Descendants of Crom 2018 Announces Initial Lineup with Geezer, Devil to Pay, Kind, Curse the Son, Come to Grief, Heavy Temple and Many More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

There are still headliners to be announced and others to come as well, and no doubt between now and then there will be one or two shakeups to what’s listed here between bands being added and bands dropping off as will invariably happen, but kudos all the same to organizer Shy Kennedy for the super-early unveiling of what’s probably the bulk of the lineup for Descendants of Crom 2018, the second installment of the Pittsburgh-based heavy fest. In addition to her own band, Horehound, Kennedy has already assembled a killer roster of acts, from Heavy Temple to Come to Grief to a slew of Steel City reserves in OutsideInside, Molasses Barge and others, and even if this was going to be the ultimate shape the festival would take — that is, if no one else was going to be added, which, again, they are — you’d still have to call it a good time in the making.

If you’ve got a 2018 calendar yet, mark it. Earlybird tickets are linked below. Here’s the announcement as posted by the fest, along with a quote graciously provided by Kennedy herself:

descendants of crom 2018

Blackseed Records Presents: Descendants of Crom 2018

The Descendants of Crom 2018 will be held in Pittsburgh, PA, USA in September 2018.

Pre Gala at Howlers in the evening on Thursday, September 27th.

Full days on September 28th and 29th at Cattivo.

“Descendants of Crom has been one of the most incredibly rewarding endeavors I’ve ever been involved with,” says fest organizer Shy Kennedy. “Having so many great people working and coming together for their underground music community the way they did that day was inspiring enough to erase any doubt that it has to grow. It has to be an annual event. Next year’s event may seem far away but it lends the time to really build it and get more people aware of it. As you know, a lot of work goes into a musical festival and if you take your time, it becomes a very enjoyable task. Descendants of Crom 2018 will be here all too soon and I, for one, cannot wait!”

Once upon a time there were 17 bands who joined forces to create one killer day of live, riff-ripping performances to celebrate the great community of our heavy, underground music here in the Northeast of the United States. That time was just a couple months back in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The all day event was a great collaboration in effort by local organization, bands from the region as well as a few touring and some very generous scene contributors. It was called the Descendants of Crom. Let’s do it again!

The second annual Descendants of Crom will be held on the last weekend of September of 2018 in Pittsburgh again. This time span three days in length as we are including a Thursday evening pre gala and all day events happening Friday and Saturday. There will be over 30 bands in total coming from all over the United States with a strong regional focus.

Tickets will be offered for single day to day events or in combinations. An Early Crow ticket sale will be held for the weekend combo for a 3 month period, limited to 125. These will be live soon today.

Stay tuned to find out the bands who will be rounding out the evenings of each night as well as the completed schedule.

Today, we announce the “meat” of the Descendants of Crom. These bands are the ones supporting this scene locally, regionally and or nationally. They are strong, beautiful creators of the jam, the breakdown, the beat, and the undeniable riff… they are the Descendants of Crom:

Descendants of Crom 2018 lineup:
The Long Hunt (PGH)
JaketheHawk (PGH)
Mires (PGH)
Solarburn (PGH)
Doctor Smoke (PGH)
Fist Fight In The Parking Lot (PGH)
Thunderbird Divine
Cloud
Curse the Son
Disenchanter
Molasses Barge (PGH)
OutsideInside
Wolftooth
Sierra
Horehound (PGH)
Cavern
Doomstress
Heavy Temple
Devil to Pay
Serpents of Secrecy
Eternal Black
Demon Eye
Geezer
Kind
Freedom Hawk
Duel
Come to Grief

Headliners and sub-headliners to be announced soon.
Early Crow tickets available for all event and 2 day passes for 3 months (11/23 – 2/23).

https://www.facebook.com/DescendantsOfCrom/
https://www.facebook.com/events/177536592803763
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3186333
http://descendantsofcrom.com

Solace, Live at Descendants of Crom 2017

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ZOM Announce Album Details for Nebulos

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

zom

Pittsburgh’s ZOM were first announced over the summer as signing to Argonauta Records, and after some months of quiet following the unveiling of the first single from their debut release, more details have finally begun to surface about Nebulos. You know, important kinds of stuff. Artwork. Tracklisting. Release date. That kind of thing.

It was previously noted here that Nebulos would feature revamped cuts from ZOM‘s self-titled EP (review here), released in 2013, and that has turned out to be the case for sure. Opener “Nebulos/Alien” and other pieces like “Burning,” “Solitary,” “The Greedy Few” and “There’s Only Me” were featured on the band’s earlier offering, so it should add an extra level of intrigue to the long-player to hear how that material has evolved and how it sits with the newer songs written in the time since.

We’ve still got a little bit before we find out, however. Nebulos is out Jan. 19, 2018, via Argonauta, who sent the following down the PR wire:

zom nebulos

ZOM reveals details of their new effort “Nebulos”

US Heavy Rockers ZOM reveal cover artwork and track listing of their highly anticipated new album “Nebulos”.

Hailing from Pittsburgh, ZOM is a monstrous force of heavy rock n’ roll full of stinky, stoner grooves and grab-you-by-the-throat hooks. ZOM goes straight to the gut and doesn’t hold back on its relentless attack on the senses.

ZOM was born in 2014 when experienced and multifaceted music vets Gero von Dehn (Monolith Wielder) and Andrew D’Cagna (Brimstone Coven) joined forces. Eventually Ben Zerbe (Monolith Wielder, Mandrake Project) was added to the mix to form the current trio.

ZOM “Nebulos” will be released in CD/DD by Argonauta Records and available from January 19th, 2018. This is highly recommended if you like MELVINS, TAD, SOUNDGARDEN. Preorders run here: http://bit.ly/2zMOE9Q

TRACK-LIST:
1. Nebulos/Alien
2. Burning
3. Gifters
4. Solitary
5. The Greedy Few
6. There’s Only Me
7. Bird On a Wire
8. Final Breath
9. New Trip

www.facebook.com/ZOM-189166947896954/
https://zom-rock.bandcamp.com/music
http://www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/

Zom, “Solitary” official video

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Quarterly Review: Hallatar, Alastor, The Dead-End Alley Band, Hair of the Dog, Soup, Kungens Män, Smoke Wizzzard, Highburnator, The Curf, Ulls

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Here we are, gathered for round four of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review. After the technical issues with the site for the last couple days, I’m glad to have everything back up and running, and one more time I thank Slevin and Behrang Alavi for making that happen. Though I have no idea what it might actually entail, I don’t imagine switching hosts on the fly for a site with as much content as this one has is easy, but they of course killed it and it is thoroughly appreciated. We move forward, as ever, with 10 more records. So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Hallatar, No Stars Upon the Bridge

hallatar-no-stars-upon-the-bridge

Finland’s Hallatar was formed after the passing of Trees of Eternity vocalist Aleah Starbridge, life partner of guitarist and songwriter Juha Ravio (also Swallow the Sun). In the new outfit, Ravio pays homage to Starbridge with the debut long-player No Stars Upon the Bridge (on Svart) by using her poems as lyrics, samples of her voice reading on “Raven’s Song,” “Spiral Gate” and the piano-backed centerpiece “Pieces,” and by bringing in Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen and ex-HIM drummer Gas Lipstick to complete a trio playing nine tracks/40 minutes of deeply mournful/beautiful death-doom. The extremity of lurch in “The Maze” late in the record is matched by the gorgeousness of the chants and shimmering guitar on closer “Dreams Burn Down,” and from the opening strains of “Mirrors,” the emotion driving No Stars Upon the Bridge is sincere and affecting. Cuts like “Melt” and the mostly-whispered-until-it-explodes “My Mistake” have a sense of the theatrical in their delivery, but that makes them no less genuine, and though one wouldn’t wish the circumstances leading to the band’s formation on anybody, there’s no question that with Hallatar, Ravio turns tragedy into a lush, resonant catharsis.

Hallatar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Alastor, Black Magic

alastor black magic

Cultish echoes pervade Black Magic, the debut album from Swedish doom-rolling four-piece Alastor, and it’s not so much that the initials-only four-piece of guitarists H and J, bassist/vocalist R and drummer S take influence from Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath, it’s what they do with that influence that’s most striking. Black Magic is made up of three extended tracks – “Enemy” (11:51), “Nothing to Fear” (7:42) and “Black Magic” (14:27) – and with a deep tonal engagement, each one embarks on a huge-sounding sprawl of doom. Yes, the guitars owe the swirl in “Nothing to Fear” to Jus Oborn, but the echoes behind R’s voice there and the melody have an almost New Wave-style feel despite the “all right now!” drawn right from the Ozzy playbook. In other words, Alastor are preaching to the converted, and that holds true in the snowblinded Luciferian spaciousness of the title-track’s early going as well, but the converted should have no problem finding the gospel in what they’re hearing, and as “Black Magic” rounds out with its chanted feel, Alastor affirm the potential to progress within this sound and to continue to develop it into something even more their own than it is now. Familiar superficially, but sneaky in the details, so watch out.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records webstore

 

The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms

the dead-end-alley-band-storms

Lima-based four-piece The Dead-End Alley Band aren’t far into opener “Red Woman” before the dark-psych vibe and languid groove have properly emphasized just how much the guitar of Leonardo Alva and the organ of Sebastian Sanchez-Botta (also vocals) complement each other. Propelled by the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Javier Kou and drummer Jafer Diaz, Storms is the third album from them behind 2015’s Odd Stories (discussed here) and 2013’s debut, Whispers of the Night (review here), and it continues to blend fuzz and classic garage doom impulses on songs like “Headstone Fortress” and the shuffling “Thunderbolts and Lace,” the latter of which wah-trips to the max around a stirring boogie before “The Clock has Stopped” weirds out on extra vocal echoes and nine-minute closer “Waiting for the Void” brings in the progressive touches of pan flute and percussion. Even in the earlier, shortest track “Need You (It’s Enough),” The Dead-End Alley Band bring no shortage of personality to the proceedings, and confirm that the rough edges of their early outings have matured into essential aspects of who they have become as a band, completely in control of their craft and able to conjure an atmosphere both classic and individual.

The Dead-End Alley Band on Thee Facebooks

The Dead-End Alley Band on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Hair of the Dog, This World Turns

hair-of-the-dog-this-world-turns

Making their debut on Kozmik Artifactz, Scottish trio Hair of the Dog give their guitar-led compositions plenty of time to flesh out on This World Turns, their third album, as they demonstrate quickly on the nine-plus minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points), but one would hardly call their songwriting indulgent there or anywhere else as “This World Turns” flows easily into the following seven-minute push of “Keeping Watch over the Night” in a resolute one-two punch that soon gives way to the shorter and more driving “Ctrl-Alt-Del,” touching on influences from Thin Lizzy and Scorpions en route as well as modern practitioners like Kadavar, whose stamp can also be heard on side B launch “The Colours in Her Skin.” That’s not to say Hair of the Dog — guitarist/vocalist Adam Holt (interview here), bassist Iain Thomson and drummer Jon Holt – don’t leave their own mark as well, just that their blend stems from multiple sources. A bit of Lynottism surfaces in the penultimate “In Death’s Hands” as well, which has a more subdued feel despite fervent rhythmic movement underlying, and closer “4AM” soars with enough vigor and soul – and a little falsetto – to give This World Turns a suitably smooth and vibrant finish.

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Soup, Remedies

soup remedies

With ties to Motorpsycho through guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, Soup issue their sixth long-player in the five-track lush melodicism of Remedies, which feels particularly aptly named for the immersion the wash that opener “Going Somewhere” is able to elicit. That is, of course, just the first of the spacious, semi-folk-infused progressions, and it’s with the longer-form “The Boy and the Snow” (11:33) and the psychedelic purposeful meandering of “Sleepers” (13:35) that Remedies truly unveils its considerable breadth, but the Crispin Glover Records release holds a sense of poise even in the two-minute centerpiece church organ interlude “Audion,” and the harmonies of “Nothing Like Home” bring to mind peak-era Porcupine Tree patience and fluidity while holding fast to the bright, orange-sunshiny warmth of the atmosphere as a whole, instruments dropping out just before three minutes in to showcase the vocals before returning to embark on the march to the final crescendo, not at all overblown but with just a touch of extra volume to let listeners dive deeper into the moment. Remedies feels quick at 42 minutes, but turns out to be just what the doctor ordered.

Soup on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

 

Kungens Män, Dag & Natt

kungens-man-dag-natt

Prolific psych-progging Stockholmers Kungens Män return with Dag & Natt, a 2CD/2LP issued through Kungens Ljud & Bild (CD) and Adansonia Records (LP) that overflows with jazzy fluidity and gorgeous immersion. The band’s last studio outing was late-2015’s Förnekaren (review here), and whether it’s 13-minute pieces like opener “Morgonrodnad” and the even-more-krautrocking “Aftonstjärnan” or the seemingly complementary inclusions of the kosmiche-minded “Dag” and wonderfully drifting “Natt,” the album as a whole is a joy and a boon to anyone looking for an extended psychedelic meander. The saxophone of Gustav Nygren on the aforementioned leadoff and “Natt” makes a particularly striking impression, but with a steady, languid wash of guitar, synth and warm bass throughout, Dag & Natt wants nothing for flow, and the gentle, classy spirit is maintained even as the penultimate “Vargtimmen” ups the sense of thrust leading into the finisher payoff of “Cirkeln är Slut.” As of now, Kungens Män should be considered a too-well-kept secret of Scandinavia’s psych underground, though listening to Dag & Natt, one wonders just how long they’ll stay that way.

Kungens Män on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Smoke Wizzzard, Run with the Wolf

smoke-wizzzard-run-with-the-wolf

Whether it’s through the striking and gruesome cover art or through the lumbering post-Sabbath, post-Cathedral stoner-doom nod contained within, Smoke Wizzzard’s five-song self-titled debut LP thoroughly earns its third ‘z’ – and, for that matter, its second one – with played-to-form thickness and a tonal push that starts with 10-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Astro Lord” and continues to swagger and swing with due viscosity through “Reptiles” after the minute-long punker curveball “Soul Train.” The highlight of the Pittsburgh trio’s first outing might be “The Pass,” which has a hazy patience and some rightly-featured bass tone, but as “Run with the Wolf” moves from its early Electric Wizard muckraking to cap with piano and included howls for a doomier feel, it becomes clear Smoke Wizzzard have yet to play their full stylistic hand and the real highlights may still be yet to come. Fair enough. Something tells me getting stranger is only going to be a boon to Smoke Wizzzard’s approach on the whole, so bring it on.

Smoke Wizzzard on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Wizzzard on Bandcamp

 

Highburnator, Keystoned State

highburnator-keystoned-state

If you hit up Highburnator’s Bandcamp and download their name-your-price Keystoned State EP, you might note the fifth and final inclusion is the entire live-recorded, 28-minute release presented as a single track. No doubt the Pennsylvania three-piece intend the four-song outing to be taken just that way. They begin with the “mad as hell” speech sampled from the 1976 film Network and from there unfold a potent riffly brew met head on with harsh East Coast hardcore-style vocals and more metallic growls. That’s nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Brass Rail,” and it sets the tone for what follows on the eponymous “Highburnator” before “Desert Funeral” and the Sleep-style nod of “Peaking at the Coffin” push into even more stonerly vibes. This melding of pissed-off disaffection and mid-paced heavy rock groove is particular to the sludge of the Eastern Seaboard – think of it as regional fare – but Highburnator find space for themselves in the rawness of their riffs and the charm of their puns, and by the time they’re through the four songs, it makes sense why they might want to present the full onslaught as a single entity, essentially giving it to their listeners on one overflowing platter. Got the munchies? It’s right there waiting.

Highburnator on Thee Facebooks

Highburnator on Bandcamp

 

The Curf, Death and Love

the-curf-death-and-love

Greek psych-doomers The Curf made their debut in 2007 with I and then went radio silent until last year’s Royal Water EP. Their sophomore full-length, Death and Love, then, arrives via Fuzz Ink Records with some amount of intrigue behind it, but either way, the sans-pretense heavy roll the band unfurls on “Dark Hado,” and the more uptempo “Smoke Ring,” the dig-in low end of “Lunar Lair” and the scream-topped start-stoppery of “California” present a varied take brought together through heft as well as the crispness of production and delivery, such that when it wants to, Death and Love can bite down hard, but as on the closing title-track or the earlier “Order ‘n’ Sin,” it can rumble out spaciousness as well. Whatever might’ve taken The Curf so long to put together a second album beats the hell out of me, but if they were looking to make an argument for a third one, they do so convincingly across these nine songs, which hold firmly to their overarching flow despite the emergent stylistic range.

The Curf on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records webstore

 

Ulls, I

ULLS I

For now, Ulls is the solo-project of Barcelona-based David Trillo, formerly guitarist/vocalist for the heavy progressive trio Lord Summerisle, but the hope seems to be to build a full band at some point in the future. The I EP might rightly be called a demo, then, but for the professionalism and cohesiveness of sound with which its three songs are presented and the clarity of intent behind them. With Trillo rumbling away on bass beneath, six-minute opener “Inhumat” fleshes out its arrangement with organ alongside guitar swirl and sets up the classically swinging strut of “Llot Convuls,” on which the drums post-midsection lead the way through starts and stops à la a restless King Crimson and the guitar joins with no less angularity. Eight-minute closer “L’Emersió de l’Executor” brings about a thicker overall tone, but holds to a similar mood through its first half, Trillo finding room after about the four-and-a-half-minute mark for a standout solo executed with the bass running fluidly alongside that carries the song to its fading finish just before seven minutes in, at which point a residual drone takes hold to lead the way out. That ending is telling when it comes to various impulses that might show themselves in Ulls going forward, but as an initial demonstration, suffice it to say that I makes it plain Trillo shouldn’t have much trouble finding other players to come aboard the band with him.

Ulls on Instagram

Ulls on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

outsideinside-sniff-a-hot-rock

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Outsideinside’s ‘Pretty Things.’ Their album, Sniff a Hot Rock, is out Sept. 29 on Machine Age Records in the US and Sixteentimes Music in Europe.]

Outsideinside aren’t three seconds into opening track ‘Pretty Things’ before the handclaps have started, drummer Panfilo DiCenzo is on the bell of his ride cymbal and the boogie has begun that will continue in earnest through just about the entirety of their debut album, Sniff a Hot Rock. Only fair they should get down to business on the quick, since the Pittsburgh four-piece give themselves a pretty high standard to live up to in taking their moniker from one of the greatest and most pivotal heavy rock records of all time — Blue Cheer‘s 1968 sophomore LP — in addition to boasting guitarist/vocalist Dave Wheeler and bassist Jim Wilson in the lineup, both formerly of Tee Pee Records heavy classic rockers Carousel.

Released through Machine Age Records and Sixteentimes Music, the eight-track/35-minute LP dig into early AC/DC vibes on cuts like “Can’t Say Nothin'” and blend that raw sense of songcraft with echoing-solo psychedelic flourish — James Hart joined the band on guitar and backing vocals earlier in 2017, though I’m not sure if he actually features on the recording alongside Wheeler — but the core of Outsideinside‘s approach lies in the playin’-in-a-rock-and-roll-band attitude of hook-out-front pieces like the aforementioned leadoff “Pretty Things,” “Shot Me Down,” “Empty Room” and closer “Say Yeah,” and while the easy narrative might make it seem like Outsideinside are a brand new band formed in the wake of Carousel‘s untimely collapse, the truth is they’ve been kicking around Pittsburgh’s dinged-out bars since before The New York Times declared doing so was cool; having released a split in 2013 with Old Head in 2013 via Machine Age that featured the track “Misled,” which also appears here.

Accordingly, much of this material, while energetically performed in a clear move to bring out a live-sounding vibe — and effectively done, whether it’s the fuzzy/bluesy turns of “Can’t Say Nothin'” or the forward crotchal thrust of “Say Yeah” — would also seem to have the benefit of having been worked on for a while. Where it ultimately triumphs, however, is in not being overwritten as a result of that, but instead pared down to its most basic and classic-sounding elements. As he was in Carousel, Wheeler is a key presence in Outsideinside. He takes forward position early and does not relinquish for the duration, adopting the role of self-effacing storyteller on “Shot Me Down” with an underlying, winking swagger that makes even lines like, “She said ‘Keep on walkin’ son that don’t impress me none’/And she shot me down,” in the first chorus come across in good humor. Likewise, the subsequent “Empty Room” is what it sounds like: a tale of playing to small, unappreciative crowds. This lyrical perspective adds charm to the rhythmic strut that’s so much at the center of Outsideinside‘s writing, from the start-stop of “Pretty Things” to the brazen solo that takes charge of the second half of instrumental “Eating Bread” before “Ten Years” and “Say Yeah” cap side B, and Sniff a Hot Rock benefits greatly from that added sense of personality.

outsideinside

In conjunction with the tightness of the Cactus-style creeping bassline in “Misled” and the writing overall, Wheeler‘s frontman presence becomes a part of a subtle efficiency and professionalism that Outsideinside are in no rush to advertise — truth is doing so would take away from both the grandness and the funkness of their aesthetic — but which underscores the whole of Sniff a Hot Rock just the same. It might be their first record, in other words, but dudes know what they’re doing. They signal it early and often, and some of the record’s greatest success lies in balancing that with the outright fun of their boogie as it shines through on the shuffling “Empty Room,” Wilson‘s choice bass work on “Can’t Say Nothin'” and the brash finish in the one-two punch of “Ten Years” and “Say Yeah.”

As they shift from side A’s catchy landmarks in “Pretty Thing,” “Shot Me Down,” “Empty Room” and “Misled” into the more dug-in rhythm of “Can’t Say Nothin'” and “Eating Bread,” Outsideinside continue to proffer good-times vibes in classic form, their sound organic in presentation as well as structure without necessarily being overly vintage in its production. Heavy ’10s more than heavy ’70s, though of course the roots of the one lie in the other. Still, it’s worth highlighting that while the material they bring to bear throughout Sniff a Hot Rock feels as though it’s had the benefit of being worked on, hammered out, and brought to its most essential aspects, there’s a freshness at the core of Outsideinside that still speaks to this as being their first album. The difference is it’s natural without being haphazard where many others might be, and if that comes from Wheeler and Wilson‘s past work together in Carousel or from Outsideinside simply playing shows and recording for a few years before settling into the studio to track this material, so be it.

One way or the other, the end result is a palpable, two-sided, full-LP flow that signals the arrival of Outsideinside perhaps in picking up a bit where Carousel left off, but also establishing their own course in modernizing classic boogie rock with a vitality of their own and a level of songwriting that’s already plenty sure of itself even if “Shot Me Down” or “Empty Room” might tell you otherwise. It’s no coincidence they end with “Say Yeah.” The closer is a direct address to their audience and finds Wheeler as bandleader calling out for an audience interaction in a way that one very much imagines could end a live set as well, building in the finish as he encourages the “crowd” (i.e. the listener) to say yeah. Obviously in the context of the record itself, should one choose to respond, it’s not like he’s going to hear it, but if you’ve got the song on and you find you’re tempted to do so, it’s certainly understandable.

Outsideinside on Thee Facebooks

Machine Age Records website

Sixteentimes Music website

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Horehound Sign to Hellmistress Records; New Album in Progress

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

A double-whammy of good news here in that Pittsburgh doom rockers Horehound have signed to Hellmistress Records — kudos all around — and that they’ve got a follow-up in the works to their impressive 2016 self-titled debut (review here). The four-piece had done a release for Horehound through vocalist Shy Kennedy‘s own Blackseed Records imprint, and Hellmistress has confirmed it will indeed pick that up for a reissue, so right on there in addition to the new material. The more the merrier and all that.

I’d guess it’ll be a 2018 release, so you mark your notes and I’ll mark mine (done), and as we get closer, whatever I see, I’ll be posting. In the meantime, Hellmistress stands among the sponsors for the inaugural edition of Kennedy‘s upcoming Pittsburgh-based fest, Descendants of Crom (info here), which is set to take place on Sept. 30 on two stages at Cattivo Nightclub.

Cheers to Horehound and to Hellmistress and here’s looking forward to the fruit of their collaboration. The PR wire makes it official:

horehound

Horehound – Hellmistress Records

Horehound began their journey into the Pittsburgh music scene in the summer of 2015.

Standing on the shoulders of giants – Black Sabbath, Neurosis, Sleep, and the Melvins, among others – Horehound ever since have been crafting their own blend of stoner and doom harmonies and cacophonies. On their debut album, released in April 2016, Shy Kennedy’s powerful, ethereal vocals and haunting lyrics transform the pummeling onslaught of Brendan Parrish’s aggressive guitar riffs, Nick Kopco’s doom-drenched bass grooves, and JD Dauer’s punishing percussive rhythms, into carefully crafted compositions that are “stunningly recorded, tactile, heavy, clear.”

Says Hellmistress Records founder Melanie Streko, “I discovered Horehound on Pat Harrington’s Electric Beard of Doom radio podcast. My ears perked up every time Pat played a Horehound song; whether I was working; cleaning around the house or just playing with my cat, I ran to my computer to see who it was and it was always Horehound. So I knew I had to sign them.”

In 2016, Horehound played the 1st Annual Doomed & Stoned Festival among genre mainstays Cough and Bell Witch, and shared the stage with Captain Beyond, Earthride, and The Atomic Bitchwax at Maryland Doom fest in June of 2017. Horehound is currently in the process of writing a follow-up to their self-titled debut, and hope to be able to share with their fans as the new songs come to life.

Horehound is:
• Shy Kennedy (Vocalist)
• Brendan Parrish (Guitarist)
• JD Dauer (Drummer)
• Nick Kopco (Bassist)

https://www.facebook.com/horehoundband/
http://horehound.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/horehoundband
https://www.facebook.com/blackseedrecords/
http://www.blackseedrecords.com/
https://hellmistressrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HellmistressRecords/

Horehound, Horehound (2016)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Argus, From Fields of Fire

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

argus-from-fields-of-fire

[Click play above to stream From Fields of Fire by Argus in its entirety. Album is out Sept. 8 via Cruz del Sur Music.]

Even before they get to the sweeping guitar triumph of “216,” Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania metallers Argus have long since secured their victory on From Fields of Fire, their fourth long-player and third for Cruz del Sur Music. Earlier wins come via the striking post-intro salvo of “Devils of Your Time” and “As a Thousand Thieves,” which take flight from the subdued beginning “Into the Fields of Fire” gives to the proceedings and never stop to look back. The five-piece are now a decade removed from their first demo and eight years on from making their self-titled debut (review here) through Shadow Kingdom, and after blending doom, power, classic and progressive metals across that record, 2011’s Boldly Stride the Doomed (discussed here) and 2013’s Beyond the Martyrs (review here) which followed, they’ve never come through quite so stately as they do in the nine tracks and 55 minutes of From Fields of Fire.

Joining vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich (ex-Penance, also Arduini / Balich), guitarist Jason Mucio and drummer Kevin Latchaw are new guitarist Dave Watson (who also produced) and bassist Justin Campbell, and whether it’s the fist-pump hook of “You are the Curse” (video posted here) or the suitably reddened Brad Moore cover art out front, From Fields of Fire does not fix what was never broken in the band’s sound, instead bringing a new degree of refinement and poise to their metallic sonic brew, righteously oldschool and every bit living up to the cliché of “firing on all cylinders” — one can listen to just about any of these tracks and find it driven equally by the guitar, bass, drums and vocals. That balance, toyed with here and there as Balich pushes his powerful voice on “As a Thousand Thieves” and the guitars match step for leads as the 11-minute “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors” draws to its finish, stands among the most effective elements of From Fields of Fire, and taken as a consideration in kind with the level of songcraft displayed throughout, the album unmistakably makes its case for Argus to stand among the US’ most underrated classic metal bands.

It’s not necessarily that Argus are doing anything so revolutionary in tracks like the aforementioned “216” or the later “Hour of Longing” and “No Right to Grieve” as relates to their past work. While they started out more tipped toward the doomly end of the spectrum and have since come around to follow impulses less hindered by tempo — to wit, the windmill-headbang worthy chug of “Devils of Your Time” and the forward thrust in the verses of “Hour of Longing” so effectively pushed by Campbell‘s bass — From Fields of Fire is more a continuation of their ongoing growth than a departure of sorts from what they’ve done before. Again, their sound wasn’t broken. Considering their longest break between full-lengths prior to the four years that split Beyond the Martyrs and From Fields of Fire was half that duration — albums in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2017 — it’s entirely possible these songs have been worked on longer, tightened more over time, and if that’s the case, it’s to their benefit, but the production value brought to the lumbering “No Right to Grieve,” which immediately precedes the closing outro “From the Fields of Fire,” and the shimmer it gives to the lead work on “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors,” “As a Thousand Thieves” — and really all the rest included — isn’t to be understated.

With Watson at the helm, Argus hone a brisk, sharp and crisp feel excellently suited to the spaciousness such an epic feel requires. That is, in rawer form, the already-noted instrumental opening of “216” might fall flat, but because it comes through so clearly and because there’s room for a volume swell and that lead layer at just the right moment (looking at you, two-minute mark), Argus come across as positively masterful even before Balich serves yet another reminder of just how much he brings to the band in presence, arrangement and delivery. As metal frontmen go, he has the precision of a power metaller and the guttural passion of a doomer, and though I wouldn’t take anything away from his past work, it’s easy to argue that From Fields of Fire finds him just as much at the top of his game as it does the rest of the band around him.

And ultimately, the story of Argus‘ fourth LP is what was said at the outset: a triumph. From the production to the performances to the arrangements and the structures that serve as their foundation, to moments like the fluid shift between grandiose verse/chorus interplay and the instrumental building midsection of “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors” to the way “Into Fields of Fire” mounts tension to lead the way for “Devils of Your Time” and the way the acoustic first half of “From the Fields of Fire” fades out to let the album wrap with a darker wash of noise, every minute, every part, brims with purpose, even if that purpose is to convey a turn of mood or shift between one tempo and another. From Fields of Fire underscores Argus‘ particular style, and while one can point to certain aspects of it and hear SabbathPriestMaiden, etc., there’s never any point at which they lose sight of sounding most of all like themselves.

In this way, they bring a sense of vitality to the classic metal at their foundation while also keeping the tonal heft in Campbell‘s bass and the guitars of Watson and Mucio to still carry a doomed feel along with them that comes to an emotional head with “No Right to Grieve.” That track, as the last in a series of seven one-int0-the-next epics, arrives at perhaps the most forceful crescendo of Argus‘ career to-date, and every bit earns its position as their final statement before “From the Fields of Fire” draws the offering down to its finish. Bottom line? Argus are nothing less than a heavy metal treasure. With class and grace they find a position for themselves between various subgenres that plays to familiar styles while carving out their own identity through memorable hooks, breathtaking execution and an unmitigated will to move forward creatively from release to release. Four years might’ve been a long wait for From Fields of Fire, but like the best of the classics, no question this one will stand the test of time.

Argus, “You are the Curse” lyric video

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Review & Track Premiere: Blackfinger, When Colors Fade Away

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Can I Get a Witness’ by Blackfinger. When Colors Fade Away is out Sept. 15 via M-Theory Audio and up for preorder now.]

When Blackfinger first started out, the band was a vehicle for acoustic songwriting from Eric Wagner, the former vocalist for Chicago-based doom legends Trouble. By the time they got to releasing their first studio material in 2011 (discussed here), Blackfinger was a full-fledged band, who in addition to their own material, often dug into Trouble classics on-stage, periodically bringing out Wagner‘s former bandmates to take part in the celebration of that legacy. By the time they made their self-titled debut (review here) in 2014 via The Church Within Records, that drive had been channeled into The Skull, which reunited Wagner with ex-Trouble bassist Ron Holzner among others in a seemingly rotating cast, and with The Skull‘s well received and dying-for-a-follow-up 2014 Tee Pee Records debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here), and subsequent touring, Blackfinger became something of a backburner entity.

They were a side-project that, without much heavy touring behind it, went somewhat underrated for the quality of their original output on the first record and the blend of melancholic classic rock and doom there elicited. The chief question going into the second Blackfinger full-length, When Colors Fade Away (on M-Theory Audio), is what the identity of the group will be. Will they have the somber moodiness of the debut intact? A heavier edge à la The Skull‘s built-from-Trouble ethic of doomed songcraft? What role will the affinity for ’60s rock that once led Blackfinger to produce the Mamas and the Papas-referencing single “All the Leaves are Brown” play in the new material?

With the acknowledgement that those weren’t all yes or no questions, the answer to all of them is yes. Comprised of nine tracks for a total of 38 minutes of original material, Blackfinger‘s sophomore offering brings forth doomed vibes on cuts like the opening title-track and “Crossing the River Turmoil,” moody mid-paced melodicism on “Beside Still Water,” chugging, rocking hooks (and a Dr. Seuss reference in the lyrics) on “Can I Get a Witness” and the cowbell-inclusive centerpiece “Afternow,” a softer touch on the penultimate “Waiting for the Sun” and even references nursery rhymes in the chorus of “My Old Soul,” which reworks “Old King Cole was a very old soul/A very old soul was he/He called for his pipe, he called for his bowl/A very fine bowl it was indeed,” as a kind of self-examination on the part of Wagner, who seems to put himself in that role via the title and his delivery. As a result of all this, the answer to Blackfinger‘s identity is that they’ve become a multifaceted unit, rich in sound and variety of songwriting, and that while Wagner is of course still a focal point, they sound even more like a full band than on the self-titled.

Also a completely different one. Of the players on that first record, only the vocalist has returned for the follow-up, and having since moved from his longtime home in the Chicago area to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wagner has completely revamped the lineup of Blackfinger around himself, notably bringing in Terry Weston of Dream Death — who released the righteously churning Dissemination (review here) last year — and Penance to handle guitar alongside Matthew TuiteMatthew Cross to play bass and David Snyder for drums as a new incarnation of the five-piece. Particularly when one considers the drastic nature of these changes in the band — changing, quite actually, the band — it becomes all the more remarkable that When Colors Fade Away has anything in common with the preceding Blackfinger at all, let alone seems to be so effectively constructed with a consistency of intent and influence.

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The memorable craft behind songs like “All My Sorrow” and the aforementioned “Can I Get a Witness” and “Beside Still Water” has to be mentioned as a factor in this — as well as the quality of the other tracks around them; it’s a pretty high and pretty steady level throughout — but even so, When Colors Fade Away not only shows development from the self-titled, it marks a moment of arrival for Blackfinger as a unit distinct in its purpose and clear-headed about what it wants to accomplish. Any concerns as regards what Blackfinger would become in the wake of The Skull‘s rise to prominence should be duly answered by the shredding solo of “Afternow” as well as the morose rolling groove of “Crossing the River Turmoil,” on which Wagner bequeaths worldly goods over a highlight bassline and lumbering riff, or the uptempo and somewhat hopeful finish brought out through closer “Till We Meet Again.”

Varied material is brought together by Wagner‘s voice — pushed to a higher register on “Afternow” and in layers on “Till We Meet Again” and “When Colors Fade Away” — and by a straightforwardness of structure that finds individual pieces standing out from each other while still flowing smoothly one into the next, and with a full, tonally rich recording sound, Blackfinger‘s When Colors Fade Away should have no problem making its case to those among a new generation of listeners who caught wind of Wagner‘s work via The Skull as well as to those who’ve followed him since his time in Trouble.

It is also, however, more than simply a showcase for Wagner to the converted new or old. There’s a reaching out in these tracks and a creative progression that’s not to be understated, and as much as the vocals are a defining presence, the basic fact that Blackfinger has been able to put together a completely new band while still forging an identity of its own and releasing a second album just three years after the debut is more than slightly impressive. Even if it works mostly in shades of blue sonically in accordance with its cover art, the fullness of realization across When Colors Fade Away brims with not-to-be-missed vitality, and whether it’s the new collaboration between Wagner and Weston or the cohesion of the group as a whole around them, one hopes Blackfinger continue to grow, mature and press forward as brazenly as they do here.

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Argus Post “You are the Curse” Lyric Video; European Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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Let me say this as plainly as possible: If you’re not looking forward to Argus‘ new album, you’re fucking up. From Fields of Fire is out Sept. 8 via Cruz del Sur Music. Write it down so you remember.

Granted, that seems like such a hyperbole-happy-dipshit-blogger way of putting it, but it’s pretty true to the urgency I feel about the subject, and if it sounds like I’m being inadvertently critical of your taste — not everybody’s into doom-tinged classic metal with a flair for the epic, and I get that — I apologize, but rest assured I’m coming from a place of not wanting you to miss out. Not trying to be a jerk. Not trying to overstate the case. Frankly, I don’t need to; the Pittsburgh five-piece make their own argument excellently across the 55-minute From Fields of Fire without any help from the likes of me. I’m just saying that whether or not you’ve ever checked out Argus before, their fourth long-player — out Sept. 8 — deserves a fair shot. Give it one.

To give a first public sampling of what’s to come with From Fields of Fire, the band have a new lyric video posted for the centerpiece of the tracklisting and presumed side A closer (assuming this all fits onto one platter, which I’m not actually sure it does) “You are the Curse.” Following suit from post-intro opener “Devils of Your Time,” it’s a strong hook delivered with due fervency, and as it immediately precedes the 11-minute sprawl of “Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors” on the record, which is out Sept. 8, it’s an excellent showcase for the level of songcraft shown across the album as well as the crispness of the production through which that songcraft arrives.

Argus will celebrate the release of From Fields of Fire — it’s Sept. 8; have I mentioned that? — by launching a string of newly-announced tour dates in Austria, Switzerland and Germany that same day. The run will be alongside High Spirits and culminates at Storm Crusher fest in Germany, where Argus will share the stage with ExciterTygers of Pan TangSulphur Aeon and many others.

Tour specifics and more info from the PR wire follow the video below. Enjoy:

Argus, “You are the Curse” lyric video

‘YOU ARE THE CURSE’, taken from ARGUS’ album “From Fields Of Fire”.

Comments vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich: “‘You Are The Curse’ was the first song we wrote for From Fields Of Fire. Dave [Watson, guitar] brought it in and it immediately fit. I knew we had exciting things coming for the album when it came together. It’s classic ARGUS and a good song to introduce From Fields of Fire to our friends worldwide. It’s an up-tempo, rhythmically aggressive but melodic song shot through with dark undertones. Lyrically, this song deals with the idea that sometimes we need look no further than ourselves for why things go wrong in our lives…as you sow so shall you reap. It’s been a live mainstay for about a year-and-a-half and one we expect to play often.”

VIDEO CONCEPT AND MAKING by YOD MULTIMEDIA: facebook.com/yodmultimedia

“From Fields Of Fire” out on SEP 8, 2017 via Cruz Del Sur Music.

Available in the following formats:

– COMPACT DISC with 12-PAGE BOOKLET: http://tinyurl.com/ycssx53j
– REGULAR BLACK / LIMITED RED/WHITE SPLATTER DOUBLE LP EDITION featuring 4 BONUS TRACKS | A2 POSTER | INSERT | DOWNLOAD CARD http://tinyurl.com/y9ra32xc
– DIGITAL

To coincide with the release of From Fields Of Fire, ARGUS is embarking on a nine-date European tour with Chicago high-energy rock heroes HIGH SPIRITS. The tour kicks off September 8 in Dornbirn, Austria, culminating with their September 16 appearance at the Storm Crusher festival in Püchersreuth, Germany.

09/08: Dornbirn, AT,- Schlachthaus
09/09: Olte, CH – Coq D’Or
09/10: Münster, DE – Sputnikhalle
09/11: Marburg, DE – Trauma G-Werk
09/12 Oldenburg, DE – MTS Record Store
09/13 Hamburg, DE – Bambi Galore
09/14 Berlin, DE – Urban Spree
09/15 Weimar, DE – Kasseturm
09/16 Pückersreuth, DE – Storm Crusher Festival

Musicians:
Brian ‘Butch’ Balich – Vocals
Dave Watson – Guitars
Jason Mucio – Guitars
Justin Campbell – Bass
Kevin Latchaw – Drums

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