Posted in Features on November 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Something is stirring in the Witch Mountain camp. I don’t know quite what yet, but on Nov. 10, the Portland, Oregon, outfit posted the following: “Just booked studio time to record a song in early December. Details when we are allowed to share them.”
Cryptic but precise, obscure and calculated, the message itself sums up a lot of what Witch Mountain have become over the last few years. After getting off tour this fall Nik Turner‘s incarnation of Hawkwind, the band — founded by guitarist Rob Wrong (to whom I’ve never spoken because he used to review records for stonerrock.com and would blow my meager knowledge of heavy out of the water) and drummer Nathan Carson (who also runs Nanotear Booking and has been interviewed here before) — said farewell to vocalist Uta Plotkin. They lost their bassist at the time as well, but it was Plotkin who grabbed the headlines, and reasonably so. Among metal singers, hers was a singular voice, resonant in its power and presence, but able also to convey emotion, bluesy soul and, particularly in the case of their latest album, Mobile of Angels (review here), a desperate sense of longing.
Their third offering for Profound Lore and third since reactivating following a long hiatus after their 2001 debut, Come the Mountain (discussed here), it’s easy to think of Mobile of Angels as a culmination in light of Plotkin‘s departure, and certainly it is their crowning achievement to date, but it’s also a step in an interrupted progression from their last two outings, 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and 2011’s South of Salem (review here). With the constant thread of Billy Anderson‘s production, one can hear Witch Mountain growing on these three albums, becoming the assured, progressive act they are on Mobile of Angels, patiently presenting an all-too-brief 38 minutes that’s beautiful and desolate at the same time.
Carson knows that whoever takes the vocalist role has a challenge ahead of them. In the interview that follows, he talks about how Plotkin‘s leaving took shape, making Mobile of Angels, the mood on this last tour and what they might be looking for in a new singer. The question at this point, after the above Nov. 10 post, is whether or not they’ve found that person. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
If you want a little extra thrill, plug in some headphones and turn the bass up as Disenchanter run through the below rendition of the song “Green Queen.” The track, which of course shares its name with a strain of weed — wasn’t that just a given? — makes a fantastic showcase for the low tone of four-stringer Joey DeMartini, and with Sabine Stangenberg‘s riffs and vocals leading the charge and Jay Erbe playing one tom against the other on drums, it’s halfway between boogie rock and all out heavy rager, and seems content to find a place somewhere not quite one or the other. This version was recorded earlier this year in Disenchanter‘s hometown of Portland, Oregon, at the Ceremony of Sludge festival, and is part of a series of clips I’ve been fortunate enough to premiere recorded over the course of that fest’s two days.
Disenchanter opened the second day of Ceremony of Sludge, which was held at Club 21, and while they’ve showcased a penchant for epic metallurgy or at least an appreciation for the grandiose on their two three-song releases to date, 2013’s Back to Earth and this year’s On through Portals (review here), “Green Queen” hones in a more straight-ahead heavy rock sound built around a strong hook, a still driving riff and the melody in Stangenberg‘s voice. I don’t know if that’s meant to be emblematic of some shift in direction or if Disenchanter were pulling a one off or if the song might even be a cover — go Google “Green Queen” and you’re only gonna find pot info — but it’s a cool groove one way or another and the band carries it just as well as some of their more epic material.
You can click here to see the other clips thus far released in the Ceremony of Sludge 2014 video series, and check out Disenchanter‘s “Green Queen” on the player followed by video info below. Please enjoy:
Disenchanter, “Green Queen” Live at Ceremony of Sludge
Disenchanter perform “Green Queen” live at the third annual Ceremony of Sludge (Club 21, Portland, Oregon, 3/8/14).
Edited by Cole Boggess. Cameras: Cole Boggess, Justin Anderson, Justin Brown, Eli Duke. Audio: Tim Burke
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Portland death-sludgers Lord Dying have finished work on their second album for Relapse, and Poisoned Altars is expected out sometime early next year. In the meantime, the four-piece — who recently toured opening for the formidable bill of Bl’ast, C.O.C. and Brant Bjork – will hit the road once again, this time alongside San Francisco’s Castle, for a stint of West Coast dates beginning Nov. 8. They’re calling it the “Peaceless Savage” tour, and I think the flyer gets the point across pretty well.
This from the PR wire:
LORD DYING: Complete New Album; Announce West Coast Tour Dates
Portland, Oregon’s LORD DYING have completed recording their much anticipated sophomore album and are set to embark on a West Coast tour with stoner/sludge trio Castle. The new record, entitled Poisoned Altars, was recorded with Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind (Black Tusk) at Audiosiege Studios in Portland and will see an early 2015 release via Relapse Records.
Poisoned Altars is direct result of the relentless work the band put in the past 18 months grinding it out on the road touring non-stop with the likes of Red Fang, Black Tusk, Corrosion of Conformity, Valient Thorr and more. Now the band will test out new material back on the road starting November 8th in Spokane, WA through November 26th in their hometown, Portland. Frontman Erik Olson commented on the upcoming dates:
“We are excited to get out on the road and pummel you with endless riffs! This time we will be joined with San Francisco’s Castle. This will be heavy as hell, don’t snooze and lose!”
More details on Poisoned Altars, including cover art, tracklisting and a release date will be announced shortly.
LORD DYING’s video for the song “Dreams of Mercy”, directed by Whitey McConnaughy (Red Fang, ZZ Top) can be seen HERE.
LORD DYING’s debut Summon the Faithless is available now on Relapse Records. The album is available in CD and LP formats which can be purchasedHEREand digitally viaiTunes.
Summon the Faithless can be streamed in full on LORD DYING’sBandCamp.
LORD DYING Tour Dates:
*All Dates with Castle* 11/8/2014 Spokane, WA The Hop 11/9/2014 Billings, MT Babcock Theater 11/10/2014 Salt Lake City, UT Bar Deluxe 11/11/2014 Denver, CO The Marquis 11/13/2014 Colorado Springs, CO Black Sheep 11/15/2014 Juarez, MX Hysteria Bar 11/16/2014 Tucson, AZ The Rock 11/17/2014 Mesa, AZ Club Red 11/18/2014 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick 11/19/2014 Fullerton, CA The Slidebar (21+) 11/20/2014 Van Nuys, CA White Oaks Music 11/22/2014 Walnut Creek, CA The Red House 11/23/2014 Reno, NV Jub Jubs 11/24/2014 Bend, OR 3rd Street Pub 11/25/2014 Seattle, WA El Corazon 11/26/2014 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theater
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Portland heavy rockers Ape Machine are heading out again in support of their Ripple Music debut, Mangled by the Machine (review here). They’ve done a few runs at this point since the record came out last year, and they even got to open for Motörhead earlier this year, but this will be the longest tour they’ve done since this Spring and going to Europe in 2013, covering up and down in California and heading as far inland as Texas as they make their way around and back to the coast. No official word yet on writing or recording for a follow-up to Mangled by the Machine, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they busted out a new song or two for the trip.
The PR wire ain’t afraid of no ghosts:
APE MACHINE announce fall U.S. tour dates
Portland, Oregon stoner-rockers APE MACHINE have announced fall U.S. tour dates in support of their latest record, Mangled By The Machine, which is out now via Ripple Music. (Orderhere.)
The name Ape Machine is a nod to the days of reel-to-reel magnetic tape audio recording; a fitting moniker for the 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, Ape Machine 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 ’70s and their asses firmly in the present” and “real heavy-psych for the iPhone generation” that delivers “true guts and glory rock and roll.”
Blending equal parts rock ‘n’ roll, blues, stoner rock and psychedelia, Ape Machine is out to melt faces and pound the apathy out of otherwise jaded listeners with a wall of heavy rock n’ roll tones unheard since the days of bell bottoms, long hair and blaring tube amplifiers.
Ape Machine’s mission is to combine intense melody, cutting riffs and blistering live improvisation. Where many bands rely on meticulously rehearsed, just-like-the-record-parts, they provide a live experience that is as unique as each evening it shares with an audience.
Oct 16: Black Forest – Eugene OR Oct 17: Witch Room – Sacramento CA Oct 18: Eli’s Mile High Club – Oakland CA Oct 19: Redwood Bar – LA CA Oct 20: Flycatcher – Tucson AZ Oct 21: JRs – Sierra Vista AZ Oct 22: Lowbrow Palace – El Paso TX Oct 23: House of Rock – Corpus Christi TX Oct 24: Continental Club – Houston TX Oct 25: The Grotto – Ft Worth TX Oct 26: Underground – Sante FE NM Oct 27: Pub Rock – Phoenix AZ Oct 28: Copper Door – Santa Ana CA Oct 29: U-31 – San Diego CA Oct 30: Prospector – Long Beach CA Oct 31: Soda Bar – San Diego CA Nov 1: Audie’s – Fresno CA Nov 2: Paddys Pub – San Jose CA Nov 3: Elbo Room – San Francisco CA
Posted in audiObelisk on September 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Experimentalists of the proggy psychedelia, Portland’s Eternal Tapestry always seem to conjure something different with each release. Their latest outing, Guru Overload – I keep wanting to type “overlord,” but it’s not, it’s “overload” — is available now through Finland’s Oaken Palace Records and is a hypnotically ambient collection of Krautrock-inspired musings given melt-in-it presence through warm tones, synthesized beats and a self-directed will to let an idea go where it will. With an opening duo that comprises more than half the total 41-minute runtime, Guru Overload is shoegaze peaceful and heavy psych resonant without giving way really to one side or another.
This is respectable in itself, but the spirit throughout has less to do with respectability than with tripping out on wah-drenched vibery and languid rhythmic push on opener “Trout Fishing on the Street of Eternity” or the later, drone-fueled “The Double Bed Dream Gallows,” which rings out minimalism in swirling tones behind a barely-there guitar. Each of the five included cuts gives something of a different take, but by the time “Trout Fishing on the Street of Eternity” and the 11-minute follow-up, “Karma Repair Kit,” are done, one is bound to be lost in the album’s flow. More to the point, “Karma Repair Kit” in itself has a formidable dangling-watch effect, the five-piece pulling a “you’re getting very sleepy” with what, because of the beat underneath, winds up being one of Guru Overload‘s more grounded jams. Still, its blend of organic and synth elements and the not-all-who-wander-ism throughout make “Karma Repair Kit” a more than satisfying journey in itself, and an excellent sample of the cranial alterations Eternal Tapestry render so smoothly across the board.
The album is out as of this past weekend in 140g vinyl through Oaken Palace, with proceeds going to The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. More info follows the song, which you can stream on the player below.
Oaken Palace Records is proud to announce the release of the new full-length by Portland-based psych overlords Eternal Tapestry! As every release on Oaken Palace Records, the new album – entitled Guru Overload – is dedicated to an endangered species. Eternal Tapestry have chosen the orang-utan, and all profits will be donated to The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.
Guru Overload, mastered by James Plotkin, features 5 new jams that the band recorded in a private cabin deep in the woods. The album manages to strike a balance between the freaked-out “A World Out Of Time” and the more laid-back “Dawn In 2 Dimensions”, both in terms of style as well as track length. The result is a wonderfully smooth flow of new material that combines exotic and new sounds with the best of Krautrock and Psychedelic Rock.
The first pressing will be limited to 500 copies on 140g red vinyl, housed in a 100% recycled card sleeve, printed with non-toxic colours, and produced by a carbon neutral pressing plant. An additional 20 test pressing copies on black vinyl, housed in hand-crafted sleeves with alternative artwork, will be available exclusively in the Oaken Palace webshop. Both editions come with a free download code. Oaken Palace Records is a registered charity (#1154786).
This week marks three full years of Wino Wednesday. It is Wino Wednesday #156. In that time, I feel like we’ve just about covered the man’s entire career, from his days playing with Warhorse in high school on down through Spirit Caravan‘s 2014 reunion. In and out of bands like The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, Place of Skulls, Premonition 13, his own Wino band and on and on with more guest appearances live and recorded than I think anyone can count, it’s been a three-year investigation into one of doom’s most storied and most accomplished figures. I don’t think when I started out that I imagined this feature would go on for so long, but I’ve yet to run out of things to post, so I guess until that happens, onward we go.
“Look Behind You” appeared on 1987’s three-song Thirsty andMiserable EP, sharing the B-side with the titular Black Flag cover. Tough bill, since when one thinks of that release, it’s the radical slowdown of the Black Flag song that invariably comes to mind first, but “Look Behind You” has been a live staple for Saint Vitus more or less since. It showed up on their 1990 Live album, and it has been a regular feature of sets since their reunion in 2009, its Motörhead-style rush made to turn on its head by Dave Chandler‘s transitions and thickened by his inimitable tone. The song goes back further than Thirsty and Miserable, though. In 1979, Tyrant (the original Vitus lineup under its first name) included it on their demo, so it’s clearly been around even longer than Thirsty and Miserable, and as you can see in the version below, which was taped live in Portland, Oregon, at the Satyricon in June 2010, it wears its age well.
Here’s to three years of Wino Wednesday and more to come. Enjoy:
Saint Vitus, “Look Behind You” Live in Portland, OR, June 26, 2010
Posted in audiObelisk on September 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Calculated chaos abounds on Portland, Oregon, trio U Sco‘s full-length debut, Treffpunkt. The LP releases next week on New Atlantis Records and compiles eight brainbending instrumental selections of noise-gone-prog, churning high-speed math metal changes out with raw punker tones and some feedbackular hum for atmosphere and abrasion alike. It’s a dizzying array of sounds proffered by guitarist Ryan Miller, bassist Jon Scheid and drummer Phil Cleary, and if you were to follow the bouncing ball on a cut like the six-minute “Crack in the Crystal Glass,” you’d likely need more than three dimensions to do it. They turn and they drive and they shuffle and they even boogie a little bit (there’s some get-down in there), and spazz quick enough from one to the other that you’d almost be tempted to call it jazz if it didn’t already have 50 other designations. By whatever name, dudes are freaking out.
If you’re like, “Whatever, chief” and think you’re all set to hang with the bird-chirp guitar noise that starts “Tuskflower” or the litany of furies that unfold therefrom like sentient origami, knock yourself out, but be warned that Treffpunkt gets pretty brutal. Not in the growly ruh-ruh-ruh death metal sense, but throwing down a challenge anyway in its chops and technical prowess that, since it’s beyond the realm of my simpleton understanding, I’m just gonna have to assume is magic. The appearance of some standup bass in the title-track is noteworthy, and all the more so if you can find it amidst the surrounding assault, and right when the whole record seems like it’s going to burst, with the mega-noodle tap-ery of “Iguana House,” U Sco pull back and drone out on “Glm Lrkr” (which I’ll assume is pronounced “glum lurker” as opposed to some other configuration of vowels), slow riffing for a while before letting a wave of noise carry the last six minutes or so of the nine-minute track. You know, just in case you dared to think you knew what was coming or something like that.
It’s a Sept. 23 release date, and I’ve been given the nod to host the full doodad ahead of time, so find it on the player below, followed by PR wire info and order-type links, and enjoy:
Featuring members of notable, genre-bending Portland-bred projects such as Jezebel Spirit, With Eyes Abstract and Duck. Little Brother, Duck!, U Sco has been an electrifying, formidable staple of Portland’s unparalleled punk scene since their formation in 2011.
Treffpunkt was recorded and mixed by Paurl Walsh at Roadhouse Studios in Portland in the winter of 2013. Sonically, it’s the best representation of the band so far, combining the dizzying velocity of their live performances with an aural spaciousness and lucidity that highlights the group’s breathtaking consideration for musical minutiae. Treffpunkt is an immensely challenging (and equally rewarding) listen, but one should hesitate to use the word “inaccessible” – U Sco’s blood is red hot. In vulgar terms, this is progressive rock with a hardcore heart. A far cry from the emotionally-detached, irritatingly-positive, regurgitated diatonic Don Caballero-worship that characterizes most contemporary math rock. This is not happy music; this is not superficially fun music. Dissonant, propulsive, and pantonal- this is monolithic art rock, triumphant its raw, discomforting sonic catharsis.
A couple weeks ago, we began a series of pro-shot live videos shot at this year’s Ceremony of Sludge in Portland, Oregon, with footage of Beard of Bees playing “General Butt Naked.” It was as raucous a start as one could’ve hoped for, and with the second installment, we move into precision post-sludge tectonic riffing, courtesy of Portland’s own Sioux and their chug-a-lug stomper “Let in the Night.” Among the other things it is — progressive, complex, atmospheric — it is righteously heavy.
Sioux debuted in 2013 with a self-titled EP (review here), and at Ceremony of Sludge – held March 7 and 8 at Club 21 in Portland — they celebrated the release of their full-length debut, The One and the Many. “Let in the Night” is the opener from that album, and it highlights the addition of the former trio’s fourth member, synth-specialist/vocalist/sampler Ben Jackson, whose alternately screamed and clean-sung approach makes an excellent complement to the gruff, sludgy style of bassist Kirk Evans. On “Let in the Night,” they trade parts effectively but make highlight moments out of unison between them, adding depth and a sense of arrangement to the already rich turns of guitarist Juan Caceres and gloriously half-timed plod of drummer Ryan McPhaill. The sense of early Mastodonic lumbering that pervaded the EP is still there, but no question Sioux have taken their approach to a new level.
They were the penultimate act on the second night of the fest, with only Holy Grove following, so it was a fitting way to mark the beginning of this stage of the band. Last week, Sioux followed up The One and the Many with a digital single covering Nine Inch Nails‘ 1994 breakout radio hit single “Closer” that’s available as a name-your-price download from their Bandcamp page. However you might feel about the original source, it’s a bold song to take on and Sioux do well in putting their own spin on it.
As with last time, Sioux‘s “Let in the Night” was filmed by Cole Boggess, Justin Anderson, Justin Brown and Eli Duke, and edited by Cole Boggess with sound by Tim Burke. Stay tuned for more in the weeks to come from the third annual Ceremony of Sludge, and please, enjoy:
Sioux, “Let in the Night” Live at Ceremony of Sludge, Portland, OR, March 8, 2014
Posted in Reviews on September 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Clearing the Path to Ascendis the point at which YOB abandons the formula they’ve been building over the course of the last five years. In its construction and in the execution of the songs themselves, it is still very much their own, but stands apart immediately from past outings, particularly the two released since the Eugene, Oregon, trio got back together after their 2005 breakup, 2009’s The Great Cessation(review here) and 2011’s Atma(review here). Clearing the Path to Ascend– also the band’s Neurot Recordings label debut — strips away a lot of what united those two records, elements like catchy openers “Burning the Altar” and “Prepare the Ground,” and a near-standard foray in guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt‘s signature triplet gallop, which is something that YOB has used to send chills up doomers’ spines since 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived. Songs like “Breathing from the Shallows,” these massive washes of abrasive, unyielding noise, seem as well to be a thing of the past. That’s not to say YOB can’t or won’t ever incorporate any of these things again, but even if they do, Clearing the Path to Ascendwill have been the record that proved that wasn’t what the band needed to be. In the meantime, what we’re left with on their seventh full-length and pivotal third since reuniting with Scheidt, drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Rieseberg, is a scathingly honest, human creativity unlike anything else in doom, cosmic or otherwise. An hour-plus four-track release with no individual piece under 11 minutes, it is YOB at their most melodically progressive and an album that dares to let its emotional resonance meet and, especially in closer “Marrow,” surpass an at times barbarous tonal heft. YOB haven’t put a studio LP out in a decade that I didn’t pick as my Album of the Year, and given the sincere nature of the material on display here it seems all the more foolish to feign impartiality. I am a fan of the band, and Clearing the Path to Ascendis their most accomplished outing yet.
Opener “In Our Blood” (16:56) begins with a sample that says simply, “It’s time to wake up.” While this would seem to promise an explosion, but instead, Scheidt‘s guitar quietly introduces the undulating rhythm line that will comprise the core of the song, a roll that, when Foster and Rieseberg kick in after the first minute, sets a lumbering course pace-wise that the bulk of the record will stick to. Vocals, which in years past have typically come either in an ethereal wail or destructive growl, are clearer, cleaner and more confident than they’ve ever been — Scheidt‘s debut solo work, Stay Awake(review here), and subsequent touring could easily be read as a factor in that — but when “In Our Blood”‘s first growls arrive shortly before the five-minute mark, they’re no less vicious than they’ve ever been. Already, YOB have changed course from their last several albums, the way Clearing the Path to Ascendlurches gradually to life rather than slamming listeners with an initial immediacy only to expand from there. It comes across as dispensing with a formality — getting right to the heart of the matter in a different way that’s more immersive for the listening experience of the entirety rather than giving an initial standout and then letting the rest of the album make its statement. Another clean, rolling verse ensues and trades back to growls — it’s not a chorus, but a repeated and expanded part, anyway — before “In Our Blood” shifts into its next movement near its halfway point, a bridge leading to an ambient break, Rieseberg and Foster dropping out to leave the guitar as a bed for an expanded version of the sample that began the song, British philosopher Alan Watts asking, “What is reality? Obviously, no one can say because it isn’t words. It isn’t material, that’s just an idea. It isn’t spiritual — that’s also an idea,” before the “Time to wake up” is repeated and the song bursts back to life, Scheidt loosing a roar that’s primal but which serves more of an ambient purpose than an aggressive one. The riff that will serve as the foundation for the remaining time takes hold, a guitar solo is layered in, deep in the mix, and cycles meet a culmination after 15 minutes in as guitars continue to build and growling lines surface from the plod, the last of them sustained to the point of Scheidt‘s voice breaking as the instruments behind end with a barrage of feedback giving way directly to the punch of drums that start “Nothing to Win.”
That punch, which becomes the core of “Nothing to Win” over its 11:22 run, is not to be understated. Foster‘s tom progression is indebted, almost singularly, to Neurosis‘ “Through Silver in Blood,” but the space those fills occupy, the way they’re used in the track and the sheer stamina required to pull them off make them all the more staggering. The second of Clearing the Path to Ascend‘s four pieces is the most intense, playing off building verse tension via those drums and the guitar and bass that follow them and opening to a chorus that arrives at the title line in a manner fitting the conclusion itself — there’s nothing to win. Listening to it, I’m reminded of a conversation about ambition back in 2011 that was part of an interview with Scheidt for Atma, but without a lyric sheet I wouldn’t speculate in concrete terms what’s being won, or not, and either way, the ferocity remains striking, Scheidt moving into a semi-spoken, seething delivery for the verse and layering shouts and growls for the chorus. Foster again takes the lead after halfway through, switching from the chorus progression to an even more intense run of fills that builds for a minute or so until finally the song seems to collapse under its own frustrations, Scheidt growling out a line that turns to a kind of agonized plead before its end, Rieseberg and Foster coming back in over feedback before the guitar rejoins them on the transition into the song’s last movement, a churning riff, deceptively intricate in its timing, taking hold and carrying YOB through the finish, Scheidt reminding along the way that, indeed, there’s nothing to win, channeling the abrasiveness that once fueled “Breathing from the Shallows” or “Kosmos” from The Unreal Never Livedinto a concise declaration that leaves an impression even after the album has finished. Its message gets through, in other words, before a relatively quick fadeout rounds the song out and “Unmask the Spectre” (15:25) begins with a soft guitar line somewhat reminiscent of the opening track and “Marrow” still to come.
Given its heavy/atmospheric tradeoffs — in softer parts, Scheidt‘s guitar seems to have been recorded in some terrifyingly vast expanse, at night — set out along a linear path and the melodic instrumental complexity at which it arrives in its apex guitar solo, it seems fair to think of “Unmask the Spectre” as a lead-in for “Marrow,” but at more than 15 minutes, it’s also a substantial portion of the album, and the fact that it’s paired well with the closer shouldn’t necessarily detract from its individual appeal or the work it does in furthering the atmosphere of Clearing the Path to Ascendoverall, cutting back as it does the furious push of “Nothing to Win” and moving YOB back into a more gradual space, patient, encompassing, and resoundingly slow. A high-viscosity chug takes hold as the main riff cycles through early, having lumbered forth from the quieter start, and “Unmask the Spectre” seems to take a different path toward similar venting to “Nothing to Win,” growls and screams topping steady thud from Foster and starts and stops in the bass and guitar. By this point in the album, it’s easy to be lost in Clearing the Path to Ascend, particularly on the first couple listens, and “Unmask the Spectre” sets an especially turbulent course on which the listener is carried, moving between this thunderous stomp and the airy quieter movement, underscored by various rumbling threats, vague noise, and low-mixed shouts and effects-distorted pleas. A rising shout before five minutes in reintroduces the heavy progression, Scheidt losing his fucking mind in the process, and the momentum is carried into the song’s next stage. If there’s a spectre being unmasked, it starts to happen at about the sixth minute, at which the tense, crushing heft spreads itself out to some kind of resolution, Scheidt taking a cleaner approach vocally over his riff, Rieseberg‘s smoothed out bassline and Foster‘s more forward-directed drums. A wavering guitar solo follows a verse past halfway through, but there’s another dropout. As low and minimal as YOB get on Clearing the Path to Ascend, heaviness is never completely absent, Scheidt whispering over windy backing swirl and his own barely-there guitar before Foster thumps the lurch back into place, a crawling return to YOB at their most feedback-drenched and excruciating. It seems like that’s going to be the end — both preceding cuts have had clearly announced final movements — but there’s a switch to cleaner vocals again and the guitar teases melodic leads. It’s a sudden cut to the backing “wind,” but the subdued guitar accompanies, seeming like it’s searching for a way to lead directly into “Marrow,” and not quite making the switch seamless, but coming as close to tying the two pieces together as one could reasonably ask.
Before the album was recorded, the band posted an update to Facebook referring to “the most beautiful arrangement we’ve ever written.” No question “Marrow” (18:49) was the arrangement being described, and accurately. It is lush, and gorgeous, and where it wants to, it launches into a soothing wash of tone more cathartic than “Catharsis” and arguably YOB‘s most singularly ambitious song. Like “Unmask the Spectre,” it starts quiet, but instead of bursting out, Foster and Rieseberg join the quiet guitar line early, making for a more gradual beginning, less jarring in its shift. At 2:25, a fuller rumble emerges, but the soft guitar line is still repeated over it, a peaceful, almost resigned mood emanating from the heavy rollout. There are no growls or screams on “Marrow,” the vocals entirely clean-sung for the duration, but it is Clearing the Path to Ascend‘s most righteous moment, conveying more of an emotional turbulence than a musical one in its initial verse and the movement to the first chorus, which arrives subtly just after five minutes and surprises with Scheidt layering his voice for a kind of harmonized choir effect, resulting in his most soulful performance to date, in YOB or out of it. A quick second to catch breath — one needs it — and the verse is renewed. I’m not sure I can properly convey the sense of arrival that chorus brings with it, or how gently it comes on, led into by a first stage already departed from the verse but not yet giving away the full breadth to come. The effect is only enhanced the second time through, the chorus expanded as “Marrow” moves toward its 10th minute, building to a thudding head, the word “time” repeated and drawn melodically into a hymnal. At 10:33, with more than eight minutes to go, the bass and drums drop out to let the guitar set the foundation of the album’s finale. As with the intro, the guitar, bass and drums all explore this part so that it’s not so much a minimalist interlude as an essential piece of the whole, a background layer of organ — or guitar effects made to sound like organ — hinting of the epiphany and climax still to come. Scheidt sings low and quiet after 12 minutes in, a verse that leads to the most gripping and resonant guitar solo I’ve heard since Ancestors‘ “First Light,” very classic rock in its style, but speaking more to the central melody of “Marrow” than a YOB lead ever has to its respective song. It swirls louder in the mix and carries into a heavier movement — Rieseberg‘s bassline no less astounding than any of the guitar layers — and the vocals return after a few measures to drive “Marrow” further toward into apex, which arrives in multiple stages as a wash of immersive realization. It ends, without a second wasted, by cutting back to the quiet guitar line that introduced the song and noodling out the last note for a final echo giving way to silence.
I know I said this when I saw them play at Roadburn earlier this year, but it’s worth repeating: YOB are a once-in-a-generation band. It is rare enough to find an act willing to push itself at all creatively seven albums in, but to deliberately cast off any sense of playing to expectation in favor of such raw expression — it’s the kind of thing that one or two groups in a decade might actually manage to pull off. More importantly, in doing so, Clearing the Path to Ascendmakes YOB‘s a more sustainable evolution by breaking down the increasingly rigid boundaries of “what YOB sounds like” and commandingly taking their songwriting to somewhere new both for them and for the genre as a whole. Nearly 15 years on from their first demo, they sound like they’re just getting started. If this album is true to its title, and YOB are clearing their path by tossing away these preconceived notions of what they are and what “doom” is, and if perhaps what comes next is ascension, then so be it. They’re obviously ready.
YOB, “Marrow” from Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)
Admittedly, it was a while ago, so if you don’t remember or had chalked it up to the ol’ sometimes-things-fall-through, no worries, but when this year’s Ceremony of Sludge was announced back in January, it was noted that I’d be premiering a series of videos captured there at Club 21 in Portland, Oregon, over the course of the two-day event. Well, the fest happened March 7 and 8, and sure enough, it was filmed, and last night, I was sent the first of what I hope will be many clips to come from that weekend.
The band in question is Beard of Bees, a Salem, OR, guitar/drum two-piece who kicked off the first night of the festival. They shared the stage with Tsepesch, Serial Hawk and Lamprey, and playing to an already crowded room, they evoked ’90s noise pummel and brandished thick, mostly instrumental grooves of considerable threat. It’s my first time hearing the band, which is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Russell Brown and drummer Nick Plaff – going by their Thee Facebooks address, they were at some point a trio and Bob left — but the tension in their buildups and the locked-in chugging of the ensuing payoffs makes for a satisfyingly heavy roll that has me empathizing with those in the crowd raising their beer cans in appreciation.
As for the song itself, it’s called “General Butt Naked,” and the clip was filmed by Cole Boggess, Justin Anderson, Justin Brown (Russell‘s brother and one of Lamprey‘s two bassists) and Eli Duke, and edited by Boggess. Beard of Bees don’t seem to have anything recorded or released as yet — they first got together in 2011 — so if you go looking and find some other band with the name, don’t be confused, but as an introduction, I think the live clip works well to make a favorable impression, and if nothing else, looks like the kickoff to a hell of an evening.
Beard of Bees, “General Butt Naked” Live at Ceremony of Sludge, Portland, OR, March 7, 2014
Posted in Reviews on August 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Certainly the announcement that vocalist Uta Plotkin will leave Witch Mountain following their Fall US tour with Nik Turner’s Hawkwind places Mobile of Angels, the band’s fourth album overall and third with Plotkin fronting, into a different context. If nothing else, it lets lyrics longing for escape in “Psycho Animundi” and “Can’t Settle” — lines like “Living in filth and dirt in rooms less colorful and cheerful than the cages in which we put animals in a zoo” from the former and the richly, beautifully crooned “Oh, it’s time to go” in the back half chorus of the latter — be read in ways opposed to how they otherwise might. Witch Mountain‘s music has never been particularly upbeat, but the blues in Plotkin‘s voice seem to have a focal point here and if it’s a change that needed to happen, then the only really unfortunate part about it is that it comes as the four-piece of Plotkin, guitarist Rob Wrong, drummer Nate Carson and bassist Charles Thomas (also of Blackwitch Pudding and the latest in a succession of bass players) reach their highest creative watermark to date. Released by Profound Lore in North America and Svart in Europe, Mobile of Angelsfollows two strong outings in 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and 2011’s South of Salem (review here) — their debut, Come the Mountain(discussed here) having been released in 2001 on Rage of Achilles before an extended hiatus — but it is leaner than Cauldronand more developed than Salem, the band’s considerable road-time paying dividends in the tightness of performance and the ground they’re able and willing to cover stylistically. Production by Billy Anderson never hurts either, but what’s most striking about Mobile of Angelsisn’t how the five songs sound so much as where they go.
The lurching chug in Wrong‘s riffs is a signature element in Witch Mountain‘s approach, and as the opener, “Psycho Animundi” dives immediately into an affirmation of it. Cauldron of the Wild‘s “The Ballad of Lanky Rae” was similarly direct, but the bluesier atmosphere of that track is contrasted by “Psycho Animundi”‘s purely doomed stomp, underscored by the slow march in Carson‘s drumming. At nearly nine minutes, it’s second only to centerpiece “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn),” and fittingly immersive, but there’s still a right-down-to-business feel, and the vocals start less than a minute into the track, beginning a tradeoff of verses and guitar solos that carries the central chug through a duration that feels less extended than it is. Plotkin‘s voice is given to soaring, and it does so liberally here, finding contrast in secret-weapon growls in the metallic midsection of “Can’t Settle,” the second half of which stands as an early apex of the record, perhaps rivaled by the guitar nods to YOB‘s “Catharsis” in closer “The Shape Truth Takes,” but a moment unto itself for the vocal harmonies at play in any case. That one would even be tempted to hyperbolize and call it Plotkin‘s best performance in Witch Mountain should be enough to emphasize the point. The 10-minute “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)” follows, executing a few quiet/loud tradeoffs en route to Mobile of Angels‘ most patient build, the full band in complete command of their movement as soulful backing vocals guide the way through the early stretches and the guitar, bass and drums begin their push toward a peak that arrives after seven minutes in, Wrong taking the fore for one of the album’s best solos — he also works in layers — and giving way to a morose final verse before a more open, ethereal ending shifts into the otherworldly title-track, relatively quick at 3:30, but hypnotic thanks to organ scratch and an interweaving of spoken and sung incantations.
A subdued finale, maybe, but “The Shape Truth Takes” is glorious in its melancholy. Plotkin seems to be playing off Debbie Harry‘s unrealistic range, and the quieter instrumentation behind her gives a perfect showcase in the song’s initial moments, the lead-in from “Mobile of Angels” opening fluidly to the peaceful noodling of the guitar, Witch Mountain proving just as capable of conveying weight in emotionality as in their tones, Plotkin‘s swirling layers recalling “Can’t Settle” as Thomas, Carson and Wrong weave their way through a forward but deceptive progression, finding an explosive point after the three-minute mark, at which point “The Shape Truth Takes” opens to a fuller but still not overblown breadth. Regret? Sadness? It’s hard to know what’s in there without reading too much in, but it’s not bitter in the way “Psycho Animundi” is. Maybe it’s just a moment of resignation that gets swept up in Wrong‘s solo before five minutes in, the album’s final crescendo coming in the solo/vocal trade much like that of “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn),” but leading to a relatively quick outro and final chug of the guitar, as though it’s looking to hold onto the song even as it’s already passed. Witch Mountain, which was founded by Wrong and Carson in the late ’90s, has said the band will continue without Plotkin, but there can be little doubt they’ll have their work cut out for them in assembling a new dynamic after the utter mastery they show on Mobile of Angels. That’s not to say it can’t be done, only that it will take time. When one considers the efforts put in by the band on tour and over the two records leading to this one, Mobile of Angelslooks all the more like a high point reached, the culmination of the years since Witch Mountain came back together and the arrival at what they’ve been pursuing all along. If subsequent outings show that’s not the case — i.e., if that pursuit continues off in a different direction — then all the better, but no question Mobile of Angelsmarks the end of something special for Witch Mountain and is bittersweet for American doom. All is fleeting.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bit of a blindside here but I guess that kind of thing can’t be helped. On the eve of Witch Mountain releasing Mobile of Angels, their third album since coming back in 2011 with South of Salem(review here), vocalist Uta Plotkin has announced her intention to leave the band following their upcoming fall US tour with Nik Turner’s Hawkwind and Hedersleben. Plotkin, whose bluesy singing style and powerful delivery has greatly helped the Portland outfitfurther their doomly cause these last three years, will leave a significant void in the front of the stage, though Witch Mountain have stated their intention to continue anyway, guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nate Carson having started the band together in the late ’90s and released the full-length Come the Mountainin 2001 before a 10-year break.
I’m loath to pilfer news from anyone — and feel inclined to acknowledge the irony that the story broke via Revolver, whose “the hottest chicks in metal” undermines the legitimacy of singers like Plotkin and other players more or less every time it’s published — but this is a big story and worth spreading, considering that any change of frontperson is bound to have a sizable impact on the personality and style of Witch Mountain as a whole. It will be interesting to see what and who they come back with, but as they rightly point out, Witch Mountain was a band before Plotkin, so it’s not unreasonable to think it can be a band after. If anyone at Revolver is pissed at the cut and paste, I apologize, but at least I gave credit and linked back to the original story.
Obviously, best of luck to Plotkin on her next endeavor, whatever that may be, and to Witch Mountain for the reconstruction process. Text from Revolver, plus the tour dates:
Frontwoman Uta Plotkin to Leave Witch Mountain after Release of New Album, ‘Mobile of Angels’
Witch Mountain’s upcoming fourth album, ‘Mobile of Angels,’ and their summer shows with Nik Turner’s Hawkwind will be their last record and tour, respectively, with lead singer Uta Plotkin. The new album will be unleashed by Profound Lore Records in North America September 30, and via Svart Records in Europe and beyond. ‘Mobile of Angels’ was produced by producer Billy Anderson, tracked and mixed in Type Foundry studios Portland, OR.
“It’s been a rewarding experience being in Witch Mountain,” says Plotkin, who joined the group in 2009. “I’ve met many wonderful people and helped make a lot of great music but after three albums I feel it’s time for me to move on to new projects, musical and otherwise. My creative spirit has always been a restless one. I hope our fans continue to enjoy our music and support Witch Mountain in its future incarnations.”
“We love and support Uta in whatever direction her life takes her,” the remaining members of Witch Mountain comment. “Our collaboration with her over the last five years, three albums, and hundreds of shows has been a privilege. But the band existed long before we met her and will continue into the future. Somewhere in this wide world is a voice with the talent and ambition to help Witch Mountain continue to improve as we have with each new release and passing year. Someone (male or female) will eventually send us a demo that brings us to tears. Until then, we remain focused on our final tour with Uta, and promoting our brand new album. Thanks to all for your support.”
If you want to catch Uta Plotkin with Witch Mountain on stage, please mark your calendar because this is your last chance:
NIK TURNER’S HAWKWIND + WITCH MOUNTAIN + HEDERSLEBEN NORTH AMERICAN TOUR 2014
Tue 8/26 – Oakland, CA – Uptown Wed 8/27 – Los Angeles, CA – Viper Room Thu 8/28 – San Diego, CA – Casbah Fri 8/29 – Tucson, AZ – Hotel Congress Sat 8/30 – Albuquerque, NM – Launch Pad Mon 9/01 – Austin, TX – Red 7 Tue 9/02 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia Wed 9/03 – Birmingham, AL – Bottletree Thu 9/04 – Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone Cafe Fri 9/05 – Lafayette, GA – Meltasia Fest Sat 9/06 – Raleigh, NC – Hopscotch Fest* Sun 9/07 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter Mon 9/08 – Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery Tue 9/09 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot and Saddle Wed 9/10 – Sellersville, PA – Sellersville Theater Thu 9/11 – New York, NY – Webster Hall Fri 9/12 – Boston, MA – Middle East Sun 9/14 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore Mon 9/15 – Toronto, ON – The Garrison Tue 9/16 – Rochester, NY – Bug Jar Wed 9/17 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom Thu 9/18 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen Fri 9/19 – Rock Island, IL – RIBCO Sat 9/20 – Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club* Sun 9/21 – Saint Paul, MN – Turf Club Mon 9/22 – Winnipeg, MB – Pyramid Cabaret* Tue 9/23 – Saskatoon, SK – Vangelis Tavern Wed 9/24 – Calgary, AB – Palomino Fri 9/26 – Vancouver, BC – Venue (early evening show) Sat 9/27 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey Sun 9/28 – Portland, OR – Star Theater
Posted in audiObelisk on August 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It won’t be too long into opener “Night of the Blackwitch” from Portland gurgle-doomers Blackwitch Pudding‘s new EP, Covered in Pudding Vol. 1, before something starts to ring awfully familiar. The be-robbed trio present four tracks on their latest self-released outing, each derived from a classic rock staple. In the case of “Night of the Blackwitch,” it’s Roky Erickson‘s “Night of the Vampire,” and Blackwitch Pudding tear into it and make it dank nasty: a stoned-out, tonal-overload gruel, grandiose only in its burn and lurch. The method soon becomes a running theme.
Their 2013 full-length debut, Taste the Pudding(review here), proffered similar extremity and weedian charm, but Covered in Pudding Vol. 1wins out easily in terms of cleverness. To take Rush‘s “Working Man” and turn it into “Toke’n Man,” adjusting the lyrics accordingly, gleefully knuckledrags on sacred ground, and as KISS‘ “God of Thunder” becomes “Gods of Grungus,” I’m ready to declare the idiocy brilliant. Space Wizard (guitar), Lizard Wizard (bass) and Wizard Wizard (drums) channel a doomed-out, pot-addled Weird Al across these four tracks, and while each song obviously owes its debt to the original, there’s no question that the lunacy ensuing is their own.
When it comes to 10-minute closer “Bong Hits and Lust,” I’m almost hesitant to give away what classic song it uses for a foundation. If you can get it from the title, more power to you, but I had to hear it before recognizing, and I think that only made it more enjoyable, so I won’t spoil it. The band, speaking as a unified whole, were kind enough to take time away from their potions and spells and whatever it is a wizard does these days — hedge funds? — to give a track-by-track account that subtly hints at the origins of Covered in Pudding Vol. 1‘s four components, and if nothing else, it’s a great read.
The EP officially releases Aug. 12. I hope this isn’t the last time they do this, and that Vol. 2isn’t far off. Enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Blackwitch Pudding, Covered in Pudding Vol. 1 track-by-track
“Night of the Blackwitch”
We wrote this song about our cosmic witch-mother, the Blackwitch. She has a wicked way with pudding. She birthed us from pudding, raised us in the pudding and taught us how to spread the pudding. We figured she could use a theme song for when she’s having a good old broom-grinding get down. With a, ahem, Roky set of vocals this song spreads itself over your audio palate with long, smooth strokes of heavy psychedelia.
This song is about your everyday, blue-collared herbalist. Just as every man must be the king of his own castle, he must also strive to be the man who tokes the most. We wizards live this to the core; there truly is a toke’n man in all of us. There is no need to rush into this one — it is slow, heavy and triumphant. This rocket ship of a stoner anthem will blast you into outer space.
“Gods of Grungus”
Back in ’63 — 1663, that is — we used to party pretty hard. The age of witchcraft was upon us and we had just been busted stealing weed from our pops (the devil). He’s a pretty cool guy so he let us keep it and told us to “thunder on like gods of the night.” This song is a documented recording of a real wizard party. When you listen to this song we command you to party along because you know somewhere we are partying with you.
“Bong Hits and Lust”
It must have been around 1581, and we were somewhere near Trier in West Germany, having a good time getting down with some frisky witches doing some excellent black sorcery. Sooner or later this douchebag Archbishop Johann von Schöneburg and his army of priests showed up and ordered all the witches dead. We were pretty hammered, and by the time we woke up a few years later, over 300 perfectly radical witch-babes had been slayed. Needless to say, we took it pretty hard, and over the course of the next couple hundred years created this epic tribute to the bongs and broads and Bob Dylan of the middle ages.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you didn’t hear Megaton Leviathan‘s Water Wealth Hell on Earth(review here) when it was released in 2011, you’re probably going to want to stop reading this sentence immediately and get to whatever outlet will allow you to put it in your ears the fastest. An all-consuming wash of psych-doom experimentation that called forth black metal’s buzz but expanded the scope beyond genre confines. There were times throughout that album where it was simply too much to take, but wow, what a sound.
Band spearhead Andrew James Costa Reuscher has had a few limited releases out since then, and there was first discussion of an allegiance with Seventh Rule — now also based in Portland, OR — back in late 2012, but not much word has come out of a new album since. Enter Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cellas the first Megaton Leviathan full-length in three years and mark me down as on-fucking-board. As you can see in the live clip below, the drone wash is in full effect, and Megaton Leviathan offer all the ritual with none of the “cult” silliness of many of their contemporaries. Much as they have any.
Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cellis out Sept. 9:
MEGATON LEVIATHAN: Psychedelic Doom Masters Release Sophomore Full-Length Via Seventh Rule Next Month; Summer Live Performances Confirmed
The only constant is change. Standing in stark contrast to the droning, gorgeous slabs of psychedelic and atmospherically infused doom that comprise the aural output of MEGATON LEVIATHAN, the band itself has been in a constant state of flux since its inception in 2007. By the end of 2012, despite the official announcement of a new album, not only that album, but the fate of the entire project itself were positioned beneath a very precariously dangled sword. Circumstance and internal conflict nearly saw the band’s next major release a specter with no corporeal form. However, after a redoubling of effort, a reshuffling of the deck and some inevitable missteps along the way, MEGATON LEVIATHAN’s second full length album, Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell, has emerged from the chaos of its birth pangs, prepared to thoroughly swath a blazing path through the dense forest of the modern musical landscape.
Mixed by Mort Subite (V.I.I.R.L., Alfheimr, Benighted in Sodom live), MEGATON LEVIATHAN’s newest resident thaumaturgist, Past 21 is a near lethal dose of solemn audio narcotic, shifting the listener somewhere outside the realm of space-time for the duration of its dissociative transduction from speakers to brain. Glacial, yet burning with divine fire, Past 21’s spell is simultaneously whispered in a hallowed chapel, and torn from a throat rent by the gnashing of teeth.
Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell Track Listing: 1. Past 21 2. The Foolish Man 3. Arctic Cell 4. Here Come The Tears
In April of 2014, MEGATON founder and lone original member, Andrew James Costa Reuscher and Subite took Past 21 on the road for a first round of West Coast dates as a one man show/performance piece, featuring heavy visual elements, Reuscher the unifying human component, and Subite as the hidden hand, mixing live audio. MEGATON LEVIATHAN later tapped V.I.I.R.L. drummer Markus Covello to join the onstage lineup. With Reuscher handling vocal and guitar operations, and Subite continuing his live audio duties, this revamped, three-man cast will form the core of the MEGATON LEVIATHAN live experience for the duration of the forthcoming West Coast dates surrounding Deadfest in Oakland where the band will perform alongside the likes of Ephemeros, Connoisseur, Augurs and more. See confirmed dates below.
MEGATON LEVIATHAN Live 2014: 8/09/2014 Megaton House (cassette release show) – Portland, OR 8/14/2014 Ink Annex – Eureka, CA 8/15/2014 Dead Fest – Oakland, CA 8/16/2014 Rock Shop – San Jose, CA 8/17/2014 Starlight Lounge – Sacramento, CA 8/24/2014 Hive Portland, OR * LP Release Show 8/30/2014 TBA – Bozeman, MT 8/31/2014 Black Sparrow Tattoo Club – Billings, MT 9/02/2014 TBA 9/03/2014 Quarters – Milwaukee, WI 9/04/2014 Ghost House – Bloomington, IN 9/05/2014 5th Quarter Lounge – Indianapolis, IN 9/06/2014 TBA 9/07/2014 Acheron – Brooklyn, NY 9/08/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA 9/09/2014 The Crown – Baltimore, MD 9/10/2014 Static Age – Asheville, NC 9/12/2014 Springwater – Nashville, TN 9/14/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA 9/15/2014 TBA – Austin, TX 9/16/2014 TBA – Dallas, TX 9/18/2014 Bar Bar – Denver, CO
Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell will be released via Seventh Rule Recordings on September 9th, 2014. Further info including track teasers to be unveiled in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I guess this is the part where I complain about lack of time, blah blah blah. Last week was a mess, it’s true, as were the last couple days, but what it comes down to is I do what I can when I can. That’s been my policy all along. A couple of these discs — Cruthu, Deamon’s Child — are my own rips as well from discs that were sent in, and as ever, there’s more that went up than just what is listed here. So one way or another, activity abounds. I need to find out how close I am to filling the three terabytes of the hard drive used for the server, but until then, the additions will continue unabated. It’s good to keep busy.
The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2014:
Sleep, “The Clarity”
To call the first new Sleep track since Dopesmokeran “event” would be underselling it. “The Clarity” arrives via the Adult Swim Singles Series not only as the Iommian legends’ first outing since that landmark release, but also their debut recording with drummer Jason Roeder and their first studio work since guitarist Matt Pike and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros went on to destroy/expand minds in High on Fire and Om, respectively, for the last decade-plus. A near-10-minute stonerly sprawl finds Sleep‘s central methodology intact. Grown up some from what it was 20 years ago, expectedly, but loyal to what they were without trying to recapture a magic that’s gone with that time. Cisneros has taken some flack for not roughing up his vocals à la Sleep’s Holy Mountain, but from where I sit, his cadence and cleaner style only makes “The Clarity” more honest, and if lyrics like “Iommic life complete” and “The dealer is my refuge” are easier to understand, you won’t find me complaining. They jam out most of the song’s second half, and ultimately “The Clarity” collapses in a sudden cut, leaving you to wonder if it ever happened at all — until of course you go back to the start for another glorious hit. If this portends more to come, I’m even more excited about the prospect of new Sleep than I was before the single arrived. Sleep on Thee Facebooks, Adult Swim Singles.
Deamon’s Child, Deamon’s Child
Even before you get to the dolphin sample in “Delfine,” and the garage thrashiness of the subsequent “Alles Bio, Immer Bio,” German trio Deamon’s Child give some hints that there’s more to what they do than the standard heavy noise rock. Comprised of guitarist Sven “Missu” Missulis (aka John Reebo of Reebosound, also ex-Psychedelic Avengers), bassist/vocalist Ana Maija Muhi (who also contributed to Reebosound‘s 2010 outing, This is Reebosound) and drummer Tim Mohr (also WhiteBuzz), Deamon’s Child debuted last year with an engaging demo and follow it with a self-titled debut of increased complexity and a sound that’s varied without the pretense, culling together punk, grunge, heavy rock and noise to create songs that feel like they could turn in any direction at once. The production plays up the frayed edges, and Muhi‘s layered vocals on a chugger like “Lutscher!” sound all the more Melvins-esque. Deamon’s Childis loaded with surprises, but doesn’t feel any more haphazard than it’s meant to, and while it may take a couple listens to catch up to it, the songs are consistent in their invitation for repeat visits. Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Red Fang, TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang
A free Red Fang acoustic EP — who’s going to argue with that? Not me, though the cumbersome and corporate-style title leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, once you get through all the namebrandery, what you come out with are acoustic renditions from Red Fang of “Failure” from late 2013’s Whales and Leechesand “Malverde” and “Human Herd” from the preceding 2011 outing, Murder the Mountains(review here). Hearing guitarist Bryan Giles soften up his usually-rough vocal approach on “Malverde” is interesting, given how much of the album version of that track is about the impact of the thing, but “Failure” becomes a brooding plea rather than the threat it is at full thrust, and “Human Herd” a kind of meditation that makes for the highlight of the whole release. One tries not to read too much into what was clearly a one-off thing, but it would be cool to hear what an acoustic album track from Red Fang might sound like. Their songwriting clearly translates, and between Giles and bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam – let’s not forget guitarist David Sullivan or drummer John Sherman – they prove here they can pull it off sounding confident and comfortable. Kind of an unexpected turn from the chicanery-fueled rock we’re used to from Red Fang, but they’re as easy to dig as ever on (deep breath) TeamRock.com Presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang. Red Fang on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
The Jackpine Snag, The Fire Tower EP
Tonally, Michigan’s The Jackpine Snag seem rooted in punk, but a strong undercurrent of the weirdo runs throughout the songs on their new EP, The Fire Tower, and whether it’s the shouting on “With Wings” or “The Missaukee Strut” or the motoring noise of closer “Gonna Wreck My Life,” the trio present an individualized approach to bruiser expression. The Fire Toweris their longest outing yet at seven songs following a four-track 2013 debut 7″, but they have no trouble changing up their take enough to hold interest, while also keeping the tracks themselves relatively lean and concise. Maybe what the EP does best is balance that efficiency with a loose, tossoff-punker vibe, but The Jackpine Snag – guitarist/vocalist Joe Hart, bassist Jason Roedel and drummer Todd Karinen – show a keen awareness of how far out they want to go and how oddball they want to get in their ragged, grungy craftsmanship. No doubt that will serve them well should they decide next to tackle a debut full-length. The Jackpine Snag on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Cruthu, Creation Demo
The debut release from Lansing, Michigan’s Cruthu, the Creation Democulls together an initial three tracks that sound somewhat raw but hold significant stylistic promise, blending a heavy ’70s psych-blues mentality with drearier rock tendencies and analog worship. Frontwoman Teri Brown provides a soulful lift to “S.O.S.,” as guitarist Dan McCormick leads bassist Scott Lehman and drummer Matt Fry through a subtly doomed murk, but pushes into rawer, strained-throat vocalizing on “Walk with Me” that immediately stands the Creation Demoapart from much of what claims to have been recorded live in terms of sheer honesty. And to Cruthu‘s further credit, I don’t think the tracks were recorded live. Particularly in “Separated from the Herd” and “Walk with Me,” which closes, Cruthu find some room for instrumental exploration along with Brown‘s vocals, and the path they’re on suits them well as the demo plays out. I’d be interested to hear them branch out further instrumentally, get weird with some percussion or strings or psychedelics, but there’s time for such things, and they’re off to an evocative start. Cruthu on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.