audiObelisk Transmission 033

Posted in Podcasts on December 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

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The end of any year always brings a barrage of best-ofs. Lists, radio shows, award ceremonies, and even podcasts. What no one tells you about any of them is there’s no fucking way they can ever be comprehensive. My Top 20 list? It was damn good and I worked really hard putting it together, but was I toiling under the delusion that it was going to be an accurate and complete representation of everything 2013 had on offer? Hell no. That’s why we have the Readers Poll, the Albums Unheard list (still to come) and all the rest of the wrap-up stuff.

So as you check out this happens-to-be-the-last-of-2013 podcast, please keep in mind that though it does feature a sampling of some of 2013’s most killer songs from some of its most killer albums, it’s not at all intended to be a total roundup of this year. It’s a part of it, and I’m cool with that if you are.

It’s Xmas Eve as I put this together, and it’s looking like this’ll be my only post for today, so I’ll take another opportunity to wish you a happy holiday if you’re celebrating. Please be safe and enjoy time with family, gift-giving, and of course, good music. I don’t know if grandma would really get down to some Phantom Glue, but seems like it’s worth a shot.

First Hour:
Clutch, “D.C. Sound Attack” from Earth Rocker (2013)
Monster Magnet, “Last Patrol,” from Last Patrol (2013)
Church of Misery, “Cranley Gardens (Dennis Andrew Nilsen)” from Thy Kingdom Scum (2013)
Phantom Glue, “Bow in the Dust” from A War of Light Cones (2013)
Pelican, “The Tundra” from Forever Becoming (2013)
Young Hunter, “Trail of Tears” from Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain (2013)
All Them Witches, “The Death of Coyote Woman” from Lightning at Your Door (2013)
Black Thai, “Doors to Nowhere” from Season of Might (2013)
Gozu, “Charles Bronson Pinchot” from The Fury of a Patient Man (2013)
Geezer, “Ancient Song” from Gage EP (2013)
T.G. Olson, “Unsung Everyone” from Hell’s Half Acre (2013)

Second Hour:
Fuzz, “One” from Fuzz (2013)
Wooden Shjips, “Servants” from Back to Land (2013)
Fever Dog, “Lady Snowblood/Child of the Netherworlds,” from Lady Snowblood (2013)
Samsara Blues Experiment, “Brahmin’s Lament” from Waiting for the Flood (2013)
Vista Chino, “Planets 1 & 2” from Peace (2013)
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Valley of the Dolls” from Mind Control (2013)
The Golden Grass, “One More Time” from One More Time b/w Tornado (2013)
Beelzefuzz, “Lonely Creatures” from Beelzefuzz (2013)

Total running time: 1:59:04

Thank you for listening.

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Live Review: Pelican, Kings Destroy and Phantom Glue in Allston, 10.19.13

Posted in Reviews on October 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

On the televisions in the back of the Great Scott, the Boston Red Sox were working their way into the World Series, so the air was tense at first and jovial later on as Pelican came north from two Brooklyn CMJ shows for a sold-out gig with Kings Destroy and Boston’s own Phantom Glue: A bill of three bands I’d very much been looking forward to seeing. Pelican‘s Forever Becoming was still fresh in my head from reviewing it last week, so I was excited to see some of those songs live, and with memories of the mastery they displayed last year at Roadburn, it was all the better to catch them in a smaller space. Kings Destroy had an added element of intrigue for me, catching them out of their native NYC habitat, and since Phantom Glue were pretty high on my Boston-bands-I-gotta-see list (which, frankly, I can’t believe I haven’t made a post of yet), there was no way to lose. It had been a great day and it would be a great night.

As I’d learned the last time I was at the venue, it was dark. That seems to be how it goes. O’Brien’s, P.A.’s Lounge, Radio, Great Scott. All very cool places with no lights on. Fair enough, I guess. Nobody’s putting on shows for the people who show up with cameras, so there you go. Hardly impeded my enjoyment of Phantom Glue, who, again, I’d been anticipating a live encounter with more or less since I moved. Their vinyl-only summer ’13 outing, A War of Light Cones (review here), was a beast, and live, songs like “Perils” and “Biocult” only came across as meaner and rawer, the dueling barks of guitarist Matt Oates and bassist Nick Wolf tempering noise rock cruelties with modern metal sense of growl. It quickly became apparent that I was right to have high expectations for their set.

In a way, their t-shirts said it all. Wolf had Disfear, Oates had Karp, guitarist Mike Gowell had Harvey Milk and in back, drummer Kyle Rasmussen bore the logo of a demolition derby. So between them all, you had d-beat hardcore punk metal mixed with West Coast noise, unhinged creative doom and sheer destructive mechanical force for its own sake. I highly doubt the four guys in the band got together and were like, “Okay, tonight we’re going to go with the band-summation wardrobe,” but I’ll be damned if it didn’t work out that way anyhow, and for what it’s worth, their identity seemed to have been long since carved from these elements. They were comfortable on stage, delivered a powerful (and loud) set, and they’re a local act I’m very much looking forward to getting to know better. For even just a first time seeing them, though, they impressed.

And to have them go on right before Kings Destroy as well emphasized a clear difference in my mind — namely that between aggression and confrontation. Phantom Glue were aggressive; a heavy, move-the-air kind of band that lacked nothing in presence. Kings Destroy, their New York hardcore pedigree seeping through in a way that you’d say was in spite of them if they didn’t seem to enjoy it so much, are confrontational, directly challenging their audience. In Brooklyn, which is by far where I’ve seen them most, one almost takes this as a given. In Boston, when vocalist Steve Murphy jumped off the stage and went into the crowd at the end of “Blood of Recompense” from this year’s A Time of Hunting, it was more of a surprise. That’s not to say New England doesn’t have its own hardcore lineage — you can’t walk through Harvard Square without being spin-kicked at least twice — just that the approach is different.

Kings Destroy loved it, and speaking of kicks, guitarist Carl Porcaro got one from fellow six-stringer Chris Skowronski to wake him up as the solo in “Medusa” went long. They were loose, having played with Pelican in New York the night before, but dead on all the same, bassist Aaron Bumpus playing through a Sunn head I’ve seen smoke rise from the back of before with a tone that only made the already-full room more temperate. As ever, I fucking loved “The Toe,” which I’d argue is the transitional moment between the more straightforward riffery of the Maple Forum alums’ first album and the gleeful weirdness of cuts like “Shattered Pattern” and “Turul” from the second, taking cues from multiple impulses and setting them to drummer Rob Sefcik‘s steady groove. “Turul” wasn’t aired at Great Scott, but “Shattered Pattern” followed “Old Yeller” as the second song they played, which seemed bold for how quiet parts of it are, but “The Toe,” “Casse-Tête” and “The Mountie” set a steady roll that continued from there on out as they got more and more riotous toward their finish.

I’ve never regretted watching them play — their confrontationalism fascinates all the more outside New York; it’s fun to watch them catch people off guard — and by the time they were done, monitors had been toppled, P.A. speakers pushed, and Murphy had gone so far into the crowd that a path had to be cut for him to put the mic back on the stage. Not that Pelican needed it, being instrumental, but one doesn’t want to wander off with these things either. I don’t remember exactly when the grand slam put the Red Sox ahead of the Tigers, but I’m pretty sure it was between Kings Destroy and Pelican, and since that fits my narrative of the night better, I’m gonna go with it. Whenever it was, a cheer went up in the back of the venue and celebration — by that I mean more drinking — began. Despite a shared backline, Pelican took a while to get going. When they did, it seemed like the place was pretty well sauced. Not a complaint.

Also jammed. I old-man reminisced about seeing Pelican at the Knitting Factory in Manhattan nearly a decade ago (another dude up front said he’d been there as well, which was cool), but when I turned around, the room was heads the whole way back. Sure enough, a sold out show. The Chicago four-piece of guitarists Trevor de Brauw and Dallas Thomas, bassist Bryan Herweg and drummer Larry Herweg got underway with “The Creeper” from 2009’s What We all Come to Need (review here), but it was the one-two-three of “Deny the Absolute,” “The Tundra” and “Immutable Dusk” from Forever Becoming that hooked the crowd, myself included, with a tonally rich and unrepentantly heavy thrust that seemed to revel in its own dynamic of chugging, locked-in nod and periods of pastoral ambience. Though it’s a “duh” kind of thing to say for a band who’s been around for roughly 13 years, they were noteworthy in how tight they were, and though de Brauw got on a mic a couple times to thank the crowd for coming out and near the near the end of the set said it meant a lot to the band to sell out the place after not coming to town for so long, most of their time on stage was an undulating sea of open-feeling grooves.

Whatever else you can say about Pelican, they’ve never stopped doing things on their own terms — remember that time they found a singer and became the biggest band in the world? Nope, you don’t — so the loyalty engendered in their listeners makes sense, and justify by continuing to develop their approach over the years. One can trace their sound through the bevvy of splits and EPs and use their five full-lengths to date as a landmark, but live, it becomes more about the experience of where they are than how they got there. They dipped back to 2007’s City of Echoes to close out with “Dead between the Walls,” but that was as far back as they went. Last year’s Ataraxia/Taraxis EP (review here) was represented with “Lathe Biosas” and “Parasite Colony,” which like the three from Forever Becoming, appeared in succession as though to demonstrate that the flow of Pelican records is intended to mirror that of the live show and vice versa, and returning to the new album, “The Cliff” rested comfortably on Bryan‘s bassline as the airier guitars moved easily into the emergent churn of “Strung up from the Sky.”

By then, if you weren’t lost in it, you probably had called it a night already. I watched the end of Pelican‘s set further back, on the edge of the crowd swell, and found it no less immersive than it had been in front of the stage. “Strung up from the Sky” gave way to the galloping “Dead between the Walls,” breaking to atmospherics before building to a satisfying final churn and crashing noisy into its final moments. There was a requisite snap back to reality after the amps got shut off, and I watched as the crowd streamed out of the Great Scott and into the vomit-strewn baseball-loving Saturday night Allston street that awaited, got on line to pick up a CD of Forever Becoming – also buying a double of 2009’s Ephemeral EP, the title-track of which they’d played — and then likewise headed out.

Extra thanks to The Patient Mrs., Jaime Traba, Steve Murphy, Trevor de Brauw, and you for reading. This one was a special kind of night. Like I said, it was dark, but there are a few more pics after the jump.

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Pelican, Forever Becoming: Portrait of a Work in Progress

Posted in Reviews on October 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Their fifth album, Pelican‘s Forever Becoming is noteworthy immediately for being the band’s first outing since their 2001 inception to not feature the guitar work of Laurent Schroeder-Lebec. Schroeder-Lebec made his last recorded appearance with the band on 2012’s Ataraxia/Taraxis EP, and has since been replaced by The Swan King‘s Dallas Thomas, who joins founding guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw and the rhythm section of bassist Bryan Herweg and drummer Larry Herweg in one of the last decade’s most quietly influential groups. Not a bad gig, and while I wouldn’t want to trivialize the inevitable change in dynamic that losing an original member after more than a decade of playing together would invariably bring about in any band, Forever Becoming (released on Southern Lord) at least shows Pelican have weathered the storm well in terms of holding onto their original sonic mission and blending post-rock atmospherics and open-spaciousness with unbridled tonal crunch and low-end weight derived from doom and heavy rock. In that regard particularly, Forever Becoming should offer thrills to longtime followers left cold by the pastoral wanderings of 2009’s What We all Come to Need (review here), as it pares down some (not all) of that record’s airiness in favor of a heavier push, not quite as much as did 2007’s City of Echoes coming off of 2005’s The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw and Pelican’s landmark full-length debut, 2003’s Australasia, but it’s worth noting that though tracks like “Immutable Dusk” and “The Tundra” have their ambient stretches and that Forever Becoming‘s 51 minutes aren’t lacking for atmosphere, it is at times a surprisingly heavy record. Since it’s been four years since the last one — twice Pelican‘s pace up to this point — I’m not inclined to chalk all the difference up to the acquisition of Thomas for the second guitar slot, but it’s a shift that’s apparent even on LP bookends “Terminal” and “Perpetual Dawn,” which are about as dreamy as Pelican get here.

It’s the former cut given the duty of opening Forever Becoming, and it does so with foreboding tom hits from Larry that come accompanied by rumble and lurching, mechanized-sounding feedback (my mind went immediately to The Book of Knots). Between the title and the bleakness of the song itself, it’s a dark note to start off on, even with a few peaceful seconds of softer guitar before the thud and distorted rumble resumes, giving a quiet lead-in for the rush of “Deny the Absolute,”  probably the fastest track on the album and one that engages quickly with a post-hardcore feel, discernible structure, and that peculiar intensity — “hurry up and think!” — that Pelican have developed as their own over the course of their time together and many others have tried to emulate to varying levels of success. Already the band have established an overarching flow and they stick to it for the duration, as “Deny the Absolute” gives way to the somewhat slower but similarly constructed “The Tundra,” which breaks in the middle for a moment of atmospheric exploration before resuming its crushing course in one of Forever Becoming‘s most satisfying linear builds. A turn comes with the more angular riffing of “Immutable Dusk,” but Thomas and de Brauw‘s guitars work well together such that the movement into a more open-vibing “chorus” makes sense coming off the prior progression and leading to a lengthier, more subdued post-rock break, which patiently rebuilds over the next several minutes — fluid, in motion as it mounts tension — until just before five minutes into the total 7:13, a vicious chug emerges that is traded off one more time before the song’s real apex arrives to cap the linear drive, drums, bass and guitars all headed in a single direction and even injecting some last-minute churn into what makes for an exciting finale, leaving the quiet opening of “Threnody” to give a breather before  it gets underway with warm, prominent low end and a bounce that seems to be culled from a more traditional heavy rock feel, but which is developed over the next several minutes into an otherworldly exploration, bass and drums holding the momentum together in the second half while Ebow guitar adds echoing depth to the mix.

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Pelican Unveil “Deny the Absolute” from New 7″ Single

Posted in audiObelisk on August 13th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

As a precursor to the forthcoming full-length, Forever Becoming, which is due out Oct. 15, Chicago instrumentalists Pelican will release a 7″ single through The Mylene Sheath that’s set to feature an alternate recording of the song “Deny the Absolute.” On the album, the rush you hear at the start of “Deny the Absolute” signals the moment of switch between the opening ambience of “Terminal” and some of Pelican‘s most forward-driving riffage, and though it hardly showcases the depth of mood that Forever Becoming seems to have at its disposal — Pelican having long since come of age in joy as much as struggle, musically — sometimes it’s best to let a badass riff do the talking for you. Hardly the first time Pelican are doing that.

Check out “Deny the Absolute” on the player below, hoisted from Pelican‘s Soundcloud, and give it a listen in kind with the previously streamed “Immutable Dusk” for even more landmark-type riffing. The Mylene Sheath will issue the Deny the Absolute 7″ on Aug. 20, and the pre-order link is included with Pelican‘s tour dates here.

Enjoy:

Taken from the forthcoming 7″ on The Mylene Sheath. Available August 20th 2013.

7″ preorder: http://www.mylenesheath.com/pg/preorders

PELICAN US TOUR DATES
Oct 17 – Brooklyn, NY – Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase*
Oct 18 – Brooklyn, NY – Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase*
Oct 19 – Allston, MA – Great Scott *
Nov 1 – Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s ^
Nov 2 – Washington, DC – DC9 ^
Nov 3 – Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church ^
Nov 4 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506 ^
Nov 5 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade ^
Nov 6 – Birmingham, AL – Zydeco ^
Nov 7 – Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon ^
Nov 8, 9, & 10 – Austin TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest
Nov 13 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
* w/ King’s Destroy
^ w/ Coliseum

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15 Before ’14: Records Not to Miss Before the New Year Hits

Posted in Features on August 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re anything like me — and let’s just hope for your sake you’re not — then you’re sitting in front of your laptop staring at a calendar telling you it’s August wondering what the hell happened to June and July. Last time I turned around, it was barely summer, and now it’s starting to get cold at night.

We’re well past the halfway mark on 2013, and I know for some the year’s best picks are already set in mind, but there’s a ton of cool releases still to come before 2014 hits, and I figured now’s as good a time as any for a rundown of a few picks that seem to be sure to arrive prior to December 31. As much as anything’s ever “sure,” anyway. Subject to change, and all that.

With the gracious suggestions/assistance of those checking in on the forum (see that thread for many more picks) taken into consideration, here are 15 suggestions to be on a lookout for starting in September. Some of these I’ve heard, some I haven’t, but take it as a sampling of what I’m looking forward to, if nothing else.

And because I know nothing says “I know how to have a good time” like a list in order of release date, here goes nothing:

Vista Chino, Peace (Sept. 3)

It took me a couple listens to come around to Vista Chino‘s Peace (review here), but once I got to that point, there was no turning back. The much-anticipated Napalm Records debut from the four-piece birthed out of Kyuss Lives!, Peace ultimately moves forward as much as it looks back, and though much of the lyrics center around the lawsuit that forced Kyuss Lives! to change their name, the songs themselves do arrive at a certain place of acceptance by the end of the record, so that in the end it lives up to its title. Some won’t be able to make the leap over their expectations for what an album with Brant Bjork, John Garcia and Nick Oliveri on it should sound like, but most importantly, Vista Chino are pressing on and I hope this isn’t the last record they make together, even if Oliveri is already out of the band’s touring lineup.

Larman Clamor, Alligator Heart (Sept. 10)

The solo-outfit of graphic artist Alexander von Wieding, Larman Clamor has been pumping out quality swamp boogie for the last two years at a more than prolific clip. Last year, von Wieding made his debut on Small Stone with Frogs (review here), and while the forthcoming Alligator Heart (out through the same label) strips the approach down somewhat — as you can hear on the single “Banshee w’Me” — the murkedelic blues spirit remains supreme at the center of the project’s approach. Larman Clamor has flown relatively under the radar so far into its run, but showing a little bit of a poppier side on Alligator Heart‘s tracks might gain it some more attention. Von Wieding‘s songwriting continues to be worth the price of admission to the bizarre carnival he creates.

Windhand, Soma (Sept. 17)

Richmond-based cult sludgers Windhand made their debut on Relapse earlier this year on a split release with Cough — with whom they share a bassist and a hometown — and will follow that next month with Soma, their second LP behind their 2012 self-titled debut full-length. The band have only gotten darker and meaner since adding Cough‘s Parker Chandler on bass, and with that split heralding its coming, Soma should arrive with a fittingly devastating impact. Windhand have also put in no shortage of time on the road, and even as the new one comes out, they’ll be embroiled in a coast-to-coast US tour, so keep an eye out — and that goes for Europe too. I wouldn’t be surprised if a full tour with Inter Arma got announced around their joint Roadburn appearances next spring.

Sasquatch, IV (Sept. 24)

Sasquatch bloody Sasquatch. If you’ve got a face, these dudes’ll rock it right off. With IV (Small Stone) their first full-length since 2010’s III (review here), L.A. trio Sasquatch very casually offer a reminder that those who talk about how rock and roll needs to be “saved” don’t have a clue what’s really up, that rock and roll never went anywhere and that its awesomeness continues unabated. Need testimony? Check out the track stream for “The Message.” Classic grooves, class-y showoff solos, catchy tunes and later in the album even a foray into psychedelic jamming — let there be no doubt that Sasquatch have nailed down right where they want to be sound-wise and are ready to make the most of the good times they’re rolling out as they continue to lay their own railroad, grand and funky as it is. Soundgarden wishes they had this kind of edge.

Iron Man, South of the Earth (Sept. 30)

You’d pretty much have to be a jerk not to feel good about the fact that long-running, long-underappreciated Maryland doom stalwarts Iron Man are getting their due in the form of a Rise Above Records release for their new album, South of the Earth. I know that’s not the most impartial statement in the world, but seriously, who deserves Lee Dorrian-endorsed doom cred more than Iron Man? The names are few and far between. South of the Earth already had me on the hook for being their first full-length with frontman Dee Calhoun on board alongside guitarist “Iron” Al Morris III, bassist Louis Strachan and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann, but with the hopefully increased profile of issue on Rise Above, who knows what could be in store for them once it’s out?

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Underground EP (Sept.)

Trippy Wicked caught me off guard last year with the heavier and more metal side that showed up on their Going Home long-player (review here), but this time I’m ready. I’ve readjusted my expectations for what the UK trio might unleash on the new Underground EP — set phasers to who-the-hell-knows — and after the quick mastery of the metallurgical arts they showed the last time out, I’m happy to follow wherever their creative whims might take them. I know this is a list of albums and technically an EP isn’t a full album, but screw it, I dig these guys and am fascinated enough by their progression that it’s worth including even the smaller release here. If the art for Underground (due out through Superhot Records) is anything to go by — and I don’t yet know that it is — we could be in for a pretty wild ride.

Earthless, From the Ages (Oct. 8)

San Diego instrumentalists Earthless are looking to make an epic return on From the Ages (Tee Pee Records), which is their first studio full-length in six years. Though they’ve had a steady stream of live releases, limited splits and the like, and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell released a debut album with the heavy psych outfit Golden Void last year, nothing’s quite the same as Earthless‘ righteous jams and extended progressions. Look out for the 31-minute title-track (one of four on the album; more info here) as Earthless step into the limelight and reap the momentum they’ve built through steady years of touring and critical acclaim. From the Ages might just prove one for the ages.

Monster Magnet, Last Patrol (Oct. 15)

My only question when it comes to Monster Magnet‘s second album for Napalm Records — touted by frontman Dave Wyndorf as a return to their psychedelic beginnings — is how literally we’re supposed to take the title Last Patrol and if indeed this is going to be the final go for the long-running and hugely influential New Jersey outfit. If so, they draw their circle as complete as they possibly could, and whether it’s “The Duke (of Supernature),” which has received nearly 23,000 plays since being premiered here on July 23, or the driving churn of “End of Time,” Monster Magnet tap into the spirit that propelled 1995’s Dopes to Infinity and readjust the balance of their influence in a way fans have been clamoring for for years now. The more I hear it, the more I need to hear it.

Pelican, Forever Becoming (Oct. 15)

A new Pelican album is an interesting enough proposition at this point — it’s been four years since the Chicago instrumental outfit released What We all Come to Need (review here) — but Forever Becoming (Southern Lord) has an added level of intrigue for being Pelican‘s first album without guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec. Stepping in to fill the second guitar spot is Dallas Thomas of The Swan King, and it should be interesting to hear how the band’s approach has shifted after almost half a decade and what Thomas brings to the well-established chemistry between bassist Bryan Herweg, drummer Larry Herweg and guitarist Trevor de Brauw. If the first track is anything to go by, Pelican still sounds like Pelican, and I’m not going to complain about that.

Corrections House, Last City Zero (Oct. 29)

Probably the bigger surprise would’ve been if the super-type group Corrections House didn’t make their full-length debut on Neurot, but still, word was welcome when it came down a couple weeks back that the conjoined efforts of Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Mike IX Williams (EyeHateGod), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) and Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea, Minsk and the guy you want to record your album) were resulting in an actual album to follow up on their initial single and tour earlier this year. Whether the entirety of the record works in the kind of industrial, post-Godflesh noise crunch they brought to the stage on that tour (review here), we’ll just have to wait and see. But I’m damn interested to find out.

Red Fang, Whales and Leeches (Oct.)

Those who heard Red Fang‘s 2011 boot-to-the-ass second album, Murder the Mountains (review here), will probably find Whales and Leeches (named for a track off their 2008 self-titled debut) a reasonable follow-up. The Portland forerunners’ second offering through Relapse finds bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam even more front and center with clean vocals, and ultra-catchy songs like “Blood Like Cream” and “No Hope” seem to pick up right where Red Fang left off last time, offsetting Beam‘s poppier style with guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles‘ throaty grit . Watch out for much more to come on this one. Between the record itself and their formidable road ethic, you’re probably going to be hearing a lot about it.

The Melvins, Tres Cabrones (Nov. 5)

If you were to ask me how many records the Melvins have out in 2013, I’d go, “Uh… I dunno… six?” and the mere fact that that doesn’t seem like a ridiculous answer should be indicative of the frankly absurd pace at which the long-enduring Washington outfit add to their already insurmountable catalog. What makes Tres Cabrones (Ipecac) different? Reportedly, it’s a semi-reunion of the band’s 1983 lineup — as close as they were willing to get, was how Buzz Osbourne put it in the press release — that finds Dale Crover playing bass to make room for drummer Mike Dillard. The Melvins released the collection Mangled Demos from 1983 in 2005, but Tres Cabrones will be entirely new material. You never know quite where the Melvins are headed next, and if anyone could find a way to go forward even as they go backward, it’d be them.

Sandrider, Godhead (Date TBA)


So in case you couldn’t tell by the “TBA” above, this one’s a bit of wishful thinking on my part. I don’t actually know that Sandrider (members of Akimbo and The Ruby Doe) will issue a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled Good to Die Records debut (review here) before the end of 2013, but golly, I hope they do. The band said on July 11 via their Thee Facebooks that they’d finished mastering the album, titled Godhead, for a Fall release, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see once it’s pressed and ready to go. The sooner the better, since that first record was a smoker and nothing says “autumn” like some noise crunch bombast. At least that’s what I have embroidered on my doilies…

Snail, Feral (TBA)

Not sure on the release date for West Coast riffers Snail‘s fourth album and third since reactivating in 2009 with Blood, but the recording’s reportedly done, so hopefully it’s not too long before they get it out. The band recently announced the departure of guitarist Eric Clausen, so they’re down to the original trio of guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson, bassist Matt Lynch and drummer Marty Dodson, and how that will affect their sound on the follow-up to last year’s metallized self-release, Terminus (review here), remains to be seen, but if there’s any chance Snail might be able to get more road time in support of Feral, whenever it arrives, than no doubt it will have been worth the tumult in the meantime. And even if not, the album’s still one to watch for.

The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum (TBA)

Another one with no exact date, but according to producer Chris Fielding, it’ll be out before 2013’s over. Either way, when it lands, Consolamentum will serve as the Candlelight Records debut. It’s their fourth outing overall, and the second to be produced by Fielding and to feature frontwoman Sharie Neyland, whose work on 2011’s In the Chapel of the Black Hand (review here) made that album one of the year’s most satisfyingly bizarre and dreary doom offerings. Along with founding guitarist Steve Mills, Neyland returns for Consolamentum and whether it hits in 2013 or 2014, look for the band to progress from the last time out. Mills (interview here) is a relentlessly forward-thinking songwriter and his penchant for creating atmospheric and crushingly dark sonic spaces is not to be underestimated.

Whew. These things always take so much longer than I think they’re going to when I start writing names on Post-It notes.

Of course, this is just a sampling of what’s to come over the next few months. Borracho‘s new one is supposed to get a vinyl release, and A Storm of Light have a new record, plus I heard rumors of new Slough Feg (they have a new single that would seem to back that up) and a much-awaited Brothers of the Sonic Cloth full-length coming before the end of the year — I also, right now, quite literally this second, just got news of a new Diesto on Eolian Empire — so please don’t assume that if it’s not here it’s never coming or whatever. There’s so much out there, I always feel like I’m leaving out something big and/or awesome.

Thanks for reading.

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Pelican to Release Forever Becoming Oct. 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

They had the Ataraxia/Taraxis EP last year (review here), but Forever Becoming will be Pelican‘s first full-length since 2009’s What We all Come to Need. That album (review here) was the last to feature guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec, and though the title hints at a sense of transition, the track “Immutable Dusk,” which the band premiered today, finds their signature blend of post-rock ambience and metallic crunch well intact. If you listen, make sure you listen the whole way through. The payoff at the end is stellar.

Pelican kick off a European tour tomorrow at Stoned from the Underground in Germany and have announced dates on the East Coast with Kings Destroy and others. Behold:

PELICAN ANNOUNCE FIRST NEW ALBUM IN FOUR YEARS

FOREVER BECOMING DUE THIS OCTOBER, FOLLOWED BY US TOUR WITH COLISEUM, KINGS DESTROY, AND OTHERS

Pelican, the Chicago-based quartet whose instrumental excursions to the confluence of caustic heaviness and cathartic melody pioneered a subgenre, have announced their first full album in four years, Forever Becoming, due October 15 on forward-thinking metal imprint Southern Lord. Recorded at Electrical Audio with Chris Common (who engineered the group’s last album as well as albums by Chelsea Wolfe and These Arms Are Snakes), Forever Becoming is an immense, speaker-rattling meditation on the acceptance of mortality and its place in the eternal cycle. Composed of eight songs (full tracklist below), the album boasts a sonic palette that veers from pummeling metal, to contemplative ambience, to melodic catharsis all with landmark grace.

Following a hiatus that saw the departure of founding guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec and the arrival of new second guitarist Dallas Thomas (also of The Swan King), the forthcoming album is the work of a wholly revitalized unit, sounding more focused and assured than ever. The current lineup’s undeniable chemistry was forged in front of crowds at festival appearances, including Bonnaroo, Roadburn, and Maryland Death Fest, as well as a handful of headlining club shows. Pelican return to the road in support of the new album this Fall with reigning post-hardcore stalwarts Coliseum. The tour focuses on the East Coast (the band’s first tour of the area since 2009), in addition to a coveted slot at this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest and a run of previously announced European dates that kick off this week (all dates below).

US TOUR DATES
Oct 17 – Brooklyn, NY – Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase*
Oct 18 – Brooklyn, NY – Invisible Oranges CMJ Showcase*
Oct 19 – Allston, MA – Great Scott *
Nov 1 – Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s ^
Nov 2 – Washington, DC – DC9 ^
Nov 3 – Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church ^
Nov 4 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506 ^
Nov 5 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade ^
Nov 6 – Birmingham, AL – Zydeco ^
Nov 7 – Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon ^
Nov 8, 9, & 10 – Austin TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest
Nov 13 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
* w/ King’s Destroy
^ w/ Coliseum

FORVER BECOMING TRACKLIST
1. Terminal
2. Deny the Absolute
3. The Tundra
4. Immutable Dusk
5. Threnody
6. The Cliff
7. Vestiges
8. Perpetual Dawn

PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
July 11 DE – Erfurt – Stoned From The Underground
July 12 DE – Berlin – Festival Kreuzberg
July 13 FIN – Joensuu – Ilosaarirock
July 15 UK – Brighton, The Haunt
July 16 UK – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club (w/ JK Flesh)
July 17 UK – London, The Garage (w/ JK Flesh)
July 18 NL – Tilburg, 013 (w/Torche)
July 19 BE – Dour, Dour Festival (w/Torche, Converge)
July 20 DE – Siegen, Vortex Club
July 22 ITA – Milan, Segrate
July 23 ITA – Roma, Traffic Live
July 24 AT – Innsbruck, PMK
July 25 AT – Vienna, Arena (w/ Mouth Of The Architect)
July 26 RU – Moscow, Plan B (w/ Mouth Of The Architect)
July 27 RU – St Petersburg, Arktika (w/Mouth Of The Architect)

Pelican, “Immutable Dusk” from Forever Becoming

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Stoned from the Underground 2013 Lineup Finalized — Lowrider, Acid King, Earthless and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I really, really don’t have a spare grand-plus lying around at this point, but golly that’s a cool lineup posted for Stoned from the Underground this year in Erfurt, Germany. It seems Lowrider‘s reunion — they were a highlight of the London Desertfest in a one-two punch of Swedish awesomeness completed by a set from Dozer immediately following — continues, which is unmistakably good news, and along with the likes of Earthless, Acid King, Troubled Horse, The Gates of Slumber, Pelican and the many others listed below, it seems like it’s going to be a killer weekend July 11-13. The kind of weekend I’d like very much to see, let’s say with a camera and laptop in tow. One of these years, maybe.

Indulge a bit of escapism with me, won’t you?

Welcome to the Mother of all German Stoner Rock Meetings

July 11th , 12th & 13th – Alperstedter Lake near ERFURT

Festival founded in 2001 and located in the very geographical center of Germany, in the area of Erfurt (Thuringen): Stoned From The Underground grew from a one day indoor event with 400 visitors in 2001 to a 3 days outdoor event with 3000 visitors last year !

Located a few kilometers away from the city, in a nest of nature bordered by the Alperstedter Lake, the festival is the perfect location for a very first relaxing summer weekend !

Whether you want to sit in the grass, puffing up clouds of smoke, sipping a beer while checking out the best Rock & Stoner acts of the moment,

Or whether you want to chill out laying on your belly on the sand of the beach with your toes cooling down in Lake’s water…..

STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND is the place where all your dreams will come true.

LINE- UP 2013:
EARTHLESS ( Usa)
MUSTASCH (Swe)
POTHEAD (Ger)

TRUCKFIGHTERS (Swe)
THE GATES OF SLUMBER (Usa)
BEEN OBSCENE (At)
LOWRIDER (Swe)
HORISONT(Swe)
TROUBLED HORSE (Swe)
ISOPTERA (Ger)
LORD VICAR (Fin)
MIRROR QUEEN (Usa)
ACID KING (Usa)
PELICAN (Usa)
THE OPERATORS (Ger)
THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (Usa)
FIVE HORSE JOHNSON (Usa)
SARDONIS (Bel)
HYNE (Ger)
DEVILLE (Swe)
BLACK BOMBAIM (Por)
HERKULES PROPAGANDA (Ger)
TRECKER (Ger)

Stoned from the Underground 2013 Trailer

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audiObelisk: Listen to Roadburn 2012 Audio Streams from Conan, Danava, La Otracina, Nachtmystium, Oranssi Pazuzu, Pelican, Valient Thorr, Wino & Conny Ochs

Posted in audiObelisk on June 18th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

This is one of my favorite series of posts throughout the year, and it’s even better now because I can actually embed the players. Thanks as always to Roadburn for documenting these sets and to Marcel van den Vondervoort and his crew at Spacejam for doing the hard work of recording and putting it all together.

If you missed the first batch of 2012 streams, they’re right here, and as always, enjoy:

ConanRoadburn 2012

DanavaRoadburn 2012

La OtracinaRoadburn 2012

NachtmystiumRoadburn 2012

Oranssi PazuzuRoadburn 2012

PelicanRoadburn 2012

Valient ThorrRoadburn 2012

Wino & Conny OchsRoadburn 2012

Read The Obelisk’s coverage of Roadburn 2012 here.

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Pelican, Ataraxia/Taraxis: Motion Toward the Anxious

Posted in Reviews on April 20th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

If the question is, “What are Pelican doing on their new four-song Ataraxia/Taraxis EP?” then the answer is, “Whatever the hell they feel like.” The Chicago instrumental foursome, now marking more than a decade of existence, have successfully interwoven post-rock atmospherics into doomed guitar crunch, and over the course of their career, helped set the stage for what we now think of as post-metal while never quite conforming wholly to the aspects of that or any other genre. Ataraxia/Taraxis finds its release through Southern Lord, and like the band’s label-debut full-length, What We all Come to Need (review here), did in 2009, the latest studio outing seems to be bent on keeping the band’s urban escapist atmospheres alive while measuring them against noisy tonal heft. It’s interesting that the title, which comes from the opening and closing tracks, respectively, would refer to first a state in which anxiety is absent, and then to the opposite – one in which it’s very much present. One might expect that to coincide sonically, the four tracks of Ataraxia/Taraxis – those being “Ataraxia,” “Lathe Biosas,” “Parasite Colony” and “Taraxis” – would also get progressively heavier or more frantic, as we move from one state to the next, but that doesn’t seem to really be the case. Although there’s no shortage of heaviness, particularly as the build of the five-minute closer comes to its head, Pelican’s flow isn’t so cut and dry as that, and listening, that’s probably to the benefit of the individual pieces themselves, as each has its own stylistic and structural agenda apart from the service it does to the 18-minute EP as a whole, beginning with the gradual arrival of “Ataraxia” and the intertwining of acoustic and electric guitars and other ambience that makes up its progression.

The inclusion of acoustics itself is notable within Pelican’s back catalog, though it’s not the first time they’ve come up, but they do seem to be more of a focal point on Ataraxia/Taraxis than they’ve ever been, and it’s enough to make me wonder if the band came into this recording thinking they were doing their version of the proverbial “unplugged” release. If that’s so, they’re still very much plugged in, whether it’s the sweet electric notes and underlying noise rumble of “Ataraxia” or the distorted riffy chug of “Lathe Biosas,” which answers the relative stillness of the preceding track with an unabashed heavy groove made all the more potent by drummer Larry Herweg’s changes between straightforward and half-time measures. The arrival of “Lathe Biosas” acts as what “Ataraxia” has been building toward – it’s the payoff, in other words – but if “Ataraxia” is an intro, it’s certainly one with a progression of its own. In any case, the guitars of Laurent Schroeder-Lebec and Trevor de Brauw carefully shift from the opening riff of “Lathe Biosas” into lead and rhythmic positions before meeting again in what serves as a sort of music-only chorus, until about halfway in, a break offers airy post-rock noodling skillfully kept grounded by bassist Bryan Herweg’s progressive maintenance of the build. The “chorus” returns, and “Lathe Biosas” reveals itself to be something of a pop song, structurally, right up to the repeated chorus and the chugging outro brought to a halt by Herweg’s punctuating snare. Where What We all Come to Need seemed to patiently revel in its atmospherics, to dwell more in its parts, Ataraxia/Taraxis moves quickly – perhaps that’s the shift that inspired the title – but there’s still a decent amount of space imbued into “Parasite Colony.”

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2012 Adventure, Pt. 18: Drop. Out. Of. Life. (Roadburn Day Three)

Posted in Features on April 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

04/15/12 — 00.04 — Saturday Night — Hotel Mercure

When my alarm went off this afternoon, it was with both excitement and a touch of apprehension that I considered the prospect of what today would bring Roadburn 2012, Day Three. Saturday, April 14. I looked at my pocket schedule — no fancy printouts or cellphone PDFs for me — and took a deep breath, steeling myself against the truly monolithic.

I’m sure the stories differ almost on a per-attendee basis, but my version of the final day of Roadburn proper went like this: Mike Scheidt, 40 Watt Sun, Dark Buddha Rising, Church of Misery, Pelican, The Wounded Kings, The Obsessed, Mars Red Sky, Sleep. If I was still standing, I wouldn’t know how.

The noon alarm gave me a little more time to get my head around what I was going to see, whereas the last two days it’s been up and go. Time well spent, since I was about to embark on the busiest day of this entire trip, a wave-crest culmination of everything that the last week-plus has been building toward. Fitting it should end with Sleep, since without them I and most of these bands probably wouldn’t be here. What now feels like aeons before the gods ascended their Olympus, however, Saturday afternoon began at 15.00 with Mike Scheidt in the Stage01 room.

Not 24 hours after YOB laid waste to the entire city of Tilburg performing all of The Unreal Never Lived, Scheidt, the guitarist, vocalist and driving force behind that band, emerged on 013‘s smallest stage to play acoustic songs from his upcoming Thrill Jockey solo release, Stay Awake — words which are also tattooed across his two hands, facing up for him to read. He got on stage talking about how excellent Doom had been the night prior and was soon in the thick of a spoken intro to a song called  “Until the End of Everything.” I’ve heard the album a few times in preparation for a review, and it takes some of YOB‘s sonic mysticism into account on “Until the End of Everything” and a few other tracks, but Scheidt was careful as well to acknowledge singer-songwriter roots, alternating between finger-picking strings and a rhythmic strum that was familiar to many in the room in its construction.

He’s still clearly working out the approach he wants to take to the form, and said on stage as well that performing acoustic was a recent advent for him and that he was very much enjoying it, but as he dug into the throatier vocals on the closing title-track to Stay Awake, there was little to no perceptible temerity or lack of confidence in what he was doing. The songs sounded better live than they do on the record, but most importantly, there’s room for Scheidt to grow and explore new ideas outside the context of YOB, which at this point have established at least in part the palette from which they continue to refine their sound. That is, they have a “sound” they continue to refine, whereas Scheidt is still finding out what he wants to be as a solo artist, and seeing that unfold on stage was engaging.

Main room openers 40 Watt Sun had been on my list to see since I missed them when they came through New York last year, so when Scheidt was finished, I took the not-at-all-a-secret passageway from Stage01 and prepared myself to get sad. That’s what 40 Watt Sun do. Their doom is as much contingent on emotional weight — if not more — than tonal, and that could be heard as well on last year’s The Inside Room (review here). That puts them in a tight spot in terms of a stage show, however, since they’re basically limited then to how much they can really get into a show experience before undercutting the pervasive emotionality of the music. To work at all, they almost have to be boring to watch on stage. You can’t have some dude doing jumping jacks and playing a song like “Carry Me Home.”

Well, you could, but you’d probably get laughed at. 40 Watt Sun relied on the music to carry their ideas across on stage, and the songs had enough presence to make up for any fireworks that may have been absent otherwise. Vocalist/guitarist Patrick Walker (ex-Warning) was visceral in his presentation of the material, or perhaps “wrenching” would be a better word. In any case, they managed to make an entire concert hall of burly beardos miss their wives and girlfriends at the same time. Maybe that’s just me projecting. Fair enough. Before they were done, and before I actually allowed myself to feel something (yuck), I made my way into the Green Room to catch the start of Finnish blackened doomers Dark Buddha Rising, whose theatrics were of a much different and more, uh, theatrical variety.

Until they came out on stage and I recognized faces, I didn’t know this, but Dark Buddha Rising shares at least two of its members with Hexvessel, who played yesterday. While that adds a level of intrigue into the initial discovery of who they are, it says nothing about how much the two acts have in common, which in turn is just about nothing. Dark Buddha Rising take the ritual Hexvessel preach and bring it to corpsepainted life, their frontman/noise-manipulator doused himself in “blood” from a chalice as he screamed and worked a wah pedal with his hand to add to the rumbling ferocity of noise from the guitar, bass and drums. I could take or leave that side of it — the stage show — but they had the doom to back it up. Lumbering, lurching, crawling malevolence came out to turn the Green Room black, and the music was more powerful than any chalice could contain. Vinyl-only to an apparent point of religiosity, it made me sad to not immediately go buy everything they had on their table in the merch area. Fortunately, I had Church of Misery to help drown my sorrows.

Drown them they did. Or maybe they smothered them. Or stabbed them. Or blasted them with a sawed-off shotgun. Whatever it was, Church of Misery‘s murderous grooves “took care of” any and all residual woes and rolled them up in a rug, never to be seen again. Unfortunately, there were a few technical difficulties for bassist Tatsu Mikami. Fortunately, they happened right during the jam part of “El Padrino,” so guitarist Tom Sutton got to just play out the “na na na” riff for about four extra minutes while the stage crew brought out a new bass head. That wasn’t the last of Mikami‘s troubles, but those things are unavoidable sometimes, and it’s not like Church of Misery have never played Roadburn and probably won’t again next year. If you’ve got to have a house band, you could do a hell of a lot worse.

Once they were up and running again, Church of Misery had the main stage crowd already well on their (meat)hook. The new vocalist, whose name I still don’t know, made an excellent master of ceremonies, and though I left for a bit in the middle to get a quick bite, I was back in time to see them finish out in riotous form, making way for Chicagoan instrumentalists Pelican, whose new EP, Ataraxia/Taraxis, is the first release from the band since 2009’s What We all Come to Need (review here) brought back around some of the escapist atmospherics that peppered their earliest works while also remaining consistently and consciously heavy. I remember seeing them on the “Champions of Sound” tour with Scissorfight at the old Knitting Factory in New York, and though I know I’ve encountered them between then and now, that will always be my frame of reference. At some point, then, Pelican grew up.

As they played, I turned my head to look at the crowd behind me, and all there was was a sea of nodding heads. They still had plenty of energy on stage, but at the same time, Pelican was a fully mature band, who’ve earned their spot between Church of Misery and The Obsessed. The main room was jammed with people, and Pelican handed each one a bleeding eardrum. Their grooves were huge, the sound was reverberating off the walls in a massive hum, and they didn’t let up. It wasn’t just impressive. It was landmark, and it renewed my appreciation for what they do. I wasn’t even that excited to see them, thinking there was no way they’d be able to replace that Knitting Factory show in my mind, but they absolutely did. It’s like they realized they didn’t need to choose between being heavy and being ambient or melodic. They crushed, and in a way that I didn’t think they were capable of or interested in crushing. That was the most surprising part of all.

On my list of “must” bands, The Wounded Kings ranked pretty high. I’d missed them last time they were here, and what with their having a totally different lineup now, showing up at the Green Room seemed more than prudent. Guitarist Steve Mills, who is the only founding member of the band, led The Wounded Kings through a round of songs from 2011’s In the Chapel of the Black Hand, which is appropriate since that’s the only record that four of the five in the lineup played on. Vocalist Sharie Neyland had a bit of vibrato to her voice that was well matched by the rumble of Jim Willumsen‘s bass, and Mills — who’s been through his share of trials in getting the band to this point — seemed thoroughly satisfied with the fruits of his labor. They were an interesting comparison point to Dark Buddha Rising, since both bands could probably be classified as occult doom, but each has a drastically different take than the other on what that designation might mean.

As a singer, Neyland puts The Wounded Kings on a new level entirely, and I feel now having seen them live as I felt when I reviewed the record, which is I hope the lineup stays consistent. Drummer Mike Heath and guitarist Alex Kearney only added to the potency of the other players, and it seemed the atmosphere was set from the outset and maintained the whole way through. The Green Room was full too, and then some, and considering Pelican was still going in the main stage and Leaf Hound was at Het Patronaat, it’s safe to say The Wounded Kings have made some real fans along the way on their bumpy road to this point. Mills works quick — for instance, this lineup of the band was put together and an album was released in a year’s time — so hopefully it’s not too long before we get another glimpse inside their house of horrors.

By this time in the day, my back and forth was in full swing. I’d gone from Stage01 to the main room, to the Green Room, to the main room, to dinner, back to the main room, to the Green Room, and now was headed back to the main room again for The Obsessed‘s reunion set. It takes a toll, both physically and in terms of what you see, but the tradeoff is you see more bands. Whereas yesterday I got to get more of a feel forwhat everyone was doing — I saw full sets from Wino & Conny Ochs, Conan and YOB — today and Day One were a different kind of experience. Obviously one still full of enjoyment and thrills, they just come in more rapid-fire procession. I’ll admit too that although I did a lot of running around today — I mean a lot — the weekend was beginning even early this afternoon to extract its toll on my energy level.

I’m not bitching. I hope you won’t take that to mean it that way, but I think fatigue, being worn out, is part of the festival experience and worth talking about. I wouldn’t have chosen to be anywhere else for the duration of today — or this weekend as a whole, for that matter — but that doesn’t mean I didn’t make two trips to the espresso machine in the merch area this afternoon to gear up for the evening’s lineup. The second time, I put in two 50 Euro cents and got a double. It had to be done, because the fact of the matter is it’s not every day that The Obsessed get on stage and do a show. Roadburn seemed to know it, too, since when I came back into the main room for the set, the curtain was drawn.

This led me to wonder what they could possibly be hiding. The lineup, if I’m not mistaken, was announced beforehand as being drummer Greg Rogers and bassist Guy Pinhas alongside vocalist/guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, so I’m not sure what was to be gained by drawing the giant curtain as the gear was loaded in and line checked. I didn’t expect much of a stage show, no explosions or dancing elephants, when The Obsessed got started, and sure enough, it was just the three of them rocking out those old songs. Once they actually began playing, though, I changed my mind about the curtain. It was awesome, and the reunion was special enough to warrant it. Once they hit into “Streetside,” I thought I tore my groove muscle — not to be confused with my “love muscle,” which is pretty much my forearm (heyo!).

Pinhas thanked the audience profusely and sounded utterly sincere, and he and Rogers nailed the material. It’s been since 1995 that The Obsessed played a set, though Weinrich worked Obsessed songs into his Wino trio performances, but if reunions from the likes of Saint Vitus and Sleep have shown anything, it’s that doom ages well. Getting to see The Obsessed play was one more really special occurrences that I’ve gotten to take part in on this trip, and I followed it up immediately by watching Mars Red Sky in the Green Room. It cost me part of The Obsessed‘s set, but after being so jealous of The Patient Mrs.‘ having seen them in Portland, Oregon, I had to follow up by seeing them for myself. The three-piece was positively humble and unassuming as they came out and started off their set with “Falls” from last year’s self-titled debut.

Guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras and bassist Jimmy Kinast have a new drummer in the lineup, as of reportedly two weeks ago, but the songs were smooth as they ran through them — “Strong Reflection,” the Kinast-vocal “Marble Sky,” “Curse” and a new song they didn’t give a title for but that seemed to show them heading further in the direction of balancing weighted tones with laid back grooves. You won’t hear me complain. It was one time this weekend where I can truly say that no one in the room was there by accident. Right across the hallway, you had The Obsessed rocking out songs that are legendary in doom, and yet the Green Room was full of heads come to worship at the warm fuzz coming from Pras‘ amp. For me, I’ll liken it to seeing Sungrazer at Roadburn last year, both in terms of the warmth of distortion and the equally rich satisfaction I got from doing so. They weren’t the highest profile act of the evening by any stretch, but Mars Red Sky were a highlight of my weekend (and with a weekend of highlights, that’s saying something), and I knew going into it that they would be.

Nonetheless, they were not the cap on the night. A mammoth, feedback-drenched, earth-rattling set from Sleep would follow back once more in the main room. Matt Pike, Al Cisneros and Jason Roeder. I’m honestly not sure if anything else needs to be said than that. Yeah, they’re not the full original trio of the band (though I’ve never heard anyone who’s actually seen Roeder drum on these songs complain; some conceptual kvetching), and yeah, nobody’s as young as they used to be, myself included, but goddamn, you put these guys on a stage and you better be sure your walls are reinforced. Doing one of their several extended sections of nothing but feedback and vibrating washes of noise, I found myself looking up at the 013 ceiling to see if anything was going to shake loose and fall on the crowd. I’m not kidding. I had my escape route all planned out — onto the stage, through the side door, out the loading dock. Off to safety I go.

It didn’t come to that, thankfully, but Sleep were at a pretty high threat level. High enough so that my earplugs did me no good whatsoever and my ears are ringing now. Before they even started — before his amps were even turned on — Pike came out and just started playing to the crowd. There was no sound, and he looked a little smashed, but even on mute, he earned vehement cheers. Before long, that solo turned into a mash of noise that, in turn, turned into the start of “Dopesmoker.” “Drop out of life with bong in hand/Follow the smoke toward the riff filled land” — words that have become the granite into which Sleep‘s legacy is carved, and I don’t mind saying I got chills up my spine as Al Cisneros delivered the lines. He did smoke a joint on stage, oh yes, and got a laugh by saying, “This intermission is brought to you by The Grass Company,” which is just down the street from 013 here in Tilburg. I don’t smoke, but I did suddenly want to order five shots and down them all; the music begging its adherents to be fucked up one way or another, I suppose.

Pike teased the opening riff of “Dragonaut” and a shockwave of electricity went through the crowd, and when they actually did it, it was glorious. Likewise “Holy Mountain” and “From Beyond,” both of which were just a huge, wondrous mess of abrasive noise and painful volume. The vocals weren’t the kind of shouts one hears when listening to Sleep’s Holy Mountain, or even Dopesmoker, but Cisneros was loyal to the songs all the same, vocally and musically, playing way up high on the neck of his five-string Rickenbacker, and where after seeing them in Brooklyn in 2010, I was unsure as to how the conflicting stage presences of Pike (a drunken madman) and Cisneros (a weedian guru) might play out correspondingly in their personal relationship, tonight they seemed absolutely on the same page with each other and with Roeder as the essential third of the band. One shudders at the possibility of a new album.

They went long, as I guess one will do when one is Sleep, and I had a laugh when they finished and the 1972 Charles Bronson movie The Mechanic came on the huge screen that was behind the band. Years ago, I interviewed Matt Pike for one of High on Fire‘s records — I think it was Blessed Black Wings — in person in Philadelphia, and afterwards at a bar, he told a story of being sat down as a child, I believe by his father, and being made to watch that very film since it was, “Everything you need to know about being a man.” Of course as soon as I could I got the DVD and watched it. It’s the story of two hitmen, a mentor and his protegé, and rife with betrayal, murder and a bizarre — and indeed, inherently masculine — code of honor that bonds its protagonists. Jan-Michael Vincent was the younger hitman. Anyway, the nod to The Mechanic gave me a chuckle as I worked my way through the beaten throng of Roadburners and out of the main room.

A Heavy Jam session with members of Witch and Earthless loomed ahead, but not for me. For me, it was back to the hotel to put the cap on this three-day exercise in riff worship. I’m not finished yet. Tomorrow is the Afterburner, and that’s got Electric Orange, Internal Void, and YOB doing all of Catharsis, among others, so I’m not yet in full-on reflection mode (not to mention it’s three in the damn morning), but suffice it to say for the time being that there’s a reason people come from around the world to play and attend this festival, and it’s because there’s only one Roadburn. It’s been exhausting, but it’s been a thrill too, and I’m looking forward to wrapping things up tomorrow with one more round of getting my ass handed to me at the Afterburner. Here’s to it.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Roadburn 2012: Pelican, Tombs, Ancestors, Church of Misery and Others Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

I wish I could go back in time to some terrible point in my life and say to myself, “It’s okay, Past Me. Someday you’re gonna go to a Dutch festival and you’re going to see Sleep, The Obsessed and Church of Misery all in the same day.” The latest news from Roadburn proves no less staggering than the realization of that. Sometimes it’s like existence is doing you a personal favor.

Here’s the update from Roadburn off the PR wire:

We’re excited to announce that seminal instru-metal pioneers Pelican have been added to the lineup of Roadburn 2012. Pelican last played Roadburn in the Green Room back in 2007, and will now appear on our main stage as part of their first European tour in several years. Pelican will play on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

Brooklyn’s Tombs bears the mark of total devastation. On the latest album, Path of Totality, Tombs not only evoke the classic sound and feel of black metal in its finest hour they also explore their disparate UK post-punk influences. And keep things incredibly listenable. The band has marched ahead boldly with the sound of impending doom since their inception and Path is endowed with all of the primordial intensity that is a hallmark of the aforementioned genres.
However, Tombs reach far beyond the ritual sounds of the past with an abundance of tonal variation. The gut-wrenching vocals and furious blastbeasts are interwoven with a dark and brooding atmospheric moodiness, making Tombs one of the finest heavy bands in the world. Tombs will appear on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

Making their fourth appearance in five years at the festival, it looks like Japan’s serial-killer-obsessed seekers of the almighty riff Church of Misery are poised to become the official Roadburn house band. All joking aside, Church of Misery were among THE highlights of the previous Roadburn festivals (even the main stage almost proved way to small for them), and Roadburn 2012 will mark their triumphant return, on the main stage again (of course!), together with Sleep and The Obsessed on Saturday, April 14 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

Los Angeles based psychedelic rock quintet Ancestors will be making a highly anticipated return to Roadburn for the 2012 Festival. On their latest EP, Invisible White, Ancestors tamped down their surging stoner rock leanings in favour of a more cinematic approach with long moog/ modular synth workouts very much reminiscent of Pink Floyd circa Meddle and Live at Pompeii. Charting a new course for the band’s progressive, colourful sounds, Ancestors will get the chance to reprise their stunning 2010 Roadburn performance, this time supporting  the release of a new, much anticipated album. Ancestors will play on Thursday, April 12 at the Midi Theatre in Tilburg, Holland.

Dragged Into Sunlight, Christian Mistress, Horisont, La Otracina, Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies and AUN have also been confirmed for Roadburn 2012, set to be held from April 12 to 15 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

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Pelican Breathe Deep

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on January 6th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

As indicated in the review, Pelican‘s new record did a number on the part of my central nervous system geared toward appreciating that which is pretty. I haven’t returned to What We all Come to Need on a daily basis (hey, it was the holidays, I was busy), but as if to serve a reminder of how cool the album was, the band have just released a new video for the vocal-inclusive album closer, “Final Breath.” The clip was directed by Matt Santoro.

Also included with the press release was info about some Scion-sponsored thing (not the fest), but I’m not promoting a car company. If you’re interested enough, Google it. Here’s the video. It, too, is pretty:

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Pelican and a Meeting of the Needs

Posted in Reviews on October 20th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster

Photography by Andrew Weiss. Montage/design by Seldon Hunt.Caught in just the right sunlight, the musical sprawl of influential Chicago instrumentalists Pelican is downright beautiful. Fortunately, it seems to be the exact appropriate time of day on their fourth full-length (first for Southern Lord), What We all Come to Need.

Taking cues from their earlier days with Australasia, much of urbane crunch that seemed to typify 2007?s City of Echoes is replaced here by open soundscaping and lush dynamics. That?s not to say Pelican are repeating themselves by any stretch. The growth of the band is evident in the careful structuring of opener ?Glimmer,? and What We all Come to Need only gets more complex from there. But to do a time comparison, both albums have eight tracks, City of Echoes was 42 minutes, What We all Come to Need is 51. There?s clearly been a shift in focus.

A Greg Anderson guitar contribution to second track ?The Creeper? is immediately identifiable, and Anderson is but one of several guests throughout the LP. Isis? Aaron Turner shows up in a similar capacity on the title track, Harkonen?s Ben Verellen donated bass to the opener, and The Life and Times? Allen Epley contributes vocals (!) to closer ?Final Breath.?

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You Should Go Listen to the New Pelican Song

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 25th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster

Dude on the right can see INTO YOUR SOUL.They’ve got one. It’s up on their MySpace, and it comes off their new record and Southern Lord debut, What We all Come to Need, due out Oct. 27. Song is called “Strung up from the Sky.” Go forth and dig it. When you’re done with that, you might want to check their merch page and grab a copy of the limited edition Ephemera CD. Just putting it out there.

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Striking a Chord

Posted in Reviews on August 11th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster

It's all about theory.There?s no difficulty in seeing commonalities between Chicago collective Chord and this generation?s drone lords, SunnO))), but more than sound, it?s the fact that both bands were formed around concepts that seems to draw them together. With SunnO))), it was grimrobes and walls of amps, and with Chord, who make their Neurot Recordings debut with the full-length Flora, it?s what can happen when four guitarists unite in notes to play a single chord. Hence the name.

It?s kind of like The League of Crafty Guitarists gone drone, and what it mostly rounds out to is waves of feedback and noise that occasionally intertwine gorgeously to create the actual chord itself. The four tracks on Flora, ?Am7,? ?Gmaj (bflat13),? ?E9? and ?Am,? obviously named after the respective chords, aren?t just about achieving that unison, rather exploring the notes themselves, pushing them, distorting them and discovering what textures can be created through and by them. There are no vocals, no drums, no samples or bass, just the guitars of Kyle Benjamin, Trevor de Brauw (whom Chicago post-metal aficionados will recognize from Pelican), Jason Hoffman and Phil Dole. Don?t ask who?s playing which note.

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