The Obelisk Radio Adds: Formes, Romero, Bellringer, Wizard Eye, Lewd Flesh and Red Mess

Posted in Radio on January 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

Usually I approach doing a batch of radio adds with some trepidation — after all, I’m basically writing five (or, in this week’s case, six) short reviews — but after doing that Last Licks series last week, this honestly feels like a breeze. Perspective is everything, and to add to yours and mine, I’ve got 18 records joining The Obelisk Radio playlist this afternoon, and it’s a widely varied bunch, both in what’s written up here and the actual makeup of the stuff.

Full-lengths, EPs, splits, a live release, a single, some doom, some black metal, some heavy rock, sludge, psych, you name it. I had the radio going for a while yesterday and heard a few really satisfying changes in style. I like that and I hope you do too, because I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon. Full list of adds is on the Updates and Playlist Page.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Jan. 9, 2015:

Formes, Dysphoria Part 1

formes dysphoria part 1

For an album that starts “Through this Hole” and finishes in “Dead Ends,” Formes‘ Dypsphoria Part 1 is a resoundingly progressive and diverse outing that, at its core, works primarily in playing shoegaze psych and extreme metal off each other. Somewhere between Dead Meadow and Akercocke, a song like “Dead Ends” finds a way to mesh wub-chug riffing with the crooning vocals of guitarist/bassist Steve McNamara with the responding death growls of his brother, drummer/guitarist Jordan. The UK three-piece is rounded out by Rob “The Alchemist” Hemingway, whose synths feature heavily in songs like “I am Nothing” and “Tumult,” which atmospherically expand on the ideas the opener presents, thrusting these two sides into the same place and, in defiance of what are generally thought of as the physics of genre, making it work. Formes‘ most effective moments are when they ram one into the other, as on the acoustic-to-doom-pummeling “Smile Club,” which follows quietly seething brooder “I Will Make You Ill” and rounds out with an extended whistle of harsh feedback, but I won’t discount the value they clearly place on structural variety either. Together, they make Dysphoria Part 1 as satisfying as it is unpredictable, and while I don’t know when one might expect Part 2 or just how many installments of Dysphoria there might be, I look forward to when I can next encounter the fruits of Formes‘ stylistic restlessness. Formes on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Romero, Gold for the Hunt

romero gold for the hunt

Madison, Wisconsin, sludge poppers Romero made a New Year’s present out of “Gold for the Hunt” by offering the song as a free download on Jan. 1, but it’s also the first new studio material to come from the four-piece since their early 2013 full-length, Take the Potion (review here). Like that album, the single revels in a Floor/Torche influence, but seems to delight even more in its fuzzy tone and burly edge in the vocals of guitarist Jeffrey Mundt and drummer Ben Brooks. With the foundation of Patrick Hotlen‘s bass rumbling beneath, the guitar and vocals push through a tension-release chorus and into a well-layered chugging bridge that further highlights Romero‘s penchant for melodic bellowing. Guitarist/percussionist/organist Tim Consequence seems all but absent initially, but in the final movement, a sustained current of organ winds up as one of “Gold for the Hunt”‘s most distinguishing factors. Well, that and the brutal growing, anyway. Glad to hear from Romero, even in so abbreviated a manner. If you’ve never encountered them before, “Gold for the Hunt” provides a quick, efficient summary of their approach, and if you heard Take the Potion, the new song will only make you further anticipate the follow-up. Romero on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Bellringer, Bellringer EP

bellringer bellringer ep

Based in the weirdo haven of Austin, Texas, newcomer trio Bellringer – for whom this untitled/self-titled, self-released EP is the first outing — boast a familiar face (or at least a familiar cowboy hat) in guitarist/vocalist Mark Deutrom (Clown Alley, peak-era Melvins), who’s joined by bassist Corey Cottrell (ex-Megazilla) and drummer Craig Nichols (Guided by VoicesThe Breeders) on these four tracks. The sound, while adventurous stylistically and in terms of the construction of individual parts, is rooted in heavy rock, opener “Vapor Lock,” a catchy number like “Wait” and the instrumental chorus of “Von Fledermaus” reminding some that, yes, Deutrom was the bass player on Stoner Witch, but particularly in the latter an even more resonant impression comes across like Masters of Reality‘s blend of pop and heavy rock oddness. That vibe continues on the nine-minute psych-jam closer “The Burning Gift,” which brings Deutrom‘s vocals forward and works in keyboard arrangement flourish, bell sounds, string sounds and various melodic volume swells to underscore the point that, even on Bellringer‘s introduction, pretty much anything goes if it works. So be it. The world needs more experimental rock that doesn’t forget there are two sides to that equation, and Bellringer seem to come out of the gate ready to gleefully tip the scales one way or the other. Bellringer on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Wizard Eye, Riff Occult Live

wizard-eye-riff-occult-live

If, like me, you’ve been itching to get a handle on some new music from Philly’s theremin-laced, golly-these-guys-need-to-get-a-new-record-out stoner doom trio Wizard EyeRiff Occult Live should do the trick. All but two of the tracks — “On the Banks of a River” and the meshed-together “Gravebreath/Say No More” — come from the riffy three-piece’s forthcoming sophomore outing, and while it’s definitely a live record, the dense fuzz and nod-ready roll that guitarist/thereminist/vocalist Erik Caplan, on-a-first-name-bassist Dave and drummer Mike Scarpone conjure wins out anyway on cuts like “Drowning Daydream” and “Flying/Falling,” Scarpone‘s kick drum a pop in the low end while Wizard Eye ooze their way through one Sabbathian jam into the next. Opener “Eye of the Deep” sets a tone for extended solos and thick groove, and Wizard Eye do not falter from that path as the set makes its way to the 11-minute final jam, each riff arriving, kicking ass, and moving on in well-purposed succession. Riff Occult Live doesn’t entirely sate the anticipation for a new album, but it certainly doesn’t hurt either. Wizard Eye on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Lewd Flesh, Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte

LEWD FLESH - OP I RØVEN, DØ I SMERTE

Marked out immediately by the echoing, over-the-top bluesy vocals of Malene Pedersen, Copenhagen heavy rockers Lewd Flesh make their Spaghetti Casetti Records debut with the Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte 7″, bringing together the two songs “Acid Rider” and “Lewd Troves” to give a professional, crisp first impression across two sides and about 11 minutes. Guitarists Nanna Braunschweig Hansen and Casper Nilsson, bassist John Madsen and drummer Jakob provide the backdrop for Pedersen‘s rocked-out vocal thrust on “Acid Rider,” and more ’90s-style cues are taken on “Lewd Troves,” the wailing guitars offering a flourish of noise influence to coincide with the band’s straightforward production. It is their first outing, and two songs, and it’s a raucous start to make, but there’s room to grow as well in Lewd Flesh‘s hammering out their balance of grunge, noise and heavy rock impulses and figuring out where to place the vocals in the mix. To the credit of both the band and the release, Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte sounds both smoothly produced and on-stage energetic, and hopefully they can keep that spirit intact as they continue to grow. Lewd Flesh on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Red Mess, Crimson EP

red mess crimson

Familiar riffs abound on Red Mess‘ debut EP, Crimson, and the Brazilian trio give due reverence to the likes of Sabbath and Goatsnake, but it’s the rougher, semi-retro presentation that draws the listener into the atmosphere created by guitarist/vocalist Thiago Franzim, bassist Lucas Klepa and drummer Douglas Labigalini over the four tracks/22 minutes. There’s something theatrical in Franzim‘s vocals to opener “Trapped in My Mind” that also give a classic Alice Cooper Band feel to the proceedings as well, and that’s really just one element of heavy ’70s worship that continues on “Hole” and the subsequent, motor-ready “Stoneage Coopers,” but they save the best for last in 5:30 closer “Through the Trees,” which offsets Graveyard-style subdued blues noodling with heavy rock thrust, a highlight performance from Klepa alongside Labigalini‘s swinging cymbal and tom work, and an engaging build throughout. They’re feeling their way through developing their sound, and that’s exciting to hear since the three-piece already has some considerable chemistry between them. Hopefully they’re able to take lessons from Crimson – named, apparently, in homage to a classic prog influence — and move forward as they discover where they want to go and how they want their songs to take them there. Red Mess on YouTube, on Bandcamp.

Had to get that sixth one in there, and not just because it frees up another space on my desktop. The idea behind doing adds like this isn’t just to remind people there’s a radio component to this site. That’s part of it, sure, but the bigger agenda here is to hopefully give you another opportunity to check out music you might dig. That’s why the audio is right there under each review. I sincerely hope something above piques your interest and that you also share it with someone you think will enjoy.

Thanks as always for reading and listening.

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Ruby the Hatchet to Release Valley of the Snake Feb. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

ruby the hatchet

That most-anticipated-for-2015 list just keeps growing, and today, Philly five-piece Ruby the Hatchet make an entry with the impending Feb. 24 release of their Tee Pee Records debut long-player, Valley of the Snake. The cover art and tracklisting have just been posted for the album, for which Ruby the Hatchet have booked a trio of quality NYC gigs to support in Feb. ahead, presumably, of other live plans to be revealed. Their prior single, Eliminator, was released last Feb. on 7″ and tape, and like that single, the new album features cover art from Adam Burke.

Details off the PR wire spread blue cheer:

ruby the hatchet valley of the snake

RUBY THE HATCHET to Release New LP Valley of the Snake February 24

Philadelphia Psych Metal Group Unveils New Album Details

Philadelphia psychedelic doombringers RUBY THE HATCHET are one of heavy music’s finest on-the-rise bands. The critically acclaimed psych metal group will release its new album, Valley of the Snake, on February 24 via Tee Pee Records. The hotly-tipped quintet recorded the new LP at Retro City Studios in Germantown, PA.

RUBY THE HATCHET’s music fuses the sinister tactic of brainwash with blistering riffs and the rebellious mood of sorcery, re-imagining a different path for metal. Evoking a decade’s worth of maturity gained in just a few short years, the genesis from the band’s 2011 self-titled EP to present day has been nothing short of stunning. Valley of the Snake is a six song journey; a fantastical trek with huge, blistering tracks that journey over peaks and valleys and ditches and oceans before leaving you spinning. Seething and spitting, RUBY THE HATCHET hammers behemoth waves of dogma and doom, merging precision and patience with a sinister foot-stomping, head-bobbing power. Vocalist Jillian Taylor’s serpentine vocals, scene-stealing howls and macabre lyrics conjure holistic atmospheres over swollen grooves that grow and flow in circles and waves. Guitars crunch, wail and burn.

Heavy-handed and hypnotic in equal parts, RUBY THE HATCHET creates the perfect shape shift between psych density and metal grandiosity, representing something utterly imposing; primeval and oppressively heavy while maintaining a level of breathless intensity over the course of the full album. This hex is for you.

RUBY THE HATCHET Valley of the Snake Track listing:
1.) Heavy Blanket
2.) Vast Acid
3.) Tomorrow Never Comes
4.) Unholy Behemoth
5.) Demons
6.) Valley of the Snake

* Valley of the Snake is available for pre-order purchase now: iTunes / Amazon.

RUBY THE HATCHET live dates:

February 5 New York, NY Saint Vitus (w/ Danava, Natur, Dirty Fences)
February 14 New York, NY The Acheron (w/ Joy)
February 17 New York, NY Cake Shop (w/ Joy, Carousel)

https://www.facebook.com/rubythehatchet
http://instagram.com/rubythehatchet
https://twitter.com/rubythehatchet
http://rubythehatchet.tumblr.com/

Ruby the Hatchet, Eliminator 7″

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Wizard Eye Announce Management Deal and Release Live Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

wizard eye

Underrated Philly riffers Wizard Eye are gearing up to play the Feast of Krampus this weekend in their hometown and Brooklyn alongside Wino and Sixty Watt Shaman and others, but in the meantime, the three-piece have announced a new management deal with 313 Inc. (Sixty Watt ShamanOrder of the Owl, etc.) and released a new live album for pay-what-you-want download called Riff Occult Live. Pretty busy week, but if Wizard Eye are sending out 2014 with a bang — or perhaps a rumble, given their tones — one can only hope that portends an active 2015 around the release of their new album, Thunderbird Divine.

Word came down the PR wire as follows:

wizard eye riff occult live

Wizard Eye Signs With 313 INC Artist Management; New Live Release Now Available on Bandcamp

Philadelphia psychedelic doom trio, Wizard Eye (https://www.facebook.com/wizardeye), has just announced its recent partnership with Connecticut-based 313 INC Artist Management (www.ThreeThirteenInc.com). The company’s key manager, Scott Harrington, is excited to be involved with the band.

“Sometimes you hear something that makes your heart rate jump and the little hairs on your neck stand straight up,” Harrington says. “For someone in my line of work It’s instinct telling you, ‘Damn, these guys are on fire… And we have to work with them!’

That sums up the first time I heard the giant riffs that spilled out of this killer trio. Fast forward a few months of intense negotiations, and we are proud as all hell to have Wizard Eye a part of the 313 INC Artist Management family.”

The band feels adding a management component to its strong catalog of material and its engaging live performances will help create a new level of awareness and build new opportunities for its future.

“Scott and 313 INC have a genuine interest in our music and our success, and we look forward to seeing what we can do as a team,” says Erik Caplan, guitarist/vocalist of Wizard Eye.

As a complement to this new signing and in anticipation of the band’s upcoming release,Thunderbird Divine, Wizard Eye has released a free live album, Riff Occult: Live, on Bandcamp.com. This set was recorded at The Balcony at The Trocadero in Philadelphia August 9, 2014, and it is available at https://wizardeye.bandcamp.com/album/riff-occult-live

Catch Wizard Eye’s final performances of 2014 at The Feast of Krampus (https://www.facebook.com/theFeastOfKrampus)
12/27 at Underground Arts (Philly): http://tktwb.tw/1ytK6ko
12/28 at Saint Vitus Bar (Brooklyn): http://ticketf.ly/1ub6PLB

https://www.facebook.com/wizardeye
https://wizardeye.bandcamp.com/album/riff-occult-live
www.ThreeThirteenInc.com
https://www.facebook.com/theFeastOfKrampus

Wizard Eye, Riff Occult Live (2014)

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Doctor Smoke’s The Witching Hour Available Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

doctor smoke

Split between Ohio and Pennsylvania, the four-piece Doctor Smoke have just issued their first full-length, The Witching Hour through Totem Cat Records. The long-player follows last year’s four-track Demo 2013 (review here) and repurposes three of those songs, including leadoff duo “The Willow” and “Blood and Whiskey,” giving the implication that they knew what they were going for their first time out and it’s not like their initial batch of songs needed to be scrapped. The other original cut from the demo, “The Seeker” appears on The Witching Hour – the last track was a Pentagram cover — but the album ups the band’s game in terms of production and presentation, their hooks coming across with a decidedly dark, brooding sensibility, more horror than cult, but still definitely aware of ritual.

CD is out on Totem Cat. I’m not sure about a vinyl release, though one has to imagine it’s in the works or in the pre-works one way or another, and the foursome already hit the road in support of the demo, so it seems probable they’ll do likewise for the album itself. More on that as it comes up, but the album’s on Bandcamp, so here’s the stream and info for you to dig in:

doctor smoke the witching hour

Our debut full length album available on CD in Digipak format from Totem Cat Records.

All music and lyrics written and performed by Doctor Smoke

Matt Tluchowski – Lead vocals/Guitar
Steve Lehocky – Lead Guitar
Cody Cooke – Bass/Vocals
Dave Trikones – Drums

Drums and bass recorded December 2013 at The Bombshelter – Nashville, TN
Engineered by Andrija Tokic and Jason Blackburn

Guitars and vocals recorded August-September 2014
Engineered by Steve Lehocky and Matt Tluchowski

Mixed by Steve Lehocky

Mastered by Gus Elg at Sky Onion – Portland, OR

Saxophone on “From Hell” performed by Mitchell Lawrence

Artwork by Katie Umhoefer - www.StrangeFortuneDesign.com

Layout by Casket Vex Design - www.facebook.com/CasketVexDesign

http://doctorsmoke.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/drsmokedoom
http://totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com/

Doctor Smoke, The Witching Hour (2014)

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Crypt Sermon Stream “Heavy Riders” from Debut LP Out of the Garden

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

crypt sermon

Philly doom five-piece — yeah, there’s four in the pic above, but take my word for it that there are five guys in the band — Crypt Sermon are getting ready to put out their debut album, Out of the Garden, on Dark Descent Records. Their first long-player follows Dark Descent‘s release of their Demo MMXIII (review here), which was one of my favorite short releases of 2013, and they’ve just made the song “Heavy Riders” available to stream as the first public audio from the record. That’s cool enough on its own for me to want to post about it, but Out of the Garden adds even more intrigue via its cover art, which was painted by vocalist Brooks Wilson and matches form with the band’s grand style.

Click to enlarge that, and check out the album info and “Heavy Riders” below:

crypt sermon out of the garden

CRYPT SERMON: Philadelphia Epic Doom Cult Debut a New Track from ‘Out of the Garden’

Philadelphia-based doom powerhouse CRYPT SERMON released its stunning first demo via underground tastemakers Dark Descent to wide critical acclaim, and have now debuted a new track from its upcoming darkened offering. “Heavy Riders” is currently streaming on Soundcloud and on Youtube—let the power of true doom compel you!

The project itself is new, but the musicians behind it have spent combined decades honing their skills and perfecting their vision. Crypt Sermon features members of Ashencult, Hivelords, Infiltrator, Trenchrot, and Labyrinthine. Drawing heavily upon Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Mercyful Fate, and Dio-era Black Sabbath, Crypt Sermon amalgamizes the absolute best of traditional heavy metal and doom metal. Its members focus on excellent musicianship and well-crafted songs. They truly care about writing heavy riffs and killer solos – not just tuning their guitars low.

In the early days of 2015, the band will release their debut-full length, Out of the Garden, on CD/LP/digital format through Dark Descent once more. The breathtaking cover art was painted by the band’s vocalist Brooks Wilson.

CRYPT SERMON is:

Brooks Wilson – Vocals
Steve Jansson – Lead and Rhythm Guitars
James Lipczynski – Rhythm Guitars
Mellor – Bass Guitar
Enrique Sagarnaga – Drums

Crypt Sermon on Bandcamp
Crypt Sermon on Facebook
Dark Descent Records Website
Dark Descent Records on Facebook

Crypt Sermon, “Heavy Riders”

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Fall Tour Pt. 18: Kings Destroy, Bang and Radio Moscow, Philadelphia, PA, 10.30.14

Posted in Reviews on October 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

johnny brendas

Even before I get to liking these bands, I’m biased on this show because both of the city and the venue. If you want to save some time reading, the short version is good times were had. I’ve seen some cool shows at Johnny Brenda’s, was more than a little bummed when Om recently rolled through and I couldn’t be there for it. That show was sold out and so was this one, with Pentagram returning to Philadelphia for what will be their last show in town before they go and record their next album. Traveling with Kings Destroy, we had to head Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)out early, so I didn’t get to see them headlining, but caught Bang and a decent portion of Radio Moscow, and by the time Bang went on, second after Kings Destroy, the place was already packed out. One does not image it became less so as the evening wore on.

I had a weird, vegged out moment at the start of Kings Destroy‘s set. They kicked off this time with “Smokey Robinson,” and I was taking pictures from the balcony at Johnny Brenda’s, and I guess I just went on autopilot. My version of tour mode, maybe. It was a couple minutes before I sort of snapped back to consciousness, and I made my way downstairs from the balcony for “Turul,” which was also jumbled in the set, Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)pushed much earlier than where it might usually appear. That song came to embody a lot of the character of last year’s A Time of Hunting LP for me, its unabashed strangeness and creepy feel standing in for how that material shifted outside the more straightforward riffy doom of the first record. Live, Kings Destroy always seem to revel in it, holding out the hits that slam down for the verse.

“Old Yeller” closed again, which I think works well, and “Mr. O” continues to reside comfortably toward the middle of the set, blindsiding people who think by then that they have the band figured out. With the added off-color element of the dude up front wearing one of those creepy horse masks and Steve Murphy‘s Clamfight shirt with “CENSORED” taped over the vagina-esque tentacle monster there featured, the vibe was pretty loose and where some of the bigger spots on the tour have seemed to kind of become Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)events, this was just a show. It was kind of a relief, to be honest with you. I don’t know how many people showed up to Johnny Brenda’s in relation to how many were at the Soundstage the night before, but it seems like the tallies were probably close, and in the smaller room, it made for a much better mood all around. Sold out show. Hard to beat that in any size space.

Even if it means you’ve got just about nowhere to go. Bang went on second and ran through their set. It’s not their first time playing Philly since their reunion started, and they were treating it as a hometown show. So was the crowd. The room was plastered and dancing by the time Bang were rolling, and that seemed to suit the band just fine. Same set they’ve been doing, but no complaints. More so than in Baltimore, Bang (Photo by JJ Koczan)they looked again like they were really enjoying themselves, and it was fun to watch. As far as victory laps go, this tour would be a hard one for a band that hasn’t been on the road in 40 years, but “Keep On” was a stone groove as ever and the sound was heavier than it’s been all along with all the volume trapped in that confined room, nowhere to go but through the earplugs.

That served Radio Moscow well too, Parker Griggs‘ guitar screaming back on itself while young and old offstage got caught in the full-tilt conversation. A three-piece, Radio Moscow fit well on the stage where with five Kings Destroy had been somewhat more crowded — as had the four-piece Pentagram when they backlined their gear — and they took quick command of Johnny Brenda’s, which was happy to go along with them for “Just Don’t Know,” “Death of a Queen,” “Broke Down,” “Before it Burns” and “250 Miles,” which is what would remain stuck in my head for the rest of the night, its Radio Moscow (Photo by JJ Koczan)stripped down bluesy roll by now nestled well into the fractured, exhausted, tour-ebola-added remains of my consciousness. Paul Marrone‘s drum fills came in torrents and Anthony Meier‘s bass tone coated the room, and people just flipped out for them. That’s been the case all along — their audience skews young as compared to, say, Pentagram (though Pentagram have a fair number of younger heads out now as well thanks in part to Last Days Here, the documentary on frontman Bobby Liebling), and the kids go fairly apeshit with each arriving guitar solo — but their response seemed especially fervent in Philadelphia. What had been a chilly space quickly warmed up.

Radio Moscow (Photo by JJ Koczan)Load out started during Radio Moscow‘s set, all of Kings Destroy‘s gear had been brought down into the back hallway of the venue after they played and was basically just waiting for everyone to relax a bit and have a couple drinks, chat with Clamfight‘s Sean McKee, who was kind enough to come to the show, etc. I could still hear “These Days” while guitars and heads were being loaded in the back of the van, and we weren’t quite moving to a place 250 miles away, but I know it was about 130, so we took off before Pentagram, apologizing to drummer Sean Saley on the way out. See you tomorrows, all around.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Fall Tour Pt. 17: Politicians in My Eyes

Posted in Features on October 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

sky from bridge

10.30.14 — 4:17PM — Thursday — Johnny Brenda’s, Philly

“We got a call about a suspicious van…” — The Cop

The smell of barbecue sauce is immediate and pervasive upon walking into Johnny Brenda’s. I’ve said many times before that I’m a huge dork for Philadelphia, and there are a lot of times I miss being in Philly more than New York since I moved away last year. Even being a two-hour drive from this city, just knowing it was there was reassuring. The area around Johnny Brenda’s is much the same as I last left it — hasn’t been that long — if incrementally more gentrified. Someone should set up a camera on Girard Street and do a time lapse for the next five years. You can see the property values being raised in real-time.

A knock came on the hotel door this morning and it was Carl saying we were leaving. Like now? Like now. I took a quick shower anyway — there was time — and hit the Flying J for coffee, iced tea, orange juice and some Tylenol Cold and Sinus. I’d woken up coughing pretty viciously and needed to get that shit under control. Still feel better today than yesterday as regards tour ebola, better than in Pittsburgh. Coffee was alright, which was fortunate because I bought a 24 oz. cup of it, and soon enough we got going. Carl’s had an abscess on his leg for most of the tour and yesterday it became clear enough that it wasn’t going to go away on its own and something needed to be done about it. By something, I mean a lancing and draining of pus. Pop.

He and Steve had tried to go to an urgi-center this morning near the hotel, but to no avail in terms of the place taking Carl’s phillyinsurance, so we had to head north a bit into Jersey to find another spot. I think we were somewhere around Cherry Hill when we pulled into the parking lot and he went in, set about filling out forms and all the rest. Steve and Jim Pitts went for a bite of pizza and C-Wolf, Rob, Aaron and I just hung around by the van. It was going to be a while, and yeah, that’s how it worked out. Rob went down the way to CVS and bought a devil mask that he may or may not wear tomorrow night in Burlington for the Halloween show, and I started the review of last night sitting in the parking lot using the place’s wifi so as not to eat up data in the van. My hope is it was vaguely coherent, but I have my doubts. The whole idea for today was that since there wasn’t a long drive — we’ll have five hours tomorrow, give or take, up to Burlington after two-and-a-half tonight to Steve’s place outside NYC — we’d just kind of loaf around the Comfort Inn until it was time to head to Philly. Didn’t quite pan out.

Carl had gone to the CVS to fill his prescription when the cops showed up. Two cars, two officers, said they’d gotten a call about the van. Fair enough. School kids were crossing the street by then and legitimately, it’s a van full of weirdos and longhairs. I mean, in a perfect world they’d be too busy locking up ass-grabbing crossing guards and shit, but I get where they’d want to ask a question and confirm what we were doing there. Steve explained to them that we’re just souls whose intentions are good and asked that we please not be misunderstood. It was an easy enough interaction but any time the cops are involved it could just as easily go the other way, so yeah, a little tense. We picked Carl up in the CVS parking lot and headed out at a perfectly normal speed. Nothing to see here, folks.

In the spirit of Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar, Johnny Brenda’s is a small place that does good shows. The difference is there’s also a bar/restaurant downstairs here. The gig is sold out, so I expect it will be good and crowded offstage as well as on. I should probably get some food between now and then, or I could just sit here and continue to cough.

 

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Fall Tour Pt. 14: Pentagram, Radio Moscow, Bang and Kings Destroy in Pittsburgh, PA

Posted in Reviews on October 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

mr smalls

…Or at least near Pittsburgh, if not actually “in” it. Mr. Smalls Theatre, a righteously converted church with cavernous ceilings, incense smell baked into the walls and, thankfully, a spacious balcony, seems to be across the river from downtown, so I’m not sure what the exact designation is. Millvale, maybe? Anyway, it’s damn close to Pittsburgh, and that’ll have to do.

When I first got inside, I went and talked to the sound guy for a minute, just to say hi, cool room, etc. He asked which band I was with, and I said I was touring with Kings Destroy but I didn’t play, and he goes, “Just a hanger on?” That felt good. Deeply good. I think I said something like, “Yeah, basically,” and asked him for the wifi password. For what it’s worth, the sound all night was excellent. As I said last post, I was feeling kings destroy pbpretty under the weather for this one, so I stayed on that balcony for the duration. The show was the four touring bands — Kings DestroyBangRadio Moscow and Pentagram, in that order — and the place got fairly packed out by the time Radio Moscow went on, but even for Kings Destroy with an early 7:30PM start, there were people there. They were thanked for showing up early.

Granted, I was in a haze anyway — I kept nodding off before the bands went on, sitting in my chair on the balcony — but it was a very different experience watching the show from such a distance. More like a clip on YouTube or something. The energy was still there, but the physical sense of being away from it made it another kind of appeal. Add to that the pressure in my sinuses, which with the earplugs in made the whole thing kind of otherworldly as Kings Destroy started up with “Old Yeller” and got the show rolling in their lurching kind of way. “The Toe” followed, and while people were still coming in, I could see up front they were getting into it. A bird’s eye view of what I’ve been able to sense happening all along. I felt a little bit bang pblike I was doing an anthropological study.

The tour is in go-mode, so it wasn’t a surprise that Kings Destroy or anyone who played after them owned the stage as well as they did. It didn’t really matter how many people were there at any point, they were doing their show and did it well with nearly a week of every-night plowing through behind them. “Smokey Robinson” from the new album was one of three newer songs to be aired, with “Mr. O” given a much appreciated shout to yours truly and “Embers” following. Three really killer songs that represent the new record well in being some of their best work to date. “Blood of Recompense” closed and Bang came out after a long changeover and gave their set a workout. They’ve played the same songs every night, but they’re more locked in now than they were when the tour started in Chicago, Frank FerraraFrankie Gilcken and Jake Leger continuously smoothing out their classic sound, Leger blending seamlessly radio moscow pbwith the two original members in giving a fresh swing to the warm grooves, paced well and easy-rolling.

Radio Moscow absolutely scorched. Opening with “So Alone,” they tore into “Broke Down” and the dangerously catchy “Death of a Queen” from this year’s Magical Dirt LP, the always-welcome “Just Don’t Know” and “Open Your Eyes” — I think — before having their set cut short. That was a bummer and the crowd expressed their discontent in a round of boos that turned to cheers in support for the band. Nothing was broken, nothing out of order — guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs, bassist Anthony Meier and drummer Paul Marrone had been tearing ass through their frenetic heavy psych jams of which, even from as far away as I was, I could feel the vibrancy. Apparently the show was just running late and they were the ones who took the hit. Still, even the chance to see them play any songs at all was a win for Mr. Smalls, which showed appreciation in a fervent round of applause.

I was fading fast. I’d been nodding off during Bang – that’s not a slight pentagram pbon their performance, just noting that I was having a hard time keeping my head up. I knew I wanted to stick around for at least the start of Pentagram, and I did do that, watching “Death Row” and “All Your Sins” and the The Animals cover, “Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood” that has become a nightly inclusion before I had to tap out. The good news was that Mr. Smalls was loud enough that even laying down in the back of the van, I could still clearly hear the band playing, but yeah, my evening was done a little early.

Load-out happened at its usual leisurely pace and I drove to where we were staying, about 25 minutes out of Pittsburgh in a place called New Stanton. Got in around one and I know I was out before two, though much of the night was spent coughing and trying to keep my head in a position to allow the mucus to drain. Would I be out of line if I said “ugh?” Not my best night, but at least the show was good.

No extra pics this time, but I’ll hope to pick back up in Baltimore as the tour moves on for the next gig.

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Fall Tour Pt. 13: Heaven and Hell

Posted in Features on October 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

pittsburgh

10.28.14 — 5:52PM — Tuesday evening — Mr. Smalls balcony, Pittsburgh, PA

“I am Dr. Remulak. I am Dr. Remulak.” — Chris Skowronski and Rob Sefcik

My head feels like it’s going to cave in. Not in that good, rock and roll kind of way either, like when I watched Beast in the Field the other night. Like in the my-sinuses-have-revolted-and-are-trying-to take-the-rest-of-me-down-from-the-inside kind of way. I could feel it yesterday (was that yesterday?) when I woke up at Postman Dan’s, but it started to get real bad overnight last night, tossing and turning, unable to breathe and all that wonderful at vanhaving-a-cold stuff. Traveling sick. I used to call it SARS. I guess if I wanted to be current I’d call it ebola. Another day, another plague.

I had a cold the week before I left to come on this tour, but was pretty sure I’d gotten over it, so I think this is just another round from the road time, lack of sleep and so on. I got maybe four hours of sleep last night, nodded off at 3:30 and woke up at 4:45 just in agony. It sucked. I shit you not, I walked outside the Red Roof Inn to see how far away I was from the traffic I wanted to go play in, but I was too far to even do that. Fucking brutal. Today I’ve been a full-on booger fountain, and coughing, and the pressure in my head pounding away. I claimed a spot on the balcony at Mr. Smalls — which as a photographer I met in Cleveland last night told me, is an awesome room in a converted old church — and plan to stay here for the duration, but even so, I might not make it through the show before I go back and lay down in the van. Aaron was kind enough to give me a pack of Halls he had that was apparently a spare, and I bought some severe strength DayQuil and have taken Advil in an attempt to bring the swelling down in my sinuses, but nothing’s given me any real relief. I’m also warm as fuck and think it’s probably a fever. My Ron Burgundy impression has taken a real hit as a result.

Honestly, feeling like shit has been my major activity for the day. We stopped once in Ohio on the way to Pittsburgh and sat in some bridge traffic once we got to the city, but other than stopping for a very quiet pre-show meal — not quite dinner, not quite lunch — at some sub-hipster exposed-brick brewpub in what quickly got referred to as the “Massage District” and getting a chicken caesar wrap and some fries and foolishly not getting a cup of coffee when it was being ordered, it’s been pretty tame. There’s like a 70 percent chance I’m going to take my shoes off as I watch this show tonight sitting on the balcony. Maybe band eatingeven 83 percent. It’s going up by the minute because tilting my head downward to look at the laptop monitor is pushing all the mucus toward my face. Once again, brutal.

It’s worth noting that as of tonight, this tour is more than halfway over. Pittsburgh is the fifth of the 10 dates Kings Destroy are doing with Radio Moscow, Bang and Pentagram, but when you factor in the Lansing show, it’s the centerpiece of an 11-date run and it’ll mean more than half the tour is down when it’s over. A while to go before we get there, since the night hasn’t started, and I won’t say I’m not looking forward to watching the gig, but neither will I mind falling asleep as quickly as I possibly can afterwards and hopefully staying that way for at least five solid hours. Doesn’t seem like an unreasonable demand, but we’ll see how it goes.

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Fall Tour Pt. 2: Solomon’s Theme

Posted in Features on October 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

packing the van

10.22.14 — 8:34PM — Wednesday evening — The van, somewhere in PA

“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the angel dust.” — Rob Sefcik

Pennsylvania is deep. Pennsylvania is so deep that Hawkwind should’ve been writing songs about it. As predicted, most of the day has been spent on Route 80, headed westbound to a town called Clyde, Ohio, plucked at just-a-little-less-than-random for its placement between New York and Ohio. It was an early start but we still wound up running late, not that it really matters when we get there. Pretty sure the Red Roof Inn in Clyde will stay open until we get there.

Steve and I got out pretty early this morning and headed to Lyndhurst, NJ, to pick up the van from the rental company. Right off Rt. 3 — familiar terrain. After that, we went in hill in paManhattan to pick something up from his apartment and I snuck in a bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel and a cup of coffee, felt like I was getting away with something. It was glorious. Bagels like that don’t exist in Massachusetts. I had no idea so many of my tastes were regional until I moved. Whatever. Another great sandwich duly chronicled. Aaron met up with us there and we headed into Brooklyn to pick up the rest of the band at Kings Destroy’s practice space and get the gear packed up. It was a little before one when we hit the road, crossed over the George Washington Bridge and headed west on Rt. 80 like the warriors on the edge of time that we might as well be.

Few stops today. It’s mostly been about putting hours in. One piss break at a rest stop where some dude with “Don’t Tread on Me” and a $40,000 SUV gave me sideways looks as I stood outside the van. I’d like to know who he thinks is treading on him but I know the answer he’d give and I’d rather not hear it. We stopped in a town called Clarion not too long ago for dinner at a place called Captain Loomis — much pirate-voice ensued — that has apparently been open since before the Civil War. Stoner Girl who was our waitress wound up telling us about the pretty serious charges she copped in the last month or so and how she might face felony jail time. For pot. I kept thinking about Mr. Tread Upon and the general fucking cluelessness that surrounds us every day. Accordingly was quiet at dinner, not that I another hill in pahad much to add to the discussion of how much old hardcore singles bring in on eBay. Jim Pitts was on that shit. Admirably so.

Carl is driving now, and he’s got a solid playlist going: Sleep, Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, old Helmet, Prong’s “Prove You Wrong,” some Nick Cave or something that sounds close enough to it to fool me. I’ll take it. It’s dark now but earlier in the day I got a decent look at some of what’s apparently a gorgeous autumn in Pennsylvania, leaves all different yellows and reds like bubbles on hillsides. I’ve seen it before, but nice to look without running off the road, which is usually the case driving way out here. It was pretty gray all day, and even now there’s cloud cover, but no major weather troubles or any other kind to report. Just putting in time to get to Chicago tomorrow so these guys can play the first show and start the tour, and I can do whatever it is I do out here.

Eager to see this thing start, but feeling good. Looking forward to getting to Clyde, Ohio, which isn’t something I ever really imagined myself saying.

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Here are Full Sets from All Them Witches and King Buffalo from Their Tour Last Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

all them witches

I drove five hours to go to this show. That’s not something I mention because I’m Johnny Lovesriffs or something like that, like I’m all hard core, it just means I really wanted to see these bands play together. Nashville’s All Them Witches and Rochester’s King Buffalo were on the road and East Stroudsberg was about as close as they were coming to me. I could’ve waited a month and caught All Them Witches with Windhand – that tour came right through Boston — but this was the one I wanted to catch. These bands, playing together, right now. So I did.

And from the curious layout of the Living Room to All Them Witches drummer Robby Staebler climbing a tree when I showed up, it was one of the best gigs I’ve seen this year, easily (review here). Local post-metallers King Dead opened, and their drummer, Steve Truglio, also happened to tape both King Buffalo and All Them Witches‘ sets for a A/V series he calls My Show – back in 2012 I went to a taping he did with The Atomic Bitchwax (review here) — and the footage of both acts has been posted as part of that series. Needless to say, I’ve been digging in to remember the good times.

Everything All Them Witches played came off their sophomore full-length, Lightning at the Door (review here), and King Buffalo played all three tracks from their 2013 demo (review here) and then some, giving a taste of what their debut long-player will have to offer when it arrives, hopefully sometime in the New Year. Most importantly, both bands were in complete command of their sound — King Dead weren’t half bad either, for that matter — and revisiting the footage only affirms for me host lucky I was to be at the Living Room to see this one in the first place.

Hope you enjoy:

King Buffalo, Live at the Living Room, East Stroudsberg, PA, Aug. 23, 2014

All Them Witches, Live at the Living Room, East Stroudsberg, PA, Aug. 23, 2014

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

Steve Truglio’s My Show

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Ecstatic Vision Debut Album Due in 2015 on Relapse Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

ecstatic vision

Freaked out heavy psych rockers Ecstatic Vision will release their debut long-player next year on Relapse Records. The four-piece trace their origins to Philly — which seems to be following in Brooklyn’s footsteps in becoming a home to an East Coast psychedelic surge — and are a new band with some faces that metallers might recognize in guitarist/vocalist Doug Sabolick and drummer Jordan Crouse, both formerly of A Life Once Lost. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the new group is a long way from the old one.

And hey, if you’re starting out with a new band, signing to Relapse is a pretty good beginning considering for most underground acts out there it qualifies as “living the dream,” so cheers to Sabolick and Crouse on the fresh take and if the demo for “Astral Plane” below is something to go on, 2015 will hold much reverby weirdness.

They announced the inkery as follows:

ecstatic vision relapse

Ecstatic Vision Sign To Relapse Records

Band to Record Full-Length Debut this Month

Relapse Records is proud to announce the signing of Philadelphia, PA heavy psych quartet ECSTATIC VISION (Doug Sabolick – Guitars / B3 / Vox, Michael Field Connor – bass, Jordan Crouse – Drums / Percussion, Muffinman – Percussion). Formed earlier this year, the group has quickly made a name for themselves in Philly, having already played numerous high profile shows.

ECSTATIC VISION will complete the recording of their full-length debut upon their return which will be released via Relapse in early 2015.

A demo for the song “To The Astral Plane”, from the band’s upcoming debut, can be heard HERE while footage of the group live can be viewed HERE. Frontman Doug Sabolick commented on the new material:

“We are currently recording our debut album at various studios around Philly. The album is a great mix of trance inducing primitive African tribal meets heavy psych a la Hawkwind. We are stoked to be working hand in hand with Relapse to bring this unique album to fruition and bring our brand of heavy psych to the masses.”

Stay tuned for more information on ECSTATIC VISION.

Ecstatic Vision Tour Dates:
Sep 09 Winston-Salem, NC The Garage
Sep 10 Charlottesville, VA Tea Bazaar
Oct 28 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus w/ Pallbearer and Tombs

https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticvision/
http://ecstaticvision.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com/label/

Ecstatic Vision. “Astral Plane” demo (2014)

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Live Review: All Them Witches, King Buffalo and King Dead in Stroudsburg, PA, 08.23.14

Posted in Reviews on August 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

“There ain’t no saints allowed in here,” informed All Them Witches bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr. between songs in response to some half-heard banter from the crowd, who were referencing Anchorman. “If you’re a saint, you have to leave.”

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, is a cool little town. And I’m not condescending; that’s what it is. A little town. It’s not a big place in the center, though homes range out into the hills around — my father lived there years ago — but there are bars and restaurants and in the vein of a lot of post-industrial centers, it’s been the artists left to revive it. When I parked, a folk duo were playing on a stage in an alleyway nearby. I hit Main St. Jukebox before heading over to see All Them WitchesKing Buffalo and King Dead at the Sherman Theater Living Room, and was thrilled to find a CD copy of Demon Fuzz‘s Afreaka (the YouTube of which I’m just going to link here because that’s how much I think you should hear it). The venue was right down the road, and when I got to The Living Room, I found All Them Witches drummer Robby Staebler climbing a tree outside.

That’s something he’s licensed to do, and he had a harness on and whatnot, but clearly I was early. King Dead would start the show in about an hour, the local bass/bass/drum trio playing tracks off their debut demo (track stream here), which also happened to be recorded in that room. They were in their element, and cuts like “Length of Rope” and the particularly notable “God Makes a Lot of Fucking Promises” stood out well, the arrangement of the area of the floor on which they played such that they were almost sideways to the back of the venue. Well-worn easychairs and loveseats lined the other side, and were put to use, and all three bands played in front of local art. King Dead‘s atmospheric explorations carried through four-stringer Kevin Vanderhoof, six-stringer Will McGrath and drummer Steve Truglio to a crowd familiar with what they do, and despite a false start early on, they gave a solid showing as the audience started to trickle in.

People would continue to show up throughout the night. Next door, at the Sherman Theater proper, there was a metal show, so some spilled over from that to mix with those who’d actually come to see these bands. King Dead were a switched-on start, and after a short break so cameras could be set up to film the next two acts for Truglio‘s “My Show” web series, Rochester, NY’s King Buffalo rolled out spacious heaviness backed by flashing rope lights around their amps, playing not only the three tracks from their 2013 debut demo (review here) –King Buffalo (Photo by JJ Koczan) “Pocket Full of Knife,” “In Dim Light” and the sprawling jam “Providence Eye” —  but more from their impending STB Records debut LP, which should be out next year. Bassist Dan Reynolds had on an STB shirt, and as on the recording, he subtly loosed low-end righteousness in form and tone throughout the duration, giving sunglass’ed guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay room to trip out in his solos and a moving foundation for drummer/vocalist Scott Donaldson to match pace. They’re a relatively new trio, and McVay, suffering a migraine, had a garbage can next to him while he played as a precaution for nausea, but god damn did they kill.

I was a fan as well of Donaldson‘s prior outfit, the now-defunct Velvet Elvis, but King Buffalo tap into prime heavy psych fluidity while keeping enough of a base in classic rock songwriting to still have structures to work around. They were exciting to watch, in their individual play and together, and I felt more than somewhat vindicated in how much I’d been looking forward to seeing them. With more than a touch of blues as well, they were also an exceptional match and lead-in for King Buffalo (Photo by JJ Koczan)Nashville’s All Them Witches, who would follow shortly, setting up a visually impressive Fender Rhodes for Allan Van Cleave to go with Parks‘ bass, Staebler‘s drums and Ben McLeod‘s guitar, which even from back in the corner of the room, was plenty loud enough to make an impression. I knew going into the night that I was going to see something special — this band at this moment — and I don’t want to oversell it, but something special was precisely what I got.

Most of what they played was recognizable from their soon-to-be-properly-issued sophomore full-length, Lightning at the Door (discussed here), including the opener “Funeral for a Great
Drunken Bird,” which immediately distinguished Van Cleave‘s contributions to the richness of All Them Witches‘ sound in a way I hadn’t previously appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, all four players are essential to what the band does, whether it’sAll Them Witches (Photo by JJ Koczan) McLeod‘s slide work, Staebler‘s percussive swing — his drums out flat in front of him, almost like little tables he gets to smash, with minimal cymbal accompaniment — or Parks‘ deep tone and psych-blues echo vocals, but I guess just listening to Lightning at the Door and the preceding Our Mother Electricity (review here), I didn’t understand the dynamic as well as I did actually watching them play “The Marriage of Coyote Woman,” a wide-open highlight of the evening along with the chugging “Swallowed by the Sea” and “Mountain,” the album’s alternately contemplative and riotous closer.

It was “Charles William” that finished out All Them Witches‘ set, and I don’t think I could’ve asked more from it than was delivered, the crashing apex and bounce of the thing infectious enough that it would remain stuck in my head the rest of the night. Parks‘ vocals, less compressed live, were all the more engaging — one can hear the soul and frontman’s confidence beginning to surface there — and the noise that capped was well earned and more than justified. To get to the point, I was really fucking glad to have been there to see it.

It was about five hours of road time for me to get to this show, so I feel somewhat compelled to explain why I was there. Both King Buffalo and All Them Witches were bands I knew I wanted to see this year. I could’ve waited. All Them Witches are touring with Windhand next month and coming much closer to where I live than Stroudsburg, and I’m sure I’d catch up with King Buffalo sooner or later, but I felt like this was the right show at the right time in the right place, all the more with King Dead opening, so I had to make the trip. To get to see King Buffalo and All Them Witches together, it just seemed like a chance to experience a moment before it was gone, and I knew it was one I wanted to witness. Not to toot my own horn or call myself Captain Foresight or anything, but I was absolutely right in that decision. Well worth the trip and then some.

All Them Witches (Photo by JJ Koczan)Owing to a complicated scenario of mutual plans not really worth going into, I met The Patient Mrs. in New Jersey after the show. King Dead rounded out the night at The Living Room with a second set jamming out, but I knew I had a drive ahead, so I picked up The Patient Mrs. and we made our way back north into Connecticut, arriving at three in the morning to crash out and pick up in the morning back to Massachusetts. Sleep would play the next night in Boston, and much like this gig, I knew there was no way I was going to miss it.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Read more »

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Ides of Gemini, Michael Rudolph Cummings, Witch Charmer, Kikagaku Moyo, Spindrift

Posted in Radio on August 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

It’s a pretty wide stylistic swath with this week’s adds to The Obelisk Radio, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If you check out the playlists for the last couple days, you’ll see a considerable variety of track picked out — also a lot of Clutch – and that only bolsters the appeal of the stream as far as I’m concerned. Straight-up riffs all the time is cool, I guess, but sometimes a left turn out of nowhere can make your whole day seem richer. Maybe that’s what I’m going for with this week’s picks. Either way, it’s a lot of quality, so your tuning in is appreciated.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Aug. 15, 2014:

Ides of Gemini, Old World/New Wave

ides of gemini old world new wave

The Sera Timms-fronted three-piece return with Old World/New Wave, their second album on Neurot Recordings with a suitable foll0w-up collection of otherworldly melodies and ethereal instrumental explorations, setting a balance between doomly undulation and minimalist ambience. Also handling bass, Timms (ex-Black Math Horseman) is of course in command of her form vocally, and guitarist J. Bennett and drummer/backing vocalist Kelly Johnston play more than a complementary role, the trio functioning even tighter than on their 2012 debut, Constantinople, hitting on psychedelic mastery with “White Hart” and rolling out a classic riffly chug on the later “Fememorde.” Mood and ambience are never far from being the central focus, but Ides of Gemini let loose a bit on “The Chalice and the Blade,” with Bennett‘s guitar taking forward position in the mix with an echoing lead tone that seems to be in direct conversation with Timms‘ vocals. It’s a dialog worth hearing, and one that makes Old World/New Wave a markedly rich, immersive listening experience, the spaces the three-piece create in their songs seeming inevitably destined for headphone-on isolation, and in that context, flourishing. Ides of Gemini on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.

Michael Rudolph Cummings, “Long Haul”

A single following the earlier-2014 solo release, Get Low, from Pennsylvania-based Backwoods Payback guitarist/vocalist Michael Rudolph Cummings, the new song “Long Haul” finds Cummings partnered with his Backwoods bandmate Jessica Baker (bass), as well as guitarists Dan Metzker and Pat Shannon and drummer/vocalist Mike Bardzik under the adopted moniker mRc and the Souvenirs. The feel of the track is accordingly full-band, casting off most of the punk influence and heavy tonality that distinguishes Backwoods Payback‘s riff-led take in favor of warmer, classic rock vibing. Cummings‘ voice is suited to the change, and especially following Get Low, “Long Haul” feels like an exploration in progress — new ground being felt out — and I’d argue it’s successful in its push toward creating something distinct from Cummings‘ other solo work and the Backwoods itself. He’s reportedly got an EP coming with The Souvenirs, and as a first taste of what that might sound like, “Long Haul” holds promise of good things to come. Michael Rudolph Cummings on Bandcamp, Backwoods Payback on Twitter.

Kikagaku Moyo, Mammatus Clouds

Improvisational five-piece Kikagaku Moyo are obviously comfortable working in longer forms. The Tokyo outfit’s second offering, Mammatus Clouds, was initially released as limited tape through Sky Lantern Records and has been picked up by Cardinal Fuzz for a deluxe 2LP. No real question why — its three tracks, “Pond” (27:50), “Never Know” (16:50) and “There is No Other Place” (3:19), enact a lush wash of hypnotic, sitar-laced psychedelia. “Pond” is especially satisfying in its exploration, drones and melodies playing out over a consistent rhythmic bed, driving further and further out into ambient breaks and louder payoffs until dropping out to spacious waves of noise, but I won’t discount the appeal of realizing that Kikagaku Moyo are playing off The Beatles‘ “Tomorrow Never Knows” in their own “Never Know” either, taking a recognizable sitar line and burying it deep within their own impulses, truly making an individualized work of it. Likewise, the closer “There is No Other Place” comes as a surprise, an effects-drenched psych rocker quick in its pulse and building to Mammatus Clouds‘ noisy conclusion. The sound here is richer than the average heavy jam, and the effectiveness of the ambience is not to be understated. I haven’t heard the vinyl or the tape, but I have a hard time imagining a format on which this music isn’t absolutely beautiful. Kikagaku Moyo on Thee Facebooks, Cardinal Fuzz webstore, Sky Lantern Records on Bandcamp.

Witch Charmer, The Great Depression

Multi-vocalist UK bruiser doomers Witch Charmer debut on Argonauta Records with The Great Depression, the follow-up first full-length to their 2013 Euphoric Curse EP. Mixed and mastered as that release was by Mos Generator‘s Tony ReedThe Great Depression works well to establish a varied if not necessarily stylistically diverse sound, frontwoman Kate McKeown, guitarists Len Lennox and Adam Clarke and drummer Dave McQuillan all contributing vocals — the band is completed by bassist Richard Maher — over dense and accordingly depressive riffing. I’m not sure which of them does the Kirk Windstein-style growls, but they’re pretty dead on, as “A Watching of Wolves” will attest, and the tradeoffs both keep the record moving and keep a sense of spontaneity to coincide with the rolling riffs and longer arrangements, leading to the extended closer “Stare into the Sun,” which hides a sample-topped acoustic outro. Not sure why they’d feel the need to bury those impulses, but their first outing may be setting the stage for an unfolding creative progression, and cohesive as it is, I’m not going to knock it for solid riffs front to back and a doomed-out feel. Witch Charmer on Thee Facebooks, Argonauta Records.

Spindrift, Exotic Detonation EP

Underrated cowboy psych outfit Spindrift — now featuring guitarist Thomas Bellier of Blaak Heat Shujaa — apparently had some material leftover from last year’s Spindrift: Ghost of the West, and three new songs surface as the Exotic Detonation EP via Tee Pee Records, bringing The Twilight Zone to mind immediately on the opening title-track before launching into the snare-march Morricone-isms in which they so readily trade. That Spindrift would wind up doing soundtrack work — to their own movie, no less — isn’t surprising, since their style is so cinematic, but I guess “Exotic Detonation,” the desert-jammy “Ghosts Go West” and the minimalist finale “High Plains Spindrifter” didn’t fit on the initial release. Issuing them on a complementary EP makes sense, and from the standpoint of the radio stream, it’s three more Spindrift songs that weren’t there before, so fair enough. They continue to reside in a very particular niche that’s very much theirs, and for fans of those who might happen into them live, Exotic Detonation will seem right at home among their other Western thrills. Spindrift on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.

I could tell you how long this took me to put together, but frankly it’s embarrassing. Still, this is but a portion of the albums added to The Obelisk Radio this afternoon. To see the full list (it includes Pallbearer), check out The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page.

Thanks as always for reading and listening.

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Heavy Temple, Heavy Temple: Alpha and Omega

Posted in Reviews on August 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s a cavernous and mystical sound that Heavy Temple have conjured for their self-titled debut EP. After impressing with a single for “Unholy Communion” last year — that song is also presented third of the extended three cuts on Heavy Temple and is out as a cassingle via Sarlacc Productions — the Philadelphia outfit were picked up by Germany’s Ván Records for the vinyl and digipak CD issue of this more complete first outing, and it’s an endorsement of no small consequence, Ván having long since proved the mettle of its tastes via picking up cult-minded acts like Year of the Goat and The Devil’s BloodHeavy Temple – here a trio but now a duo with bassist/vocalist Elyse “High Priestess Nighthawk” Mitchell as the sole remaining founder — present a more laid back style of grooving than either of those two, but remain plenty heavy nonetheless across “Dirty Ghost” (8:17), “Legendary Conversations with Ants” (7:31) and the aforementioned “Unholy Communion” (13:15) and offer atmosphere to match the intermittent full-thrust tonal heft. They are, in fact, notably cohesive  in their approach, and particularly for their first time out, Heavy Temple seem to arrive with a firm notion of their intent, what they want to sound like and how they want to achieve it. Mitchell‘s voice is dynamic and her approach shifts smoothly between “Dirty Ghost” and “Legendary Conversations with Ants” before delivering its most powerful performance on the closer, and in guitarist Shawn “Rattlesnake” Rambles and drummer Andy “Bearadactyl” Martin (also of Maple Forum alums Clamfight), she had a formidable complement with which to establish the range heard in these songs.

About those songs: They are spacious, psychedelic, heavy and they manage to avoid much of the cult rock cliché while proving both immersive and memorable over the course of Heavy Temple‘s 29-minute span. Working together as a debut EP, they more than succeed in giving the band’s audience a sense of what Heavy Temple want to do moving forward, and whether it’s the quiet doom blues in “Legendary Conversations with Ants” that gives way to a slow-motion effects-drenched freakout led by Rambles‘ guitar or the jammy bliss that emerges at the end of “Unholy Communion,” they retain their hold of the proceedings and excellently showcase the potential for what the band might or might have become going forward. “Dirty Ghost” commences with an otherworldly volume swell — minimal, quiet — before gradually unfolding itself with Martin‘s drums and Mitchell‘s bass and vocals, and it’s not until well past the halfway point of its eight-minute run that it finally explodes into full-on psych-grunge heft, like if someone wanted to turn peak-era Soundgarden production into a religion. That patience becomes a central element as Heavy Temple plays out, and the trio are just as likely to ride out a loud part as a quiet one, not shying either from crafting a void or filling it with distortion. The malleability of Mitchell‘s voice between the sultry croon in the first minutes of “Dirty Ghost” and the rawer shouting at the apex of “Unholy Communion” — the EP flowing smoothly between the two; something else that bodes well for a full-length — is another major asset working in their favor, and the stoner-mass of “Legendary Conversations with Ants,” while apparently more worldly in its lyric than the title might have you believe, executes a subtle linear build that ends with some classic doom riffing that bleeds right into the start of “Unholy Communion,” the whole release tying together seamlessly.

The first couple minutes of “Unholy Communion” are dedicated to building up tension, but at about 2:50, the song opens up and begins a payoff that will carry it through its midpoint, where it breaks to minimal ambience to set the stage for the EP’s final build and ultimate heavy psych payoff, Rambles‘ soloing meshing with layers of effects swirl that still keep enough room in the mix to sound human-made, though by then all three sound completely engrossed in the stirring concoction, even as they emerge from it for the big-riff finish and last-second string epilogue. Whatever Heavy Temple do from here is bound to be vastly different. I don’t know whether Mitchell intends to form a new trio or keep the band as a two-piece — she’s currently joined by drummer Saint Columbidae – but in any case, the change from the guitar, bass/vocals and drums lineup here is sure to manifest itself in subsequent output, even if her songwriting remains at the core. With that in mind, Heavy Temple may or may not be telling of the band’s future, and one would wonder about releasing it at all but for the fact that when a label like Ván comes calling, you answer. If this EP is to be Heavy Temple‘s beginning point, it starts them with a tumult marked by material of striking quality. It’s a familiar enough story for bands working under a principle songwriter, and if that’s to be the tale of Heavy Temple, the hope is they can find consistency in the chaos. Taken on its own merits, however, Heavy Temple is among the best short releases I’ve heard so far this year, and if it can serve as even the most rudimentary standard of quality from which the band can expand their sound, then they’re going to be just fine. Point is, even just in Mitchell‘s performance there’s potential here and a lot of it. How she handles that and what she does with it the next time out will be a big tell in terms of Heavy Temple‘s longer-term prospects, and either way, it seems likely that their sophomore studio outing will be as much a debut as this one. A live release in the interim would go a long way in giving a look at where Heavy Temple are headed.

Heavy Temple, Heavy Temple (2014)

Heavy Temple on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Temple on Bandcamp

Ván Records

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