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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Beelzefuzz, The Righteous Bloom: Nebulous Parfait

Posted in Reviews on August 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

beelzefuzz ii the righteous bloom-700

Three years after offering up their self-titled debut (review here), Maryland-area progressive doomers Beelzefuzz return with a second album. But what a three years it’s been. First, the former trio added guitarist Greg Diener (Pale Divine) as a fourth member, then they broke up, partially reformed under the name Righteous Bloom, and then finally decided to re-adopt the name Beelzefuzz as they headed into making the sophomore outing that would eventually become The Righteous Bloom, out this month on Restricted Release in the US and The Church Within in Europe. Founding members Dana Ortt (guitar/vocals; also Dark Music Theory) and Darin McCloskey (drums; also Pale Divine) are once again joined by Diener on lead guitar/backing vocals, and while it’s his first record with the band, these 11 tracks/47 minutes also mark the introduction of bassist Bert Hall, perhaps best known for his work in Revelation and Against Nature, but a perennial figure in Maryland doom, now also a member of Mangog.

Hall makes an impression early in opener “Nazzriff,” as does Diener, and helps the band build on the rather considerable accomplishments of the first offering while finding a tonality truer to their live presentation than their prior studio work had been and maintaining the subtle classic rock nuance and progressive doom that have become Beelzefuzz‘s hallmark, be it in “Nazzriff” — named after the band Nazareth — or the more shuffling “The Soulless,” which follows. After all the tumult the last few years have brought, The Righteous Bloom‘s level of cohesion is even more impressive, and their second LP establishes Beelzefuzz as one of the most immediately recognizable sounds in doom.

Greatly bolstering their distinction, as has been the case all along, is Ortt‘s guitar tone. Easily mistaken for flourish of organ, his guitar is as much of a sonic signature as Beelzefuzz have, and that’s plenty, but as a later cut like rolling album highlight “Nebulous” or the earlier “Rat Poison Parfait” showcase, his vocal presence has also become more confident and his range has increased from where it was in 2013. I won’t take away anything from Beelzefuzz‘s Beelzefuzz — I loved that record and still do — but The Righteous Bloom steps forward in bold-but-subtle ways and makes its progression felt in service to the songs.

beelzefuzz (Photo by Kathy Reeves)

Whether it’s a chorus-driven bouncer like “Hardluck Melody” — an older song if I’m right — or the yes-it’s-actually-a-waltz “Eternal Waltz,” or the atmospheric “Sanctum and Solace” that arrives after the title-track, the band’s execution of this material makes plain the fact that their priority is in the songs, and all four members of Beelzefuzz work toward the same goals throughout, be it the boogie-doom of centerpiece “Within Trance,” on which Hall particularly shines from under the guitar line, or the penultimate “Dying on the Vine.” I’ll admit to some skepticism when I heard Beelzefuzz added a second guitarist. Diener has long since proven he’s a fantastic player in Pale Divine, so that wasn’t really in question, but establishing a dual-guitar dynamic seemed like it might take away from what Ortt‘s tone did by standing alone. Rather, it adds to it, literally and figuratively. Diener brings tonal depth in a more natural way and his lead work throughout is stellar, perhaps nowhere more so than on the epilogue closer “Peace Mind” where he classes up Skynyrdisms to round out a quick three-minute track that sounds like it could’ve gone on for another 11.

As one would hope, the title-cut proves to be something special. Beelzefuzz hit the seven-minute mark once on the debut, and “The Righteous Bloom” comes close at 6:57, but moreover, it offers one of the record’s most memorable shuffles alongside quick rhythmic changes that play up both the bizarro ambience of the guitar and wizardly conjuring of Ortt‘s vocals, and highlights how far the band has come in the last couple years, pushing into unpretentious prog that’s as intricate as it is heavy, lush in its melody but still commanding in vibe. It emphasizes the balance that Beelzefuzz seem to perpetually strike so well. You’d call them laid back as quickly as you’d call them downtrodden, classic and forward-thinking in kind, yet not at all incongruous.

They were already a standout from the Maryland doom set, which very often prides itself on riffy originalism, but The Righteous Bloom brings their stylistic achievement to a new level entirely, and it does so without sacrificing the songwriting that, like McCloskey‘s drumming, has been the reliable foundation on which the band is built. In the speedier chug of “The Soulless,” or the nod of “Within Trance,” or the creeper insistence of “Dying on the Vine,” and in each of the inclusions here, Beelzefuzz always seem to be showing a look just slightly different, but The Righteous Bloom ties together via tone, groove and overall high quality of performance and satisfies so as to completely justify the anticipation leading to its release. We’d be lucky if it was taken up as an influence by other acts, and going forward, it seems only fair to consider Beelzefuzz among the most essential outfits going in East Coast doom. There’s no one else quite like them.

Beelzefuzz, “Nazzriff” official video

Beelzefuzz on Thee Facebooks

The Righteous Bloom preorder at Restricted Release

The Righteous Bloom preorder at Abstract Distribution

The Church Within Records

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Backwoods Payback Premiere “Dirge” Video; Shows this Weekend with Scissorfight and Gozu

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

backwoods payback-700

“Dirge” is the first audio to be made public from Backwoods Payback‘s upcoming third album, Fire Not Reason. I’m not sure when the record is being released, but the timing coincides with what’s sure to be a landmark weekender the Pennsylvania/Virginia trio have coming up with Scissorfight and Gozu over the next couple nights, playing Brooklyn and Philly together after Backwoods also journey through the wilds of Wallingford, CT, to meet up with Buzzard Canyon and others at Cherry St. Station tonight. Either way, I’ll take what I can get when it comes to this band, and I think “Dirge” does a good job of showing why.

Like a lot of Fire Not Reason, which whenever it arrives will be half a decade removed from Backwoods Payback‘s last outing, 2011’s Momantha (review here), it offers an unexpected twist in method that, along with its kind of unassuming central melody, brings an air of the extreme to the proceedings. Some parts are more fire than reason, you might say. They’re not always tossing in screams throughout the record, but there are pieces that feel so honest and true to who and what the band is that every whim they follow seems to have a purpose in reinforcing that.

I hope to have more on Fire Not Reason and Backwoods Payback — now comprised of guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson (ex-Alabama Thunderpussy) — as we get closer to the release date. Stay tuned.

And enjoy:

Backwoods Payback, “Dirge” official video

From the 2016 Album, Fire Not Reason

Starting Line-Up: Jessica Baker, Mike Cummings, Erik Larson

Shot & Directed by John Keefer & Chris Johnson, Edited by Chris Johnson. A 51 DEEP production.

Backwoods Payback live:
-Thurs 7/28 w/ Buzzard Canyon, Dirt Wizard, & Pussywolf @ Cherry Street Station Wallingford, CT
-Fri 7/29 w/ Scissorfight, Gozu & Black Black Black @ Lucky 13 Brooklyn, NY (tickets)
-Sat 7/30 w/ Scissorfight, Gozu & Worth @ Kung Fu Necktie Philadelphia, PA (tickets)

Backwoods Payback on Thee Facebooks

Backwoods Payback on Bandcamp

51 Deep website

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The Company Corvette, Never Enough: To Get a Fix (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 15th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the company corvette never enough

[Click play above to stream ‘Burn Out’ from The Company Corvette’s Never Enough. Album is out Aug. 5 on The Company Records.]

The Company Corvette don’t quite reinvent themselves on their third album, but they wind up pretty close to it by the time they’re done. It was five years ago that the trio of bassist/vocalist Ross Pritchett, guitarist Alexei Korolev and drummer Peter Hurd released their second album, End of the Summers (review here), and at the risk of being honest, it didn’t do it for me. I had seen the band live by then and found them engaging enough, but the record didn’t have the same effect. For the seven-track/38-minute Never Enough, the three-piece hit Gradwell House in New Jersey to work with engineer/mixer Matt Weber, and the resulting material, from the farty bass wah on “Devilwitch” to the spaced-out multi-layered solos of the ultra-stonerized “Burn Out,” showcase a fully developed sonic persona.

At times abrasive, The Company Corvette almost bring to mind a thicker-grooving take on Acid Bath‘s underlying sludge fuckall, and whether they’re messing with faster tempos on “The Stuff” or dug into all-out “Snowblind” nod on opener “Foot in Mouth,” they keep a sense of attitude central to the proceedings, Pritchett‘s vocals moving into harsher territory but even when clean holding onto a (purposefully) dazed drawl, calling to mind Thurston Moore at the start of closer “Pigeon.” Released once again through the band’s own The Company RecordsNever Enough realizes the potential their earlier work showed and brings it to life with a sense of grunged-up heft that becomes its defining element. They’re an act who has clearly put work into sounding like they couldn’t give a shit.

To look at it on the surface, I don’t suppose much has changed since End of the Summers. Sure, Never Enough is a little shorter at 38 minutes (as opposed to 42), but both records end with an extended track, The Company Corvette are still very much a riff-based band, and there’s a consistent sense of dark humor — one can see it in the willfully grotesque album cover by Drew Elliott as well — that runs a thread between both releases. The development, then, is deeper. It’s in the songwriting, in the presentation, in the production and in the attitude, and all of these things come together to make Never Enough stronger from the rolling start of “Foot in Mouth” onward. They seem to wink at early Electric Wizard in “Devilwitch,” but it’s very much a wink, and hard to know if it’s influence or cynical parody — a question that makes the listening experience even more satisfying.

the company corvette

Either way, that added sense of misanthropic stoner-sludge informs the perspective of the tracks around it, and enhances the tuned-in-dropped-out atmosphere of the record as a whole. Feedback helps, of course. “Sick” starts off with a solo layered over its central riff and is somewhat shorter but rawer and more upfront in its groove, Hurd‘s kick drum punctuating as the solid foundation of an almost hypnotic sway, that solo returning after what may or may not be the chorus as Pritchett delivers indecipherable lines about who knows what in a blown-out drawl that’s no less suited to the faster thrust of “Sick” than to the slowed-down plod of album-centerpiece “Stomach,” which follows in garage doom fashion and nods its way through one of Never Enough‘s most memorable hooks across a five-minute duration.

In some ways, “Burn Out” might be thought of as a continuation of some of the same impulses as “Stomach” for its tempo and general crunchiness, but in addition to being longer at 6:38, “Burn Out” also toys more with dynamics, playing back and forth with verses and jams throughout, Pritchett‘s bass playing more of a role in holding together the groove as Korolev spaces out the guitar, adding semi-psych flourish to the proceedings in a manner both classic and weedian. The solo section that comes apart over the bassline at the end and leads directly into the quicker-swinging “The Stuff” in particular is not to be missed. And “The Stuff” is well placed too as the penultimate cut. Between “Burn Out” and “Pigeon,” it’s the shortest track on the record and keeps momentum forward where it might otherwise be too easy to get lost — more evidence for how the band has grown since their last time out.

Breaking at its halfway point, it chugs out a slowdown that serves as a bed for Korolev‘s lead and finishes in feedback and fading hum to let the languid fluidity of “Pigeon” close Never Enough by essentially summarizing what has worked about the record all along, loose vibe, easy flow, for-the-converted groove and all. It’s not a flashy finish in the sense of some grandiose payoff for everything that’s come before it, but they ride out the last riff effectively (with soloing) and in that represent well the barebones, dudes-in-a-room feel conjured so effectively on the prior tracks. As to what The Company Corvette might do next, with five years between records and obviously a fair amount of progression done in that time, I wouldn’t speculate whether Never Enough is the start of a surge of activity or an intermittent check-in, but stylistic leap they’ve made in these tracks should not be understated.

The Company Corvette on Thee Facebooks

The Company Corvette on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Atomikylä, Sunnata, White Dynomite, Horehound, Sulfur Giant, New Planet Trampoline, Hypnos, Honky, Cheap Wine, Gurt & Trippy Wicked

Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

This one’s for all the marbles. Or at very least tiddlywinks. The last day of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review begins. I’ll admit that when I was planning this out — started soon after the last Quarterly Review was finished in early April; that one ran late, this one has run early — I decided to take it easy on myself the last day. Still 10 reviews, so not that easy, but in terms of what’s included today, a lot of is stuff I feel pretty comfortable talking about, whether it’s bands I’ve covered before (which a lot of it is, now that I look at the list) or whatever. If you’ve been keeping up this week, thanks. I hope you found some cool music.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Atomikylä, Keräily

atomikyla Keraily

From the Finnish hotbed of Tampere, Atomikylä made a striking impression with their 2014 Svart Records debut, Erkale (review here), giving a take on psychedelic black metal that was immediately and truly their own in its balance of elements. The band, featuring members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, return with doom-jazz fervor on sophomore full-length, Keräily, with three songs covering yet-unnamed stylistic reaches and offering a get-to-the-studio-and-see-what-happens experimentalism to go with their plotted course on 18-minute opener and longest track (bonus points) “Katkos,” which is followed by the building horn freakout “Risteily” (9:15), from which a space rock push takes hold on drums, resulting in maddening guitar swirl – because of course – and closer “Pakoputki” (6:55), which consumes with a darker thrust and more up-front blackened vibe that still holds onto some of the psychedelia in its layers of guitar. Keräily progresses effectively from Atomikylä’s debut and highlights just how individualized they are as a group. They continue to have the potential to do really special work, and the argument is easy to make they’re already doing it.

Atomikylä on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records

Sunnata, Zorya

sunnata zorya

As opener and longest track (bonus points) “Beasts of Prey” careens toward its apex finish near the 12-minute mark and the title-track begins is crashing, harmonized intro before moving into an Alice in Chains-via-stoner verse, the distance Poland’s Sunnata cover on their second full-length, Zorya, begins to really unveil itself. There doesn’t seem to be a genre within the heavy sphere that’s off limits. They never get into death metal, but heavy rock, doom, psychedelia, prog, sludge – it’s all in play at one point or another in Zorya’s five-track/50-minute run. The reason the album works and isn’t just a haphazard mash of styles is because Sunnata, who’ve been active in Warsaw since the last decade, make each one their own and thus bend genre to suit their purposes and not the other way around. They continue to impress through the rush of “Long Gone,” the airy expanse of “New Horizon” and the more brooding closer “Again and Against,” conjuring effective flow from what in less capable hands would be disparate components.

Sunnata on Thee Facebooks

Sunnata on Bandcamp

White Dynomite, Action O’Clock

white dynomite action oclock

I have kind of a hard time with White Dynomite. Not musically – the Boston five-piece’s new EP, Action O’Clock (on Ripple) typifies their accessible punk rock; a reminder of a time when the style used guitars – but conceptually. Their lineup features bassist Tim Catz and vocalist Craig Riggs (on drums) of Roadsaw, as well as guitarist Pete Knipfing (also Hey Zeus, Lamont), vocalist Dave Unger and guitarist John Darga, and while I can’t argue with the charm of a track like “Werewolf Underwear” or “Evil Ballerina” — the lyric “Tutu woman, too too much for me” alone makes Action O’Clock worth the price of admission, let alone “I got fangs in my pants” from “Werewolf Underwear” – but I haven’t yet been able to listen to the band in the context of it having been six years since the last time Roadsaw released an album, and thinking about years passing, priorities and whatnot. They sound they’re having a blast all the way through, and I won’t begrudge them exploring other influences, I guess I just miss that band.

White Dynomite on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Horehound, Horehound

horehound horehound

Pittsburgh newcomers Horehound formed just last year, so one might go into their self-titled debut full-length thinking it’s an early arrival, but in an unpretentious seven-track/33-minute collection of straightforward but engaging doom rockers, the five-piece demonstrate a clear idea of what they want to do sonically. While it may not represent where they’ll ultimately end up as a band, its songs sound fleshed out in terms of direction and the resultant feel on the release is much more album than demo. So be it. A particular highlight is “The Waters of Lethe,” on which a sweeter melody emerges in the guitar and vocals, but neither will I discount the low-end crunch and vocal call-and-response in closer “Waking Time” or the more uptempo thrust of second cut “Sangreal.” Not that Horehound don’t have room to grow, but their initial offering preaches well to the converted and should give them a solid foundation to work from in that process.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

Horehound on Bandcamp

Sulfur Giant, Beyond the Hollow Mountain

sulfur giant beyond the hollow mountain

Beyond the Hollow Mountain is the first full-length from Portuguese mostly-instrumentalists Sulfur Giant, who bring together influences from classic progressive rock, psychedelia and heavy rock so that when they dip into Iommic riffing on “Vertigo,” it’s no stranger than the peaceful jamming of “Whisper at Dawn,” which follows. Friendly if not exactly innovative, Sulfur Giant’s debut makes its chief impression with the four-piece’s instrumental chemistry, which brings about an easy flow within and between the eight tracks, which having already been issued digitally will see vinyl release later this year on Pink Tank Records. It’s hard to ignore what organ adds to “Evermore,” but “Sea of Stone” sneaks in some vocals amid its thicker-riffing and Sungrazer-style exploration, and “Magnolia” and the galloping “Unleash Fears” follow suit, so Sulfur Giant have a few tricks up their collective sleeve they hold back from the initial roll and gallop of the opening title-track. All the better.

Sulfur Giant on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

New Planet Trampoline, Dark Rides and Grim Visions

new planet trampoline dark rides and grim visions

Never say never in rock and roll. From Cleveland, Ohio, the psych-rocking four-piece New Planet Trampoline called it quits in 2008, leaving behind an unfinished album. After coming back together for 2014’s The Wisconsin Witch House EP, the ‘60s-stylized outfit set themselves to the task of finishing what became Dark Rides and Grim Visions, basking in the glow of early Floyd, Beatles and others of the ilk while keeping a harder edge to songs like “Grim Visions” and a healthy cynicism to “We’ll Get What We Deserve” and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard-laced closer “Haunted as Fuck.” Of the several more extended tracks, the nine-minute “Acts of Mania” is the longest, and provides suitable patience and atmospherics to stand up to its scope. All told, Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a formidable journey at 13 songs/68 minutes, but after more than half a decade away, it’s hard to hold New Planet Trampoline having their say against them, particularly when that say is as lush and dreamy as “This is the Morning.”

New Planet Trampoline on Thee Facebooks

New Planet Trampoline on Bandcamp

Hypnos, Cold Winds

hypnos cold winds

With their second LP, Cold Winds (on Crusher Records), Gothenburg’s Hypnos seem to be betting that the next step in the retro game is NWOBHM. They make a convincing argument; it’s kind of how it went the first time around, and their songwriting offers a top-notch look at the moment where Thin Lizzy bounce became Iron Maiden gallop, as on second cut “I’m on the Run,” just minutes after opener “Start the Hunt” featured a flute solo. Broken into two sides, each one works its way toward a longer finale – “Det Kommer en Dag” (7:23) on side A and “1800” (8:32) on side B – but sonic diversity and changes in song structure throughout do much to keep Cold Winds from feeling overly plotted, and like their countrymen in Horisont, Hypnos offer a seamless melding of classic heavy rock and metal, soaring and scorching on “Descending Sun (Unrootables White)” and swinging and swaggering immediately thereafter on “Cold September,” both accomplished with unwavering command.

Hypnos on Thee Facebooks

Hypnos at Crusher Records

Honky, Corduroy

honky corduroy

Texas boogie rockers Honky were last heard from with 2012’s 421 – which I’ll assume is the “going to 11” equivalent for getting high – and their eighth outing, Corduroy, finds bassist JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins) and guitarist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down) hooked up with drummer Trinidad Leal of Dixie Witch and Housecore Records for the release. To call is business as usual for the underrated outfit in the classic swing and grit they hone would only be a compliment, songs like “Baby Don’t Slow Down,” “Bad Stones” and the harmonized “Double Fine” offering soul as much as push, ‘70s influences given a modern kick in the ass throughout as a swath of guests, including Melvins drummer Dale Crover, come and go, perhaps none making their presence felt as much as Rae Comeau, whose work on “Bad Stones” makes that song a highlight – not to take away from the a capella cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” here retitled as “Mopey Dick,” that closes. Chicanery ensues, booze flows, good times are had for those who’ll have them.

Honky website

Housecore Records website

Cheap Wine, Sad Queen

cheap wine sad queen

Distinguished as on centerpiece “The Rambler” by their use of organ amid a semi-retro heavy boogie style, French five-piece Cheap Wine recorded Sad Queen – as the cover art says – live for Celebration Days Records. It’s somewhere between an EP and album, and strips away some of the individual track length of their 2013 debut, Mystic Crow, in favor of maximizing the energy put into each piece, the subdued “Intro” and “Opening” that start sides A and B, respectively, aside, though as “Opening” feeds cleanly into the quiet, airy and soulful beginning of the title-track, even that seems to have a tension that builds toward its eventual release, different from the shuffling raucousness of the post-“Intro” opener “Cyclothymic” maybe, but palpable nonetheless. They close somewhat melancholy on “Yesterday’s Dream,” but the complementary guitar of Valentin Constestin and keys of Ahn Tuan aren’t to be missed, nor how well work in concert with vocalist Mathieu Devillers, bassist Valentin Lallart and drummer Louis Morati.

Cheap Wine on Thee Facebooks

Celebration Days Records website

Gurt & Trippy Wicked and teh Cosmic Children of the Knight, Guppy

gurt trippy wicked guppy

The UK heavy scene excels at not taking itself too seriously. To wit, Gurt and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight get together for a split (on When Planets Collide for CD and HeviSike cassette) and, they call it Guppy and the first two songs are “Owlmegeddon” and “Super Fun Happy Slide.” It kind of goes from there. Recorded together, sharing a drummer and collaborating on the centerpiece, “Revolting Child,” it’s basically two outfits who are close friends coming together to have a good time, but that doesn’t take away from Gurt’s sludgy intensity on “I Regret Nothing” or the nodding heavy rock Trippy Wicked hold forth on closer “Reign.” Taking its title from the two band names put together, one can only wonder if this will be the last conjoined offering Gurt and Trippy Wicked will make, or if there might be a whole school of guppies in the future. Frankly, this sounds like too good a party to only throw it once.

Gurt on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

When Planets Collide website

HeviSike Records

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King Dead Announce Live Shows; Woe and Judgment LP out Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Doubly-bassed three-piece King Dead first issued their Woe and Judgment (review here) debut album last year digitally as a means to raise funds for a vinyl pressing. Well, it seems to have worked. Woe and Judgment is out now on LP — the record looks great — and the Eastern Pennsylvania trio have a few live shows lined up along the Northeastern Corridor to help spread the word over the course this summer. They’re keeping good company universally with groups like Geezer and Snail, and I’d keep an eye out for more dates to come, as once momentum is on a group’s side like this it’s hard to stop going. I’ll hope to see them again soon.

From the PR wire:

king dead (Photo by Natasha Padilla)

KING DEAD: Psychedelic Bass And Drum Trio Confirms New Live Dates; Vinyl Edition Of Woe & Judgement Now Available

Pennsylvania mostly-instrumentalists, KING DEAD, will bring their spacious, tripped out, post-metal/doom manifestations to the stage on a smattering of live performances this Summer. The band’s latest excursions include an in-store appearance this weekend at Darkside Records in Poughkeepsie, New York with Geezer and Linear North.

Comments drummer Steve Truglio of the upcoming dates, “It’s really getting fun now. Not only are we enjoying the hell out of playing the new Woe & Judgment stuff, but we just started test driving an even newer song in the set. We are playing cool places with great bands and things are really starting to click.”

KING DEAD undraped their three-song full-length, Woe & Judgement, earlier this year. Having impressed with the spacious post-metal textures of their 2014 demo, the scope of Woe & Judgement has expanded considerably even from where it started. With three tracks constructed to fit on two sides, KING DEAD – Truglio with four-string bassist Kevin Vanderhoof, and six-string bassist Wil McGrath – pushes its way into an encompassing rumble that still seems to hold onto a human core even as it lumbers between airy doom and rawer, thoroughly-reverbed noise.

Woe & Judgement is currently available on limited edition vinyl and can be streamed at THIS LOCATION.

KING DEAD:
6/11/2016 Darkside Records – Poughkeepsie, NY w/ Geezer, Linear North
6/13/2016 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY w/ Chiefs, Beast Modulus, River Cult
8/06/2016 Smiling Moose – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Iron Man, Caustic Casanova, Horehound
8/19/2016 O’Briens Pub – Allston, MA w/ Snail

http://www.facebook.com/king.dead.band
http://www.kingdead.bandcamp.com

King Dead, Woe and Judgment (2016)

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