Friday Full-Length: Electric Wizard & Orange Goblin, Chrono.Naut / Nuclear Guru Split

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Electric Wizard & Orange Goblin, Split (1998)

Man’s Ruin Records had a thing for 10″ vinyl. Maybe it was cheaper at the time — oddly enough I’m not up on what pressing costs were 22 years ago — or maybe label head Frank Kozik took it as an aesthetic thing, but either way, during the years the imprint was active before sadly going belly-up in 2001/2002, it was responsible for 10″ EP releases from Kyuss, the Melvins, The Heads, Honky, Acid King, Entombed, Desert Sessions, Nebula, Dozer, Church of Misery, Iron Monkey, Fatso Jetson and a slew of others, some of which also wound up seeing issue on CD as splits — that’s also how the various volumes of Desert Sessions were compiled. The two EPs that make up the shared Man’s Ruin release between Electric Wizard and Orange Goblin indeed were issued separately first as 10″ vinyls, with Electric Wizard‘s Chrono.Naut seeing two pressings on purple andelectric wizard chrononaut orange platters starting in Sept. 1997 and Orange Goblin‘s Nuclear Guru two-songer arriving that December in similar fashion on orange vinyl.

Either way, particularly in hindsight, teaming them up seems prescient as to the impact both bands would ultimately have on the heavy underground, especially in the UK. Electric Wizard had offered up their self-titled debut (discussed here) in 1994/1995 through Rise Above, and their landmark second album, Come My Fanatics… arrived earlier in ’97, which put it roughly concurrent to Orange Goblin‘s own debut, Frequencies from Planet Ten (discussed here). Between the two shorter releases, Chrono.Naut was the more distinctive between the vinyl and CD versions, as the single song that comprised the release was split into two parts for the 10″ and presented in its 17-minute entirety on the compact disc. However one might come by it though, it’s essential early Electric Wizard. With the Dorset trio working with the classic lineup of guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn, bassist Tim Bagshaw and drummer Mark Greening, they answer the call of prime raw Sabbath worship in the song’s first part, rolling out a stoned-as-ElectricWizard nod with an underproduced sensibility that — as the best of the band’s work does — turns that trashy sound into an aesthetic element. At 6:49 or thereabouts into the track, Oborn lets out an “alright!” and the trio shift into a dreamy, spaced-out jam that still holds to that rawness but stands among the most improvised-sounding moments they’ve ever put to tape. Labeled as “Chrono.Naut Phase II (Chaos Revealed),” it remains distinct even among Electric Wizard‘s other longform material, such as the two extended cuts on the Supercoven EP that showed up next year and were more coated in the grit that would soon enough make 2000’s Dopethrone (discussed here) the generation-defining monster it was.

Likewise, it’s strange to listen to Orange Goblin‘s “Nuclear Guru” and their take on “Hand of Doom” and have the one hold up to the other. Kind of blasphemy, right? I mean, that’s not just Black Sabbath — it’s Black Sabbath from Paranoid! But especially listening to the two right next to each other, for the sheer quality of the track, “Nuclear Guru” has every bit as much to offer the listener as “Hand of Doom.” Of course, one would be remiss to overlook the fact that Orange Goblin doesn’t happen without Black Sabbath as an influence — ditto Electric Wizard, while we’re at it — but the point is that hearing the songs side-by-side more than two decades after the fact, they’re both classic. And in the context of its arriving as part of a split with Electric Wizard, “Nuclear Guru” stresses how much of Orange Goblin‘s strength has orange goblin nuclear gurualways been in their songwriting. What was then the five-piece of vocalist Ben Ward (recently wedded; congrats to him), guitarists Joe Hoare and Pete O’Malley, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Christopher Turner were certainly in their formative stages, but even then, they had the hooks and forward groove that would make their brand of doom rock as hugely influential as it became. And their take on “Hand of Doom” wasn’t just faithful to the original in terms of tone — an accomplishment unto itself — but it still brought the band’s signature stomp to its later verses and a boozer’s psychedelic edge to the leads. As Black Sabbath were just starting to get back together with their original lineup at the time, the homage feels well placed both in terms of showcasing Orange Goblin‘s roots and what they were able to bring to them in order to define their own sound.

All told, it’s about half and hour from two bands who would go on and continue to earn forerunner status in English heavy, their styles being picked up on not only by their peers — one could argue they influenced each other to some degree as well, especially early on — but successive generations of groups in the UK and beyond. They were both entering crucial eras for their approach, as Electric Wizard, as noted, had just put out Come My Fanatics… and would soon move onto Supercoven and Dopethrone, which some would argue as the pinnacle of their work — not me; I’m a believer in 2007’s Witchcult Today (discussed here) as their to-date crown jewel — while Orange Goblin would well earn a reputation for brash doom with Time Travelling Blues (discussed here) in 1998 and The Big Black (discussed here) in 2000. But as much as all things stoner, doom and/or heavy might’ve seemed like outsider art at the time, it’s striking just how sure of what they’re doing both bands sound on their split. There’s no doubt as Electric Wizard jam into oblivion on “Chrono.Naut” or as Orange Goblin shuffle through the later moments of “Nuclear Guru” that they knew what they were after in terms of style, or for that matter that they knew how to make that happen in the writing (or improvising) and recording. Not only were they in it early, they were in it early and kicking ass.

Certainly both would be a factor in establishing the height of their influence on the many who’ve followed the paths they each laid out.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I let myself sleep in this morning, inadvertently. I woke up at around 2AM and was up for about an hour. With the alarm set for 4, going back to sleep at 3:15 felt needlessly cruel, so I set it for 4:30. When it went off, I turned it off, rolled over to get up and the next thing I knew it was quarter to six. Whoops. So much for productivity early in the day.

Doesn’t particularly matter, but it means that morning nap continues to be the time during which I get the most work done as it has been for the last couple weeks. I don’t love that system, but I don’t love getting up at 3:30 either, so you know, you give and take.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. It will run six days and include 60 albums. There’s a Saint Vitus premiere scheduled as well for Tuesday and maybe another video premiere on Thursday, but other than that, it’s all QR all the way. Expect fewer news posts, because that’s the tradeoff I need to make in order to survive the thing.

Oh, I’m also going to see All Them Witches next week in Boston. That’ll be fun.

And Sunday is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It’s a cool one, don’t miss it. 7PM Eastern, Sunday. Replay is Tuesday, 9AM Eastern. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com.

We’ve been down in Jersey all week as The Patient Mrs. has had Spring break (woo!), and that’s been good, but this weekend we’ll head back north in order to facilitate her going back to work Monday evening. It isn’t a short ride, but it’s generally worth the trip to be down here. Where we stay there’s more room for The Pecan to run around — and he does — and he needs all the space he can get. “Little Orc, bru-ra-rum,” and so on.

I’m gonna punch out so I can try and set up the back end of posts for the Quarterly Review before I start to fall asleep at the keyboard, so I’ll just wish you a great and safe weekend and leave it there. Have fun, don’t forget to listen to the Gimme Show, and thanks for reading.

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The Top 20 of 2018 Year-End Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

derp

If you’re reading this, congratulations on making it all the way through the existential rollercoaster that was 2018.

I hope you celebrated that year’s end and this year’s beginning in riotous fashion if that’s your thing, and if you’re more the stay-at-home-and-don’t-break-stuff type, I hope that was fun too.

Over the last month, best-of lists have been collected from all around the world and as we move into 2019, it’s time to do the results of the Year-End Poll for 2018.

What a year. As I look back on the lists submitted, of course I can’t help but think how absolutely incredible 2018 was for music. With the world crumbling around, creativity surged, and the quality of output was off the charts. I published my own list last week and was quickly inundated with stuff I forgot or that I missed owing to being robbed earlier this year — I guess I didn’t even realize until the post went up just how much that screwed me — and I’m sure there’s more still out there from what everyone turned in. It’s infinite. It keeps going. Trends change. Sounds change. People change. Creativity flourishes.

But I think if you’re reading this, you know why we’re here. We wound up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 discrete releases submitted. That’s more than five for every day of the year. And they came from 547 people, which is amazing. Accordingly, there should be plenty here to keep you busy for a while.

Not exactly suspenseful as to which was the album of the year, but it’s still interesting to see where stuff landed. Just to remind, there are two lists, one of the raw votes, and one in which a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. Thanks as always to Slevin for the help in setting up the back end functionality and compilation scripts.

Let’s go:

Top 20 of 2018 — Weighted Results

sleep the sciences

1. Sleep, The Sciences (1,087 points)
2. YOB, Our Raw Heart (721)
3. High on Fire, Electric Messiah (478)
4. Earthless, Black Heaven (413)
5. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (408)
6. Windhand, Eternal Return (387)
7. All Them Witches, ATW (373)
8. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland (354)
9. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions (323)
10. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe (315)
11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers (285)
12. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II (274)
13. Graveyard, Peace (225)
14. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman (222)
15. Weedpecker, III (212)
16. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown (197)
17. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker (189)
18. Conan, Existential Void Guardian (188)
19. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark (167)
20. ASG, Survive Sunrise (164)

Honorable Mention:
Messa, Feast for Water (150)
Gozu, Equilibrium (148)
Judas Priest, Firepower (148)
Naxatras, III (148)
Forming the Void, Rift (146)

I’m not saying everyone had to love the Sleep record, but there’s no way it wasn’t the biggest underground heavy release of the year. That top spot was established the first day the poll went up and while YOB caught up as both neared 100 votes, there was no doubt how it would ultimately shake out. It was pretty clear early on what people were passionate about, but there are some interesting differences between the raw vote and the weighted results even high on the list, as you’ll see below.

Top 20 of 2018 — Raw Votes

sleep the sciences

1. Sleep, The Sciences (263 votes)
2. YOB, Our Raw Heart (185)
3. High on Fire, Electric Messiah (141)
4. Windhand, Eternal Return (115)
5. Earthless, Black Heaven (109)
6. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (102)
7. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland (101)
8. All Them Witches, ATW (95)
8. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions (95)
9. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe (93)
10. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers (77)
10. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II (77)
11. Graveyard, Peace (69)
12. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman (67)
13. Weedpecker, III (63)
14. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker (57)
14. Conan, Existential Void Guardian (57)
15. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown (54)
16. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark (50)
17. ASG, Survive Sunrise (48)
18. Gozu, Equilibrium (46)
19. Forming the Void, Rift (45)
20. Judas Priest, Firepower (43)
20. Khemmis, Bloodletting (43)
20. Mos Generator, Shadowlands (43)
20. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back (43)

Honorable Mention:
Messa, Feast for Water (41)
Domkraft, Flood (40)
Naxatras, III (40)
Thou, Magus (40)

Everything else got fewer than 40 raw votes. Why cap it at 40? I don’t know. Good a place as any. And when a top 20 has 26 releases on it, I don’t imagine there will be too many complaints about not enough stuff being included. One can hope, anyhow. You can see the difference between Sleep and everyone else here as well, a pretty precipitous drop after both them and YOB, and YOB and High on Fire — the top three being well ahead of everyone else in terms of general agreement.

The ‘Respect the Hustle’ Award

Somewhere around the middle of the month, I noticed a massive surge of votes for a band called Entropía and their debut album, Invisible. A bunch of people with lists of 20 just including Entropía. I’ve included them below, you can see them. I didn’t know what was up, whether it was the band spamming the vote or what, so I sent them a message. Turns out they had sent the link to their email list and asked for votes, and that’s how they all got in. Well, okay.

They wound up with well over 750 raw votes (to remind, Sleep got 263), and it didn’t feel representative to have them be album of the year, but hey, I respect the hustle, so they get the award accordingly. Nicely done, folks. I’ve been doing Year-End Polls since like 2010 and that’s never happened before. Their totals were 2,367 points and 777 votes.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading. Whether this is the only post you’ve seen this year or you click ‘Like’ on everything that comes across your Facebook feed, your support is tremendously appreciated. This is the only post that will go up today, but we’ll be back to business as usual tomorrow, and in the meantime, you’ll find everybody’s list included after the jump.

All the best for 2019.

Read more »

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2018

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the-top-30-of-2018

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2018 to that, please do.

It just wouldn’t be a year if it wasn’t completely overwhelming, right?

2018 has certainly met that standard and then some. The swath of output, whether it’s a new generation adopting and adapting established methods or out and out reinventing the stylistic wheel and then pushing it uphill on a seemingly endless barrage of tours, has been staggering, and it’s still happening. There’s a little more than a week to go in the year. You think a band isn’t putting something out today? Of course they are. It’s every day. It’s all the time.

But this year wasn’t just about quantity either. I think one of my biggest struggles in writing about albums in 2018 — and with the last Quarterly Review and various premieres and video posts that were basically album reviews in disguise, let’s estimate we’re somewhere past 300 records reviewed one way or another — was in conveying just how killer so much of the stuff coming through was. How many times can you say the word “awesome?” Well, I’m sure we’ll see it a few more times before this list is over, so there you go.

I say something like this every time I do a list, but please keep in mind these are my picks and I’m one person. But I am a person. I know there’s the whole internet-anonymity thing, but I assure you, I’m a human being (more of a cave troll, really) typing these words. I’m all for everyone sharing their own picks in the comments, and all for passionate advocating, but please, let’s keep it civil and respectful. These things can spiral out of control quickly, but let’s remember that we’re all human beings and worth of basic courtesy, even if some of us are dead wrong about a good many things. You should definitely punch nazis, though.

Thanks in advance for reading. Here we go:

[UPDATE: You’ll notice the inclusion of an ’18a.’ I had Stoned Jesus in my notes as number 18 initially and they got dropped as I was adjusting things along the way. I’ve added them back in, but it didn’t seem fair to bump everyone else down after the post had already been published. That was the best I could come up with for a solution. If you’re pissed about one more killer record being added, please feel free to email me and tell me all about it.]

30. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark

The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Chicago’s The Skull had no small task before them in following up their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) — let alone living up to their pedigree — but their second album demonstrated a creative growth that sacrificed nothing of memorability when it came to songs like “Breathing Underwater” and “All that Remains (Is True).” They got down to work and got the job done, which is what a working band does. 2018 was by any measure a fantastic year for doom, and The Skull were a big part of why.

29. Foghound, Awaken to Destroy

foghound awaken to destroy

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 21.

The Dec. 2017 murder of Rev. Jim Forrester was tragic. No other way to say it. Foghound, who were in the midst of making Awaken to Destroy at the time, put together an album that not only features Forrester‘s last recorded performance, but pays respect to his memory while the wound is still raw and manages to kick ass all the while. It’s a record that can’t ever be divorced from its circumstances — just can’t — and so it can be a heavy listen in more than just its tones, but it’s basically Foghound proving they’re unstoppable. And so they are.

28. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back

orange goblin the wolf bites back

Released by Spinefarm Records. Reviewed June 13.

Who among us here today is not a sucker for Orange Goblin? Come forward an be judged. I mean, really. Nine records deep, the London sceneforgers are nothing less than an institution, beloved by boozehounds, riffhounds, doomhounds, and really, a wide variety of hounds the world over. Also dudes. With its essential title-track hook and highlight cuts in “Ghosts of the Primitives” and “Burn the Ships” — or, you know, any of them — they added to one of heavy’s most unshakable legacies with an album as furious as it is welcoming to its generations-spanning fanbase.

27. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe

fu manchu clone of the universe
Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed Feb. 15.

There are two kinds of people in this world, and they’re both Fu Manchu fans. Clone of the Universe turned heads with a guest appearance from Rush‘s Alex Lifeson on the 18-minute side-B-consuming “Il Mostro Atomico,” but really to focus on that instead of “Intelligent Worship,” “(I’ve Been) Hexed,” “Don’t Panic,” “Slower than Light,” etc., is only seeing half the point of the album in the first place. The long-running lords of fuzz hit a new stride with 2014’s Gigantoid (review here), and Clone of the Universe was in every way a worthy successor.

26. Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain

Witch-Mountain-Witch-Mountain
Released by Svart Records. Reviewed May 16.

It was an unenviable task before Witch Mountain in replacing vocalist Uta Plotkin, but founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nathan Carson found the right voice in Kayla Dixon and solidified the lineup with her and bassist Justin Brown enough to make a declarative statement in Witch Mountain‘s self-titled LP. That’s the story of it. They pulled it off. Met with what was unquestionably a bummer circumstance, they pushed through and moved their sound forward through a new beginning — and not their first one. Watch out when their next record hits.

25. Windhand, Eternal Return

windhand eternal return

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Oct. 3.

Richmond, Virginia, doomers Windhand‘s second collaboration with producer Jack Endino produced a marked and purposeful expansion of their sound, encompassing classic grunge influences and a heavy psychedelic swirl that added color their previously-greyscale sonic haze. Resonant in tone and emotionalism, Eternal Return readjusted Windhand‘s trajectory in such a manner that, where one might’ve thought they knew where the band were headed in terms of their progression, they’ve made themselves a less predictable outfit on the whole. For that alone, it’s a triumph. Then you have the songs.

24. Sun Voyager, Seismic Vibes

Sun Voyager Seismic Vibes

Released by King Pizza Records. Reviewed April 18.

I don’t even want to admit how long I was waiting for Sun Voyager‘s first long-player to show up, but when it finally did, the New York trio did not disappoint. Catchy, energetic, fuzzed-out tunes with driving rhythms and a heavy psych flourish, they tapped into shoegaze and desert vibes without losing any sense of themselves in the process, and if the extra wait was so they could be so remarkably coherent in their expression on their full-length, then I wouldn’t want it to have shown up any sooner. An easy pick to stand among 2018’s best debut albums. Now to wait for the next one.

23. Forming the Void, Rift

forming the void rift

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed July 27.

It should tell you something that after working quickly to produce three albums, Louisiana’s Forming the Void are still defined by their potential. If I had my druthers, I’d put the recent Ripple signees on tour for the bulk of 2019, across the US and in Europe for festivals and support-slot club shows, really give them an opportunity to hammer out who they are as a band and then hit the studio for LP four. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but they’d only be doing the universe a favor by kicking into that gear. As it stands, their progression is palpable in their material and they stand absolutely ready for whatever the next level might be for them.

22. Spaceslug, Eye the Tide

spaceslug eye the tide

Released by BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed June 29.

Aside from the speed at which Spaceslug have turned around offerings — with Eye the Tide following 2017’s Mountains and Reminiscence EP (review here) and Time Travel Dilemma (review here) full-length and their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here) — the Polish outfit have undertaken significant progression in their sound, moving from pure heavy psychedelic warmth to incorporating elements out of extreme metal as they did on Eye the Tide. Adding to the latest record’s accomplishment is the smoothness with which they brought seemingly opposing sides together, only adding depth to an approach already worthy of oceanic comparison.

21. Conan, Existential Void Guardian

Conan Existential Void Guardian
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 14.

Conan‘s reign of terror has been unfolding for more than a decade now, and each of their albums has become a kind of step along a path of incremental growth. Consider the melody creeping into the shouts of founding guitarist Jon Davis, or the emergence of bassist Chris Fielding as a vocal presence alongside, the two sharing a frontman role more than ever before while welcoming drummer Johnny King to the fold of destructive tonality and doomly extremism. Existential Void Guardian may end up just being another stomp-print on their way to the next thing, but it affirmed the fact that as much as Conan grow each time out, their central violence continues to hold sway.

20. Pale Divine, Pale Divine

PALE DIVINE S/T
Released by Shadow Kingdom Records. Reviewed Nov. 21.

Look. A new Pale Divine record doesn’t come along every day, so yeah, their self-titled was probably going to be on my list one way or the other, but it definitely helps that not only was it their first outing in six years since 2012’s Painted Windows Black (review here), but it had the songs to live up to a half-decade-plus of anticipation. It marked the first studio appearance from bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis alongside guitarist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey — now both of Beelzefuzz as well — and made a strong argument for how much Pale Divine deserve more than 20 years on from their initial demo to be considered classic American doom.

19. Mos Generator, Shadowlands

mos generator shadowlands
Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed May 11.

The return and rise to prominence of Washington pure heavy rockers Mos Generator might be the underground’s feelgood story of the decade, but it hasn’t by any means been easily won. In addition to rebuilding the band however many albums ago, guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed has put in innumerable hours on tour and worked to actually develop the group creatively in addition to in terms of stage presence. This is shown throughout some of the classic prog elements making their way onto Shadowlands, and perhaps some of the collection’s moodier aspects are born of the aforementioned road time as well. Hard for that kind of thing not to be a slog after a while, but at least they have killer tunes to play.

18a. Stoned Jesus, Pilgrims

STONED JESUS PILGRIMS

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 5.

The only safe bet about Stoned Jesus‘ fourth long-player, Pilgrims, was that it was going to sound different than the third. That 2015 outing, The Harvest (review here), preceded the band touring to celebrate the fifth anniversary and after-the-fact success of 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), but Pilgrims defied narrative in that instead of incorporating elements from the second record in more of a heavy psych or jam sound, Stoned Jesus instead showcased a tighter, more sureheaded sense of craft than they’ve ever displayed before, and arrived on Napalm Records with a collection of songs that demonstrated the growth and sense of creative will that drives them. While one can take a look at their moniker and think immediately they know what’s coming, Stoned Jesus have made themselves one of the least predictable bands in heavy rock.

18. Backwoods Payback, Future Slum

backwoods payback future slum

Self-released. Reviewed Aug. 15.

“Pirate Smile.” “Lines.” “Whatever.” “It Ain’t Right.” “Threes.” “Cinderella.” “Generals.” “Big Enough.” “Alone.” “Lucky. Mike Cummings, Jessica Baker, Erik Larson. Every player, every song, every minute. If you want to know what heart-on-sleeve sounds like, it fucking sounds like Backwoods Payback. In their line from hardcore punk to grunge to heavy rock, they encompass experiences and emotionalism that are both shown in raw form throughout Future Slum, and build all the while on the chemistry they set out in developing with 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), when they welcomed Larson to the lineup on drums and revitalized their mission. Also worth noting, they were the best live band I saw this year. Anywhere.

17. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown

corrosion of conformity no cross no crown

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Jan. 3

No question the excitement of C.O.C. putting out their first record with frontman Pepper Keenan involved since 2005’s In the Arms of God was one of this year’s top stories in heavy. And No Cross No Crown tapped directly into the spirit of 1994’s Deliverance (discussed here) and 1996’s Wiseblood (discussed here) in terms of direction, while updating the band’s style with a four-part 2LP in mind. In some ways, it’ll be their next album that really gives listeners a sense of where they’re at and where they might be headed, but as welcome returns go, having Keenan alongside Mike DeanWoody Weatherman and Reed Mullin is in no way to be understated, and neither is the quality of their output together, then and now.

16. Naxatras, III

naxatras iii

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 14.

It is no simple feat to hypnotize an audience and convey serenity while at the same time holding attention with songcraft, so that the listener isn’t actually so much unconscious as malleable of mood and spirit in such a direction as the band suggests. Greek trio Naxatras have worked quickly to become experts at this, and their third full-length fosters tonal warmth and jammy progressions with an overarching naturalism that finds them so committed to analog recording that one can buy direct transfers of the tape master of III. Some acts take classic-style practices as an aesthetic choice. With Naxatras, it seems to be the stuff of life, yet their sound is only vibrant and human in a way that, at least one hopes, is even more representative of the future than the past.

15. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions

clutch book of bad decisions

Released by Weathermaker Music. Reviewed Aug. 27.

It was time for Clutch to make a change in producers, and the Maryland overlords of groove seemed to know it. Known as a live band, they went with Vance Powell, who’s known a live band producer. The results on Book of Bad Decisions might not have been so earth-shatteringly different from 2015’s Psychic Warfare (review here), which was the too-soon follow-up to 2013’s Earth Rocker (review here) — both helmed by Machine — but the inimitable four-piece indeed succeeded in capturing the electricity of their stage performance and, as ever, treated fans to a collection of songs bearing Clutch‘s unmistakable hallmarks of quirky lyrics, funky rhythms and heavy roll. They may always be a live band, but Clutch‘s studio work is in no way to be discounted, ever, as this record reaffirmed. Plus, crab cakes.

14. Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Released by Pelagic Records. Reviewed Aug. 3.

After 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), I wasn’t sure Ancestors were going to put out another record. They kicked around word of one for a while, but it wasn’t until the end of last year that it really seemed to congeal into a possibility. And by then, who the hell knew what they might get up to on a full-length? With Suspended in Reflections, in some says, they picked up where they left off in terms of finding a niche for themselves in progressive and melodic heavy, but I think the time showed in the poise of their execution and the control of the material. Suspended in Reflections can’t help but be six years more mature than its predecessor, and that suits its contemplative feel. In tracks like “Gone,” and “The Warm Glow,” they tempered their expansive sound with an efficiency that can only be had with time.

13. High on Fire, Electric Messiah

high on fire electric messiah

Released by eOne Heavy. Reviewed Sept. 28.

The narrative here was hard to beat. Matt Pike spending an album cycle talking about Lemmy Kilmister and paying homage to his dirt-rock forebear and the gods of old? It doesn’t get much more perfect than that. Electric Messiah was the third collaboration between High on Fire and producer Kurt Ballou behind 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), and while it seemed after the last record that the formula might be getting stale, the band only sounded more and more lethal throughout the latest offering. Even putting aside their contributions to underground heavy, they’ve become one of the most essential metal bands of their generation. Metal, period. Doesn’t matter what subgenre you’re talking about it. If you’re listening to High on Fire, you know it. Usually because you’ve just been decapitated.

12. Yawning Man, The Revolt Against Tired Noises

yawning man the revolt against tired noises

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed July 2.

You know, if you take the time to separate Yawning Man from their 30-plus-year history and their legacy as one of the foundational acts of what later became desert rock, and you listen to The Revolt Against Tired Noises, you’re still left with basically a dream of an album. Mostly instrumental, as is their wont, they nonetheless had bassist Mario Lalli (also Fatso Jetson) sing this time around on a version of the previously-unreleased “Catamaran,” which Kyuss covered once upon a whenever although Yawning Man had never officially put it to tape. But really, that and all other novelty aside, guitarist Gary Arce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson are a chemistry unto themselves. I don’t know if they’ll ever be as huge as they should be, but every bit of acclaim they get, they’ve earned, and if The Revolt Against Tired Noises helps them get it, all the more so.

11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers

greenleaf hear the rivers

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Nov. 26.

Swedish heavy rock mavens Greenleaf have become an entirely different band than they once were. No longer a Dozer side-project from guitarist Tommi Holappa with a rotating cast of players, they’re a solidified, road-tested, powerhouse unit, and Hear the Rivers bleeds soul as a result. Holappa, frontman Arvid Hällagård, bassist Hans Fröhlich and drummer Sebastian Olsson sound like they’re absolutely on fire in the album’s tracks, and far from being staid or formulaic as one might expect a sixth long-player to be, Hear the Rivers built on what the band accomplished with 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here) and came across as all the more vital and nearly frenetic in their energy. I won’t say Greenleaf has seen their last lineup change, because one never knows, but the band as they are today is the realization of potential I don’t think even Greenleaf knew was there.

10. Gozu, Equilibrium

gozu equilibrium

Released by Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records. Reviewed April 4.

Five records deep into a career into its second decade, Gozu haven’t had a miss yet. Admittedly, some of their early work can seem formative considering where they are now, but still. And after the 2016 rager, Revival (review here), to have the band return to the same studio — Wild Arctic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where strides producer Dean Baltulonis — for the follow-up allows for the four-piece to directly show how their sound has grown more encompassing in the last couple years. And it has. Equilibrium is a rich and varied listen that holds true to Gozu‘s well-established penchant for soulful vibes and crunching, hard-hitting riffs and groove, but while it shares the directness of approach with Revival, it makes moves that a band could only make moving from one record to the next. I expect nothing less their next time out as well, because a decade later, that’s Gozu‘s proven track record.

9. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

monster magnet mindfucker
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 23.

The battle for the best album title of 2018 ended early when New Jersey everything-rockers Monster Magnet announced the release of Mindfucker. And what else to call a Monster Magnet LP at this point? They’ve stopped writing to genre. They’re driven by the creative mania of frontman/founder Dave Wyndorf, and they’ve seen psychedelic expanses and commercial success the likes of which would serve the tenure of four lesser bands. What’s left to do but whatever the hell you want? So that’s what Monster Magnet are doing. It just so happens that while they’re doing it, they’re still basically outclassing the entirety of the former planet earth as songwriters. As Monster Magnet fan in 2018, there was nothing more I could’ve asked than what Mindfucker delivered. And if you’re still trying to get your brain around it however many months later, you’re not alone. I think that’s the idea.

8. Apostle of Solitude, From Gold to Ash

Apostle of Solitude From Gold to Ash

Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Feb. 20.

Best doom album of 2018. The combination of craft and passion behind the delivery. The way the dark tones fed into the emotions so clearly on display and sheer presence of it in listening to songs like “Keeping the Lighthouse,” “Ruination by Thy Name” and “My Heart is Leaving Here.” Apostle of Solitude never seem to be the highest profile band out there, but their work seems never to be anything less than outstanding, and I refuse to accept them as anything less than among the most pivotal American acts out there making traditional doom. And not just making it, but making it their own, with a sense of new pursuits and individualism that extends to playing style as well as atmosphere. I know doom isn’t exactly in short supply these days — figuratively or literally — but if you miss out on what Apostle of Solitude are doing with it, you’ll only regret it later. I’ll say it one more time: Best doom album of 2018.

7. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II

holy grove ii
Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 31.

Every now and again, anticipating the crap of an album really pays off, and such was the case with Holy Grove II, the Ripple Music debut from the Portland outfit whose 2016 self-titled (review here) seemed like such a herald of excellence to come while also, you know, being killer. Holy Grove II brought the four-piece of vocalist Andrea Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs, bassist Gregg Emley and drummer Eben Travis to entirely new levels of composition and execution. In songs like “Blade Born,” the shorter, sharper “Aurora,” the patiently rolling “Valley of the Mystics,” “Solaris” and closer “Cosmos,” which boasted a not-really-necessary-but-definitely-welcome guest vocal appearance from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt, — and oh wait, that’s all of the tracks — Holy Grove entered a different echelon. Anticipation will likewise be high for Holy Grove III, but it’ll be hard to complain with this record to keep company in the meantime.

6. All Them Witches, ATW

all them witches atw
Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 18.

Over five All Them Witches albums, the Nashville four-piece have gone from a nascent heavy Americana jam band to one of the most distinct acts in the US underground. Their development in sound is chemistry-driven, so it was a risk when the founding trio of bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod (who also produced) and drummer Robby Staebler welcomed new keyboardist Jonathan Draper into the lineup to take the place of Allan van Cleave. Amid a more naturalist production than that of 2017’s Sleeping Through the War (review here), the revamped four-piece flourished in terms of songwriting and conveying their stage-born sonic personae. From the gleeful fuckery of opener “Fishbelly 86 Onions” to the memorable moodiness of “Diamond” and the back-end jam “Harvest Feast” en route to the stretched-out end of “Rob’s Dream,” All Them Witches essentially confirmed they could do whatever they wanted and make it work.

5. YOB, Our Raw Heart

yob our raw heart
Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed June 7.

Actually, if you want a sample of YOB‘s raw heart, the place to go is probably 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), but whatever the Eugene, Oregon, shapers of cosmic doom might’ve lacked in titular accuracy on their eighth long-player, they made up for in a new, statesman-like posture. Their approach was mature, hammered out to a professionalism working completely on its own terms, and they never sounded so sure of who they are as a band or as confident of their direction. In extended cuts “Beauty in Falling Leaves” and “Our Raw Heart,” they explored new and progressive textures and melodies, and managed to reaffirm their core aspects while finding room for conveying emotion that came across as nothing but ultimately sincere. They have been and still are one of a kind, and as they continue to move forward, they remain a band that makes one feel lucky to be alive to witness their work. Our Raw Heart was perhaps more refined than it let on, but the heart was there for sure, as always.

4. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman

brant bjork mankind woman

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 13.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t a fan of the (relatively) harder-hitting approach Brant Bjork and his Low Desert Punk Band took on 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here), but Mankind Woman brought in some more of his soul influences, and whether it was the subtly subversive funk of “Chocolatize” and “Brand New Old Times” or the callout “1968” and laid back vibes of the title-track and “Swagger and Sway,” Bjork — working with guitarist Bubba DuPree on songwriting and production — offered a definitive look at what has made his 20-year solo career so special and demonstrates not only his longevity and his legacy, but his will to continue to progress as an artist honing his craft. His discography is well populated by now to be sure, but Mankind Woman represents a turn from the last couple records, and if it’s in any way portentous of things to come, it bodes well. Bjork is right at home nestled into classic-style grooves, and his legacy as one of the principal architects of desert rock is continually reaffirmed.

3. Earthless, Black Heaven

earthless black heaven

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed March 15.

They’ve been great, not just good, for a long time now, and as forerunners of the San Diego heavy scene, they’re godfathers to an up and coming generation of bands taking their influence — let alone acts from the rest of the world — but Black Heaven is a special moment for them because of its departure. No, it wasn’t not the first time guitarist Isaiah Mitchell sang on an Earthless recording, but it did represent a tip of the balance in that direction for the band on a studio full-length, and that resulted in a special moment. Album opener “Gifted by the Wind” was one of the best songs I heard this year, and while “End to End” and the all-thrust “Volt Rush” affirmed that more traditional songwriting was well within the grasp of Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba, they still found space for a sprawling jam or two, keeping their claim on the instrumentalism that’s (largely) fueled their tenure to date. Earthless don’t want for acclaim, but every bit of it is earned, and while their primary impact has always been live, Black Heaven saw them construct a traditional-style LP that still bore the hallmarks of their collective personality. It was the best of all worlds.

2. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain

king buffalo longing to be the mountain
Self-released/released by Stickman Records. Reviewed Sept. 27.

In the dark early hours of 2018, the Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson issued the Repeater EP (review here) as a follow-up to their 2016 debut, Orion (review here), so Longing to Be the Mountain didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but even with Repeater preceding its arrival, I don’t think anyone necessary expected King Buffalo‘s second album to have such a scope or to be so engrossing with it. In its melody, patience, atmosphere and heft, it was an absolute joy to behold. Its songs were memorable at the same time they were far-reaching, and while Orion was already my pick for the best debut of 2016, Longing to Be the Mountain realized even more potential than that record had hinted toward. It could be intimate or majestic at its whim, and its dynamic set an individual characterization of heavy psychedelia and blues-style sprawl that the band wholly owned. With production by Ben McLeod of All Them Witches behind them, they worked to serve notice of a progression undertaken the results of which are already staggering and still seem to be looking ahead to the next stage, literally and figuratively. One of the principal standards I use in constructing this list every year is what I listen to most. That’s this record.

1. Sleep, The Sciences

sleep the sciences

Released by Third Man Records. Reviewed May 1.

Obviously, right? To some extent, when Sleep surprise-announced on April 19 they’d release their first album in 15 years the next day, and then did, they took ownership of 2018. Even with records still to come at that point from YOB and Sleep guitarist Matt Pike‘s own High on Fire, there was no way that when the end of the year came around, it wasn’t going to be defined by the advent of a new Sleep record. And even if it sucked, it would probably still be Album of the Year, but fortunately, as Pike, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also Om) and drummer Jason Roeder (also Neurosis) took their long-running stage reunion to the studio, they brought material that highlighted the best elements from all players. Pike‘s wild soloing, Cisneros‘ meditative vocals and Roeder‘s intricate but smooth style of roll all came together in older pieces like “Antarcticans Thawed” and “Sonic Titan” and newer highlights “Giza Butler” and “Marijuanaut’s Theme,” and aside from the excitement at their existence, they showed the mastery of form that Sleep had been demonstrating live since 2009 and which they hinted toward in the 2014 single, The Clarity (review here). A new Sleep full-length was something long-discussed, long-rumored and long-considered, but when it finally happened, I think the results vaporized expectation in a way no one could’ve anticipated. There’s a reason Sleep are Sleep. Having The Sciences as a reminder of that brought about the defining moment of 2018.

The Next 20

Indeed, it wouldn’t be much of a Top 30 at all if it didn’t go to 50. Don’t try to make sense of it, just look at the records.

31. Atavismo, Valdeinfierno
32. Grayceon, IV
33. Clamfight, III
34. Seedy Jeezus, Polaris Oblique
35. Megaton Leviathan, Mage
36. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland
37. Arcadian Child, Superfonica
38. Freedom Hawk, Beast Remains
39. The Machine, Faceshift
40. Messa, Feast for Water
41. Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium
42. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Science Fiction
43. Domkraft, Flood
44. Träden, Träden
45. Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music
46. Samavayo, Vatan
47. Foehammer, Second Sight
48. Bongripper, Terminal
49. Mansion, First Death of the Lutheran
50. Sunnata, Outlands
51. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Come and Chutney

Believe me when I tell you, I sweated over this section more than I did the actual top 30. Mansion should be higher. So should Chubby Thunderous, though something in me thought they might like being #50 on a list of 30. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Clamfight, Black Rainbows, Foehammer, Seedy Jeezus, Messa, Domkraft. All of these were fucking awesome. And there are more (we’ll get there). Eventually numbers add up. I won’t say a bad word about any of these. That’s it.

Honorable Mention

This section always winds up expanded as other people point out things I missed and so on, but here’s what I’ve got in the immediate, alphabetically:

  • Alms, Act One
  • Ape Machine, Darker Seas
  • Belzebong, Light the Dankness
  • Black Moon Circle, Psychedelic Spacelord
  • Blackwater Holylight, Blackwater Holylight
  • Bong, Thought and Existence
  • Carpet, About Rooms and Elephants
  • Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery
  • Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree
  • Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need
  • Death Alley, Superbia
  • Drug Cult, Drug Cult
  • Dunbarrow, II
  • Electric Citizen, Helltown
  • Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard: Songs of Hoof and Horn
  • Evoken, Hypnagogia
  • Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning
  • Fuzz Evil, High on You
  • Graven, Heirs of Discord
  • Graveyard, Peace
  • Green Dragon, Green Dragon
  • Green Druid, Ashen Blood
  • Here Lies Man, You Will Know Nothing
  • High Priestess, High Priestess
  • Horehound, Holocene
  • IAH, II
  • JIRM, Surge ex Monumentis
  • Killer Boogie, Acid Cream
  • Lonely Kamel, Death’s Head Hawkmoth
  • MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure
  • Moab, Trough
  • Mountain Dust, Seven Storms
  • Mouth, Floating
  • Mr. Plow, Maintain Radio Silence
  • T.G. Olson, Earthen Pyramid
  • Onségen Ensemble, Duel
  • Orango, Evergreen
  • Owl, Nights in Distortion
  • Pushy, Hard Wish
  • Rifflord, 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation
  • River Cult, Halcyon Daze
  • Rotor, Sechs
  • Somali Yacht Club, The Sea
  • Sumac, Love in Shadow
  • Sundrifter, Visitations
  • Svvamp, Svvamp II
  • Thou, Magus
  • Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse
  • Weedpecker, III

Special Note

Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to include these in the list proper because they’re not really underground releases, but there were two more records I especially wanted to highlight for their quality:

  • Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog
  • Judas Priest, Firepower

Best Short Release of the Year

Normally I’d do this as a separate post, but as a result of being robbed earlier this year, I feel like my list is woefully incomplete. If you have any demos, EPs, splits, singles, etc., to add to it, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Still, the top pick was clear:

  • Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard & Slomatics, Totems Split

Rarely do two bands work in such coherent tandem to their mutual benefit. Here are a few other essential short releases for 2018, alphabetically:

  • All Them Witches, Lost and Found
  • Alunah, Amber & Gold
  • Canyon, Mk II
  • Demon Head, The Resistence
  • Destroyer of Light, Hopeless
  • Ecstatic Vision, Under the Influence
  • Godmaker & Somnuri, Split
  • Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul
  • King Buffalo, Repeater
  • Minsk & Zatokrev, Split
  • Sleep, Leagues Beneath
  • Stonus, Lunar Eclipse
  • Sundecay, Gale

Looking Forward

A good many albums have already been announced or hinted at for 2019. I in no way claim this to be a complete roundup of what’s coming, but here’s what I have in my notes so far, in absolutely no order:

Kings Destroy, Lo-Pan, Cities of Mars, Heavy Temple, Mr. Peter Hayden, Curse the Son, High Fighter, Destroyer of Light, Year of the Cobra, Buffalo Fuzz, Zaum, The Sonic Dawn, Alunah, Candlemass, Elepharmers, Grandier, Dorre, Abrahma, Mars Red Sky, Eternal Black, Elephant Tree, Atala, No Man’s Valley, Sun Blood Stories, Crypt Sermon, The Riven, Hibrido, Snail, Red Beard Wall, 11Paranoias, Dead Witches, Monte Luna, Captain Caravan (LP), Swallow the Sun, Oreyeon, Motorpsycho, Vokonis, Hexvessel, Saint Vitus, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Kind, Mastiff, Shadow Witch, Om.

Okay, That’s It

Yeah, no, I’m serious. List is done. Everybody go back to your lives. Your families miss you.

Really though, while this is by no means my last post of 2018, I can’t let it pass without saying thank you so much to everyone for checking out the site this year, or for just digging into this, or for sending me music, or hitting me up on social media, sharing a link, anything. Thank you. Thank you. I could never have imagined when it started out where it would be now. Or that I’d still be doing it. Your support means more to me than I can say, and I thank you so much for being a part of this with me.

So thanks.

If you have something to add to the list, please do so by leaving a comment below, but keep in mind as well the above note requesting civility. Please don’t make me feel stupid because I forgot your favorite record. I forgot a lot of people’s favorite records. I’m one dude. I’m doing my best.

And please keep in mind if you’ve got a list together that the Year-End Poll is open and results will be out Jan. 1.

Everybody have a great and safe 2019.

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SonicBlast Moledo 2019: Orange Goblin, Om, My Sleeping Karma, Minami Deutsch, Windhand, Zig Zags, Dopethrone and The Obsessed to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I was this close — this frickin’ close — to going to SonicBlast Moledo earlier this year. It was an enviable lineup, and when I saw the pictures after the fact, it only confirmed for me how much I wanted to have been there. So it goes.

Will I get that close to SonicBlast Moledo 2019? Probably not. Opportunities like that don’t come along every day or every year, and I know that. Still, in part because I’m a glutton for punishment — also for peanut butter — I’ll be doing my best to keep up with the lineup as it’s announced for next August’s edition of the beachside fest in Moledo, Portugal. Already, as I think you can see, they’re well on their way to destroying and winning hearts and minds.

To wit, a first lineup announcement that brings Om to Europe for the summer (they’ll be there in Spring too; I have to wonder just how long the band is spending abroad or if they’re racking up frequent flier miles), Orange Goblin, My Sleeping Karma (some day I will see that fucking band), Windhand, The Obsessed, Minami Deutsch, Zig Zags and Dopethrone is as righteous as it is varied, and it sets a pretty wide open sphere for what the rest might bring. I don’t have an inside track on that or anything, but 2018’s SonicBlast was certainly awesome looking and I see no reason why 2019 would be any different.

Tickets are available and I’m sure it’ll sell out. Words from the fest:

sonicblast moledo 2019

First bands for SonicBlast Moledo 2019! Let’s start the pilgrimage.

We’re so stoked to announce the first bands for SonicBlast Moledo 2019! Aug. 8-10.

Let’s start the pilgrimage.

OM, Windhand, Orange Goblin, MY SLEEPING KARMA, The Obsessed, Dopethrone, Minami Deutsch and Zig Zags are ready to burn the beach!
3 days that you’re never ever forget!

Om (usa) + Orange Goblin (uk) + My Sleeping Karma (ger) + Windhand (usa) + The Obsessed (usa) + Dopethrone (can) + Minami Deutsch (jp) + Zig Zags (usa) +++ many more tba +++

Artwork by Branca Studio

Tickets are now available at here.
(Also available in Portugal, through BOL physical point of sales: Fnac, Worten, Ctt’s…)

https://www.facebook.com/sonicblastmoledo/
https://sonicblastmoledo.com/

Orange Goblin, “The Wolf Bites Back” live at StoneFree Festival

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Orange Goblin Confirm UK Shows, Fests and More for 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

orange goblin (Photo by Alex Francis)

London heavylords Orange (fuckin’) Goblin (baby!) haven’t really announced and massive-stretch tours for 2019, and my understanding is they might do a few weeks here and there at some point and leave it at that. They say they have more to come and I have no trouble believing it.

I don’t need to tell you that if Orange Goblin are in a place and there’s a stage then that’s where you want to be. I mean, if they’re out to dinner or something, you can probably leave them alone, but given the stage, then yeah. Go fucking see Orange Goblin.

Their three UK shows for Jan.-Feb. are newly-announced, and among the list of dates, expect more festivals to come and take particular note of the HRH Doom v. Stoner fest in Sheffield next September. If you get a chance, chase down the full lineup of that thing, because it’s monstrous. Orange Goblin sit atop it as headliners, which is precisely where they should be.

Here’s what’s currently confirmed:

orange goblin UK shows poster

Tickets for our 3 UK shows in January and February are now on sale, as are tickets for all other 2019 shows that have been announced so far. Here is a recap of what we have coming up next year and there is a lot more still to come! This weekend we play our last show of 2018 when we headline the Dome of Rock Festival in Salzburg, Austria.

26.01 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK
08.02 – KK Steelmill, Wolverhampton, UK
09.02 – o2 Academy 2, Liverpool, UK
21.03 – Tapper Club, Tallinn, Estonia
22.03 – Serdce, St. Petersburg, Russia
23.03 – Aglomerat, Moscow, Russia
06.04 – Faster & Louder Fest, Eindhoven, Netherlands
11.05 – HRH Road Trip, Ibiza, Spain
18.11 – Manorfest, Keighley, UK
23.06 – Graspop Metal Meeting, Dessel, Belgium
29.06 – Full Force Festival, Ferropolis, Germany
05.07 – Oltrasuoni Festival, Dro, Italy
06.07 – Traffic Club, Rome, Italy
07.07 – Cueva Club, Cagliari, Sardinia
28.09 – HRH Doom V Stoner IV, Sheffield, UK

…..plus more to come!

https://www.facebook.com/orangegoblinofficial/
https://twitter.com/OrangeGoblin1
https://www.instagram.com/orangegoblin1/
http://www.orange-goblin.com/
https://www.facebook.com/spinefarm
www.spinefarmrecords.com/

Orange Goblin, “Burn the Ships” and “Acid Trial” live Oct. 26, 2018

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Desertfest Belgium 2018 Completes Lineup; Orange Goblin Headline; My Sleeping Karma & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2018 banner

What do you even say at this point about Desertfest Belgium 2018? “Uh, it’s in Antwerp and we should go?” I’m at something of a loss. The festival has gradually put together one of the most solid lineups I think I’ve ever seen, with High on FireAmenra and now Orange Goblin headlining, and performances from the likes of YOBEnslavedCrowbarElderMy Sleeping KarmaWo Fat, Acid King and Dead Meadow— any of whom, if you told me they were headlining, I’d be like, “Wow that’s awesome and totally deserved.” Plus there are a bunch of bands down on the bottom of the poster I don’t know, which I also love and another whole bunch in between who also kick ass, so yeah, you mean you’ve got NaxatrasCastleChildThe Skull and Sasquatch all kicking around the same place on the same weekend? Who the hell wouldn’t want to be there?

Madness. Sheer madness. Witness:

desertfest belgium 2018 final lineup

Let’s start with the final headliner for our festival. A true mainstay of the stoner circuit, Orange Goblin have spent the last few years since ‘Back From The Abyss’ (2014) touring the world and harvesting souls. The result of this tireless work ethic? ‘The Wolf Bites Back’ released late spring of 2018, considered to be one of the best albums in their career. They’ve truly earned their place at the throne, and DF Belgium will receive them as true kings of the stoner community.

Of course, the same could be said of My Sleeping Karma, another band that has built its reputation by shutting up (literally) and playing the music, night after night after night for years and years. Their 2017 concert album ‘Mela Ananda’ proved once again that a sweaty stage is the best place to experience them, so we’ll gladly provide it.

We fill out the holes in our schedule with a couple of inspired leftfield choices. How about some heady Greek post-rock with traditional folk influences? Villagers of Ioannina City (V.I.C. in short) is a truly undefinable band that will sure surprise quite a few of our fellow Festers. The same can be said of Jozef Van Wissem – are you ready for some heavy experimental drones… on a medieval lute? Jozef will redefine your notions of what is psychedelic music.

Back to more traditional territory, Earth Ship from Berlin will hit you hard with some serious monolithic doom. With Kraków (No) and Domkraft (Sw), we bring you a couple of esteemed riff peddlers from the North.

And what more fitting end to this final announcement, than to round off with a trio of fine Belgian brews for you to taste and savour? Lethvm, WYATT E. and Goddog are three exponents of the local scene that we want you to discover.

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/364607267372737/
https://twitter.com/DesertfestBE

Orange Goblin, “The Wolf Bites Back” live at Stonefree Festival, June 16, 2018

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Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back: Gnashing of Teeth

Posted in Reviews on June 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

orange goblin the wolf bites back

More than two decades on from making their debut in 1997 with Frequencies from Planet Ten, what else to call Orange Goblin but an institution? The Wolf Bites Back is the London four-piece’s ninth album, their first for sort-of-new label Spinefarm/Candlelight Records (they were on the latter, it got taken over by the former, voila: new label), and it comes after a four-year drought of studio work since the release of 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here), which only continued to raise their profile following the 2013 live record A Eulogy for the Fans (review here) and the preceding long-player it was intended to complement, A Eulogy for the Damned (review here). Most of that time the band spent on tour, so it’s not like they’ve been sitting around actively not recording an album or something like that. They’ve been otherwise occupied, and with the sheer sense of attack that’s present in the songs that comprise The Wolf Bites Back — to say nothing of the aggressive mindset of the title or the threatening nature of the artwork — one could only argue it’s been to their benefit. In its bullshit-free 10-track/41-minute run, The Wolf Bites Back summarizes much of what’s always been righteous in Orange Goblin‘s sound.

It covers nearly every side of the band’s approach, from the Sunlight Studios-infected doom rock of “Swords of Fire” to the crisp, three-minute opening anthem “Sons of Salem” to the Motörhead speed-strut of “Renegade” and down to the last hook and long-fading solo of closer “Zeitgeist,” The Wolf Bites Back finds the band going song-by-song through the varying stylistic aspects of their own particular style, from all-out fury to dug-in groove and back again. They enter direct Southern-heavy conversation with (upcoming) tourmates Corrosion of Conformity on “The Stranger,” and do so only after the raw punker blast of the two-minute “Suicide Division” scathes and scorches and stomps into the ground the peaceful and psychedelic strumming of the actually-longer layered guitar interlude “In Bocca al Lupo” before it. There’s more reaffirmation happening throughout than breaking new aesthetic ground, but as much as The Wolf Bites Back quantifies the diversity in what Orange Goblin do, it also reminds that it’s the strength of their songwriting that has always tied their work together, and it’s on that level that their ninth full-length sees them refining their take.

Not that it doesn’t have its patient stretches or its purposefully languid moments, but frontman Ben Ward, guitarist Joe Hoare, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Chris Turner have been playing together since at least 1995, and in the musical conversation happening between them, they sound like it. Produced with thickness and depth by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Cathedral, Primordial, Paradise Lost, many more) following the sharper, metallic tinge Jamie Dodd brought to the last two outings, The Wolf Bites Back strikes with its efficiency and ferocity alike. “Sons of Salem” is quintessential Orange Goblin, a fist-raising chorus that finds Ward inviting a sing-along without actually asking. They’ve never had trouble knowing how to launch a record, and with the title-track immediately following, there’s a moment of letup in the guitar intro to the second song, but soon enough, Turner starts a tense gallop in the drums and heavier riffing kicks into the first verse and they’re underway. An especially gruff vocal there leads to the more open chorus and “The Wolf Bites Back” makes its way through twists and turns remaining nonetheless memorable all the way.

ORANGE GOBLIN DAVID BOULONGNE

The aforementioned “Renegade” follows and pushes the throttle to the fullest it’s gone yet — “Suicide Division” will top it for sheer speed — and Millard‘s bass opening leading the way into the subsequent “Swords of Fire” not only reconfirms his place as Orange Goblin‘s not-so-secret-secret-weapon, but also sets a doomier tone to the track itself, as Ward waits until the song is more than halfway over to start the vocals, everything dropping out for a moment as Hoare quickly establishes a faster riff and the band shift into a more thrusting progression. Highlight cut “Ghosts of the Primitives,” with an immediate groove and intricate guitar style, pushes into a more standard riff soon enough but never quite loses its proggy edge, even as Hoare dips into a bluesy solo backed by Millard and Turner. Messing with structure and expectation, the real hook doesn’t arrive until shortly before four minutes into the total 5:28, and Orange Goblin earn bonus points in charm for the meta fade-out-and-back-in-and-out-again that accompanies the line “Ghosts of the primitives fade away.” You see, because he’s talking about fading and the song faded out. Sometimes nothing else will do, and though one assumes it wraps side A, it’s to the band’s credit that “Ghosts of the Primitives” doesn’t close the album as a whole, as that’s usually where such tricky fades happen.

A swath of strums and leads in “In Bocca al Lupo” — the underlying rhythm of which would seem to coincidentally call to mind Neurosis‘ “Stones from the Sky” — introduce side B before, again, “Suicide Division” rip them to shreds, gang vocals and all. That stretch of three tracks, with “In Bocca al Lupo,” “Suicide Division” and “The Stranger,” is as disjointed as The Wolf Bites Back gets, hopping between three different styles in the span of three songs and about 10 minutes total, throwing caution and continuity to the wind and trusting — rightly — that their craft will carry them through. It’s not the kind of move a band would make earlier in their career, but for longtime Orange Goblin fans, the instant swapping out of one side of their personality for another (and another) is an easy jump to make, and frankly, it makes the album more exciting since they actually pull it off. By the time the chorus of “The Stranger” hits, and really before that, they’ve succeeded in the shift, and the arrival of organ in the song’s second half is like a victory lap for the turn just made. A psycho shuffle in “Burn the Ships” brings The Wolf Bites Back back to ground stylistically, returning to the core straightforward approach of the opening duo early while saving a Pepper Keenan-style vocal for the midsection to provide a bit more context to “The Stranger” before it and saving its most vicious groove for the return to the chorus near the more winding finish.

With its long fade-in at the outset, “Zeitgeist” seems to be of a kind with “Ghosts of the Primitives,” which is fair enough since it wraps side B and thus the album as a whole, with Ward adding some echo behind a quick bridge following the first chorus and Hoare layering solos over top each other give a particular NWOBHM affect as the organ subtly returns beneath. A second stage lead takes hold just past the halfway mark, leading back to the hook and bridge, the latter repeated, and as the line “The search goes on and on…” echoes out, HoareMillard and Turner lock in for the last dive into the fadeout, the latter two holding together the rhythm as Hoare solos over top. The ending is as clean and purposeful as everything before it, and in addition to answering back the side A finale, it speaks one more time to the fact that all along throughout The Wolf Bites Back, it’s been the songwriting holding the album together. One doesn’t doubt that Orange Goblin could write a sloppier record and probably nail some of the turns they do here in terms of style, but the fact that they not only do what they do, but do it and maintain a full-album flow, present a collection of memorable tracks and still manage to sound like their mission is nothing more or less than kicking every ass in sight, well, that’s why Orange Goblin are Orange Goblin. Over their years, their influence has justifiably spread to a generation of London heavy rockers, and The Wolf Bites Back is the latest manifestation of why that is. In its energy, persona and vibe, as well as in its basic sound, The Wolf Bites Back shows Orange Goblin at the top of their game.

Orange Goblin, “Sons of Salem”

Orange Goblin on Thee Facebooks

Orange Goblin on Twitter

Orange Goblin on Instagram

Orange Goblin webstore

Spinefarm Records on Thee Facebooks

Spinefarm Records website

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Corrosion of Conformity Announce UK Tour with Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry and Black Moth

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Can you frickin’ imagine C.O.C. and Orange Goblin on the same bill? I’m sorry, but that’s just awesome. Both will be supporting new records — for Corrosion of Conformity, it’s earlier-this-year’s No Cross No Crown (review here), and for Orange Goblin, the impending The Wolf Bites Back (review later this week) — and with support from Fireball Ministry, lest we forget their own new album, Remember the Story (review here), which came out toward the end of 2017 — and Black Moth, the proceedings are all the more righteous for those who’ll be fortunate enough to witness them.

As fate and clever timing would have it, C.O.C. were in the UK this weekend playing Download and they’ve got another date in Colchester tonight ahead of hitting mainland Europe tomorrow to begin a tour that includes a couple dates meeting up with Converge and a stop at Hellfest. This of course will lead to the next tour, which is another run with Black Label Society in the States following up on the one at the start of the year. That’s in July/August, then in Oct./Nov. it’s back to the UK for the aforementioned excellence alongside Orange Goblin et al. It’s been a busy year for these dudes, especially as they’ve been largely without drummer Reed Mullin, who’s been unable to tour with the band following knee surgery and is, as of the last social media post on the subject, understandably anxious to return.

The PR wire brings the latest, but really, the point here is go see C.O.C. You have the means, motive and opportunity, so make it happen:

corrosion of conformity photo by Dean Karr

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY To Kick Off European Tour This Weekend; Band Confirms Fall UK Dates + Second Leg Of North American Tour With Black Label Society And Eyehategod Nears

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will return to Europe this weekend for a stretch of live dates set to commence June 9th and run through June 24th. The journey includes special performances with Converge as well as appearances at Download, Hellfest, Copenhell, and Graspop. In July, the band will return to North American stages to kick off the second leg of their tour supporting Black Label Society. Slated to begin July 15th, the tour will make its way through nearly two dozen cities upon its conclusion on August 11th. Additional support will again be provided by Eyehategod. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will close their summer live takeover with a performance at Loud And Heavy Fest in Fort Worth Texas sharing the stages with the likes of Cody Jinks and Whiskey Myers! In October, the band will take on an eight-date UK headlining tour with Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry, and Black Moth. See all confirmed dates below.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY continues to tour in support of their critically lauded No Cross No Crown full-length, released earlier this year via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Captured in North Carolina with longtime producer John Custer, the record marks the first studio recording with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan in over a decade and, earning the #67 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, #12 on the Billboard Top Current Albums Chart, and #3 on the Top Hard Music Albums Chart upon its first week of release, is the highest charting album of the band’s career.

No Cross No Crown is available on CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats. Various order bundles are available at nuclearblast.com/coc-nocrossnocrown.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY:
6/09/2018 Download – Donnington Park, UK
6/11/2018 Colchester Arts Centre – Colchester, UK
6/12/2018 FortaRock – Nijmegen, NL
6/13/2018 Den Atelier – Luxembourg, LU
6/14/2018 Universum – Stuttgart, DE
6/16/2018 Konzertfabrik Z7 – Pratteln, CH
6/17/2018 Santeria Social Club – Milan, IT
6/18/2018 Orion – Rome, IT w/ Converge
6/19/2018 VAZ Hafen – Innsbruck, AU w/ Converge
6/20/2018 La Belle Electrique – Grenoble, FR w/ Converge
6/22/2018 Hellfest – Clisson, FR
6/23/2018 Copenhell – København, DK
6/24/2018 Graspop – Dessel, BE

w/ Black Label Society, Eyehategod:
7/15/2018 Inkcarceration Music Festival @ Ohio State Reformatory – Mansfield, OH *
7/16/2018 Monarch Music Hall – Peoria, IA *
7/17/2018 The Forge – Joliet, IL *
7/18/2018 20 Monroe Live – Grand Rapids, MI
7/20/2018 Bourbon Theatre – Lincoln, NE
7/21/2018 Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK
7/22/2018 Cotillion Ballroom – Wichita, KS
7/23/2018 The District – Sioux Falls, SD
7/25/2018 The Clyde Theatre – Wayne, IN
7/27/2018 Si Hall At The Fairgrounds – Syracuse, NY
7/28/2018 Impact Music Festival – Bangor, ME
7/29/2018 The Webster – Hartford, CT*
7/30/2018 The Queen – Wilmington, DE
8/01/2018 The Mill & Mine – Knoxville, TN
8/02/2018 The Fillmore Charlotte – Charlotte, NC
8/03/2018 Phase 2 – Lynchburg, VA
8/05/2018 The Norva – Norfolk, VA
8/07/2018 Rebel – Toronto, ON
8/08/2018 Metlus – Montreal, QC
8/09/2018 Sherman Theater – Stroudsburg, PA
8/10/2018 Paramount – Huntington, NY
8/11/2018 Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
8/18/2018 Loud And Heavy Fest @ Panther Island Pavilion – Fort Worth, TX w/ Cody Jinks, Whiskey Myers

w/ Orange Goblin, Fireball Ministry, Black Moth:
10/26/2018 Engine Rooms – Southampton, UK
10/27/2018 02 Institute – Birmingham, UK
10/28/2018 Rock City – Nottingham, UK
10/30/2018 Ritz – Manchester, UK
11/01/2018 02 ABC- Glasgow, UK
11/02/2018 Plug – Sheffield, UK
11/03/2018 The Great Hall – Lardiff, UK
11/04/2018 02 Forum Kentish Town – London, UK
* No Eyehategod

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is:
Pepper Keenan – vocals, guitar
Woodroe Weatherman – guitar
Mike Dean – bass, vocals
Reed Mullin – drums, vocals

http://www.coc.com
http://www.facebook.com/corrosionofconformity
http://www.twitter.com/coccabal
http://www.nuclearblast.com
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa

Corrosion of Conformity, “The Luddite” official video

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