“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.
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)
[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 Records, Never 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.
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.
Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Gurt & Trippy Wicked and teh Cosmic Children of the Knight, 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.
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: 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 atTHIS 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
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Philly trio The Company Corvette are confirmed to take part in Psycho Las Vegas this August, and seemingly in conjunction with that, the band will release their third album, Never Enough, through their own The Company Records imprint on Aug. 5. The full-length was tracked at Gradwell House in NJ with Matt Weber and though they’ve already started writing for the follow-up — you might say they’re living up to the album’s title — the first audio from Never Enough has been posted in the form of the track “Devilwitch,” which you can stream below.
Copious info and background comes off the PR wire:
THE COMPANY CORVETTE: Philly Psychedelic Doom Trio To Release Third LP, Never Enough; Band Confirmed For Psycho Las Vegas
Philadelphia-based THE COMPANY CORVETTE has completed their third full-length recording, Never Enough, with the final details being put in place for an independent, late Summer release, in conjunction with the band’s performance at Psycho Las Vegas and more.
Remaining true to their heavy riff-laden, psychedelically inclined, occasionally laid back, mostly loud, stoner rock-gone-metal-and-back stylistics, THE COMPANY CORVETTE has been fine-tuning and intensifying their sound, reaching towards new levels of sonic honesty that they are drawn to. While the band likes to think of their two earlier releases as “glorified demos,” the new album is a huge step forward for the band in virtually every department.
THE COMPANY CORVETTE’s new LP, Never Enough contains seven songs recorded at Gradwell House Recording in New Jersey with Matt Weber at helm, and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Sleep, Yob, Corrosion Of Conformity) in Oregon. The album features cover artwork by the excellent Drew Elliott (Sunn O)), Amorphis, Rwake, Necrophagia), which captures the imagery within the track Devilwitch and takes band’s visual presentation to new heights. Soon after the recording of Never Enough, Zach Price joined the co-founders, guitarist Alexei Korolev and bassist/vocalist Ross Pritchett taking over the drum duties. Once again releasing the album on their own, as with their prior two records, the trio is feeling super focused and prolific, already demoing a new batch of tunes and looking for opportunities to get out of town.
THE COMPANY CORVETTE will independently release Never Enough on cassette and digital on August 5th, to be followed by a vinyl pressing approximately a month after, all through their own imprint, The Company Records. Stand by for audio samples and more on the album to be issued in the coming weeks.
Never Enough Track Listing: 1. Foot In Mouth 2. Devilwitch 3. Sick 4. Stomach 5. Burn Out 6. The Stuff 7. Pigeon
The release of Never Enough is set in conjunction with THE COMPANY CORVETTE’s performance at Psycho Las Vegas 2016 with Alice Cooper, Electric Wizard, Blue Oyster Cult, Sleep, Boris, Converge, High On Fire, and tons more, the massive festival running from August 26th through 28th. Additional live actions from the band will be posted shortly.
THE COMPANY CORVETTE Live: 7/06/2016 The Acheron – Brooklyn, NY w/ La Otracina, Fox 45. 8/26-28/2016 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas
The Company Corvette: Alexei Korolev – guitars Ross Pritchett – bass, vocals Peter Hurd – drums
The first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer is set for Aug. 20, 2016, at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, NY. So far the announced lineup includes Mars Red Sky for their first East Coast appearance, Snail for their first East Coast appearance, Ohio’s EYE supporting their new album, Funeral Horse for their first East Coast appearance and King Buffalo, who’ll be playing the last night of their release tour.
I’m proud and thrilled today to add Kings Destroy and Heavy Temple to the bill.
I can’t say enough about what each of these bands brings to the show, and I couldn’t be more stoked to have them involved. One thing I’ve been trying to do all along is build a genuine flow to the day that I think will make sense as one set leads to the next. It’ll make sense once the full running order is posted, but for the time being, let me just say that both these bands hold a special place in the lineup.
Here’s more on each:
There isn’t a band today I feel closer to than Brooklyn’s Kings Destroy. If you read this site at all, you probably already know that. I’ve been a nerd for these cats since their first 7″ and I’m fortunate today to consider them as friends and the bottom line is there’s just no way in hell I’d put on this show and not have them involved. They were out on tour earlier this year with Black Cobra, Lo-Pan and Bongzilla supporting their 2015 self-titled third album, for which they’ve already started writing the follow-up. They have a new 15-minute song that last I heard was about half done and they don’t know it yet, but I’m calling them out to play it at this show. The gauntlet is thrown down, gentlemen.
Oh my god, the new Heavy Temple is so good. Don’t get me wrong, I knew before I heard it that I wanted them on this bill — I’ve known it since Vultures of Volume last year, but the Philly trio have a new EP in the can and it’s absolutely stellar. They’ll open the show hopefully playing tracks from it and I expect by the time August comes around, there will be some official announcement as to the release, but even if you don’t know it yet, you’re in for a treat as they kick things off at The Obelisk All-Dayer. I shouldn’t have to tell you to get there early — looking like a 2:30PM start — but I will anyway, just to reinforce the importance of the issue. Get there early.
The Obelisk All-Dayer is Aug. 20, 2016, at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York, and will feature full sets, after-show DJs, food truck on-hand, live recordings, limited edition merch and much more. One more band to be announced in June, along with DJs and the running order.
With their new song and video, Philadelphia heavy post-rock duo Mose Giganticus begin an ambitious project intended, it seems, to basically put songs out as they’re written. They’re calling it a singles series, and their new video for the track “We are One” adds visual flourish and deeply creative lighting to the marching rhythm and atmospheric heft of the track, but I think what it rounds out to is the two-piece of Matt Garfield and Joe Smiley would rather go one or two cuts at a time at this point than put together an entire record. The arguments in favor are easy. Attention spans are short, production times are long, and for Mose Giganticus, whose last outing was 2010’s sophomore LP, Gift Horse, which was released via Relapse, maybe anything at all is better than nothing after six years. Fair enough.
The good news is that despite their time away, “We are One” finds Mose Giganticus indeed functioning as a cohesive unit, progressive in their intent and sounding as focused on songwriting as the titular declaration might lead a listener to believe. Of course, if they keep going with releasing one track after another, they might wind up with a full-length album anyway, but it should say something about their intentions going forward that they’re handling a return to activity — and they played shows periodically between Gift Horse and now — with such outwardly perceptible care, as opposed to storming back, saying they’re going to put together a record and then not doing it. One song at a time. It’s an almost gentle approach, which of course makes a fitting contrast to the melodic but still plenty heavy “We are One.”
You can check out the video below, followed by credits and more background.
Mose Giganticus, “We are One” official video
Announcing the release of our new video / single “We Are One.”
We’re thrilled to announce the release of our latest video single “We Are One”. This is the first release of our “Singles Series”. Rather than releasing an album every few years, we’ll be releasing new songs in the Singles Series in more frequent intervals. This allows us to work on new material as our inspiration strikes us and turn it around quickly.
Directed by Christopher Kayfield and Matt Garfield. Produced by Matt Garfield. Photography by Christopher Kayfield. Production Design by Matt Garfield and Christopher Kayfield. Lighting by Matt Garfield. Audio Recorded at Red Planet by Joe Smiley. Audio Mastered by James Plotkin.
Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ripple Music believes we are in the midst of a heavy rock renaissance. We may well be. The West Coast imprint has both made its argument and fostered the movement over the last several years through a slew of signings of bands from around the US and beyond its borders, and they now stand among the genre’s most fortified purveyors, with a reach that finds them partnering with STB Records on vinyl/CD pressings and picking up Small Stone veteran acts like Gozu and Wo Fat, truly moving into a leadership position in their community, scene, whatever you want to call it. Their aesthetic, to-date, is light on frills and big on riffs, and like any impressive beginning (and I use the term loosely, Ripple have been at it for over five years now) of a creative motion, one expects it will only continue to grow outward for as long as it does.
A special project the label began in 2015 is a series of splits: The Second Coming of Heavy. I already quibbled with the numbering of the title, whether or not this is the second generation playing heavy rock (it’s at least the third), in my review of The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter One (review here), which featured off-album tracks from Geezer and Borracho, and it remains beside the point of the work Ripple is doing to promote the growth of the current, largely undeniable, boom of heavy rock. The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two boasts new songs from Pittsburgh’s Supervoid and Minneapolis’ Red Desert, continuing thematic artwork from Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje, and vinyl pressings limited in number and distinguished in color, as the times would demand.
Like its predecessor, the prevailing vibe throughout The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two fits neatly onto two 12″ vinyl sides, one per band, with each act offering basically a short EP’s sampling of their stylistic wares and what they bring to the underlying core in the title — the ‘Heavy’ part of the title, that is — that distinguishes them from their peers. In the case of Supervoid — who make their debut as a four-piece here having previously recorded with five members for their 2013 first LP, Filaments (review here), and the subsequent 2014 digital single “Against Sunrise” (posted here) — they present the songs “Olympus,” “Wayfarer” and “The Gallows,” which continue their ahead-thrust blend of modern metal and heavy rock and roll, vocalist Brian creatively arranging an assortment of layered growls and screams behind his belted-out cleaner vocals, which seem to steer the riffs behind from guitarist Joe as much as they’re pushed forward by them.
With John on bass and Greg on drums, their material is consistent but progressed from where they were on their debut (due for a follow-up it may or may not get; more on that in a bit) and the momentum they build in “Olympus” feeds smoothly into the more extended “Wayfarer,” the minor-key Eastern-flair guitar line making it all the more a centerpiece before the crunchier “The Gallows” picks up with open verses, a semi-spaced weaving of guitar effects, and the inescapable drive that has become Supervoid‘s hallmark. Reportedly, since the release of The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two, Supervoid have taken “a break,” and how permanent that may or may not be remains to be seen. Either way, the manner in which they bring together metal and heavy rock remains brazen in its show of influence and ground that few acts are so bold as to tread, which is admirable even before one gets to considering their songwriting or performances, likewise worthy of respect.
Supervoid‘s side B companions, Red Desert, offer post-Sleep/The Sword heavy rock chug on “Frost Giant,” the first of their four inclusions, calling out the title character and Valhalla in a resonant hook. Hitting their marks. Their material stands out particularly next to Supervoid for the laid back sensibility in its roll and in the vocals of guitarist Shawn Stende, joined by lead guitarist Jeff Kluegel, bassist Paul Teeter and drummer Dave Dancho, and though “Hypnotized” is faster, it maintains the swing of their opener, as do “Revolver” and “Nightstalker” (presumably not named after the Greek band, but one never knows), while also offering subtle, effective shifts in mood and shifts in approach that speak to the experience gained from their 2012 debut album, Damned by Fate, and call to mind what Lords of the North were once able to bring to stoner riffing in personality and thickness of groove. The harmonies in the chorus of “Nightstalker” and touches of C.O.C. gallop there expand the palette further but ultimately keep consistent with what’s come before, rounding out a fluid B-side with a late surge of energy that suits Red Desert well.
They’re four years out from their first album, and while they’ve threatened a vinyl release thereof, I’ve yet to see word of a follow-up. Doesn’t mean one’s in the works, doesn’t mean one’s not, but in true EP fashion, they give a broad slice of their sound for those who maybe haven’t encountered them before to dig into, which of course speaks to the mission of The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two overall. My understanding is that all 10 installments of the series are booked and there’s another series in the works for after, so it seems fair to expect over the next several years that these LPs will continue to be a major part of Ripple‘s contribution to heavy rock. Fair enough. Two editions deep, they’ve already highlighted a range of styles and a swath of acts from around different regions of the US brought together by their varied takes on what it means to be heavy. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and the project remains ambitious, but taking it one LP at a time, there seems to be nothing keeping the label from continuing this exploration and enlightening listeners as they go. Looking forward to the next one.
Supervoid & Red Desert, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two (2016)