Posted in On Wax on March 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Dressed in wizard robes and toting songs like “Crabs” and “Super Sluts from Outer Space” — I think I saw that movie — the trio Blackwitch Pudding emerge from Portland, Oregon, with a forceful helping of semi-psychedelic sludge on their first LP, Taste the Pudding. I’ve worked pretty hard to do so and found myself largely unable to get past the classically metallic misogyny of the album’s cover, which falls flat of intentional irony and saps This is Spinal Tap of its satire while trading a leash for a blindfold, thus leaving open the possibility that, hey, maybe she’s into it and this is a practice in which she’s engaging as part of a loving, fulfilling relationship, only to close it again via the element of force implied by the second hand behind the drawn figure’s head. But because one only invites bullshit by namecalling (there’s only so many times I’m willing to hear that I “don’t get it”), I’ll stick to the music of the self-releasing three-piece’s debut. They make glorious use of dirt-encrusted tonal largesse, veering here and there into more extreme, Zoroaster-esque growling murk on “Shark Commando” and their finale, while saving start-stop plod for “Crabs” on side B.
The wizard-centric lineup of guitarist Space Wizard, bassist Lizard Wizard and drummer Wizard Wizard – they’re like the Ramones, only magical — plant a foot deep in the post-Sleep school of riff worship, but there’s a character to 10-minute closer “Acid Castle Mountain Top” that portrays more than “Dragonaut” imitation, Blackwitch Pudding leaving most of the all-out growls for the end of each half of the album, which is something all the more apparent on the vinyl version than the CD or digital, though Taste the Puddingbenefits from the variety in whichever format. They ultimately descend in that closer from a trance-inducing nod to a smoke-clouded and noisy finish with even the drums spaced out by the end, all degenerating over a bed of constant toms, much darker and heavier than the don’t-take-it-too-seriously art and titles would seem to dogwhistle to the converted. Earlier on, “Gathering Panties” churns with beastly aplomb, a blast of low-end underscoring a riff that would otherwise motor were it not too monolithic to budge on the way to more fast/slow tradeoffs. Tempo dexterity works to Blackwitch Pudding‘s advantage from the start on opener “Mortre’D,” which drones and rumbles and abyss-shouts its way to life over the course of its seven-plus minutes, only to smoothly culminate with an increasingly speedy rush at the end of it.
And “Super Sluts from Outer Space,” which follows, may be the shortest cut of the bunch — also probably the most stoner rock, thickening and obscuring an otherwise Red Fang-style mover groove, though there’s plenty of dank competition — but even it finds room for a moment’s pause in the middle, brief as it is. I find some of the album’s most effective bludgeonry to be in “Swamp Gas of the Nevermizer,” which blends airy psychedelic leads with crunching riffs, the already-noted fluidity of tempo, lyrics that may or may not be about farts, and even touches on blending the cleaner and more abrasive vocal approaches on display elsewhere in various measure. As the start of side B, it’s a standout cut anyway, though not the apex of Taste the Puddingitself, which make no mistake arrives in “Acid Castle Mountain Top.” Still, the overarching impression of Blackwitch Pudding‘s debut — visuals aside — is in its showcasing of the trio’s tones and how they might proceed from here to pummel their listeners with them. It’s a more than effective display, proving particularly through Lizard Wizard‘s bass that low end can reach just as impressive expanses as echoing, richly effected guitar. If you’ve got speakers you’re looking to get rid of, Blackwitch Pudding would seem a worthy way of blowing them out.
The amount I’ve written about it does pathetically little to convey just how much time I’ve actually spent listening to Young Hunter‘s Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain EP. Now available as a split cassette with Ohioan (review forthcoming), the three-song collection by the Portland-by-way-of-Arizona outfit boasts an atmosphere and unabashed emotional heft like not much else out there. Whether it’s “Welcome to Nothing,” “Trail of Tears” or “Dreamer,” the whole thing clocks in at about 18 minutes and it’s more or less become a part of my daily routine to make my way through what’s a rather intense sonic ringer going from front to back, “Dreamer” closing with a launch into a driving rush that still sends a chill up the spine. Take the fact that I’ve included songs in podcasts over the course of three months (see here and here) as a sign of the enduring attention the release has received. Its tracks have yet to stray far from my consciousness.
“Dreamer” is the shortest of the bunch, and its finale speaks best for itself, so I’ll let it, but as you make your way through the video you’ll probably notice that it’s just frontman Benjamin Blake without the rest of the band represented. Blake moved to Portland last year, and presumably — at least judging from the misty forest treetops at the end — the clip was filmed there. Last I heard, he was looking to get a new lineup together for Young Hunter, though in January, he returned to Tuscon to play a release show with the desert-dwelling lineup for the tape. I don’t know what the future of Young Hunter might be, or where it might be, but Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountainhits with a resonant strike and is even more assured than was the the band’s 2012 debut full-length, Stone Tools(discussed here). If you haven’t yet checked it out, the video is pretty clearly a budget job, but still gives a good feel for how the EP hits its apex. Not to be missed.
Posted in audiObelisk on March 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Having relocated from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon, psychedelic sludge trio Prizehog will release their third album, Re-Unvent the Whool,tomorrow on Eolian Empire. The bass-less trio — you’ll note no lack of low end in the record — run a spectrum of effects-laden churning, mashing together bright ambient echoes and deep, dank tonality. I wouldn’t be the first person to compare them to the Melvins, but that doesn’t really do complete justice to the psychedelic side of their sound, which shows up quickly on Re-Unvent the Whool in the eight-and-a-half-minute opener “Parradiggum” (also the longest track included; immediate points) and carries through to the Monkees-referential noise experimentation that finishes in “Direction to the Valley.” Presumably that’s the Valley of the Dolls they’re talking about.
Between the start and finish, Prizehog – that’s Rion, Veronica and Zakk — delve into downtempo explorations of clouded sonic murk, immersive and sometimes distressing. A moment of peace arrives with the twanging bounce of the penultimate “Gnumskull, the Ruler,” but prior too, Prizehog put you deep in it and aren’t exactly keen to show a way out as “Whoady,” “Shed” and “Awsme Bube” push further and further into a dark ethereality, all dream echoes and where-the-hell-am-I as “Irrevelant” grounds side B somewhat with a still-weirdo take on the metal of stone. The crux of Re-Unvent the Whool– the album’s ambitions somewhat clouded by the wordplay, but underlying nonetheless — is in its open feel, and Prizehog seem to delight in the strangeness of their own concoctions. Can’t blame them. The melody that emerges from “Shed”‘s midsection builds on some of the best impulses Zoroaster and Kylesa have touched on, but is ultimately no more adherent to those bands than it is to a preconceived notion of what “heavy” should sound like, and “Parradiggum” succeeds early in throwing off the listener with blastbeats and overlaid vocal drone. It’s bizarre but surprisingly easy listening.
Eolian Empire has Re-Unvent the Whoolpressed in an edition of 500 copies on black 180g vinyl with a black sleeve, 24″ x 24″ poster of the Chris Jehly cover art. A download code is of course included, but for anyone who’d like to get a day-early sample of the full breadth of the beast itself, I’m fortunate enough to be able to have a front to back stream. Find it on the player below, and please enjoy:
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Prizehog are currently booking a full US tour for Spring 2014 in support of Re-Unvent the Whool, which is released March 4 on Eolian Empire. More info at the links:
Posted in audiObelisk on February 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Among the six tracks on Portland, Oregon, foursome Satyress‘ impending self-released debut 12″, Dark Fortunes, “Soma” is something of a standout. Less doomed in pace than cuts like opener “Possession” and the darkly metallic title-track, it’s the shortest cut at just under four minutes, but makes up with its hook whatever it might lack in relative span in relation to the other songs, only one of which (“Spread Thin”) is under five minutes long. Propelled by the driving riffs of guitarist Billy Niletooth and the alternately brooding and soaring vocals of Jamie LaRose, “Soma” is a high point in closing out side A of the vinyl, which is set for release on April 9.
What the band do best across the length of the half-hour full-length is balance doom and heavy rock smoothly playing each off the other, so that “Soma” has a bit of presence to go with its catchy riff and swirling climax. Shades of fellow Portlanders Witch Mountain show up a bit on the preceding “Esta Noche,” but Satyress are by and large more raucous and less directly blues-doomed, the guitars showing interest in traditional metal while bassist Alex Fast and drummer York Francken further showcase an efficiency in songwriting in the ease of their transitions, from verse to chorus, slow to fast, and while there’s a pervasive sense of build, nothing on Dark Fortunesfeels out of place or miscued. “Soma” will no doubt ring familiar to those with some familiarity with Portland’s fertile heavy scene, but the song is a blast all the same, and as a sampling of Satyress‘ first outing, it accurately conveys the beginning of what seems like an already well under way creative evolution.
Get a taste of “Soma” on the player below, and please enjoy:
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Satyress will release Dark Fortuneson April 9 on 12″ vinyl, and will play the semi-finals of the Portland Metal Winter Olympics on March 20 at White Owl Social Club. More info at the links:
02.24.14 — 12:07AM Pacific — Sun. night / Mon. morning — Hawthorne Theater, Portland, OR
“Everybody gets a trophy at the Hawthorne Theatre…” – JJ Koczan
Oh, Portland. Portland, baby. 15′s my limit on schnitzengruben. You are making a German spectacle of yourself. It would be real easy to get spoiled living in this town. Quite a night. Quite a show. Pentagram had an amp blow out or something and the crowd was still going nuts. Pressed up against a metal railing at the front of the stage, I was reminded of younger days, a straight-line bruise along the bottom of the rib cage from being up front at silly shows. This was a young audience. They were into it. You kids and your doom.
Everything was a little more dead on tonight, as expected. Getting past the first show seems to have allowed for a certain amount of tension to abate. The three touring bands were tighter — no small feat after last night — and the local openers, Mothers Whiskey and Sons of Huns, both drew and performed well. Sold out show. Again, one could get spoiled.
I’ll try and make it quick again since it’s midnight and I’ve got actual job work to do:
Was talking with Mothers Whiskey guitarist/vocalist Greg Powers before the show and he mentioned he’s an East Coast guy, from Maryland. I don’t know that I would necessarily have picked it out in his approach had he not said it, but he had some of that post-Sixty Watt Shaman burl, though tempered obviously by the pervasive mellow of his current surroundings. Thus, Mothers Whiskey were a solid bicoastal blend, unpretentious and laid back, but still with an insistent undertone. Pretty clear they’re figuring out their sound, but their dynamic was solid, particularly on closer “Scorpion Moon Burn,” which carried that Southern heavy influence across smoothly.
Sons of Huns
The first band I’ve seen on this tour in which no single member had a full beard. Nonetheless, a local trio who’ve made a splash with their recent Banishment Ritualrelease, Sons of Huns were clearly known to the crowd. It was an all-ages show, and they skewed young, which never hurts, but they made their chops plain enough to see, guitarist Pete Hughes busting out solos that I read as an opening volley soon enough to be returned by Radio Moscow while sharing vocal duties with bassist Shoki Tanabe, who switched to a fretless about halfway through the set. Drummer Ryan Northrop was the anchor, but nothing was really holding Sons of Huns back as they gave the yet-unnamed post-Millennial generation a reason to relish Kyuss-style riffing.
Since I was in the van this afternoon with them, I know the literal miles Kings Destroy came for this show, but they do little justice to how many miles more comfortable they seemed on stage. Guitarists Chris Skowronski and Carl Porcaro were shoving and kicking, almost daring each other to fuck up, while bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik provided the foundation for their shenanigans and Steve Murphy turned his mic stand at one point into a harpoon and thrust it in the general direction of the crowd. They started a little early, so squeezed “Dusty Mummy” into a riff-heavy set that worked well after Sons of Huns, setting up a rock/doom back and forth that would continue into Radio Moscow and Pentagram. The vocals didn’t come across as clearly, but the new song, “Embers,” was tighter tonight as well.
Doesn’t matter how many nights this tour goes, I don’t imagine I’m going to get tired of watching Radio Moscow make killing it look so easy. Two new songs in the set tonight, “Death of a Queen” and another one, plus “Rancho Tehama Airport,” which is also pretty recent, and where last night dipped back to the self-titled for “Frustrating Sound,” and that was certainly welcome as far as I’m concerned, I am not in the slightest about to complain about getting to know a couple new cuts ahead of the arrival of their new album, Magical Dirt, which seems to be slated for a spring release. Whenever it comes, the twists and turns in “Death of a Queen” are sure to be a highlight, as they were both in Seattle and at the Hawthorne, where they were met with due appreciation and then some by the all-ages set, who had youthful vigor on their side, and the 21-and-overs, who were sloshed. Suddenly the show felt very sold out, very packed in. No arguments though.
Yeah, and then Pentagram went on. Even before they took the stage, the push of people toward the front was fairly ridiculous. Bobby Liebling got cheers even as he walked out from the green room on the side of the stage, standing on a balcony and pointing at the crowd, obviously thrilled to see him. The place went off. Set was the same as last night — my only complaint with it is no “Walk in Blue Light,” but you can’t have everything — opening with “Nightmare Gown” from Be Forewarned and going into “Review Your Choices” before letting loose with “Forever My Queen” after what seemed to be some technical difficulty and on from there. It was during the latter (they were inadvertently switched at El Corazon, come to think of it), that being up front became an untenable situation and I did what any self-respecting adult would do and fell backwards into the press to make my way through. At one point the strap of my bookbag with my laptop in it was hooked around some plastered girl’s arm who refused to give it up, but I was ready to pull her outside with me if necessary. Finally I shouted something about it actually being my bag and a light went on in her head and she let go. I was pretty well frazzled, but made my way to the back to watch more. True, it was the same deal as Seattle, but screw it. Every time you get to see Pentagram — with Victor Griffin on guitar especially — it’s the right way to go, though I’ll admit that when they got down to the encore of “Be Forewarned” into “Wartime,” I was listening from outside.
Loadout, well, didn’t go quite as smoothly as last night. There was a bit of waiting and when all the stuff was in the sprinter, it was established that we’d be hitting a bar called Chopsticks at the suggestion of some locals who were headed that way. Tomorrow is an off-day for the tour. Turns out the place was a Chinese restaurant in addition to a bar — they called it fast food but they were the best dumplings I’ve had since I moved out of New Jersey — and that the karaoke was going in full force. Chopsticks wasn’t as packed as the show, but it had a crowd, and they felt like dancing. It was 1:30AM by the time we got there and about 2:30AM by the time we left, and in between is a blur of irony-overload ’80s hits sung by an assortment pulled from the almost-entirely-white assemblage. One guy did “Aqualung,” and nailed it, but the rest was Tears for Fears, Michael Jackson and the like.
Many laughs, many drinks, some dim sum, and no one was quite as sloppy as they semi-apologized for being. I think on some level it’s weird for these dudes that I’m here and that I’m writing as I’m here, like an embed. I know they’ve seen some of what’s been posted, and it’s not that they’re being guarded — at one point tonight I rechristened the band “Kings Destroyed,” so if there were guards, they went on break and didn’t come back — but my concern is not harshing anyone’s good time by making them feel like they’re being watched.
Anyway. There was talk of a James Brown hot tub party when we got back to the motel by the airport where we’re staying, but it was to bed almost immediately. Steve gets his own room, Carl and I share (even at his worst so far, which might be right now, he’s nowhere near the worst snorer with whom I’ve shared a hotel room), Rob and Aaron, and C-Wolf and Jim Pitts. We’re all in a row on the 200 level of the Clarion with a noon checkout tomorrow and a drive to San Francisco to follow. It’s now four in the morning. Something tells me we won’t be getting an early start.
Ride down from Seattle was pretty straightforward after a breakfast at the bar where the band couldn’t get served the other night on account of Aaron having forgot his ID. 13 Coins, near the airport. It was about two hours south on the I-205 (I think) with mountains and old growth evergreens around. Lots of grey, periodic rain, but the landscape is beautiful. Trees were impressive, traffic sparse. There’s wifi in the van, so as this was the shortest trip to be made over the course of the next six days, that will no doubt come in handy for passing the time. I still haven’t managed to find a book and/or a bookstore, though I hear there’s one near here that’s supposed to be where it’s at.
Ditto that for Portland as a whole, I suppose. Very colorful city for sitting under such a grey sky. I think the grocery store across the street from the Hawthorne was the brightest thing I’ve seen since last June. Easy to read the city as a creative space. I’m not sure how much more downtown it gets than where we are, but if this was it, there’s a cool vibe. To wit, the specials in the side bar/small-stage room here at the Hawthorne include the “Ian MacKaye,” which is Schilling Cider and orange juice, the “Neck Tattoo” and the “Earth Crisis.” There’s also a Modelo vending machine. Hard to gauge which is the symptom and which the underlying cause there, but then I’ve only been in town about 25 minutes.
Soundtrack on the way down was the self-titled The Meters record and then a double-disc collection of James Brown instrumentals. Horns and swing for days. I dig it. Pretty quiet in the van apart from what was the hardest working backing band in show business, but some laughs at references to Anchorman, Fast Times, Mystery Science Theater 3000, some other staples. Several running gags in the making, I think, and a few apparently held over from prior tours. Paul Stanley’s stage raps feature heavily, and rightly so. Portlandia references have been flowing freely as well, owing to the geography.
Radio Moscow were here a bit ago but seem to have moved on, probably to find food. We passed Pentagram on the highway, so they’re en route. In the spirit of last night, tonight’s also a five-band bill, with Sons of Huns and Mothers Whiskey opening. There’s a balcony that I’m thinking might be cool to try to get some pictures from if I can. Show’s almost sold out, so I don’t know how much space there will be to move around. Still, I expect good times and a little bit more of a relaxed mood as the tour sort of settles into itself. It’s a nice big stage, too, so the Mad Alchemy lights should be in their element. I’m looking forward to it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
As ever, I’m not going to claim to have any kind of inside track here — because, flat out, I don’t have one when it comes to the Portland, Oregon-based festival — but it seems to me that the question isn’t, “Who’s the last headliner for Stumpfest?” nearly as much as it’s, “Is it Red Fang?” A deep undercover investigation undertaken by yours truly — and by that I mean a glance at the tour dates on their Thee Facebooks page — shows that Red Fang end a month-long European tour in Moscow on April 13. That would give the road-dogging four-piece almost two weeks to decompress and reestablish interpersonal relationships before getting out again for a hometown gig. Surely that’s plenty of time!
Plus, having them on the bill for Friday aligns them with Relapse Records labelmates Lord Dying, and while I can’t boast of any more knowledge of the inner hierarchies of the Portland scene than one might expect from someone on the opposite side of the country, they seem to be the name missing from the list below.
Whether the last headliner turns out to be Red Fang, another Portland act or someone imported from out of town, Stumpfest has a killer lineup and seems like a hell of a way to spend a weekend. Dig it:
STUMPFEST day lineups announced; ticket sales are LIVE
STUMPFEST, Portland, Oregon’s “fantastic amalgam of music, bro love and art,” is a little over two short months away. The festival has officially been announced through the Mississippi Studios website, and ticket sales are LIVE. There is still one more band to be announced on March 8th, so stay tuned–but just trust us when we say that the $35 3-day pass is a steal. There is also a FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE for the festival with links to listen to every band involved.
4/24 THURS Trans Am Federation X Life Coach Drab Majesty Hot Victory
4/25 FRI Headliner TBA Lord Dying Norska Black Pussy Ancient Warlocks Chron Goblin
4/26 SAT YOB Black Cobra Diesto Drunk Dad Honduran
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
This morning brings the news that Oregonian cosmic doom forerunners YOB will issue their next full-length through Neurot Recordings. Fans will recall that Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly also appeared on YOB‘s last album, 2011′s Atma (review here), and the two bands have played shows together enough that the alliance between YOB and Neurosis‘ label certainly makes sense. Details on the record itself are slim, but YOB will be at Roadburn this year, and hopefully one of their sets will have some room for material from their forthcoming seventh album.
Hot off the PR wire:
YOB: Oregonian Doom Metal Trio Join The Neurot Recordings Family
Neurot Recordings is pleased to welcome long-running Eugene, Oregon-based doom metal trio, YOB, to their expanding household of eclectic, thought-provoking music. The band — founding vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt, drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Rieseberg — will release their seventh studio offering this Fall preceded by an appearance at the illustrious Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands in April.
Comments Scheidt of the recent union, “YOB is very happy to have signed to Neurot for our new album. Travis, Aaron and I agree that Neurosis is the epitome of forward-thinking heavy music, made with zero compromise. Our love for their music is total. Neurot’s dedication to putting out uncompromising music is no different. To have this opportunity to put an album out on their label is an honor that runs deep. We cannot wait to share our new music with Neurot and our friends worldwide.”
Neurosis’ Steve Von Till notes, “This was meant to be. Neurot has always sought out to work with those who share in the purification of spirit through sound and who harvest their sound from originality and intensity. When I listen to YOB, see them leave it all on the stage, or share a conversation with them about life, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that they embody what Neurot stands for completely and we are so very honored that we get the opportunity to work together with them on their next album.”
Adds Scott Kelly, “YOB, as with all things that actually matter, there is only one. They have built their temple with a foundation concreted in absolute truth. The truth is the riffs, the truth is in the delivery, it’s in the unwavering commitment, and in the handshake and the look in their eyes. If you don’t know them, then you are fucking up your own lifes’ truth. There’s is nothing heavier on the face of this earth than this band. The Neurot Family is honored to be a part of legacy of this, the monolithic treasure of sonic achievement that is YOB.”
Further details on YOB’s forthcoming new release to be unveiled in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
Posted in audiObelisk on February 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There is a burning intensity at the heart of Towers‘ IIthat seems to run a current through all four of the album’s tracks. The Portland, Oregon, duo issue IIthrough countrymen imprint Eolian Empire today in a limited-to-300 vinyl pressing (with download, naturally), and from their lineup, to the album’s title, to its two sides, each with a longer piece tied to a shorter one, “two” certainly seems to be the theme with which Towers – bassist/vocalist Rick Duncan and drummer Darryl Swan – are working. I wish I could say it applied to the sound of IIitself, but the truth is somewhat less convenient and more satisfying, since the aesthetic breadth the band covers isn’t so easily cut into one piece or another.
Foreboding atmospheres loom throughout “Hell” (11:52), “The Door at the End of the Hall” (6:22), “The Chosen” (5:10) and “In the Room of Misfortune” (13:57), and the more extended pieces only seem to enhance that dread with a violent bass and drum noise that emerges like a sudden temper set off. Duncan‘s voice can either drone over his own bass or shout deep-mixed echoes that would be punkish were it not for the theatricality surrounding. Swan meets the churning progression of “In the Room of Misfortune” with a devil’s brew of tom runs and cymbal crashes, the whole thing feeling un-linear, unhinged, swirling and malevolent as they bring IIto its terror-grooving head. It’s been a journey already at that point, the immersive gates of “Hell” opening to consume with hypnotic low end early on only to swallow the listener whole into a void of ambient waveform droning before giving way to dirge-doom and the build of “The Door at the End of the Hall,” around which ghostly forms take shape vocally even as the song seems to cast off structure in favor of raw, aggressive pulse, pushing and tugging at the consciousness.
Towers is not easy listening, and with the apparent narrative arc of these tracks and the flow between each side, that’s even truer of IIthan it was of their 2012 self-titled (discussed here) or preceding 2011 demos (review here), because what arises through the chants and slow march of “The Chosen” is a realized vision. Put it to whatever apocalyptic scenario you want and it’ll likely fit, whether it’s the dreaded grey of aftermath or the wretchedness of humanity bringing about its own destruction. II‘s oppressiveness takes different forms, but what’s tying the album together most of all is a portrayal of otherworldly toxicity made real and concrete through righteously vile and unwelcoming noise.
Stream IInow on the player that follows and check out more on the release below, courtesy of the PR wire. Enjoy:
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The second LP from Portland’s apocalyptic bass-and-drums duo TOWERS, aptly titled II, will be released next month as part of Eolian Empire’s continuing mission to foist the great unwashed Portland heavy underground on a now suspecting public.
TOWERS formed in 2010 after the demise of psych-garage act The Troglodytes, and by melding elements of doom, no wave, new wave, industrial, noise rock, and soundscapes into rough-hewn monolithic monstrosities simultaneously disturbing and tantalizing, thetwosome has dragged and scraped chunks and shards from all the darkest sonic territories to assemble a heavy monster in its own image. Both primitive and futurist, TOWERS transcends musical movements, molding Promethean monoliths out of doom, sludge, no wave, new wave, industrial, and psychedelia.
Recorded in full analog, at the same studio as the Shins and Decemberists, no less, TOWERS’ second LP IIis a Cremaster cycle of droney dirges, rapid-fire blasts, Lynchian soundscapes, and deviant hooks set off by barked orders, snarled decrees and haunting laments. The album starts off with a furnace growl, an ancient machine coming to life as each crooked limb cracks and stirs before being suddenly thrown into gear with a grinding off-kilter bass loop. Over thirty-six minutes II purposefully shifts through a procession of primal mutant grooves, oscillating hooks, sludgy crawls, cavernous experimental explorations, and haunting, swinging marches marked by the barked Teutonic invocations—Hell is coming! —and ghostly incantations of the wounded and beaten. IIis a huge, enveloping beast of a record that captures the unique crushing intensity of their live sets.
Outsider Portland label, Eolian Empire, is loading this devastating ammo into the cannons for their planned February 11th offensive for II, ready to bust out the goods on quality 180-gram wax and digital.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
An update from Portland, Oregon’s Stumpfest 2014: The lineup still kicks ass. In fact, it kicks even more ass than it already did because Seattle’s Ancient Warlocks have been added to the bill. The fest is set for April 24-26 at Mississippi Studios in Portland, and there’s still one band left to announce. Could be anybody. Are you curious? I am.
Ancient Warlocks released their self-titled album on Lay Bare Recordings last November, and they’ll also be playing Feb. 22 in their native Seattle with Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy, which is where barring disaster between now and then I’ll be fortunate enough to see them and pick up a copy of the record. Not to get off topic from Stumpfest, but I’m excited.
Here’s the announcement:
ANCIENT WARLOCKS confirmed for STUMPFEST 2014
We are ecstatic to announce that Seattle’s heavy, fuzzy-riff astronauts and Pacific Northwest rock-and-roll staple ANCIENT WARLOCKS have been confirmed to play STUMPFEST 2014! Ancient Warlocks’ unique mix of undeniable Fu Manchu influences and grungy, hook-filled Seattle roots creates a sound which you might call “flannel in the desert.” Their impeccable self-titled debut album on Lay Bare Recordings sold out before it even hit the streets in November, and the band recently revealed a deal inked with STB Records for their follow-up. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for this brilliant rock band and can’t wait to head bang along with them in April.
Aside from one BIG SURPRISE to announce in March, this concludes the booking for 2014. Keep an eye out this Friday, February 14th, for individual day lineups and pricing info.
STUMPFEST 2014 LINEUP SO FAR:
*TBA SPECIAL GUEST* YOB TRANS AM BLACK COBRA LORD DYING FEDERATION X LIFE COACH (feat. Phil Manley from TRANS AM & Jon Theodore from QOTSA and ex-THE MARS VOLTA) BLACK PUSSY NORSKA DIESTO ANCIENT WARLOCKS DRUNK DAD DRAB MAJESTY CHRON GOBLIN HONDURAN HOT VICTORY
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Look, I try to cover as wide a geographic range as I can. I do my best. It’s a big planet and there’s rock everywhere, and a lot of it is seriously killer, but when it comes to something like Stumpfest, which is set to take place April 24-26 at Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon, I’d probably be way more stoked about it if there was any chance in hell I could ever get there to see it. That said, if you’re in that part of the world and not already punch-drunk from the righteous heaviness to which you’re exposed on a daily basis — I hear the streets of Portland are paved with limited Red Fang vinyl – Stumpfest does look like a pretty killer way to spend a weekend. Call me jealous.
The latest addition to the lineup — which apparently still has a special guest to come — is Black Cobra, who as history has shown are always great at a party.
I’m late on the PR wire update, but here goes:
BLACK COBRA added to the STUMPFEST 2014 lineup!
Black Cobra, the devastatingly heavy duo hailing from the bay area and backed by Southern Lord Recordings, has been added to STUMPFEST 2014! The band’s recent album, Invernal, was described by The Sleeping Shaman as “the sound of a schizophrenic octopus, high on speed, hard liquor and murderous hatred trapped inside the body of a man locked in a darkened jail cell,” so you know they can’t be missed. The three-day festival, organized by beloved Portland metal-scene expat Rynne Stump, will churn out heavy tunes from the city’s legendary metal acts and their closest friends at Mississippi Studios on April 24-26. Links for prices and more info through the venue website will be provided in two weeks on the venue website. Stay tuned!
STUMPFEST 2014 LINEUP SO FAR:
*TBA SPECIAL GUEST* YOB TRANS AM BLACK COBRA LORD DYING FEDERATION X LIFE COACH (feat. Phil Manley from TRANS AM & Jon Theodore from QOTSA and ex-THE MARS VOLTA) BLACK PUSSY NORSKA DIESTO DRUNK DAD DRAB MAJESTY CHRON GOBLIN HONDURAN HOT VICTORY
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
In just a few short months, Portland-based four-piece Stoneburner will mark their first release on Neurot Recordings with their sophomore full-length, Life Drawing. Really, for any heavy band, to have the endorsement of Neurosis behind seems about as close to “living the dream” as you’re gonna get, though if the newly-revealed artwork for Life Drawingis anything to go by, Stoneburner are keeping a pretty similar mindset to that which came across on their 2012 Seventh Rule debut, Sickness Will Pass(discussed here), which was plenty nasty and heavy to spare. Good for them, both in terms of living the dream and not fixing what clearly isn’t broken.
Harken to the PR wire, for it brings you knowledge, and only knowledge can kill Zardoz:
STONEBURNER: Portland Sludge Slingers Reveal Album Details
Portland sludge slingers and recent Neurot family additions, STONEBURNER, are readying to unleash their forthcoming new full-length, Life Drawing. The follow-up to their 2012 debut, Sickness Will Pass, features nine rumbling odes of bottom-heavy hostility and emotional decay. Recorded, mixed and produced by Fester at Haywire Studios, mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering — both in Portland — and swathed in the visually abrasive cover art of J.J. Shirey, Life Drawing promises to hurl STONEBURNER’s habitually chest-caving sludge mantras to entirely new realms of earth-deteriorating heaviness.
Comments the band in a collective statement: “Lyrically we’ve always focused on personal matters, and one theme that particularly seems to keep coming up on this record is the struggle to be a decent person in a world that keeps doing its best to cause you not to be. J.J. Shirey, who paints our album covers, is part of the STONEBURNER brotherhood and we have absolute faith in him. We have him sit in on rehearsals, read our lyrics, and then we send him off to come up with whatever he thinks best suits the material. We feel that this piece absolutely captures the mood of trying to grow and heal, but constantly finding yourself falling back into the darkness caused by emotional and physical addictions. The world isn’t always a happy, beautiful place, and neither is our music. Thanks to J.J. you’re going to sense that before you even hear the album.”
Life Drawing Track Listing: 1. Some Can 2. Caged Bird 3. Drift 4. An Apology To A Friend In Need 5. Pale New Eyes 6. Giver Of Birth 7. Done 8. You Are The Worst 9. The Phoenix
STONEBURNER features a persuasive musical ancestry that winds through Buried At Sea, Buried Blood, Heathen Shrine and others. Named after a subterranean weapon from the novel Dune, STONEBURNER deliver a wholly organic orchestration of captivating, crustified doom metal, their torrid hymns bathed in internal agony, anguish and despair. To define STONEBURNER, one need only look to the list of bands with whom they’ve shared the stage: Yob, Sleep, Eyehategod, Neurosis, Buzzov-en, Weedeater, Saint Vitus, Watain, Tragedy, Noothgrush, Graves At Sea, Lord Dying, Drop Dead, Whitehorse, Wind Hand, Bastard Noise…
Life Drawing will be unleashed via Neurot Recordings later this Spring. Stay tuned for further info.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Who’s gonna argue with this one? Hard to imagine it was a very long meeting at Relapse when they were deciding to get behind a vinyl reissue of YOB‘s 2003 sophomore outing, Catharsis. “So, here’s one of the best albums of the last decade remastered by Tad Doyle sounding more kickass than ever. Should we get on board?” “Yes.” Meeting adjourned. Everybody goes to lunch.
Seriously, Catharsisis one of if not the most essential documents of American doom since the end of Sleep, and I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s true and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply mistaken. Profound Lore put out the CD of the Doyle remaster — you’ll also note the new artwork by Aaron Edge, completing the Lumbar triumvirate — last year, and aside from a Roadburn-exclusive gold with black splatter version (fucking kill me that’s awesome), there are a host of killer editions set to arrive in late Feb./early March.
Details via the PR wire:
YOB: Doom Metal Classic Catharsis to See Deluxe Vinyl Reissue
Relapse Records is proud to announce the re-release of YOB’s psyche-doom metal classic Catharsis on vinyl. After being out of print on vinyl for over six years, Catharsishas been given the deluxe re-issue treatment and will be released the way it was meant to be presented. Re-mastered from the original tapes by Tad Doyle, the reissue features stunning new artwork by Aaron Edge and brand new liner notes from Guitarist / Vocalist Mike Scheidt.
Catharsis will see it’s official vinyl re-release on March 4th in North America, March 3rd in the UK/World and February 28th in Germany/Benelux/Finland. The vinyl includes a digital download of the full album and is being pressed on four limited color variations including gold, gold with black splatter (available exclusively at Roadburn), clear with black, bone white & gold splatter, and a special swamp green with purple & yellow splatter version that includes a blacklight poster available exclusively at Relapse.com. Pre-orders are currently available via this location while a trailer with detailed pictures of vinyl colors is available via this location. The full album can be streamed here.
Additionally, YOB will be headlining Roadburn Festival’s official Afterburner party on April 13th in Tilburg, NL alongside Triptykon, Avatarium, Morne, Bolzer and many others. Details are available here.
Posted in Features on December 23rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I know, I know. There’s been a pretty fair amount said about Lumbar‘s The First and Last Days of Unwelcome around here, from the announcement to the interview, album review, and best of list, and I can’t really promise this’ll be the last of it, but a few words and then I’ll leave it alone for a while. There were plenty of other contenders for the best debut of 2013, whether it was reinvigorated veterans in Vista Chino or newcomer innovators like Beelzefuzz, but in the end, I had to go with what’s more likely than not a one-off from (left to right above) Mike Scheidt (YOB), Tad Doyle (TAD, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth), and Aaron Edge (Roareth, Iamthethorn, etc.) for two reasons: Urgency and the moment.
Urgency because of the music itself — the overlaid screams and moans that top the thunderous descending progression of “Day Two,” the lost-in-a-fog feel of “Day Four,” the weeping guitar chaos of “Day Three.” The First and Last Days of Unwelcomepacked an entire discography’s worth of heavy into a 24-minute release, and even at its nadir of volume in the droning and far-off vocal tunnel of “Day Five,” was intense beyond the point of exhaustion, Edge working through the trauma of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the best way he knew how: By recording an album. The urgency comes through in the complete immersion of an emotional state, in the turbulence that bleeds from every second of these seven songs, and in the un-concluded feel of the last, which machine-drones itself to a finish as if to indicate the utter lack of an ending to Edge‘s ongoing story.
And the moment. Yes, it’s awesome that Scheidt, Doyle and Edge came together to all work on an album, but more than that, it’s how they came together and that the result was this album. The story of Edge recording the instrumental parts while laid up in bed, in real, physical pain, is excruciating, but it’s how that is translated into the songs that gives them such power. To be able to hone that, and then bring Scheidt and Doyle into the fold and make The First and Last Days of Unwelcome complete is capturing an entirely different kind of moment; the special nature of the collaboration in concept and execution is undersold by any “supergroup” tag you might want to instill. Lumbar proved to be beyond that, a fleeting and daringly honest slice of life that didn’t want pity or sympathy or anything other than to search out some meaning in what seemed void outstretched.
To call it a “debut” implies there might be a follow-up, and it seems unlikely at this point that there will, but even so, no first outing crashed quite as hard into the consciousness in 2013 as Lumbar‘s The First and Last Days of Unwelcome, and if it’s a call that never gets its answer, there’s no doubt in my mind its echo will last a long, long time.
Now I’ll shut up about it.
Lumbar, The First and Last Days of Unwelcome (2013)
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Kudos to Seventh Rule Recordings on their 10 year anniversary and the badass way in which they’ve chosen to mark it. The respected purveyor of innovative underground heavy will be giving away one copy of each and every vinyl they’ve released. Some of it it brand new this year, and some of it — I’ve got my eye on you, Buried at Sea – has been out of print. You know, I’ve got some space on my shelf and this would look awfully nice filling it. Won’t help my chances any encouraging you to enter, but some stuff is just too cool to try to keep to yourself.
Good luck to all and congrats to whoever walks away with the prize. Dig it:
10 Years Of Seventh Rule, Win Our Entire Vinyl Discography!
Seventh Rule has been around for 10 Years now, and its been a beautiful blur. We’ve seen highs and lows, but are happy and thankful to all the people who continue to support us through the years. Such a milestone deserves a contest of epic proportions, so we decided that in honor of our 10 Year Anniversary, we will be giving away our vinyl discography to one lucky person. More than 1/2 of the records listed before are out out of print!
The 10 Year Glitch Prize Package includes one of each of the following:
Sweet Cobra – Praise LP (Red Vinyl) Akimbo – Elephantine LP (180G Vinyl) Buried At Sea – She Lived For Others But Died For Us | Single Sided / Etched LP (Swirl Grey Vinyl) INDIAN – The Unquiet Sky 2xLP (BLOOD RED#11 and EASTER YELLOW#2 AsideBside Vinyl) The Makai – The End Of All You Know LP (Grey Marble Vinyl) INDIAN – Slights and Abuse LP (Coke Bottle Clear Vinyl) INDIAN – The Sycophant LP (Bloody Sun Vinyl) Sweet Cobra – Bottom Feeder | Single Sided / Etched LP (Black Vinyl) Wetnurse – Invisible City 2xLP (#7 Green / Black Splatter Vinyl) Light Yourself On Fire – Intimacy LP (Yellow / Black Nuclear Style Vinyl) Millions – Gather Scatter LP (Crystal Clear Vinyl) Coffinworm – When All Became None LP (Bong Load Green Vinyl) The Swan King – Eyes Like Knives LP (180G Vinyl) BATILLUS – Furnace LP (180G Vinyl) Atriarch – Forever The End LP ( Crypt White Marbled Vinyl) Thergothon – Stream From The Heavens (Reissue) LP (180G Orange Vinyl) Wizard Rifle – Speak Loud Say Nothing LP (Vinyl Bong Random Colored Vinyl) Author & Punisher – Ursus Americanus LP (Grey And White Marbled Vinyl) Stoneburner – Sickness Will Pass LP (Blood Marbled Vinyl) Atriarch – Ritual Of Passing LP (Rozz Williams Red Vinyl) Author & Punisher – Women & Children LP (White #1 with Black Splatter Vinyl) Gnaw – Horrible Chamber LP (SILVER P19 with RED#3 Haze Vinyl)