Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light: Incendiary Procession

Posted in Reviews on February 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

mondo drag the occultation of light

Before we get to any question of whether Mondo Drag‘s third album, The Occultation of Light (also their second release on RidingEasy), is the band’s best work, or how it shows them progressing or any of this or that, the first thing to say about it is that it is easily their most accurate LP to-date. What the hell does that mean? Well, their 2009 debut, New Rituals (review here), had no shortage of neo-psych charm, but was formative and didn’t really portray the full breadth of what their sound has become. That’s not taking away from it; the band’s circumstances changed. Recorded in 2012, their 2015 sophomore outing, Mondo Drag (review here), was captured prior to a move from Davenport, Iowa, to Oakland, California, and featured a short-lived incarnation of the band which, by the time the record came out, already had traded its rhythm section for the current one with bassist Andrew O’Neil and drummer Ventura Garcia.

I won’t take away from that album either — it was among my favorites of last year — but as the eight tracks of The Occultation of Light were recorded last year, by Phil Manley (Trans Am, Wooden Shjips), as they were recorded live to tape, and as they were tracked just after the band got off tour, their current lineup of Garcia, O’Neal, guitarists Jake Sheley and Nolan Girard (also synth) and keyboardist/vocalist John Gamino intact, there can be little question that the band’s third offering is their most accurate portrayal yet of where they actually are in their growth, their songwriting and their collective performance.

I won’t say that makes it like a debut, since they’re definitely benefiting here from the several years this lineup has played together and the experience from the two prior LPs, but for what it’s worth, they seem to be in a good place, and their sound is fresh even as it plays off classic ideas throughout the winding opener “Initiation” and the transprogrified “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”-style roll of “Out of Sight.” More even than the self-titled, vintage progressive rock plays a role in Mondo Drag‘s sound here, whether that comes in the twists, underlying shuffle and key solo of the opener or the synth flourish in the subsequent track and the organ/drum lead-in for “Rising Omen,” which should be a highlight for anyone who has missed underrated King Crimson disciples Hypnos 69 as it unfurls a groove languid enough to make it totally natural when Gamino enters for the first verse and half the song is already over.

As much about atmosphere as its later energetic uptick, “Rising Omen” builds as it goes, but remains patient enough so that the immediacy of Garcia‘s bouncing snare at the start of “Incendiary Procession” is a direct contradiction, and one clearly enacted on purpose. Met by keys/synth for a lead in the first half and a noteworthy stretch of chases and stops in the second, it’s an instrumental finish to The Occultation of Light‘s first half that shows diversity in songwriting for exactly how plotted it is in comparison to the cut preceding, which seemed intended as more of a showcase for the band’s psychedelic side and foundation in a natural writing process.

mondo drag (Photo by Catalina Havlena)

That side will come up again throughout “The Eye” and “In Your Head (Part I & II)” and the near-eight-minute “Dying Light” on side B before “Ride the Sky” (not a Lucifer’s Friend cover) wraps the album, but what’s even more striking about The Occultation of Light‘s back end is how fluidly one piece transitions into the next. Particularly among the first three tracks — “Dying Light” ends cold and “Ride the Sky” picks up from there; not lacking flow, but not shifting immediately one into the other — there are no discernible seams. Also instrumental save for some Hawkwindy spoken word later on, “The Eye” starts with “Moonchild”-style minimalism and from there looses a rich, not-at-all-haphazard psychedelic push, organ and guitar intertwining late en route to the crashing start of “In Your Head (Part I & II),” which starts intense but mellows presumably as it shifts between its two component parts (there’s a stop beat and then all is chill), allowing space for some ethereal verses as it moves toward the end, which “Dying Light” meets quickly with a tense measure of amp noise before exploding into its full vibrancy.

The longest track included at 7:52, it’s also rife with movement throughout, shifting smoothly between its parts early on, riding a choice bassline as it moves toward its middle and building to a full-on prog freakout by about five minutes in, only to end on a line of guitars, keys, bass and drums, the band hitting into a swing riff and bringing it to a quick end before “Ride the Sky” takes hold. Probably not fair to call the shorter piece an afterthought, as its boogieing blend of organ and guitar helps reground The Occultation of Light in its final moments, but it’s obviously not at all geared toward the same kind of expanse as the rest of the side before it.

This too is clearly a purposeful move on the band’s part, since as they’re giving listeners this most accurate glimpse at who they are sonically, that persona they establish here is nothing if not cognizant of the choices it’s making. While it’s only hitting a year after their preceding album, The Occultation of Light is a long time coming from Mondo Drag, and while it builds on what they’ve done before and particularly the progressive stylizations were taking hold with the self-titled, it also finds a core part of their identity in that process of moving forward. It feels like an arrival, but I wouldn’t bet on the band staying put for too long, creatively-speaking.

Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light (2016)

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RidingEasy Records

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Quarterly Review: Satan’s Satyrs, Wildeornes, Blackwülf, VRSA, Marant, Grizzlor, Mother Crone, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Chimpgrinder & Miscegenator, Oak

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review winter

Last day. It’s been some week. When I otherwise would’ve been putting these reviews together yesterday? Jury duty. Yup, my civic responsibility. Add that to a busted laptop, a full-time job and a couple busy days for news, and you have a good argument for why with Quarterly Reviews prior I’ve gotten up at six in the morning over the weekend before and started writing to get as much out of the way as possible. Oh wait, I did that this time too. Well, maybe it was seven.

Either way, as it comes to a close, I want to personally express my thanks to you for checking it out and being a part of what’s become a weird seasonal ritual for me. I hope you’ve found something (or find something today) that resonates with you and stays with you for a long time. I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s all about.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Satan’s Satyrs, Don’t Deliver Us

satan's satyrs don't deliver us

Virginian riff-turner trio Satan’s Satyrs passed the half-decade mark with their third album, late-2015’s Don’t Deliver Us (on Bad Omen Records), just one year after their sophomore outing, Die Screaming! crawled up from the foggy ’70s ether. In addition to touring the US with Electric Wizard, with whom Satan’s Satyrs shares bassist Clayton Burgess (also vocals), one assumes the trio spent the remainder of the year mining old VHS discount-bin horror to find inspiration and fitting subject matter for quick-turning cuts like “(Won’t You be My) Gravedancer” and “Crimes and Blood,” but whatever they did, it worked. As “Spooky Nuisance” jams out its Hendrix-via-Sabbath vibing and the subsequent “Germanium Bomb” leans into yet another impressive solo by guitarist Jarrett Nettnin complemented by the fills of drummer Stephen Fairfield, there’s an element of performance to what they do, but whether it’s the proto-doom of closer “Round the Bend” or the motor-chug of “Two Hands,” Satan’s Satyrs find that sweet spot wherein they constantly sound like they’re about to fall apart, but never actually do. For sounding so loose, they are enviably tight.

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Bad Omen Records

Wildeornes, Erosion of the Self

wildeornes erosion of the self

Sometimes you have an idea for a band, and it’s like, “I’m gonna start a band that puts this genre and this genre together.” In the case of Aussie four-piece Wildeornes, it’s stoner and black metal coming together on their second full-length, Erosion of the Self. I’ll give it to them, they pull it off. I’m not sure the “arising” instead of “rising” in “Serpent Arising” or the “So fucking high!” at the end of “The Subject” are really necessary, but hard to ignore the fact that before they get there, they’ve nodded at Pentagram, Crowbar, and Goatsnake and included a couple measures of blastbeats, or the fact that throughout the album they effectively tilt to one side or the other, riding atmospheric cymbals over a rolling groove in “The Oblivion of Being” only to tap into Nile-brand Egyptology in “Incantation for the Demise of Autumn” only to affect Erosion of the Self‘s biggest chorus on “Winter’s Eve.” Whatever genre tag they, you or I want to give it, their roots are definitely metal, but the juxtaposition they offer within that sphere works for them.

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Wildeornes on Bandcamp

Blackwülf, Oblivion Cycle

blackwulf oblivion cycle

Raw groove is at the core of what Oakland, California’s Blackwülf offer on their second album and Ripple Music debut, Oblivion Cycle. Divided neatly into two sides for an LP, its 10 track hearken to a stripped-down vision of classic metal on “Memories,” Sabbath and Maiden both a factor but not the end of the line when it comes to the four-piece’s influences. Somebody in this band (if not multiple somebodies) is a punker. The two impulses play out in a balance of grand stylization and lean production – to wit, “Wings of Steel” sneers even as it puts a triumphant foot on the stage monitor and gallops off – and if the punk/metal battle isn’t enough of a tip-off, let the umlaut serve as confirmation that these guys are going to miss Lemmy (who isn’t?), but their methods ultimately prove more indebted to Judas Priest than Motörhead by the time they get down to “Never Forget,” which touches on some vocal soaring as it rounds out that feels especially bold as well as well placed as a late gem before the slamming-groove-into-Iommic-flourish of closer “March of the Damned.” As much as Oblivion Cycle has these elements butting heads across its span, that’s not to say Blackwülf lack control or don’t know what they’re doing. Just the opposite. Their pitting ideas against each other is a big part of the appeal, for listeners and likely for the band as well.

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Ripple Music

VRSA, Phantom of an Era

vrsa phantom of an era

Four years after issuing their second album, 2011’s Galaxia (review here), late-2015’s Phantom of an Era finds Connecticut’s VRSA a considerably more crunch-laden entity. They’ve have some lineup changes in the past half-decade, which is fair enough, but guitarist Andrius and guitarist/vocalist Josh remain prominent, leading the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist John and drummer Wes through prog-metal cascades, quiet parts shifting on a dime to full-volume assaults or holding off and making the change more gradual as tension builds. Either way, if the end-goal is heavy, VRSA get there, whether it’s the rolling, chugging and growling of “Grand Bois” or the winding and crashing and thrashing of the later “Marble Orchard,” or how closer “Baron Cimetière” sets up its waltz rhythm subtly in the beginning only to bash the listener’s skull with it as the inevitable crushing begins anew. There’s plenty of it to go around on Phantom of an Era, which keeps a consistent air of brutality even as it veers into clean, progressive or atmospheric forms.

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VRSA on Bandcamp

Marant, High Octane Diesel

marant high octane diesel

As they get down elsewhere with hard-driving, Steak-style post-Kyuss desertism, Swiss four-piece Marant have just a couple of more laid back trips perfectly placed along the path of their debut album, High Octane Diesel. The first of them, “Smoothie,” follows opener “Kathy’s Trophy,” and like the later “Road 222,” it has its more raucous side as well, but the big tone-wash happens with the languid heavy psych roll of closer “N’BaCon?,” also the longest track at 8:47. The effect that varying their modus has on broadening the scope of more straightforward songs like “Evil Schnaps” and “The Good the Bad and the Trip” isn’t to be understated. Not only does it show a different side of the emerging chemistry between vocalist Jimmy, guitarist Sergio Calabrian Donkey, bassist Aff Lee and drummer Sir Oli with Snake, but it gives High Octane Diesel an atmospheric range beyond the desert and into an expanse no less ripe for exploration. Whichever method they employ, Marant engage fluidly across their first record.

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Marant on Bandcamp

Grizzlor, Cycloptic

grizzlor cycloptic

Lot of noise, lot of fuckall, not too many songs. Connecticut trio Grizzlor manage to pack seven songs onto a 7” release called Cycloptic (on Hex Records), most of which hover on either side of 90 seconds apiece. Dissonance, grit and tension pervade the offering front to back, and between “Sundays are Stupid” and “I’m that Asshole,” there’s an edge of experimentation in the vocals and rhythm as well, some starts and stops that add to the songwriting, though the peeled-skin noise rock of “Tommy” and the build-into-mayhem of “Winter Blows” ensure that the business of punkish intensity isn’t left out. Was it a danger to start with? Nah. Closer “Starship Mother Shit” and the earlier “Life’s a Joke” rolls out a sludgy-style groove, but with sneering and shouting overtop and hard-edged percussive punctuation, there’s no question where Grizzlor got all that aggression from. If Grizzlor are playing in the basement, somebody’s gonna call the cops.

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Hex Records

Mother Crone, Awakening

mother crone awakening

Bull-in-a-china-shop’ing their way through nine mostly-blistering tracks in 43 minutes, Seattle trio Mother Crone make their full-length debut with the appropriately titled Awakening, a record that melts doom and thrash together with the best of earliest Mastodon and comes out of it sounding righteous, wildly heavy and solidly in control of their methods. Don’t believe it? First of all, why not? Second, check out the six-minute “Descending the North” – the third track after a beastly opening with the mysteriously JFK-sampling intro “Silt Laden Black” and “Black Sea” – which chugs and twists and stomps through its first half only to drop out to just-guitar ambience and burst to life again with a shredding solo finish that leads to – wait for it – the quiet guitar-and-vocals only spaciousness of “The Dream,” which marks a twist into a more experimental middle quotient of the album, the subsequent “Halocline” and furiously building “Revelation” more experimental in form, before the sludgy “Turning Tides” and raging “Apollyon” make the job of the nine-minute closing title-track even more difficult in summarizing everything that came before it. A task of which that song makes short work. For the momentum they build and the brashness they execute within that, Mother Crone‘s Awakening is indeed bound to stir.

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Mother Crone on Bandcamp

Psychedelic Witchcraft, Black Magic Man

psychedelic witchcraft black magic man

Italian four-piece Psychedelic Witchcraft issued Black Magic Man in mid-2015 as their debut EP, and wound up selling through both its limited 10” vinyl pressings. For the Twin Earth Records CD version, it’s been expanded by two tracks – still EP length at 27 minutes – and given new artwork that underscores the band’s cultish bent, which comes across strong in the vocals of Virginia Monti, very much at the forefront of the group’s presentation on “Angela” and “Lying in Iron,” the opening duo that give way to the desert-toned push of the title-track, also the strongest hook included. Drummer Daniele Parrella leads the march into the grungier “Slave of Grief,” in which the guitar of Jacopo Fallai will take a noisy forward position in the midsection, giving way later to some blown-out singing from Monti given heft by bassist Riccardo Giuffrè, like 1967 time traveling to 1971. The production on the last two cuts, “Wicked Dream” and “Set Me Free” is audibly different (Vanni also plays bass), more modernly-styled, but the band’s core intent of living up to their name remains true.

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Twin Earth Records

Chimpgrinder & Miscegenator, Split 7″

chimpgrinder miscegenator split

Philadelphia and New York rarely agree on anything, but Chimpgrinder and Miscegenator, who make their homes respectively in those burgs, have come together at least long enough to share a split 7” between them, though of course what they do with that time is vastly different. Chimpgrinder proliferate a raw kind of sludge on their two tracks, not completely void of melody, but more geared toward groove than expanse, “Gates” taking off on an lengthy solo and deciding it’d rather not come back, ending in feedback fading to abrasive noise. That’s a fitting lead-in for what NY’s Miscegenator are up to on the other side, as “Hate Hate Hate” leads off a six-song set of visceral grind. Shit is raw and mean, and it d-beats its way either into your heart or off your turntable – it’s not the kind of music anyone ever played because they were feeling friendly. Blink and its gone, but the punk-rooted abrasion is like as not to leave a scar as closer “Tony Randall was Right” goes slicing, which is a fair enough answer to the pummel Chimpgrinder made their own a whopping five minutes earlier.

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Miscegenator on Thee Facebooks

Oak, Oak

oak oak ep

The self-titled, self-released, self-recorded debut EP from London four-piece Oak saves its burliest impression for “Ride with Me,” the third of its four component tracks. That’s not to say that “All Above” and “Queen of this Land” aren’t plenty dudely – the vocals of Andy Wisbey see to that – but “Ride with Me” feels particularly caked in testosterone. Somewhat quizzical that it also finds guitarist/engineer Kevin Germain, bassist Scott Mason and drummer Rob Emms (since replaced by Sergiu, it would seem) vibing out for a bit of quiet desert noodling in the middle and ending with a primo shuffle of the post-Kyuss variety. Maybe it’s a fine line when one considers the body of work of Orange Goblin as an influence, but it gives a different context to the two songs before and certainly to the stonerly bounce of “Dissolve” after to know that Oak have more in their playbook than the standard beer-pounding and chestbeating. Should be interesting to hear how the various impulses play out as they more forward.

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Oak on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Saviours, Dave Heumann, The Dead Nobodies, Old Man Lizard, Kalamata, Unimother 27, Electric Magma, Mane of the Cur, Major Kong, Hellhookah

Posted in Reviews on January 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review winter

This, I suppose, is where things get interesting. As I normally would’ve been putting these reviews together, my laptop decided it had apparently had too much of riffs and decided to unceremoniously shit the bed. Naturally, this is a bummer of considerable proportion. As to what it means to the rest of this Quarterly Review, I guess we’ll find out over the next two days. For now I’m using an old machine of The Patient Mrs.‘ which, among other charms, has no battery in it and can only run when plugged in. Hope that cable doesn’t come loose. A goodly portion of the music I was going to review in this and tomorrow’s batch, of course, is on my busted, hopefully-soon-to-be-repaired laptop, but with Bandcamps and the fact that it’s not my first time hearing any of these records, I should be able to get by. Still, an element of adventure. Unexpected and shitty. Whether it’s repair or replace, I do not anticipate it will be a cheap fix, so I’ll relieve stress the best way I know how, which is by reviewing 10 albums in a row.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Saviours, Palace of Vision

saviours-palace-of-vision

Strange to think of the decade that has passed since Oakland dual-guitar four-piece Saviours offered up their first EP, Warship, and yet it’s difficult to imagine the sphere of underground heavy rock without them. Particularly on the West Coast, their skate-thrash-meets-thick-grooves has had a marked influence, and their fifth full-length, 2015’s Palace of Vision (also their debut on Listenable Records), affirms their hard-driving take on classic metal even as “Flesh of Fire” and “Cursed Night” show an acute melodic awareness, the latter in doom-caked guitars and a rolling groove that, for many bands, would be enough to base their entire sound. For Saviours, it answers the gallop of the prior “The Beast Remains” and precedes 6:38 closer “The Seeker,” a vast departure from how raw they once were, but another example of the righteousness that has held steady throughout their growth. They’re an easy band to take for granted, mostly because they’re so damn reliable.

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Listenable Records

Dave Heumann, Here in the Deep

dave heumann here in the deep

The solo debut from underrated vocalist/guitarist Dave Heumann from likewise underrated Baltimore fuzz-folkers Arbouretum, Here in the Deep (on Thrill Jockey) basks in a glow of ’70s singer-songwriter intent, but tends to surprise with just how much is going on at any given moment. A solo album in name, it’s by no means minimal, even though it sometimes veers into guy-and-guitar methods, as on the sweet instrumental “Leaves Underfoot.” Elsewhere, arrangements of strings, drums, acoustic and electric guitars create a rich variety of mood and depth of mix, wistful on “Ides of Summer” and “Here in the Deep,” joyous on “Greenwood Side” and the pointedly psych-folk “Holly King on a Hill.” The seven-minute penultimate “Ends of the Earth” is as close as Heumann – who’s joined by a swath of players throughout, including the rest of Arbouretum on this track – comes to his main outfit stylistically, but by then the context is so much Here in the Deep‘s own and between that and the sonic clarity permeated all the while, it just becomes one more turn on an album that makes difficult ones seem effortless. Heumann remains a more accomplished songwriter than people know.

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Thrill Jockey Records

The Dead Nobodies, The Wake

the dead nobodies the wake

Between their underlying currents of grunge in the guitar, metal in the drums and an air of Foo Fighters in the vocals (“Blues in You”), Massachusetts trio The Dead Nobodies are up front about their ’90s influence. The 10-track, Tad Doyle-mixed/mastered The Wake is their third album behind 2014’s Return of the Tide and 2012’s Ride in with Death, and some of the material has been released by the band before on demos and other short offerings. Still, there’s an air of cohesion to the melodies that surface in “Somatic Complaints,” “Pancakes” and the later “Joel Returns.” Self-released on CD, the album eschews the trappings of genre – or at least of subgenre – for the most part and takes a more overarching approach to not-quite-metal, but what they’re doing seems to work for them, so I’m not inclined to argue. More hard rock than heavy rock for those inclined to split hairs, but accessible enough anyway.

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The Dead Nobodies on Bandcamp

Old Man Lizard, Old Man Lizard

old man lizard old man lizard

Making their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds, UK-based Old Man Lizard revisit a 2012 EP with what’s become their self-titled sophomore full-length. All the tracks from that five-song outing are included here, the order adjusted, and two more are added on in the closing duo “Craniopagus Parasiticus” and “A Gruesome Mess,” and what I don’t know is if the entire album was re-recorded, or it’s the old recording with two new songs tacked on, or all of it was recorded prior to the release of Old Man Lizard‘s 2014 debut LP, Lone Wolf vs. Brown Bear. It matters mostly because Old Man Lizard is good, and it’s a question of which came first to see how their progression is playing out, whether the techishred of “El Doctor” is the latest step or a first. Either way, the band skillfully brings together twanging riffs, neo-prog post-Mastodon crush and a swing that brings to mind the scope of Elder circa Dead Roots Stirring, sounding even more patient on the aforementioned “Craniopagus Parasiticus” than anything before it. If I continue to have questions about the release, the quality isn’t one of them.

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Heavy Psych Sounds

Kalamata, You

kalamata you

An instrumental three-piece based in Hildesheim, Germany, Kalamata make their message pretty plain in the seven tracks of their debut album, You (originally released in 2014, with vinyl new from Pink Tank Records), which line up to form the sentence, “You have to die soon mother fucker.” The music is somewhat less aggressive, Peter Jaun leading the trio with open-spaced riffs as Maik Blümke fills those spaces — see “Have” — with an engaging rumble and drummer Olly Opitz holds tension until the gradual payoff hits. Never an easy thing for a band whose sound is by necessity based on dynamic to make a debut, but Kalamata pull off You without a second thought, making the centerpiece, “Die,” a highlight of classic semi-desert heavy rock that unfolds a patient linear build that leaves closer “Fucker” the task of rolling out the record’s largest nod. No doubt this material would make more of an impact live, but particularly on repeat listens, the depth of tone comes across well and the trio match their aggression to a crisp delivery.

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Pink Tank Records

Unimother 27, Frozen Information

unimother 27 frozen information

Italy’s futuristically named Unimother 27 – which sounds like the futurebot that raised some dystopian antihero protagonist of a novel/film franchise; I’m sure it’s a reference I’m too ignorant to know – is populated only by multi-instrumentalist and sometimes-vocalist Piero Ranalli. Ranalli, who also plays bass in Insider with his brother, Marco, progs out hard on the solo-project’s fourth full-length and first in eight years, Frozen Information (on Pineal Gland Lab). One expects a certain amount of indulgence on an album of keyboard-laden krautrock explorations, and “Clear Light Healing” certainly delivers on that, but from the opening “Moksha (to Huxley)” through the closing pair of “Hymn to the Hidden God” and “Brief Moments of Eternity,” which features an extended if vague spoken word from Ranalli, Frozen Information remains immersive and, with its quiet, maybe-programmed drums, hypnotic across its span. It is enduringly and endearingly weird, and experimental in a genuine way that most could only hope to be.

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Pineal Gland Lab

Electric Magma, Silverball

electric magma silverball

The wah that shows up in the second half of “Tad” on Toronto instrumental trio Electric Magma‘s seventh full-length, Silverball, has a distinct mark of Clutchitude to it, but the band owe more to the Fu Manchu pastiche of trad heavy fuzz. Karma to Burn are a name that comes to mind out of necessity more than direct comparison, but the three-piece of guitarist Tim Reesor, drummer Neil Lukewich-Pheaton and bassist Tryg Smith aren’t quite so straightforward, “The Oscillator” tossing a Sleep-style riff into its middle and the later “Sidebar” finding itself on funkier ground altogether. The eight-track/32-minute release seems to set pinball as its central theme, starting with the intro “Silverball” and ending with the harmonica’d “Multiball,” but more than that, they’re preaching a riff-led gospel that the converted should have no trouble getting on board with, the band putting up no pretenses as to doing anything more than having a good time.

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Electric Magma website

Mane of the Cur, Three of Cups

mane-of-the-cur-three-of-cups

Portland, Oregon’s Mane of the Cur would seem to be making a reboot with the three-song Three of Cups EP, some shuffling of lineup establishing them as vocalist Melynda Amann, guitarist Shawn Mentzer, bassist Cory DeCaire, keyboardist “Nasty” Nate Baisch and drummer Blaine Burnham (ex-Lamprey). The five-piece outfit are quick to establish themselves somewhere between classic doom and cult rock, but while Three of Cups doesn’t have the most elaborate production I’ve heard this week, it seems to avoid a lot of the ’70s traditionalism that much of the style embraces so wholeheartedly. That’s not to say the gradually-deconstructed “Kiss of Neptune,” the lightly progressive “Prehistoric Bitch” and the noddingly ethereal “Foolish are Magic” don’t sound natural, just that they don’t sound like it’s 1972. This is to their credit, ultimately, since it only helps Three of Cups give a more individual impression overall, which can’t hurt leading to whatever the band decides to do next.

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Mane of the Cur on Bandcamp

Major Kong, Galactic Cannibalism

major-kong-galactic-cannibalism

Polish instrumentalists Major Kong oversaw a vinyl release of their 2012 debut, Doom for the Black Sun (review here), in 2014 on Transubstans, but they’re once again working under their own banner for the four-song Galactic Cannibalism, a 24-minute (or thereabouts) riffpusher that’s set its controls for the heart of oblivion and is happy to tone-crush anything in its path. Guitarist Misiek, bassist Domel and drummer Bolek also released a split with Dopelord in 2015 on which the EP’s closer, “Magnetar,” also appeared, but Galactic Cannibalism has them all on their own, and unsurprisingly they nail it. They’re not doing anything outlandish stylistically, but they effectively conjure and capture big riffs and big nod, varying pace between “Supercluster,” “Diabolic Mind Control” and the mega-chugging “Morlock” to give a sense of flow, but keeping in mind the next plus-sized groove, which seems always to be right around the corner. With two full-lengths out, I’m a little surprised they went for a shorter release rather than a third album, but they make it hard to argue.

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Major Kong on Bandcamp

Hellhookah, Endless Serpents

hellhookah endless serpents

Lithuanian two-piece Hellhookah make their debut with the full-length Endless Serpents, a seven-track/35-minute collection of tracks that’s shy neither about showcasing its influences — it caps with a cover of Saint Vitus’ “Born too Late,” for example — nor about rolling molasses-thick grooves one into the next. Recording as guitarist/bassist/vocalist Arnas and drummer Gintare, they meter out dense tonality and traditional formulations in the mission-setting title-track, which follows the somewhat quicker opener “A Storm in the Hidden World.” Rhythmically, they add some shuffle to “No Brakes,” “The Overman’s Eye” and even the midsection of “The Way,” which is the longest cut here at 6:34 and presumably the end of what would be a vinyl side A, but the core sensibility and atmosphere of doom is maintained throughout, and as the instrumental “Free Fall” leads into that aforementioned take on “Born too Late,” there’s no doubt as to where Hellhookah’s heart lies. Formative and raw it may be, but Endless Serpents hits its marks as the beginning of the band’s progression.

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Hellhookah on Bandcamp

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Neurosis Announce Strength and Vision Boxed Set

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Neurosis will release a special limited anniversary boxed set called Strength and Vision, compiling their 11 albums on LP and CD. Preorders are available now from Neurot Recordings, which will have the release out in April, following the now-three anniversary shows the band will play in March in San Francisco. The box, aside from being gorgeous and among the wiser investments I can think of for any given $275 you might have laying around, gives a staggering look at the career of one the most influential, if not the most influential, heavy bands of the last 30 years, and truly looks to be one of a kind. Couldn’t be more fitting.

As previously announced, Neurosis enter the studio on Dec. 27 to begin recording their next full-length with longtime-producer Steve Albini. Should be interesting to see how they time that release with this one.

The band had the story like this:

neurosis-strength-and-vision

NEUROSIS KICKS OFF 30TH YEAR WITH LIMITED EDITION STRENGTH & VISION BOXED SET, PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW

At the beginning of our 30th year as a band, it is our great pleasure to announce STRENGTH & VISION: a limited-edition boxed set of three-decades of our sonic experimentation and steadfast commitment to underground music. We offer this to you — our friends, family, fans and fellow sonic travelers. It is a rare look back at all we have accomplished together.

STRENGTH & VISION is the definitive collection of every NEUROSIS release, limited to 1,300 pieces worldwide. Each high quality box features a magnetic clasp, which allows you to retrieve each record without having to remove the box from a shelf.

Included in STRENGTH & VISION:
ALL 11 studio records on 3 LPs and 8 2xLPs
LP sleeves with newly adapted designs
106-page book with all original artworks, lyric booklets etc
ALL albums on 11 CDs inside the book
1 exclusive Neurosis Strength & Vision embroidered patch
1 exclusive hand-printed poster
1 certificate of authenticity

Full list of albums included:
Pain of Mind
The Word as Law
Souls at Zero
Enemy of the Sun
Through Silver in Blood
Times of Grace
Sovereign
A Sun That Never Sets
The Eye of Every Storm
Given to the Rising
Honor Found in Decay

Pre-orders are now available through the Neurot Recordings Store. Shipping date for the STRENGTH & VISION boxed set is early April 2016.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
3/04/2016 Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA w/ Sleep [SOLD OUT]
3/05/2016 Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA w/ Shellac [SOLD OUT]
3/06/2016 Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA w/ Converge, Negative Approach
4/15/2016 Hat Patronaat – Tilburg, NL *STEVE VON TILL and SCOTT KELLY solo performances
4/16/2016 013 – Tilburg, NL
4/17/2016 013 – Tilburg, NL
8/11/2016 Festa Radio Onda D’Urto – Brescia, IT
8/13/2016 Oya Festival – Oslo, NO
8/20/2016 Motocultor Festival – St. Nolff, FR
8/21/2016 Amplifest – Porto, PT

https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com/artists/neurosis
www.facebook.com/OfficialNeurosis
www.twitter.com/NeurosisOakland

Neurosis, Live in Brooklyn 2015

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Saturday Sleep In: “Antarcticans Thawed” Live at ATP 2009

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Sleep, “Antarcticans Thawed” Live at All Tomorrow’s Parties 2009

This was a gig of firsts and lasts. The 2009 All Tomorrow’s Parties fest in Minehead, UK, was Sleep‘s first reunion show, and the first time that the song “Antarcticans Thawed” — written during the sessions for Dopesmoker — was played. It was also the last show with drummer Chris Hakius, who by the time the band went on to a full-fledged reunion in the next year or so, would leave owing to a debilitating back issue and be replaced by drummer Jason Roeder, also of Neurosis. Hakius‘ departure makes the clip somewhat bittersweet in hindsight, but if you weren’t, just imagine being in front of this stage. Here’s Sleep, who haven’t played a show in what, more than a decade?, and not only are they back, but oh hey, how about a new song too, even if it’s not actually new. It must have been insane. One is surprised the cameras could get the footage above with what must have been all the exploding brains in the audience.

In the six years-plus since this appearance, Sleep have headlined major fests across the US and Europe, from Roadburn to Maryland Deathfest to Southwest Terror Fest, Hellfest and Desertfest and on and on. Their 2014 single, “The Clarity” (review here) was their first new studio output since Dopesmoker finally surfaced in 2003, but much of the word of a new album has subsided, at least for the moment. I wouldn’t write off the possibility, but as guitarist Matt Pike continues to throttle crowds the world over with High on Fire, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros has reportedly entered the studio to track a long-awaited next Om full-length, and Roeder is soon to do the same with Neurosis, it seems going into 2016 that while no doubt Sleep will show up somewhere at sometime, the immediate priorities are elsewhere.

That’s fair, and quite frankly, even if CisnerosPike and Roeder set to writing a new LP, I’d rather have them take their time, do it right and not force anything. I dug “The Clarity” a lot, and if that’s the pace at which new material is going to surface — mind you, I don’t know that it is or isn’t; there could be an album announcement coming this week — so be it.

Either way, hope you enjoy “Antarcticans Thawed.” Crazy to think Sleep have been “back” or six years.

I was on the road most of yesterday, down to Connecticut for work and then back up to Massachusetts. The Patient Mrs. was kind enough to drive down in the morning and a decent portion of the ride back as well, which was when I started putting posts up in the afternoon. I get to be a pain in the ass if stuff that’s waiting or that needs to be written doesn’t go up, and I think at this point she kind of shrugs it off. We stopped to get an AC adapter for her car so I could charge my laptop while running a wifi hotspot off my phone. It was like a very lame movie.

Speaking of movies, I haven’t seen Star Wars yet and I’m having a bit of an existential crisis about it. We thought about going yesterday, but wanted to get back north, then were too tired to leave the house, and today I’ve been up for a few hours already, but I’m starting work on the Top 30 Albums of 2015 list and I expect that will eat up a goodly portion of the afternoon. Tonight, KindSummonerWorshipper and Leather Lung are playing in Jamaica Plain, and I’m planning on going to that as my last show of the year. It’s basically the Boston rock and roll Xmas office party. Should be a good time. Familiar faces and such. I’ll get to Star Wars sooner or later.

Look for a review of that show on Monday — I’m actually going; my ankle is healed enough to stand up and everything — and the Top 30 of 2015 no later than Tuesday. Somehow, even though I posted a story today and put a bunch up yesterday too and even though it’s the friggin’ week before Xmas, I’m still behind on the news, and I have a giveaway for Canyon of the Skull‘s debut CD ready to go out anytime now. I’m going to try to sneak in a Deville review on Wednesday too. Don’t tell anybody.

If you’re the type to notice such things, you may have noticed the t-shirt and hoodie sale is over. It was supposed to end last night, but I fell asleep, so I wound up taking down the order pages first thing this morning. Either way, a tremendous thank you to everyone who got to place an order. The Patient Mrs. and I will be compiling everything this weekend and will send the info to Made in Brooklyn Silkscreeners immediately thereafter. I’d expect shipment sometime in the next three weeks, depending on how long the pressing takes.

Alright, that should do it for me. I’m gonna sign off, though really I’ll just be working in the back end putting stuff together for the Top 30, so it’s not like I’m actually going anywhere. Still, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you’ve seen Star Wars, no spoilers. See you back here Monday for that review and a ton more.

Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Neurosis Enter Studio Dec. 27 to Record New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s an Xmas miracle. Long enough in discussion that it was included in the 2015 Most Anticipated Albums list back in January, the new full-length from Neurosis is soon to be recorded by the band’s longtime producer, Steve Albini, at Electrical Audio in Chicago. Neurosis are famous for tracking albums more or less live, so I wouldn’t expect it to be a lengthy process, and since they’ll invariably be putting it out themselves through Neurot Recordings, there shouldn’t be too much of a gestation period once it’s completed. A March/April release seems like a fair estimate, barring disaster.

The band, who’ll be releasing their next LP as the follow-up to 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here), have announced further European live appearances to coincide with their special 30th anniversary shows, which will be celebrated in San Francisco with support from Sleep and Shellac (Albini features in the latter), and at Roadburn 2016 in the Netherlands.

Here’s the latest from the PR wire:

neurosis

Neurosis enter the studio to record a new album, plus further European shows announced for 2016

Neurosis have confirmed that they shall be entering Electrical Audio Studio again with Steve Albini on 27th December to record a brand new album, their follow up to 2012’s Honor Found In Decay, we eagerly await the results and will follow up with more news early in the new year.

The band have revealed news of more live shows in 2016, this follows shortly after the recent announcement regarding their very special 30 year anniversary performances at Roadburn Festival in The Netherlands, and in San Francisco. All dates are listed below.

Neurosis live Dates:
04/03/2016 – CA, San Francisco – Regency Ballroom – 30th Anniversary Performance *SOLD OUT
05/03/2016 – CA, San Francisco – Regency Ballroom – 30th Anniversary Performance *SOLD OUT
15/04/2015 – NL, Tilburg – Hat Patronaat *STEVE VON TILL and SCOTT KELLY solo performances
16/04/2016 – NL, Tilburg 013 – Roadburn Festival – 30th Anniversary Performance
17/04/2016 – NL, Tilburg 013 – Roadburn Festival – 30th Anniversary Performance
11.08.2016 – IT, Brescia – Festa Radio Onda D’Urto
13.08.2016 – NO, Oslo – Oya Festival
20.08.2016 – FR, St. Nolff – Motocultor Festival
21.08.2016 – PT, Porto – Amplifest

There will be plenty more Neurosis news to report early in 2016 as they continue to mark this monumental milestone.

http://www.neurosis.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
http://www.twitter.com/neurosisoakland
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Neurosis, Live at Saint Vitus Bar, Aug. 10, 2015

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Saviours on Tour Now with C.O.C., Brant Bjork and Mothership

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

saviours (Photo by Rick Rodney)

I said at some point after all this madness began that I would probably be posting the same tour dates from the four different perspectives of the four bands involved, and as of this post, I’ve done just that. First was Corrosion of Conformity (posted here), then came Brant Bjork (posted here), the Mothership (posted here), and now Saviours. Think maybe I’m trying to get the point across that this tour is fucking awesome? Yeah, maybe.

As fate would have it, the run is underway now. Saviours are on it supporting their new album, Palace of Vision (review forthcoming), which is out on Listenable Records. They have a couple off-night headlining gigs booked as well, and more dates after the Monsters of Riff is done, so as you peruse the PR wire info below, don’t expect just the same old list.

Dig it:

look at this frickin tour

SAVIOURS: North American Tour With Corrosion Of Conformity Underway

Still building upon the foundation that Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and Motörhead laid decades prior, California volume abusers, SAVIOURS, enters their second decade in a new partnership with Listenable Records and their long anticipated new full-length, Palace Of Vision.

Rooted in hardcore punk but preferring to cruise in outer space, SAVIOURS have always brought an infectious swing and swagger to their forward-charging heavy metal. The band melds the prime tenets of 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 a rugged beast of a sound that is singularly SAVIOURS.

Palace Of Vision is the band’s first proper full-length in four years and picks up where the molten manifestations of 2011’s Death’s Procession left off, spewing forth nine fiery tracks of towering riffs, monolithic rhythms, infectious guitar harmonies and an obsession with the end of times, the occult, psychedelics and the arcane. From fast-paced road ragers to lumbering doom pounders, SAVIOURS’ Palace Of Vision is perpetually hell-bent on taking listeners away to an entirely new dimension of volume abuse.

Following the release of Palace Of Vision, SAVIOURS will kick off a North American Fall tour supporting Corrosion Of Conformity and Brant Bjork And The Low Desert Punk Band. The trek will commence on November 16th and run through December 10th with additional support provided by Mothership. From there the band will level ten more stages from December 11th to December 20th to close out the year.

SAVIOURS w/ Corrosion Of Conformity, Brant Bjork And The Low Desert Punk Band, Mothership:
11/18/2015 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
11/19/2015 High Water Marl – Portland, OR * SAVIOURS only
11/20/2015 Venue Nightclub – Vancouver, BC
11/21/2015 Neumo’s – Seattle, WA
11/23/2015 The Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
11/24/2015 The Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
11/25/2015 Mill City Nights – Minneapolis, MN
11/27/2015 Rtr 20 – Racine, WI
11/28/2015 The Odeon – Cleveland, OH
11/29/2015 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
11/30/2015 Firehouse Saloon – Rochester, NY * SAVIOURS only
12/01/2015 Opera House – Toronto, ON
12/02/2015 Machine Shop – Flint, MI
12/03/2015 Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA
12/04/2015 Gramercy Theater – New York, NY
12/05/2015 Brighton Music Hall – Allston, MA
12/07/2015 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
12/08/2015 Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
12/09/2015 Shaka’s Live – Virginia Beach, VA
12/10/2015 Lincoln Theatre – Raleigh, NC

SAVIOURS Headlining Dates:
12/11/2015 The 529 – Atlanta, GA
12/12/2015 The Nick – Birmingham, AL
12/13/2015 Siberia – New Orleans, OR
12/14/2015 Boondocks – Houston, TX
12/15/2015 611 E. 7th – Austin, TX
12/16/2015 Three Links – Dallas, TX
12/18/2015 Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM
12/19/2015 Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ
12/20/2015 All Star Lanes – Los Angeles, CA

Since the 2005 release of their debut EP, Warship, SAVIOURS 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 just a few short years, SAVIOURS had 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.

Palace Of Vision was captured at Type Foundry in Portland, Oregon with Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Taurus, Ommadon etc.) and comes sheathed in the fittingly dark, intricately transfixing cover renderings of Derrick Snodgrass (Obliterations, Lecherous Gaze).

http://www.facebook.com/Saviours
http://www.killforsaviours.blogspot.com
http://www.saviours.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs
http://www.listenable.net

Saviours, “Palace of Vision”

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High on Fire Touring Australia/New Zealand in Feb.; North American Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

high on fire (Photo by Jimmy Hubbard)

In about two months’ time, High on Fire will cover ground on two sides of the planet. It’s not their first time in either territory, of course, but a pretty impressive feat when one considers the amount of geography they’re taking on and the fact that 18 years on from getting together, they continue to tour like 20-year-old punk rockers. Their latest, Luminiferous (review here), is out on eOne Music, but you’re already well aware of that, because it’s High on Fire. They may be a known quality, but that doesn’t make their live show any less devastating.

They hit Australia and New Zealand in February, and are back in the US in March to take part in the Decibel tour with Abbath. I cobbled together details from the PR wire:

high on fire tour

HIGH ON FIRE to Join 2016 Decibel Magazine Tour; Lineup + Dates Announced

Legendary California Metal Band, Abbath, Skeletonwitch and Tribulation Unite for All-Star North American Trek

Life is Noise presents: AUSTRALIA + NEW ZEALAND TOUR FEBRUARY 2016

Heavy music giants HIGH ON FIRE will tour North America as part of the 2016 Decibel Magazine Tour, set to launch March 17 in Baltimore, MD. Joining HIGH ON FIRE on the bill will be Sweden’s Tribulation, Ohio’s Skeletonwitch and Abbath (former frontman of Norwegian black metal legends, Immortal). The month-long trek will run through April 15 in Philadelphia, PA.

High on Fire have always been a band best consumed in the flesh. Their live show is an invigorating display of three world-class musicians at their creative peak. These songs erupt with unparalleled ferocity on stage. Pike’s mastery of the guitar is a sight to behold – he’s the kind of talent we’ll be talking about in the heavy metal canon for decades to come. Don’t miss your chance to see one of the most powerful live bands on the planet.

See High on Fire crush skulls and melt faces on the following dates:
Perth – Rosemount Hotel – Wednesday, February 17
Adelaide – Fowler’s – Thursday, February 18
Melbourne – Max Watt’s – Friday, February 19
Sydney – Manning Bar – Saturday, February 20
Brisbane – Crowbar – Sunday, February 21
Auckland – Kings Arms – Tuesday, February 23
Presented with Under the Radar.

2016 DECIBEL Magazine Tour Dates
Featuring Abbath, High on Fire, Skeletonwitch and Tribulation
March 17 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
March 18 Charlotte, NC Amos’ Southend
March 19 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
March 20 Ybor City, FL The Ritz Ybor
March 22 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Live!
March 23 Austin, TX Emo’s
March 25 Scottsdale, AZ Live Wire
March 26 San Diego, CA The Observatory North Park
March 27 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory
March 28 Los Angeles, CA The Regent Theater DTLA
March 29 San Francisco, CA The Regency Ballroom
March 31 Portland, OR Roseland Theatre
April 1 Seattle, WA El Corazon
April 2 Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom
April 5 Denver, CO Gothic Theatre
April 6 Lawrence, KS Granada Theater
April 7 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Night
April 8 Chicago, IL – Metro
April 9 Cleveland, OH Agora Ballroom
April 10 Toronto, ON The Opera House
April 12 New York, NY Webster Hall
April 14 Boston, MA Royale
April 15 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer

High on Fire on Spotify
https://twitter.com/highonfireband
https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
http://tickets.lifeisnoise.com/
http://decibelmagazinetour.com/

High on Fire, Luminiferous (2015)

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