Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Veterans of Hoverfest and Ceremony of Sludge both twice over, Portland, Oregon’s Holy Grove are the latest group to be picked up by Heavy Psych Sounds for their next release. Either the Italian imprint has hit the lottery or I don’t know what, but it seems like a month hasn’t gone by in 2015 that another announcement of a forthcoming album hasn’t come through. And then the records actually come out! That’s an entirely different level of impressive right there.
Holy Grove‘s most recent offering is 2014’s two-songer, Live at Jooniors (review here), and they’ll make their full-length debut through Heavy Psych Sounds in March 2016. Count on it.
Announcement follows, as posted by the label:
HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records&Booking is so pleased to annunce the signing of a new band in the roster: ***HOLY GROVE***
(70’s Rock-Stoner Rock-Fuzz Riff Rock)
Remember when heavy rock bands wrote songs? In the early ‘70s, Grand Funk, Bang, and Deep Purple brought hooks and choruses to seriously weighty tunes. In 2015, Portland, Oregon’s Holy Grove walks in the long footsteps of tradition, pitting soulful vocals, searing guitar solos, and swinging grooves into its own Bic-flicking dinosaur stomp. After wowing NW audiences for several years, the band is now ready to unveil its self-titled debut—seven songs of blazing riffs, and cloud-piercing wails, with enough rhythmic heft to satisfy today’s doom-hungry audience. Vidal’s lyrics of myth and fantasy coast on a massive flying carpet of guitar riffs, kept aloft by a pounding pulverizing rhythm section. Holy Grove is far more than a toe-dipped-in-the magic spring, but a patiently crafted statement of intent produced by the band with major love and assistance from master “engine-ear” Billy Anderson (Sleep, Melvins, etc).
Holy Grove is: Andrea Vidal, Gregg Emley, Trent Jacobs, and Ryan Northrop.
HPS Records will release the debut selftitled album late march 2016 in Vinyl/LTD Vinyl/CD/Digital.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve had a pretty good thing so far going staying on top of the announcements as they’ve come out for Freak Valley 2016, and I’ll go ahead and blame the fact that I was traveling last week for my having missed the news that Portland, Oregon-based RidingEasy rockers Sons of Huns will take part. Better late than never, and especially so when their addition can come coupled with the significantly fresher news that Swedish boogie specialists Spiders have also joined the lineup.
Unless they put out a new one between now and then, which is entirely possible, Sons of Huns will be abroad supporting their 2015 album, While Sleeping Stay Awake (review here). Spiders‘ latest offering is 2014’s Shake Electric as of now, but I seem to recall seeing someplace they had a follow-up in the works. Even if not, they certainly have plenty going on otherwise. This week they head out in the UK alongside Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and in January, they will join Graveyard on the second leg of their US tour.
Announcements follow, courtesy of Freak Valley:
*** SPIDERS & SONS OF HUNS added to Freak Valley Festival line-up 2016 ***
Sprung out of Gothenburg, Sweden, the four piece rock-outfit Spiders has since their critically acclaimed debut album Flashpoint been one of the hardest touring bands in the business. Their MC5 -inspired glampunk honours rock history in their own unique way and has taken the band multiple mile after mile around the globe, both as a headliner and as support for Kvelertak, Metallica and the friends from Graveyard.
Actually they are supporting Uncle Acid and the deadbeats on their massive European tour. Spiders are crawling in a swift pace towards the top!
The beautiful he poster by Jo Riou Graphic Designer is dedicated to Louis. He’s a 5 year old child who lost his mother (who was a friend of Jo) and his grandmother in the Paris attacks some days ago. He collected his posters in his bedroom…
We are thrilled to announce, that the Portland heavy riffin trio SONS OF HUNS are coming to Europe for the very first time to play FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL!!
In a city like Portland, Oregon, where there are quite literally hundreds of people playing heavy music – and playing it well, at that – it takes a bold, tightly-honed punch to the crowd’s ears in order to stand out. Formed in the winter of 2009 and armed with a full stack of Orange cabs, a lifetime of experience and enough classical training to out-riff any band that dares stand in their SG-wielding path, Sons of Huns [RidingEasy Records] have consistently blown crowds away. Peter Hughes of DANAVA fame (guitar), Shoki Tanabe (bass) and Ryan Northrop (drums) have headlined shows in anywhere from tiny bars to the main stages of Portland’s biggest music festivals.
Throughout their reign in the Pacific Northwest music scene, Sons of Huns have become widely known for their ability to turn every live show into a sci-fi, psychedelic-rock party and livening the spirit of every crowd with their jokes and unforgiving volume.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
After completing yet another US tour over the summer, Portland, Oregon’s Ape Machine begin a run through Europe next week. Their new album — I think it’s an album; was initially announced as an EP, so I’m not sure — is called Coalition of the Unwilling, and it’s out Nov. 20 on Heavy Psych Sounds following the band’s Live at Freak Valley (review here), which came out earlier this year on Ripple. They’re a good band, but even more than that, Ape Machine continue to break their collective ass in terms of the work they put in. They’ve hit the road hard for several years now, played fests, one-offs, crossed the country and so on, and letup just doesn’t seem to be a factor when it comes to their ethic. It’s admirable as hell that they haven’t strangled each other by now. Plus, they rock.
They’ve posted a new song, “Under this Face,” as demonstration of that fact, and you can find it under the PR wire info below:
Rock’n’roll ain’t dead! Portland rockers APE MACHINE to release “Coalition Of The Unwilling” this month on Heavy Psych Sounds; European tour to kick off next week.
Rock’n’roll has never been so alive, as Portland’s most exciting and hard-hitting riff merchants APE MACHINE are set to make heads turn again, with the imminent release of their fourth album on Heavy Psych Sounds. “Coalition Of The Unwilling” will land this November 20th in all good record stores.
The name APE MACHINE is a nod to the days of reel-to-reel magnetic tape audio recording; a fitting moniker for the Portland heavy-hitting quartet as the band plays through vintage tube amplifiers and lays down its songs using exclusively throwback quality studio equipment.
With a heady mix of animal aggression and technical precision, APE MACHINE’s music carries an organic depth and warmth rarely heard since the time of rock’s glorious early years (or your Dad’s bad ass record collection) infused with an exceptional modern sensibility. When the mystical lyrics of vocalist Caleb Heinze lock in with the band’s stone-cold groove, the band demonstrates an earth-shaking ability to rock. A true four-piece, the group has been called “a rock and roll band with a finger on the pulse of the 70’s and their asses firmly in the present” and “real heavy-psych for the iPhone generation” that delivers “true guts and glory rock and roll”.
After the Portland foursome has established their rock supremacy with third album “Mangled By The Machine” in 2013 (Ripple Music) and several tours including a smashing performance at Freak Valley Festival in 2014, APE MACHINE are taking another great turn this year by signing on Italian powerhouse Heavy Psych Sounds for the release of their fourth full-length “Coalition Of The Unwilling”.
APE MACHINE – New album “Coalition Of The Unwilling” Out this November 20th on Heavy Psych Sounds Pre-orders from November 5that this location
TRACK LISTING: 1. Crushed From Within 2. Disband 3. Give What You Get 4. Under This Face 5. Ape’N’Stein 6. Never My Way
Catch them on their European tour now: 12.11 – BENEVENTO (Ita) TBA 13.11 – ZEROBRANCO (Ita) Titty Twister 14.11 – ZEROBRANCO (Ita) Altroquando 15.11 – CASTEL D’ARIO (Ita) Hostaria 16.11 – STRETTI DI ERACLEA (Ita) Chinaski 17.11 – ERBA (Ita) Centrale Rock 18.11 – CAGLIARI (Ita) Bohemien 19.11 – OSSI (Ita) Alex Bar 20.11 – MUNSTER (De) Rare Guitar Shop 21.11 – SIEGEN (De) Vortex 22.11 – BERLIN (De) Bassy 23.11 – TBA 24.11 – TBA 25.11 – Frankfurt (De) TBA 26.11 – MANNHEIM (DE) 7er 27.11 – ERFURT (De) Tiko 28.11 – OLTEN (Ch) Coq D’Or 29.11 – BASEL (Ch) TBA 30.11 – ITALY TBA 01.12 – INS (Ch) Schuxenhaus 02.12 – ST GALLEN (Ch) Rumpeltum 03.12 – ZUG (Ch) Galvanik “Whau! Bar” 04.12 – LUZERN (Ch) Bruch Bros 05.12 – ROMA (Ita) Sinister Noise
APE MACHINE IS Caleb Heinze – Vocals Ian Watts – Guitar Brian True – Bass Damon De La Paz – Drums
Posted in audiObelisk on October 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It has been almost two years since Young Hunter first unveiled their Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain EP — which at surfaced on its own initially and then served as the band’s half of a split tape with Ohioan (review here) last year — and a busy two years at that. Guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Blake relocated from Tucson, Arizona, to Portland, Oregon, and at least in concept, brought the band with him. Young Hunter as they appear on the new single “Nothing Shakes the Void” have a new lineup in the form of Blake, Sam Dean, Grant Pierce, Sara Pinnell and Erik Wells, and the shift in personnel is manifest in the song’s breadth, pulling a broad range of influences together so that the beginning seems to owe its unfolding to Pallbearer-style doom while the ending melody, served up duet-style with Pinnell and Blake feels tagged from Nirvana‘s “Something in the Way.”
Fluid interplay of varying moods and styles could easily be considered a holdover from Young Hunter Mk. I, but “Nothing Shakes the Void” — which is set to appear on the upcoming Doomed and Stoned regional compilation, Doomed and Stoned in Portland — pushes further into a cohesive blend, so that as the slow progression of the opening gives way to a chug that seems to nod simultaneously at ’80s metal and goth rock, Young Hunter retain their sonic identity and overarching sense of purpose to the whole affair. That is to say, it’s not just that the band are bringing contrasting sounds together, which is something they’ve been doing since their 2012 debut, Stone Tools (discussed here), but that they’re bringing them together for a reason, and that reason is creating something of the band’s own from them. “Nothing Shakes the Void” is not without a sense of drama, and neither were the tracks on Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain — which I still keep on regular rotation — but Young Hunter offer songcraft enough to easily sustain any and all theatrics so that they too seem to be serving the overriding listening experience.
After successfully raising funds through a Kickstarter, Young Hunter will release their second album in March 2016 on vinyl. More on that to come as we get closer, but for now, you can check out the premiere of “Nothing Shakes the Void” and get some background from Blake on the song below.
Young Hunter’s Benjamin Blake on “Nothing Shakes the Void”:
Since the recording of Embers at the Foot of Dark Mtn, I moved to Portland and restarted the band. A YH v2 of sorts, with some incredible people who I feel deeply fortunate to be working with. We’ve been playing together for almost two years-writing new material, making this album, and playing often in Portland, honing our craft as a live band.
One interesting aspect of this song is that the quiet ending part was sort of the seed for the rest of the song, and it came to me in a dream. I was able to write down the lyrics when I woke up and recall the melody later, and then it grew into what it is now. That’s the only time that’s ever happened to me.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Based now in Portland, reunited sludge-doomers Graves at Sea will hit the road this weekend on the West Coast as they make their way to the Southwest Terror Fest in Tucson, Arizona. Some 12 years after their Documents of Grief demo became a significant statement of intent that was ultimately cut short, the band has just put the finishing touches on their debut album, which will be released on Relapse Records early next year. Pretty astonishing journey this band — and granted they’ve been through a few lineup changes along the way — has had to get to their first record, but hey, it’s doom. If you want it to be fast, you’re doing it wrong.
The PR wire has details and dates. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Orion Landau comes up with for this one:
GRAVES AT SEA: Complete New Album; Announce October West Coast Tour Dates
Doom/sludge quartet GRAVES AT SEA has completed recording its first-full length ever! The new material, which was tracked at Audible Alchemy in Portland, OR and mixed at Earhammer Studios in Oakland, CA, will see an early 2016 release via Relapse. The album was engineered by Greg Wilkinson (Atriach, Lycus, etc) and mastered by Brad Boatright (Obituary, Sleep, Yob, etc), and will also feature artwork by Orion Landau. Album title and preorder information will be made available soon.
Though they have gained a near-cultish following in the underground in relatively little time, GRAVES AT SEA’s success is even more noteworthy when one considers the fact that the band has managed to do so without ever releasing a proper full-length album. Formed in 2002, the band soon self-released the demo Documents of Grief (2003), which quickly became one of the most talked about underground demos of the decade. After recording their debut 7″ and a split with Asunder in 2004 and 2005 respectively, the band went on hiatus, before reuniting in 2012 and signing to Relapse Records in 2015.
Now thirteen years since their formation, GRAVES AT SEA have become stronger than ever, focusing their efforts on touring and recording new material. 2014 saw the group release their first new material in over nine years, including a split with Sourvein and a separate two song EP. GRAVES AT SEA are poised to fully come into their own with the release of their first-ever full-length, which seems certain to bestow the level of success the band has achieved underground to more mainstream audiences. You can stream the band’s 2014 split with Sourvein via Soundcloud HERE.
In celebration of the finished recording, GRAVES AT SEA have also announced a week of tour dates beginning the second week of October. The tour will see the band performing shows throughout the West Coast, and will also include a performance at Southwest Terror Fest in Tucson, AZ alongside Relapse brethren CALL OF THE VOID. You can find a full list of dates below.
GRAVES AT SEA Live: Oct 11 Seattle, WA The Highline Oct 13 Oakland, CA The Golden Bull Oct 14 Glendale, CA Complex Oct 15 Long Beach, CA Alex’s Bar Oct 16 Tucson, AZ South West Terror Fest – Club Congress Oct 19 Sacramento, CA Starlite Lounge
Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
One thing I’ve noticed over the now-several times I’ve done this is that people have a tendency to apply some value to the ordering. It’s true that I try to lead off with a bigger release sometimes (as with today), but beyond that, there’s really no statement being made in how the albums appear. It usually has way more to do with time, when something came in and when it was added to the list, than with the quality or profile of a given outing. Just that final note that probably should’ve been said on Monday. Whoops.
Before we wrap up, I just wanted to say thank you again for checking any of it out if you did this week. It’s not a minor undertaking to do these, but it’s been completely worth it and I very much appreciate your being a part of it. Thank you. As always.
Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #41-50:
My Dying Bride, Feel the Misery
Led by founding guitarist Andrew Craighan and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe, UK doom magnates My Dying Bride mark their 25th year with Feel the Misery, their 13th full-length and one that finds them right in their element practicing the melancholic death-doom style they helped forge on pivotal early works like As the Flower Withers (1992) and Turn Loose the Swans (1993). “And My Father Left Forever” starts Feel the Misery on a particularly deathly note, but it’s not too long before the 10-minute “To Shiver in Empty Halls” and the subsequent “A Cold New Curse” are mired in the grueling, poetic, beauty-in-darkness emotionality that is My Dying Bride’s hallmark. The album’s title-track is a chugging bit of extremity, but the record’s strongest impact winds up being made by the penultimate “I Almost Loved You,” a piano, string and e-bow (sounding) ballad that pushes further than “A Thorn of Wisdom” by daring not to get heavy and rests well between the lumbering “I Celebrate Your Skin” and the 11-minute closer, “Within a Sleeping Forest,” which fits well, but more reinforces the point than offers something new on its own. A quarter-century later, they remain an institution. One wonders how they’ve managed to stay so depressed for so long.
If French mostly-instrumentalists Glowsun are feeling pressed for time these days – and with the theme of Beyond the Wall of Time (out via Napalm Records) that shows itself in the ticking clocks that launch opener “Arrow of Time” and the like-minded titles “Last Watchmaker’s Grave,” “Against the Clock” and “Endless Caravan” – the material itself doesn’t show it. Opening with two nine-minute cuts, Glowsun’s third outing and the follow-up to 2012’s Eternal Season (discussed here) unrolls itself patiently across its seven-track span, leading one to wonder if maybe Beyond the Wall of Time isn’t intended as another means of expressing something outside of it, the expanse of tones and grooves created by guitarist/vocalist Johan Jaccob (also graphic art), bassist Ronan Chiron and drummer Fabrice Cornille on “Shadow of Dreams” and the centerpiece “Flower of Mist” intended to last after some eternal now has passed. I wouldn’t want to guess, but it’s noteworthy that the trio’s output is evocative enough to lead toward such speculations.
As with their 2012 debut, Someday You Will be Proven Correct, Washington D.C.-based trio Caustic Casanova recorded their sophomore long-player, Breaks, with J. Robbins at The Magpie Cage in Baltimore. They’re also releasing the album through Kylesa’s Retro Futurist Records imprint, so they come nothing if not well-endorsed. With bassist Francis Beringer and drummer Stefanie Zaenker sharing vocal duties throughout – the trio is completed by Andrew Yonki on guitar – they run and bounce through a gamut of upbeat post-hardcore noise rock, thick in tone but not so much as to get up and move around, tempo-wise. Yonki brings some post-rock airiness to the early going of the nine-minute “Elect My Best Friend for a Better World,” but the album on the whole feels more about impact than atmosphere, and Caustic Casanova work up considerable momentum by the time they get around to paying off the 12-minute finale, “The Painted Desert.” Its melodies open up more on repeat listens, but not at the expense of the push so well enacted throughout.
An outwardly familiar conceptual framework – instrumental space/psychedelic rock – does little to convey how much of themselves Manchester, UK, trio Dead Sea Apes put into their new full-length, Spectral Domain. Released by Cardinal Fuzz in conjunction with Sunrise Ocean Bender, it’s the band’s sixth or seventh LP, depending on what counts as such, and bookends two north-of-10-minute explorations around three shorter pieces (though not much shorter in the case of the 9:50 “True Believers”) varied in color but uniformly galaxial in intent. “Brought to Light” rings out with a wash of drumless echo and swirl, seemingly in response to the tension of centerpiece “The Unclosing Eye,” and the whole album seems to take a theme from things seen and unseen, between “Universal Interrogator” and closer “Sixth Side of the Pentagon,” a vibe persisting in some conspiracy theory exposed as blissful and immersive truth with something darker lurking just underneath. Thick but not pretentious, Spectral Domain seems to run as deep as the listener wants to go.
A ritualistic spirit arrives early on Italian heavy psych rockers Bantoriak’s debut LP, Weedooism, and does not depart for the duration of the Argonauta Records release’s six tracks, which prove spacious, psychedelic and heavy in kind, playing out with alternating flourishes of melody and noise. “Try to Sleep” seems to be talking more about the band than the act, but from “Entering the Temple” through the rumbling closer “Chant of the Stone,” Bantoriak leave an individualized stamp on their heavy vibes, and that song is no exception. If Weedooism is the dogma they’re championing on the smooth-rolling “Smoke the Magma,” they’re doing so convincingly and immersively, and while they seem to have undergone a lineup shift (?) at some point since the record was done, hopefully that means Weedooism will have a follow-up to its liquefied grooves and weedian heft before too long. In an increasingly crowded Italian heavy psych/stoner scene, Bantoriak stand out already with their first album.
Though somewhat counterintuitive for a band playing their style of doom to start with, Ahab have only been met with a rising profile over their decade-plus together, and their fourth album for Napalm Records, The Boats of the Glen Carrig, answers three years of anticipation with an expanded sonic palette over its five tracks that is afraid neither of melodic sweetness nor the seafaring tonal heft and creature-from-the-deep growling that has become their hallmark. Their extremity is intact, in other words, but they’re also clearly growing as a band. I don’t know if The Boats of the Glen Carrig is quite as colorful musically as its Sebastian Jerke cover art – inevitably one of the best covers I’ve seen this year – but whether it’s the 15-minute sprawl of “The Weedmen,” which at its crescendo sounds like peak-era Mastodon at quarter-speed or the (relatively) speedy centerpiece “Red Foam (The Great Storm),” Ahab are as expansive in atmosphere as they are relentlessly heavy, and they’re certainly plenty of that.
One would hardly know it from the discouraging title, but all-caps UK progressive metallers ZARK do manage to catch one off-guard on their debut full-length, Tales of the Expected. Duly melodic and duly complex, the eight tracks rely on straightforward components to set deceptively lush vibes, the guitar work of Sean “Bindy” Phillips and Josh Tedd leading the way through tight rhythmic turns alongside bassist Andy “Bready” Kelley and drummer Simon Spiers’ crisp grooves. Vocalist Stuart Lister carries across the aggression of “LV-426” and hopefulness of “The Robber” with equal class, and while ZARK’s first outing carries a pretty ambitious spirit, the Evesham five-piece reach the high marks they set for themselves, and in so doing set new goals for their next outing, reportedly already in progress. A strong debut from a band who sound like they’re only going to get more assured as they move forward. More “pleasant surprise” than “expected.”
Paired up by style almost as much as by geography, Alicante, Spain, acts Pyramidal and Domo picked the right title for their Jams from the Sun split – a bright, go-ahead-and-get-hypnotized psychedelic space vibe taking hold early on the Lay Bare Recordings release and not letting go as one side gives way to the other or as the noisy post-Hawkwindery of “Uróboros” closes out. Pyramidal, who made their debut in 2012 (review here), offer “Motormind” and “Hypnotic Psychotic,” two 10-minute mostly-instrumental jams that progress with liquid flow toward and through apexes in constant search for the farther-out that presumably they find at the end and that’s why they bother stopping at all, and Domo, who made their debut in 2011 (review here), counter with three cuts of their own, “Viajero del Cosmos,” “Mantra Astral” and the aforementioned “Uróboros,” switching up the mood a little between them but not so much as to interrupt the trance overarching the release as whole. I remain a sucker for a quality space jam, and Jams from the Sun has 45 minutes’ worth.
After releasing a couple internet EPs (review here) and 2013’s Call of the Mammoth EP as the duo of guitarist/vocalist/bassist Paul Dudziak and drummer Mitch Meidinger, Portland, Oregon’s Mammoth Salmon enlist bassist Alex Bateman and drummer Steve Lyons for their first full-length, the Adam Pike-produced Last Vestige of Humanity, which rolls out plus-sized Melvinsery across six amp-blowing tracks of sludgy riffing and nodding, lumbering weight. The title-track, which ends what would and probably will at some point be side A of the vinyl version, picks up the tempo in its second half, and “Memoriam” teases the same in Lyons’ drums at the start, but of course goes on to unfold the slowest progression here ahead of “Shattered Existence”’s toying with playing barely-there minimalism off full-on crush and the 10-minute “Believe Nothing” rounding out with appropriately elephantine march. Sustainable in their approach and viciously heavy, Mammoth Salmon seem to have hit reset and given themselves a new start with this lineup, and it works to their advantage on this promising debut.
“Karma is a bitch that will definitely hunt you down for what you have done,” would seem to be the standout message of “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife,” the third and longest (at 6:34) of the four inclusions on Molior Superum’s new EP, Electric Escapism. The non-retro Swedish heavy rockers fire up righteous heft to put them in league with countrymen Skånska Mord, but ultimately have more in common with Stubb out of the UK in the loose-sounding swing of “Försummad,” despite the different language. I had the same opinion about their full-length debut, Into the Sun (review here), and last year’s The Inconclusive Portrait 7” (review here) as well. Can’t seem to shake it, but Molior Superum’s ability to switch it up linguistics – they open and close in Swedish, with the two middle cuts in English – is an immediately distinguishing factor, and whichever they choose for a given song, they kill it here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Portland-based psychedelic doomers Eight Bells are currently in the process of recording their second long-player with Billy Anderson — because why go anywhere else? — for an intended release early in 2016 on Battleground Records. The post-SubArachnoid Space project of Melynda Jackson made its debut with the immersive and far-ranging The Captain’s Daughter in 2013, which Anderson also produced, and in addition to marking a first appearance for new drummer Rae Amitay, what’s been dubbed Landless will find Eight Bells veterans of such respected West Coast festivals as Fall into Darkness and Hoverfest.
The PR wire checks in with “content,” because it knows you love “content.” It read the focus group report. To answer your next question, yes, I am at work right now. Fuck business everything:
EIGHT BELLS: Experimental Doom Trio To Release Sophomore Full-Length On Battleground Records; New Drummer Announced + 2016 Tour With Voivod Confirmed
Experimental doom trio, EIGHT BELLS, will release their sophomore full-length this Winter via Battleground Records. Titled Landless and featuring new recruit, Rae Amitay (Immortal Bird, Thrawsunblat) at the drum helm, the record is currently in its tracking stages under the watchful ear of legendary producer/engineer, Billy Anderson (Agalloch, Tragedy, Demon Lung, Ommadon, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth et al) and offers a definitive evolution of EIGHT BELLS’ eclectic sound.
In conjunction with the release of Landless, EIGHT BELLS will serve as direct support to Voivod and Vektor on their Northeastern US Winter tour with dates to be announced in the coming weeks.
EIGHT BELLS was forged in 2010 by Melynda Jackson (SubArachnoid Space) and began as a songwriting collaboration with jazz-trained six-string bassist Haley Westeiner and drummer Chris Van Huffel. Based in Portland, Oregon, EIGHT BELLS explores dark sonic realms with a blackened dissonance combined with ethereal and haunting female vocals.
Landless is the follow-up to the band’s critically-lauded debut full-length, The Captain’s Daughter, recorded by Billy Anderson and issued in 2013 via Seventh Rule and on vinyl by The Flenser.
Landless will be released on vinyl/digital formats via Battleground Records in February 2016 and on tape via Tartarus Records with further info to be disclosed in the coming weeks.
Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
We’re in the thick of it now. It’s hard sometimes putting these things together to remember that each band has worked incredibly hard to put out an album. I’ve been through that process (once), and so I know it can be harrowing at times between acts going back and forth about recording, what’s included, how to release, when, and so on. There’s a lot to cover this week — and we’re not out of the woods yet — but I hope that, just because each review is short, you don’t take that as a sign I don’t have the utmost respect for the effort that has gone into making each of these releases. It can be a tremendous pain in the ass, but of course it’s worth it when you get to the end product. We continue.
Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #31-40:
We Lost the Sea, Departure Songs
To be blunt, We Lost the Sea’s Departure Songs is the kind of album that immediately makes me want to own everything the band has done, in hard copy, for posterity. The Sydney outfit’s third full-length finds its crux in its two-part closing duo of “Challenger Part 1 – Flight” and “Challenger Part 2 – A Swan Song,” enacting a lush instrumental interpretation of the Space Shuttle Challenger flight and disaster that took place nearly 30 years ago in Jan. 1986. In its progression, patience, flow and discernable narrative thread it is nothing short of brilliant, a lush and sad beauty that serves as a genuinely affecting reminder of the hope for a better future that died with that shuttle’s civilian crew and the era of aspiration that tragedy brought to a close. I think the closing sample is the only time I’ve ever heard Ronald Reagan speak in my adult life and felt something other than anger, and that’s a testament to the ground Departure Songs covers – on the preceding three cuts as well as the final two – and the masterful execution on the part of We Lost the Sea.
There does not yet exist a name for what Finland’s Dark Buddha Rising bring to bear on the two side-consuming tracks of their Neurot Recordings debut and sixth album overall, Inversum. Self-recorded and presented following some shifts in lineup, the album swells to a massive head of bleak, noise-infused psychedelia, fully ritualized and self-aware but still vibrant as it makes its way further and further down into itself. It is bright black, based so much around contrasting ideas of form and tonality that to listen to it, one almost doesn’t believe that the band are accomplishing what they are on an aesthetic level, but the weight, chants, screams, cavernous feel and nod that “Eso” (24:05) and “Exo” (23:52) enact is ultimately real no matter how nightmarish and otherworldly the impression might be. A work that sounds as likely to digest as be digested, it constructs a temple of its own sound and then burns that temple and everything around it in a glorious final push into charred chaos.
Few endorsements carry as much weight for me as that of Germany’s Nasoni Records, so when I see that venerable imprint is on board for the release of Red Mountains’ first album, Down with the Sun, expectations immediately rise. The Norwegian four-piece don’t disappoint, calling forth a heavy psychedelia weighted enough to be immersive without really falling into the trap of sounding too post-Colour Haze or Causa Sui, finding a balance right away on opener “Six Hands” between open-vibe and structured songcraft. They toy with one side or the other, getting crunchy on “Rodents” and tripping out into ambient echoing on the penultimate “Silver Grey Sky,” but that only makes the debut seem all the more promising. Particularly satisfying is the scope between “Sun” and “Sleepy Desert Blues,” which is enough to make the listener think that grunge and desert rock happened in the same place. An engaging and already-on-the-right-track start from a band who sound like they’re only going to continue to grow.
It’s improper to think of Germany’s Black Space Riders as entirely psychedelic if only because that somehow implies a lack of clearheaded consciousness in their work, which as their fourth album, Refugeeum, demonstrates, is the very core tying all the expanses they cover together. As Europe comes to grip with its most dire refugee crisis since World War II, Black Space Riders take their thematic movement from such terrestrial issues (a first for them) and it makes a song like 11-minute centerpiece “Run to the Plains” all the more resonant. Of course, the big-chug groove of “Born a Lion (Homeless)” and the cosmic thrust of the penultimate “Walking Shades” still have a psychedelic resonance, but the balance between the earthly and the otherworldly do well to highlight the progressivism that’s been at work in the band’s sound all along. A considerable undertaking at 61 minutes, Refugeeum is an important step in an ongoing development that has just made another unexpected and welcome turn.
And so, with their third and final outing, III, Portland, Oregon, trio Lamprey reserve their strongest point for their closing argument. The two-bass trio of bassist/vocalist Blaine Burnham (now drumming in Mane of the Cur), bassist Justin Brown (now bass-ing in Witch Mountain) and drummer Spencer Norman recorded the conclusive six-tracker with Adam Pike at Toadhouse (Red Fang, Mammoth Salmon, etc.) and even the slower shifts of “Harpies” and the decidedly Conan-esque “Lament of the Deathworm” breeze right by. Like their two prior releases, 2012’S The Burden of Beasts (review here) and 2011’s Ancient Secrets (review here), III is a showcase of songcraft as much as tone, and it seems to presage its own vinyl reissue, each of the two halves starting with a shorter piece, the opener “Iron Awake” a notably vicious stomp that sets a destructive vibe that the rumble and weirdo keys and leads that finish out “Gaea” seem to be answering, a quick fade bringing an end to an underrated act. They’ll be missed.
If newcomer bruisers Godsleep seem to share some commonality of method with fellow Athenians 1000mods, it’s worth noting that on their debut, Thousand Sons of Sleep, they also share a recording engineer in George Leodis. Fair enough. The big-toned riffing and shouty burl on which Godsleep cast their foundation makes its identity felt in the post-Kyussism of “Thirteen” and stonerly grit of centerpiece “This is Mine,” which follows the extended opening salvo of “The Call,” “Thirteen” and “Wrong Turn,” the latter of which is the longest cut at 9:09 and among its most satisfyingly fuzzed nods. They’re playing to style perhaps, but doing so well, and if you’ve gotta start somewhere, recording live and coming out with a heavy-as-hell groove like what emerges in the second half of “Home” is a good place to start. Godsleep are already a year past from when they recorded Thousand Sons of Sleep in Summer 2014, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a follow-up happened sooner than later.
Slow Joe Crow & the Berserker Blues Band, We are Blues People
Kentucky-based, cumbersomely-named Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band may indeed live up to the We are Blues People title of their debut EP, but they’re definitely riff people as well. As such, the four-track sampling of their wares draws from both sides on a cut like opener “No One Else,” the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Austin P. Lunn, bassist Patrick Flanary and drummer Thom Hammerheart in the process of figuring out how much they want to lean to one or the other. They round out with a fuzzy take on the traditional “John the Revelator,” but the earlier “Muddy Water Rising” strikes a more effective and more authentic-feeling balance, leading to the slow jam of “Before I Go,” which adds a ‘70s rock vibe to push the bluesy feel even further and expand the palette in a manner one hopes they continue to pursue as they move forward.
Canadian trio Monobrow follow their 2014 LP, Big Sky, Black Horse (review here) with what’s essentially a new single that finds them continuing to step forward in their approach. Dubbed A Handwritten Letter from the Moon and taking its name from the 8:33 title-track, the Ottawa group’s latest offering finds the instrumental outfit smoothing out the tones a bit, still hitting into raucous grooves, but closer to Truckfighters than their prior brashness. I don’t know if it’s a method they’ll stick to going into their fourth LP next year, but the result is dynamic and suits them well. “A Handwritten Letter from the Moon” comes coupled with “Dyatlov Station 3,” a seven-minute rehearsal-space jam from 2011 that fascinatingly (and I’m sure by no coincidence) showcases some similar classic heavy rock influence. The only real shame of the release is that both these tracks are probably too long to fit on a 7”, since a small platter of vinyl would be a perfect way to hold over listeners until the next album arrives. As it stands, the digital version is hardly roughing it.
French heavy rocking four-piece Denizen issued their decidedly Clutchian debut, Whispering Wild Stories (review here), in 2011, and follow it through Argonauta Records with Troubled Waters, a more individualized 10-track outing that alternates between punkish rawness and classic upbeat grooves. Four years after their first album, their progression hasn’t come at the cost of songwriting, and while they still have work to do in distinguishing themselves in a crowded, varied European market, they deliver the material with an energy and vitality that makes even its familiar parts easy enough to get down with, be it the Southern heavy solo of “Jocelyne” or the meaner bite of “Enter Truckman.” I’ll take the pair of “King of Horses” and “Heavy Rider” as highlights, and remain interested to find out where Denizen head from here, as well as how long it might take them to get there. Four years between records gives Troubled Waters the feel of a second debut as much as a sophomore effort.
Releasing through Candlelight in their native UK, doom metal trio Witchsorrow mark a decade with their third album, No Light, Only Fire. Opener “There is No Light There is Only Fire” seems to nod immediately at Cathedral, with a speedier, chuggier take, and the record proceeds to alternate between shorter and longer tracks en route to the 14-minute closer “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas,” cuts like “Negative Utopia” and “Disaster Reality” sailing a black ship past the 10-minute mark on a rumbling sea of riffs and slow motion nod. They break for a minute with the acoustic interlude “Four Candles” before embarking on the finale, and the respite is appreciated once the agonizing undulations of “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas” are underway, using nearly every second of their 14:25 to affirm Witchsorrow’s trad doom mastery and bleak, darkened heft. No light? Maybe a little light, but it’s still pretty damn dark, and indeed, it smells like smoke.