High on Fire Won a Grammy for “Electric Messiah”

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high on fire dressed to kill

I don’t imagine this is breaking news at this point. My social media feed crapped its digital pants last night when High on Fire picked up a Grammy award for “Electric Messiah” and the rest of the heavy blogosphere already has its thinkpieces out there. I’m not really interested in adding to that. Pretending the Grammys care about metal or any other heavy music is like pretending metal or any other heavy music cares about the Grammys. It’s just two different worlds. But — and I said as much on the already-noted social medias this morning — if High on Fire make more money playing shows now and that can help Matt Pike with what are no doubt significant medical bills, then sure. Whatever gets High on Fire to keep doing what they do is a win for everybody. The rest is as irrelevant as the better part of the music industry it represents.

But basically here it is for posterity, the PR wire news about High on Fire‘s Grammy. Well earned, certainly:

high on fire grammy

HIGH ON FIRE WINS GRAMMY FOR BEST METAL PERFORMANCE

High On Fire took home the GRAMMY for “Best Metal Performance” last night at the 61st annual Grammy awards ceremony in Los Angeles, the music industry’s only peer-recognized accolade and highest achievement.

This was the band’s first nomination and first win. HIGH ON FIRE was nominated for “Electric Messiah,” the title track off their 2018 album of the same name. The band, now as winners, join the ranks of past winners such as Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Metallica and Slayer.

“We never really needed an award for doing what we love,” says frontman Matt Pike. “Twenty-one years later, we finally got this. Thank you to the Academy.” Pike went on to thank producer Kurt Ballou among others. Bassist Jeff Matz sent out a heartfelt shoutout to long-time manager and friend Nick John who passed away last year and who was an instrumental figure in the band’s success.

High On Fire will be performing at 2019 Psycho Las Vegas taking place August 16-18, 2019 in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort. Tickets are on sale now, click here for more info.

HIGH ON FIRE features Matt Pike (guitar, vocals), Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://www.instagram.com/highonfireband/
www.highonfire.net
https://twitter.com/eoneheavy
https://www.facebook.com/eOneHeavy

High on Fire, “Electric Messiah” official lyric video

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Dealer Premiere “Gemini”; Release New Single of Final Recordings

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dealer

Oakland rockers Dealer have called it quits, but their final recordings surface in the form of the single End Breed / Gemini, issued as a seven-inch platter through Who Can You Trust? Records in an edition of just 100 copies as part of something the label is calling the “From WCYT? With Love” series. I don’t know what else is in the series or what might be coming, but Who Can You Trust? is streaming the Dealer track “End Breed” now and I’ve been given permission to premiere “Gemini” and it’s a three-minute banger with no time to screw around, as though the band was like, “Okay let’s finish these songs so we can stop being a band already,” and though the imprint continues to ask the question in its name, they’ve proven more than trustworthy in the past, particularly when it comes to mining obscure studio sessions for 7″ releases like this one. And they’re not half bad at series either, as the Sweet Times split singles — in which Dealer took part — also showed.

Dealer‘s lone full-length was released in 2016, and though I haven’t seen a reason for their disbanding, they leave a striking bit of potential behind in doing so. You can stream the premiere of “Gemini” and the A side “End Breed” at the bottom of this post.

From the PR wire:

dealer end breed

Dealer – End Breed / Gemini

“Dealer rips” should be a familiar adage to anyone in the Bay Area who has given a damn about rock and roll through the past few years, and the band’s final recordings—“End Breed” b/w “Gemini”—hammer in that sentiment like a nail in a coffin. There’s very little beauty in this music. The songs are ugly and mean, way too fast and a little out of tune, everything competing and melding together in some vain, chaotic display of ignorant bravado. You might even call it Dealer at their finest.

1. End Breed
2. Gemini

Edition of 100 copies on black vinyl, housed in a hand-stamped recycled cardstock sleeve.

Part of the “FROM WCYT? WITH LOVE..” series.

The exact moment of Dealer’s formation is almost impossible to pin down. Lost in a fug of thick smoke, alcohol and noise; somewhere and someplace out of time and mind.

Tentatively starting out life as Sexless – featuring founding member Kevin Klausen on guitar/vocals and fellow Los Angelean Samantha Mancino on drums – the duo would make a habit of throwing open jam sessions to anyone in earshot. Years prior and by his own admission, Klausen had lost heart after numerous false starts attempting to form his own band and gave up on making music to assume the mantle of tour manager for close friends, The Shrine. Helping the band across Europe and struck by their professionalism, after years on the road he returned in the Spring of 2013 with a handful of songs and a newfound focus.

Relocating to Oakland, Sexless performed a first few shows with whatever bassist could be landed until the night the band met Aaron Cundy of local outfit Easy Living. Followed soon after by the conscription of John Zamora on drums after the departure of Mancino they soon hit upon the sound they were seeking. Sorely shredding their way through discordant moments of pre-punk history – often in a crazed reverie of hard rock solos and cocksure hellfire – they stalked the grooves of Black Flag’s “Slip It In” and the riffs of Voivod’s “Killing Technology.” All the while, sporting the sharpest Canadian tuxedos they could find.

When Zamora eventually chose to leave the band in May 2015, Klausen and Cundy sought total reformation. Drafting in new drummer Darien McKinney for shows, they performed their final gig as Sexless on the 4th of June 2016 before entering Earhammer Studios to record a debut album with producer Greg Wilkinson (Iron Lung, Graves at Sea, Lecherous Gaze) just two days later.

A proposed “cocktail of heavy metal, punk, grunge and rock and roll,” the trio emerged with “Billionaire Boys Club” in hand as Dealer. With the journey at its end, the album is now available worldwide through the band’s own imprint, Wicked World Records.

Dealer:
Kevin Klausen – Guitar/Vocals
Aaron Cundy – Bass
Darien McKinney – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/dealerrips/
http://dealeroakland.bandcamp.com/
http://dealerrips.tumblr.com/
https://whocanyoutrustrec.bigcartel.com/product/dealer-end-breed-gemini-7-vinyl
whocanyoutrustrec.bandcamp.com
whocanyoutrustrec.bigcartel.com

Dealer, “Gemini” premiere

Dealer, “End Breed”

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Friday Full-Length: Om, Variations on a Theme

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Om, Variations on a Theme (2005)

Sometimes it feels like Om‘s 2005 debut, Variations on a Theme, gets forgotten about to some extent. At very least overshadowed by what the band has gone on to do with subsequent offerings. But I remember when Variations on a Theme came out. I still have the promo CD that came to what was then my office — because in 2005, things like “offices” and “promo CDs from labels” both existed — and I remember putting it on and being blown away by how unique the sound was. And 14 years later, it remains so. Om were by no means the first act to convey a sense of heavy without massive guitar riffs belting you in the face, but the patterning of Al Cisneros‘ vocals and the sheer barrage of his opaque lyrics, the depth of his bass tone and the unmitigated swing and inimitable movement in the drums of Chris Hakius came together in a way that forced one to recognize that, yes, this was something new. And for as mellow as the overarching spirit of Variations on a Theme was and is, it was new. And it was heavy.

On the most basic level, a duo was rarer. The most immediate association was a pop group like The White Stripes, who had taken the overblown sound of stadium rock and stripped it to its essential hooks and core attitude. Were Om doing the same thing to the idea of heavy music? Maybe, to a point. But their project on the three-song/45-minute Holy Mountain-released long-player was different — more exploratory. More spiritual, and less about plunging to the center of a thing than emerging outward from it. Cisneros and Hakius were both refugees from the then-defunct Sleep, who’d broken up years before but whose grand opus, Dopesmoker (discussed here), had finally seen release in 2003 through Tee Pee Records. It would be a few years still before the social media generation that brought Sleep to their stoner-lordly stature really came to prominence, but even then, the name of course resonated.

And Variations on a Theme felt like an outgrowth of some of what Sleep had done in that final, single-song LP. “On the Mountain at Dawn” (21:19), “Kapila’s Theme” (11:59) and “Annapurna” (11:53) indeed were longform pieces — not an hour long, but long — and their lyrics cast an impression born from philosophy texts and mythological traditions, patterned to coincide with tantric, mesmerizing basslines for a meditative feel worthy of the band’s name. It’s been 14 years and I still have no idea what’s going on in the repeated verse of “Annapurna”:

The flight to freedom gradient raise the called ascendant
And reach supreme the coalesced eye into surrender
Centripetal core of soul sojourn the field vibrates to absolution
I climb toward the sun to breathe the universal

om variations on a themeBut that last line is key. It’s the only lyric on Variations on a Theme that’s in first-person. All of “On the Mountain at Dawn” is in implied-third. There are no pronouns used, but the verb forms are “he does” or “she does.” “Kapila’s Theme” could be first or second or third, it’s never clear, but the line “I climb toward the sun to breathe the universal,” with later becomes “I climb toward the sun to breathe the indrawn universal,” conveys both the sense of pilgrimage — which would become an ongoing theme for the band — and the ritual smoke that seemed to be rising from the album itself as it played. As vague as its lyrics may have been, they were like an unearthed text, full of references and turns of phrase that would take years to be understood if they ever were.

Dopesmoker had that sense of journey, but there was a clearer narrative taking place as well. Variations on a Theme found Cisneros like an out-of-body prophet spewing lines that would either predict the flow of the universe or be lost to some other interpretation. But the transitional moment could be heard in more than just the lyrics or the cleaner vocal style. It’s in the tone. Working with producer Billy Anderson — who’d also helmed Sleep‘s studio material — Om centered around its tone in a way that a band with a guitar never could. After a short blip of feedback, “On the Mountain at Dawn” unfurled a sound that managed to be both full in its distortion and still somehow minimalist, understated. The bass tone was low, and dirty, but gorgeous, and it was fluid enough to shift from lumbering to rolling alongside Hakius‘ ping-ride groove at a moment’s notice, the kick drum adding an underlying sense of activity that gave the whole thing its forward motion.

It wouldn’t be the last time Om used a distorted tone, but as they moved forward from their debut with Conference of the Birds (discussed here) in 2006, they introduced a cleaner sound and would only continue to branch out from there. Following splits with Current 93 and Six Organs of Admittance, in 2007 they released Pilgrimage, which would be their final album with Hakius on drums. Replacing half a duo is no minor change, but Cisneros brought in Emil Amos — also of GrailsHoly Sons and a number of other projects — and on 2009’s God is Good (review here) introduced not only Amos, but a broader feel that included multi-instrumentalist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, also of Lichens. By the time they got around to 2012’s Advaitic Songs (review here), Om were a trio, the arrangements had never been so grand, and the resulting work remains one of the best albums of this decade. Seven years after the fact, one anxiously awaits a follow-up.

Of course, Cisneros has been plenty busy with the Sleep reunion and, last year, their own long-awaited studio album, The Sciences (review here), but just as that record showed up with a day’s advance notice, suddenly dropped on an unsuspecting public after years of rumors and “yeah it’s happening”-kinds of updates, it’s hard not to hope 2019 produces something similar from CisnerosAmos and Lowe with Om. Last I heard, songs were being done in somewhat piecemeal fashion, but either way, if Advaitic Songs demonstrated anything plainly, it’s that Om had much more to offer, so if it takes them a while to manifest that, there’s little doubt it will be worth that wait.

And however far they might continue to move beyond what now seems like their rudimentary beginnings on Variations on a Theme, they’re still to some degree living out the title of their debut, exploring the outer reaches of the journey that those three songs set in motion.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I keep hearing phantom baby shouts from upstairs. He’s not really up yet — he will be soon; it’s quarter-to-six –but my brain is so trained at this point that I hear him when he’s not really yelling. It’s a bird outside, or it’s the house settling in some way. It’s the wind. It’s something. Whatever it is, it’s not the baby yet. But again, we’ll get there momentarily.

Accordingly, I should probably keep this short. We’re still in New Jersey — The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I — and that feels like something of a godsend. I do not look forward to going back north to Massachusetts, which will happen I think after next weekend, but whatever. Gotta go. The Patient Mrs. gotta make that money so I can continue to spend it on custom coffee blends, peanut butter and Sandra Boynton board books.

I’m going to write another children’s book by the way. About the purple octopus that has kind of become this site’s mascot. I named her Petunia. I’m thinking Petunia The Octopus Joins the Band. If you want to illustrate it, let me know, because I’m useless at that stuff. Could be a fun project.

Next week is pretty packed though. I guess the music industry went back to work this week, which is fair enough, because the PR wire started up again and my calendar got pretty full. Here are the notes, subject to change blah blah:

MON 01/14 King Witch video premiere; Glory in the Shadows video premiere.
TUE 01/15 BUS track premiere; Lumbar video.
WED 01/16 Nebula Drag video; another possible premiere.
THU 01/17 Ian Blurton’s Future Now track premiere.
FRI 01/18 Hibrido LP stream; Yawning Man live review.

On the side of that, I also have two bios to write and I just signed on for a bunch of announcements for Desertfest London, because later this month they’re going to bring a bunch more kickass bands on board. Today I also need to finish putting together the playlist for the next episode of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio, which will be my 2019 preview. There’s a lot of good stuff in the coming months. It was pretty easy to pick bands. Just need songs now.

And sure enough, the baby’s up.

That’s my cue.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please don’t forget to check out the Forum, the Radio stream and Obelisk shirts and whatnot at Dropout merch. Thanks for reading.

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High on Fire Cancel Tour Due to Health Issues

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high on fire

Hey, look. Everybody wants a healthy Matt Pike. We all saw the thing with his toe, and the internet’s response to it, frankly was kind of shitty. “Check out Pike’s fucked up amputated toe! So metal!.” Yeah, okay dude, but the fact is the guy is a human being, not a fucking cartoon character, and obviously health issues should be more than your dipshit clickbait. End of story.

Get well soon, Matt Pike. Hope to see you marauding again in no time. But health first.

Toke and Year of the Cobra were set to open this tour, and accordingly, both bands ordered a butt-load of merch that they’re kind of stuck with now. If you’ve got some cash, both acts are worthy of it. I don’t usually post direct merch links and tell you to buy, but these are exceptional circumstances:

Toke merch: https://tokenc.bandcamp.com/merch

Year of the Cobra merch: https://yearofthecobra.bigcartel.com/

Here’s the announcement from High on Fire‘s label, E1 Music, via the PR wire:

high on fire tour cancel

HIGH ON FIRE CANCELS “ELECTRIC MESSIAH TOUR 2019” DUE TO MEDICAL EMERGENCY

High On Fire will not participate in the 2019 “Electric Messiah Tour.” Fans can refund their tickets through the point of purchase.

Frontman Matt Pike has provided a statement:

“Dear Friends and fans,

To my brothers, my crew, and anyone else this affects. I do apologize for the inconvenience of this cancellation. I feel as though I’m explaining lightning striking twice. I wanted nothing more in the world to play these songs live, nor ever cancel something I say I’m gonna do.”

“I am a warrior for our art, and have endured some painful things to what we do. The timing and repeating nature of this is my nightmare and almost impossible. Nevertheless, to save yet another toe, my big one, I have been grounded by circumstances out of my control. I will have more of a medical report to come but right now I’m at great risk of losing it, and/or a bigger portion of my foot due to Diabetes. Which I have been managing very well.”

“It just shows how this disease can affect our lives. Please forgive me, and if you know anything about me, you know this is not like me. We will be back!”

Affected dates:
High on Fire Jan/Feb. tour:
Jan. 10 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
Jan. 11- Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
Jan. 12 – Richmond, VA – Broadberry
Jan. 13 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage
Jan. 15 – Philadelphia, PA – TLA
Jan. 16 – Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
Jan. 18 – Boston, MA – The Sinclair
Jan. 19 – Montreal, QC – Fairmount
Jan. 20 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
Jan. 22 – Chicago, IL – Metro
Jan. 23 – Minneapolis, MN – Skyway
Jan. 25 – Denver, CO – Oriental
Jan. 26 – Omaha, NE – Slowdown
Jan. 27 – St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall
Jan. 29 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Bar and Grill
Jan. 30 – Austin, TX-Barracuda
Jan. 31 – Houston, TX – White Oak
Feb. 1 – New Orleans, LA – House Of Blues

HIGH ON FIRE features Matt Pike (guitar, vocals), Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://www.instagram.com/highonfireband/
www.highonfire.net
https://twitter.com/eoneheavy
https://www.facebook.com/eOneHeavy

High on Fire, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2018

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High on Fire Announce Jan./Feb. Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

high on fire

Before High on Fire guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike‘s toe became the stuff of heavy metal clickbait — which to my biased estimation is just about the saddest kind of clickbait there is — his band were supposed to tour with Municipal Waste. Didn’t happen, what with the gnarlyfoot and all, so High on Fire have newly posted a run through January and into February that includes dates along the East Coast and in the Midwest. They of course are still supporting this year’s Electric Messiah (review here), which is their fourth studio LP for eOne Music, and they’ve recently been announced for a return slot at Psycho Las Vegas, where Pike is pretty much as high a roller as they come.

You don’t need me to tell you to go see High on Fire. That’s something you already know. If you missed them at Psycho this year, however, their set is streaming in full below. Because that’s how it works now.

Shows are here:

high on fire 2019 tour

HIGH ON FIRE ANNOUNCE ELECTRIC MESSIAH TOUR 2019

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS CONFIRMED

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

http://highonfire.net/

High On Fire have announced the Electric Messiah tour 2019 in continued support of their new LP released earlier this year.

These dates will be the first time the band has played live since the cancellation of their tour with Municipal Waste earlier this year due to the partial amputation of Matt Pike’s toe.

Additionally, High On Fire will be performing at 2019 Psycho Las Vegas taking place August 16-18, 2019 in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort. Tickets are on sale now, click here for more info.

High on Fire Jan/Feb. tour:
Jan. 10 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
Jan. 11- Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
Jan. 12 – Richmond, VA – Broadberry
Jan. 13 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage
Jan. 15 – Philadelphia, PA – TLA
Jan. 16 – Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw
Jan. 18 – Boston, MA – The Sinclair
Jan. 19 – Montreal, QC – Fairmount
Jan. 20 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
Jan. 22 – Chicago, IL – Metro
Jan. 23 – Minneapolis, MN – Skyway
Jan. 25 – Denver, CO – Oriental
Jan. 26 – Omaha, NE – Slowdown
Jan. 27 – St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall
Jan. 29 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Bar and Grill
Jan. 30 – Austin, TX-Barracuda
Jan. 31 – Houston, TX – White Oak
Feb. 1 – New Orleans, LA – House Of Blues

HIGH ON FIRE features Matt Pike (guitar, vocals), Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://www.instagram.com/highonfireband/
www.highonfire.net
https://twitter.com/eoneheavy
https://www.facebook.com/eOneHeavy

High on Fire, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2018

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Friday Full-Length: Neurosis, The Eye of Every Storm

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

 

So much soul. I have a theory about NeurosisThe Eye of Every Storm — or at very least a kind of fantasy incarnation. It’s basically every song on the album redone by Nina Simone. It would work. Absolutely, not a doubt in my mind, it would work. Think of the arrangements. Think of lines like, “I came to a pile of ashes and sifted through it looking for teeth,” and “So I crawl through the hailstones/My eyes fixed on my return.” It would be amazing, and it would totally, totally work. There is so much soul in this record.

The Eye of Every Storm was released in 2004 as the eighth Neurosis full-length, and it remains a forward-thinking entity unto itself. At that point, the Oakland-based outfit had already blazed a trail through what would continue to become post-metal largely in their wake, records like 1993’s Enemy of the Sun and 1996’s Through Silver in Blood solidifying the progression and approach of 1992’s third outing and pivot away from their hardcore punk beginnings, Souls at Zero (reissue review here), first began. Each of those was crucial in its way, and I’d say the same of 1999’s Times of Grace, but The Eye of Every Storm followed the genre-defining 2001 offering, A Sun That Never Sets (discussed here), and managed to push even beyond that collection’s scope. Comprised of eight tracks for a mammoth and immersive 68-minute runtime, it also was the first pure Neurosis full-length through their own label, Neurot Recordings, though they’d done the two Official Bootleg releases, the Short Wave Warfare live album, and — most relevant — the 2003 collaboration Neurosis & Jarboe, through the imprint as well.

If one looks at Neurosis‘ career as a narrative arc, each album seems to step beyond the last in one direction and/or another. 1990’s The Word as Law built on their 1988 debut, Pain of Mind; Enemy of the Sun built on Souls at Zero, etc. Fine. In that regard, The Eye of Every Storm is another step outward on the part of Neurosis from any sort of delineation of who they “should be.” It was a record that droned as much as it raged, that delivered itself with a patience that even three years earlier was unobtainable, and from the crashing samples Noah Landis brought to opener “Burn,” it was a release of such nuance and sonic detail that 14 years later, one can still listen to it twice and hear something difference each time. Atmosphere of course always played a role in their work, but it was the first time Neurosis were able to make ambience as heavy as the crushing, churning rhythms and tonality that remain a hallmark of their sound.

Following the memorable push of “Burn” and the sweep of “No River to Take Me Home,” the title-track’s near-12-minute reach unfolds a spacious beginning and drops to minimalist bass swells and neurosis the eye of every stormsynth as a bed to execute a build so subtle that one doesn’t even realize what’s happening until it’s already happened. It’s plenty heavy by the finish, but not raging, and though the subsequent “Left to Wander” starts out somewhat manic, after its first minute, it drops to a vast soundscape populated by sparse guitar and a whispered verse. Trades between loud and quiet spaces are common enough in Neurosis‘ style, and certainly in the styles of many of those who’ve taken influence from them, but The Eye of Every Storm smooths the transitions between them to be no more stark than precisely how the band intends: “Left to Wander” lurches to life in its chorus twice before the song hits its halfway point and turns to one of the album’s most outwardly heavy instrumental progressions, marked by tense, rubber-band-about-to-snap-except-it’s-an-arm-tendon toms from drummer Jason Roeder and a wash of guitar noise from Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till as Landis on keys and Dave Edwardson on bass seem to hold the proceedings together before the track devolves into a wash ahead of the instrumental “Shelter,” something of a five-minute interlude that nonetheless proves hypnotic early before arriving at a heavier shove in its second half.

I refuse to discount either “Bridges” or “I Can See You” at the end of the album. Particularly the latter is an epilogue that’s essential to the atmospheric impression The Eye of Every Storm leaves behind when it’s over. But for me, the crux has always been in “A Season in the Sky.” As much a narrative poem as it is a song, it begins with, “I had a vision last night…” and from there elucidates a desolation that is nothing short of consuming. The vocals, atop quiet guitar at first, later cutting through undulating riffs, lead initially to a weeping guitar lead that’s the perfect complement to — and here we are — the bare soul on display throughout. The soul. Neurosis are so often misread as cerebral, and while I’ll argue their progression is conscious — I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe a band who’s spent more than 30 years breaking stylistic ground doesn’t also put thought into it — “A Season in the Sky” is so overwhelming precisely because it is a work of raw heart. Every turn is affecting. Every boom of Edwardson‘s bass in its bridge, every in-pocket turn of its groove. It’s all gorgeously arranged and balanced, but it’s all so natural at the same time, and it captures instrumentally the seeking that’s happening in the lyrics in a way that is no less resonant today than when it was released. It’s everything the apex of The Eye of Every Storm should be.

And yes, the stark contrasts of loud and quiet in “Bridges” are a highlight unto themselves — it’s as far as Neurosis go into either on the album — and “I Can See You” ends with a graceful transition between acoustic guitar and a final statement of heft, but I’d argue both still remain informed by the methodical execution of “A Season in the Sky,” as does the rest of The Eye of Every Storm when taken in full.

It doesn’t seem like it now, but it was a long three years before Neurosis returned to issue Given to the Rising in 2007, and by the time they did, they found themselves following a different impulse — still deeply atmospheric, but more intense. I liken it to the album art: grey for The Eye of Every Storm and black for its follow-up.  2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) pushed further along similar lines in its construction, and 2016’s Fires Within Fires (review here) saw the five-piece take a rawer approach in light of passing their prior-alluded 30th anniversary. They continue to tour, in support of that record as well as a series of vinyl reissues of earlier work, and just at the start of this month announced they’ll hit Japan with Converge early in 2019 (dates here). I haven’t heard murmurings of a new album, but it’s early yet, and I wouldn’t ahead of anyone else. Wherever they go next, I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

This is a special album to me personally and I think in general. I consider writing about it a gift to myself.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

It’s about quarter after four in the morning. In a couple hours, The Pecan, The Patient Mrs. and I will head south from Massachusetts, first to Connecticut, then to New Jersey. That Pecan turns one year old next week so we’re doing a little family celebration thing tomorrow. It’ll be good to be down there for a couple days, if a long drive to do with the baby in one day. Four or five hours in the car is a lot for him. About double his usual tolerance. We’ll see how it goes.

Need to remember to bring the baby monitor and the white noise machine. We don’t pack light these days, not that I ever did. For a dude who wears nothing but t-shirts, I certainly seem to need a lot of clothes. “What if I’m in the mood for the Slomatics shirt?” as I often am. Also the coffee grinder comes with.

That’s what’s up for the weekend. Should be good and exhausting after a week that was much the same. I had the baby straight through from about 10-5:30 yesterday on my own. He naps and stuff — so do I — but still. Youth, energy, all that. I hear teenagers sleep though, so that’s something to look forward to.

Next week is busy too. I feel like I haven’t done proper notes in a while, so here they are, subject to change blah blah:

Mon.: Bismut premiere/review; The Sonic Dawn video premiere.
Tue.: Vessel of Light review.
Wed.: When the Deadbolt Breaks video premiere.
Thu.: Iron Lamb track premiere.
Fri.: A huge piece on The Wall [Redux] with track premieres and band comments, etc.

That last thing is going to be a monster to put together, but will be awesome once it’s up. Look out for it.

The second episode of “The Obelisk Show” on Gimme Radio airs on Sunday night. Prime time, baby! I still need to do the voice tracks for it, but that’ll happen today at some point. 7PM Eastern, 4PM Pacific at http://gimmeradio.com.

And if you want to hear the first episode, you can sign up for their archive feature. It’s five bucks or something ridiculously cheap like that.

Alright. Thanks for reading and thanks to everyone who’s bought a shirt thus far. I’m still hoping to get hoodies done again at some point, but if these go first, that’ll go a long way toward making that happen. So yeah, thanks. If you want one, they’re here: https://www.dropoutmerch.com/the-obelisk.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Neurosis Announce Feb. 2019 Japan Tour with Converge

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

neurosis-photo-by-stefaan-temmerman

Granted, it’s been a while by now, but I still approach Neurosis from a mindset of remembering that period where they weren’t really a touring band. It was almost 15 years ago now, after they did Ozzfest and were presumably burnt out from that as only bands on the Second Stage could’ve possibly been, and before The Eye of Every Storm came out, around the Neurosis & Jarboe record. I remember going to see them in Philly, and it was an event. They did maybe four shows that entire album cycle? Less than 10 before Given to the Rising landed. Anyway, Neurosis have been on the road again for years now — in the last 12 months, they’ve toured Europe, South America and the West Coast, and if you go back 14 months, the Northeast and Europe (again) as well. Supporting a record that’s two years old already. It still seems counterintuitive to me, but Neurosis have been touring a lot for at least the last five years or so.

Not a complaint, it just still feels kind of weird to me. I can’t think of another band who toured hard, receded and then hit the road again later. At least not a band of Neurosis‘ profile. I’m sure it’s happened, but yeah.

They continue to cover the globe with a Japanese tour in Feb. alongside apparent-buds Converge, with whom they’ve shared the stage multiple times since passing the 30-year mark in 2015.

Details and dates from the PR wire:

neurosis converge tour

NEUROSIS Announces Leave Them All Behind 2019 Tour Of Japan With Converge For February

NEUROSIS continues to book new tours around the globe supporting their acclaimed 2016-released Fires Within Fires LP. Following several major tours with Converge, the two acts team up once again, announcing their return to Japan together with the Leave Them All Behind 2019 tour.

Both NEUROSIS and Converge have a strong connection based on mutual respect and the two acts have been on double headlining tours in America and Europe every year since 2016. The co-headlining Leave Them All Behind 2019 tour sees NEUROSIS returning to Japan for only the second time in their storied career, the first time in 1999, and Converge returning for their first tour of the country in six years.

Booked and organized by Daymare Recordings with Smash, Leave Them All Behind 2019 will run from February 14th through February 17th, with shows in Osaka, Nagoya, and two performances in different sections of Tokyo. Converge will perform a special You Fail Me set at the final concert where NEUROSIS will also perform a different set from the other shows of the tour. Showcasing the current Japanese extreme underground scene, additional support on the first Tokyo show will be provided by Endon and Self Deconstruction, and the second night Palm and Black Ganion.

Advance tickets for all shows will go on sale Saturday October 27th.

NEUROSIS is also confirmed to play at Crucial Fest in Salt Lake City this weekend. Performing as the main headliner, Chelsea Wolfe, Pig Destroyer, Russian Circles, and many more will also play at the two-day event.

Watch for additional NEUROSIS tour dates to be announced in the months ahead.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
Leave Them All Behind 2019 w/ Converge:
2/14/2019 Trad – Osaka, JP
2/15/2019 E.L.L. – Nagoya, JP
2/16/2019 O-East – Shbuya, Tokyo, JP w/ Endon, Self Deconstruction
2/17/2019 Unit – Daikanyama, Tokyo, JP w/ Palm, Black Ganion

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Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (2016)

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High on Fire, Electric Messiah: Sanctioned Annihilation

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

high on fire electric messiah

Raging furies, unmistakable gallop, deceptively inventive rhythms and Matt Pike‘s gutturalist vocals from with in the tempest — Electric Messiah bears all the hallmarks of latter-day High on Fire and then some. It is the Oakland trio’s eighth full-length, their fourth with E1 Music and their third that finds Pike, bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensel working with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge, etc.) following 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here). Obviously it’s hard to know at this point whether that relationship between band and producer will continue going forward — hard to think of a reason for it not to unless the three-piece just decided to try someone else at the helm next time — but if one thinks of Electric Messiah as the third installment in a to-date trilogy, then it at very least proves there continues to be life in the collaboration six years after it first got going.

Since High on Fire debuted on E1 in 2010 with Snakes for the Divine (review here) after leaving Relapse Records following 2007’s Jack Endino-produced Death is This Communion (discussed here), the arc of their progression has seen them become more and more of a metal band, trading thickness of tone for a sharper edge to the aggression in Pike‘s riffs and to the presentation of their production. Luminiferous was perhaps the most fervent example of this, though Snakes for the Divine is arguably the cleanest-sounding High on Fire release in terms of the actual recording. Electric Messiah, slightly longer than its two immediate predecessors at 56 minutes and nine tracks, beefs up the tones from Pike‘s guitar and Matz‘s bass and, in combination with the always-vicious impact of Kensel‘s drumming — somehow still an underrated factor in the band 18 years after their debut, The Art of Self-Defense, saw its first release — it makes for some of the chewiest output High on Fire have had in more than a decade going back to Death is This Communion if not 2005’s Blessed Black Wings (discussed here).

That doesn’t mean High on Fire are playing the stoner thrash of their earliest days, but it does mean that to go along with their ripping speed and tight performances, there’s an underlying bombast to songs like opener “Spewn from the Earth,” “The Pallid Mask” and closer “Drowning Dog,” the latter two of which touch on cleaner vocal styles from Pike — who’s long flirted with melody amid his harsher shouts — that adds further dimension to the sound of Electric Messiah on the whole. The well-publicized lead single/title-track, with lyrics written reportedly in homage to Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, to whom Pike has often been compared, is a full-on scorcher as it inevitably would be, and along with the later “Freebooter” and the aforementioned opener, is among the fastest cuts here, but even these songs showcase a heft of tone on the part of the guitar and bass — frankly, the drums don’t exactly lack weight either — that ties them to the march in longer pieces like nine-minute second track “Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil” and “Sanctioned Annihilation.”

high on fire

Appearing at the end of side B on the first of the two LPs, “Sanctioned Annihilation” is notable on its face for, at 10:29, being the longest song High on Fire have ever written; they only other time they touched the 10-minute mark was “Master of Fists” from The Art of Self-Defense, which was 10:06. They don’t waste the time, and instead offer one of their most dynamic compositions, moving from a quiet but tense beginning into a raucous double-kick assault before shifting into a triplet-gallop that consumes the track’s middle third and perhaps sees Pike taking some influence from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt, who’s made the staccato chugs something of a trademark, though again, it’s an opportunity for Kensel to demonstrate just how special a player he is as he locks step with Matz and Pike on his bass drum and lends a severity that is as much militaristic as it is barbarians-coming-over-the-hill. “Sanctioned Annihilation” moves into further war-drum thud and one of Pike‘s many impressive carbon-burning solos, but remains informed by that rhythmic surge, and as the second LP moves into expanded sonic territory with “The Pallid Mask” and the righteously for-the-converted, HighonFire-being-HighonFire — the band acting as their own aesthetic — “God of the Godless,” the sprawl of “Sanctioned Annihilation” continues to have an effect on the listener.

It is not a minor undertaking at nearly an hour long, and it’s not a minor undertaking in terms of its sound — one could easily get out of breath just trying to keep up with the band even in their slower moments — but each piece on the second LP earns its place, whether its the familiar of “God of the Godless,” which is the kind of track that as one comes back for multiple listens only seems to land harder and harder, or the blistering “Freebooter,” which reinvents Slayer‘s moodier ping-ride-isms en route to an absolute massacre. With both over six minutes, the closing duo of “The Witch and the Christ” and “Drowning Dog” are something of a salvo unto themselves, but the former alternates between nods and headbangs, and the finale, again, “Drowning Dog” almost seems to sneak in its more rock-based approach while still remaining consistent in tone and its noisy affect. It’s not out of place by any means, but put next to a song like “Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil,” which isn’t entirely void of melody either in its layers of guitar or later vocals, it’s moving toward a different end.

Such grit isn’t new for High on Fire, but what makes Electric Messiah stand out as it does is how it blends new and old within the band’s particular sound. High on Fire remain one of the most recognizable acts in metal regardless of subgenre, and Electric Messiah reshapes that sphere as it sees fit to best serve the songs. For all its brashness and axe-swinging triumphs, it’s unquestionably the work of professionals on all fronts — that includes Ballou certainly, and Skinner, who did the cover art — and it finds High on Fire marking their 20th year with a reaffirmation of who they are, were and will be not just by trodding out expected elements, but by using them in fresh-sounding and exciting ways. They’re big enough that there will be opinions on all sides, but established fans will have no trouble getting on board with Electric Messiah‘s bludgeoning revelry.

High on Fire, “Electric Messiah” lyric video

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