Mondo Drag Self-Titled LP Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

mondo drag

The tones are warm, the vibe is free and the vinyl is limited. Oakland heavy psych outfit Mondo Drag‘s forthcoming self-titled sophomore outing is set to release in January on Bilocation Records. The cover is a triptych, but the album itself seems to break up nicely into two sides of the LP, which will arrive in gatefold form in an edition of 500 copies as the follow-up to 2010’s New Rituals (review here) debut, recorded in 2011/2012 with Blues Pills‘ Cory Berry and Zack Anderson as the rhythm section. A pretty special moment to bring to light, even if that’s not the current lineup of the band, which features vocalist/keyboardist John Gamino, guitarists Jake Sheley and Nolan Girard (also synth), bassist Andrew O’Neil and drummer Ventura Garcia.

Bilocation sends details and preorder linage down the PR wire:

mondo drag self titled

MONDO DRAG to release new album on 16/01/15. Pre-sale started!

The highly anticipated second album by Oakland’s finest heavy-psych-rockers MONDO DRAG will see the light of day through Kozmik Artifactz on January 16th, 2015. It contains seven analogue recorded tracks. To be released on CD & high performance 180g vinyl!

Under the spiritual guidance of the forefathers of heavy psych, prog, and proto-metal, Mondo Drag has created an amalgamation of sounds the likes of which have not resounded through the atmosphere for decades. The band’s unique sound, and rare cohesion probably stem from the fact that core members John Gamino, Nolan Girard, and Jake Sheley actually grew up within a one mile radius from each other, attended the same schools, were a part of the same scene, and have played music with each other for 15 years.

Produced, engineered & mixed by Mondo Drag and Patrick Stolley. Mastered by Jim Brick. Artwork by Robert Beatty.

Available as CD & limited Vinyl

VINYL FACTZ
– 100x marbled (EXCLUSIVE MAILORDER version)
– 200x yellow
– 200x black
– Plated & pressed on high performance vinyl in Germany
– Matt laquered 300gsm gatefold cover
– Handnumbered
– Mastered for vinyl

TRACKS
A1. Zephyr 2:34
A2. Crystal Visions
Open Eyes 4:36
A3. The Dawn 3:04
A4. Plumajilla 6:40

B1. Shifting Sands 5:24
B2. Pillars Of The Sky 6:45
B3. Snakeskin 6:10

http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/navi.php?suche=mondo+drag+zephyr&lang=eng
https://www.facebook.com/mondodrag/
http://www.mondodrag.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/bilocationrecords
https://soundcloud.com/bilocation-rec-berlin

Mondo Drag, “Crystal Visions Open Eyes”

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High on Fire Announce East Coast Tour and Recording Plans

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

high on fire (Photo by Travis Shinn)

What’s that you say? High on Fire wanna do a quick run up the East Coast to wind up in Salem, Massachusetts, where they’ll record their next album? Who in the hell would possibly want or dare to stand in their way? The three-piece are about due in 2015 for a new full-length to follow-up 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here), and if you’re headed north, you might as well put in a week or so of shows and make a thing out of it.

Seems likely you might hear a new song or two as the band kicks themselves into top form on these dates, but whatever they decide to break out, it’s not like you lose by seeing High on Fire, ever, so what the hell? They’re coming through? It’s cold? Screw it, blood’s warm, and they’re always ready to shed a bit of that.

The PR wire brings good news:

high on fire logo

HIGH ON FIRE Announce North American Tour Dates

Award Winning Metal Band Set to Record Highly Anticipated New Album

Herculean hard rock heavyweights HIGH ON FIRE have announced winter 2015 tour dates. The globally celebrated heavy metal pioneers will kick off the must-see live performances on January 6 in Birmingham, AL. The just-announced run will continue with stops in Richmond, VA (Jan. 8), Brooklyn (Jan. 9) and more, running through January 14. See below for full routing and details.

Immediately following the east coast run, HIGH ON FIRE will enter Salem, Massachusetts’ GodCity Studios with producer Kurt Ballou to record its new, as-yet-untitled studio album. Earlier this year, the group convened for strategic writing sessions in both New Orleans, LA and Oakland, CA, with early reports indicating the band’s new material to be both “epic” and “sonically huge”. A 2015 release date via eOne Music will be announced soon for the new LP, the follow-up to 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis.

“Everyone is asking what the new High on Fire music sounds like,” says drummer Des Kensel. “Chew on some mescaline and listen to side B of Sabbath’s “Master of Reality” backwards at 78 RPM and it might give you an idea.”

HIGH ON FIRE tour dates:
January 6 Birmingham, AL Zydeco
January 7 West Columbia, SC New Brookland Tavern
January 8 Richmond, VA The Broadberry
January 9 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus Bar
January 10 Hartford, CT Webster Underground
January 11 Portland, ME Port City Music Hall
January 13 Poughkeepsie, NY The Loft at The Chance Theatre
January 14 Providence, RI Simon’s 677

Universally recognized as one of the most potent acts in music today, HIGH ON FIRE creates modern heavy metal that merges primal fury and aggression, hesher bombast and hall of fame heaviness. Described as “a supersonic exercise in conquest by volume,” HIGH ON FIRE has rewritten the hard rock rule book since its formation in 1998, forging a style and sound that is both critically celebrated and absolutely unique. The group features vocalist and cult guitar hero Matt Pike — also a founding member of the famed underground band SLEEP — along with powerhouse drummer Des Kensel and talented bassist Jeff Matz. HIGH ON FIRE’s most recent studio album De Vermis Mysteriis was released on April 3, 2012.

http://www.highonfire.net/
https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://twitter.com/highonfireband

High on Fire, Live at Truckstop Alaska, Gothenburg, Sweden, 07.30.14

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Sleep Should be Making Money on Sleep’s Holy Mountain

Posted in The Debate Rages on December 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

sleep sleep's holy mountain

Riff legends and Iommic scholars Sleep launch an Australian tour this coming weekend. The other night, I saw they posted the following on their Thee Facebooks page. I guess they had been getting requests — probably daily, if not hourly — for a reissue of 1992’s ultra-classic Sleep’s Holy Mountain, and this was their response:

For those asking…

Sleep cannot re-issue Holy Mountain on vinyl. Or CD. Or MP3.

Nor can Sleep print t-shirts or posters, etc with the original Holy Mountain artwork.

All rights to that album (and any related art) are owned by Earache records. Forever.

…and no, Sleep doesn’t make a dime from that record and hasn’t since the early 90’s.

Bands: Please be very careful what you sign.

My immediate reaction is, “Really, Earache?” and that seems as good a place to begin as any.

With landmark back catalogs from Napalm DeathEntombedGodfleshCathedral and many, many others, UK imprint Earache Records has one of the most enviable discographies in heavy music. Formed in 1986, it’s seen trends come and go and like few others — Metal Blade comes to mind first as a comparison — it has managed to thrive. Is Earache well within its rights to hold onto Sleep’s Holy Mountain and use that property for all it’s worth? It would seem so. They reissued it on CD in 2009 (review here), still press t-shirts with the cover art (or at least they did last time I bought one), and the above indicates that Earache owns copyright on the music and art for the record into perpetuity and there’s nothing the band can do about it.

Not a great contract if you’re Sleep.

The answer for the trio — bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and then drummer Chris Hakius (now drummer Jason Roeder) — at first seems like an easy one. Bootleg it. Fuck it. They’ve done it before, as the initial, unofficial self-release of Jerusalem with its righteous Arik Roper cover showed. Not as simple to do now as it was in 1998, however. Look at the response they got to the new single “The Clarity” (review here) this year. Granted, it wouldn’t be the same for a reissue as for the first new music to come from them in over a decade, but still. Sleep are a much higher-profile band than they were in the late ’90s, and if they were to just press up a bunch of copies of Sleep’s Holy Mountain, even to sell at shows, they’d probably catch hell for it one way or another, probably with litigation.

A pretty great contract if you’re Earache.

I won’t pretend to know the circumstances of the label’s wares, that is, how much of its back catalog it owns as thoroughly as it seems to own Sleep’s Holy Mountain, and neither will I give into some doomer-hippie impulse and say something like, “Oh man, they should just give Sleep the rights because it would be the cool thing to do and art for artists and whatever blah blah.” That’s naive as shit and not in any way reflective of the world in which we live. Earache has the rights, Sleep signed that deal. Bam. Done. The label is under no obligation to let the band have anything, so if they don’t want to, that’s their prerogative.

No question Sleep’s Holy Mountain is one of the most pivotal records in heavy rock and doom. What PikeCisneros and Hakius crafted has spread through influence the world over, to bands from Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. They’re as close as an underground band can be to being a household name, and their work helped define a generation of heaviness. It is timeless, integral, and essential. They deserve to be making money from it.

People don’t like to talk about money and its effect on creativity, as though art and commerce are church and state, but in practice, they’re no more separate. Sleep probably do well at this point in terms of their take-home from shows, but it took them 20 years and success in other bands — OmHigh on Fire — to get there, and they don’t tour 100 gigs a year. I don’t know if they have dayjobs or not, and I highly doubt any income earned on Sleep’s Holy Mountain would be life-changing in that regard one way or another, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it.

But “deserve” is irrelevant. Sleep “should” earn money from Sleep’s Holy Mountain? So what?

It seems to me there’s some opportunity for middle ground somewhere between “label gets all” and “band gets all,” whether that’s a licensing fee Sleep pay to Earache or something like that — hell, I’m sure if Earache were to put the rights up for sale, the band could crowdfund just about any price named and not even have to go out-of-pocket — or like a rent-to-own deal on the publishing. I’m not going to call Earache dicks for not coming to the table if there’s been any discussion of a discussion, they’re a business acting like a business needs to act in order to survive, but if Sleep were able to work Sleep’s Holy Mountain again in some way mutually beneficial to themselves and the label, I don’t see where anyone loses.

Doesn’t matter if Earache doesn’t want to budge and if they’re still able to sell those shirts with the cover on it or repress the album every so often. An unfortunate situation for a band that have earned their place in the pantheon of heavy and managed to, like the label, remain vital where so many others haven’t, but as they say, be careful what you sign. Too bad that’s a lesson that had to be so harshly learned, and too bad a record so warmly loved by fans has to carry such baggage for the band themselves.

Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1992)

Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Sleep on Twitter

Sleep’s webstore

Earache Records

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Neurosis Playing End-of-Year Shows in California

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Neurosis are in Mexico City next weekend for the Bestia festival, and they’ve also just announced they’ll do a trio of California shows to round out 2014, a year that’s already seen them play multiple shows and fests in a kind of gradual return to playing live which, if you’ll recall, they weren’t so much about for most of the last decade. They’ve already confirmed Maryland Deathfest for 2015 and one imagines it won’t be the only gig they wind up playing. If they keep it up, one might almost be tempted to think of them as a touring band again. How that might play into the post-metal progenitors following-up their 2012 studio outing, Honor Found in Decay (review here), is anyone’s best guess, but if time has proven anything it’s that the appropriate course of action is to let Neurosis do whatever the fuck they want at their own pace and excellence will ensue.

The PR wire lets you know how it is:

neurosis

NEUROSIS Announces Trio Of Year-End California Performances

NEUROSIS has just confirmed three more shows for 2014, set to take place during the final days of the year in California. While the members of NEUROSIS currently reside in numerous areas of the country, the Bay Area will forever remain the land of the band’s origin, and to commemorate one of their most active years performing abroad in their nearly three decades in existence, they’ll unite for a trio of concerts including two shows back where it all began.

The first of the year-end live run will see NEUROSIS playing at The Observatory in Orange County’s Santa Ana on Monday, December 29th. The next two evenings — Tuesday, December 30th and Wednesday the 31st — will see the band back in their native Bay Area lands, with two consecutive shows at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Supporting NEUROSIS on all three of these headlining shows will be an incredibly diverse and destructive lineup, including Portland’s morose d-beat hardcore icons, Tragedy, San Diego-based industrial drone man/machine act, Author & Punisher, and San Francisco’s sludge/noise rock outfit, Kowloon Walled City.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
11/19-23/2014 Bestia Festival – Mexico City, MX w/ The Ex, Monogatari, more
12/29/2014 The Conservatory – Santa Ana, CA w/ Tragedy, Author & Punisher, Kowloon Walled City
12/30/2014 Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA w/ Tragedy, Author & Punisher, Kowloon Walled City
12/31/2014 Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA w/ Tragedy, Author & Punisher, Kowloon Walled City
5/24/2015 Maryland Deathfest – Baltimore, MD w/ Amorphis, Anaal Nathrakh, Goatsnake, Primordial, more

The newly-announced trio of performances comes as NEUROSIS continues their massive 2014 live campaign, as the band has just conquered the Housecore Horror Film Fest in Austin, Texas, as well as Southwest Terror Fest III in Tucson, Arizona, and next week will headline the second annual Bestia Festival in Mexico City, Mexico. The five-day gala, set to run from November 19th to the 23rd, will include performances from The Ex, Monogatari, (SIC), Han Bennink, Terrie Ex, Marc Ribot, Ray Anderson, Bob Stewart and others confirmed, in addition to music workshops, film screenings and more will fill the festival grounds. Additional NEUROSIS concerts for 2015 are aligning, including the band’s return to Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore alongside fellow Neurot acts Ufomammut and Yob, where NEUROSIS plays on Sunday, May 24th with Amorphis, Anaal Nathrakh, Demilich, Goatsnake, Inverloch, Primordial, Winter, Tombs and more.

Following the release of their Live At Roadburn 2007 album and reissues of some of the band’s most seminal recordings — including their Souls At Zero and Enemy Of The Sun LPs and the Sovereign EP — throughout 2010 and 2011, NEUROSIS released one of their most ambitious albums to date, with 2012’s mighty Honor Found In Decay LP, all through their own cultivated Neurot Recordings. The album showcased the band taking their esoteric but leveling and categorization-free style of extreme music to even diverse areas of exploration, and following the record release show for the album, the outfit disbanded with their longtime visuals at their live shows, empowering their grand anthems to their fans in a monolithic, more human approach. Since its release, NEUROSIS has been more active tour-wise than they have since before the turn of the millennium, and seemingly shows no time of ending the campaign any time soon.

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

Neurosis, Live at Southwest Terror Fest, Oct. 18, 2014

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Mondo Drag to Release Self-Titled Album on Kozmik Artifactz

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

mondo drag

Now located in Oakland, California, after first coming together in the Midwest, Mondo Drag are preparing to issue their sophomore long-player. Self-titled and due out this winter through Kozmik Artifactz, the record features the rhythm section of Cory Berry and Zack Anderson, both now out of the band and better known as the now-former drummer and bassist for Blues Pills and Radio MoscowMondo Drag was recorded right around the time Blues Pills were getting going, and though Berry and Anderson would soon split for Sweden, their presence on the album, especially at what was a pretty tumultuous time coming off their unceremonious departure from Radio Moscow, makes the follow-up to Mondo Drag‘s 2010 debut, New Rituals (review here), an even more enticing prospect.

The PR wire brings a look at the cover art and tells the whole story:

mondo drag cover

MONDO DRAG sign for new album with Kozmik Artifactz

Heavy psych / prog band MONDO DRAG is proud to announce the release of their second full-length LP which is Self-Titled. The Oakland, CA-based outfit’s heavy-hitting new record will be released this Winter – on CD and vinyl (180-gram, gatefold LP) — via Kozmik Artifactz.

Under the spiritual guidance of the forefathers of heavy psych, prog, and proto-metal, MONDO DRAG has created an amalgamation of sounds the likes of which have not resounded through the atmosphere for decades. The bands unique sound, and rare cohesion probably stem from the fact that core members John Gamino, Nolan Girard, and Jake Sheley actually grew up within a one mile radius from each other, attended the same schools, were part of the same music scene, and have played in bands with each other for 15 years.

The release of New Rituals (Alive Records)in 2010, saw the band headlining numerous U.S tours, appearing at many high-profile fests around the country including several official showcases at SXSW (and a dozen more unofficial ones), and headlining slots at both the Chicago Pysch Fest and the Cincy Psych Fest. You can also find them on the Austin Psych Fest 3 DVD (w/ The Black Angels, The Warlocks, Warpaint, et al.).

After a tumultuous tour in March 2011, Johnnie (drums, vocals) and Dennis (bass) left the band. After looking high and low for a new rhythm section, the band caught a break when Cory Berry and Zack Anderson moved back to Iowa after quitting Radio Moscow. The two came to live with the band, while rehearsing and preparing material for the new album. This transitional period also saw John assume the role of vocalist for the band.

In the Winter of 2011-2012, the band returned to Future Appletree Studios Too (New Rituals was recorded here also) to record with friend and gear guru, Patrick Stolley. Zack and Cory came to stay with the band again, but this time they also brought along with them Elin Larsson. While Zack and Cory were recording with Mondo Drag they were also forming Blues Pills and recording their Bliss EP for Crusher Records.

Utilizing Stolley’s extensive vintage gear library and his expansive knowledge of analog recording, they were able to capture full-band live performances recorded to analog tape. Most of the live tracking was recorded with 1940’s and 50’s RCA ribbon mics and everything recorded on the album ran through tube pre-amps and transformers of the same era.

Shortly after the album was recorded, Zack moved to Sweden and Cory soon followed to pursue their new group, Blues Pills, which was really taking off in Europe. This left the band with still no rhythm section. After much thought, the band decided it was time to move and reform the group so in 2013 they caravanned to Oakland, CA with all of their records and gear.

Since then, the band has picked up a new rhythm section and has quickly become a staple of the bay area’s psych/prog scene playing with bands like Hot Lunch, Lecherous Gaze, Wild Eyes, Once and Future Band, and Hedersleben.

This album features the lineup of John Gamino (vocals / keyboards), Nolan Girard (guitar), Jake Sheley (guitar), and the rhythym section of Zack Anderson (bass), and Cory Berry (drums), both formerly of Radio Moscow and founding members of Blues Pills.

Upcoming shows:
12/12 at Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco W/ Older Sun, Banquet

www.mondodrag.com
www.kozmik-artifactz.com

Mondo Drag, Live in Oakland, CA, May 31, 2014

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Semi-Reunited Grief to Headline Oakland’s Deadfest 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ah, Grief. The band that taught sludge how to hate. Guitarist Terry Savastano will lead a semi-reunited lineup of the seminal Boston extremists working under a moniker taken from the title of their 1994 sophomore outing, Come to Grief, in headlining Deadfest 2015 in Oakland, California. The death/grind fest is set for Aug. 14 and 15 at The Oakland Metro and in addition to Come to Grief – whose lineup also boasts guitarist/vocalist Ken-E Bones of Long Island stalwarts Negative Reaction (who also have a new album in the works), Come to Grief-era drummer Rick Johnson and bassist Justin Christian formerly of Morgion – will feature the unwaveringly pulverizing likes of TerrorizerNauseaNoothgrush and Primitive Man over the course of its steadfastly anti-corporate two days.

Grief, whose last lineup was bassist/vocalist Eric Harrison, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Hayward, drummer Ray McCaffery and guitarist John Heidenreich, played their final show in 2009 after getting back together in ’05 following several years of inactivity. The band’s last full-length was 2000’s …And Man Will Become the Hunted, which was followed by the 2002 Turbulent Times compilation on Southern Lord, culling together rare an previously unreleased track’s from Grief‘s already tumultuous history.

Deadfest announced their lineup thusly:

deadfest 2015

Deadfest 2015 / August 14th & 15th @ The Oakland Metro / All Ages / $20 Each Day

2 Day D.I.Y Crust/Hardcore/Punk/Grind/Doom/Death&Black Metal Fest

2 Rooms / 4 Floor Stages / 15 Minute Sets

With:

Come To Grief (MA/NH)

Terry Savastano/Guitars (Martyrvore/Goat felch /Founder of Grief ex-Disrupt ex-Warhorse etc……) Rick Johnson/Drums (ex-Grief ex-Slugpuncher) Ken E. Bones/Guitars and Vocals (Negative Reaction) Justin Christian/Bass (ex-Morgion ex-Keen of the Crow) We will be performing mostly early Grief material ( First 7″,Dismal 12″ Come to Grief L.P.)

Terrorizer (LA)
Nausea (LA)
Capitali$T Casualties
Noothgrush (OAK)
Excruciating Terror (LA)
Endless Demise (LA)
Cretin (SJ)
Stapled Shut (LA)
Cloud Rat (MI)
Catheter (CO)
Laughing Dog (NM)
Backslider (PHILLY)
Cave State (LA)
Dope Runner (CO)
Primitive Man (CO)
And Many More T.B.A

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DEADFEST/713511178722510
http://oaklandmetro.org

Grief, Come to Grief (1994)

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Duuude, Tapes! Godhunter & Secrets of the Sky, Split

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on September 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

They kind of had to stretch to make the title work, but they got there in the end. For each respective side of the Battleground Records split tape between Arizona polisci sludgecore bashers Godhunter and Oakland atmospheric blackened doomers Secrets of the Sky, there are two songs. Godhunter present “Pursuit/Predator” and “Gh/0st:s” and Secrets of the Sky have “The Star” and “Gh/0st:s (Part II),” the latter cut for both deriving its title from an acronym of the bands’ names, the second one altered so that if written out it would appear as “Of the Sky: Secrets” and stylized with a zero where the ‘o’ in “of” would otherwise be. Again, it’s a stretch, but they make it work, and tie the two pieces together musically well. The two acts toured together earlier this summer around slots at the Doom in June festival in Las Vegas and they’ll partner again — with many others as well — for the Southwest Terror Fest as part of a booming lineup headed by NeurosisSunnO))), Goatsnake, et al. On the earlier tour, the tape was sold in an edition of 100 copies with godhunter secrets of the sky split tapeartwork by Nate Burns. Vinyl is due at the end of this month in cooperation between Battleground and The Compound.

What the two bands mostly have in common is that they’re heavy, and yes, I recognize that says next to nothing about them. Godhunter derive a big part of their sound from hardcore, and as the “Pursuit/running you down” call and response gang-style vocals over acoustic guitar round out “Pursuit/Predator” — which begins and ends with the Zodiac Killer, sampled — that’s all the more prevalent. To contrast, Secrets of the Sky take a Euro-style approach to blackened doom, a clearer production than one thinks of to fit the phrase “American black metal” adding a lush sensibility to their doomed progression on “The Star.” I suppose the two bands share an affinity for experimentation as well, however, since both 10-plus-minute installments of “Gh/0st:s” depart widely from the sphere of what one might expect from the band. In Godhunter‘s case, they bring in vocalist Julia DeConcini of Young Hunter and Burning Palms to top a moody, ambient tension with layers of otherworldly melody. There’s a spoken word break somewhere around the middle, and a guitar chug emerges later on, but at no point does “Gh/0st:s” explode with the kind of aggression shown in “Pursuit/Predator,” and that’s obviously the idea.

Immediately, Secrets of the Sky are on a different wavelength. Side two starts out with guitars slowly building up, and when “The Star” kicks in full brunt, the Oakland five-piece include a roaring death metal growl for good measure. A current of synth throughout provides further distinction, but even withoutgodhunter secrets of the sky tapeSecrets of the Sky have a more metallic root. Blackened vocals over a rolling doom verse give way to atmospheric guitar and spoken whispers, and it’s not until the final moments a cleaner-sung approach is revealed. By then, Secrets of the Sky have taken “The Star” up and down and around and beaten the hell out of it, a clear, full production ensuring that nothing is lost in the process. A more plotted feel presides over “Gh/0st:s (Part II)” as well, which is instrumental save for the endearingly blasphemous Exorcist sample at the end, as it too builds and recedes with crisply mixed toms, synth, acoustic guitar and plugged-in rumble. The sample is what pushes the track past 10 minutes, and I’d call it superfluous, but Secrets of the Sky and Godhunter pretty clearly had in mind that the pieces would complement each other and be of similar length, and they are.

Despite the sonic differences, there’s an apparent affinity between the two bands for each other’s work, and that comes across as they meet in the middle (it’s a very far out “middle”) on the two “Gh/0st:s” pieces. Still, each side of the tape has something different to offer underscoring the idea that, let’s say, if you’re showing up to a gig where both acts will be taking the stage, there’s really any number of angles from which your ass might be kicked.

Godhunter & Secrets of the Sky, Split (2014)

Godhunter on Thee Facebooks

Secrets of the Sky on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records

The Compound

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Sleep Announce “The Clarity” Australian Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

You know how in demand Sleep are? They put out a single, not even an album or an EP, and can go tour on the other side of the planet for it. Pretty badass, though come to think of it, I’m fairly certain Sleep could’ve gone over to Australia even without any new music out — and I’m also fairly certain they have before — and find themselves welcome. Still, not too bad for the weedian rifflords, who have begun the sometimes fraught transition from “reunion band” to “working band,” supporting new material and heralding the promise of more as they are. I’m sure Australia will be kind.

Of course, Sleep play this weekend in Boston as well, with an Earthless/Heavy Blanket jam opening, and I’m very much looking forward to that. So that those way far away can share a similar anticipation, here’s the Aussie tour announcement off the PR wire:

life is noise presents: SLEEP (USA) AUSTRALIAN TOUR DECEMBER 2014

life is noise is proud to announce the return of stoner-doom legends SLEEP for their first full Australian Tour.

When Sleep broke up in 1998, it looked like their magnum opus – the sprawling, hour+ long, single-track slice of epic stoner goodness that’s now known as Jerusalem or Dopesmoker – would never be heard. We realised stoner metal had lost one if its trailblazers and we tried our best to move on. But 16 years later, the masters of doom live again. The fever dream journey that is Dopesmoker has been unleashed in its unedited, epic glory, and Sleep are back with their first piece of new music since 1998 with what guitarist Matt Pike describes as “the lyrical follow up to a lifetime of marijuana enjoyment” – The Clarity.

Of course, we never thought it would happen like this. After the legal troubles nightmare that was Dopesmoker forced Sleep to disband, no one – not even the band themselves – thought Sleep would record again. But in 2009, Sleep was reborn. It was meant to be a one-off spectacle – a proper send-off for a trio of legends at All Tomorrow’s Parties – but it only snowballed from there. More festivals followed, then US and European tours, until far corners of their world were privy to the ceremonial trip that is Sleep.

In 2012, Southern Lord reissued Dopesmoker – in full, remastered and over an hour in length, the way it was meant to be heard. Finally, Sleep were getting the recognition they so sorely deserved 15 years ago. Finally, we got to feel the massive vibrations of stoner doom’s greatest power trio through a smoke-filled haze.

Now in 2014, Sleep looks like a super group. After their dissolution, vocalist and bassist Al Cisneros blazed trails with the rhythmic droning of OM. Matt Pike continued his devotional study of The Riff as the spiritual successor to both Lemmy and Iommi through sludge metal power trio High on Fire. Founding drummer Chris Hakius has since retired from touring but filling his huge shoes is Jason Roeder, who’s spent almost 30 years blowing minds behind the kit in Neurosis.

Sleep live is like mass hypnosis – a psychic trip of gargantuan proportions under the guidance of three sonic shamans. There’s never been a better time to be a Sleep fan. Prepare to ascend the Holy Mountain.

Catch Sleep on The Clarity: Australian Tour on the following dates:

Saturday December 6 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Monday December 8 – The Bakery, Perth
Tuesday December 9 – Fowlers Live, Adelaide
Thursday December 11 – Crowbar, Brisbane
Friday December 12 – Meredith Music Festival
Saturday December 13 – Manning Bar, Sydney

LINKS
Facebook
Official website
lifeisnoise.com
oztix.com.au

Sleep, “The Clarity”

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Sleep, Red Fang, Deamon’s Child, The Jackpine Snag, Cruthu

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I guess this is the part where I complain about lack of time, blah blah blah. Last week was a mess, it’s true, as were the last couple days, but what it comes down to is I do what I can when I can. That’s been my policy all along. A couple of these discs — CruthuDeamon’s Child — are my own rips as well from discs that were sent in, and as ever, there’s more that went up than just what is listed here. So one way or another, activity abounds. I need to find out how close I am to filling the three terabytes of the hard drive used for the server, but until then, the additions will continue unabated. It’s good to keep busy.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2014:

Sleep, “The Clarity”

To call the first new Sleep track since Dopesmoker an “event” would be underselling it. “The Clarity” arrives via the Adult Swim Singles Series not only as the Iommian legends’ first outing since that landmark release, but also their debut recording with drummer Jason Roeder and their first studio work since guitarist Matt Pike and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros went on to destroy/expand minds in High on Fire and Om, respectively, for the last decade-plus. A near-10-minute stonerly sprawl finds Sleep‘s central methodology intact. Grown up some from what it was 20 years ago, expectedly, but loyal to what they were without trying to recapture a magic that’s gone with that time. Cisneros has taken some flack for not roughing up his vocals à la Sleep’s Holy Mountain, but from where I sit, his cadence and cleaner style only makes “The Clarity” more honest, and if lyrics like “Iommic life complete” and “The dealer is my refuge” are easier to understand, you won’t find me complaining. They jam out most of the song’s second half, and ultimately “The Clarity” collapses in a sudden cut, leaving you to wonder if it ever happened at all — until of course you go back to the start for another glorious hit. If this portends more to come, I’m even more excited about the prospect of new Sleep than I was before the single arrived. Sleep on Thee Facebooks, Adult Swim Singles.

Deamon’s Child, Deamon’s Child

Even before you get to the dolphin sample in “Delfine,” and the garage thrashiness of the subsequent “Alles Bio, Immer Bio,” German trio Deamon’s Child give some hints that there’s more to what they do than the standard heavy noise rock. Comprised of guitarist Sven “Missu” Missulis (aka John Reebo of Reebosound, also ex-Psychedelic Avengers), bassist/vocalist Ana Maija Muhi (who also contributed to Reebosound‘s 2010 outing, This is Reebosound) and drummer Tim Mohr (also WhiteBuzz), Deamon’s Child debuted last year with an engaging demo and follow it with a self-titled debut of increased complexity and a sound that’s varied without the pretense, culling together punk, grunge, heavy rock and noise to create songs that feel like they could turn in any direction at once. The production plays up the frayed edges, and Muhi‘s layered vocals on a chugger like “Lutscher!” sound all the more Melvins-esque. Deamon’s Child is loaded with surprises, but doesn’t feel any more haphazard than it’s meant to, and while it may take a couple listens to catch up to it, the songs are consistent in their invitation for repeat visits. Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Red Fang, TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang

A free Red Fang acoustic EP — who’s going to argue with that? Not me, though the cumbersome and corporate-style title leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, once you get through all the namebrandery, what you come out with are acoustic renditions from Red Fang of “Failure” from late 2013’s Whales and Leeches and “Malverde” and “Human Herd” from the preceding 2011 outing, Murder the Mountains (review here). Hearing guitarist Bryan Giles soften up his usually-rough vocal approach on “Malverde” is interesting, given how much of the album version of that track is about the impact of the thing, but “Failure” becomes a brooding plea rather than the threat it is at full thrust, and “Human Herd” a kind of meditation that makes for the highlight of the whole release. One tries not to read too much into what was clearly a one-off thing, but it would be cool to hear what an acoustic album track from Red Fang might sound like. Their songwriting clearly translates, and between Giles and bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam – let’s not forget guitarist David Sullivan or drummer John Sherman – they prove here they can pull it off sounding confident and comfortable. Kind of an unexpected turn from the chicanery-fueled rock we’re used to from Red Fang, but they’re as easy to dig as ever on (deep breath) TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red FangRed Fang on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

The Jackpine Snag, The Fire Tower EP

Tonally, Michigan’s The Jackpine Snag seem rooted in punk, but a strong undercurrent of the weirdo runs throughout the songs on their new EP, The Fire Tower, and whether it’s the shouting on “With Wings” or “The Missaukee Strut” or the motoring noise of closer “Gonna Wreck My Life,” the trio present an individualized approach to bruiser expression. The Fire Tower is their longest outing yet at seven songs following a four-track 2013 debut 7″, but they have no trouble changing up their take enough to hold interest, while also keeping the tracks themselves relatively lean and concise. Maybe what the EP does best is balance that efficiency with a loose, tossoff-punker vibe, but The Jackpine Snag – guitarist/vocalist Joe Hart, bassist Jason Roedel and drummer Todd Karinen – show a keen awareness of how far out they want to go and how oddball they want to get in their ragged, grungy craftsmanship. No doubt that will serve them well should they decide next to tackle a debut full-length. The Jackpine Snag on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Cruthu, Creation Demo

The debut release from Lansing, Michigan’s Cruthu, the Creation Demo culls together an initial three tracks that sound somewhat raw but hold significant stylistic promise, blending a heavy ’70s psych-blues mentality with drearier rock tendencies and analog worship. Frontwoman Teri Brown provides a soulful lift to “S.O.S.,” as guitarist Dan McCormick leads bassist Scott Lehman and drummer Matt Fry through a subtly doomed murk, but pushes into rawer, strained-throat vocalizing on “Walk with Me” that immediately stands the Creation Demo apart from much of what claims to have been recorded live in terms of sheer honesty. And to Cruthu‘s further credit, I don’t think the tracks were recorded live. Particularly in “Separated from the Herd” and “Walk with Me,” which closes, Cruthu find some room for instrumental exploration along with Brown‘s vocals, and the path they’re on suits them well as the demo plays out. I’d be interested to hear them branch out further instrumentally, get weird with some percussion or strings or psychedelics, but there’s time for such things, and they’re off to an evocative start. Cruthu on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Like I said, there’s a lot more that went up this week than is listed here. Check out The Obelisk Radio playlist/updates page for the complete list.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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High on Fire Announce North American Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Presumably this is the tour during which High on Fire will shake off the stage rust from writing their new album. I’m not sure if they’ve recorded yet, but 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) was tracked with Kurt Ballou, and he’s in Salem, MA, so starting off in Cambridge coming out of the studio would make sense. Either way, it seems fair to expect a new song or two will work its way into the set as they make their run across the country with stops off at the Hopscotch Music Festival and Motörhead’s Motörboat cruise, which one can only assume they will promptly sink.

Whether they’re road-testing new material or taking it out for a victory lap, High on Fire are an unremitting stage act, so anytime they’re coming through town, that’s where you want to be. But you already know that.

Fresh off the PR wire:

HIGH ON FIRE Announces North American Tour Dates

Uber-Power Trio to Headline First-Ever Converse Rubber Tracks Live Tour; Locked in to Perform at Both 2014 Hopscotch Music Festival and Motörhead’s Motörboat Rock Cruise

Herculean hard rock heavyweights HIGH ON FIRE have announced summer tour dates. The globally celebrated heavy metal pioneers will kick off the must-see live performances on August 12 in Cambridge, MA as headliners of the inaugural Converse Rubber Tracks Live Tour. The just-announced run will continue with stops in Toronto (Aug. 14), Brooklyn (Aug. 15), Los Angeles (Aug. 19) and San Francisco (Aug. 20). Tickets for the Converse Rubber Tracks Live Tour are free (see below for ticketing links) and the jaunt will coincide with Converse Rubber Tracks “pop-up” recording studios in each city, providing opportunities for emerging artists to unleash their creative spirit.

Additionally, HIGH ON FIRE will appear among the featured acts at the 2014 Hopscotch Music Festival, set to take place September 4-6 in Raleigh, NC. HIGH ON FIRE, who feature guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz, will headline the Lincoln Theater on Saturday, Sept. 6 as part of the festival, with Witch Mountain, Subrosa and Demon Eye opening the evening’s festivities. HIGH ON FIRE will showcase at Hopscotch alongside fellow headliners Mastodon, St. Vincent, Sun Kil Moon, The War on Drugs and more. For full details, visit HopscotchMusicFest.com.

Finally, HIGH ON FIRE will take its audio annihilation to the sea as part of the inceptive Motörhead’s Motörboat. Described as “the ultimate music festival cruise vacation”, the seafaring soiree will set sail September 22-26 from Miami, FL aboard a Carnival Cruise ship, christened as “The Loudest Boat In The Wörld”. Joining HIGH ON FIRE will be Motörhead (natch), Megadeth, Anthrax, Zakk Wylde, DOWN, Testament and more. Visit MotorheadCruise.com for full details.

HIGH ON FIRE North American tour dates:

** = Converse Rubber Tracks Tour presents HIGH ON FIRE
# = Blackest supports
% = Arctic supports

August 12 Cambridge, MA The Sinclair ** #
August 14 Toronto, ON Adelaide Hall ** #
August 15 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg ** #
August 19 Los Angeles, CA Echoplex ** %
August 20 San Francisco, CA The Chapel ** %
September 6 Raleigh, NC Hopscotch Festival (w/ Mastodon, Sun Kil Moon, St. Vincent, Valient Thorr, etc.)
September 19 Tampa, FL The Orpheum
September 20 Miami, FL Grand Central
September 21 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub ?
September 22 THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN as part of Motörhead’s Motörboat (w/ Megadeth, Anthrax, DOWN, etc.)
September 27 Portland, OR Dantes

HIGH ON FIRE have begun work on their new, as-yet-untitled studio album. The group has convened for strategic writing sessions in both New Orleans, LA and Oakland, CA, with early reports indicating the band’s new material to be both “epic” and “sonically huge”. A 2015 tentative release date via eOne Music is expected for the new LP, the follow-up to 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis.

“Everyone is asking what the new High on Fire music sounds like,” says Des Kensel. “Chew on some mescaline and listen to side B of Sabbath’s “Master of Reality” backwards at 78 RPM and it might give you an idea.”

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire

High on Fire, Live at the Ottobar, April 27, 2014

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Sleep Post New Single “The Clarity”

Posted in audiObelisk on July 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Thank you, gods of riff.

It’s the first new Sleep track since Dopesmoker, and the first song Sleep have produced with the lineup of founding vocalist/bassist Al Cisneros (Om), founding guitarist Matt Pike (High on Fire) and drummer Jason Roeder (Neurosis), who came aboard a few years back in place of Chris Hakius. Those who’ll take it on — which should be everybody above the age of seven or under it — will find Sleep‘s classic and pioneering Sabbath worship intact over the course of the song’s meandering, near-10-minute crawl, starting out with a compressed nod of the central riff as though a machine was lurching to life. Cisneros brings his Om-style cleaner vocals to the proceedings, rather than the rougher shouts one might find on 1993’s classic Sleep’s Holy Mountain. Important to remember that was 22 years ago now.

Of course, Sleep have been playing live shows for half a decade on and off, and those have featured material either put together or resurrected from the days following Dopesmoker, but “The Clarity” is the first studio output they’ve had since the reunion began. Any new Sleep at all is obviously one of the year’s biggest advents, regardless of the song itself, but the gargantuan roll that unfolds throughout “The Clarity” and the way the song wanders and jams out to its sudden stop after its weedian verses bodes very, very well for the long-awaited and rumored and speculated-upon full-length that still may or may not be in the works. Hopefully it is. It’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of a new Sleep album listening to “The Clarity,” since the dynamic at the heart of the band is clearly alive and well. And stoned. Dig the subtle “War Pigs” nod before Pike‘s solo in the midsection. Fucking hell these guys kill.

New Sleep. What more do you need out of a Friday afternoon?

Sleep‘s “The Clarity” will be available as a free download starting Monday via the Adult Swim Singles Series. For now this’ll do.

Dig it:

Sleep, “The Clarity”

Adult Swim Singles Series

Sleep’s website

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On Wax: Planes of Satori, Son of a Gun b/w Dichotomies 7″

Posted in On Wax on June 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was a surprise to learn that the Son of a Gun b/w Dichotomies 7″ is the debut release from Oakland-based Planes of Satori, since they come across with such a firm grip on a sound that could easily break apart in what would apparently be less capable hands. The two songs included on the black, 500-pressed Who Can You Trust? Records platter, “Son of a Gun” and “Dichotomies,” each work quickly to establish a dynamic rhythm as a foundation for psychedelic guitar work and airy, echoing vocals. The moods and general level of insistence vary between them — “Son of a Gun” pushes so hard one is almost inclined to push back — but both the A and B side carry across inventive, intricate rhythms well beyond space rock’s ordinary “we’ll keep playing the riff while the guitar takes a four-minute solo” fare. Nothing against that as there are plenty of bands for whom it works well, but with Planes of Satori, bassist Justin Pinkerton (also of Golden Void) and drummer Chris Labreche stand out just as much as the wah guitar of Raze Regal or the far-off vocals of Alejandro Magaña.

Pinkerton, who also recorded and mixed (the former with Christopher Sprague), has an obvious understanding of rhythm as the heart of the band, and that works immediately to “Son of a Gun”‘s advantage, the drums setting up a shuffle somewhere between Afrobeat and jammed-out tom meandering, hitting right in with Regal‘s guitar, which shortly opens up to give Magaña room for the verse. The tom hits and cymbal wash are constant, and the bass keeps up, while the guitar holds chords beneath and flourishes with winding lead lines and a high-end pinch. While it starts off with an already pretty wide soundscape, there’s an uptick in vibrancy in the second half of the track as well that’s only furthered by Regal‘s solo near the end, so a build exists too, and it’s not like the song is just three-plus minutes of a drum-fill/guitar-lead freakout, though I’ve no doubt that if it was, Planes of Satori would likely pull it off.

The flip side, “Dichotomies,” begins with a simpler bass and drum line that feels slower but might just be less active and once more finds Pinkerton and Labreche soon joined by Regal and Magaña. Neither track sticks around longer than it needs to in order to make its point, warm bass tones and guitar effects distinguishing the B from the A on the release, kinetic momentum still in effect despite the pullback. Magaña‘s vocals fit easily over the airier “Dichotomies,” and Regal‘s guitar handles the task of marching the song out with a psychedelic lead progression that the rest of the band seems glad to follow. Again, especially for a debut release, Son of a Gun b/w Dichotomies stands out for how much Planes of Satori seem to want to and to be able to do with their sound, but I’d be less shocked if their next release didn’t expand on what these two tracks present either. A band this given to movement in their material rarely has interest in any kind of standing still.

Planes of Satori, Son of a Gun b/w Dichotomies (2014)

Planes of Satori on Thee Facebooks

Son of a Gun b/w Dichotomies on Bandcamp

Who Can You Trust? Records

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High on Fire Begin Writing New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Not much to say about it yet but since it’s High on Fire writing a new record, the news is good. As the PR wire informs, fresh off the Scion Rock Fest, the Oakland crushers have also snuck in a few dates in Chicago ahead of trekking to Australia and thereafter to Europe before returning to the States to hit the Hopscotch festival in North Carolina this September. No word on whether they’ll continue writing on the road or have any new material in tow for the shows, but screw it, that High on Fire are working on a follow-up to 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) and eying an early 2015 release is a pretty solid takeaway to have. Figure one or two songs might be ready to go at this point, as High on Fire have made a habit of road-testing new material in the past, but don’t quote me on that.

From the PR wire:

HIGH ON FIRE Begins Work on New Album

Hard Rock’s Heaviest Band Prepping “Herculean” LP

Chicago Residency, Australian, European Headlining Tours Announced

California rock giants HIGH ON FIRE have begin work on their new, as-yet-untitled studio album. The globally-celebrated group — guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike, drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz — have convened for strategic writing sessions in both New Orleans, LA and Oakland, CA, with early reports indicating the band’s new material to be both “epic” and “sonically huge”. A winter 2015 tentative release date via eOne is expected for the new LP, the follow-up to 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis, which has been hailed as “not for the faint of heart ” by The New Yorker and “a fantastically constructed bloodbath” by Entertainment Weekly.

“Des, Jeff and I are really getting creative and writing a hell of a new record,” states Pike. “It’s a crazy project and I can’t really explain what it’s all about just yet, but we’ve been writing a lot of crazy intense material that will up the ante, and bring things to another level.”

“Everyone is asking what the new High on Fire music sounds like,” adds Kensel. “Chew on some mescaline and listen to side B of Sabbath’s “Master of Reality” backwards at 78 RPM and it might give you an idea.”

In addition to constructing the new album, HIGH ON FIRE has announced a handful of upcoming U.S. live dates as well as an Australian headlining tour and a European headlining trek. The Land of Oz trek will launch on July 16 in Brisbane and the Euro jaunt will kick off on July 23 in Germany and run through August 9 in London, England.

Previous to the out-of-country dates, HIGH ON FIRE will undertake a Chicago area residency that will begin on May 29 in Rock Island, IL. The band will then gig as one of the headliners of the Do-Division Street Fest on May 30 (w/ J Mascis, Bass Drum of Death, etc.) before back-to-back headlining shows at Chi-Town’s Empty Bottle on May 31 and June 1.
HIGH ON FIRE tour dates:

May 29 Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Co.
May 30 Chicago, IL Do-Division Street Fest
May 31 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
June 1 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
July 16 Brisbane, Australia Crowbar
July 17 Brisbane, Australia Crowbar
July 18 Perth, Australia The Rosemont Hotel
July 19 Melbourne, Australia The Hi Fi
July 20 Sydney, Australia The Factory Theatre
July 23 Hamburg, Germany Logo
July 24 Tilburg, NL 013
July 25 Köln, Germany Underground
July 26 Barcelos, Portugal Milhões de Festa
July 28 Stockholm, Sweden Slakthuset
July 29 Oslo, Norway Bla
July 30 Gothenburg, Sweden Truckstop Alaska
July 31 Viveiro, Spain Resurrection Festival
August 1 Paris, France Glazart
August 2 Waarschoot, Belgium Roadkill
August 3 Copenhagen, Denmark KB 18
August 4 Malmo, Sweden Babel
August 5 Berlin, Germany Magnet
August 6 Prague, Czech Republic Brutal Assault Festival
August 7 Stuttgart, Germany Kellerclub
August 8 Oulu, Finland Jalometalli Festival
August 9 London, United Kingdom Underworld
September 6 Raleigh, NC Hopscotch Festival (w/ Mastodon, Sun Kil Moon, St. Vincent, Valient Thorr, etc.)

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
http://entertainmentone.com/music
http://highonfire.net/

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Friday Full-Length: High on Fire, Death is this Communion

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

High on Fire, Death is this Communion (2007)

This is my favorite High on Fire record. I know plenty other people who’ll choose other albums over 2007’s Death is this Communion, be it the band’s more stonerly 2000 debut, The Art of Self-Defense, or something more recent like 2010’s Snakes for the Divine, but for me, it’s gotta be Death is this Communion.

I remember very clearly the first time I really sat with a High on Fire album. It was 2002’s sophomore outing, Surrounded by Thieves. I was playing the album, which was new at that point, and a friend of mine came in the room and said, “What the fuck is this? It sounds so dirty.” We laughed, and yeah, it did. That record continues to hold a special place in my heart, but I think if you look at the progression of High on Fire‘s sound especially as it is right now, you see that Death is this Communion marks the turning point between their earlier work and the two albums they’ve done since.

Their 2005 third album, Blessed Black Wings, was notable for bringing in bassist Joe Preston (Thrones, ex-the Melvins) alongside the founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike and drummer Des Kensel, but by the time they got around to the follow-up, it was Zeke‘s Jeff Matz in that role, and he’s stayed there since. So in a very real way, Death is this Communion is the marker for when High on Fire solidified itself. Also, if you take a look at where they were two records before (the marauding stoner thrash of Surrounded by Thieves) and where they went two records hence (the latest offering, 2012’s ultra-metal De Vermis Mysteriis), it becomes easy to read Death is this Communion as not just a step-stone in their catalog, but the essential position from which the two sides met and diverged. Whatever glories they’ve gone onto or had done before, they were never quite the same again.

And that’s not even to mention the songs on Death is this Communion — the title-track’s masterful sprawl, the initial pummel of “Fury Whip,” the unmitigated attack of “Rumors of War” that crashes right into the riff-groove of “DII.” It’s not a short album at a little less than 57 minutes, but even into its farthest reaches with “Ethereal” — still one of Pike‘s boldest vocal experiments — and churning closer “Return to NOD,” it never fails to both grasp and brutalize its attendees. They’d come from more filth-caked sonic places and they’d progress to even cleaner ones, but Death is this Communion inadvertently came to stand for the moment in time when High on Fire left behind the heavy forms of their beginnings and started a different quest altogether.

I had a job interview this afternoon. Corporate gig. People seemed nice. It was casual Friday, so I may have been one of few in the building not wearing jeans — the irony of which wasn’t lost on me. Before I left to go to their office, the little dog Dio came upstairs bleeding from the side of her head. An old scab she had opened up because she’s a dog and doesn’t know better. So I had to clean that before I left, put on some Neosporin, and that may have had an effect on my overall mental state, but I left there feeling positive. They asked about this site and I made it clear it was an “on my own time” thing. Guess I’d be putting in some early mornings or late nights. Either way. Gotta get the job first, then I’ll figure out the rest.

We’ve also put in a purchase and sale agreement to buy a condo, The Patient Mrs. and I (I suppose the dog too, though her name isn’t on the account). I’ve learned never to believe these things are going to happen until they already have, but I guess the point is adventure abounds. I’ve done my best these last few days to hold onto the good vibes I brought back with me from Roadburn. In a couple minutes I’ll go downstairs and load up a pizza from Whole Foods with pesto and roasted garlic, then watch baseball. A quiet night. Should be right on.

Next week — Monday brings a stream of two songs from the new The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic EP, and I’ll also have audio from Vestal Claret and Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus later in the week. I’m gonna try to squeeze a review of the new Floor in there as well, and another roundup of discs if I can. We’ll see how it goes, but I have a few staring me down from the pile that need to get written up. Fingers crossed I get there.

Hope you’re enjoying the High on Fire and hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Friday Full-Length: Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1993)

An obvious pick, maybe, but I’m thinking of it more as correcting the oversight of never having closed a week with it before than taking the easy way out, so if that’s how you want to roll with it as well, I’m cool with that. Or if you don’t give a crap and are happy to have an excuse to groove on Sleep’s Holy Mountain on this late Friday evening/early Saturday morning, that works too. Either way you want to slice it, Sleep‘s second album, released in the US in March 1993 — it’s almost legally old enough to drink, and who wouldn’t buy this record a beer on its birthday? — is among the most influential slabs of Sabbath-worship ever crafted. Not one week goes by that I don’t get hit up by some band playing essentially these riffs in a different order. Sometimes in the same order. It has made gods of Sleep, and helped solidify the second generation of heavy rock and roll in the ’90s, giving a true and loyal update on the potency of the band’s ’70s forebears.

Most importantly, it has earned every bit of the legend around it. To listen to “Evil Gypsy/Solomon’s Theme,” the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and drummer Chris Hakius sound as blitzed out of their minds as they probably were, and as much of Sleep‘s legacy is tied to the legend of Dopesmoker and the band taking their major label advance and spending it on weed and amps and whatever, Sleep’s Holy Mountain is the right album to have come from its time and place, and more than 20 years on, I think we’re still in the process of understanding its impact.

Also it fucking rules. Please enjoy.

I’ve had “day” enough for three days, so I’m going to keep this brief, but please let me say how humbled I was and how heartwarming the response to the fifth anniversary post was. As it happened, I wrote that in a hospital waiting room while a member of my family was having surgery (all seems to be well), and it was a show of support that was even more appreciated in that context. Deeply, deeply appreciated. Again, more than I can say.

We came down to Jersey last night ahead of that procedure — that’s also why there weren’t so many posts today; that premiere for The Socks I wrote late last night to publish this morning — and tomorrow we’ll head back north to Massachusetts after breakfast. I’ve got a lot of email to answer and a lot of stuff to listen to, but I’m going to try to do another roundup this coming week like the one I did this past Monday — though I’m going to do it on Tuesday, because Monday is enough of a pain in the ass without it — and I know I’ll have a review of the Valley of the Sun record, but I’m honestly sure what else at the moment because I’m just not home. Maybe The Warlocks.

Oh, and I’ll have the Alcest interview, finally. Little late on that one, but still. Time to get it posted, so that’ll be up.

I said I was going to keep it short, so I am, since even though I’m not all the way through Sleep’s Holy Mountain yet my eyes are starting to close, but before I go, please, thank you again so much for all the support and encouragement and kind words and thoughts. Five years of this has been fantastic, and I know there’s a lot of really awesome stuff coming in the next few months, with the Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy West Coast tour — fuck I can. not. wait. to go on tour with those dudes — in February and more excellence on tap for the spring. Stay tuned, is what I’m saying.

Alright. Have a great and safe weekend, and please hit up the forum and radio stream.

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