Slow Phase Announce Debut Album; Post “Starlight” Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

slow phase

Bringing together members of West Coast rockers Skunk and 3rd Ear Experience, Slow Phase are a new outfit who’ll look to release their debut album sometime this Fall. No word on an exact date yet — one assumes it’s done if they’re putting out singles? — but they’ve got a video up for “Starlight” that you can check out below that features the trio, some lyrics, bright colors, the whole bit. The song is likewise straightforward, no pretense about what it’s going for or how it’s getting there. That makes the according vibe easy enough to dig, and though one would suspect the album has a bit more going on than just a single approach, “Starlight” bodes well for what might be in store when it gets here. Only one way to find out.

In the meantime, dudes clearly have their artwork game on point, as the cover for “Starlight” single shows. Check that out right here with its beardo-thinker-in-the-desert thing, followed by some more background from the band itself.

Like so:

slow phase starlight

It was only after having spent 3 years woodshedding stuff like James Gang, KISS, Mountain, Zeppelin, Zappa, Grand Funk (and playing the occasional party) that we decided to start writing our own songs, and christened ourselves SLOW PHASE, after the coolest setting on my 1972 Maestro Phase Shifter.

The band includes Dmitri Mavra, the founder and songwriter behind SKUNK, on guitar, along with Anthony Pulsipher (bass/vocals) and Richard Stuverud (drums/vocals).

Pulsipher is a veteran of many bands, and in addition to SLOW PHASE he also plays guitar, writes, and sings for Oakland’s SPIDERMEOW, a country rock trio in the tradition of The Band and Gram Parsons.

Drum wizard Richard Stuverud, originally from Seattle, has played with the Fastbacks, RNDM, Tribe After Tribe, 3rd Ear Experience, Jeff Ament, and many more. With SLOW PHASE Stuverud gets to indulge his love of Bonham, Ward, and Moon to the fullest!

Also, Stuverud and Pulsipher are both great singers and it’s been cool to add some harmonies to the sound, a facet of early rock that’s often overlooked by today’s bands.

The album should be out later this Fall. In the meantime, I hope you can get a chance to check out our first track, STARLIGHT, either via Bandcamp (free download) or the video on Vimeo.

Slow Phase is:
Dmitri Mavra – guitar
Anthony Pulsipher – bass/vocals
Richard Stuverud – drums/vocals

facebook.com/SlowPhase/
slowphase.bandcamp.com/album/starlight

Slow Phase, “Starlight” official video

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War Cloud Set Sept. 27 Release for State of Shock; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

war cloud

Whatever level of nostalgia you might ultimately feel for heavy metal’s alleged glory days — I’d argue there’s always been a lot of good metal and a lot of bad metal, same as anything — listening to War Cloud, you get it. You understand what they’re paying homage to and the legacy of brash, infectious, sonic impact to which they’re living up. Helps that they’re not exactly shy about it. Like, song-opens-with-a-siren-level not shy. No complaints. Their self-titled (review here) got them picked up by Ripple and no mystery why, and they’ll follow it up with State of Shock next month. Denim, leather, backpatches, mustaches. Heavy metal in 2019. Do it.

They’re streaming “Striker” now, and if you’re looking for a metaphor to go along with the cover art, consider the business of it and the general sphere of public discourse in the present day. You’re welcome. Album preorders are up now.

The PR wire:

war cloud state of shock

Bay Area quartet WAR CLOUD bring the metal with new album on RIPPLE MUSIC | Stream and share new song ‘STRIKER’

State of Shock by War Cloud is officially released on 27th September on Ripple Music

Pre-order the album HERE

Erupting out of Oakland, California in 2014, War Cloud has left a smoking path across much of the USA over the past five years. Formed by guitarist/vocalist Alex Wein after firmly planting his amps in the Bay Area, he unified a crew with Joaquin Ridgell on drums, Taylor Roach on bass, and most recently Nick Burks on guitar (also of Kentucky rockers, Stonecutters).

Adopting a classic 70s rock and 80s power metal approach and aggressively dousing it in modern sophistication, War Cloud released their self-titled debut album on Ripple Music to much acclaim in 2017. Their take on metal is a dish best served heavy and those that have dined on the likes of Saxon, Motorhead, Kiss, Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden will no doubt appreciate the hard rock sophistication, dipped deep in ’70s fuzz, as showcased on their new single, ‘Striker’:

“The initial air raid siren warns the listener of the incoming attack they will soon meet by heavy metal force!” explains guitarist Alex Wein. “The lyrics are from the perspective of a fighter pilot, upon hearing the siren he rushes to his warplane to prepare for battle. As the launch pad to the album this song takes off with only lightning in its wake.”

Touring extensively in support of their debut record, War Cloud adapted a take no prisoners strategy with the intent to decimate all from the opening tone of each engaging live show and recently completed recording their sophomore full-length, State of Shock. Set to arrive this September, once again with Ripple Music, the song writing on the album led the band in the direction of a strong concept which thematically surrounds a life in war – be it with friend, enemy, or self.

Embracing their recognizable dual guitar harmonies, proto-metal licks, hard charging rhythms, adding heavy surges of British and Southern metal to inspire the fire, War Cloud has unquestionably upgraded their bomber jets for long-range pursuit.

State of Shock by War Cloud is officially released on 27th September on Ripple Music.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Striker
2. White Lightning
3. Dangerous Game
4. Tomahawk
5. Seeing Red
6. Do Anything
7. Means of Your Defeat
8. State of Shock

WAR CLOUD:
Alex Wein – Vocals/Guitar
Nick Burks – Guitar
Joaquin Ridgell – Drums
Taylor Roach – Bass

http://facebook.com/WarCloudisComing
http://warcloudiscoming.bandcamp.com/
http://warcloud.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Neurosis & Jarboe Reissue out Tomorrow; Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I guess this is about as experimental as Neurosis got during their most outwardly experimental phase — though I don’t know that I’d fight you if you wanted to argue either for The Eye of Every Storm or Tribes of Neurot‘s Grace for the distinction. Still their collaboration with Jarboe in 2003 stands alone as a moment unto itself in their catalog, and allowed them to explore ideas and textures they hadn’t before and haven’t since. I’ve wondered from time to time if they might do a sequel, but failing that, a remaster of the original will do nicely, thank you. Might be good thing to pick up from the merch table on their run of August shows, should you be fortunate enough to be in their path.

If not, there’s always the webstore, which is worth checking regularly anyhow, retail therapy and all that.

I’ve said too much.

The PR wire takes the lead:

neurosis and jarboe neurosis and jarboe

NEUROSIS & JARBOE: Remastered Reissue Of Landmark Collaboration Out Friday Through Neurot Recordings; Album Now Streaming

Neurot Recordings is proud to reissue the landmark collaboration NEUROSIS & JARBOE, the sprawling album now streaming in its entirety ahead of its official worldwide release this Friday. Originally released in 2003, this revamped version of Neurosis & Jarboe is fully remastered by Bob Weston and features entirely new artwork created by Aaron Turner.

When two independent and distinct spheres overlap, the resulting ellipse tends to emphasize the most striking and powerful characteristics of each body. Such is the case with this particular collaboration between heavy music pioneers NEUROSIS and the multi-faceted performer JARBOE, who performed in Swans and who has collaborated with an array of people from Blixa Bargeld, J. G. Thirlwell, Attila Csihar, Bill Laswell, Merzbow, Justin K. Broadrick, Helen Money, Father Murphy, and many others. The musicians pull from one another some of the most harrowing and unusual sounds ever heard from either artist at the time; a sentiment which also rings true to some fifteen years later.

NEUROSIS’ Steve Von Till explains the idea behind the remastering; “Bob Weston [Chicago Mastering Service, and member of Shellac] worked closely with Noah [Landis, NEUROSIS] on making these new versions sound as good as the possibly can. Noah has the most trained critical ear for fidelity out of all of us being an engineer himself. We recorded this ourselves with consumer level Pro Tools back then, in order to be able to experiment at home in getting different sounds and writing spontaneously. The technology has come a long way since then and we thought we could run it through better digital to analog conversion and trusted Bob Weston to be able to bring out the best in it… This new mastered version is a bit more open, with a better stereo image, and better final EQ treatment.”

He continues about the original artwork, “Aaron felt he could create something that would unify the energy of both JARBOE and NEUROSIS in an elegant manner. We let him do his thing and I think it definitely adds to the mystery of the album and sets it apart from the rest of our catalog.”

The remastered Neurosis & Jarboe sees worldwide release this Friday, August 2nd through all digital providers, on CD, and for the first time on vinyl, through NEUROSIS’ own Neurot Recordings. The LP is pressed on silver metallic and black swirl colors for their US and EU distributors, and on red and black swirl exclusively for mailorder. Deathwish Inc. will exclusively share the LP in red transparent and gold metallic opaque swirl.

Neurosis tour dates:
w/ Bell Witch, Deafkids:
8/07/2019 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
8/08/2019 Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
8/09/2019 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
8/10/2019 Theatre Of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
8/11/2019 Brooklyn Steel – Brooklyn, NY
8/13/2019 Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA
8/14/2019 Corona Theatre – Montreal, QC
8/15/2019 The Opera House – Toronto, ON
8/16/2019 St. Andrews Hall – Detroit, MI
8/17/2019 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL

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

Neurosis & Jarboe, Neurosis & Jarboe (2003/2019)

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Des Kensel Leaves High on Fire

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Some drummers are time-keepers, some are fill factories, some are mathematicians. Des Kensel was the fierce charge that made High on Fire both a thrash band and so much more. As a founding member alongside guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, his impact on the band’s sound has been immeasurable and defining both for his own outfit and those who’ve worked under their considerable influence throughout the last two decades. Des Kensel leaving High on Fire — after winning a Grammy, no less — is a big deal. He will not be easily replaced.

High on Fire have newly announced Fall tour dates with Power Trip and I’ve yet to see word on who will take on the drummer role either as a fill-in or full-time member of the band. Either way, Kensel’s loose bit technical style was a big part of the personality of High on Fire and that is something that will invariably change in the wake of his departure. Of course, good luck to him on his future endeavors and to the band for continued domination.

As posted on the social medias:

High on fire des

As a founding member of High On Fire, I feel blessed to have spent the last 21 years traveling around the world pursuing my childhood dream to write and play music. After eight albums, countless tours, and a Grammy win, I am very thankful for what we have been able to accomplish as a band.

Being a full time professional musician can have its challenges. One gets through those challenges with patience, hard work and perseverance. After much consideration, it is time for me to announce that I will no longer be performing with High On Fire. I will now be focusing on new opportunities and spending time with my family.

I would like to sincerely thank all of our fans for your support throughout the years. Without you, none of this would have been possible.
Lastly, I would like to wish my band-mates the best of luck in the future.

Des Kensel.

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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High on Fire Announce Fall Tour Dates; Playing Psycho Las Vegas & Levitation Festival

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high on fire

After some canceled dates earlier this year in the wake of winning a Grammy for 2018’s Electric Messiah (review here), High on Fire will return to the road in the US this Fall with the likes of Power TripCreeping Death and Devil Master supporting. It’s arguably the most metal-centered American tour they’ve done since they were out with Goatwhore, though High on Fire are in the arguably fortunate position of being able to share the stage either with rock bands or metal bands and still stand out for their pummel and professionalism alike. I know Power Trip have been getting all kinds of best-metal-band-since-whenever this or that kind of accolades, and that’s super, since if they draw a younger crowd and that younger crowd gets to see Matt Pike play guitar for the first time, everyone is going to go home a winner.

High on Fire are of course also putting in an appearance this year at Psycho Las Vegas, as they will.

Here’s the latest from the PR wire:

high on fire power trip

HIGH ON FIRE ANNOUNCE FALL NORTH AMERICAN TOUR

POWER TRIP, DEVIL MASTER, AND CREEPING DEATH TO JOIN GRAMMY-WINNING METAL BAND ON MASSIVE FALL TOUR

BAT SALAD EP TO BE RELEASED DIGITALLY JULY 26

AWARD-WINNING LP, ELECTRIC MESSIAH OUT NOW

GRAMMY Award-winning metal band, High on Fire has announced a juggernaut North American fall tour with Power Trip. Dates kick off on November 7, 2019, at Levitation Festival, the 3-day music festival held in Austin, TX, now in its sixth year, and continue through the end of the year.

The tour will stretch from coast to coast, hitting major markets in North America and Canada before wrapping up in southern California in early December. Tickets are on sale Friday, July 26, 2019, at 10:00 AM LOCAL. Support on the High on Fire / Power Trip tour will come from rising stars and new label mates CREEPING DEATH.

High on Fire tour dates:
*All shows also include Power Trip and Creeping Death
November 7 – Austin, TX Mohawk (as part of 2019 Levitation Festival)
November 10 – Houston, TX @ Foamhenge
November 12 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
November 13 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
November 15 – Charlotte, NC @ Amos’ Southend
November 16 – Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry
November 17 – Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
November 19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
November 20 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes
November 21 – New York, NY @ Elsewhere
November 22 – New York, NY @ Elsewhere
November 23 – Hartford, CT @ Webster
November 24 – Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
November 25 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
November 26 – Detroit, MI @ The Majestic
November 27 – Chicago, IL @ The Metro
November 29 – Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater
November 30 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall
December 2 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
December 3 – Vancouver, BC @ The Rickshaw
December 4 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
December 6 – Berkeley, CA @ The UC Theatre
December 7 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent

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.

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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Quarterly Review: Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Black Lung, Giant Dwarf, Land Mammal, Skunk, Silver Devil, Sky Burial, Wizzerd, Ian Blurton, Cosmic Fall

Posted in Reviews on July 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Got my laptop back. Turned out the guy had to give me a new hard drive entirely, clone all my data on it, and scrap the other drive. I’m sure if I took it to another technician they’d have said something completely different, either for better or worse, but it was $165 and I got my computer back, working, in a day, so I can’t really complain. Worth the money, obviously, even though it was $40 more than the estimate. I assume that was a mix of “new hard drive” and “this is the last thing I’m doing before a four-day weekend.” Either way, totally legit. Bit of stress on my part, but what’s a Quarterly Review without it?

This ends the week, but there’s still one more batch of 10 reviews to go on Monday, so I won’t delay further, except to say more to come.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo

elizabeth colour wheel nocebo

A rare level of triumph for a first album, Elizabeth Colour Wheel‘s aesthetic scope and patience of craft on Nocebo result in a genre-spanning post-noise rock that maintains an atmospheric heft whether loud or quiet at any given moment, and a sense of unpredictability that feels born out of a genuinely forward-thinking songwriting process. It is dark, emotionally resonant, beautiful and crushing across its eight songs and 47 minutes, as the Philadelphia five-piece ebb and flow instrumentally behind a standout vocal performance that reminds of Julie Christmas circa Battle of Mice on “Life of a Flower” but is ultimately more controlled and all the more lethal for that. Bouts of extremity pop up at unexpected times and the songs flow into each other so as to make all of Nocebo feel like a single, multi-hued work, which it just might be as it moves into ambience between “Hide Behind (Emmett’s Song)” and “Bedrest” before exploding to life again in “34th” and transitioning directly into the cacophonous apex that comes with closer “Head Home.” One of the best debuts of 2019, if not the best.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser on Bandcamp

 

Black Lung, Ancients

black lung ancients

Ancients is the third full-length from Baltimore’s Black Lung, whose heavy blues rock takes a moodier approach from the outset of “Mother of the Sun” onward, following an organ-led roll in that opener that calls to mind All Them Witches circa Lightning at the Door and following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here) with an even firmer grasp on their overarching intent. The title-track is shorter at 3:10 and offers some post-rock flourish in the guitar amid its otherwise straight-ahead push, but there’s a tonal depth to add atmosphere to whatever moves they’re making at the time, “The Seeker” and “Voices” rounding out side A with relatively grounded swing and traditionalist shuffle but still catching attention through pace and presentation alike. That holds true as “Gone” drifts into psychedelic jamming at the start of side B, and the chunkier “Badlands,” the dramatic “Vultures” and the controlled wash of “Dead Man Blues” take the listener into some unnamed desert without a map or exit strategy. It’s a pleasure to get lost as Ancients plays through, and Black Lung remain a well-kept secret of the East Coast underground.

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Noisolution website

 

Giant Dwarf, Giant Dwarf

Giant Dwarf Giant Dwarf

This just fucking rules, and I feel no need to couch my critique in any more flowery language than that. Driving, fuzzy heavy rock topped with post-Homme melodies that doesn’t sacrifice impact for attitude, the self-released, self-titled debut from Perth, Australia’s Giant Dwarf is a sans-pretense 35 minutes of groove done right. They may be playing to genre, fine, but from the cover art on down, they’re doing so with a sense of personality and a readiness to bring an individual sensibility to their sound. I dig it. Summery tones, rampant vocal melodies in layers, solid rhythmic foundation beneath. The fact that it’s the five-piece’s first album makes me look less for some kind of stylistic nuance, but it’s there to be heard anyway in “Disco Void” and the bouncing end of “High Tide Blues,” and in surrounding cuts like “Repeat After Defeat” and “Strange Wool,” Giant Dwarf set to the task before them with due vitality, imagining Songs for the Deaf with Fu Manchu tonality in “Kepler.” No big surprise, but yeah, it definitely works. Someone should be beating down the door to sign this band.

Giant Dwarf on Thee Facebooks

Giant Dwarf on Bandcamp

 

Land Mammal, Land Mammal

land mammal land mammal

Land Mammal‘s debut outing is a 14-minute, proof-of-concept four-songer EP with clarity of presentation and telegraphed intent. Marked out by the Robert Plant-style vocal heroics of Kinsley August, the band makes the most of a bluesy atmosphere behind him, with Will Weise on wah-ready guitar, Phillip PJ Soapsmith on bass, Stephen Smith on drums and True Turner on keys. On opener “Dark with Rain” and closer “Better Days,” they find a pastoral vibe that draws from ’90s alternative, thinking Blind Melon particularly in the finale, but “Earth Made Free” takes a bluesier angle and “Drippin’ Slow” is not shy about nor ashamed of its danceability, as its lyrics demonstrate. For all the crispness of the production, Land Mammal still manage to sound relatively natural, which is all the more encouraging in terms of moving forward, but it’ll be interesting to hear how they flesh out their sound over the course of a full-length, since even as an EP, this self-titled is short. They have songwriting, performance and production on their side, however, so something tells me they’ll be just fine.

Land Mammal on Thee Facebooks

Land Mammal on Bandcamp

 

Skunk, Strange Vibration

skunk strange vibration

Even before they get to the ultra-“N.I.B.” patterning of second track “Stand in the Sun,” Skunk‘s Sabbathian loyalties are well established, and they continue on that line, through the “War Pigs”-ness of “Goblin Orgy” (though I’ll give them bonus points for that title), and the slower “A National Acrobat” roll of “The Black Crown,” and while that’s not the only influence under which Skunk are working — clearly — it’s arguably the most forward. They’ve been on a traditional path since 2015’s mission-statement EP, Heavy Rock from Elder Times (review here), and as Strange Vibration is their second album behind 2017’s Doubleblind (review here), they’ve only come more into focus in terms of what they’re doing overall. They throw a bit of swagger into “Evil Eye Gone Blind” and “Star Power” toward the end of the record — more Blackmore or Leslie West than Iommi — but keep the hooks center through it all, and cap with a welcome bit of layered melody on “The Cobra’s Kiss.” Based in Oakland, they don’t quite fit in with the Californian boogie scene to the south, but standing out only seems to suit Strange Vibration all the more.

Skunk on Thee Facebooks

Skunk on Bandcamp

 

Silver Devil, Paralyzed

Silver Devil Paralyzed

Like countrymen outfits in Vokonis or to a somewhat lesser degree Cities of Mars, Gävle-based riffers Silver Devil tap into Sleep as a core influence and work outward from there. In the case of their second album, Paralyzed (on Ozium Records), they work far out indeed, bringing a sonic largesse to bear through plus-sized tonality and distorted vocals casting echoes across a wide chasm of the mix. “Rivers” or the later, slower-rolling “Octopus” rightfully present this as an individual take, and it ends up being that one way or the other, with the atmosphere becoming essential to the character of the material. There are some driving moments that call to mind later Dozer — or newer Greenleaf, if you prefer — such as the centerpiece “No Man Traveller,” but the periodic bouts of post-rock bring complexity to that assessment as well, though in the face of the galloping crescendo of “The Grand Trick,” complexity is a secondary concern to the outright righteousness with which Silver Devil take familiar elements and reshape them into something that sounds fresh and engaging. That’s basically the story of the whole record, come to think of it.

Silver Devil on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records website

 

Sky Burial, Sokushinbutsu

sky burial Sokushinbutsu

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/engineer Vessel 2 and drummer/vocalist Vessel 1 (also ex-Mühr), Sky Burial release their debut EP, Sokushinbutsu, through Break Free Records, and with it issue two songs of densely-weighted riff and crash, captured raw and live-sounding with an edge of visceral sludge thanks to the harsh vocals laid overtop. The prevailing spirit is as much doom as it is crust throughout “Return to Sender” (8:53) and the 10:38 title-track — the word translating from Japanese to “instant Buddha” — and as “Sokushinbutsu” kicks the tempo of the leadoff into higher gear, the release becomes a wash of blown-out tone with shouts cutting through that’s very obviously meant to be as brutal as it absolutely is. They slow down eventually, then slow down more, then slow down more — you see where this is going — until eventually the feedback seems to consume them and everything else, and the low rumble of guitar gives way to noise and biting vocalizations. As beginnings go, Sokushinbutsu is willfully wretched and animalistic, a manifested sonic nihilism that immediately stinks of death.

Sky Burial on Thee Facebooks

Break Free Records on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd, Wizzerd

wizzerd st

One finds Montana’s Wizzerd born of a similar Upper Midwestern next-gen take on classic heavy as that of acts like Bison Machine and Midas. Their Cursed Tongue Records-delivered self-titled debut album gives a strong showing of this foundation, less boogie-based than some, with just an edge of heavy metal to the riffing and vocals that seems to derive not directly from doom, but definitely from some ’80s metal stylizations. Coupled with ’70s and ’90s heavy rocks, it’s a readily accessible blend throughout the nine-song/51-minute LP, but a will toward the epic comes through in theme as well as the general mood of the riffs, and even in the drift of “Wizard” that’s apparent. Taken in kind with the fuzzblaster “Wraith,” the winding motion of the eponymous closer and with the lumbering crash of “Warrior” earlier, the five-piece’s sound shows potential to distinguish itself further in the future through taking on fantasy subject matter lyrically as well as playing to wall-sized grooves across the board, even in the speedy first half of “Phoenix,” with its surprising crash into the wall of its own momentum.

Wizzerd on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Ian Blurton, Signals Through the Flames

Ian Blurton Signals Through the Flames

The core of Ian Blurton‘s Signals Through the Flames is in tight, sharply-executed heavy rockers like “Seven Bells” and “Days Will Remain,” classic in their root but not overly derivative, smartly and efficiently composed and performed. The Toronto-based Blurton has been making and producing music for over three decades in various guises and incarnations, and with these nine songs, he brings into focus a songcraft that is more than enough to carry song like “Nothing Left to Lose” and opener “Eye of the Needle,” which bookends with the 6:55 “Into Dust,” the closer arriving after a final salvo with the Scorpionic strut of “Kick out the Lights” and the forward-thrust-into-ether of “Night of the Black Goat.” If this was what Ghost had ended up sounding like, I’d have been cool with that. Blurton‘s years of experience surely come into play in this work, a kind of debut under his own name and/or that of Ian Blurton’s Future Now, but the songs come through as fresh regardless and “The March of Mars” grabs attention not with pedigree, but simply by virtue of its own riff, which is exactly how it should be. It’s subtle in its variety, but those willing to give it a repeat listen or two will find even more reward for doing so.

Ian Blurton on Thee Facebooks

Ian Blurton on Bandcamp

 

Cosmic Fall, Lackland

Cosmic Fall Lackland

“Lackland” is the first new material Berlin three-piece Cosmic Fall have produced since last year’s In Search of Space (review here) album, which is only surprising given the frequency with which they once jammed out a record every couple of months. The lone 8:32 track is a fitting reminder of the potency in the lineup of guitarist Marcin Morawski, bassist Klaus Friedrich and drummer Daniel Sax, and listening to the Earthless-style shred in Morawski‘s guitar, one hopes it won’t be another year before they come around again. As it stands, they make the eight minutes speed by with volcanic fervor and an improvised sensibility that feels natural despite the song’s ultimately linear trajectory. Could be a one-off, could be a precursor to a new album. I’d prefer the latter, obviously, but I’ll take what I can get, and if that’s “Lackland,” then so be it.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

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Sleep, Live at Third Man Records: The Botanist Goes to Nashville

Posted in Reviews on May 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sleep live at third man records

‘The Vault’ is a quarterly subscription service from Third Man Records, the Nashville-based imprint, record store, studio and apparently live venue owned by Jack White, formerly of The White Stripes and currently of Jack White doing whatever the hell he wants, which would seem to include putting out Sleep records. The subscription fee is $60 per quarter, so not nothing, but the pull is that the releases are exclusive and limited, and at least in the case of Sleep‘s Live at Third Man Records, that $60 breaks down to $15 per each different-colored LP of a quadruple-LP box set release. It almost sounds sensible at that rate. I don’t know what releasing Sleep did for subscriptions, but the package in which Live at Third Man Records arrives is equal parts gorgeous and heavy — that is, you feel like you’re carrying records when you hold it, because you are — and with this kind of release, that’s definitely a piece of the experience, like the poster and patch also included.

The other part is a two-hour live set from Sleep — vocalist/bassist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike, drummer Jason Roeder — recorded in Dec. 2018, months after the release of their awaited album, The Sciences (review here), and its companion single “Leagues Beneath” (review here), that finds the landmark trio playing much of the record to a duly salivating audience, as well as classics from 2003’s Dopesmoker (discussed here) and the mega-influential 1993 sophomore outing, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (reissue review here). It is, essentially, a fan piece, special in hindsight for those who were there to see it and a work for the rest of us plebs to chase down however possible. For what it’s worth, I don’t imagine anyone who is a more than casual Sleep fan doing so would regret it. The sound throughout the 11-song set is raw in live-set-recorded-to-acetate fashion, but that does no disservice to the material, and the band of course sound spot on. If they didn’t, Live at Third Man Records probably wouldn’t exist. It’s about as close to a sure thing as you can get, again, if you’re a fan.

They open with “Leagues Beneath” and then go directly into the trimmed down version of “Dopesmoker” they’ve been playing live for however long. It’s broken up into “Dopesmoker Pt. 1” and a much-shorter “Dopesmoker Pt. 2” and when one factors in the subsequent “Holy Mountain,” that already covers sides A, B and C in basically three songs. Welcome to the Sleep show. It’s as though they knew their audience showed up wanting to get pummeled by riffs so they got it out of the way quickly so they could get down to the business of… more pummeling with riffs, I guess. But what a way to go. Cisneros‘ vocals sound right on in a way that demonstrates how much he’s found a way to meld the newer, less guttural vocal style of the more recent songs with his throatier past, and his vocal patterning in “Dopesmoker” only adds to that meisterwerk’s unique appeal.

sleep

Of The Sciences, only “Antarcticans Thawed” isn’t aired (or the title-track intro, if you want to be technical about it), and a slowed down version of “Sonic Titan,” particularly in following “The Clarity” (review here), which was released in 2014 as a standalone single and the band’s first studio work in more than a decade, which also hits the brakes on tempo to some degree, is a righteous highlight, with Roeder‘s march setting the pace via snare taps that do justice to original drummer Chris Hakius while adding his own sense of purpose to each crash that accompanies. Likewise, Pike‘s solo shred is a fitting reminder of his near-unmatched stage force. “Sonic Titan” accounts for side E all on its own after “The Clarity” and “Aquarian” on side D, and from there, the three-piece dig even deeper into The Sciences, with “Marijuanaut’s Theme,” “Giza Butler” and “The Botanist” one into the next.

The difference is a live version of “Sonic Titan” had appeared on the 2003 Tee Pee release of Dopesmoker, but the other three were exclusive to the new record. The band break into the manic groove of “Marijuanaut’s Theme” after “Sonic Titan,” and then follow with “Giza Butler”‘s mellow intro and omega-riff later. With the languid, solo-topped “The Botanist” as a comedown after that, it’s as dynamic as Sleep have ever sounded on a recording, and absolutely representative of what they do on stage, whether it’s Cisneros announcing “The pterodactyl flies again over emerald fields” as part of the weedian storytelling of “Giza Butler” or Roeder‘s final tom fill in “The Botanist.” Closing out with “Dragonaut” is essentially a victory lap.

One more full dose of fuzz overload is applied, and Sleep ride the dragon on Mars all the way to unmatched stoner supremacy. The recording ends with Pike‘s guitar feeding back while the crowd cheers, which is a pretty efficient way of saying it all. I don’t think Live at Third Man Records is a release for a novice Sleep fan, and I also think that if one hasn’t seen Sleep since The Sciences came out, something of the context here will be lost. However, I also don’t really think Sleep have casual fans. This isn’t a band you maybe put on every now and again because, eh, whatever. This is a band that incites worship, as the increasingly rabid response to their post-reunion run has shown.

As they’ve shifted back to being a working band promoting a new album, touring, headlining festivals, etc., they’ve not only harnessed a new generation of followers, but they’ve managed to give those who would pay homage a fitting altar to do so. They’re as much a community as a band at this point, and Live at Third Man Records is more than just a companion to The Sciences. It’s a document for and of that community at a pivotal moment, just months after the surprise release of that studio album, capturing the band as they set about that work. Not everyone’s going to get it, but isn’t that part of the appeal too?

Sleep, “Dopesmoker” live at Third Man Records

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High Tone Son of a Bitch Set June 21 Release for New Single

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

HIGH TONE SON OF A BITCH

I couldn’t help but feel that, as I watched High Tone Son of a Bitch perform recently at Desertfest NYC (review here) that I had seen them before. I narrowed the possibilities down to some drunken afternoon at SXSW circa 2004 — I recall Paul Kott‘s past band, Kalas, played there one year, but the details are long gone. Hazards of the trade when it comes to drinking in the Texas sun, which, if I’m honest I’d probably be okay never doing again. At least the drinking part.

What matters more than whether or not I’d seen them before is the likelihood that I’ll see them again, what with the band pressing forward after a long absence with a new single release next month. The two-tracker is called Death of a New Day / Eye in the Sky and it’ll be out June 21, along with back catalog reissues that are only fair enough for a band who wasn’t around for so long.

The PR wire has details, a preorder link and a new track streaming:

high tone son of a bitch death of a new day eye in the sky

Reunited California Metal Band High Tone Son of a Bitch to Release New EP, ‘Death of a New Day / Eye in the Sky’, June 21

Bay Area Group Featuring Members of Kalas, Noothgrush, Neurosis, Necrot, Saviours, Alaric, and More Returns!

Oakland, CA underground metal band High Tone Son of a Bitch (aka HTSoB) will release a new EP, titled ‘Death of a New Day / Eye in the Sky’ on June 21.

The reunited Bay Area band, which features a core of Russ Kent (Noothgrush, Alaric), Chris Corona (Wildeyes), Joe Fucko (Strychnine), Paul Kott (Kalas, Cruevo), and Johann Zamora (Men of Porn, Totimoshi), along with studio and itinerant live contributions from HTSoB’s first singer, Scott Wagner, Dave Edwardson (Neurosis), and Sonny Reinhardt (Necrot, Saviours, Word Salad), and whose unique vision of heavy psychedelic hard rock breaks the genre box, recorded the new 2-track EP at Sharkbite Studios with famed producer Billy Anderson (Sleep, High on Fire). The EP features the herculean new song “Death of a New Day” along with a re-imagined, post doom metal take on the 1982 Alan Parsons Project classic “Eye in the Sky”. Pre-order ‘Death of a New Day / Eye in the Sky’ at this location.

Fresh off a crowd-capturing live performance as part of the inaugural Desertfest New York — where the band shared the stage with Elder, Windhand, Worshipper, and more — and a U.S. tour run with Weedeater and The Skull, High Tone Son of A Bitch has fully returned and is firing on all cylinders. First formed in 2003 by the brothers Paul and Andrew Kott with bassist Ron Nichols (a veteran of Neurosis’ Noah Landis’ legendary punk band Christ on Parade), and named after named after the bumper sticker on an automobile from the Steven King novel, ‘The Dark Half’, HTSoB ultimately pulled together the talents of an all star cast, with the line-ups and contributing guests coming from and heading into bands like Kalas, Cruevo, Noothgrush, Hammers of Misfortune, Christ on Parade, Men of Porn, Neurosis, and others. The original lineup’s trajectory was cut short by tragedy when Andrew, who was struggling with addiction, died unexpectedly. In 2018, Andrew Kott’s step-son Juan, who plays in the Latin Grammy-nominated Mexican regional band Banda Troyana, urged Paul to start HTSoB up again. Paul then gradually re-formed a revised lineup of the band that has now fully arisen in triumph from the ashes of tragedy.

In its first outing as a band in 13 years, High Tone Son of A Bitch teamed up with old friend Billy Anderson to create a sprawling new vision of heavy music. The new original, “Death of a New Day”, features HTSoB vocalist Russ Kent joining forces with singer Scott Wagner (who sang on the group’s 2003 debut EP ‘Better You Than Me’) to set epic melodic vocal lines against a backdrop of titanic riffs that descend into and emerge from a synth and guitar-drenched psychedelic black hole. “Eye In the Sky” sees HTSoB put its spin on the Alan Parsons Project’s pop hit. Heavy and audacious, the song’s psyched-out “Vietnam helicopter” synth intro and sparse build-up crawl into an epic doom undertaking. Charting a new course that builds on its original direction, High Tone Son of a Bitch’s ‘Death of a New Day / Eye in the Sky’ EP bends the possibility of the future of heavy music in a new direction, and sets a new course for the band’s bright future.

Track listing:

1.) Death of A New Day (6:43)
2.) Eye in the Sky (10:17)

Simultaneously upon the release of ‘Death of a New Day / Eye in the Sky’, High Tone Son of A Bitch will digitally reissue both of its previous releases, the aforementioned 2003 EP ‘Better You Then Me’ and the ‘Velocipede’ EP (2004). Both the Alex Newport-produced ‘Better You Then Me’ and ‘Velocipede’ will also see limited edition 2-on-1 vinyl release via Throne Records (Spectral Lore, Corrupted, etc.)

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