Pyramid industry contacts, behaving in a manner so paranoid and disruptive it results in being the first-ever ban on the board. As great as it felt to see the trio at Roadburn, the unraveling that ensued following their return from a European run alongside Blood Farmers was equal parts painful and sad, on both a personal and critical level.

For all intents and purposes, the band was done. And yet, they stood on the eve of the release of their second full-length, II, through MeteorCity. Bassist Gein and drummer Clay Neely were left in the awkward position of having to decide whether to press on and and try to replace Beresky or cut the band’s life short just as it seemed to be hitting its stride creatively. In the end, Neely and Gein opted to continue Black Pyramid, bringing in respected Massachusetts guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, Hackman, Blackwolfgoat) to fill the vacant slot, and pressing forward almost immediately with writing new material, which will see release this year as part of a split.

And as the summation of what the original incarnation of the band was able to accomplish, II is an utter triumph. Produced by Neely himself and mixed by the band in conjunction with Justin Pizzoferrato, it revels in the glory of battle as did the preceding 2009 self-titled, but adds melodic depth and a range of composition less limited by the confines of genre or expectation. With II (review here), Black Pyramid were becoming their own band. Now moving past it, they have to become a new one. And quick. The announcement that the band would continue came packaged with word of an impending performance at this year’s London Desertfest at the start of April.

In what I later found out was his first phoner interview, Neely discussed these issues of Black Pyramid‘s demise and rebirth, as well as the processes of writing and recording II and bringing Shepard in to be a part of the Mk. II lineup. There was some more said off the record about Beresky leaving, but for the purposes here, I wanted to keep the focus on the fact that Black Pyramid, true to the warrior nature fused into their lyrics, are fighting their way forward despite what others might have expected to hold them back. I hope that comes though.

Complete Q&A with Clay Neely is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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Black Pyramid, II: Mercy’s Bane is Laid to Rest

Posted in Reviews on January 12th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

After releasing their self-titled MeteorCity debut in 2009 to a more than warm reception from the heavy underground (review here), Northampton, Massachusetts, battle doomers Black Pyramid proceeded to hit the road on several tours and unleashed a tide of singles and splits. 2010 saw a split with Old One issued (review here), and 2011 followed with a slew of vinyl: the Mercy’s Bane single, the Stormbringer single – a CD compilation of wax-only material would soon follow on Hydro-Phonic under the same name – and a split with Tenspeed Warlock. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Andy Beresky, bassist Gein and drummer Clay Neely headed out on a European tour for the first time alongside reborn East Coast doom magnates Blood Farmers, and including a stop at last year’s Roadburn, seemed to be on the verge of their greatest triumph yet with the MeteorCity release of their second album, II. Long story short, the band imploded. Beresky split, and after some soul-searching, Neely and Gein decided to continue Black Pyramid, bringing on board guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard (Hackman, Blackwolfgoat, Milligram) late in 2011 and setting almost immediately about writing new material. This puts II in something of an awkward position, release-wise. The album is at once obsolete already and the creative high point of the band to date. Its nine component tracks explode with confrontational energy, and it seems Black Pyramid were really just coming into their own as they made what would be their final statement in this incarnation.

That’s especially true of Beresky, whose performance throughout II is easily the best of his career either in this band or in his prior outfit, Palace in Thunderland. Whether it’s the more scripted-sounding leads of “Dreams of the Dead” or the layered acoustic work of the interlude “Tanelorn,” or the High on Fire-esque bombast of the later movements in “Sons of Chaos,” he handles it all deftly and with poise, and his vocals – a subject of some debate among followers of the band – show development both melodically and in terms of the confidence in delivery. His descending semi-melodicism in opener “Endless Agony” begins to display itself as a genuine style by the end of II, and similar to the way Slough Feg incorporates progressions out of Celtic folk, Beresky brings a drinking-song cadence to his lines that only enhances the battle-minded lyrics. Neely, who also engineered II, has him layer the guitar effectively, so that leads are backed by rhythm tracks in addition to the bass and drums, and the resulting sound is full and engaging – “Mercy’s Bane” beginning with Neely’s own thundering toms and moving quickly to stand itself out as a highlight of the album following the immersive and catchy “Endless Agony,” a well-placed opener for its memorable lyric and musical hook. “Mercy’s Bane” is longer by more than two full minutes, but expands on the ideas in the album’s beginning without losing sight of the structure that makes it so effective. Black Pyramid are heavy – certainly tonally and thematically weighted – but still unflinchingly accessible, and they remain so even in the varying moments of indulgence that the hour-long II presents.

A slowdown caps “Mercy’s Bane” and acts as lead-in for the chugging “Night Queen,” which rounds out a strong opening trio of memorable choruses and riffs. Gein’s bass follows Beresky’s guitar for the most part, handling the winding transitions between cycles in “Night Queen” well while the vocals come on in effective near-gang-chant layers. A longer instrumental break starts quiet and finds Neely rolling on his snare while Beresky tops with a relatively-restrained wah solo, one of II’s bluesiest and best. At 6:48, “Night Queen” is the longest of the record’s “regular” tracks – and by that I mean the ones under 10 minutes and that feel purposefully extended – of which there are two. The first is “Dreams of the Dead,” which follows “Night Queen,” effectively rounding out the first half of II (though “Tanelorn” could just as easily be an outro to the first half as an intro to the second on the CD; the time divide is actually more even that way) and making for one of the album’s most accomplished moments melodically. It seems to be Black Pyramid stepping out of their doom-stomping comfort zone, though that element is still there, and it’s worth noting that after the second chorus ends at about three minutes in, the remainder of “Dreams of the Dead”’s 12:12 runtime is devoted to expansive instrumental parts, breaking following a driving riff and solo at almost precisely five minutes to effect a grandiose build from the ground up. It’s effective, and the part works, but can also feel a little tacked on when looked at from the structural perspective. I’m not sure the longer part wouldn’t also have worked following “Mercy’s Bane” or “Night Queen,” in other words, and why, despite its increased melodic focus, it needed to be “Dreams of the Dead” given the ultra-epic treatment on an album full of epics.

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audiObelisk: Black Pyramid Stream “Night Queen” From New Album II

Posted in audiObelisk on January 3rd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

One might look at II, the appropriately-named second MeteorCity full-length from Black Pyramid, as the closing of a chapter. The Northampton, Massachusetts, doom rock trio, who’d released a handful of singles and splits since their 2009 debut, parted ways in an undeniably ugly split with guitarist/vocalist Andy Beresky, in between recording and the release, which left both the album and the future of the band uncertain. For a minute there, Black Pyramid was done.

Drummer Clay Neely and bassist Gein have since regrouped under the Black Pyramid moniker and found venerable riffer Darryl Shepard (he of Milligram, Hackman and Blackwolfgoat, among others) to fill the vacated guitarist/vocalist role, and already they’ve begun to demo and record new material — it helps in that regard that Neely is also an engineer. But the songs on II still show the promise and the progress of the original trio, whose sound had become more melodically aware and sonically expansive. Their epic battle metal aesthetic will be familiar to anyone who heard the first album, but when they made II, Black Pyramid had grown within it and through it into something even more formidable than they were when they started out.

It’s exciting to wonder what the new trio might come up with — and knowing how prolific the band has been in the past, it probably won’t be long until we find out — but in the meantime, II documents a lineup hitting what might have been their peak, and whatever may have happened to bring about an end to this era of the band, it’s great to know a new one has begun. Today I’m fortunate enough to be able to stream the track “Night Queen,” which I think sums up both the maturity and the heaviness of Beresky-fronted Black Pyramid.

You’ll find it on the player below, followed immediately by some PR wire details about the album’s release. Please enjoy:

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

New England doom rock trio Black Pyramid will release its long awaited sophomore album Black Pyramid II on January 31, 2012 via MeteorCity. Recorded “in the foothills of the Berkshires” at Black Coffee Sound (Elks, Elder) and mixed by Justin Pizzoferrato (Sonic Youth, Witch, Dinosaur Jr.), the record features nine tracks of the band’s self-titled “galloping war metal.” Black Pyramid II was mastered by Matt Washburn (Mastodon) and is “at times a bit more death metal and black metal influenced” than the band’s previous material.

“We’re incredibly proud of the sonic landscapes we were able to achieve with the new album,” said Black Pyramid drummer Clay Neely. “It’s a clear successor to the debut album and we allowed ourselves to further expand into some uncharted territories. The recording of the record was an incredibly rewarding experience and we can’t wait to bring the show back on the road.”

Black Pyramid will also be playing the London Desertfest in April 2012. For more info on that, click here.

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So, Uh, Black Pyramid Aren’t Done?

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

I have to say, the situation revolving around the breakup of Northampton, Massachusetts, stoner doomers Black Pyramid has been one of the most confusing I’ve ever witnessed. First, there is the well-documented fallout across several threads of the forum, the regular appearances and disappearances of vocalist/guitarist Andy “Dinger” Beresky, and all the while, the supposed MeteorCity release of the band’s second full-length, II.

The latest had it that the album was going to come out next year as a posthumous release, and then the band was done. Now today, I get this email:

[NOTE: The email I (and many others) got was bullshit and has been removed at the respectful request of the label. I’m leaving this post here so that the comments don’t also get deleted.]

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Black Pyramid Reveal Track Listing for New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Guitarist/vocalist Andy “Dinger” Beresky of Northampton, Massachusetts, trio Black Pyramid has been posting regular updates on the news forum about the progress on his band’s aptly-titled second album, II. The record will be released via MeteorCity on Jan. 31, 2012, on CD with a double-vinyl issue to follow on Clear Spot.

Black Pyramid have hardly been sedentary since their 2009 self-titled debut. A host of vinyl EPs, 7”s and splits has produced enough to result in the recently-compiled Stormbringer collection, so it’ll be interesting to see where they go from II, as well as to hear the growth in the band their time on the road (they toured Europe earlier this year with Blood Farmers, including a stop at Roadburn) has incited.

For now, here’s the track listing of Black Pyramid’s II, with the caveat of more info to come:

1. Endless Agony
2. Mercy’s Bane
3. Night Queen
4. Dreams of the Dead
5. Tanelorn
6. Sons of Chaos
7. Empty Handed Insurrection
8. The Hidden Kingdom
9. Into the Dawn

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Black Pyramid and Blood Farmers to Play Roadburn Afterburner

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 29th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

The Roadburn website is reporting that Massachusetts doom bashers Black Pyramid will be playing the Afterburner event this year, and I thought I’d just take a second to congratulate the band. They’re hard-working, heavy as hell and a nice bunch of dudes to boot. Blood Farmers has also been confirmed for the Afterburner, which will be expanded to all three rooms of the 013 venue in Tilburg. Here’s what Roadburn organizer Walter had to say on the site:

You might have noticed that we haven’t announced any bands for the additional Afterburner event yet. What’s going on? We have invited Black Mountain to headline this year’s Afterburner, and based upon our gut feeling, we think it might happen. This means that we’ll be using Roadburn‘s main stage for the Afterburner as well, as well as the Green Room and Bat Cave. We’re currently looking into all the logistics, and completing the extended lineup. We just need an extra week or two to get it all done properly.

There have been rumors about Blood Farmers and Black Pyramid, and we are delighted to say that both of them are indeed playing the Afterburner. Consider this a preview, and there will be an official announcement soon. It’s also true that we’re talking to Coffins, but it’s not finalized yet. We’re are also looking into ticketing for the Afterburner, and there’s a good chance that we’ll be offering a four-day pass for those who want to experience to entire festival, as well as offering an additional Afterburner ticket as always.

Please keep checking the website for updates.

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audiObelisk EXCLUSIVE: Black Pyramid Premiere Another New Song on The Obelisk!

Posted in audiObelisk on August 24th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Clearly Northampton, Massachusetts, doom bringers Black Pyramid just didn’t learn their lesson after last time, because here they are again, debuting “The Cloud of Unknowing” from their new single Stormbringer (on Hydrophonic). The other track on the release, “Stormbringer,” is up on the band’s MySpace page, but this one’s all ours and all the sweeter for it. Stream it by pressing play below:

The Cloud of Unknowing

Vocalist/guitarist Andy Beresky gives some background on the song:

“We had ‘Stormbringer’ done, and were working on the B-side. I had a bunch of riffs worked out, and it was a matter of getting them all to flow together. That’s really what we were going for, a song that didn’t really have a typical set structure, but just flowed from one part to the next, almost like a meditation. So the title, and the lyrics, they refer to a book on Western meditation, that takes an almost more Eastern approach to it.

“Obviously, it’s our own take on it, I took the religious aspects out and made it more about personal reflection and how we deal with the growing darkness and doubt within our lives, so that we may eventually overcome the concepts of good and evil altogether. Musically, I think it’s also ambitious, but because it retains that flowing, meditative nature throughout, it draws you inside the cloud, and once you’re there, totally obscured by it, everything somehow becomes clearer.”

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