Golden Void, Berkana: Whirling

Posted in Reviews on September 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

golden void berkana

Among the most striking aspects of the 2012 self-titled Golden Void debut (review here), was just how distinct it was in personality from Earthless despite the presence of Isaiah Mitchell on vocals and guitar. Known for the blow-the-roof-off sprawl and classic rocking righteousness of the latter instrumental outfit, Golden Void‘s Golden Void was by and large a humbler affair, and as their second album for Thrill Jockey, Berkana follows suit on a stylistic level. The lineup of Mitchell, keyboardist Camilla Saufley-Mitchell (also of The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound), bassist Aaron Morgan and drummer Justin Pinkerton returns, and though the core of Golden Void‘s sound remains intact, it’s not as though they’re mere continuing along the same lines.

At seven tracks/41 minutes, Berkana is the same number of songs but a full six minutes longer than its predecessor, and one can find the extra time in the spacey wanderings of “Astral Plane” and “I’ve Been Down,” both casting a wide berth sonically still without sounding overblown or needlessly grandiose. Saufley-Mitchell adds backing vocals on “Silent Season” and the aforementioned “Astral Plane,” and the hooks are all the more resonant for it, the Bay Area four-piece finding a comfortable place between catchy craftsmanship and hypnotic instrumental meandering that gives Berkana a flow distinct from the debut and a sense of the progression the band has undertaken over the last three years. Recorded by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs) at his Louder Studios, the album retains a natural, live-sounding vibe that rests well alongside its overarching pastoral feel.

There is a deceptive amount of movement throughout. Across its span, Berkana stays relatively fluid — that is, there isn’t much to pull the listener out of the front-to-back experience, even with a side split between “Astral Plane” and “I’ve Been Down” — but the ways in which it keeps its momentum shift almost song by song. True to the album’s title, which derives from a rune of growth and fertility (also represented by birch trees as seen on the cover), it expands and branches out as it moves forward from the opening bounce and swing of “Burbank’s Dream,” weaving memorable impressions of itself along the way, whether it’s in a chorus or exploratory-feeling progression. It seems fair to call it a more patient record than the debut, but neither was in any rush, and as Morgan‘s air-pushing low-end fuzz begins “Silent Season,” soon topped by dreamy wisps of guitar and keys with some underlying tension in Pinkerton‘s drums, it’s pretty clear Berkana is constructed for headphones and tilted-head/closed-eye hearing.

golden void

“Silent Season” provides one of the more immediate choruses, building as it pushes through its five minutes but ultimately guided by Mitchell with a casual prog atmosphere. As happens throughout, that atmosphere sets up the jump into the quicker “Dervishing,” a song that conjures whirl in lyric and instrument alike, dizzying but undizzied, a mix providing enough depth to give a spiral impression without the band getting lost in the process. There are moments, as in the change from “Silent Season” to “Dervishing” and “Dervishing” to the following “Astral Plane,” where their holding it together seems miraculous when you step back and look at the ground they’ve covered, but the truth is they very deftly keep a foot in heavy psychedelia throughout, so that as far as the material seems to range, it’s never so far as to completely untie itself from its surroundings.

In that way, Berkana feels more like a complete album than Golden Void, but it’s more of a symptom of the progress of the band overall than the end-result. At nearly seven minutes, “Astral Plane” leads the way toward Berkana‘s immersive back half, side B opening with a companion-piece in “I’ve Been Down” as the two tracks provide, in a linear format (CD or digital), the record’s most satisfying chillout. That’s not to say either is a languish. “Astral Plane” strikes in both its chorus and the interplay of keys and flute in its midsection jam, and “I’ve Been Down” echoes the bounce of “Burbank’s Dream” without repeating it and breaks down after the three-minute mark to launch a singularly engaging ground-up build, patient, progressive and still drippingly psychedelic. At first “The Beacon” seems to echo its otherworldly vibe, but turns toward its own earthy, fuzzier vibe, more forward rhythmically and in Pinkerton‘s insistent snare.

One could almost call Mitchell‘s bombastic solo at the end snuck in, but there’s nothing sneaky about it, comprising the better part of the song’s final two minutes, teasing an end then kicking back in for another go and giving Berkana a due apex before “Storm and Feather” closes the album on a more subdued but not at all sour note. The slowest inclusion, it’s also arguably the most spacious, with what feels like an extra layer of echo on the vocals and a loose-head tom sound in Pinkerton‘s drums, expansive guitar and bass tones and a gradual swirl that gets brought to bear with a late arrival of overlaid Floydian acoustics near the finish. I don’t know whether it was Golden Void‘s intent to cap Berkana as far as possible away from the opening crashes of “Burbank’s Dream,” but they would seem to have come pretty close to that either way, showing on the journey between the two that the identity of the band is not only individualized but on its own creative path in ethereal space rock, more drift than thrust but still explosive when it sees fit to be so.

Golden Void, Berkana (2015)

Golden Void on Thee Facebooks

Golden Void on Bandcamp

Golden Void at Thrill Jockey

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Saviours Announce Palace of Vision for Oct. 30 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 31st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Here’s one to fry your friggin’ brains: Saviours released their Warship EP a decade ago. 2005. In fact, the upcoming Palace of Vision, which also serves as their debut on Listenable Records after a long stint on Kemado, will be their fifth full-length album. Also their first in four years, but five records in a decade — actually nine years, as their debut LP, Crucifire, arrived in 2006 — is still a more than solid track record, and while I think the Oakland, CA, heavy thrash rockers remain a somewhat underrated entity on the East Coast, their material has remained consistent in its level of impact over that span, growing more complex without giving up its hard-hitting feel.

Their newly-unveiled “Burning Shrine” is the centerpiece of the Billy Anderson-recorded Palace of Vision, so presumably it will give a decent sense of where Saviours are a decade later. Release date for the album is Oct. 30.

From the PR wire:

saviours palace of vision

SAVIOURS To Release Palace Of Vision Full-Length This October Via Listenable Records

This Fall, California metallers, SAVIOURS, will drop the molten fruits of their new full-length this Fall via a new partnership with France’s Listenable Records. Titled Palace Of Vision, their first full-length in four years was captured at Type Foundry in Portland, Oregon with the inimitable Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Taurus, Ommadon etc.) and boasts nine tracks of SAVIOURS’ signature brand of towering riffs, colossal rhythms, infectious guitar harmonies and an obsession with the end of times, the occult, psychedelics and the arcane. “It’s a natural and logical continuation of where we left off with [2011’s] Death’s Procession,” said drummer Scott Batiste of the offering. “There are some doomy crushers and faster ragers.” As an added bonus, the record comes sheathed in the fittingly dark, intricately transfixing cover renderings of Derrick Snodgrass (Obliterations, Lecherous Gaze).

Palace Of Vision Track Listing:
1. The Mountain
2. Flesh Of Fire
3. Devil’s Crown
4. Palace Of Vision
5. Burning Shrine
6. Hell’s Floor
7. The Beast Remains
8. Cursed Night
9. The Seeker

In related news, SAVIOURS will bring their riffs to the stage with a pair of east coast/west coast fest performances with additional live incursions to be announced in the coming weeks.

9/05/2015 Cosmic Sonic Rendezvous Festival @ The Wick – Brooklyn, NY
11/1/3015 Day Of The Shred Festival @ The Observatory – Santa Ana, CA

Still building upon the foundation that Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and Motörhead laid, SAVIOURS enters their second decade in a new partnership with French label Listenable Records. Rooted in hardcore punk but preferring to cruise in outer space, the lysergic of SAVIOURS hessians have always brought a ton of swing and swagger to their forward-charging heavy metal. The band melds sounds from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, progressive rock, and proto-doom, and delivers it all with a snarling West Coast hardcore edge. The result is an absolute beast of a sound that is all SAVIOURS’ own.

Since the 2005 release of SAVIOURS’ debut EP, Warship, the band has worked relentlessly, touring North America, Europe, and Japan with the likes of Mastodon, Corrosion Of Conformity, The Sword, High On Fire, Saint Vitus and Clutch. In a few short years, SAVIOURS have risen to become stalwarts of the world’s metal scene, ambassadors of an aggressive-yet-stoned West Coast vibe, inspired by the ’70s but totally real and relevant in 2015.

Austin Barber – guitar, vocals
Sonny Reinhardt – guitar, vocals
Scott Batiste – drums
Andy Anderson – bass

Palace Of Vision will be released via Listenable Records on October 30th, 2015. Preorders to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Saviours, “Burning Shrine”

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Neurosis Vinyl Reissues Announced for Through Silver in Blood and Times of Grace

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


It’s cool. Just two of the heaviest records of all time. Nothing too wild. You know. Pretty much business as usual.

For those who’d rightfully build an altar and worship them as the prophetic works they are, Neurosis‘ massively influential 1996 Through Silver in Blood and 1999 Times of Grace albums are being given a deluxe vinyl treatment as part of Relapse Records‘ ongoing 25th anniversary celebration. Colored LPs, new art, downloads in case anyone wants to actually listen to the albums, and a special version of Tribes of Neurot‘s Grace as well for that one cat who actually has two turntables and the time to sort out playing it simultaneously with Times of Grace, which, you know, I only make fun of that dude for because I’m jealous both of his two turntables and leisure activity.

A veritable parade of rightfully lauded badassery. Have at you:

neurosis vinyl reissues

NEUROSIS: Relapse Vinyl Reissues Announced

As the next chapter in Relapse Records’ ongoing 25th anniversary commemoration, heavy music visionaries NEUROSIS will have two of their most revered and long out-of-print titles reissued on super deluxe 180-gram double vinyl this fall. Through Silver in Blood (1996), which Fact Magazine recently deemed the #1 best post-metal album of all time, has not been printed on vinyl in ten years, while Times of Grace (1999) is seeing its first pressing in over fifteen years. Additionally, Grace, the 1999 Tribes of Neurot companion piece to Times of Grace, will also see a deluxe Relapse reissue, its first time ever on vinyl.

Each reissue will contain reinterpretations of the original iconic artwork and will be housed in heavy duty “tip-on” jackets and will be available in a variety of limited edition exclusive colors. The reissues are set for worldwide release on September 4th and will also include full album digital download codes. Preorders for all of the editions can be currently found HERE.

In concurrence with the deluxe reissues, NEUROSIS are preparing to embark on a headlining North American tour this summer alongside Neurot Recordings doomsters Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, experimental sludge/noise technicians The Body and sludgesters SUMAC. A full list of dates is included below.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
7/31/2015 Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/01/2015 Mill City – Minneapolis, MN w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/02/2015 The Majestic – Madison, WI w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/03/2015 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/04/2015 Expo Five – Louisville, KY w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/05/2015 St. Andrews – Detroit, MI w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/06/2015 Opera House – Toronto, ON w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/07/2015 Heavy Montréal – Montréal, QC w/ Mastodon, Meshuggah, Gorguts, Arch Enemy
8/08/2015 Paradise – Boston, MA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac, The Body
8/09/2015 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/10/2015 Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/11/2015 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/12/2015 Broadberry – Richmond, VA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/14/2015 Masquerade – Atlanta, GA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/15/2015 House Of Blues – New Orleans, LA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Iron Tongue
8/16/2015 Warehouse Live – Houston, TX w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Pinkish Black

Neurosis, “The Doorway”

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Cavern to Release Outsiders Aug. 25 on Grimoire Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


The title of the documentary Maryland trio Cavern put together while recording their sophomore full-length for Grimoire RecordsOutsiders, is titled How to Make a Hit Record, so take that as an immediate sign that the post-metallic three-piece are willing to toss in a bit of charm with their dense, progressive riffing — of which two samples from Outsiders are now available for streaming in the form of album-opener “Garrett” and the title-track below. That same documentary also gives a look at the warehouse space where the guys in the band work cutting marble, so it’s doubly worth a look. Want to know how they get that big a sound? High fucking ceiling.

Cavern released their self-titled debut, also through Grimoire, in 2013, and I didn’t get to review it because I suck at this, but I remembered the band immediately on hearing they had a new one in the works and Outsiders sounds like it’s going to be a worthy follow-up going by what I’ve heard so far.

You can find the two-headed-hawk cover, the announcement of the record, audio and that documentary below, all scoured from across the mighty span of the internets:

cavern outsiders

Today we’re proud to debut 2 tracks from Cavern’s instrumental full-length “Outsiders,” out 8/25/15 in CD/cassette/digital on Grimoire Records! For fans of Russian Circles, Baroness, Zebulon Pike.. and highpriest.

“Outsiders” was recorded on May 9th, 2015 by Noel Mueller of Grimoire Records. Mixed and mastered by Noel Mueller/Grimoire Records. Art by Xavi Forne / Error! Design. © 2015 Grimoire Records.

Cavern is Stephen Schrock, Zach Harkins and Nick Harkins.

releases 25 August 2015

7/10 @ Metro Gallery w/ Rosetta- Baltimore, MD
7/18 @ Guidos-Frederick, MD
7/25 @ Delmar Bar-Hagerstown, MD
8/7 @ Rte. 22 Rock/Blues Fest.-Huntingdon, PA
8/15 @ TBA
8/16 @ Cafe Nola w/ Rhin- Frederick, MD

Cavern, Outsiders (2015)

Cavern, How to Make a Hit Record

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High on Fire, Luminiferous: Flying Above the Rift

Posted in Reviews on June 15th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

high on fire luminiferous

It is a fun coincidence of timing that High on Fire‘s seventh album, Luminiferous (released by eOne Metal), should arrive — a summer blockbuster in its own right — just one month after George Miller‘s film Mad Max: Fury Road, since the two works would seem to share so much in common. Not merely in their thrust or in the pummel and whirlwind they’re able to conjure when reaching a similar maximum velocity, but in the ability to balance the real and the unreal while doing so. Luminiferous is High on Fire‘s second collaboration with producer Kurt Ballou, and like the movie, its nine tracks/54 minutes are executed with minimal trickery. Real stunts. Sure, Des Kensel‘s toms and snare on second cut “Carcosa” or the second half of closer “The Lethal Chamber,” or that of “The Sunless Years,” or in the midsection of “The Dark Side of the Compass” have a war-drum sound to them, huge, thudding, but it’s not inorganic in its construction.

And while both movie and album can seem superficially at times to be sacrificing all else for the sake of the sheer badassery of their impact, High on Fire‘s latest is actually among their more progressive works, following 2012’s adrenaline-pumped stunner De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) — their first with Ballou — with more of a flow from one song into the next and likewise fluid shifts between tempos and flourishes of melody and emotion on “The Falconist” or “The Cave” to go along with all-out thrashfests like “Slave the Hive” or the penultimate title-track, which is sandwiched between the two longest tracks here, “The Cave” and “The Lethal Chamber,” both of which stand as evidence of the desire from High on Fire — guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike (also Sleep) and bassist Jeff Matz, in addition to Kensel — to continue the creative development that’s been there to hear all along throughout their 17-year run for anyone willing to look under the sometimes-masking layer of raw brutality.

Even if Luminiferous is better constructed and more dynamic overall than was De Vermis Mysteriis, its opening salvo is still geared toward finding out how big of a crater it can make. Opener “The Black Plot” has its hook but is among the record’s nastier thrashers, Pike following his guitar and taking a somewhat surprising melodic turn in the chorus vocally as Kensel and Matz hold together a gallop that’s as much of a signature move as High on Fire has. The subsequent “Carcosa,” which tops seven minutes and sets up the aforementioned later epics, dials back its pacing somewhat, but seems to use its extra time to make every forceful blow count. Vicious tonally but ultimately propelled by its drums, it finds Pike as the snarling conjurer atop the storm, a swinging progression well locked in by the two-minute mark carrying into a bigger groove that’s bound to test the tensile strength of many necks in its presence and which returns shortly as the bed for another a mix-consuming, about-to-fly-off-the-rails solo, though its ultimately Kensel‘s war drums that hold the day.

Matz, who joined the band in 2006 before they made what has become something of a defining statement with 2007’s Death is this Communion and is by now their longest-tenured bassist, has his moment in the midsection of “The Sunless Years,” stepping forward to match a guitar solo from Pike and continuing to hold attention even as the track moves back to its verse, offset earlier by a hook that recalls the marauding “Serums of Laio” from the last album before a slowdown once more brings Kensel‘s plodding drums to the front — though Matz gets his fills in there as well. Three tracks in, already High on Fire have given three different looks, but “Slave the Hive” (also released as a Scion-sponsored single in 2013) and “The Falconist” show there’s more to be delivered, the former their shortest inclusion at 3:50 and offering a thrashing viciousness rivaled only by “Luminiferous” itself on the second LP, and the latter an inevitably slower roll with the album’s strongest chorus, more choice low end, and Pike‘s boldest vocal in the chorus, “You can see my fly above the rift/And watch me dive and play the risks/You can see me flying/Watch me diving/From the wrist of the falconist,” as gorgeous and apt a metaphor as any I could imagine for the course of his career and stage presence both, though whether or not that’s what he’s going for, I couldn’t say.

high on fire (Photo by Jimmy Hubbard)

The centerpiece of the offering for good reason, “The Falconist” is as bold a step in the direction of accessibility as High on Fire have taken, and the emotion driving it feels genuine even as its harder-hitting edge is maintained toward an ending solo that seems to want to move back into one last chorus but cuts short in the end and makes way for “The Dark Side of the Compass,” the apocalyptic tension of which finds release in a chorus of lockstep lead guitar and vocals, the execution no less tight than anything before or after it, but memorable and all the more so for not being an immediate afterthought to “The Falconist” preceding. Feedback fades quickly to end “The Dark Side of the Compass” and makes way to the subdued opening of “The Cave,” a meandering guitar line topping Matz‘s bass and opening quick to an almost-psychedelic vibe, watery vocals and all. High on Fire‘s “Planet Caravan?” Maybe, but if they’re doing it, they’re doing it in their own style, the track exploding into a rolling, lumbering hook before receding again.

That tradeoff moves back and forth through the first half of its 7:40 run, the third verse and weightier chorus moving into a longer section playing off the latter before a cut to the bass and vocal line sets up the final, solo-topped push, the bass and guitar bookending with a last quiet measure, seemingly as much to lead into “Luminiferous” as out of “The Cave” itself, the immediate punch of the titular cut not to be understated even if it takes a about a minute for the verse to be revealed in its full, whipping fury. One could only accuse “Luminiferous” of being in High on Fire‘s wheelhouse, but as they have on many occasions before, they burn that wheelhouse to the ground, and where prior title-tracks have had more sprawl à la “The Cave” or subsequent closer “The Lethal Chamber” — thinking of 2010’s Snakes for the Divine (review here), the aforementioned Death is this Communion, or 2005’s Blessed Black Wings — “Luminiferous” is a turn in itself, being shorter and more outwardly intense in the tradition of “Surrounded by Thieves” from their 2002 sophomore outing of the same name. Fitting somehow for a band subtly, continuously pushing their own boundaries that they should round out with one of their longest songs.

At a long-fading but fully-used 8:50, “The Lethal Chamber” is second only to “Master of Fists” from High on Fire‘s 2000 debut, The Art of Self-Defense, in runtime — that cut being the band’s only one to-date topping 10 minutes — but its impact is made more in how they use that time than that they use it at all. Lurching groove and drum stomp in a timing nod not entirely dissimilar from Sleep‘s “The Clarity” take hold early, but of course the vibe is entirely High on Fire‘s own. They carry that march to and through a solo at the halfway point, some churn providing quick transition amid a flurry of toms from Kensel, who after making his presence felt throughout the entire tracklist leaves yet more bruises following a quick stop at 5:45, his hard-hitting approach and Matz‘s bassline serving as the foundation from which Pike launches an airier finale solo, the fadeout arriving less like the band are finishing out and more like the listener is leaving the strange, dark, storming world in which the end of “The Lethal Chamber” will still be taking place after we’re gone.

More about its reach than its catchiness, as were the likes of “The Black Plot,” “The Sunless Years,” or “The Falconist,” “The Lethal Chamber” underscores the multifaceted approach that High on Fire are able to take as they push closer to their 20th year, and one of Luminiferous‘ most satisfying aspects proves to be how naturally they seem to be able to balance an ongoing creative progression with trademark thickened thrash that, here as ever, sounds like it’s sitting on top of 7,000 pounds of nitro-boosted war machine. Hands down one of the year’s best, for its blinding turns, the obvious chemistry of the trio who made it, its songwriting and the lingering sense of work still to be done when it’s over.

High on Fire, “The Falconist”

High on Fire on Thee Facebooks

High on Fire’s website

eOne Metal

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Paradise Lost, T.G. Olson, Abrams, We are Oceans and Skunk

Posted in Radio on June 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

Yeah, it’s only been a week since the last round of radio adds went up, and yeah, it usually takes me way longer than that to get a batch together — more for my own inability to organize than the lack of stuff coming in — but this time I managed it and in the interim there were 16 releases that happened along that it seemed only fair to toss into the fray. And so here we are. The bunch is suitably eclectic, as I think the highlight selections below showcase, but if you want to go down the list for yourself, hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page and have at it. Of the 37 list-based posts you’ll likely read on the internet today, this… should be one of them, I guess? Sorry, I’ve always sucked at promotions. I hope you find something you dig either here or there.

The Obelisk Radio adds for June 5, 2015:

Paradise Lost, The Plague Within

paradise lost the plague within

Their 14th album overall, The Plague Within is iconic UK doomers Paradise Lost‘s fourth for Century Media and third since the stylistic renaissance that seemed to begin in 2009 with Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (review here) got rolling. 2012’s Tragic Idol was a respectable follow-up working in a similar vein, and The Plague Within is likewise, veering into thrashier tempo for “Flesh from Bone” but generally reveling in an emotionally wrought vision of melancholia bridging the gap between the pioneering death-doom of their early days and the goth theatrics that followed. The turn they made six years ago was not an accident, and they have very clearly been working from a pattern since — many interesting things can happen to a band 14 albums in, but few will be accidents — but that doesn’t necessarily make a record like The Plague Within ineffective. Rather, cuts like “Terminal” and the plodding “Beneath Broken Earth” foster a bleak and encompassing sense of mood, and with strings, guest vocals and piano added to the arrangement, “An Eternity of Lies” still manages to keep its sense of focus held firm, the band’s well-honed experience serving them well. They have a loyal legion of fans who’ll follow them wherever they head, but even if The Plague Within is Paradise Lost playing to their latter-day strengths, I’m not inclined to argue against that. There’s a reason they are who they are. Paradise Lost on Thee Facebooks, Century Media.

T.G. Olson, The Wandering Protagonist

t.g. olson the wandering protagonist

A collection of at-least-semi-improvised recordings by Across Tundras guitarist/vocalist Tanner Olson, operating under his solo moniker of T.G., The Wandering Protagonist is the follow-up to 2014’s The Rough Embrace (review here), and is perhaps less plotted out but with no diminishing of its folkish spirit. Olson plays electric, acoustic and slide guitar, organ, flute, harmonica (the latter is a focal point early in closer “Down in the Valley Below”), percussion drones and piano, and enters into easy instrumental conversation with himself, though there are some vocals as well on opener “Great Rock Falls.” For Across Tundras fans, the highlight might be nine-minute “Small Triumph,” with its heavier progression, but focusing on that without paying attention to the swelling drone, harmonica and acoustic guitar interplay of “For the Torn” before it is missing the point. The Wandering Protagonist is true to its title in that Olson does wind up in a variety of places — sonically, that is; the songs were recorded at his Ramble Hill Farm, outside Nashville in Tennessee — and a song like “Slow Susanna,” at 1:12, carries through like the experiment it is (a take on “Oh Susanna”), but these tracks also brim with open creativity and bring a rare sense of adventure to Americana so often boxed in by tradition. Few are better suited to push the limits of the form. Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Abrams, Lust. Love. Loss.

abrams lust love loss

Denver trio Abrams make their full-length debut with the triply-punctuated Lust. Love. Loss., a self-released 10-track collection with an obvious focus on flow, complexity of songwriting, crisp execution, tight performances and an overarching sense of heft that is more than ably wielded. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Zach Amster, bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen and drummer Mike Amster (also Blaak Heat Shujaa), the three-piece seem to take their cues from the post-Baroness school of progressive heavy rock, bringing the occasional flourish of post-rock as in the airy tones of “Sunshine” or post-hardcore in “Mr. Pink Always Wins” but keeping the “post-” pretty consistent amid a nonetheless thrusting rhythmic charge. Amster and Iversen combine forces readily on vocals, to charming effect on “Sweaty and Self Conscious,” and a later turn like the slower, sludgier push of “Useless” arrives at just the right moment before the title-track and closer “The Light” mount the album’s final argument in its own favor, the latter offsetting odd-timed chugging with intermittent builds and payoffs leading toward a last movement not overdone, but classy in a manner befitting the cuts before it. The fuzz of “Sea Salt Lines” hints toward Truckfighters and the semi-bombast of “Far from Home” calls to mind Sandrider, but Abrams appear most interested in developing their own sound from these elements rather than aping the sounds of others, and I hear nothing in their debut to tell me they can’t get there. Abrams on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

We are Oceans, Woodsmoke

We Are Oceans - Woodsmoke - cover

Following up on their 2012 self-titled debut (review here), Massachusetts instrumenalists We are Oceans return with their second four-track full-length, Woodsmoke, which starts our directly referencing Earth in “Stonewall,” the opener and longest track here at 13:44 (immediate points), but soon enough move toward a more individualized and fleshed-out heavy post-rock, airy guitar not replacing verses nor trying to, but adding texture and a dreamy vibe to progressions that feel steady and patient in like measure, no change either rushed or needless, but fitting with what the song needs, whether it’s the immersive shifts of “Stonewall” or the down-to-silence break in the second half of “Dead Winds,” which builds back up to one of Woodsmoke‘s most satisfying payoffs. While “Stonewall,” “Dead Winds” and 12:12 closer “Solstice” are all north of the 10-minute mark, third cut “Pressed Flowers” (4:10) assures that the four-piece have more to them than one kind of development, a serene, peaceful line playing out not quite at a drone’s repetitiveness, but with a subtle evolution of the central theme, from which “Solstice” picks up started by the guitar but ultimately propelled in its early going by the drums, a fluid jazz taking hold as We are Oceans move to the inevitable crescendo that caps Woodsmoke in its last moments. Their debut was an encouraging start, but it’s in these songs that We are Oceans really showcase the aesthetic potential at the heart of their project. May they continue to grow. We are Oceans on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Skunk, Heavy Rock from Elder Times

skunk heavy rock from elder times

I guess the “elder times” that Oakland, California, five-piece Skunk — vocalist John McKelvy, guitarists Dmitri Mavra and Erik Pearson, bassist Matt Knoth and drummer Jordan Ruyle — are talking about on their 2015 Heavy Rock from Elder Times debut demo is some combination of the ’90s and the ’70s, since as opener “Forest Nymph” telegraphs, they seem intent on answering the question of what might happen if Fu Manchu and AC/DC ever joined forces. It’s a noble mission, to be sure, and their fuzz and classic swagger is sold well over the course of the demo’s six tracks, which are as unabashedly stoner in their riffs as they are in titles like “Black Hash,” “Devil Weed” and “Wizard Bong.” Heavy Rock from Elder Times being their first collection of songs, I don’t feel like I’m giving away state secrets by saying there’s room for them to grow, but cuts are catchy in their turns and hooks, and the command that McKelvy shows alone in riding these riffs bodes well for where they might go next — their approach is cohesive even in its self-recorded, initial form. That’s never a bad place to start from, and if they have growing to do, at least they’ve given those who might check them out something worth their time in this welcome opening salvo. Skunk on Thee Facebooks, on Twitter, on Bandcamp


Tried to get a decent amount of variety, at least within the sphere of heavy, and hopefully managed to do that, with some doom, rolling country experimentalist, neo-prog, post-rock and all out riffing. Again, on the chance nothing here tickled your fancy — because rest assured, the aim here is to tickle fancies — I think that might be the creepiest thing I’ve ever typed — be sure to hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page, to see not only the other 11 records that were added to the server today, but, you know, everything else from the last two-plus years. There’s bound to be something in there you dig.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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Neurosis Announce Tour Dates with Brothers of the Sonic Cloth

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Well that’s about as easy a sell for a bill as you can get. Neurosis — on their longest US run in a decade and a half — partnered with Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, with support from Isis-offshoot Sumac and The Body. It’s like a moment of clarity, almost obvious, even though it’s a surprise to have Neurosis hitting the road so hard after so long. Mark your calendars. Attendance is mandatory.

From the PR wire:


NEUROSIS To Embark On Their Most Extensive Stateside Tour In Over Fifteen Years This Summer

As their thirtieth anniversary nears, NEUROSIS will be hitting the road in their most extensive touring of the North American continent in over fifteen years this Summer, the announcement falling as the dust still settles on Baltimore following their crushing performance at this year’s Maryland Deathfest.

Not since prior to the turn of the millennium has the mighty NEUROSIS embarked on a tour of this size, as this week the band confirms more than a dozen new tour dates between the end of July and the middle of August throughout the Midwestern, East Coast, and Southern US states and the lower Eastern portion of Canada. Besides the extensive nature of the tour, they will also be playing in cities and states which they have not visited since the ’90s.

For this widespread endeavor, NEUROSIS will bring an array of excellent acts to the stage with them, including support from labelmates Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, featuring Tad Doyle, for the entire trek, as well as eight shows with nomadic doomsday cult, The Body, five dates with expansive rock duo, Sumac (members of Baptists, Old Man Gloom, ex-Isis, etc.), and one show each with Pinkish Black and labelmates Iron Tongue. This all comes in addition to NEUROSIS’ previously announced inclusion in the massive, three-day Heavy Montréal Festival consuming August 7th-9th, where the band will perform the opening night with the likes of Mastodon, Meshuggah, Gorguts, Arch Enemy and many others.

Tickets for the impending NEUROSIS tour will go on sale for all shows this Friday, May 29th.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
7/31/2015 Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/01/2015 Mill City – Minneapolis, MN w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/02/2015 The Majestic – Madison, WI w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/03/2015 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/04/2015 Expo Five – Louisville, KY w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/05/2015 St. Andrews – Detroit, MI w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/06/2015 Opera House – Toronto, ON w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/07/2015 Heavy Montréal- Montréal, QC w/ Mastodon, Meshuggah, Gorguts, Arch Enemy
8/08/2015 Paradise – Boston, MA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac, The Body
8/09/2015 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/11/2015 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/12/2015 Broadberry – Richmond, VA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/14/2015 Masquerade – Atlanta, GA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/15/2015 House Of Blues – New Orleans, LA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Iron Tongue
8/16/2015 Warehouse Live – Houston, TX w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Pinkish Black

Neurosis, “We all Rage in Gold” Live at Temples Festival 2014

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High on Fire Announce North American Tour with Pallbearer, Lucifer and Venomous Maximus

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

high on fire

June 16 is the release date for High on Fire‘s new album, Luminiferous, and today the fury-heavy trio have announced a North American tour starting in July with support from Pallbearer, Lucifer and Venomous Maximus, because I guess if you’re going to do something, do it in style. The band released a new track today called “The Black Plot” on some other site, but the tour dates and a live video of the same song are below, along with the art and tracklisting for the Kurt Ballou-produced Luminiferous.

It’s all straight off the PR wire:

high on fire luminiferous

HIGH ON FIRE Announces North American Headlining Tour

Legendary Metal Band to Release New Album, Luminiferous, June 16

World-renowned power trio HIGH ON FIRE will release its highly-anticipated new album, Luminiferous, on June 16 via eOne Music. Recorded at Salem, Massachusetts’ GodCity Studios with producer Kurt Ballou, the record is the follow-up to the group’s 2012 release, De Vermis Mysteriis.

HIGH ON FIRE has announced a North American headlining tour in support of Luminiferous. The trio — Matt Pike (guitar, vocals), Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass) — will kick off the 21 city trek on July 30 in San Diego, CA, and will storm stages through August 23 in New Orleans, LA.

Support on the HIGH ON FIRE tour will be provided by Pallbearer, Lucifer and Venomous Maximus. Tickets will go on sale this Friday, May 15.

HIGH ON FIRE tour dates:
North American Luminiferous Tour
July 30 San Diego, CA The Casbah
July 31 Los Angeles, CA Echoplex
August 1 San Francisco, CA The Regency Ballroom
August 3 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theater
August 4 Vancouver, BC Rickshaw
August 5 Seattle, WA Neumos
August 7 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
August 8 Denver, CO The Gothic
August 10 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights
August 11 Chicago, IL Thalia Hall
August 12 Ferndale, MI The Loving Touch
August 13 Toronto, ON Opera House
August 14 Syracuse, NY Lost Horizon
August 15 New York, NY Irving Plaza
August 17 Boston, MA Royale
August 18 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
August 19 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of the Living Arts
August 20 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Sound Stage
August 21 Winston-Salem, NC Ziggy’s
August 22 Atlanta, GA Masquerade
August 23 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jack’s (* Venomous Maximus will not appear)

Universally recognized as one of the most potent acts in music today, HIGH ON FIRE creates molten heavy metal that merges primal fury and aggression, blackened bombast and hall of fame heaviness. The group’s seventh studio album, Luminiferous, is a supersonic exercise in conquest by volume, delivering calculated catharsis as a volcano of revolving riffs and hailstorm of thundering drums combine to beam a blazing spotlight towards the future of modern metal music.

“We’re doing our part to expose The Elite and the fingers they have in religion, media, governments and financial world downfall and their relationship to all of our extraterrestrial connections in the race to control this world,” comments vocalist / guitarist Matt Pike. “Wake up, it’s happening. All while we stare at a socially engineered lie we think of as normalcy. Unless we wake from the dream, there will come true doom.”

After nearly two decades of trailblazing new passageways to heaviness, HIGH ON FIRE’s strong, stunning archetype continues to both sharpen and evolve; the trio’s vision has never been clearer. The Riff, as always, is King.

Track listing:
1.) The Black Plot
2.) Carcosa
3.) The Sunless Years
4.) Slave the Hive
5.) The Falconist
6.) Dark Side of the Compass
7.) The Cave
8.) Luminiferous
9.) The Lethal Chamber

Pre-order HIGH ON FIRE’s Luminiferous now at this location.

“I’m really happy High on Fire decided to come back to GodCity to do another album,” states producer and Converge guitarist, Kurt Ballou. “Having been a fan of theirs since The Art of Self Defense, the opportunity to collaborate with one of my favorite bands has truly been an honor.”

High on Fire, “The Black Plot” Live at Saint Vitus Bar

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