Posted in Whathaveyou on October 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been almost five months since I first encountered the debut Demo MMXIIIfrom Philadelphia trad doomers Crypt Sermon, and I still find myself with the chorus of “Temple Doors” stuck in my head at the mere mention of the band’s name. Perhaps it’s little surprise then that Dark Descent Records has picked up the three-tracker for a limited tape release, which will be the first physical release from the four-piece outfit, who make short work of the difficult task of adhering to doomly tenets while forging a personality of their own apart from them. The demo got gushed over here if you want to check it out, and kudos to the band on getting it out. I’m already looking forward to their next outing.
Here’s the PR wire info and the Bandcamp stream for your gloomy fix:
CRYPT SERMON Announce Debut Release on Dark Descent Records
Epic doom metal scions CRYPT SERMON have announced the forthcoming release of their 2013 debut, “DEMO MMXIII” in the form of a limited edition cassette tape via Dark Descent Records. The tape, exclusively limited to 300 copies, is slated for a worldwide release on December 17.
“DEMO MMXII” is streaming in full at cryptsermon.bandcamp.com.
“DEMO MMXIII” Track list: 1.) Temple Doors 2.) Belly of the Whale 3.) Whore of Babylon
Founded on the principles of unwavering epic doom metal, Philadelphia’s CRYPT SERMON exist as a vehicle to drive out the current trends that are choking the underground scene. Devoid of contemporary doom conventions, “DEMO MMXIII” showcases three tracks of carefully crafted old-school doom metal that carries the torch for stalwarts such as CANDLEMASS and SOLITUDE AETERNUS.
Regarding the forthcoming release, the band said: “CRYPT SERMON is thrilled to see our demo finally unearthed. We’d like to thank Dark Descent Records for their support, and look forward to creating new music for the underground. We are currently hard at work writing our full length debut, and look forward to hitting the road in the near future.”
For updated CRYPT SERMON news and tour dates, please visit the CRYPT SERMON Facebook page, and the Dark Descent Records website.
Posted in audiObelisk on October 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
From their demo and early days of “Fuck Bulldozers” and “Viking Funeral” on down to “Stealing the Ghost Horse,” I’ve heard just about everything that Philly brain-bruisers Clamfight have come up with to date. So when I tell you that the new song “Bathosphere” from a forthcoming limited compilation CDR that the four-piece will have exclusively on hand at this year’s Stoner Hands of Doom fest — taking place at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia, Nov. 7-10 — is the heaviest thing I’ve ever heard them play, please understand there’s the slightest chance I know what I’m talking about. Heavier than “Rabbit” from the first record? Yes, heavier than “Rabbit.”
As the band begins to move past their earlier-2013 sophomore full-length, I vs. the Glacier– released on The Maple Forum, this site’s in-house semi-label — they do so with the utmost brutality. At 3:49, “Bathosphere” is brief compared to some of Clamfight‘s more spacious material, the guitars of Sean McKee and Joel Harris having somewhat less room to spread out over the pummeling groove of bassist Louis Koble and drummer/vocalist Andy Martin, but what it lacks in runtime, it accounts for in intensity, biting down hard with an initial tension build of feedback and tom runs before unleashing its thrashing course following an introductory growl from Martin. It’s a heads-down push, but Clamfight handle it well, letting off the gas just slightly for a chorus before resuming what’s among their most vicious riffs en route to a squibbly churn and unbridled slam of a finish.
“Bathosphere” is set to be included as one of two new tracks on the SHoD-only release (presumably they’ll have a couple for the other shows on their tour south, but who knows?). The other is “Blockship,” and unlike that song, “Bathosphere” won’t appear on Clamfight‘s next album. It’s for this CDR only.
Martin gives some details on the release and tour dates, under the player below on which you can check out “Bathosphere.” Bring a helmet:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
We’ll be making one hundred CD-R copies of “Bathosphere” and they will available on the cheap at SHOD 13 on November 7th at Strange Matter in Richmond, VA and after that until they run out. Once they’re gone, they’re gone and we have no plans of making it available in any other format. Also included on the CD will be “Blockship” a track which will be appearing on our third record, as well as many of our old demos as we can lay our hands on.
The CD will also include art by Chris Jones of the mighty Rukut.
From Richmond we’ll be heading to Uncle Lou’s in Orlando Florida to team up with our good friends in Hollow Leg, Shroud Eater and Ad Nauseum on November 8th. November 9th sees us at The Jinx in Savannah Georgia with Hollow Leg, Shroud Eater, and Crazy Bag Lady, and November 12th sees us at JR’s in Philly with Heavy Temple, the Cloth, and Devil to Pay.
“Bathosphere” and “Block Ship” were recorded by Steve Poponi at the Gradwell House in Haddon Heights New Jersey over a day and half last May. “Bathosphere” is probably my favorite thing we’ve done with Steve. We recorded the instruments in the early afternoon and I wrote the lyrics in my car as the guys did over dubs. With the exception of the death growls, the vocals were recorded in one go, so all told, from start to finish “Bathosphere” was recorded in less than four hours. I can’t speak for everyone but for me something about the speed and aggression of this song makes it feel the closer to what we do live than of any of our recordings, and that sort of “fuck it, let’s just destroy” attitude we had about the session itself made the whole day a blast.
Oh and I got disco fries after I tracked my vocals.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Returning with a vengeance — and also a new song — after their summer hiatus, Maple Forum alums Clamfight have announced a slew of fall tour dates. In addition to a slot at Stoner Hands of Doom at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia, on Nov. 7, the four-piece are doing two gigs THIS. VERY. WEEKEND. with Philly rockers Thee Nosebleeds and in addition to regular-type local stuff, they’ll head south following SHoD to bang out a couple evenings in the good company of Hollow Leg and Shroud Eater, among others.
In their typical style, the band sent along this update:
We’re back gang….and find ourselves another season’s worth of Neolithic archaeology lyrical fodder richer, but one gall bladder poorer.
So it goes.
Here’s where to get palm muted/yelled at about rock art:
This weekend we’re out and about and possibly falling over with Philly’s best rock and roll band, THEE NOSEBLEEDS (sorry, rock that nasty requires all caps).
Friday 9/27 we’re at the El ‘N’ Gee in New London, Connecticut with Thee Nosebleeds, the Cryptics, and Empty Vessels.
Saturday 9/28 we’re at the Firehouse Saloon in Rochester, New York with Thee Nosebleeds, Baba Yaga, and Pink Elephant.
October 26th we’re at the Boot and Saddle in Philadelphia with Screaming Rattler and Wizard Eye (who a little bird with 6 foot long dreadlocks tells me are hitting the studio shortly to record a new full length).
November 7th we’re at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia for the opening night of Stoner Hands of Doom 13 with A.P.F, Pill Buster, Compel, and more In honor of how excited we are to be part of such an amazing festival (the rest of the weekend includes Wizard Eye, Beelzefuzz, Admiral Browning, Lo-Pan, Backwoods Payback, Faces of Bayon, Second Grave, Wasted Theory and many, many more) we’ll pressing 100 copies of a seven inch of our new song “Bathosphere.” We have no plans to release it in any other format and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
November 8th we’ll be in Orlando Florida to challenge Hollow Leg and Shroud Eater in between some serious air boat racing/alligator wrasslin’ we’re going to play a show at a location to be announced.
November 9th we’re at the Jinx in Savannah Georgia with Hollow Leg and Shroud Eater and Crazy Bag Lady.
November 12th we’re at JR’s in Philadelphia with Devil to Pay, Heavy Temple, and the Cloth.
November 22 we’re at Mojo Main in Delaware with Braincandle and Count Von Count.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Including a two-show day on Sept. 21 covering the Indianapolis Metalfest III and later that evening in Dayton, Ohio — just a thrilling trip down I-70 away — Sadgiqacea are once again hitting the road in support of their 2013 Candlelight Records debut, False Prism, and they’re bringing along the also-difficult-to-spell-but-in-a-subtler-way Haethen for the trip. It’s a week of shows that start next Wednesday and they’ve aptly called it the “Week Long Tour.” Truth in advertising.
Also sprach the PR wire:
SADGIQACEA: September Eastern US Tour Dates Confirmed
While still unpacking from their massive recent Summer trek which saw the duo occupying more than forty cities across the country with cohorts Hivelords, this week Philadelphia-based spiritualistic sludge duo SADGIQACEA confirms yet another new tour in support of their Candlelight Records debut False Prism.
Originating in Boston on Wednesday, September 18th, the new bout of East Coast performances will take SADGIQACEA on a six-city trek through Washington, Columbus, Indianapolis and Dayton before the final show in Pittsburgh on Sunday the 22nd. SADGIQACEA will be performing alongside their comrades Haethen for all shows except the Indianapolis Metalfest III where they’ll play alongside the likes of Incantation, Decrepit Birth, Byzantine and more, but following their early set at the fest the duo will trek over to Dayton, Ohio to meet back up with Haethen for a second show that day.
SADGIQACEA Fall Tour w/ Haethen: 9/18/2013 Roggies – Boston, MA w/ The Binary Code, Scaphism, Brain Famine 9/19/2013 The Pinch Bar – Washington, DC w/ Caustic Casanova 9/20/2013 The Summit – Columbus, OH w/ Swarm 9/21/2013 Old National Centre – Indianapolis, IN @ Indianapolis Metalfest III (*no Haethen) 9/21/2013 Blind Bob’s – Dayton, OH w/ Half Ghost 9/22/2013 The Smiling Moose – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Dendritic Arbor, Wrought Iron, Dutchguts, Ubasute, Dope Lake
SADGIQACEA draws from a melting pot of influences that together presents a lush yet tension-filled sound. Their debut full-length, False Prism, is a forty-minute journey bearing four mammoth tracks, captured without the use of overdubs to preserve the authentic recording quality of their live performances, recorded and produced by Chris Grigg of Woe. False Prism was released via Candlelight on CD and limited edition vinyl via Anthropic Records in May.
Info is relatively sparse on Philadelphia-based traditional doomers Crypt Sermon. Their Demo MMXIIIcontains three tracks totaling out at around 17 minutes of shred-prone doom, given to the trenchant atmospherics of The Gates of Slumber or a rawer Magic Circle, and beyond that and their professed disdain for “fashions and beards,” they haven’t put much out there at this point. For what it’s worth, the music is a good place to start.
The three cuts on Demo MMXIII follow largely similar, straightforward verse/chorus structures, and between “Temple Doors,” “Belly of the Whale” and the closing “Whore of Babylon,” the strong hooks come immediately. “Temple Doors” arrives at a chorus of “What do my eyes see?/Nothing but darkness,” that leaves a strong and decidedly grim impression with vocals either layered or contributed by more than one member of the band (or both), and is complemented by the first of several head-turning classic metal guitar solos. That Crypt Sermon would boast connections to death metallers Trenchrot makes sense in hearing the guitar solos — there’s a deathly precision to the shred that speaks to a technicality more extreme than one usually finds in doom. In any case, that’s balanced well with the spooky groove, “Temple Doors” moving into the churning riff of “Belly of the Whale,” vocals far back, throaty but clean, echoing and peppered with quick proto-thrash screams.
Shades of Lord Vicar and Pagan Altar tint the material here and there, but Crypt Sermon are never veer too far from that underlying extremity, and the ensuing tension bleeds into the finale on “Whore of Babylon,” though at the same time, the lead interplay of the guitars has a nascent sense of ’80s misery à la Solitude Aeturnus that makes me think should Crypt Sermon decide at some point to get grandiose, they’d have an easier time of it than it might initially appear. Whether or not they’ll do that, and whether or not doing that would take away from the appeal the rawness here presents — not to mention how well that rawness suits the vocals, where something more developed would invariably require likewise development in range — I don’t know, but “Whore of Babylon” culminates with vocals and guitar coming together over doomly stomp before the quick fade gets the better of the wailing.
A tape release is en route via Dark Descent Records (Anguish, Ilsa, Cygnus, etc.), and presumably this won’t be the last we hear from Crypt Sermon, so if you get the chance, Demo MMXIIIis available for a free sampling at the band’s Bandcamp page, from which I hoisted the player below:
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Anybody remember that scene in Independence Day when Will Smith suckerpunched that alien in the face and said “Welcome to Erf?” like human beings are all tough and these aliens who just jetted across the galaxy to try and mess with us were chumps? I’ve never seen Philly twosome Sadgiqacea before but I imagine that catching them on the Fourth of July would probably feel something like being punched in the face. Only with volume. Welcome to Erf.
Sadgiqacea (which is pronounced “sadji-whozawhatsits”) are out supporting their Candlelight Records debut, False Prism, and if you ever wanted to know what a long-ass tour looks like, it features two shows in Jersey:
SADGIQACEA: Rigorous U.S. Summer Tour Begins Next Week
With the release of their debut LP False Prism still fresh, Philadelphia-based spiritualistic sludge duo SADGIQACEA will embark on a rigorous tour of the country beginning on the 4th of July, just a week and a half away.
SADGIQACEA draws from a melting pot of influences that together presents a lush yet tension-filled sound. Their unique and intriguing debut full-length, False Prism, was recorded and produced by Chris Grigg (Woe), a forty-minute audio journey bearing four mammoth songs sparring use of overdubs to preserve the authentic recording quality of their live performances. False Prism was released via Candlelight on CD and limited edition vinyl via Anthropic Records in May.
Following sporadic, regional shows supporting the release of the record, SADGIQACEA will take on as much of the country as possible this Summer as their brutal forty-two date trek with brethren Hivelords kicks off on Independence Day. View the full tour itinerary below and watch for additional updates on the band to be posted in the coming days.
SADGIQACEA 2013 Summer Tour w/ Hivelords: 7/04/2013 Sex Dungeon – Lindenwold, NJ 7/05/2013 Meat Locker – Montclair, NJ 7/06/2013 The Acheron – Brooklyn, NY 7/07/2013 Munchouse – Providence, RI 7/08/2013 Charlie’s Kitchen – Boston, MA 7/09/2013 St. John Basement Venue – Portland, ME 7/10/2013 Wilder Zangcraft – Lowell, MA 7/11/2013 Ralph’s Diner – Worcester, MA 7/12/2013 Reg Studio Theater – Jamestown, NY 7/13/2013 Rock Room – Pittsburgh, PA 7/14/2013 Bourbon Street Café – Columbus, OH 7/15/2013 Melody Inn – Indianapolis, IN 7/16/2013 Cobra Lounge – Chicago, IL 7/17/2013 The Wisco – Madison, WI 7/18/2013 The P.I. – Wausau, WI 7/19/2013 Nomad Pub – Minneapolis, MN 7/20/2013 Vaudeville Mewws – Des Moines, IA 7/21/2013 The Hideout – Omaha, NE 7/22/2013 Bad Haus – Kansas City, MO 7/23/2013 Kirby’s Beer Store – Wichita, KS 7/24/2013 Lost Lake – Denver, CO 7/25/2013 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT 7/26/2013 The Shredder – Boise, ID 7/27/2013 Kraken Bar – Seattle, WA 7/28/2013 The Know – Portland, OR 7/29/2013 Tiny Tavern – Eugene, OR 7/30/2013 Hemlock Tavern – San Francisco, CA 7/31/2013 Alex’s Bar – Long Beach, CA 8/01/2013 The Dive Bar – Las Vegas – CA 8/02/2013 District Tavern – Tucson – AZ 8/03/2013 Train Yard – Las Cruces – NM 8/04/2013 TBA – San Antonio, TX 8/05/2013 Dirty Dog – Austin – TX 8/06/2013 The Big Top – New Orleans, LA 8/07/2013 Atmosphere Bar – Tallahassee, FL 8/08/2013 Epic Problem – Tampa, FL 8/09/2013 The Fountainblueeuuarghh – Miami, FL 8/10/2013 TBA – Orlando, FL 8/11/2013 Shantytown – Jacksonville, FL 8/12/2013 TBA – Columbia, SC 8/13/2013 Courtroom At Getty’s – Rock Hill, SC 8/14/2013 The Milestone – Charlotte, NC 8/15/2013 Roger’s – Chesapeake, VA 8/16/2013 TBA – Richmond, VA 8/17/2013 The Kyber – Philadelphia, PA
Posted in On the Radar on June 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
With a crowley rock aesthetic already firmly in their grasp, Philadelphia trio Heavy Temple emerge from the ether bearing an early bit of organic, autumnal tonality and a nascent experimental breadth. Their debut demo comes in the form of the single track “Unholy Communion,” which tops 13 minutes and features enough fuzz for at least twice that, bassist/vocalist Elyse “Nighthawk” Mitchell standing at the fore of the mix with an authoritative command both of her voice and presence in the songs alongside guitarist Shawn “Rattlesnake” Rambles and already-former drummer Andy “Bearadactyl” Martin, who anyone who’s happened by this site once or twice will probably recognize from Maple Forum alums Clamfight.
For anyone who heard that band’s latest record, it offers little to no context for even the percussive style employed on Heavy Temple‘s “Unholy Communion,” which is headed to more patient, richly psychedelic and unfolding moods. There are more effects employed than I care to or could count, but one of the most encouraging aspects of “Unholy Communion” is that as far out as Heavy Temple go — and yes indeed, they go — no indulgence feels unwarranted. Martin has established a strong, tom-running beat by the time Mitchell arrives, rising to a swell as Rambles‘ guitar picks up a churning, progressive riff, and she unleashes a chorus of long-held notes over the emergent storm of the music, backing off only to allow Rambles space for a solo to begin an instrumental exploration.
There’s a structure at work, but it’s obscure befitting the band’s somewhat cultish aesthetic. As “Unholy Communion” veers toward the five-minute mark, Mitchell coos out a verse over tense bass and the drums’ steady beat, and the build begins again, one part into the next into the next — that last being the chorus paying off the anxious vibe prior. The riffs are intricate but accessible, turning in the chorus with a fill that in another context might be stoner rock before dropping out altogether for a droning stretch that at first calls to mind King Crimson‘s “Moonchild,” but soon moves into more active territory, Martin punctuating a steady-if-minimal riff that Mitchell can’t seem to help topping with echo-laden vocals.
That riff — you’ll know it when you hear it — is the basis for much of the second half of the song, and rightly so. In capital ‘h’ Heavy tradition, they do just about everything with it they can over the next few minutes, raising it up from its unassuming creep, making it as heavy as it’ll go, giving it vocals, adding effects, theremin, and the shouts that serve as a driving apex within “Unholy Communion” as it marches out its distorted course. Past 10 minutes in, Heavy Temple shift back toward the opening progressivism — Martin returns to that drum beat — but the weirdo theremin noise remains and the atmosphere is changed as Rambles follows his leads wherever they might take him. The drums announce the change coming, but it’s no less satisfying when the three of them turn the song upside down and with just over a minute to go, lock into a return of the chorus, somewhat slowed, to give the track closure and a frightening sense of accomplishment.
Ending with some last-second cello from Mitchell, Heavy Temple seem to be announcing that anything is fair game within their sound, and I for one look forward to where their sonic push takes them next. I knew they had something cool going on earlier this year when I was fortunate enough to catch them at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 2 in Delaware, but I don’t think that gig could’ve foretold the spirit they’ve been able to capture in what it’s still important to remember is just their first recording as a band. They’ll need to find a new drummer (Martin having split amicably), but I know when they do I’ll be eager to hear what they come up with next.
Philly trio The Cloth started kicking around last summer to hear their Thee Facebooks page tell it, but the wretched truth is that these three dudes have been around for a while in acts like Count von Count, Holy Dirt and Pagan Wolf Ritual, and I’ve taken that to be the reason why, when I first popped in Side Turtle of their five-song self-titled demo, it seemed The Cloth had an immediate idea of what they wanted to sound like. The three-piece is comprised of guitarist Nate Jaffe, bassist Tom von Count and drummer Jake van der Linde — von Count and Jaffe both contribute vocals — and their first release is made up of five short, crisp noise rockers that, on songs like “Touched” and “Leech Farmer,” call to mind some of later Akimbo‘s flirtations with melody and mid-period Kylesa‘s thicker-toned sludge grooves along with a grown-up-hardcore raucousness.
The band included a CD, and the tracks “Touched” and “Landsickness”‘ have made their way onto Bandcamp, but I didn’t want to listen to those first because it felt like cheating. When I popped the yellow cassette in my car’s player, the gnarl was immediate. I don’t know how much of the material was recorded live, but the instruments certainly feel that way, and raw as the production is — one imagines if you’re capturing an aggressive sound, Philly in February is a good place and time to do it — the demo’s punkier roots come through even in slower moments like von Count‘s bass starting up “Landsickness.” There’s no shying away from creating a tension and even less from answering it back with thrashing fuckall. The pure 90-seconds of punk on “I Smell a Rat” make no pretense of dynamics, but even then, Jaffe finds room for some surprisingly airy post-rock notes to float over. Round it out with the grunge churn of “Skinless” (the longest cut at a sprawling 3:43), and the tonality proves even more complex.
Both Side Turtle (pictured above) and Side Not Marked repeat the same program, and I have to agree with the advice of the inside liner, which devotes an entire panel to the words “Play Loud.” At the risk of spoiling it for anyone who might chase down a copy, The Cloth end each side of the tape with a sampled clip of Bill Hicks talking about the Kennedy assassination and American Gladiators. Not exactly timely, but the context applies as much as anything Hicks ever said did, and by that I mean here’s a white dude in a culturally privileged position with no critique of how that culturally privileged position allows him to critique the culture and patriarchy that put him in that privileged position in the first place; not that he should be appreciative, just that he’s all anger and no concrete challenge to or expressed awareness of his own place within the establishment he’s angry at. Still, I’ll take it over Dennis Leary, though if it was between Hicks and Kurt Vonnegut, who the band quote elsewhere, I fail to see the need for a choice at all.
But that’s on Hicks and not The Cloth. Point was that The Cloth set themselves up on their debut tape (hopefully the first of many releases on a variety of formats) with not necessarily a wide sonic scope, but a rawness and a natural sounding dynamic from which to build on subsequent outings. I wouldn’t ask more of a demo than that, and the more I go back to these five tracks, the more I hear in them. I don’t know how many copies they’re making, but if you can hunt one down, it might prove worth your while.
Posted in Label Stuff on June 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
…That’s right, your Clamfix.
Everybody knows these Clamfight guys are jerks, but they’re also some of my favorite jerks, so even though all the copies of their second album, I vs. the Glacier, that I was selling through The Maple Forum are gone, and even though I saw them last week, I just can’t seem to stop myself from nerding out on their doings. Their Clammery, if you will. You probably won’t.
They’re about to take a bit of a break as drummer/vocalist Andy Martin departs to dig up fossils (yes, really) in Scotland. Last I heard, he was looking for the cave with the alien doodles from Prometheus – because that’s just how much he l-o-v-e-d that movie and found it to be a well-crafted addition to the Alien mythos — but he might’ve found it last year. In any case, before he splits out for the remainder of the summer, Clamfight will be sharing a bill July 6 at the North Star Bar in Philly with Skeleton Hands and Wizard Eye.
From what I gather and have witnessed, all those dudes are pretty tight, so I expect nothing but sloppy manhugs and shout-launched beerspittle, but if you’re in the neighborhood it should be a good time.
Even more importantly, the Clambros have posted the entirety of I vs. the Glacieron their Bandcamp page. It’s up their with their first record, Vol. 1, and obviously I consider them both recommended listening. If you didn’t get to pick up a physical copy while they were being sold on The Maple Forum, there are limited quantities available from what Clamfight were selling at shows, and I’m told a CD repress is in discussion while an outlet for vinyl is also sought out.
But if you want the first edition of I vs. the Glacier, once however many the band has are gone, that’s it. And if you never got the chance to take a listen to the album while I was plugging it, here’s that full stream on some terrible, wasn’t-broke-but-we-just-fixed-it new kind of player from Bandcamp:
Posted in Label Stuff on June 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This CD is sold out. Thank you so much for your support.
Well, we knew we’d get here sooner or later, and I had a feeling it would be sooner, which this is. From my original 105, I’m down to just three remaining CD copies of Clamfight‘s I vs. the Glacier. Three copies, and then they’re gone.
I know I’ve said this before, but I suck as a salesman. I’m not the kind of guy who can get up and start working a room. It’s not my thing. Fortunately, when it comes to Clamfight, the band has been steadily busting its ass to spread the word and play as many shows as possible, and for that, I owe them thanks.
Not nearly as much as I owe them thanks for the record itself, though. There have been just a few releases, but I’m extremely proud to be associated with everything The Maple Forum has helped release up to this point, and I vs. the Glacier has been twice the joy because in addition to being friends with the band for (as we discussed just last night) going on eight years now, I’ve watched them get to the point where they can unleash a bastard of a record such as this. These songs continue to amaze me, these guys continue to amaze me, and I couldn’t be happier with how this album came out. I’m lucky to have been involved in the small way I was.
If you bought a copy because you saw the band posting about it somewhere, be it Facebook or whatever else, or you ran into them at a show, or you saw another review someplace — special thanks to everyone who took the time — it means an awful lot. Thank you for deciding this project is something worthy of your support and for taking the extra step and actually making that support happen. I hope you’ve enjoyed the album as much as I have.
So as always, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, and if you pick up one of these last three copies, kudos on getting in under the wire.
Posted in Reviews on May 30th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Chances are, when you tell the dudes in Philly-based four-piece Kingsnake they sound like Clutch, they’re going to agree. The groove-heavy rockers follow-up their 2010 Book of Promise debut with One Eyed King of the Blind, a nine-track/41-minute outing that underscores the influence in funk-derived starts and stops and the vocals of rhythm guitarist Bill Jenkins. Working in this sphere is also nothing new for the outfit, who in the last decade released two full-lengths, 2003′s Hell or High Waterand 2004′s American Rickshaw, and 2005′s Locomotive EP under the moniker Sugar Daddie before switching banners to Kingsnake in 2006. American Rickshawwas produced by Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, who also is prominently thanked in the liner notes of One Eyed King of the Blind and was in Book of Promiseas well, and Kingsnake supported Clutch at the Philly stop on their most recent tour, so the connection is legit on more than one level. And it’s not one Kingsnake make an attempt to shirk throughout these songs, whether it’s the cowbell showing up at the end of “Too Little, too Late,” the “Mr. Shiny Cadillackness”-esque swell of guitar beginning “Fang of the Cobra,” the organ on that song and “Whispering Eye” or the acoustic blues treatment in the first movement of “Know the Way Down.” It becomes a “they know it, you know it, we all know it” kind of situation as the penultimate “Mercy” introduces listeners to a “black-haired whiskey mama” whose proportions are no doubt as thick as bassist Matt Kahn‘s tone, and the idea seems to be that if they don’t try to pull a fast one like they just made all this stuff up right now, it won’t matter and we can all throw back a few beverages, party down and have a good time.
Whether or not a given listener is going to be able to make that leap depends entirely on that listener, but it’s worth mentioning that Jenkins, Kahn, lead guitarist Brian Merritt and drummer Matt Farnan have been together well over a decade and that however much it may sonically owe to the aforementioned Maryland outfit, One Eyed King of the Blindalso presents Kingsnake as a band with formidable chemistry and the ability to make difficult rhythm changes sound fluid and natural. That is to say, a lot of bands sound like Clutch, but they don’t all do it this well. Also in Kingsnake‘s corner is their complete lack of pretense and straightforward songwriting mentality. Tracks vary in the impressions they leave, but songs like “Fang of the Cobra,” the subsequent “Mountain Girl” and the shorter “Mala Suerte” prove memorable even in spite of their immediate familiarity of tonal smoothness in the guitar and Jenkins‘ gruff, Fallon-style bluesy delivery and cadence. There’s boogie momentum right from the start of “Bullets and Kisses,” which launches One Eyed King of the Blind, and the foursome only letup on the throttle when they find some advantage in doing so. Interestingly, as Clutch has grown bluesier over time, so have Kingsnake, and where Sugar Daddie were once brash enough to see American Rickshawreleased through hardcore-minded Thorp Records, these songs present a mature course in their mid-paced stomp, “Bullets and Kisses” opening wide to a fervent Blast Tyrant-style groove that finds complement in the immediate rush of “Too Little, too Late” setting the stage à la Robot Hive/Exodusfor the arrival of the organ on “Fang of the Cobra.” By then, even if you’ve never encountered Kingsnake before, they’ve made their intent clear. And again, whether you come along for the ride on One Eyed King of the Blindis up to you. To borrow a phrase, “the party boat is here.”
Posted in Reviews on April 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Underrated Philly instrumentalists Serpent Throne have a talent for making songs memorable without the use of lyrics. Brother Lucifer is their fourth album, released through Prophase Records, and it follows behind 2010’s White Summer – Black Winter (review here) in furthering the four-piece’s wailing chemistry. As with the last record, guitarists and principle songwriters Don Argott and Demian Fenton lead the charge here while the rhythm section of drummer Sean-Paul Fenton (brother to Demian) and bassist Colin Smith provide a solid foundation of groove that I’d almost call an anchor were it not so able to shift at a moment’s notice. The eight-track/39-minute full-length basks in stoner guitar glories, taking classic metal harmonics and using them to elicit instrumental hooks that stay with the listener long after closer “Napalm Mourning” has faded. As with any sans-vocals release, Brother Lucifer relies heavily on its artwork to reinforce the atmosphere of its songs, and so from the jungle spectre and helicopter above the treeline evoking Apocalypse Now to the photo on the CD’s inside liner of helmeted troops crossing a rice paddy, it’s pretty clear Argott and Fenton had the Vietnam War on their minds when putting together the material. If there’s a direct narrative at work in the flow of tracks, I don’t know, but certainly titles like “Foxtrot Tango Whiskey” (a clever allusion to the acronym FTW, which in internet speak is “For the Win,” but I’d suspect is actually a reference to its original and more timely to the Vietnam-era meaning, “Fuck the World” – Serpent Throne’s prior and current ‘70s worship can stand as further argument in favor of the interpretation, and their history of bikerisms as seen on their 2007 debut, Ride Satan Ride), “Widowmaker” (the nickname given to the AR-18 rifle), “Fubar” (itself derived from a military acronym, “Fucked Up Beyond all Repair”), and “Napalm Mourning” (also a reference to Apocalypse Now, given to a play on words) feed into this theme, while side A’s “Devil’s Breath” and “Brother Lucifer” – even the CD tracklisting is broken into sides – comport with Serpent Throne’s long-established penchant for heavy rock Devil-worshiping traditionalism. Second cut “Enough Rope to Hang Yourself” and side B’s corresponding “As the Crow Flies” seem not necessarily to belong to either sphere, but neither are they out of place, the former answering the opener’s bombastic crash with some of Brother Lucifer’s most landmark leadwork and “As the Crow Flies” offering an acoustic build into driving riffs that set up the psychedelia to come on “Fubar,” each functioning to serve the album’s overarching flow.
Which is paramount. Foremost, Brother Lucifer sets up the listener for a direct, album-long ride. Leaner and a full six minutes shorter than White Summer – Black Winter, it’s also more focused, so that as mellotron emerges to add drama to side B, the effect can be genuinely startling after side A’s rush, Fenton and Argott playing leads off riffs on “Enough Rope to Hang Yourself” in a way that sets up Serpent Throne’s chief dynamic. They are guitar rock, through and through, but as up front as the six-stringers are, it’s pivotal to understand the role of Smith’s bass and Sean-Paul’s drums in establishing the sway and swagger underlying the screaming leads that typify so much of the band’s approach. In harmony, the two guitars are given to triumphant runs, but Brother Lucifer has less raucous moments as well, not so much in “Foxtrot Tango Whiskey,” which makes no attempt to interrupt its movement from one killer riff to the next, but in the second half of “Enough Rope to Hang Yourself,” and in the midsection of the subsequent ultra-groover “Devil’s Breath,” they hint at the flourish to come with what sounds an awful lot like Hammond scratch backing airier leads en route to bookending with a stop and return to the nod-worthy groove that began, Demian and Don adding a little soul to the slower final run. And though its title might not immediately feed the Vietnam/military theme, the snare march and dirge leads that introduce “Brother Lucifer” definitely do, prior to gong-ing into the song proper, which at 6:19 is the longest on the first half of the album. This is mirrored on the second half with “Napalm Mourning,” which is the longest on Brother Lucifer as a whole at 6:25, and one more show of Serpent Throne’s sense of structure – of course that’s audible throughout as well. The title-track riffs out for a while in a progression less bouncing but consistent with “Devil’s Breath” and drops into a contemplative, quiet break soon to be built up with (what else?) soloing accompanied by mellotron strings, casting a drama that crashes and fades to end side A, leading to the Iommian solo that starts “Widowmaker” before the Iron Maiden-style pop and chug takes hold.
Posted in Reviews on April 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was asked to take the above pic shortly before Borracho went on at Kung Fu Necktie Saturday night. It was the last of three shows the three bands in question — Borracho, Pittsburgh’s SuperVoid and Austria’s Been Obscene – were playing together, so it was an end-of-tour kind of deal. Been Obscene had done a fuller tour out on the West Coast alongside Ape Machine, and with just the trio of dates on the Eastern Seaboard before they headed back to Europe, I felt lucky to catch them as I did. They had just finished playing, second after SuperVoid with Borracho still to come and current Maple Forum interlocutors Clamfight closing out the night as the local act on the bill.
Actually, they weren’t closing out the night, exactly. Word had come down earlier in the week that the venue had a late-night gig starting at 11, so the four bands would all need to be finished by 10:30PM. On my end, it was nothing but convenient; from a morale standpoint, it’s much easier to start the two-hour drive back north from Philadelphia at 11PM than it would be at 1AM or sometime thereafter. If it was the final gig of three before I left the country, say, or even if I’d come from Pittsburgh or Washington D.C. to play, I might have felt differently about it, but a club’s gotta stay in business to put on good shows in the first place, and if that’s what it takes, then so be it. Like I said, it worked to my benefit as someone with a long ride ahead.
Speaking of convenience, the trip south to Philly also provided a decent excuse to stop at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ, and pick up a few odds and ends that I’ll have more on hopefully later this week. Even with that detour, I got to Kung Fu Necktie early. One thing about these last several months of not drinking: It’s way harder to kill time at a bar — even after paying a cover to get in — if you don’t order a beverage. I met and chatted with the cats from Been Obscene for a while, who’d been staying in New York and told me they had a new song included in their set called “Pilot the Pirates” that turned out to be one more reason I was glad I made the trip.
Soon enough, SuperVoid got going with some new material of their own along with the screamier “Wake the Smoke Jumper” from their 2012 debut EP, Endless Planets (review here). These three shows represented the first the band were playing outside their native ‘burgh, so it was expected that the five-piece would seem to be getting their bearings on stage, but they still ran through their songs well and showed personality from within their double-guitar framework. Vocalist Brian showed more melodic range live than on the EP, which bodes extremely well, and the interplay of lead and rhythm guitars balanced metal and rock influences while the rhythm section of John (bass) and Greg (drums) locked in heavy foundational grooves. At one point, they seemed to find their niche between Kyuss and Mastodon, and if that’s going to be their starting point for whatever might come next from them, they could do a hell of a lot worse.
I’d have been happy enough to watch a show with Borracho, Clamfight and SuperVoid on the bill, and might’ve even hiked to Philly to see it, but the chance to catch Been Obscene, and catch them so close to home, was something special even before they started to play. Their two albums to date — 2010′s The Magic Table Dance(review here) and 2011′s Night o’ Mine(review here) — have gotten multiple return visits, and though their set was short, they represented themselves well for the growing populace who made it out to Kung Fu Necktie. There was an eight-band fest happening upstairs, so people were coming and going between the one and the other, but I didn’t move.
I know I already said it was something special to see them make the trip over, and more so to be able to see the last show, but really, it’s worth saying again. Been Obscene played four songs — opening with “Alone” (it also could’ve been “Snake Charmer,” and I’m hoping someone tells me which, as both have been stuck in my head) before hitting their stride in “Demons,” unveiling the jagged desert hues of “Pilot the Pirates” and closing out with Night o’ Mineopener “Endless Scheme,” the clarion lead lines of which were presented perfectly fuzzed in spite of the fact that the four-piece — guitarist/vocalist Thomas Nachtigal, guitarist Peter Kreyci, bassist/backing vocalist Philipp Zezula and drummer Robert Schoosleitner – were running through Borracho‘s gear. But even as an abridged sampling of their warm heavy psych grooving, it was immediately clear they were running on a different wavelength. I dug the hell out of it, and was reminded of some of the other acts from modern European fuzz set that I’ve been fortunate enough to see: Sungrazer, The Machine, Mars Red Sky, Samsara Blues Experiment and of course the godfathers of the sound, Colour Haze.
As someone who enjoyed how Been Obscene grew into their sound on Night o’ Mine, to be able to see them bring that sensibility and confidence to the naturalist jams of “Demons” from the first album, Nachtigal‘s “Watch the weather changing/Is it my fault” proving standout lines that carried me home after the show nearly as much as I-95. “Pilot the Pirates” was less outwardly jammy, featuring some solid backing arrangements from Zezula on vocals, but still had room for a bit of meandering amid a straightforward Queens of the Stone Age start-stop given vitality and fitting attitude from Kreyci rocking out with Schoosleitner. I’m sure it wasn’t the best gig they played in the States — doubtless that happened out west in a clime more fitting to the open space in their aesthetic — but who the hell knows when or if they’ll come back, and even if they do, aren’t the circumstances bound to be different? On a certain level, every show is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This one more so than many.
When they were done, it was picture time as noted above. Borracho were in the process of setting up their gear, but they ran out to take part and then back inside in time to start their set. Similar to the last couple times I’ve seen them — in October in Manhattan and at SHoD in Connecticut — they played as a trio, but in the last few months, guitarist Steve Fisher has further stepped up as a vocalist in place of the fourth in their four-piece, Noah, who last I heard was out of the country and may or may not still be involved in the band on some level. Either way, Fisher — whom I’ll admit I didn’t at first recognize without his long beard — more than held his own in the frontman role, taking on Noah‘s parts without doing an impression of the missing party and sounding comfortable as well in what I discerned to be newer material, presumably from a forthcoming release.
I’d dug them as a mostly-instrumental outfit, but as Fisher tossed off a joke about memorizing lyrics and bassist Tim Martin and drummer Mario Trubiano ran through “Concentric Circles” from their 2011 debut full-length, Splitting Sky, they made a more than solid power trio, and I’d be interested to see how they continue to develop if indeed they stay a three-piece. By the time they were done, Kung Fu Necktie was pretty full. It hadn’t been dark outside for all that long. The SuperVoid and Been Obscene guys were hanging out — I bought their two albums on vinyl and paid in Euros I had leftover from Roadburn last year — and people were up and down the stairs, in and out of the door, back and forth. Some knew what was coming, some were entirely unassuming.
And then it happened. Like the primordial riff-thrashing bastards that they are, Clamfight took the stage. Having helped release their second album, I Versus the Glacier(buy one here), on The Obelisk’s in-house semi-label, I won’t even feign impartiality where they’re concerned, but as I see it, a Clamfight set is always a good way to cap an evening. They got off to a rough start — bassist Louis Koble playing usual opener “The Eagle” where guitarists Sean McKee and Joel Harris and drummer/vocalist Andy Martin had decided to go with “Mountain” instead — but once they locked it in, they were lethal as ever. They dipped back to their first album, 2010′s Volume 1for “Viking Funeral” and the set closer “Rabbit,” but the highlight for me was new song “Block Ship,” which in the span of about five minutes affirmed my suspicions that I Versus the Glacierwas the realization of just a fraction of their overall potential. No bullshit, I got chills up my spine twice.
But as I said, I’m hardly an unbiased observer, so take that for what it’s worth. When their whiplash melee was done, I said a few quick goodbyes and headed back to my car. I know it wasn’t the optimal situation for the bands involved, but for me, it was my favorite kind of show — not because it was early, because it was something I may or may not ever get the chance to see again. Compared to Floor the evening prior, it wasn’t nearly so crowded in Philly, but doesn’t that just make it more exceptional for the people who are there? Maybe it’s the wrong attitude, but I think it does. Been Obscene were obviously a standout, but the whole night delivered, front to back. It was everything I could’ve asked it to be and then some.
Posted in Label Stuff on March 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
21 3 Copies Left.
Once again, if you’ve managed to pick up a copy of Clamfight‘s new CD, I Versus the Glacier, either using the Paypal button above or through the Maple Forum BigCartel store, you have my sincere thanks as well as that of the band.
We’re in the home stretch — a scant 21 copies remain in my possession and they’re going at a steady pace. If you’ve been on the fence, it’s a get-it-now-or-regret-it-later kind of deal. The Maple Forum doesn’t do second runs. It’s in the charter. Okay, there isn’t a charter, but seriously, the discs are moving, so thank you for that and they won’t be around for much longer. I guess that’s the point.
If you’re in Philly this coming weekend, as I know I’ll be, catch them Saturday, March 30 at Kung Fu Necktie with Borracho, Been Obscene and Supervoid. Friday, they’re at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD, with Ichabod, War Injun, Beelzefuzz and Hollow Leg, and the band has sent along word of more shows to come, including confirmation that they’re looking to hit the West Coast this summer and news about new material in progress!
Anyone can bring you a Clamfight update with show news. Here’s one from drummer/vocalist Andy Martin that has a unicorn:
Forgive me for the bullet points folks, but I’m bashing this out on a borrowed laptop in a hotel somewhere deep in the wilds of Pennslytucky, and time is of the essence…
We’ve got two great shows this weekend, we’re at Cafe 611 in Fredrick Maryland with Ichabod, War Injun, Beelzefuzz, and Hollow Leg on Friday the 29th, and we’ll be hooking up with Supervoid, Been Obscene, and Borracho at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly on Saturday, March 30.
April 6th we’re atThe Depot in York PA with Crobot, Kingsnake, and Witch Hazel.
April 25th we’re back at Kung Fu Necktie with Holly Hunt, Sunburster, and the mighty Shroud Eater, in a show that’s sure to start our great southern weekender off with aching heads and rumbly tummies.
April 26th-29th with our bosom chums/band-I-am-also-in, Heavy Temple, we’ll be rampaging through the southeast. Friday the 26th sees us both at the Oasis in Charleston, South Carolina, with Compel, Greenseer and possibly one more TBA, Saturday will likely see us in Virginia (details still getting ironed out on that one), and Sunday the 29th we’ll be wrapping it up with the Akris at Lallo’s in Knoxville Maryland.
The other massive (for us anyway) show news is that we will be slipping the surly bonds of the east coast this summer. We can’t say when or with who but trust us, Clamfight will be heading west this summer.
The final bit of big news is that we are actively writing the next record. We’ve demoed about 25 minutes of material and have rolled out one new song, “Block Ship” live. Obviously things are very premature at the moment but we’re aiming to be in the studio by next winter. Saying much more would almost feel like cursing a process that’s been going really, really well for us, so we’ll just say this, we aim to be studio bound not long after hitting Richmond, Virginia, for Stoner Hands of Doom XIII this November.
Speaking of SHOD and “Block Ship,” we’ll be heading back to Gradwell House as soon as our schedules allow to record both “Block Ship” and a reworked version of a tune that shall remain nameless (for the time being) from our first record for our special SHOD-only split with Wizard Eye and Allthing.
Finally we’d just like to say one last thanks to Thump Box, Brain Candle, The Workhorse 3, Black Hand, and the many, many friends who came out to see us in Delaware last week. Delaware’s somehow always been incredibly cool to us and due to our show/my digging schedule last week’s show may have been our last in Delaware till the fall. Fear not first staters… We shall return.
Like The Atomic Bitchwax before them, Philly-based heavy rockers Kingsnake recently stopped through the School of Rock in Easton, PA, to film a performance and interview footage as part of the web series My New Show, hosted by UC Steve. I didn’t get to go this time, but the 58-minute episode has gone online and if you’ve never heard them before (three of the four-piece were members of Sugar Daddie, from whence Kingsnake sprung), it’s a decent chance to get to know them ahead of the release of their full-length, One Eyed King of the Blind, which is reportedly due later this month.
They’ve got shows this spring — including one with Clutch and one with Lord Fowl and Heavy Temple — and you’ll find those dates below the clip. Enjoy:
Kingsnake on “My New Show” with UC Steve
Apr 6th York Pa The Depot with Witch Hazel and Crobot Apr 11th Jocelyn’s Media PA Apr 19th Rebel Rock Bar Philly with Lord Fowl, Scareho and Heavy Temple May 17th Electric Factory with Clutch, The Sword and Lionize May 18th Ride to Skate in Philly info TBA