Friday Full-Length: High on Fire, Blessed Black Wings

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

High on Fire, Blessed Black Wings (2005)

The fury. The gallop. The sheer onslaught. From the riotous launch of ‘Devilution’ onward, High on Fire‘s Blessed Black Wings, even when it draws back on tempo, absolutely refuses to relent. Released via Relapse in 2005 — which I’ll note was 12 years ago, only to emphasize the math — it was the third High on Fire full-length, and at that point it carried all the trappings of a masterpiece. It ranged in mood all the way from seething to raging, and where its predecessors, 1999’s High on Fire EP, 2000’s The Art of Self-Defense debut long-player and 2002’s follow-up, Surrounded by Thieves, found guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike on increasingly sure ground in exploring this new, tonally weighted take on thrash metal that brought some of the heft of his then-prior-now-concurrent outfit, Sleep, to bear amid the unrepentantly propulsive drumming of Des Kensel, it was Blessed Black Wings that really marked High on Fire‘s arrival. Production from Steve Albini and a one-time-only tenure from former Melvins bassist Joe Preston (also Thrones, early Earth, etc.) made it even more of a standout from their prior work, and amid the assault of “Devilution,” the signature gallop of “Cometh Down Hessian” and the I-still-can’t-keep-up-with-it “Silver Back,” the three-piece tossed in landmark hooks like the title-track, “Anointing of Seer” and “To Cross the Bridge.”

Blessed Black Wings, with its dark Arik Roper cover and the clarity of purpose resting malevolently beneath the superficial violence of the chugging “The Face of Oblivion” and the later shred in its eponymous cut, was the moment when High on Fire stepped outside of Sleep‘s formidable stoner rock shadow and into something of their own. I won’t take away from either The Art of Self-Defense or Surrounded by Thieves — the latter was my introduction to the band; I remember being mesmerized by the pervasive filth of it, and it still holds a special place in my hearth among their discography — but it would take the greater sphere of metal a couple years to catch up to what PikeKensel and Preston were doing in these tracks. Relentless touring definitely helped. High on Fire hit the road with no less drive than they put into the memorable attack of “Cometh Down Hessian,” and it was on the stage, with Pike standing straight up and beating the crowd over the head with riff after riff after riff and solo after solo after solo while Kensel — barely visible behind the sheer size of the kit he was playing — thundered away on head-spinning tom and cymbal runs, his fills utterly essential to each turn in High on Fire‘s most bombastic stretches. If Blessed Black Wings proved their mettle as songwriters, it was the ensuing touring that really seemed to signal the force they were in the process of becoming and would continue to morph into as they solidified their lineup with speed-demon bassist Jeff Matz (Zeke) taking the place of Preston ahead of the release of 2007’s ultra-triumphant Death is this Communion (discussed here).

That record, produced by Jack Endino, I count as High on Fire‘s actual masterpiece, but there’s no question it couldn’t have happened without the course that Blessed Black Wings set before it and the work the band put in to support that outing. In that way, Blessed Black Wings was not only a standout in its own right, based on the strength of its material and of the performances it captured, but also as a necessary step in the progression of the band. Of course, following Death is this Communion, they’d go on to sign with eOne Music, through which their next three albums — 2010’s Snakes for the Divine (review here), 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) and 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) — would see release, each one taking on a more directly metallic approach as Greg Fidelman and then Kurt Ballou (Converge) took the production reins, the latter managing to bring out some of the most vicious sounds of their career to-date as they moved past their 15th year together.

Word on the street is High on Fire will have a new album out before the end of 2017. I’ve yet to hear anything concrete in terms of a release date, and if it was going to happen sometime before November — which it likely would in order to squeeze in before the music industry at large takes a hike for the winter — one would expect an announcement probably in the next month or so, unless it won’t be out until next February or something like that. In any case, High on Fire have continued to keep up a fervent touring schedule, and as they’ve slid into headliner status and hit the road with the likes of Crowbar and Meshuggah, their willingness to bring up and coming acts like Windhand and Pallbearer has been an encouraging sign of support for those operating in their rather considerable wake. If in fact a new record is on the way, that’s only going to be welcome news as far as I’m concerned.

In the meantime, as always, I hope you enjoy.

On Wednesday, my plan was to not leave the house. I had it all worked out. A couple chores to do, but otherwise it would be the kind of relaxing experience one can only dream of when gainfully employed. And it worked out. I got up early, did Obelisk stuff, Quarterly Review, etc., and had coffee and breakfast and so on, and by lunchtime, was ready to basically hang around. I watched the Castlevania cartoon on Netflix — major flashbacks of Vampire Hunter D, but the nods to the game were fun — watched the All-Star game from the night before with The Patient Mrs., had pesto, peppered egg whites and super-garlicky cloud bread for dinner (my god it was good), and spent the evening getting toward the end of season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation. More or less the ideal do-almost-nothing day.

Yesterday, I also didn’t leave the house. It was not planned, just cold and raining off and on. I did laundry and dishes and made dinner — kale sauteed in butter and oil with fresh chicken sausage, red pepper, garlic (less for The Patient Mrs. and extra on the side for me; barely cooked), fresh-grated parmesan over top — and we spent another quiet night, but yeah, was less planned and after two days in a row of not going farther than the mailbox, I’m a little antsy going into the weekend.

I guess the fortunate part about that is the packed nature of the next few days. In a little bit, we head to Connecticut. Two-plus hours driving. Drop the dog off, an errand or two, then to the movies in North Haven at 2PM to see War for the Planet of the Apes — I’m a big Planet of the Apes nerd and way down with the reboot series, minus James Franco in the first one. After an early-ish dinner (fingers crossed for a grilled salmon caesar salad from the Shoreline Diner, who have the best one in the area, though I’d also make myself a peanut butter protein shake, save the $15 and be fine provided I can sort the timing), I drive another two-plus hours to New Jersey to crash for the night with a friend in Jersey City. That’s ahead of seeing family tomorrow and doing baby prep stuff and some other whatnot. Goal is to pick out a stroller and a car seat system. Did you know that when you have a kid sometimes you have to take it out of the house???

That’s assuming you manage to get out yourself, naturally.

Tomorrow night, back up to CT after dinner with my family, to reconvene with The Patient Mrs. and spend Sunday at the beach, writing, watching baseball and so on. She has a friend coming north from NYC for the day, so I don’t expect we’ll actually hang out much, but frankly I find just being in her presence redeeming. Sunday night, she heads back to MA to teach the summer program she’s doing for the next couple weeks on Monday, but I’m staying in CT to have Steve and maybe Carl from Kings Destroy up to hang out Monday afternoon. Very much looking forward to that, as they are most excellent human beings. I’ll float the idea of getting an early dinner with them circa 5:30 or 6PM at a local pub and then, because I won’t have a car (The Patient Mrs. having taken ours back to MA the evening prior), Steve will drop me off at the station in New Haven, I’ll catch a circa-7:30/8PM train to Providence, where The Patient Mrs. will pick me up and I’ll be back home to crash out Monday night, get up early on Tuesday, write and probably not leave the house. Ha.

So yeah, kind of a marathon the next few days, but that’s good. Like all the travel we did a couple weeks ago with the Maryland, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Massachusetts back and forth, this has a certain feeling of trying to cram in as much as possible before the arrival of The Pecan in October, but I’m cool with that. There’s a lot to do.

Like more for the Quarterly Review as well. Special thanks to Boston’s Rozamov for letting me push back a track premiere a day to accommodate a sixth batch of reviews for this coming Monday. It’s hugely appreciated. Here’s what’s in the notes for the week, all subject to change of course:

Mon.: Quarterly Review Day 6; Cities of Mars track premiere.
Tue.: Rozamov track premiere; Godhunter video; Wasted Theory announcement.
Wed.: Six Dumb Questions with The Midnight Ghost Train.
Thu.: A side-by-side review of Lowrider’s deluxe Ode to Io LP with the original vinyl.
Fri.: Gonna play it by ear unless something comes in, but might review the new Egypt or Youngblood Supercult.

That’s the latest. I’m living well post-employment; got some meds and feel a little bit like I have my head back generally. Money is already tight and will only get tighter over the next couple months, but my mother and sister have been a huge help with baby stuff — you should see the bins of hand-me-downs — and we’re getting there. The Patient Mrs. astounds as always, and I feel so lucky to be able to spend extra time with her this summer, even if it’s just the two of us falling asleep on the couch in the evening. She is the absolute center around which the rest of my life spins. Looking forward to trying my hand at stay-at-home dadness when the time comes.

Like Nick Cave said on the second Grinderman record: “When my baby come.”

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

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Quarterly Review: Les Discrets, Test Meat, Matus, Farflung, Carpet, Tricky Lobsters, Ten Foot Wizard & Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, The Acid Guide Service, Skunk, The Raynbow

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

quarterly-review-summer-2017

My friends, the time has come. Well, actually the time came about two weeks ago at the end of June, but I won’t tell if you don’t. Better late than never as regards all things, but most especially The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review, which this time around features releases recent, upcoming and a bit older, a mix of known and lesser known acts, and as always, hopefully enough of a stylistic swath to allow everyone whose eyes the series of posts catches to find something they dig between now and Friday. As always, it’ll be 50 records from now until then, 10 per day, and I see no reason not to jump right in, so let’s do that.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Les Discrets, Prédateurs

les discrets Prédateurs

After offering a preview of their marked stylistic turn in last year’s Virée Nocturne EP (review here), Lyon, France’s Les Discrets return with the suitably nighttime-urbane vibing of their Prédateurs full-length via Prophecy Productions. Five years after Ariettes Oubliées (review here), Fursy Teyssier and company reinvent their approach to the sonic lushness of their earlier work, departing the sphere of post-black metal they previously shared with sister band Alcest in favor of an anything-goes heavy experimentalism more akin to Ulver on cuts like “Le Reproche” or the deeply atmospheric “Fleur des Murailles.” Drones pepper “Rue Octavio Mey” and closer “Lyon – Paris 7h34” effectively conveys the sense of journey its train-schedule title would hint toward, and indeed Les Discrets as a whole seem to be in flux throughout Prédateurs despite an overarching cohesion within each track. It’s a fine line between multifaceted and disjointed, but fortunately, Teyssier’s grip on melodicism is unflinching and enough to tie otherwise disparate ideas together here.

Les Discrets on Thee Facebooks

Les Discrets at Prophecy Productions

 

Test Meat, Demo

test meat demo

Considering the pedigree involved in guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard (ex-Milligram, Blackwolfgoat, Kind, etc.), bassist Aarne Victorine (UXO, Whitey) and drummer Michael Nashawaty (Planetoid, Bird Language), it’s little surprise that Test Meat’s Demo would have a pretty good idea of where it wants to come from. The five-track first showing from the Boston trio blends raw-edge grunge and noise rock on “He Don’t Know” after opening with its longest inclusion (immediate points) in the 3:50 “Cuffing Season,” and though centerpiece “Done” nods at the starts-and-stops of Helmet, the subsequent 2:35 push of “If You Wanna” is strikingly post-Nirvana, and closer “Permanent Festival” rounds out by bridging that gap via a still-straightforward heavy rock groove. Formative, yeah, but that’s the whole point. Test Meat revel in their barebones style and clearly aren’t looking to get overly lush, but one can’t help but be curious how or if they’ll develop a more melodic sensibility to go with the consuming, full buzzsaw tones they elicit here.

Test Meat on Thee Facebooks

Test Meat on Bandcamp

 

Matus, Intronauta

matus intronauta

Worth noting that while the opening cut here, “Claroscuro,” shares its title with Matus’ 2015 full-length (review here), that song didn’t actually appear on that album. Does that mean that the Lima, Peru, classic progressive rockers are offering leftovers from the same sessions on their new EP and perhaps final release, Intronauta? I don’t know, but the four tracks of the digital outing are a welcome arrival anyway, from the laid back easy vibes of the aforementioned opener through the riffier “Intronauta (Including Hasta Que El Sol Descanse en Paz),” the Theremin-soaked finish of the harder-driving “Catalina” and the acoustic-led four-part closer “Arboleda Bohemia,” which unfolds with lushness that remains consistent with the naturalism that has always been underlying in the band’s work. They’ve said their last few times out that the end is near, and if it’s true, they go out with a fully-cast sonic identity of their own and a take on ‘70s prog that remains an underrated secret of the South American underground.

Matus on Thee Facebooks

Matus on Bandcamp

 

Farflung, Unwound Celluloid Frown

farflung unwound celluloud frown

The jury, at least when it comes to the internet, still seems to be somewhat divided on whether the name of Farflung’s five-track/34-minute EP is Unwound Celluloid Frown or Unwound Cellular Frown. I’d say another argument is whether it’s an EP or an LP, but either way, let the follow-up to the more clearly-titled 2016 album (review here) demonstrate how nebulous the long-running Los Angeles space rockers can be when it suits them. Hugely and continually underrated, the troupe once again aligns to Heavy Psych Sounds for this release, which is rife with their desert-hued Hawkwindian thrust and weirdo vibes, permeating the rocket-fuel chug of the title-track and the noise-of-the-cosmos 13-minute headphone-fest that is “Axis Mundi,” which seems to end with someone coming home and putting down their car keys before a slowly ticking clock fades out and into the backwards swirling intro of lazily drifting closer “Silver Ghost with Crystal Spoons.” Yeah, it’s like that. Whatever you call it, the collection proves once again that Farflung are a secret kept too well.

Farflung on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Carpet, Secret Box

carpet secret box

Immersive and progressive psychedelia unfolds from the very opening moments of Carpet’s third album, Secret Box (on Elektrohasch Schallplatten), as the Augsberg, Germany-based five-piece explore lush arrangements of Moog, Rhodes, trumpet, vibraphone, etc. around central compositions of fluid guitar-led melodies and engaging rhythms. Their 2015 Riot Kiss 7” (review here) and 2013 sophomore long-player, Elysian Pleasures (review here), came from a similar place in intent, but from the funk wah and percussion underscoring the pre-fuzz-explosion portion of “Best of Hard Times” and the okay-this-one’s-about-the-riff “Shouting Florence” to the serene ambience of “For Tilda” and ethereal fluidity of “Pale Limbs” later on, the secret of Secret Box seems to be that it’s actually a treasure chest in disguise. Opening with its longest track in “Temper” (immediate points), the album hooks its audience right away along a graceful, rich-sounding melodic flow and does not relinquish its hold until the last piano notes of the closing title-track offer a wistful goodbye. In between, Carpet execute with a poise and nuance all the more enjoyable for how much their own it seems to be.

Carpet on Thee Facebooks

Carpet on Bandcamp

 

Tricky Lobsters, Worlds Collide

tricky lobsters worlds collide

Full, natural production, crisp and diverse songwriting, right-on performances and a name you’re not about to forget – there’s nothing about Tricky Lobsters not to like. Worlds Collide is their sixth album and first on Exile on Mainstream, and the overall quality of their approach reminds of the kind of sonic freedom proffered by Astrosoniq, but the German trio of guitarist/vocalist Sarge, bassist/vocalist Doc and drummer/vocalist Captain Peters have their own statements to make as well in the stomping “Battlefields,” the mega-hook of “Big Book,” the dreamy midsection stretch of “Father and Son” and the progressive melody-making of “Tarred Albino” (video premiere here). The emphasis across the nine-song/42-minute outing is on craft, but whether it’s the patient unfolding of “Dreamdiver Pt. I & II” or the harp-and-fuzz blues spirit of closer “Needs Must,” Tricky Lobsters’ sonic variety comes paired with a level of execution that’s not to be overlooked. Will probably fly under more radars than it should, but if you can catch it, do.

Tricky Lobsters on Thee Facebooks

Tricky Lobsters at Exile on Mainstream Records

 

Ten Foot Wizard & Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Special

ten-foot-wizard-chubby-thunderous-bad-kush-masters-special

Dubbed Special for reasons that should be fairly obvious from looking at the cover art, this meeting of minds, riffs and cats between Manchester’s Ten Foot Wizard and London’s Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters brings four tracks – two per band – and goes so far as to find the groups collaborating on the former’s “Get Fucked,” which opens, and the latter’s “Dunkerque,” which begins their side of the 7”, as vocalists The Wailing Goblin (of Chubby Thunderous) and Gary Harkin (of Ten Foot Wizard) each sit in for a guest spot on the other band’s cuts. Both bands also offer a standalone piece, with Ten Foot Wizard digging into heavy rock burl on “Night Witches” and Chubby Thunderous blowing out gritty party sludge in “Nutbar,” which rounds out the offering, and between them they showcase well the sphere of the UK’s crowded but diverse heavy rock underground. Kind of a niche release in the spirit of Gurt and Trippy Wicked’s 2016 Guppy split/collab, but it works no less well in making its impact felt.

Ten Foot Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters on Thee Facebooks

 

The Acid Guide Service, Vol. 11

the acid guide service vol 11

It turns out that Vol. 11 is actually Vol. 1 for Garden City, Idaho, three-piece The Acid Guide Service, who dig into extended fuzz-overdose riffing on the 52-minute nine-tracker, proffering blown-out largesse even on shorter cuts like the five-minute “Into the Sky” while longer pieces like opener “Raptured” (7:16), “EOD” (9:38) and closer “Black Leather Jesus” (10:04) skirt lines between structure and jams as much as between heavy rock and psychedelia. Proffered by the trio of guitarist/vocalist Russ Walker, bassist/vocalist Tyler Walker and drummer Nick McGarvey, one can hear shades of Wo Fat in the guitar-led expanse of “Rock ‘n’ Roll (Is the Drug I’m On),” but on the whole, Vol. 11 speaks more to the late-‘90s/early-‘00s post-Kyuss stoner rock heyday, with flourish of Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu for good measure in the hard-swinging “Dude Rockin’” and its chugging companion piece, “Marauder King.” Big tones, big riffs, big groove. The Acid Guide Service are preaching to the converted, but clearly coming from a converted place themselves in so doing. Right on.

The Acid Guide Service on Thee Facebooks

The Acid Guide Service on Bandcamp

 

Skunk, Doubleblind

skunk doubleblind

Professing a self-aware love for the earliest days of heavy metal in idea and sound, Oakland’s Skunk offer their full-length debut with the self-released Doubleblind, following up on their 2015 demo, Heavy Rock from Elder Times (review here). That outing featured four tracks that also appear on Doubleblind – “Forest Nymph,” “Wizard Bong,” “Black Hash” and “Devil Weed.” Working on a theme? The theme is “stoned?” Yeah, maybe, but the cowbell-infused slider groove and standout hook of “Mountain Child” are just as much about portraying that ‘70s vibe as Skunk may or may not be about the reefer whose name they bear. Presumably more recent material like that song, “Doubleblind,” closer “Waitin’ Round on You” and leadoff cut “Forest Nymph” coherently blend impulses drawn from AC/DC, Sabbath and Zeppelin. John McKelvy’s vocals fit that spirit perfectly, and with the grit brought forth from guitarists Dmitri Mavra and Erik Pearson, bassist Matt Knoth and drummer Jordan Ruyle, Skunk dig into catchy, excellently-paced roller riffing and cast their debut in the mold of landmark forebears. Mothers, teach your children to nod.

Skunk on Thee Facebooks

Skunk on Bandcamp

 

The Raynbow, The Cosmic Adventure

the raynbow the cosmic adventure

As they make their way through a temporal drift of three tracks that play between krautrocking jazz fusion, psychecosmic expansion and Floydian lushness, Kiev-based explorers The Raynbow keep immersion central to their liquefied purposes. The Cosmic Adventure (on Garden of Dreams Records) is an aptly-titled debut full-length, and the band who constructed it is comprised of upwards of eight parties who begin with the 16-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Changes,” which builds toward and through a metallic chug apex, sandwiching it on either side with ultra-patient molten tone and soundscaping that continues to flourish through the subsequent “Cosmic Fool” (5:17) and “Blue Deep Sea Eyes” (8:18), the whole totaling a still-manageable outward trip into reaches of slow-moving space rock that whether loud or quiet at any individual moment more than earns a volume-up concentrated headphone listen. The kind of outfit one could easily imagine churning out multiple albums in a single year, The Raynbow nonetheless deliver a dream on The Cosmic Adventure that stands among the best first offerings I’ve heard in 2017.

The Raynbow on Thee Facebooks

Garden of Dreams Records on Bandcamp

 

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Neurosis Set Aug. Release for The Word as Law Reissue

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

neurosis (Photo Stefaan Temmerman)

Just the facts, because the facts are enough: Neurot Recordings will reissue Neurosis‘ 1990 sophomore outing, The Word as Law, on Aug. 25. Preorders are up now and the revamped artwork comes courtesy of Josh Graham. The release date follows the long-running post-metal innovators’ tour with Converge and Amenra, as well as their stop at Psycho Las Vegas, and precedes their headlining slot in October at Baltimore’s inaugural Days of Darkness fest, put on by the same crew as Maryland Deathfest. Neurosis just wrapped a quick run of European shows that began with a slot at Roskilde festival in Denmark and in December they’ll head to South America for the first time in their 31-year career, going in order to support their 2016 album, Fires Within Fires (review here).

Like its predecessor, 1988’s Pain of Mind, The Word as Law showcases Neurosis‘ roots in hardcore punk. By the time they got to Souls at Zero just two years later, they’d be on quickly expanding sonic ground, but one could argue that with the rawness at the core of Fires Within Fires, the band’s earliest offerings have never been more relevant than they are now. All the better on the timing here, then.

From the PR wire:

neurosis the word as law

NEUROSIS To Reissue Out-Of-Print Second Album The Word As Law In August

NEUROSIS will reissue the band’s second LP, The Word As Law, in August, the album having remained out-of-print since the 1990s.

While listening to NEUROSIS’ discography in chronological order, their sound gradually shifts in a very steady and somewhat seamless progression with each record, though their first few albums are undoubtedly cut from their 80s punk influences and surroundings. The Word As Law was initially released on vinyl only in 1990 through Lookout! Records, alongside the likes of Operation Ivy, Green Day, Screeching Weasel, and other Bay Area punk acts of the time. Upbeat rhythms and enraged vocals fuel The Word As Law, the record picking up where their Pain Of Mind debut’s ripping punk sound left off, while the band simultaneously began experimenting with more dissonant, melancholic, and demoralizing tones that would carve the foundation for their next few albums and their signature sound.

NEUROSIS had yet to infuse keyboards or synthesizers into the mix when The Word As Law was recorded by Mark Lemaire at Sound & Vision in San Francisco of December 1989. The blend of vocals delivered by guitarist Scott Kelly, bassist Dave Edwardson, and new inductee on this album, guitarist Steve Von Till, driven by the powerful rhythms of drummer Jason Roeder, coalesce to formulate an eerie and original sound on The Word As Law, which results in the album’s cult status as an incredibly groundbreaking album for countless crust punk, hardcore, and experimental metal artists worldwide.

While prior reissues of the album featured several re-recorded bonus tracks from the band’s prior singles and releases, the 2017 Neurot reissue of The Word As Law will bear the album’s initial eight tracks, all completely remastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering. Additionally, the album’s cover artwork has been reworked and modernized by NEUROSIS’ former live visual architect Josh Graham to match the label’s previously-reissued Souls At Zero, Enemy Of The Sun, and other titles.

NEUROSIS’ own Neurot Recordings will reissue The Word As Law on CD, LP, and digital formats on August 25th, directly following their US tour with Converge and Amenra and their performance at Psycho Las Vegas. See all confirmed tour dates below and find preorder links for The Word As Law at THIS LOCATION.

The Word As Law Track Listing:
1. Double Edged Sword
2. The Choice
3. Obsequious Obsolescence
4. To What End?
5. Tomorrow’s Reality
6. Common Inconsistencies
7. Insensitivity
8. Blisters

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
7/27/2017 Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL w/ Amenra
7/28/2017 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL w/ Converge, Amenra
7/29/2017 St Andrews – Detroit, MI w/ Converge, Amenra
7/30/2017 Rex Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/01/2017 Metropolis – Montreal, QC w/ Converge, Amenra
8/02/2017 Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON w/ Converge, Amenra
8/03/2017 College St. Music Hall – New Haven, CT w/ Converge, Amenra
8/04/2017 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Converge, Amenra [SOLD OUT]
8/05/2017 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Converge, Amenra
8/06/2017 Royale – Boston, MA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/07/2017 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/18-20/2017 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas
10/28-29/2017 Ram’s Head Live – Baltimore Maryland @ Days Of Darkness
12/08/2017 Clash Club – São Paulo, BR w/ Deafkids
12/09/2017 Teatro Vorterix – Buenos Aires, AR
12/10/2017 Club Blondie – Santiago, CL

http://www.neurosis.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com
http://www.twitter.com/neurosisoakland
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Neurosis tour trailer

Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (2016)

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Neurosis Announce First-Ever South American Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Neurosis have already been to Australia and New Zealand this year, and next month they head to Europe for select shows around a performance at Roskilde Festival in Denmark ahead of a North American stretch alongside Converge and Amenra, but they’re still not done. 31 years into one of underground music’s most influential tenures, the band will head to South America for the very first time this December, playing Brazil, Argentina and Chile on shows presented by Abraxas in support of their 2016 album, Fires Within Fires (review here). Adding another continental notch to their collective belt is significant, but it seems all the more perfect in terms of timing as the band look back over the stretch of their career at the same time while adding new accomplishments in creativity and reach. I have no doubt these shows will be utter madness, and rightfully so.

Guitarist/vocalist Steve von Till offers some comment below, and you’ll find all Neurosis‘ dates down there in blue as well, courtesy of the PR wire:

neurosis south america tour

NEUROSIS To Play Their First-Ever South American Shows In December; European And North American Summer Dates Loom

Thirty years of anticipation will come to an end this December: South American fans can finally experience the live intensity of heavy music pioneers, NEUROSIS. For the first time, the band will bring its cathartic live experience to South America, performing three shows in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

“We are honored and humbled by the opportunity to experience a new sonic adventure on a new continent,” says Steve Von Till. “Finally, after all this time, we are able to come to South America and experience first-hand the legendary and passionate heavy music scene there.”

Over three decades, NEUROSIS has produced eleven studio albums, performed on stages around the planet – each record, each song, each show and each studio experience pushing the band one step further along on a lifelong path of spirit and sonic experimentation. For the first time in South America, local audiences will feel the trance like power of NEUROSIS’ massive riffs. These South American shows are produced by Brazilian booking agency Abraxas in partnership with Xaninho Discos, beginning in São Paulo, Brazil, on December 8th at Clash Club, followed by shows in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 9th at Teatro Vorterix and Santiago, Chile, December 10th at Club Blondie. Ticket information for these three shows will be announced in the coming weeks.

NEUROSIS’ Summer tour is rapidly approaching, beginning with a European venture the first week of July, leading with a set at Roskilde Festival and followed by shows with Wolfbrigade, Author & Punisher, labelmates Dark Budda Rising, and more. In late July and early August, NEUROSIS will storm the Eastern US and lower Canada with a week-and-a-half of tour dates alongside Converge and labelmates Amenra. This tour will be followed by NEUROSIS’ participation in Psycho Vegas in Las Vegas, August 18th through 20th, performing with the likes of King Diamond, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Swans, Sleep, The Melvins, Wolves In The Throne Room, and countless others. NEUROSIS will also headline the Days Of Darkness festival in Baltimore, Maryland on October 28th and 29th, the two-day gala also including sets by Manilla Road, Om, Cirith Ungol, Warning, Captain Beyond, Boris, Elder, and many more.

Released in September, NEUROSIS’ acclaimed Fires Within Fires is available now on CD, LP, cassette, and all digital platforms through the band’s own Neurot Recordings; see all bundles and options RIGHT HERE.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
7/01/2017 Roskilde Festival – Roskilde, DK
7/02/2017 Kraken – Stockholm, SE w/ Wolfbrigade & Author & Punisher
7/03/2017 Pustervik – Gothenburg, SE w/ Author & Punisher
7/04/2017 Tavastia – Helsinki, FI w/ Dark Buddha Rising
7/05/2017 Eistnaflug – Neskaupstadur, IS
7/27/2017 Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL w/ Amenra
7/28/2017 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL w/ Converge, Amenra
7/29/2017 St Andrews – Detroit, MI w/ Converge, Amenra
7/30/2017 Rex Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/01/2017 Metropolis – Montreal, QC w/ Converge, Amenra
8/02/2017 Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON w/ Converge, Amenra
8/03/2017 College St. Music Hall – New Haven, CT w/ Converge, Amenra
8/04/2017 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Converge, Amenra [SOLD OUT]
8/05/2017 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Converge, Amenra
8/06/2017 Royale – Boston, MA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/07/2017 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/18-20/2017 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas
10/28-29/2017 Ram’s Head Live – Baltimore Maryland @ Days Of Darkness
12/08/2017 Clash Club – São Paulo, BR
12/09/2017 Teatro Vorterix – Buenos Aires, AR
12/10/2017 Club Blondie – Santiago, CL

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

Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (2016)

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War Cloud Sign to Ripple Music; Debut Album Due in Sept.

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

Oakland heavy rockers War Cloud released their Vulture City digital single (discussed here) last Spring, and though it was only one song and a four-minute sampling of their wares, it was pretty easy to tell that dudes were headed somewhere. Classic in form, modern in execution and geared by a raucous, semi-metallized urgency, the track was a telling forecast of a band who, one way or the other, was going to be on the move. Sure enough, the four-piece, which features Wild Eyes bassist Carson Binx, have signed to Ripple Music for the release of their debut album this September.

Info on the record is minimal at this point, but September is three months away and I suspect things like artwork, tracklisting, audio previews, tour dates, video, etc., are all impending. Keep an eye out, because listening back to “Vulture City” now — as you can at the bottom of this post — War Cloud don’t sound any less loaded with potential than they did a year ago.

From the PR wire:

war cloud

Bay Area Heavy Rockers, War Cloud, Sign to Ripple Music for New Album and Tour

Ripple Music is thrilled to welcome San Francisco Bay Area heavy rockers, War Cloud, to it’s roster of the best of the modern heavy bands.
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Erupting in 2014, out of Oakland, California, War Cloud has been on a steady path of shredding Northern Californian ear drums. Founded by Alex Wein (vocals, guitars), who moved from Baltimore MD and wasted no time in recruiting area musicians after firmly planting his amps in the Bay Area. Looking to create an aural ash cloud of volcanic rock, Alex solidified this four- man crew with two Bay Area natives Joaquin Ridgell (drums) and Tony Campos (guitar), and secured the low end with Toronto transplant Carson Binx on bass.

War Cloud is a young band but far from wide-eyed innocents. Their musical history drenched in molten riffs across the timeline of heavy metal, the name alone originates from a Wicked Lady song of the same title. With roots encompassing Tony’s tenure in San Francisco’s heavy thrash tinged Hell Fire, Carson’s melding of hard rock rhythm and old-school groove on bass, and Joaquin pounding his drums as if possessed by the ghost of John Bonham himself. War Cloud has created a new flavor of heavy rock music for those enjoying past meals served up by the likes of Pentagram, UFO, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath.

War Cloud’s debut album — their first for Bay Area based heavy rock leader — Ripple Music will hit the streets this September in vinyl, CD and digital formats. Available world-wide via all digital platforms, world-wide physical distribution and the Ripple Music webstore.

War Cloud is:
Alex Wein – Vocals/Guitar
Tony Campos – Guitar
Carson Binx – Bass
Joaquin Ridgell – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/warcloudiscoming/
https://warcloudiscoming.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.warcloud.bigcartel.com/
www.ripple-music.com
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

War Cloud, “Vulture City”

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Friday Full-Length: Neurosis, A Sun that Never Sets

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Neurosis, A Sun that Never Sets (2001)

It is arguable that A Sun that Never Sets represents the moment when Neurosis most defined the course of what would come to be called post-metal. In fact, I’ve argued it several times. It’s not a hard argument to make, and if you’ve ever heard the album, which was released by Relapse Records in 2001 as the seventh outing from the Oakland-based outfit, you very likely already know where I’m going with this. It’s the riff. That riff. Neurosis end A Sun that Never Sets with “Stones from the Sky,” and to this day, every post-metal record I encounter in one way or another — often in directly ripping it off — tries to capture that moment where the sweeping final riff of the album devolves and deconstructs into a genuine cacophony of noise before cutting out like a transmission from another world has just been shut down. I’m not going to take anything away — at all — ever — from the work Neurosis did on albums like 1992’s Souls at Zero, 1993’s Enemy of the Sun, 1996’s primal Through Silver in Blood or the sprawling chaos of 1999’s Times of Grace. Neurosis‘ output has always been and still is marked and defined by a forward creative development — it continued after this record as well — but to consider A Sun that Never Sets anything less than a landmark in that process is to simply miss the point.

The difference? Patience. A sense of brooding in the title-track. The flow of arrangements in “The Tide” and “From the Hill” early on. Comprised of guitarist/vocalists Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till, bassist/vocalist Dave Edwardson, keyboardist/sampler Noah Landis and drummer Jason Roeder, Neurosis were no strangers to intensity. Going back to their earliest hardcore punk output on 1988’s Pain of Mind debut or 1990’s The Word as Law, it was an essential ingredient, and it has remained one even as they passed their 30th anniversary, but listening to songs like “Crawl Back In” and the tribalist “From Where its Roots Run,” A Sun that Never Sets brimmed with a tension that even Times of Grace had only begun to explore, and while it would ultimately be in “Stones from the Sky” that that tension found its (merciful) release, the lurch of pieces like “Watchfire” or the earlier “From the Hill” seemed nearly orchestral in its swell and cascade, providing the listener with a progressive course of ups and downs that stretched across a masterfully executed, deeply textured 68 minutes that served as one of the best and most pivotal albums of its decade — all the more an accomplishment for being released in the first year of it. From the drum march that begins the title-track to the noise experiments in intro “Erode” and the penultimate interlude “Resound,” A Sun that Never Sets turned volume into ritual, and it remains singular in its dynamic, both within the Neurosis catalog and in the wider sphere of heavy music as a whole. As many as have tried to imitate it — and who could argue with trying? — none have found results that come close to touching its power, presence or vision.

And of course, for Neurosis, it was another step along the way. They’d soon enough develop Neurot Recordings as an outlet for their own material, solo works, and other artists admired by the band, today resulting in one of the underground’s most respected imprints. 2003 brought the Neurosis & Jarboe collaboration and 2004 pushed further into atmospheric soulfulness with The Eye of Every Storm — and if you don’t know what I mean by “soulful,” revisit “A Season in the Sky” — and saw the band all but absent from touring before 2007’s Given to the Rising reintroduced a more aggressive feel and stark trades in volume. Density of intent persisted through the vast scope of 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here), and as they looked back on 30 years together with special live sets and a return to prominence as a touring act, last year’s Fires Within Fires (review here) continued to forge new creative ground even as it embraced some of their rawest and most seething output since their earliest days. Through these changes and the ongoing evolution of Neurosis as a project, they have always remained committed to a natural progression, and taken in succession, their albums tell a story of that progression across a span of decades in one of heavy music’s richest and most individualized histories.

Neurosis don’t exist in a vacuum, and with releases as essential as A Sun that Never Sets, the temptation is often to see them that way — which is to say it’s not the only record that helped shape post-metal — but there’s no question they stand among the most important groups of their generation, and as an audience we’re all the more fortunate that their contributions are as ongoing as they are distinctive.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

This coming Monday is the Memorial Day holiday here in the States. It is an unfortunate cause for celebration, what with the perpetual war generally and the ensuing jingoism and unthinking patriotism that always seems to accompany the day — even the baseball teams wear camo; it’s a downer — but a day off is a day off, and at this point I’ll take it.

I took today off as well and The Patient Mrs., the impending Pecan, the little dog Dio and I all came down to Connecticut last night to spend an extra day at the beach. Four day weekend? Shit yeah, son. That’s the way life should always be.

After some debate on the matter at the office this week, my final day of work is June 16. As you might imagine, my feelings on this are somewhat conflicted. Happy to not be working anymore; worried about the prospects of no income, excited, curious and a bit terrified at the notion of being a stay-at-home dad come October. Wondering if something comes next or if I’m leaving the workforce for good at 35. Kind of a scary thought.

I’ve been giving serious thought of late to taking a few classes and setting up an office as some kind of nutrition counselor, trying to help people frame how they think about food and how it interacts with their life. Since I’ve lost (just over) 170 pounds in the last year and a half, I’ve gotten many questions from people about how I did it, how I feel, how they might go about losing weight, and so on, and I think from just hearing out their stories to helping plan a week of meals, that’s something from which I might derive professional satisfaction. Plus, I’d be working for myself, which is basically the only way I would want to work at all at this point. Done with offices. Done with other people. Done with the culture of professionalism. If I can’t have my dog around when I’m working, then that’s work I don’t want to be doing.

We’ll see how that goes. I get these ideas. Pipe dreams 95 percent of the time. Plus I’ve been on anti-depressants now for about three weeks, so if I was ever going to have a I’m-gonna-change-my-life-type notion, I need to recognize that this is probably the time it would happen. Ambition as symptom of chemical change. “My brains are going into my feet,” and so on.

As regards business, here’s what’s in the notes for next week, subject to change as always:

MON: Demon Head review & Drug Honkey video.
TUE: Witchthroat Serpent track premiere & Arbouretum video.
WED: Six Dumb Questions with Abrams.
THU: Second Coming of Heavy review.
FRI: Anathema review.

Kind of a quiet week thus far, with the holiday and whatnot, but I expect things will pick up toward the end and there may be some shuffling as per usual. That Anathema review is set in stone though. The Second Coming of Heavy one I’ve already moved a few times, so that should probably get done as well. I don’t know. It’ll come together. Not worried about it.

Traditionally one barbecues for Memorial Day, and I expect my feed on Thee Facebooks this weekend will be full of showoff pictures of various smoked/smoking meat products, beers, and so on. That’s cool. Whatever you’re up to, I hope it’s a great time. Be safe and have fun. Listen to good music, because that makes good days even better.

Thanks for reading and please take some time to check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Neurosis Announce Summer Tour with Converge and Amenra

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

You know, the trouble is, Neurosis announce a summer tour — or pretty much anything — and then I go to their merch webstore, and then I stare longingly at the half-oxblood/half-black vinyl reissue of The Eye of Every Storm AGAIN. And then I get sad. So yeah, don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked at the prospect of seeing them play again, maybe in Connecticut, maybe in Montreal if I’m unemployed and doing the bohemian thing by then, or maybe a trip to Brooklyn is in order, but wherever it happens, my enjoyment of that prospect is tempered by the simple fact that I don’t own that LP. It’s even on sale right now through the end of the month. The Patient Mrs. response? Literally, “Buy it. I don’t give a fuck.” But she does. I hear we haven’t paid the water bill in six months.

My fiscal concerns notwithstanding, we’ll see if I last through April without placing that order. In the meantime, you can check out the latest tour dates for the post-metal forebears below. They go supporting last fall’s scathing Fires Within Fires (review here) and in the substantial company of Converge and Belgian acolytes Amenra, as the PR wire affirms:

neurosis tour poster

NEUROSIS: North American Summer Tour With Converge And Amenra Announced

NEUROSIS declares new tour dates for 2017, announcing a new run of North American Summer performances with Converge and Amenra.

As the band continues to perform the works from their acclaimed eleventh studio album, Fires Within Fires, the upcoming tour will find NEUROSIS bringing their immersive live experience to the East Coast and Midwestern US, and Southeastern Canada. The tour will embark out of Chicago on July 28th, with shows in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Toronto, New Haven, Brooklyn, Boston, and Philadelphia confirmed through August 7th. Iconic punk/metal experimenters Converge will supply direct support for NEUROSIS, and leading the charge will see Neurot labelmates Amenra making their long-awaited return to North American shores.

NEUROSIS is also confirmed to headline the Days Of Darkness festival in Baltimore, Maryland on October 28th and 29th, the two-day gala also including sets by Warning, Manilla Road, Elder, Gost, Unearthly Trance, Dälek, and Bongripper, and more. Additional NEUROSIS tour dates are to be expected.

Released in September, NEUROSIS’ acclaimed Fires Within Fires is available now on CD, LP, cassette, and all digital platforms through the band’s own Neurot Recordings; see all bundles and options RIGHT HERE.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
7/28/2017 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL w/ Converge, Amenra
7/29/2017 St Andrews – Detroit, MI w/ Converge, Amenra
7/30/2017 Rex Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/01/2017 Metropolis – Montreal, QC w/ Converge, Amenra
8/02/2017 Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, QC w/ Converge, Amenra
8/03/2017 College St. Music Hall – New Haven, CT w/ Converge, Amenra
8/04/2017 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Converge, Amenra
8/06/2017 Royale – Boston, MA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/07/2017 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Converge, Amenra
10/28-29/2017 Ram’s Head Live – Baltimore Maryland @ Days Of Darkness

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

Neurosis tour trailer

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Scott Kelly Announces Southeastern Acoustic Tour

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

I’ll be honest with you: I could use a new Scott Kelly record. I know that’s asking a lot. First of all, the ink is barely dry on Neurosis‘ 2016 outing, Fires Within Fires (review here), and his collaboration with Sanford Parker, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, also had its self-titled debut (review here) out last year on Neurot, and already in 2017 he’s got the project noted below with the guys from Amenra — and Corrections House always seem to be a looming threat in the background, even when they’re not actually active — but yeah. A new Scott Kelly record? Five years after Scott Kelly and the Road Home put out The Forgiven Ghost in Me (review here), that’d just about hit the spot.

Kelly, who’s soon to head to Australia and New Zealand with Neurosis, has announced an acoustic stint in the Southeastern US in the company of Rwake guitarist John Judkins. Will it preface a new record? Maybe. I wouldn’t guess. File under: “Who knows?” and leave it at that. At least he’s touring. If you’ve never seen him live, it is an intense experience not to be missed.

From the PR wire:

scott kelly

SCOTT KELLY Of Neurosis Confirms Southeastern US Solo Acoustic Tour Dates Joined By John Judkins Of Rwake

Neurosis’ founding guitarist/vocalist SCOTT KELLY has confirmed a new set of tour dates beginning later this month, where the artist will take his acoustic solo anthems to the Southeastern US.

While Neurosis continues to tour in support of their lauded eleventh studio album, Fires Within Fires, SCOTT KELLY also continues to perform in a variety of other forms, including Mirrors For Psychic Warfare with Sanford Parker who just returned from an intense tour of Europe, Absent In Body with Colin H Van Eeckhout and Mathieu Vandekerckhove of Amenra who just released a record through Hypertension, and others, in addition to his own solo projects and recordings.

The coming weeks will see KELLY taking his gravelly, gritty, and heartfelt acoustic anthems of love, loss, hope, and redemption out to audiences throughout the Southeastern realm of the country, with a ten-city tour running from February 22nd through March 4th. With shows confirmed in Atlanta, Charleston, Asheville, Savannah, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Hattiesburg, Dallas, Little Rock, and Nashville, SCOTT KELLY will be accompanied on all shows by John Judkins of Rwake.

NEUROSIS Australia & New Zealand tour:
Wellington – San Fran – February 14 w/ SPOOK THE HORSES
Auckland – Kings Arms – February 15 w/ OLD LOAVES
Brisbane – The Triffid – February 16 w/ DISPOSSESSED
Sydney – Manning Bar – February 17 w/ DISPOSSESSED
Melbourne – The Croxton – February 18 w/ DISPOSSESSED

SCOTT KELLY w/ John Judkins:
2/22/2017 Smith’s Olde Bar – Atlanta, GA
2/23/2017 Royal American – Charleston, SC
2/24/2017 The Odditorium – Asheville, NC
2/25/2017 The Jinx – Savannah, GA
2/26/2017 Rain Dogs – Jacksonville, FL
2/27/2017 Poor Boys – New Orleans, LA
2/28/2017 T-Bones Records and Cafe – Hattiesburg, MS
3/02/2017 Three Links – Dallas, TX
3/03/2017 The Preserved Moose – Little Rock, AR
3/04/2017 Basement – Nashville, TN

https://www.facebook.com/ScottKelly.official
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings
https://neurotrecordings.bandcamp.com
https://twitter.com/OfficialNeurot

Scott Kelly, “We Let the Hell Come” Live

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