Ruby the Hatchet Finish Third Album; Touring Now with Earthless

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t mind telling you I’m looking forward to this one. My reasoning is two-fold: First, Ruby the Hatchet‘s 2015 sophomore album, Valley of the Snake (review here) — also their label debut on Tee Pee Records — was a gem. Memorable songwriting, crisp performances, a get-in-get-out sense of craft that still had room for atmosphere and setting a mood. Would be silly to not anticipate the follow-up. Second, though, is that in seeing Ruby the Hatchet this past summer at the first night of the Maryland Doom Fest (review here), every bit of their set showed them as not only realizing the level of accomplishment they’ve hit as a band, but being ready also to take another step forward. This impending third record, presumably, would be that step.

Spring 2017? Sign me up.

Ruby the Hatchet are on tour with Earthless starting tonight in Chicago. Dates and more info follow off the PR wire:

ruby-the-hatchet-photo-by-troy-memis

RUBY THE HATCHET Completes Work on New Album

Philadelphia Heavy Psych Outfit Conjures Spellbinding Space Rock on Long-awaited Third LP

Philly heavy psych quintet RUBY THE HATCHET has completed work on its highly anticipated new album. The bewitching rock troop featuring vocalist Jillian Taylor, guitarist Johnny Scarps, bassist Lake Muir, drummer Owen Stewart and organist Sean Hur, recorded the album in an 1800’s era estate deep in the Pennsylvania woods with engineers Joe Boldizar (Retro City Studios) and Zach Goldstein (Kawari Sound). The as-yet-untitled album is slated for a spring 2017 release via Tee Pee Records. The upcoming full-length follows the band’s celebrated sophomore LP, Valley of the Snake.

“Setting up shop and recording ourselves in an 1800’s era estate has been a pleasure and a labor,” comments Taylor. “We built the studio in house from the ground up – mostly Sean (organ), with help from our friends at Kawari Sound and Retro City Studios. From homemade preamps to third floor room mics hidden in echo chambers, the tones on this album are truly vintage. Putting ourselves into seclusion provided a process that influenced the album’s sound, allowing us to create our own pocket of deep space rock inside of a time warp where everything else stopped – politics, personal shit, the day-to-day worries that tarnish the soul…all gone. This album is like nothing we have ever made before.”

More details on RUBY THE HATCHET’s upcoming album will be released soon. The band will launch a U.S. tour alongside labelmates Earthless on December 2 in Chicago, IL. Fans can expect to hear a taste of the band’s new material on the two week trek, which runs through December 17 in Detroit, MI. The tour wraps up two years of heavy touring by the band in support of Valley Of The Snake, which saw RUBY THE HATCHET hit the road with Black Mountain, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and The Sword.

RUBY THE HATCHET tour dates:
* All shows with EARTHLESS
December 2 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
December 3 St Louis, MO The Firebird
December 4 Norman, OK OPOLIS
December 6 Dallas, TX Club Dada
December 7 Austin, TX Barracuda
December 8 Houston, TX Rudyard’s Pub
December 9 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
December 10 Atlanta, GA The EARL
December 11 Raleigh, NC Barcade
December 12 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
December 13 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
December 14 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus
December 15 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe
December 16 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
December 17 Detroit, MI El Club

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Ruby the Hatchet, Valley of the Snake (2015)

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Backwoods Payback, Fire Not Reason: Evening Odds (Plus Video Premiere)

Posted in Reviews on December 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

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[Click play above to check out the premiere of Backwoods Payback’s video for ‘You Don’t Move,’ directed by 51 Deep. The band’s new album, Fire Not Reason, is out tomorrow, Dec. 2.]

From the opening strains of its leadoff track, it’s clear Pennsylvania’s Backwoods Payback have made the choice the title of their third album presents: Fire Not Reason. With a screaming beginning, post-hardcore lead work in the guitar and an underpinning of heavy riffing that somehow ties it together, “Elephants” stomps out more of a genre span in its quickly executed three minutes than some bands do in their career, yet like much of what follows on the self-released outing, it wastes nothing.

It’s been five years since Backwoods Payback released their second album, Momantha (review here), and while they’ve released a 2012 live outing (discussed here) and the 2014 In the Ditch EP (review here) in the interim, the nine-song/30-minute Fire Not Reason hits with all the intensity of the passing half-decade, forming its crux around a brutal honesty of emotion and songcraft that’s neither apologetic nor ironic in the slightest. For founding guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings and bassist Jessica Baker, it is a realization of the human core that has always gone unnamed as the central appeal of the band: here metal, here punk, here grunge, here heavy rock, but most of all itself in a way that strikes as wholly without pretense. Intimidatingly without pretense.

Not that it’s in-your-face in some cliché metal dudeliness or aggro fashion. Certainly there are aggressive moments, as on “Elephants” or the black ‘n’ roll midsection of “Dirge” (video premiere here), which elsewhere provides one of the album’s landmark hooks — and if you told me second cut “You Don’t Move” was written with the intent of being a pro wrestling theme, I’d believe it — but throughout, Backwoods Payback keep emotional rawness so central to their mission that it comes to be the defining facet of their approach. Fire Not Reason finds further distinction in Cummings and Baker having added drummer Erik Larson to the fold. Known for handling guitar and/or vocals to one degree or another in outfits like Alabama ThunderpussyThe Might CouldHail!HornetBirds of Prey and so on, in addition to his solo work, Larson also drummed in Richmond, Virginia-based punkers Avail, and so is no stranger to the stylistic turns that Backwoods Payback make within these songs.

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Rather, he’s right at home in this trio incarnation of the band, and does much to bolster both the start-stop chugging of “You Don’t Move” and the more languid rollout of the later “That Dream Again.” While “Elephants” launches Fire Not Reason at an all-go, all-in melding of styles and drive, songs like “Don’t Try” and the somewhat faster centerpiece “Tuxedo” seem more like signature Backwoods Payback, as much as their sound permits anything to be. Informed by grunge and heavy and Southern rock, they make something that acknowledges all of them and isn’t necessarily shooting to emulate — perhaps less here than ever — but even when “Tuxedo” breaks at its halfway point to build back up to its full-thrust finish, they’re very much in their element if not necessarily their “comfort zone” in the sense of coming across lazy or haphazard in their approach.

Cummings, who has a couple solo acoustic releases to his credit at this point, takes center position for “Even Odds,” which transitions directly from “Tuxedo” before it and provides a sub-three-minute breather that also gives a side-B-style expansion to the sonic palette with which the album as a whole works. It is a long way from “Elephants” or even the slick groove of “Dirge” earlier, and it changes the context of the opening strums of the subsequent “That Dream Again,” which soon enough opens a heavy blues roll with a spaciousness that calls to mind a more on-the-beat All Them Witches in its first half before solidifying around a more forward motion and, as it nears its finish, a lumbering stomp made all the more palpable by Larson‘s crash. The penultimate “Snakes” is more immediately about swing, but its thickened fuzz moves smoothly into and through an upbeat hook before dropping out to give the drums a short standalone section where they’re soon joined by lead guitar and Baker‘s bass, which feels more tonally present in the last stretch perhaps because of the distinction of its kicking in on its own as the final piece to make Backwoods Payback‘s push complete.

It does that, and like much before it, “Snakes” ends efficiently and cleanly, with no frills or veering from its central intent, stopping short to let the nodding “California Lean” close out with one more three-minute affirmation of the truth in songwriting that’s been at the root of Fire Not Reason all along. It might fit in that same category as “Don’t Try” and “Tuxedo” in terms of how its nestles into Backwoods Payback‘s bottom-line aesthetic, as opposed to the branching out in cuts like “Elephants,” “Dirge,” “Even Odds” or even “You Don’t Move,” but “California Lean” also underscores the urgency with which the trio have brought this material to life, and as much as Cummings‘ vocals — willfully strained at times — or his or Baker‘s tones, or Larson‘s drums, or the general rawness of it, it’s that urgency tying Fire Not Reason together. Half a decade later, this is clearly a story the band needed to tell.

Backwoods Payback on Thee Facebooks

Backwoods Payback on Bandcamp

51 Deep website

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Green Meteor East Coast Tour Starts Nov. 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

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Philly heavy psych fuzzblasters Green Meteor are currently looking for a home for their five-song debut album, Consumed by a Dying Sun. To herald its arrival, they’ve posted a rough version of the gleefully blown-out “Acute Emerald Elevation,” which I think is just fancy verbiage for getting high and which opens the record. One will find it preaching lysergics to the converted in a manner that should serve Green Meteor‘s spaciousness well as they hit the road next month for what I’m pretty sure is the first time, running part-way down the Eastern Seaboard and back up just in time to round out with a gig alongside none other than Hawkwind at Philadelphia’s rightly-esteemed Kung Fu Necktie.

Not a bad show to open by any means, and as they’ll also share stages with Virginian weirdos Buck Gooter and Nate Hall of U.S. Christmas, among others, they seem intent on making the trip worthwhile all the way through. May it be the first of many.

Also they’re willing to play your house on Nov. 11 if it’s between Asheville and Wilmington, North Carolina. Just saying.

Info, dates and audio follow:

green-meteor-tour

Green Meteor tour in a few weeks.

Climb aboard the mothership with us!

We have no show on Friday 11/11 and will be in travel distance between Asheville and Wilmington, NC. Anyone wanna have a ridiculous house party and have us play? Hit us up.

Green Meteor live:
11/09 – Harrisonburg VA @ Golden Pony w/ Buck Gooter, etc
11/10 – Asheville NC @ The Odditorium w/ Nate Hall, etc
11/11 – South Carolina
11/12 – Wilmington NC @ Reggies 42nd st Tavern w/ City of Medicine, etc
11/13 – Richmond VA w/ US Bastards
11/14 – Baltimore MD @ The Ottobar
11/16 – Philadelphia PA @ Kung Fu Necktie w/ HAWKWIND

GREEN METEOR IS…
Leta: Celestial Summonings & 6th Level Sonic Complexities
Amy: Explorations of the 6 Degrees of Freedom
Tony: Anti-Gravitational Percussive Reverberations Through Time Space Continuum
Algar: Anti-Cosmic Astral Verses & Journeys into the 4th Dimension

https://www.facebook.com/Green-Meteor-183210485410192/
https://greenmeteor.bandcamp.com/releases

Green Meteor, “Acute Emerald Elevation”

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Backwoods Payback Announce Dec. 2 Release for Fire Not Reason

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

I have a hard time reading the title of Backwoods Payback‘s new album, Fire Not Reason, at this point and not hearing it in my head in the voice of guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings. He delivers the title-line in the song “Dirge,” for which the West Chester, Pennsylvania-based dirt rockers premiered a video here back in July — which you can also see below if you don’t feel like going to all the effort of clicking a link — which is one of the most striking inclusions on the nine-track offering, in part for the screams that show up later on, but even more for the breadth that Backwoods Payback cover in its sub-four-minute runtime while still keeping to a straightforward structure. I called it “dirt rock” basically because that’s what I’ve always called them, but the truth is way more complex, particularly as regards this outing.

They’ve set a Dec. 2 release date for Fire Not Reason, getting it in just before the music universe shuts down for the holiday season and everyone goes home to record who isn’t out playing a holiday tour. Half shuts down, maybe. Either way, it’ll go down as a 2016 release, and to mark its arrival, the trio — Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson (ex-Alabama Thunderpussy, many others) — will head north for weekender shows in Vermont and New Hampshire. Preorders are reportedly imminent as well, though through what outlet those will be has yet to be announced. Keep an eye out, I guess.

The band offered few words on the subject, but showed off the presumed cover art for the album, which shows the strip-it-to-the-core mentality from which they’re working at this point:

backwoods-payback-fire-not-reason

Dec 2nd 2016.
fire not reason
digital / cd / cassette

preorder info to follow

BACKWOODS PAYBACK:
Jessica Baker – Bass
Mike Cummings – Guitar/vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

3 human beings rocking harder than you.

Backwoods Payback live:
Dec 02 Showcase Lounge, Higher Ground South Burlington, VT
Dec 03 Dover Brickhouse Dover, NH

https://www.facebook.com/backwoodspayback/
https://backwoodspayback.bandcamp.com/

Backwoods Payback, “Dirge” official video

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Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, Salem’s Pot, Bridesmaid, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Landing, Reign of Zaius, Transcendent Sea, Red Teeth, Sea of Bones & Ramlord, Holy Smoke

Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

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I’ll admit I’m a little surprised at the shape this Quarterly Review has taken. As I begin to look back on the year in terms of what records have been talked about over the span, I find it’s been particularly geared toward debut albums, both in and out of wrap-ups like this one. There’s less of that this time around, but what’s happened is some stuff that doesn’t fall into that category — releases like the first two here, for example — are getting covered here to allow space for the others. Let’s face it, nobody gives a shit what I have to say about Russian Circles anyhow, so whatever, but I’m happy to have this as a vehicle for discussing records I still think are worth discussing — the first two releases here, again for example — rather than letting them fall through the cracks with the glut of new bands coming along. Of course things evolve as you go on, but I wish I’d figured it out sooner. Let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Russian Circles, Guidance

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From the warm wash of guitar that begins “Asa” onward, and no matter how weighted, percussive and/or chug-fueled Russian Circles get from there, the Chicago trio seem to be offering solace on their latest outing, Guidance. Recorded by Kurt Ballou and released through Sargent House, the seven-track offering crosses heavy post-rock soundscapes given marked thickness and distinct intensity on “Vorel,” but the record as a whole never quite loses the serenity in “Asa” or the later “Overboard,” crushing as the subsequent “Calla” gets, and though the spaces they cast in closer “Lisboa” are wide and intimidating, their control of them is utterly complete. Six albums in, Russian Circles are simply masters of what they do. There’s really no other way to put it. They remain forward thinking in terms of investigating new ideas in their sound, but their core approach is set in the fluidity of these songs and they revise their aesthetic with a similar, natural patience to that with which they execute their material.

Russian Circles on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

Salem’s Pot, Pronounce This!

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Following their 2014 RidingEasy Records debut, …Lurar ut dig på prärien (discussed here) – which, presumably met with some pronunciation trouble outside the band’s native Sweden – Salem’s Pot return with Pronounce This!, further refining their blend of psychedelic swirl, odd vibes and garage doom riffing. They remain heavily indoctrinated into the post-Uncle Acid school of buzz and groove, and aren’t afraid to scum it up on “Tranny Takes a Trip” or the slower-shifting first half of “Coal Mind,” but the second portion of that song and “So Gone, so Dead” take a more classically progressive bent that is both refreshing and a significant expansion on what Salem’s Pot have accomplished thus far into their tenure. Still weird, and one doubts that’ll change anytime soon – nor does it need to – but as Pronounce This! plays out, Salem’s Pot demonstrate an open-mindedness that seems to have been underlying their work all along and bring it forward in engaging fashion.

Salem’s Pot BigCartel store

RidingEasy Records website

 

Bridesmaid, International House of Mancakes

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International House of Mancakes – yup – is the follow-up to Bridesmaid’s 2013 long-player, Breakfast at Riffany’s, and like that album, it finds the Columbus, Ohio, instrumentalists with a penchant for inserting dudes’ names into well-known titles – see “Hungry Like Nick Wolf” and “Ronnin’ with the Devil” – but it also expands the lineup to the two-bass/two-drum four-piece of Scott Hyatt and Bob Brinkman (both bass) and Cory Barnt and Boehm (both drums). Topped off with KISS-meets-Village People art from W. Ralph Walters, there are shortages neither of snark nor low end, but buried underneath is a progressive songwriting sensibility that doesn’t come across as overly metal on cuts like “Ricky Thump” and doesn’t sacrifice impact or heft for the sake of self-indulgence. Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in “It’s Alectric (Boogie Woogie Woogie),” International House of Mancakes unfolds a heavy rock push that, while obviously driven in part by its sense of humor, earns serious consideration in these tracks for those willing to actually listen.

Bridesmaid on Thee Facebooks

Bridesmaid on Bandcamp

 

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Keep it Greasy!

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Too thick in its tones to be a completely vintage-style work, the sleazy vibes of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s Keep it Greasy! (on Rise Above) are otherwise loyal to circa-1971 boogie and attitude, and whether it’s the rewind moment on opener “U Got Wot I Need” or proto-metallic bass thrust of the “Hawkline Monster” or the brash post-Lemmy push of “Tired ‘n’ Wired,” the album is a celebration of a moment when rock isn’t about being any of those things or anything else, but about having a good time, letting off some steam from a shit job or whatever it is, and trying your damnedest to get laid. Radio samples throughout tie the songs together, but even that carries an analog feel – because radio – and the good Admiral are clearly well versed in the fine art of kicking ass. Familiar in all the right ways with more than enough personality to make that just another part of the charm.

The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Landing, Third Sight

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The invitation to completely immerse comes quickly on the 13-minute “Delusion Sound,” which opens Landing’s Third Sight (on El Paraiso), and from there, the Connecticut four-piece sway along a beautiful and melodic drift, easing their way along a full-sounding progression filled out with airy guitar and backing drones, moved forward patiently by its drum march and topped with echoed half-whispers. It’s a flat-out gorgeous initial impression to make, and the instrumental “Third Site” and “Facing South” follow it with a tinge of the experimentalism for which Landing are more known, the former led by guitar and the latter led by cinematic keyboard. To bookend, the 14-minute “Morning Sun” builds as it progresses and draws the various sides together while creating a rising soundscape of its own, every bit earning its name as the vocals emerge in the second half, part of a created wash that is nothing short of beautiful. One could say the same of Third Sight as a whole.

Landing on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records website

 

Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…

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While they’ve spent the last few years kicking around the deeper recesses of Brooklyn’s heavy underground, Reign of Zaius mark their debut release with the 26-minute Planet Of… EP, bringing together seven tracks that show what their time and buildup of material has wrought. Opener “Hate Parade” reminds of earliest Kings Destroy, but on the whole, Reign of Zaius are rawer and more metal at their core, the five-piece delving into shuffle on “Out of Get Mine” and showing an affinity for classic horror in both “They Live” – which starts with a sample of Roddy Piper being all out of bubblegum – and “Farewell to Arms,” previously issued as a single in homage to Evil Dead. The charm of a “Dueling Banjos” reference at the start of “Deliver Me” leads to one of the catchier hooks on Planet Of…, and the shorter “Power Hitter” closes with a bass-heavy paean to smoking out that digs into punkish summation of where Reign of Zaius are coming from generally as they continue to be a band up for having a good time without taking themselves too seriously.

Reign of Zaius on Thee Facebooks

Reign of Zaius on Bandcamp

 

Transcendent Sea, Ballads of Drowning Men

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Kind of a mystery just where the time goes on Sydney rockers Transcendent Sea’s self-released 50-minute first album, Ballads of Drowning Men. Sure, straightforward cuts like “Over Easy” and “Mind Queen” are easily enough accounted for with their post-Orange Goblin burl and boozy, guttural delivery from vocalist Sean Bowden, but as the four-piece of Bowden, guitarist Mathew J. Allen, bassist Andrew Auglys and drummer Mark Mills get into the more extended “Throw Me a Line,” “Blood of a Lion” and closer “Way of the Wolf” – all over 10 minutes each – their moves become harder to track. They keep the hooks and the verses, but it’s not like they’re just tacking jams onto otherwise structured tracks, and even when “Way of the Wolf” goes wandering, Bowden keeps it grounded, and that effect is prevalent throughout in balancing Ballads of Drowning Men as a whole. It takes a few listens to get a handle on where Transcendent Sea are coming from in that regard, but their debut proves worth at least that minimal effort.

Transcendent Sea on Thee Facebooks

Transcendent Sea on Bandcamp

 

Red Teeth, Light Bender

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Brothers Rael and Ryan Andrews, both formerly of Lansing, Michigan, art rockers BerT, revive their heavy punk duo Red Teeth with the four-song Light Bender 7” on GTG Records. Both contribute vocals, and Ryan handles guitar and bass, while Rael is on drums and synth through the quick run of “Light Bender, Sound Bender,” “Tas Pappas,” “134mps” and “Elephant Graveyard,” the longest of which is the opener (immediate points) at 4:49. By the time they get down to “Elephant Graveyard,” one can hear some of the Melvinsian twist and crunch that often surfaced in BerT, but whether it’s the ‘90s-alt-vibes-meet-drum-madness of “134mps” or the almost rockabilly riffing of “Tas Pappas,” Red Teeth – whose last release was eight years ago – have no trouble establishing personality in these songs. Approach with an open mind and the weirdness that persists will be more satisfying, as each track seems to have a context entirely of its own.

Red Teeth on Bandcamp

GTG Records website

 

Sea of Bones & Ramlord, Split

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One can hear the kind of spacious darkness and through-the-skin cold of New England winters in this new split EP from Connecticut crushers Sea of Bones and grinding New Hampshire compatriots Ramlord from Broken Limbs Recordings. What the two share most of all is an atmosphere of existential destitution, but there’s an underlying sense of the extreme that also ties together Sea of Bones’ “Hopelessness and Decay” (10:36) and Ramlord’s “Incarceration of Clairvoyance (Part III)” (10:10), the latter of which continues a series Ramlord started back in 2012 on a split with Cara Neir. Both acts are very much in their element in their brutality. For Sea of Bones, this is the second release they’ve had out this year behind the improvised and digital-only “Silent Transmissions” 27-minute single, which of course was anything but, and for Ramlord, it’s their first split in two years, but finds their gritty, filthy sound well intact from where they last left it. Nothing to complain about here, unless peace of mind is your thing, because you certainly won’t find any of that.

Broken Limbs Recordings on Bandcamp

Sea of Bones on Thee Facebooks

Ramlord on Thee Facebooks

 

Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!

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Philadelphia-based five-piece Holy Smoke formed in the early hours of 2015, and the exclamatory Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo! three-track EP is their debut release. Opening with its longest cut (immediate points) in “Rinse and Repeat,” it finds them blending psychedelic and heavy rock elements and conjuring marked fluidity between them. As the title indicates, it’s a demo, and what one hears throughout is the first material Holy Smoke thought enough of to put to tape, but on “Rinse and Repeat” and the subsequent “Blue Dreams” and “The Firm,” they bring the two sides together well in a way it’s easy to hope they continue to do as they move onto whatever comes next, pulling off “The Firm” particularly with marked swing and a sense of confidence that undercuts the notion of their being their first time out. They have growing to do, and by no means would I consider them established in style, but there’s a spark in the songs that could absolutely catch fire.

Holy Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Holy Smoke on Bandcamp

 

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Heavy Temple, Chassit: Daylight Save Me (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 26th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

heavy-temple-chassit

[Click play above to stream ‘Key and Bone’ from Heavy Temple’s debut album, Chassit, out on tape Nov. 19 via Tridroid Records with preorders starting Oct. 3.]

Checking in at four tracks/28 minutes, I felt compelled to ask Heavy Temple whether their new release, Chassit, which is out in November on tape through Tridroid Records with other formats to follow, is a second EP or, in fact, their debut album. 28 minutes is short for a full-length — lest we forget that 30 years ago, Slayer pulled off Reign in Blood in that time — but part of the reason I thought I should ask was because of the flow the Philadelphia three-piece set up between their included tracks: “Key and Bone,” “Ursa Machina,” “Pink Glass” and “In the Court of the Bastard King.” The answer? An album, and I think that’s fair enough.

Since the release of their Ván Records self-titled EP (review here) in 2014 — the same year they formed — bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk has changed the band’s configuration entirely, and while bringing aboard drummer Siren Tempestas and guitarist Archbishop Barghest no doubt has affected the overall sound, lineup alone simply can’t account for the cohesion of aesthetic that has emerged in what they do. There’s legitimate growth here, and as Heavy Temple cast off some of the trappings of cult rock over time — others hold firm — what they’re finding is an individual presence and style between harder-edged fuzz, classic stoner swing, and more ethereal impulses. Principally though, their material hits with a firm sense of purpose on Chassit in a way that Heavy Temple had not yet found.

That’s not to trivialize the contributions of Tempestas — who rolls out a monster groove on “Ursa Machina” and is the foundation of the aforementioned swing, played with admirable vitality — or the tone of Barghest, which becomes a defining element here from the start of “Key and Bone” onward, rather to say that in the context of the first release, Chassit shows growth from Heavy Temple as a whole and not just because it’s different players making up the band.

It’s well worth noting that over the last couple years I’ve become a fan of their work, so that’s the perspective from which I’m writing — I invited them to play The Obelisk All-Dayer this past August because of that — but as much as the first EP turned heads in their direction, Chassit seems primed to take that a step further, and considering it as their debut full-length, the progression it establishes as already being in progress is both exciting for its future prospects and in its current execution, the shorter, catchier, punchier “Key and Bone” with its riotous thrust setting up the longer cuts that follow in “Ursa Machina,” a more patient push with stops culled from classic blues but hammered in feedback and spacious, leading to a fuzzed-out, you-are-here moment of arrival in the last two minutes, fluid and righteously heavy and full in its sound without any sense of being tentative about where it’s headed.

Confident. Assured. Powerful. These aren’t things one would necessarily expect from a band making their debut, or even one putting together a second EP to demonstrate their wares — and depending on what Heavy Temple does next, Chassit might indeed wind up being their second EP — but by the time they’re two verses into “Key and Bone,” it’s clear they’ve thrown the subgenre rulebook out the window and worked to become their own band.

heavy-temple

This shift in approach only continues to suit them as “Ursa Machina” bleeds into the start of “Pink Glass.” As both tracks top eight minutes, they make up a significant portion of Chassit‘s total runtime, and it’s probably fair to call them the “meat” of the record, which is all the better for the blend of hooks and atmosphere they convey. Similar to the cut before, “Pink Glass” saves its largesse for the second half, but its beginning is perfectly paced in not rushing but still upbeat, with a catchy bounce in its chorus that sets up the latter portion, to which the transition begins at around the 3:30 mark as they work their way out of the last chorus.

Bass takes over complemented by sparse guitar, and for the next three and a half minutes, Heavy Temple show a quiet, patient side they haven’t yet displayed as they subtly build their way toward “Pink Glass”‘ explosive finish, an apex groove that builds its tempo smoothly as it arises and pays off the album as a whole as much as the song itself. Vocals return and soar in an ending chorus further marked out by an added layer of lead guitar — just a second or two of flash, but skillfully arranged — before the whole thing collapses into feedback and the start-stop beginning of “In the Court of the Bastard King.” Somewhat shorter at 6:03, the closer also pushes pretty far out, but in a different way, playing between an overarching thrust and hard-funk shuffle as it moves through its verses and layered chorus before departing the stomp in which it winds up via transitional tom work toward an ending wash of psychedelic noise.

There’s no coming all the way back this time, and having done so to such satisfying effect only one song prior, that makes the structure of “In the Court of the Bastard King” that much more engaging in how it ends the record. The underlying rhythm holds as the guitar freaks itself out and they do turn around to the central progression of the track in the last second or two, but by then the context has changed considerably, which is a further testament to their craft.

Part of the excitement of any impressive debut — or any impressive album at all, really — is imagining where the band’s creative growth might lead them in the years to come. To say as a fan already of their work that Heavy Temple exhibit significant potential to become something special on Chassit feels like underselling it, because to my ears, that moment is already happening here. Nonetheless, while they’ve set a high standard with these songs, I hear nothing in them to make me think Heavy Temple won’t keep growing and pushing forward from the elements presented here, and that their multifaceted but sonically consistent style will do anything other than continue to flourish. Here’s hoping.

Heavy Temple on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Temple on Bandcamp

Tridroid Records on Bandcamp

Tridroid Records on Thee Facebooks

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Carousel Call it Quits

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Whatever else you can say about Pittsburgh heavy rockers Carousel, they certainly had their adventures. The classically-styled outfit were brash, and their material brazenly took on ’70s stylization without going full-on vintage loyalist across their two albums, 2013’s Jeweler’s Daughter (review here) and last year’s 2113 (review here) — both on Tee Pee Records — and they came to represent a vision of classic heavy rock from the eastern half of the country that didn’t necessarily rely on the aggro approach of so many of the bands from the coast. Carousel were coming from their own place, soaked in booze and just a bit unhinged, but never veering from a quality songwriting that ultimately became their defining feature.

They call it quits after a somewhat tumultuous year. Last winter, they flipped their van in Wyoming on a West Coast stint. This Spring, they toured Europe alongside Elder with guitarist Alejandro Necochea (also of labelmates Worshipper) filling in for Matt Goldsborough (sometimes of Pentagram), playing Roadburn and Desertfest and many others besides. By that time, they’d already parted ways with drummer Jake Leger, who contributed to both albums, leaving just guitarist/vocalist Dave Wheeler and bassist Jim Wilson as original members as Justin Sherrell (ex-Blackout, Bezoar) took on the drums and John Dziuban (Sistered; who had initially joined on drums) became the guitarist. Like I said, tumultuous. Earlier this summer, Carousel canceled their scheduled appearance at Psycho Las Vegas for August, and a general lack of communication from the band ended with the announcement of their disbanding as Wheeler and Wilson plan to move forward in another band.

I was fortunate enough to see Carousel a year ago in Maryland (review here) and was struck by the vitality they brought to the classic rock form and the unabashed love they showed for the power of what a hook could do to an audience. Bottom line: Good band. They probably had more to offer than they got to.

Their announcement:

carousel

Hello fans and friends… It’s difficult to make this post but the time has come for carousel to call it quits. It’s been a hell of a ride but frequent lineup changes and other unfortunate events have necessitated this decision. Thanks to anyone who supported us over the years. We’re still humbled by the fact that anyone gave a crap about us or our music and we’re truly grateful to our label Tee Pee Records for taking a chance on us. Jim and Dave will carry on with their other band Outsideinside. We leave you with a clip of Jeweler’s Daughter live in Bilbao, Spain from our last tour. Again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It’s been a dream come true.

https://www.facebook.com/Carousel-220084014687656/
https://carousel2.bandcamp.com/
http://carouselpghmerch.bigcartel.com/
teepeerecords.com/products/

Carousel, “Jeweler’s Daughter” live in Spain, May 14, 2016

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The Obelisk All-Dayer Countdown: Heavy Temple, Chassit Teaser

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features, The Obelisk Presents on August 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk all-dayer

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

I’m gonna need you to take my word for it on this one. Really. You don’t want to miss Heavy Temple as they kick off The Obelisk All-Dayer this Saturday at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. You just don’t. They start the show at 2:30PM, and whether or not you caught onto their first, self-titled EP (review here), it doesn’t even matter because their new stuff blows it out of the water. Bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk — who needs real names, anyway? — has assembled a lineup of righteous compatriots and as a hard-fuzz power trio, they’re absolutely scalding on stage. Heavy nod, psych flourish, rhythmic density, memorable hooks and the occasional soaring moment that is absolutely bound to leave an impression.

Part of the reason I ask you to take my word for it is that the teaser below doesn’t actually give much of a taste of their upcoming next release, Chassit. The Philly three-piece will have a tape out via Tridroid by November, and presumably some more audio will precede before then, but the bit of noise and feedback proffered by Nighthawk, guitarist Arch Bishop Barghest and Siren Tempestas — who leads the march kicking into the track “Ursa” shortly hereafter — is the first audio to come from Heavy Temple since the self-titled and at very least it lets you know the kind of filthy tonality they’re getting down with these days. Way down.

Rest assured, there will be more to come on Chassit as we get closer to and through the release of the tape, but in the meantime, catch Heavy Temple this Saturday at The Obelisk All-Dayer with Mars Red Sky, Death Alley, Snail, Kings Destroy, EYE, Funeral Horse and King Buffalo. If you haven’t gotten tickets yet, get them here.

Thank you and enjoy:

Heavy Temple, Chassit teaser

The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets

Heavy Temple on Thee Facebooks

Saint Vitus Bar website

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