Corrosion of Conformity Announce No Cross No Crown Due Jan. 12; First Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Well, here’s your most anticipated album for 2018. North Carolinian heavy rock legends Corrosion of Conformity will release their first record to feature guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan since 2005’s In the Arms of God on Jan. 12. Titled No Cross No Crown, it will be their first offering for Nuclear Blast Records. Preorders are available now. You don’t need me to tell you place one.

C.O.C. have been keeping fans regularly up to date on the studio progress for their new full-length for a while now. Recorded by John Custer, whose tenure helming their outings goes back decades at this point, No Cross No Crown brings together Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woodroe Weatherman and drummer Reed Mullin for the first time since 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, and though Dean, Weatherman and Mullin had two LPs out as a trio in 2014’s IX (review here) and a 2012 self-titled (review here), their reunion with Keenan and subsequent touring and fest appearances has only stoked the fire of hope for a new four-piece album over the last couple years.

Looks like we’ll finally get there. Can’t wait. First single is streaming now. It’s called “Cast the First Stone.” It’s at the bottom of the post. Listen to it.

Just off the PR wire:

corrosion of conformity no cross no crown

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY To Release No Cross No Crown Full-Length January 12th, 2018 Via Nuclear Blast Entertainment

Album Marks First Recording With Vocalist/Guitarist Pepper Keenan In Over A Decade; Preorder Bundles Available

Preorder No Cross No Crown at THIS LOCATION

Whenever CORROSION OF CONFORMITY releases a new album, folks take notice. But their latest is a true event. It’s been a dozen years since CORROSION OF CONFORMITY recorded new material with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan at the helm. In that time, there have been rumors, whispers, and outright allegations that the legendary Southern rock outfit would reunite to blow the doors off the whole damn scene again. In 2014, after nearly a straight decade traversing the globe as a guitarist with New Orleans supergroup Down, Keenan reconnected with the core CORROSION OF CONFORMITY trio of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean, and Reed Mullin to hit the road hard. “Reed called me and mentioned maybe playing a couple shows,” Keenan recalls. “I said, ‘Let’s just go to Europe and see if it works.’ So we went to Europe and then ended up going back four times in one year… We toured for a year and then started tracking about ten or eleven months ago.”

And now, the long wait is over. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY returns with No Cross No Crown — an album that somehow sounds as though no time has passed between 2005’s In The Arms Of God and today.

Recording in North Carolina with longtime producer John Custer, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY cut No Cross No Crown in about forty days over the course of a year. “We took our time and didn’t put any pressure on ourselves,” Keenan says. “I’d go up from New Orleans and we’d do four or five days at a time, just hacking away at it. It was fun because we did it like a demo, but in a studio. We were writing and putting it on tape at the same time. We took what parts we thought were great from the old days and weren’t scared to go backwards. It kinda wrote itself that way.”

Some of these new jams sound like could’ve easily been on Wiseblood or Deliverance, two of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY’s most revered records. On No Cross No Crown, beefy Southern stompers like “The Luddite,” “Little Man,” and “Forgive Me” are interspersed with melancholy guitar interludes like “No Cross,” “Matre’s Diem,” and “Sacred Isolation” — just like Sabbath used to do in the ’70s. “We started doing that on Deliverance,” Keenan points out. “My theory on that is that if you’re trying to make a record flow, you need to break it up a little. When you need a breather, write an interlude. I like writing those mellow pieces just to space things out and make the next thing come in heavier.”

The album’s iconic title comes from a recent tour stop in England. “We were playing this old church from like the 1500s that had been turned into a performing arts center,” Keenan recalls. “The dressing room had stained glass windows and one of them showed this poor fella being persecuted. Underneath it said, ‘no cross no crown.’ So I just took that idea. We’re not trying to be on a soapbox, but we used it as a catalyst to write songs around.”

Which is to say that No Cross No Crown has a lot less to do with politics or religion than its title implies. “I think everyone needs to get away from that mindset in general,” Keenan offers. “It just seems to be a mess out there nowadays. We need to get back to being humans and taking care of each other and simple things like that. For us, the terminology ‘no cross no crown’ is a theme. It’s mentioned in like three songs throughout the album. We just weaved it through as we went.”

No Cross No Crown stands as irrefutable proof of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY’s ability to overcome. “CORROSION OF CONFORMITY and the prior records I’ve done with them didn’t just go away,” Keenan observes. “It’s an honor to be back out there and have an opportunity to do it again in a real way and not some washed-up reunion thing. Even before we wrote the record, we were out there for a year seeing there was a demand for it and that there was a void that we could fill. That’s been CORROSION OF CONFORMITY’s deal from day one. We’re not chasing anybody around. We’re not gonna worry about what the new trends are. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is CORROSION OF CONFORMITY.”

No Cross No Crown will be released via Nuclear Blast Entertainment worldwide on January 12th, 2018 on CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats. Various preorder bundles are currently available at THIS LOCATION.

No Cross No Crown Track Listing:
1. Novus Deus
2. The Luddite
3. Cast The First Stone
4. No Cross
5. Wolf Named Crow
6. Little Man
7. Matre’s Diem
8. Forgive Me
9. Nothing Left To Say
10. Sacred Isolation
11. Old Disaster
12. E.L.M.
13. No Cross No Crown
14. A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void)
15. Son And Daughter

In advance of the release of No Cross No Crown, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will join Black Label Society for a mammoth North American live takeover. The tour begins December 27th, 2017 in Denver, Colorado and will wind its way through nearly four dozen cities, the journey coming to a close February 27th, 2018. Additional support will be provided by Eyehategod and Red Fang on select shows. See all confirmed dates below.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY w/ Black Label Society, Eyehategod (12/29 – 1/20; 2/11 – 2/27), Red Fang (1/26 – 2/9):
12/27/2017 Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO
12/29/2017 Anthem at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Sioux City, IA ^
12/30/2017 Uptown Theater – Kansas City, MO ^
12/31/2017 Pop’s Nightclub – Sauget, IL^
1/02/2018 Sokol Auditorium – Omaha, NE^
1/03/2018 House Of Blues – Chicago, IL ^
1/04/2018 Egyptian Room at Old National Centre – Indianapolis, IN ^
1/05/2018 The Fillmore Detroit – Detroit, MI ^
1/07/2018 Upstate Concert Hall – Clifton Park, NY ^
1/08/2018 M Telus – Montreal, QC ^
1/09/2018 Rebel – Toronto, ON ^
1/10/2018 20 Monroe Live – Grand Rapids, MI ^
1/12/2018 Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK ^
1/13/2018 Bomb Factory – Dallas, TX ^
1/14/2018 Emo’s – Austin, TX ^
1/15/2018 House Of Blues – Houston, TX ^
1/17/2018 House Of Blues – New Orleans, LA ^
1/18/2018 Marathon Music Works – Nashville, TN ^
1/19/2018 Bogart’s – Cincinnati, OH ^
1/20/2018 Center Stage – Atlanta, GA ^
1/26/2018 Jannus Live – St. Petersburg, FL *
1/27/2018 House Of Blues – Myrtle Beach, SC *
1/28/2018 The Ritz – Raleigh, NC *
1/29/2018 The Fillmore Silver Spring – Silver Spring, MD *
1/31/2018 PlayStation Theater – New York, NY *
2/01/2018 The Palladium – Worcester, MA *
2/02/2018 Aura – Portland, ME *
2/03/2018 Electric Factory – Philadelphia, PA *
2/05/2018 Town Ballroom – Buffalo, NY *
2/06/2018 The Goodyear Theater at East End – Akron, OH *
2/07/2018 Stage AE – Pittsburgh, PA *
2/08/2018 Eagles Ballroom Club Stage – Milwaukee, WI *
2/09/2018 Myth Live – St. Paul, MN *
2/11/2018 O’Brians Event Centre – Saskatoon, SK ^
2/12/2018 The Ranch Roadhouse – Edmonton, AB ^
2/14/2018 Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC ^
2/16/2018 Bowes Event Center at Revolution Place – Grande Prairie, AB ^
2/17/2018 MacEwan Hall – Calgary, AB ^
2/19/2018 Showbox SoDo – Seattle, W ^
2/20/2018 Roseland Theater – Portland, OR ^
2/21/2018 Ace Of Spades – Sacramento, CA ^
2/23/2018 House of Blues – Las Vegas, NV ^
2/24/2018 The Marquee – Tempe, AZ ^
2/25/2018 Sunshine Theater – Albuquerque, NM ^
2/27/2018 The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA ^
^ Dates With Eyehategod
* Dates with Red Fang

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is:
Pepper Keenan – vocals, guitar
Woodroe Weatherman – guitar
Mike Dean – bass, vocals
Reed Mullin – drums, vocals

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http://www.twitter.com/coccabal
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Corrosion of Conformity, “Cast the First Stone”

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Enslaved Post “The River’s Mouth” Video; E out this Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enslaved

On Friday, Norway’s Enslaved release their 14th long-player, E (review here), and if that doesn’t sound like an event to you worth marking, you’re going to want to take the five minutes out of your busy day to check out the band’s new video below. Directed as was the prior visualization for album opener “Storm Son” (posted here) that introduced the first public audio from the record by Josh Graham (A Storm of LightBattle of MiceRed SparowesIIVII, art for NeurosisSoundgarden, etc.), the video highlights a dark sense of ritual that fits well alongside the unabashed extremity of “The River’s Mouth” itself, which in directly following the progressively-minded 10-minute “Storm Son” in the tracklisting provides arguably the most fervent straight-ahead drive of the entire release.

I’d hardly call it stripped down, and I think if you listen/watch, you’ll agree with that assessment, but it has fewer twists than a lot of E, and so “The River’s Mouth” seems all the more direct in the delivery of its ideas, sonic as well as thematic. I just reviewed the album — link is in the first sentence if you missed it — and so I’ll spare you going through the whole thing again, but suffice it to say that one of the things that most makes me a fan of this band is their refusal to stop growing as artists. 14 records in, a lot of groups would have long since settled into a standard operating procedure, probably since their third or fourth full-length, and like very few others, that’s never been the case with Enslaved. Each time out, they have something new to say, some natural progression to undertake. It’s not always leaps and bounds, but it’s whatever shifts have manifested themselves naturally and find themselves with a role to play in their sound.

For this I consider Enslaved one of the most respectable bands on the planet, and E is in my eyes and ears a candidate for album of the year. There. I said it.

Note once more the contributions of new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje in “The River’s Mouth” alongside bassist Grutle Kjellson‘s verses. Dude makes himself right at home.

Much PR wire whatnot and tour dates follow the video.

Enjoy:

Enslaved, “The River’s Mouth” official video

ENSLAVED will finally unleash their new album E and prove that for a band with more than 25 years of history, they are still reinventing themselves. While the 10-minute-long opening track “Storm Son” gave fans a taster of what to expect from the new album, the single “The River’s Mouth” reveals a heavier and more harsh side of the 14th full-length release. Watch the official video for “The River’s Mouth”, which was once again created by Josh Graham (SOUNDGARDEN, NEUROSIS), here: https://youtu.be/Y8HX_vGPCz8

Songwriter and guitarist Ivar explains: “‘The River’s Mouth’ is a quite heavy track, drawing both on our rock roots and of course the foundation of everything awesome: mid-80s, mid-paced Bathory. It also includes some odd space-rock in the choruses and the end part – finally BATHORY and HAWKWIND met. I like the energy of this song a lot – both Cato and new-kid-on-the-chopping-block Håkon is doing such a great job with the psychedelic parts, the chorus and the ending. What a drive! The end sounds like travelling at insane speed through wormholes. The theme here is your relationship with the “future”, as we describe it: The sensation of time moving along is a construction of our brains – physics claims all time to already have been “rolled out”; try wrapping our brains around that one! So the future would be, speaking in tabloid; a piece of land we just haven’t arrived at yet. But it is already here. The song is about acting in tandem with your future self which already arrived at this “future island” – do not sit and wait, make sure you lay the ground for what is to happen in the future, now!”

E will be available in the following formats;

CD digipak
Red Cassette – limited to 300 worldwide
Red with Bone and Grey Splatter – limited to 900 worldwide
BUNDLE: T-shirt + CD Digi + 5 metal pin set + wooden coaster + 11×17 poster

CD Digipak:
1. Storm Son
2. The River’s Mouth
3. Sacred Horse
4. Axis Of The Worlds
5. Feathers Of Eolh
6. Hiindsiight
Bonus Tracks
7. Djupet
8. What Else Is There (Röyksopp Cover)

 

You can now pre-order the physical editions of the album here: http://nuclearblast.com/enslaved-e

Or get the digital version and stream new track “Storm Son” via this link: http://nblast.de/EnslavedDigital

ENSLAVED are set to embark on a headline tour through Europe, with special support acts hand-selected by the band. Be sure to catch them on one of the following dates:

10.11. D Hamburg – Logo (w/ IMPERIUM DEKADENZ & HERETOIR)
11.11. D Berlin – Nuke (w/ IMPERIUM DEKADENZ & HERETOIR)
12.11. D Cologne – Underground (w/ IMPERIUM DEKADENZ & HERETOIR)
13.11. NL Utrecht – Tivoli de Helling
15.11 UK Manchester – o2 Ritz (supporting OPETH)
16.11 UK Glasgow – Barrowlands (supporting OPETH)
17.11. UK Belfast – The Limelight 1 (supporting OPETH)
18.11. IRL Dublin – The Academy (supporting OPETH) *sold out*
19.11. UK Nottingham – Rock City (supporting OPETH)
21.11 UK Bristol – o2 Academy (supporting OPETH)
22.11 UK Birmingham – o2 Institute (supporting OPETH)
24.11. UK London – Islington Assembly Hall (w/ DARKHER & SVALBARD)
25.11. F Paris – Trabendo (w/ LOST IN KIEV & WOLVE)
26.11. B Vosselaar – Biebob
28.11. F Rezé – Barakason (w/ LOST IN KIEV & WOLVE)
29.11. F Lyon – CCO Villeurbanne (w/ LOST IN KIEV & WOLVE)
30.11. I Brescia – Circolo Colony
01.12. CH Pratteln – Z7
02.12. D Frankfurt – Das Bett (w/ ZATOKREV)
03.12. CZ Prague – Chelmnice (w/ ZATOKREV)
16.12. RU Moscow – Volta
17.12. RU St. Petersburg – Club Zal

Get tickets for the German shows here in our shop:
http://www.nuclearblast.de/de/produkte/tickets/indoor/ticket/enslaved-european-tour-2017.html

But before touring Europe, ENSLAVED play two special release shows in their home country Norway, where you can hear the new songs live for the very first time, meet the band at the merch stand and get two unique gig posters for free:

AISA & Time Out Agency presents:
w/ SIBIIR
12.10 N Oslo – Blå
13.10 N Bergen – Garage

26.10. S Stockholm – Close-Up Baten 21
1.-5.02. USA Miami – 70.000 Tons Of Metal

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Enslaved, E: Horses and Water

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enslaved e

First of all, no, Enslaved didn’t just title their 14th studio album, E, after the first letter of their name. The letter is a translation/reference to the rune ‘ehwaz’ that appears on the Truls Espedal cover art — looks more like an ‘M,’ but there it is — and among the meanings it holds are ‘partnership,’ ‘collaboration’ and ‘horse.’ It’s a one-letter title and a complete concept thematic on which to base the record. And as it happens, E is the most progressive outing the Bergen, Norway, extreme metallers have yet composed in their 26-year career, offering an expanse of sound and intensity that continues to push ahead of their last full-length, 2015’s In Times (review here), while clarifying production ideas, answering the varied intentions of their first live album, earlier-2017’s Roadburn Live (review here), and — in unquestionably the most major change the band has undergone in at least the last decade — introducing new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje to the lineup. Vinje worked with Enslaved founding guitarist Ivar Bjørnson and bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson (among many others) in the broad-reaching and historically-minded Skuggsjá project, and in joining Enslaved with Bjørnson, Kjellson, guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and drummer Cato Bekkevold, he fills the role formerly held by Herbrand Larsen, whose contributions to the band’s overall sound in atmospherics and melodic vocals had only increased in scope since he made his debut on 2004’s landmark Isa LP.

That was six records ago, and in the 13 subsequent years, Enslaved only grew more dynamic as they progressed through 2006’s Ruun, 2008’s Vertebrae, 2010’s Axioma Ethica Odini (review here), 2012’s Riitiir (review here) and the aforementioned In Times, though the latter drew back toward a rawer production feel that E once again pulls outward into a larger sphere, and the soaring, soothing melodies of Vinje‘s vocals from opener “Storm Son” through cuts like “Axis of the Worlds” and closer “Hiindsiight” greatly enhance that impression. That Enslaved would introduce someone new in such a pivotal role feels like a bold enough step to make on a new album — one could hardly hold being tentative on some level against them, given how much Larsen brought to their sound — but they brazenly continue their apparently ceaseless and willful growth as songwriters and performers, and Vinje absolutely shines in the role into which he’s stepped, carrying the penultimate “Feathers of Eolh” (8:06) through ambience the thrust alike as Enslaved gallop with the fury that’s become one of their trademarks and step back to allow vocal harmonies to carry more subdued verses. It is a stunning late-album moment.

And by then, not the first time Enslaved have made the spine shiver. E launches with its longest track (immediate points) in the adventurous 10:54 “Storm Son,” which begins with captured outdoor sounds — birds, a shout, a Viking horn, a whinnying horse — leading to an unfolding of shimmering guitar and emergent push. It is a patient opening and when the verse kicks in, Vinje backs Kjellson‘s telltale rasp to set the stage for an exploration of proggy guitar-led turns and chug past the midpoint, heading toward a forward surge that carries them toward a repeated chorus that doubles as crescendo. The chant-style vocals in back of that hook are a foreshadow of what will become a major element throughout E, and one can’t help but wonder if perhaps Bjørnson is carrying a bit of influence from working with Wardruna‘s Einar Selvik (who also makes a guest appearance here) on Skuggsjá into these tracks, since even second cut “The River’s Mouth” — which is the shortest at 5:12 and an immediate contrast to “Storm Son” as it brings Kjellson to the fore in the verse and instead lets Vinje handle the chorus — seems to have some aspects therefrom at play.

Of course, creative arrangements of vocals, guitars, keys, and other instrumentation, are nothing new for Enslaved, but as “The River’s Mouth” swirls to its apex and the acoustic opening of “Sacred Horse” — a definitive moment of arrival, if brief — there’s a prevalence factor for resonance of mood that’s impossible to ignore. “Sacred Horse” (8:12) kicks into a vicious pummel with some of Bjørnson‘s roaring growls complementing Kjellson in the verse before a spacious-but-classy guitar lead takes hold before the next push, building a tension that continues as Vinje takes an organ solo after the three-minute mark and brings a melodic verse shortly before a break at 4:25 introduces the guitar part that will serve as the rhythmic bed for a thudding march that proves to be a standout moment of E as a whole, Bekkevold introducing the progression on toms before crashing cymbals to get officially underway. Guitars make a neighing sound to recall the ‘ehwaz’ theme, and choral vocals top the nodding groove in one of the record’s most singularly affecting moments. Amid laughter, they bring it back around to a few last measures of furious push to close out, and let “Axis of the Worlds” (7:49) take hold with more immediacy and a rocking feel at the start of side B.

enslaved

As their titles would seem to acknowledge, “Sacred Horse” and “Axis of the Worlds” feel very much like the heart of E in their presentation. I won’t take anything away from the impact of “Storm Son” or “Hiindsiight” at the start or the conclusion, and the direct contrast between “The River’s Mouth” as the second cut and “Feathers of Eolh” as the second-to-last seems nothing if not a purposeful display of range, but with the one-two of “Sacred Horse” and “Axis of the Worlds,” Enslaved provide some of their proggiest stretches and show how they’ve made these elements cohesive with the context of their own, ever-shifting approach. To wit, the organ lines of “Axis of the Worlds,” the chorus hook “Chase the serpent/Step on his tail” delivered in clean and echoing screams, the movement into returning chants amid a section that’s as much black metal as it is still somehow drawing from psychedelic and classic progressive rock, and the way the song seems to resolve itself in making its way back to the chorus at the end, the band clear enough in knowing what they want to do to not even in this moment lose sight of the underlying foundation of structure amid all the raging complexity. Especially after the thundering “Sacred Horse” — and, for that matter, before “Feathers of Eolh” — it gets to the core of what Enslaved accomplish with E, manifesting ideas of duality, complement, collaboration, whether that’s between band members or between the band itself and their craft or the instruments they’re playing.

Begun at a rhythmic rush, “Feathers of Eolh” is peppered with nuance of play and topped by piano sounds and guitar flourish for its proggy intro, kicking at about the minute mark into chant-backed drive and bringing in the aforementioned highlight performance from Vinje on vocals. His voice — clear, confident, powerful, layered — recalls some of what Larsen did melodically, but he brings his own edge to the changes in key as well and one expects he’ll only continue to make the role more his own as Enslaved move forward. “Feathers of Eolh” touches on what might be considered Viking post-rock (stick that in your genre search engine) in a brief interlude before springing forth again for the next verse and turns circa six minutes deep into a head-spinning reinterpretation of the intro that meets with further chanting, double-kick from Bekkevold and piano skronk that builds to a sudden finish, bringing the melodic first-minute intro of “Hiindsiight,” which wraps up E fluidly while still holding a surprise or two of its own.

Namely: saxophone. At 9:36, “Hiindsiight” is the second longest inclusion and thereby bookends E with “Storm Son,” but its structure is decidedly working on another wavelength. Cutting from the intro to about as close to a doomed roll as Enslaved have ever come, before the track is into its third minute, it has turned once again to lush melodies from the guitar and keys, trading back again before introducing what sounds like a tenor sax for an echoing solo prior to the halfway point from which Kjellson‘s vocals pick up like throaty searing and jazz instrumentation just go together all the time and there’s nothing at all unusual about it — it’s brilliantly pulled off — and with airy noodling guitar holding the melody beneath, “Hiindsiight” welcomes Vinje back to the arrangement briefly, but gurgles out at around 5:45 to let the guitar set the stage for the E‘s final stretch: a patiently delivered build of melody, chants, the sax, and a wash that’s unlike anything Enslaved have done before and yet so definitively theirs that it couldn’t possibly have come from anyone else.

It is a suitably glorious ending to an album that does nothing less than begin a new era for the band. I’m writing as a fan, but the bravery with which Enslaved take to the formidable task before them in E only underscores how special this group truly is, and in thinking of the stated them of collaboration, one would be remiss to ignore how pivotal the core founding duo of Bjørnson and Kjellson are, and how much their work together has changed over the years while still holding fast to the creative drive that has been so easy as a listener to take for granted all along. It’s only one letter, but E spreads itself across the consciousness with worldbuilding mastery, and is a work of true vision simply not to be missed. One of 2017’s best and then some. Recommended.

Enslaved, “Storm Son” official video

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Earthless Sign to Nuclear Blast; October West Coast Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

This one comes right out of the day’s ‘Holy Shit!’ file. San Diego heavy psych forerunners Earthless have signed to Nuclear Blast for the early-2018 release of their fourth album, recorded by Dave Catching at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, California. The record doesn’t have a title yet, but it will follow the widely influential instrumentalist trio’s most excellent 2013 outing, From the Ages (review here), which was issued via Tee Pee Records and was their best-received work to-date, as well as their split with Harsh Toke (review here), which came out last year.

Earthless just appeared at Psycho Las Vegas, also returned to Freak Valley earlier this Spring, and made an appearance at Brant Bjork‘s Desert Generator in April, and no doubt that whatever it ends up being called, their next long-player just put itself on the most-anticipated list for many heavy rock heads when it comes to next year’s impending releases. I’m definitely happy to count myself in that number. Can’t wait to hear what kind of immersive sprawl Earthless have in store this time around.

Just off the PR wire:

earthless at rancho de la luna.

EARTHLESS sign to Nuclear Blast Entertainment + October headline dates announced

Nuclear Blast Entertainment is pleased to announce the worldwide signing of seminal psychedelic rock trio, EARTHLESS! The band–Isaiah Mitchell (vocals/guitar), Mike Eginton (bass) and Mario Rubalcaba (drums)–recently finished recording their new album with Dave Catching (EAGLES OF DEATH METAL) at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, CA, and took a moment to offer a few words about their upcoming album and new partnership.

“EARTHLESS is beyond stoked to join a label that has kept its independence and vision so strong for 30 years,” commented drummer Mario Rubalcaba “It’s crazy to think that I’ve bought Nuclear Blast releases since I was still in my teens. We are psyched to put out yet another extension of ideas, sounds and the long-going chemistry that this band has forged over the years. There are some new inspired paths musically and vocally on this next album and we are very excited to see it released on Nuclear Blast.”

“The vibe out at Rancho is one that gels very naturally for EARTHLESS and lends itself to get creative very comfortably,” continues Rubalcaba. “You have nothing else out there to do except absorb the heat, stare at the stars and get in the zone! Dave and I first started talking about doing this project together a few years ago now and it was great to finally make it happen.”

Adds guitarist Isaiah Mitchell:
“Dave was a great person to be around while making this record. Very cool dude. And the studio itself is like a candy store: you want to try everything because there’s so much great gear.”

EARTHLESS will release their 4th full-length studio album in early 2018. More details to be announced shortly. Until then, don’t miss the band on their upcoming headlining run this fall. Tickets go on sale everywhere this Wednesday, August 23rd, at 10 am local time.

Oct-18 Los Angeles – The Echoplex
Oct-20 Portland – Tonic
Oct-21 Seattle – Sunset
Oct-22 Bellingham – The Shakedown
Oct-24 Boise – Neurolux
Oct-25 Reno, NV – Jub Jub’s
Oct-26 San Francisco, CA – The Chapel
Oct-27 Felton, CA – Don Quixote’s
Oct-28 Sacramento, CA – Holy Diver
Oct-29 Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room

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Earthless, From the Ages (2013)

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Enslaved Post Video for “Storm Son” from New Album E

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

enslaved e storm son

A few crucial learnings from the new Enslaved track, and you know I love crucial learnings. The mainstay Norwegian progressive black metallers announced last week they’ll issue their new album, E, on Oct. 13 via Nuclear Blast, and in a week that was full of good news of releases to come, that might’ve been the most welcome date to mark on the calendar. In accordance with unveiling the cover runic origins, cover art, tracklisting and preorders for E, they said they’d be posting the first single “Storm Son” on Friday, and sure enough, they lived up to their word.

The 10-minute track makes a substantial sampling of what famed producer Jens Bogren is bringing to themix and master E in terms of clarity of vision and precise instrument separation — the track is immediately clean, very much in the style of Bogren‘s work on Enslaved‘s last four albums and countless others — and the video is by Josh Graham. You might recognize his crow-flying-in-profile motif from Neurosis‘ “Stones from the Sky” video, though there’s plenty going on here besides.

Before we get to the clip, let’s run through what we find out in it:

1. New dude can sing.

Granted, we may or may not be getting a guest appearance in the second half of “Storm Son” from Einar Selvik of Wardruna as well, and as the subsequent gallop takes off, bassist Grutle Kjellson‘s rasp is front and center (his own clean vocals are there too, somewhat buried in the layering), but early in the track, we get to hear new keyboardist Håkon Vinje‘s voice for the first time, and yeah, he pretty much nails it. What Vinje would bring to the band in filling the void left by Herbrand Larsen, who stepped away earlier in 2017 after a 13-year tenure, was to my mind the biggest question going into E, and if “Storm Son” is any indicator, things are gonna be alright. Larsen‘s progression as a vocalist over the last decade was a hallmark of Enslaved‘s stylistic progression, and obviously the band didn’t want to take any backward steps in losing him.

2. The style hasn’t changed that much.

A start-stop riff from guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and Arve Isdal carries the spirit of 2015’s In Times (review here) forward, and as one would expect, drummer/famed fisherman Cato Bekkevold is malleable to whatever changes the song might present. Much as it marks a new beginning for Enslaved in terms of their lineup, “Storm Son” doesn’t come across as a radical shift from where they were two years ago in terms of sound so much as the next step in their ongoing evolution. I’m not sure I’d count on one song to speak for E as a whole — yes, that’s me hedging my bets — but even with some notable post-rock flourish, I don’t feel blindsided by what the band is doing here.

3. Metallic patience abounds.

That said, one can hear a certain meditativeness in the repetitions early; Enslaved seeming to take that extra measure or two before switching to the next part of the track. That’s what I mean by “metallic patience.” It’s not like they’re jamming out — one would never really expect them to suddenly go improv — but while Enslaved resolve “Storm Son” with significant rhythmic charge, they also allow the textures of the track to flesh out a bit without growing fed up with waiting, losing their grip, and blasting out before it feels right to do so. There’s still a build in “Storm Son” along a linear course, but pay attention to how Enslaved handle it on their way through and I think you’ll notice as well that they hold their sense of poise even as that fury mounts, and that control is emblematic both of their experience and of the place that has brought them as players and songwriters.

Enjoy the video:

Enslaved, “Storm Son” official video

True avant-garde Norwegians ENSLAVED will release their epic new studio album E on October 13th, 2017 and with this 14th full-length record, the virtuoso herald a new chapter in the band’s history. To provide a first taste of what’s to come, the band now unveils their debut music video for the 10 minute long single “Storm Son” that blends mesmerizing prog with jarring extreme metal and a folky atmosphere. The music video was designed by Josh Graham, who previously worked with SOUNDGARDEN and NEUROSIS among others, and delivered a truly spectacular piece of animated art.

“‘Storm Son’ deals with the duality of man and nature, how important and basic that relationship is,” explains songwriter and guitarist Ivar. “Everything we do and create are imitations of nature; as we evolved from nature, that is how it must be – yet modern man thinks he and she is independent of nature, that we somehow are so superior that we do not have to take nature into consideration other than as a backdrop for shitty movies. Or festivals. Losing touch with nature is basically to lose touch with being human.”

You can now pre-order the physical editions of the album here: nuclearblast.com/enslaved-e

Or get the digital version and stream the new track “Storm Son” via this link: nblast.de/EnslavedDigital

The track list contains these majestic anthems:
01. Storm Son (10:54)
02. The River’s Mouth (5:12)
03. Sacred Horse (8:12)
04. Axis Of The Worlds (7:49)
05. Feathers Of Eolh (8:06)
06. Hiindsiight (9:32)
Bonus tracks available on the digipak:
07. Djupet (7:39)
08. What Else Is There? (Röyksopp cover) (4:44)

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Paradise Lost, Medusa: Deathly Passages

Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

paradise lost medusa

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of England’s Paradise Lost, who in that time have crafted a storied, varied and massively influential career in doom. Whether as part of the original ‘Peaceville three’ alongside UK countrymen My Dying Bride and Anathema in the ’90s as they helped shape the decade’s course with records like 1991’s Gothic, which followed their 1990 debut, Lost Paradise, or 1992’s Shades of God, 1993’s Icon and 1995’s Draconian Times or the veering away from what had been the innovative downtrodden aggression of death-doom and gothic-doom in their sound — if not the dramatic sensibility — that came later in 1997’s One Second, 1999’s Host, 2001’s Believe in Nothing and 2002’s Symbol of Life, their evolution has divided fans and critics as only a band truly committed to following their own path can. With the release of their self-titled in 2005, Paradise Lost began to reemphasize the lead guitar of Gregor Mackintosh in their sound, and gradually since, the five-piece have pushed back into heavier and darker territory.

It’s been a decade-long process, with 2007’s In Requiem, 2009’s Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (review here), 2012’s Tragic Idol and 2015’s The Plague Within (review here), and with 2017’s Medusa — also their first offering through Nuclear Blast after releasing the prior four LPs and other numerous collections through Century Media — that progression toward darkened heft would seem to have hit a new zenith. From the Branca Studio artwork through the ultra-thick chug from Mackintosh and rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy, the thudding drums of newcomer Waltteri Väyrynen (ex-Moonsorrow, among others), the heft of Stephen Edmonson‘s bass and the shifts between cleaner singing and harsh growls from vocalist Nick HolmesMedusa is Paradise Lost unabashed in their approach to doom — a sound they’ve made their own over time and one that tracks like the deeply metallic “From the Gallows” and the slogging “No Passage for the Dead” show they’re willing to reshape to their purposes on any given track.

Vital in their delivery and given added impact through the biting production of Jaime Gómez Arellano at Orgone Studios in London (see also: CathedralWith the DeadSólstafir and many others), Paradise Lost can come across as absolutely vicious throughout Medusa‘s eight tracks and 42 minutes, so that by the time they get around to the last push and rasps of closer “Until the Grave,” the organ introduction of 8:31 opener and longest inclusion (immediate points) “Fearless Sky” is a distant, mournful memory. Yet their work here is informed by an accessibility of structure as well. “Fearless Sky” is clearly intended to send a message to their audience with its overbearing crash, grueling tempo, drawn-out leads and Holmes‘ initial growls, but it also shifts into a melodic hook in its midsection — the crafters of Gothic playing very much to the gothic metal they helped craft — and once established, that dynamic becomes essential to the atmosphere and, in the end, the success of Medusa.

paradise lost

With Paradise Lost circa 2017, it’s not just about drawing solely on their early albums, or their middle period, or even the last decade’s clear-headed pummel — it’s about taking all of that and creating something with it that continues to move their progression forward. Second track “Gods of Ancient” follows the willful body-drag of “Fearless Sky” with an extremity of darkness worth of the band’s legacy that picks up its pace in the second half around a particularly punishing riff, setting up a thrust further into darkness on the shorter “From the Gallows,” which offsets a chugging verse with transitional lead lines and a more open-feeling chorus. This opening salvo consumes most of side A along with whatever else happens to step in front of it, and as “The Longest Winter” offers a breather in its atmospheric, birdsong-laden introduction, it also marks a turn toward cleaner-singing from Holmes that was foreshadowed in “Fearless Sky” but that, brought more forward and only offset by a couple guttural complementary lines, emphasize just how deeply bleak Paradise Lost get over the first three tracks. I’m not sure I’d call it a moment of hope in terms of ambience — it’s still plenty dark, plenty gray — but it’s nonetheless a departure from the rest of side A before it.

So does that mean the final four cuts on Medusa find Paradise Lost further expanding the context of the album overall? Somewhat, but they also reaffirm the emotional and tonal mire of the first half. The title-track, at 6:20, mirrors “Fearless Sky” in being the longest piece on its side (secondary points), and it begins with a quiet piano line that will reemerge throughout the entirety of the song as a focal point, a theme around which the weighted guitars and bass churn, vocals going from clean to rough in a flipped-script manner that was initiated by “The Longest Winter” before reverting to the deathly on the very-much-guitar-led “No Passage for the Dead” and “Blood and Chaos” — the latter arguably the most metallic of Medusa‘s tracks in quickness of pace and the straightforward swapping of growled verses and a harmonized chorus, Mackintosh‘s leads still a hallmark of Paradise Lost‘s sound as ever in the efficient, tightly-executed 3:51 that seems to answer “From the Gallows” in ferocity of purpose while surpassing it in catchiness level.

One might expect, given the traditional shape of the tracklist and the way Medusa unfolds across its span, that “Until the Grave” would task itself with summarizing the entirety of what comes before it, but it instead draws on the bitter mournfulness of “No Passage for the Dead” and “Blood and Chaos” and pushes them outward with keyboard flourish and steady rhythmic roll. It is a grim and thoroughly doomed finale, but I suppose in that it does actually do a fair bit of summary for what Medusa has on offer — a lack of pretense in its intention and a sharp-edged lucidity underlying the murk created throughout. A mission statement unto itself, “Until the Grave” ends simply, perhaps even in understated fashion, and leaves the listener wanting more, which for a band about to hit their 30th year and releasing their 15th full-length is no minor accomplishment in itself. Nonetheless, that Paradise Lost have never settled in terms of aesthetic, songwriting or performance has become a key facet of their longevity, and monstrous as it is, it’s only right that Medusa should stand as another richly satisfying next-step in their seemingly perpetual growth.

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Enslaved Announce Preorders for New Album E out Oct. 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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If you’re like me and you’re wondering exactly what the new Enslaved album, E, is going to sound like, then you’re probably also like me and you know gosh darn well the answer isn’t likely to be provided in its entirety by the unveiling this Friday of the first single “Storm Son.” Nonetheless, when it comes to the long-running Bergen, Norway, progressive black metal innovators, I’ll take what I can get. Nuclear Blast has set an Oct. 13 release date for E and begun taking preorders for physical and digital editions, and that’s nifty, but at this point all we’ve got to go on is the art — looks like Enslaved art; Truls Espedal strikes again — and with the news that Herbrand Larsen has stepped away from the keys/clean vocal role, there’s the potential for a big sonic shift in E‘s tracks. Larsen was not a minor factor in the evolution of their sound.

Friday will begin to tell that tale; Oct. 13 will continue it. More when I hear, but for now, this from the PR wire:

enslaved e

ENSLAVED Announce Album Details And Release Date Of E

Launch Album Pre-Order Here: nuclearblast.com/enslaved-e

True avant-garde Norwegians ENSLAVED have announced the release of their epic new studio album for October 13th, 2017. This 14th full-length masterpiece sets the musical mind-twisters free from genre boundaries and offers a unprecedented mix of prog, extreme metal and shoegaze on 8 tracks with a play time of more than an hour. Elegantly titled E, the album was once again written by the unholy alliance of guitarist Ivar Bjørnson (music, lyrics) and singer/bassist Grutle Kjellson (lyrics) and marks the introduction of their new keyboard master and clean vocalist Håkon Vinje. Mixed and mastered at the Fascination Street Studios by the renowed Jens Bogren, E heralds a new era for ENSLAVED. Its cover artwork was once again hand-painted by the Norwegian artist Truls Espedal. As support for their brave sound journey, the quintet brought several guest musicians on board for the songs “Hiindsiigh”‘ and ‘”Feathers Of Eolh”, including WARDRUNA’s Einar Kvitrafn Selvik, flutist Daniel Mage and jazz saxophonist Kjetil Møster.

Mastermind Ivar explains about the title E:
“The concept of the album lies in both it’s meaning as a letter in the latin alphabet, and it’s runic reference: the rune “Ehwaz”, that is depicted as an “M” when drawn as rune (just to make sure it gets really confusing) – the runes are drawn to look like what they literally mean. Ehwaz (pronounced and used as what’s known as E, but drawn as an “M”) looks like and means ‘horse’. Which is closely linked to its esoteric meaning; which is ‘trust’ and ‘co-operation’. One of mankind’s oldest and deepest pairings/collaborations with any “outside” entities is with the horse. When they were first tamed and utilised there must have arisen the notion of some esoteric link between the two; now we could move swiftly, escape faster and even eat and drink from the animal (both horse milk and horse blood), and of course show off and brag before our enemies and peers with the most spectacular horses.

So, no, it is not about horses! It is about the symbioses that surrounds us; which are vital to our existence, to our development – on all scales: man and vessel (for instance horse, yes), a person and its significant other, child and parent, musician and instrument, chaos and order, subconscious and conscious, Oden and Sleipnir – wisdom and communication. There are many levels and variations of this concept on the album; the duality of man and nature, present and past personalities within one self, the conscious fear and the subconscious drive. And other symbiosis.”

The pre-order starts today and you can now get your hands on the physical editions of the album here: nuclearblast.com/enslaved-e

Or the digital version here: nblast.de/EnslavedDigital

The track list contains these majestic anthems:
01. Storm Son (10:54)
02. The River’s Mouth (5:12)
03. Sacred Horse (8:12)
04. Axis Of The Worlds (7:49)
05. Feathers Of Eolh (8:06)
06. Hiindsiight (9:32)
Bonus tracks available on the digipak:
07. Djupet (7:39)
08. What Else Is There? (Röyksopp cover) (4:44)

Stay tuned for the first single “Storm Son” to be unveiled this Friday!

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Enslaved Complete Work on New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Back in April when Norwegian progressive black metal stalwarts Enslaved began recording their 14th full-length, the occasion was marked here, so now that the album is done, it seems only fair to note that as well. Details remain sparse for the new Enslaved offering and apparently will until Aug. 11 — given that, I’m betting on a release circa October, which still puts it well in time to catch print-mag year-end lists — but I’m willing to take Nuclear Blast at their word when they say it’s finished. Already it’s been a busy year for Enslaved, between their Roadburn Live release for Record Store Day and guitarist Ivar Bjørnson‘s debut with his experimentalist BardSpec, Hydrogen, as well as reissue projects, etc.

Enslaved‘s last full-length was 2015’s In Times (review here), which boldly furthered their evolution into a form of prog all their own.

From the PR wire:

enslaved

ENSLAVED Finish Recording And Mastering Of 14th Studio Album!

It is accomplished – the Norwegian Progressive Black avant-gardists ENSLAVED have finished the recording process of their 14th full-length masterpiece and in the renowned Fascination Street Studios, Jens Bogren polished this new raw diamond with his mixing and mastering skills. Just like for their predecessor In Times, which stormed the soundcheck rankings of the biggest European magazines, the metal veterans from Bergen still never look back and keep expanding their horizons. And this spring they created a spectacular sound chimera of experimental prog filled with majestic melodies, epic sound landscapes and harsh black metal moments – all united in a massive storm that will reach the coast this autumn.

“I’m always psyched and proud when we have finished an album recording, and this is no exception!” states singer Grutle Kjellson. “It was a really exciting process this time, with the line-up change and everything, so although it wasn’t a dramatic change, the band dynamics were suddenly different. But, it was like a little re-boot, a fresh start so to speak. The studio sessions were great, and we all feel that we have done something truly amazing. We hope you’ll enjoy it. Ugh!”

More info on ENSLAVED’s devouring maelstrom will be revealed on August 11th.

In the meantime, enjoy ENSLAVED’s latest album In Times that was released in March 2015 via Nuclear Blast, which blew away both fans and journalists. Secure your physical copy here: www.nuclearblast.de/238143

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