The amount I’ve written about it does pathetically little to convey just how much time I’ve actually spent listening to Young Hunter‘s Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain EP. Now available as a split cassette with Ohioan (review forthcoming), the three-song collection by the Portland-by-way-of-Arizona outfit boasts an atmosphere and unabashed emotional heft like not much else out there. Whether it’s “Welcome to Nothing,” “Trail of Tears” or “Dreamer,” the whole thing clocks in at about 18 minutes and it’s more or less become a part of my daily routine to make my way through what’s a rather intense sonic ringer going from front to back, “Dreamer” closing with a launch into a driving rush that still sends a chill up the spine. Take the fact that I’ve included songs in podcasts over the course of three months (see here and here) as a sign of the enduring attention the release has received. Its tracks have yet to stray far from my consciousness.
“Dreamer” is the shortest of the bunch, and its finale speaks best for itself, so I’ll let it, but as you make your way through the video you’ll probably notice that it’s just frontman Benjamin Blake without the rest of the band represented. Blake moved to Portland last year, and presumably — at least judging from the misty forest treetops at the end — the clip was filmed there. Last I heard, he was looking to get a new lineup together for Young Hunter, though in January, he returned to Tuscon to play a release show with the desert-dwelling lineup for the tape. I don’t know what the future of Young Hunter might be, or where it might be, but Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountainhits with a resonant strike and is even more assured than was the the band’s 2012 debut full-length, Stone Tools(discussed here). If you haven’t yet checked it out, the video is pretty clearly a budget job, but still gives a good feel for how the EP hits its apex. Not to be missed.
Posted in audiObelisk on March 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Having relocated from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon, psychedelic sludge trio Prizehog will release their third album, Re-Unvent the Whool,tomorrow on Eolian Empire. The bass-less trio — you’ll note no lack of low end in the record — run a spectrum of effects-laden churning, mashing together bright ambient echoes and deep, dank tonality. I wouldn’t be the first person to compare them to the Melvins, but that doesn’t really do complete justice to the psychedelic side of their sound, which shows up quickly on Re-Unvent the Whool in the eight-and-a-half-minute opener “Parradiggum” (also the longest track included; immediate points) and carries through to the Monkees-referential noise experimentation that finishes in “Direction to the Valley.” Presumably that’s the Valley of the Dolls they’re talking about.
Between the start and finish, Prizehog – that’s Rion, Veronica and Zakk — delve into downtempo explorations of clouded sonic murk, immersive and sometimes distressing. A moment of peace arrives with the twanging bounce of the penultimate “Gnumskull, the Ruler,” but prior too, Prizehog put you deep in it and aren’t exactly keen to show a way out as “Whoady,” “Shed” and “Awsme Bube” push further and further into a dark ethereality, all dream echoes and where-the-hell-am-I as “Irrevelant” grounds side B somewhat with a still-weirdo take on the metal of stone. The crux of Re-Unvent the Whool– the album’s ambitions somewhat clouded by the wordplay, but underlying nonetheless — is in its open feel, and Prizehog seem to delight in the strangeness of their own concoctions. Can’t blame them. The melody that emerges from “Shed”‘s midsection builds on some of the best impulses Zoroaster and Kylesa have touched on, but is ultimately no more adherent to those bands than it is to a preconceived notion of what “heavy” should sound like, and “Parradiggum” succeeds early in throwing off the listener with blastbeats and overlaid vocal drone. It’s bizarre but surprisingly easy listening.
Eolian Empire has Re-Unvent the Whoolpressed in an edition of 500 copies on black 180g vinyl with a black sleeve, 24″ x 24″ poster of the Chris Jehly cover art. A download code is of course included, but for anyone who’d like to get a day-early sample of the full breadth of the beast itself, I’m fortunate enough to be able to have a front to back stream. Find it on the player below, and please enjoy:
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Prizehog are currently booking a full US tour for Spring 2014 in support of Re-Unvent the Whool, which is released March 4 on Eolian Empire. More info at the links:
Posted in audiObelisk on February 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Among the six tracks on Portland, Oregon, foursome Satyress‘ impending self-released debut 12″, Dark Fortunes, “Soma” is something of a standout. Less doomed in pace than cuts like opener “Possession” and the darkly metallic title-track, it’s the shortest cut at just under four minutes, but makes up with its hook whatever it might lack in relative span in relation to the other songs, only one of which (“Spread Thin”) is under five minutes long. Propelled by the driving riffs of guitarist Billy Niletooth and the alternately brooding and soaring vocals of Jamie LaRose, “Soma” is a high point in closing out side A of the vinyl, which is set for release on April 9.
What the band do best across the length of the half-hour full-length is balance doom and heavy rock smoothly playing each off the other, so that “Soma” has a bit of presence to go with its catchy riff and swirling climax. Shades of fellow Portlanders Witch Mountain show up a bit on the preceding “Esta Noche,” but Satyress are by and large more raucous and less directly blues-doomed, the guitars showing interest in traditional metal while bassist Alex Fast and drummer York Francken further showcase an efficiency in songwriting in the ease of their transitions, from verse to chorus, slow to fast, and while there’s a pervasive sense of build, nothing on Dark Fortunesfeels out of place or miscued. “Soma” will no doubt ring familiar to those with some familiarity with Portland’s fertile heavy scene, but the song is a blast all the same, and as a sampling of Satyress‘ first outing, it accurately conveys the beginning of what seems like an already well under way creative evolution.
Get a taste of “Soma” on the player below, and please enjoy:
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Satyress will release Dark Fortuneson April 9 on 12″ vinyl, and will play the semi-finals of the Portland Metal Winter Olympics on March 20 at White Owl Social Club. More info at the links:
02.24.14 — 12:07AM Pacific — Sun. night / Mon. morning — Hawthorne Theater, Portland, OR
“Everybody gets a trophy at the Hawthorne Theatre…” – JJ Koczan
Oh, Portland. Portland, baby. 15′s my limit on schnitzengruben. You are making a German spectacle of yourself. It would be real easy to get spoiled living in this town. Quite a night. Quite a show. Pentagram had an amp blow out or something and the crowd was still going nuts. Pressed up against a metal railing at the front of the stage, I was reminded of younger days, a straight-line bruise along the bottom of the rib cage from being up front at silly shows. This was a young audience. They were into it. You kids and your doom.
Everything was a little more dead on tonight, as expected. Getting past the first show seems to have allowed for a certain amount of tension to abate. The three touring bands were tighter — no small feat after last night — and the local openers, Mothers Whiskey and Sons of Huns, both drew and performed well. Sold out show. Again, one could get spoiled.
I’ll try and make it quick again since it’s midnight and I’ve got actual job work to do:
Was talking with Mothers Whiskey guitarist/vocalist Greg Powers before the show and he mentioned he’s an East Coast guy, from Maryland. I don’t know that I would necessarily have picked it out in his approach had he not said it, but he had some of that post-Sixty Watt Shaman burl, though tempered obviously by the pervasive mellow of his current surroundings. Thus, Mothers Whiskey were a solid bicoastal blend, unpretentious and laid back, but still with an insistent undertone. Pretty clear they’re figuring out their sound, but their dynamic was solid, particularly on closer “Scorpion Moon Burn,” which carried that Southern heavy influence across smoothly.
Sons of Huns
The first band I’ve seen on this tour in which no single member had a full beard. Nonetheless, a local trio who’ve made a splash with their recent Banishment Ritualrelease, Sons of Huns were clearly known to the crowd. It was an all-ages show, and they skewed young, which never hurts, but they made their chops plain enough to see, guitarist Pete Hughes busting out solos that I read as an opening volley soon enough to be returned by Radio Moscow while sharing vocal duties with bassist Shoki Tanabe, who switched to a fretless about halfway through the set. Drummer Ryan Northrop was the anchor, but nothing was really holding Sons of Huns back as they gave the yet-unnamed post-Millennial generation a reason to relish Kyuss-style riffing.
Since I was in the van this afternoon with them, I know the literal miles Kings Destroy came for this show, but they do little justice to how many miles more comfortable they seemed on stage. Guitarists Chris Skowronski and Carl Porcaro were shoving and kicking, almost daring each other to fuck up, while bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik provided the foundation for their shenanigans and Steve Murphy turned his mic stand at one point into a harpoon and thrust it in the general direction of the crowd. They started a little early, so squeezed “Dusty Mummy” into a riff-heavy set that worked well after Sons of Huns, setting up a rock/doom back and forth that would continue into Radio Moscow and Pentagram. The vocals didn’t come across as clearly, but the new song, “Embers,” was tighter tonight as well.
Doesn’t matter how many nights this tour goes, I don’t imagine I’m going to get tired of watching Radio Moscow make killing it look so easy. Two new songs in the set tonight, “Death of a Queen” and another one, plus “Rancho Tehama Airport,” which is also pretty recent, and where last night dipped back to the self-titled for “Frustrating Sound,” and that was certainly welcome as far as I’m concerned, I am not in the slightest about to complain about getting to know a couple new cuts ahead of the arrival of their new album, Magical Dirt, which seems to be slated for a spring release. Whenever it comes, the twists and turns in “Death of a Queen” are sure to be a highlight, as they were both in Seattle and at the Hawthorne, where they were met with due appreciation and then some by the all-ages set, who had youthful vigor on their side, and the 21-and-overs, who were sloshed. Suddenly the show felt very sold out, very packed in. No arguments though.
Yeah, and then Pentagram went on. Even before they took the stage, the push of people toward the front was fairly ridiculous. Bobby Liebling got cheers even as he walked out from the green room on the side of the stage, standing on a balcony and pointing at the crowd, obviously thrilled to see him. The place went off. Set was the same as last night — my only complaint with it is no “Walk in Blue Light,” but you can’t have everything — opening with “Nightmare Gown” from Be Forewarned and going into “Review Your Choices” before letting loose with “Forever My Queen” after what seemed to be some technical difficulty and on from there. It was during the latter (they were inadvertently switched at El Corazon, come to think of it), that being up front became an untenable situation and I did what any self-respecting adult would do and fell backwards into the press to make my way through. At one point the strap of my bookbag with my laptop in it was hooked around some plastered girl’s arm who refused to give it up, but I was ready to pull her outside with me if necessary. Finally I shouted something about it actually being my bag and a light went on in her head and she let go. I was pretty well frazzled, but made my way to the back to watch more. True, it was the same deal as Seattle, but screw it. Every time you get to see Pentagram — with Victor Griffin on guitar especially — it’s the right way to go, though I’ll admit that when they got down to the encore of “Be Forewarned” into “Wartime,” I was listening from outside.
Loadout, well, didn’t go quite as smoothly as last night. There was a bit of waiting and when all the stuff was in the sprinter, it was established that we’d be hitting a bar called Chopsticks at the suggestion of some locals who were headed that way. Tomorrow is an off-day for the tour. Turns out the place was a Chinese restaurant in addition to a bar — they called it fast food but they were the best dumplings I’ve had since I moved out of New Jersey — and that the karaoke was going in full force. Chopsticks wasn’t as packed as the show, but it had a crowd, and they felt like dancing. It was 1:30AM by the time we got there and about 2:30AM by the time we left, and in between is a blur of irony-overload ’80s hits sung by an assortment pulled from the almost-entirely-white assemblage. One guy did “Aqualung,” and nailed it, but the rest was Tears for Fears, Michael Jackson and the like.
Many laughs, many drinks, some dim sum, and no one was quite as sloppy as they semi-apologized for being. I think on some level it’s weird for these dudes that I’m here and that I’m writing as I’m here, like an embed. I know they’ve seen some of what’s been posted, and it’s not that they’re being guarded — at one point tonight I rechristened the band “Kings Destroyed,” so if there were guards, they went on break and didn’t come back — but my concern is not harshing anyone’s good time by making them feel like they’re being watched.
Anyway. There was talk of a James Brown hot tub party when we got back to the motel by the airport where we’re staying, but it was to bed almost immediately. Steve gets his own room, Carl and I share (even at his worst so far, which might be right now, he’s nowhere near the worst snorer with whom I’ve shared a hotel room), Rob and Aaron, and C-Wolf and Jim Pitts. We’re all in a row on the 200 level of the Clarion with a noon checkout tomorrow and a drive to San Francisco to follow. It’s now four in the morning. Something tells me we won’t be getting an early start.
Ride down from Seattle was pretty straightforward after a breakfast at the bar where the band couldn’t get served the other night on account of Aaron having forgot his ID. 13 Coins, near the airport. It was about two hours south on the I-205 (I think) with mountains and old growth evergreens around. Lots of grey, periodic rain, but the landscape is beautiful. Trees were impressive, traffic sparse. There’s wifi in the van, so as this was the shortest trip to be made over the course of the next six days, that will no doubt come in handy for passing the time. I still haven’t managed to find a book and/or a bookstore, though I hear there’s one near here that’s supposed to be where it’s at.
Ditto that for Portland as a whole, I suppose. Very colorful city for sitting under such a grey sky. I think the grocery store across the street from the Hawthorne was the brightest thing I’ve seen since last June. Easy to read the city as a creative space. I’m not sure how much more downtown it gets than where we are, but if this was it, there’s a cool vibe. To wit, the specials in the side bar/small-stage room here at the Hawthorne include the “Ian MacKaye,” which is Schilling Cider and orange juice, the “Neck Tattoo” and the “Earth Crisis.” There’s also a Modelo vending machine. Hard to gauge which is the symptom and which the underlying cause there, but then I’ve only been in town about 25 minutes.
Soundtrack on the way down was the self-titled The Meters record and then a double-disc collection of James Brown instrumentals. Horns and swing for days. I dig it. Pretty quiet in the van apart from what was the hardest working backing band in show business, but some laughs at references to Anchorman, Fast Times, Mystery Science Theater 3000, some other staples. Several running gags in the making, I think, and a few apparently held over from prior tours. Paul Stanley’s stage raps feature heavily, and rightly so. Portlandia references have been flowing freely as well, owing to the geography.
Radio Moscow were here a bit ago but seem to have moved on, probably to find food. We passed Pentagram on the highway, so they’re en route. In the spirit of last night, tonight’s also a five-band bill, with Sons of Huns and Mothers Whiskey opening. There’s a balcony that I’m thinking might be cool to try to get some pictures from if I can. Show’s almost sold out, so I don’t know how much space there will be to move around. Still, I expect good times and a little bit more of a relaxed mood as the tour sort of settles into itself. It’s a nice big stage, too, so the Mad Alchemy lights should be in their element. I’m looking forward to it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
As ever, I’m not going to claim to have any kind of inside track here — because, flat out, I don’t have one when it comes to the Portland, Oregon-based festival — but it seems to me that the question isn’t, “Who’s the last headliner for Stumpfest?” nearly as much as it’s, “Is it Red Fang?” A deep undercover investigation undertaken by yours truly — and by that I mean a glance at the tour dates on their Thee Facebooks page — shows that Red Fang end a month-long European tour in Moscow on April 13. That would give the road-dogging four-piece almost two weeks to decompress and reestablish interpersonal relationships before getting out again for a hometown gig. Surely that’s plenty of time!
Plus, having them on the bill for Friday aligns them with Relapse Records labelmates Lord Dying, and while I can’t boast of any more knowledge of the inner hierarchies of the Portland scene than one might expect from someone on the opposite side of the country, they seem to be the name missing from the list below.
Whether the last headliner turns out to be Red Fang, another Portland act or someone imported from out of town, Stumpfest has a killer lineup and seems like a hell of a way to spend a weekend. Dig it:
STUMPFEST day lineups announced; ticket sales are LIVE
STUMPFEST, Portland, Oregon’s “fantastic amalgam of music, bro love and art,” is a little over two short months away. The festival has officially been announced through the Mississippi Studios website, and ticket sales are LIVE. There is still one more band to be announced on March 8th, so stay tuned–but just trust us when we say that the $35 3-day pass is a steal. There is also a FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE for the festival with links to listen to every band involved.
4/24 THURS Trans Am Federation X Life Coach Drab Majesty Hot Victory
4/25 FRI Headliner TBA Lord Dying Norska Black Pussy Ancient Warlocks Chron Goblin
4/26 SAT YOB Black Cobra Diesto Drunk Dad Honduran
Portland, Maine, doom rockers Ogre have booked a release party for their forthcoming fourth full-length and first in six years, The Last Neanderthal. The show is set to take place March 14 at Geno’s in the trio’s hometown, and the recently reactivated Eldemur Krimm, as well as Sunrunner, share the bill. Minotauro Records has the release of the album, as previously reported, and the first new Ogre audio since 2008′s Plague of the Planethas surfaced in the form of a stop-motion video for the song “Nine Princes in Amber.”
A catchy, upbeat rocker of a track, set to be the second on the record, “Nine Princes in Amber” finds Lego visual accompaniment. We get to see all nine princes, we get to see sword and gunfights, and if I’m not mistaken, there are even a few ogres in there as well (at very least orcs). The clip is good fun and the song itself rips, so it seems only appropriate to share. Let’s hope this sets off a spate of Lego stop-motion doom clips, soon enough to be compiled onto a DVD and sold until either a lawsuit or broken legs at the hand of a Lego goon squad occurs. A goon squad easily disassembled into their component parts and rearranged into mutants with extra torsos where their legs should be, of course.
Video and show info follow. Right on:
Ogre, “Nine Princes in Amber” official video
Little Will C. has completed the first official video from “The Last Neanderthal!”
OGRE is now ready to unveil our new disc to the world, “The Last Neanderthal.” We’re happy to announce that we will be appearing with our old friends ELDEMUR KRIMM, who have recently reemerged, and prog rock superstars Sunrunner, who just came out with a whopper of a new disc, as well!
Posted in audiObelisk on February 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There is a burning intensity at the heart of Towers‘ IIthat seems to run a current through all four of the album’s tracks. The Portland, Oregon, duo issue IIthrough countrymen imprint Eolian Empire today in a limited-to-300 vinyl pressing (with download, naturally), and from their lineup, to the album’s title, to its two sides, each with a longer piece tied to a shorter one, “two” certainly seems to be the theme with which Towers – bassist/vocalist Rick Duncan and drummer Darryl Swan – are working. I wish I could say it applied to the sound of IIitself, but the truth is somewhat less convenient and more satisfying, since the aesthetic breadth the band covers isn’t so easily cut into one piece or another.
Foreboding atmospheres loom throughout “Hell” (11:52), “The Door at the End of the Hall” (6:22), “The Chosen” (5:10) and “In the Room of Misfortune” (13:57), and the more extended pieces only seem to enhance that dread with a violent bass and drum noise that emerges like a sudden temper set off. Duncan‘s voice can either drone over his own bass or shout deep-mixed echoes that would be punkish were it not for the theatricality surrounding. Swan meets the churning progression of “In the Room of Misfortune” with a devil’s brew of tom runs and cymbal crashes, the whole thing feeling un-linear, unhinged, swirling and malevolent as they bring IIto its terror-grooving head. It’s been a journey already at that point, the immersive gates of “Hell” opening to consume with hypnotic low end early on only to swallow the listener whole into a void of ambient waveform droning before giving way to dirge-doom and the build of “The Door at the End of the Hall,” around which ghostly forms take shape vocally even as the song seems to cast off structure in favor of raw, aggressive pulse, pushing and tugging at the consciousness.
Towers is not easy listening, and with the apparent narrative arc of these tracks and the flow between each side, that’s even truer of IIthan it was of their 2012 self-titled (discussed here) or preceding 2011 demos (review here), because what arises through the chants and slow march of “The Chosen” is a realized vision. Put it to whatever apocalyptic scenario you want and it’ll likely fit, whether it’s the dreaded grey of aftermath or the wretchedness of humanity bringing about its own destruction. II‘s oppressiveness takes different forms, but what’s tying the album together most of all is a portrayal of otherworldly toxicity made real and concrete through righteously vile and unwelcoming noise.
Stream IInow on the player that follows and check out more on the release below, courtesy of the PR wire. Enjoy:
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The second LP from Portland’s apocalyptic bass-and-drums duo TOWERS, aptly titled II, will be released next month as part of Eolian Empire’s continuing mission to foist the great unwashed Portland heavy underground on a now suspecting public.
TOWERS formed in 2010 after the demise of psych-garage act The Troglodytes, and by melding elements of doom, no wave, new wave, industrial, noise rock, and soundscapes into rough-hewn monolithic monstrosities simultaneously disturbing and tantalizing, thetwosome has dragged and scraped chunks and shards from all the darkest sonic territories to assemble a heavy monster in its own image. Both primitive and futurist, TOWERS transcends musical movements, molding Promethean monoliths out of doom, sludge, no wave, new wave, industrial, and psychedelia.
Recorded in full analog, at the same studio as the Shins and Decemberists, no less, TOWERS’ second LP IIis a Cremaster cycle of droney dirges, rapid-fire blasts, Lynchian soundscapes, and deviant hooks set off by barked orders, snarled decrees and haunting laments. The album starts off with a furnace growl, an ancient machine coming to life as each crooked limb cracks and stirs before being suddenly thrown into gear with a grinding off-kilter bass loop. Over thirty-six minutes II purposefully shifts through a procession of primal mutant grooves, oscillating hooks, sludgy crawls, cavernous experimental explorations, and haunting, swinging marches marked by the barked Teutonic invocations—Hell is coming! —and ghostly incantations of the wounded and beaten. IIis a huge, enveloping beast of a record that captures the unique crushing intensity of their live sets.
Outsider Portland label, Eolian Empire, is loading this devastating ammo into the cannons for their planned February 11th offensive for II, ready to bust out the goods on quality 180-gram wax and digital.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
An update from Portland, Oregon’s Stumpfest 2014: The lineup still kicks ass. In fact, it kicks even more ass than it already did because Seattle’s Ancient Warlocks have been added to the bill. The fest is set for April 24-26 at Mississippi Studios in Portland, and there’s still one band left to announce. Could be anybody. Are you curious? I am.
Ancient Warlocks released their self-titled album on Lay Bare Recordings last November, and they’ll also be playing Feb. 22 in their native Seattle with Pentagram, Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy, which is where barring disaster between now and then I’ll be fortunate enough to see them and pick up a copy of the record. Not to get off topic from Stumpfest, but I’m excited.
Here’s the announcement:
ANCIENT WARLOCKS confirmed for STUMPFEST 2014
We are ecstatic to announce that Seattle’s heavy, fuzzy-riff astronauts and Pacific Northwest rock-and-roll staple ANCIENT WARLOCKS have been confirmed to play STUMPFEST 2014! Ancient Warlocks’ unique mix of undeniable Fu Manchu influences and grungy, hook-filled Seattle roots creates a sound which you might call “flannel in the desert.” Their impeccable self-titled debut album on Lay Bare Recordings sold out before it even hit the streets in November, and the band recently revealed a deal inked with STB Records for their follow-up. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for this brilliant rock band and can’t wait to head bang along with them in April.
Aside from one BIG SURPRISE to announce in March, this concludes the booking for 2014. Keep an eye out this Friday, February 14th, for individual day lineups and pricing info.
STUMPFEST 2014 LINEUP SO FAR:
*TBA SPECIAL GUEST* YOB TRANS AM BLACK COBRA LORD DYING FEDERATION X LIFE COACH (feat. Phil Manley from TRANS AM & Jon Theodore from QOTSA and ex-THE MARS VOLTA) BLACK PUSSY NORSKA DIESTO ANCIENT WARLOCKS DRUNK DAD DRAB MAJESTY CHRON GOBLIN HONDURAN HOT VICTORY
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Look, I try to cover as wide a geographic range as I can. I do my best. It’s a big planet and there’s rock everywhere, and a lot of it is seriously killer, but when it comes to something like Stumpfest, which is set to take place April 24-26 at Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon, I’d probably be way more stoked about it if there was any chance in hell I could ever get there to see it. That said, if you’re in that part of the world and not already punch-drunk from the righteous heaviness to which you’re exposed on a daily basis — I hear the streets of Portland are paved with limited Red Fang vinyl – Stumpfest does look like a pretty killer way to spend a weekend. Call me jealous.
The latest addition to the lineup — which apparently still has a special guest to come — is Black Cobra, who as history has shown are always great at a party.
I’m late on the PR wire update, but here goes:
BLACK COBRA added to the STUMPFEST 2014 lineup!
Black Cobra, the devastatingly heavy duo hailing from the bay area and backed by Southern Lord Recordings, has been added to STUMPFEST 2014! The band’s recent album, Invernal, was described by The Sleeping Shaman as “the sound of a schizophrenic octopus, high on speed, hard liquor and murderous hatred trapped inside the body of a man locked in a darkened jail cell,” so you know they can’t be missed. The three-day festival, organized by beloved Portland metal-scene expat Rynne Stump, will churn out heavy tunes from the city’s legendary metal acts and their closest friends at Mississippi Studios on April 24-26. Links for prices and more info through the venue website will be provided in two weeks on the venue website. Stay tuned!
STUMPFEST 2014 LINEUP SO FAR:
*TBA SPECIAL GUEST* YOB TRANS AM BLACK COBRA LORD DYING FEDERATION X LIFE COACH (feat. Phil Manley from TRANS AM & Jon Theodore from QOTSA and ex-THE MARS VOLTA) BLACK PUSSY NORSKA DIESTO DRUNK DAD DRAB MAJESTY CHRON GOBLIN HONDURAN HOT VICTORY
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
In just a few short months, Portland-based four-piece Stoneburner will mark their first release on Neurot Recordings with their sophomore full-length, Life Drawing. Really, for any heavy band, to have the endorsement of Neurosis behind seems about as close to “living the dream” as you’re gonna get, though if the newly-revealed artwork for Life Drawingis anything to go by, Stoneburner are keeping a pretty similar mindset to that which came across on their 2012 Seventh Rule debut, Sickness Will Pass(discussed here), which was plenty nasty and heavy to spare. Good for them, both in terms of living the dream and not fixing what clearly isn’t broken.
Harken to the PR wire, for it brings you knowledge, and only knowledge can kill Zardoz:
STONEBURNER: Portland Sludge Slingers Reveal Album Details
Portland sludge slingers and recent Neurot family additions, STONEBURNER, are readying to unleash their forthcoming new full-length, Life Drawing. The follow-up to their 2012 debut, Sickness Will Pass, features nine rumbling odes of bottom-heavy hostility and emotional decay. Recorded, mixed and produced by Fester at Haywire Studios, mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering — both in Portland — and swathed in the visually abrasive cover art of J.J. Shirey, Life Drawing promises to hurl STONEBURNER’s habitually chest-caving sludge mantras to entirely new realms of earth-deteriorating heaviness.
Comments the band in a collective statement: “Lyrically we’ve always focused on personal matters, and one theme that particularly seems to keep coming up on this record is the struggle to be a decent person in a world that keeps doing its best to cause you not to be. J.J. Shirey, who paints our album covers, is part of the STONEBURNER brotherhood and we have absolute faith in him. We have him sit in on rehearsals, read our lyrics, and then we send him off to come up with whatever he thinks best suits the material. We feel that this piece absolutely captures the mood of trying to grow and heal, but constantly finding yourself falling back into the darkness caused by emotional and physical addictions. The world isn’t always a happy, beautiful place, and neither is our music. Thanks to J.J. you’re going to sense that before you even hear the album.”
Life Drawing Track Listing: 1. Some Can 2. Caged Bird 3. Drift 4. An Apology To A Friend In Need 5. Pale New Eyes 6. Giver Of Birth 7. Done 8. You Are The Worst 9. The Phoenix
STONEBURNER features a persuasive musical ancestry that winds through Buried At Sea, Buried Blood, Heathen Shrine and others. Named after a subterranean weapon from the novel Dune, STONEBURNER deliver a wholly organic orchestration of captivating, crustified doom metal, their torrid hymns bathed in internal agony, anguish and despair. To define STONEBURNER, one need only look to the list of bands with whom they’ve shared the stage: Yob, Sleep, Eyehategod, Neurosis, Buzzov-en, Weedeater, Saint Vitus, Watain, Tragedy, Noothgrush, Graves At Sea, Lord Dying, Drop Dead, Whitehorse, Wind Hand, Bastard Noise…
Life Drawing will be unleashed via Neurot Recordings later this Spring. Stay tuned for further info.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you felt a doomly shake under your feet just now, no doubt that was Portland, Maine (there’s a twist!), trio Ogre, who’ve let word drop of their coming fourth album, The Last Neanderthal, with the force of any number of tectonic plates. The three-piece will issue The Last Neanderthalthrough Italian imprint Minotauro Records (hopefully) in late March, with cover art by drummer Will Broadbent, whose classic-comic style meshes perfectly with the band’s homage to the vaunted traditions of riff.
That album art and the tracklisting for The Last Neanderthalcame down the PR wire, and of particular note is the cover song “Soulless Woman” by heavy ’70s rockers Ogre. That’s right. Ogre covering Ogre. It’s almost high-concept enough to make your skull cave in. Which no doubt was the whole idea.
Get informed, because knowledge is power and the squares are always near:
The album, which is titled “The Last Neanderthal”, is in the final stages of completion, and we’re hoping for an early March release (date is not set in stone yet, but I’ll keep you posted once we get more info). The master is in the label’s hands and the artwork is getting its finishing touches as I type this email. After that, it will be off for duplication.
The album has eight tracks on it and will be released by Minotauro Records in deluxe mini-LP format with obi strip and a foldout poster containing a reproduction of the album artwork (done by our drummer, Will Broadbent) and lyrics. I’ve attached a jpg of the front cover to this email.
Here’s the tracklisting of the album:
Shadow Earth Nine Princes in Amber Bad Trip Son of Sisyphus Soulless Woman (cover of a song by uber-obscure 70s rock band named…Ogre) Warpath White Plume Mountain The Hermit
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Kudos to Portland, Oregon-based sludgers Stoneburner on signing to Neurot Recordings. The heavy, heavy (yup, they’re heavy enough to say it twice) four-piece will issue their new album, Life Drawing, through the venerable imprint this coming spring. Their last album, Sickness Will Pass(discussed here), was their full-length debut and came out in 2012 on Seventh Rule.
Having already shared the stage with an impressive list of bands that you can see below, Stoneburner will join Eyehategod, Graves at Sea and others at the Oakland Metro Operahouse on Jan. 24 for what’s sure to be one of the crustiest nights in the early New Year. Poster for that and announcement of the signing follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:
STONEBURNER: Portland Sludge Metallers Join The Neurot Recordings Family
The Neurot Recordings family is pleased to welcome the audio devastation that is Portland’s STONEBURNER to their expanding roster of forward-thinking music.
Featuring four members with a compelling musical ancestry that winds through Buried At Sea, Buried Blood, Heathen Shrine and more, STONEBURNER — named after a subterranean weapon from the novel Dune — spews forth a groin-churning orchestration of crust-strewn, hypnotic, sludge metal, their torrid odes glazed with pain and distress. The band will unleash the follow-up to their 2012 debut full-length, Sickness Will Pass, which The Sludgelord fittingly crowned, “an ugly, visceral and truly terrifying beast of an album,” via Neurot Recordings this Spring. Titled Life Drawing, the offering promises to take their sonic crush to entirely new levels of heaviness.
Notes the STONEBURNER collective on their union with Neurot: “We’ve been working on the material for this album for a long time now and couldn’t feel better about how it’s come together. We’re humbled and honored that Neurot have asked to be involved. Since the band formed, we’ve always done our best to work with people we respect and know personally, signing to Neurot is an extension of that…another step in combining our personal and musical lives and bringing it all full circle.”
STONEBURNER was spawned in early 2008 though the bands’ familial roots reach back two decades. To describe STONEBURNER’s music one need only look to the list of bands with whom they’ve shared the stage: Yob, Sleep, Eyehategod, Neurosis, Buzzov-en, Weedeater, Saint Vitus, Watain, Tragedy, Noothgrush, Graves At Sea, Lord Dying, Drop Dead, Whitehorse, Windhand, Bastard Noise and so on. For STONEBURNER, it’s all about domination through amplification and soul-cleansing catharsis.
STONEBURNER personnel: Elijah Boland – guitar Jason Depew – guitar Damon Kelly – bass/vocals Jesse McKinnon drums/vocals
Further STONEBURNER intel, including Life Drawing release date and track listing, to be announced in the coming weeks.
Posted in Reviews on November 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
If the crunch in the guitars of Sylvia‘s self-titled debut seem vaguely familiar, or if the overarching claustrophobic density of the eight-song outing sounds vaguely familiar, one might point to the involvement of Today is the Day mastermind Steve Austin, who is listed along with Shaun Curran and the band as having produced (though Curran recorded), and who also mixed and mastered the album at his Austin Enterprise studio. That influence shows up in some of the songs are a particular and peculiar atmospheric darkness — cuts like “Teddy Worm” and “Space Jaguar” make a few twists as well that are easily enough read as reminiscent — but the bulk of Sylvia‘s Sylviais more stylistically nuanced than can really be tied to one band or another. The Portland, Maine, four-piece lock into black metal blasts and squibblies on “The Wolves of Brunch,” and offer Iron Monkey-style sludge on “Hot Summer Knights,” leaving plenty of room for on-a-dime shifts into post-High on Fire thrash, but really, it’s the combination of all these elements with just a touch of New England mosh on “Luv U 2 Death” and closer “Ukelalien” that gives the 31-minute long-player its personality. Well, that and the joke titles. Half of these songs showed up on Sylvia‘s 2012 Lizard Birdmandemo, but the foursome of guitarist/vocalist Candy, bassist Reuben J. Little (both formerly of Portland mega-doomers Ocean), guitarist Sean Libby and drummer Andrew have a crisper sear to the sound of the full-length, and while that might actually take away from some of the lo-fi black metal edge, in turn, it also brings a more complex feel overall in letting the other stylistic elements shine through. The difference comes across clearly on opener “Lizard Birdman,” which at five minutes is the longest track on Sylvia(immediate points) and which sets an immediately blended tone for the rest of the songs to follow in one way or another.
A guest guitar spot from Gozu‘s Doug Sherman on the leadoff track makes it even more of a wrench in the gears of expectation, but “Lizard Birdman” also throws off the listener vocally. The first lines of the record are the only instance of clean vocals. Granted, they’re still shouts, but compared to the rasps that show up throughout the rest of the album, it might as well be Perry Como. One gets the sense in comparing “Lizard Birdman” to the rest of Sylvia, especially the 2:20 rush of “Teddy Worm,” which follows, that the band’s intention was to throw listeners off immediately. “Lizard Birdman” could just as easily have been the closer, but it’s where it is on purpose and toying with the audience seems to be why. A noble enough endeavor, and the opener is effective in its mission. Though the ensuing “Teddy Worm,” “Space Jaguar” and “Hot Summer Knights” essentially lean one way or another on influences from sludge, black metal, crust and thrash, committing to any over the other only for the briefest of moments if at all, the context for the brew is changed by the album’s first impression. Whether or not it makes the overall listening experience stronger than it otherwise might be, I don’t know, but it speaks to a meta-intent on the part of Sylvia, and as “Space Jaguar” switches between blackened screams and deathly growls en route to jagged and punkish starts and stops, it’s hardly the last time the four-piece will endeavor to make a show of their individuality and willful crossing of stylistic lines. The slower “Hot Summer Knights” takes peak-era Crowbar riffing and pairs it with an intense, semi-shuffle, splitting almost at the halfway mark to directly play one off the other. Following, “Luv U 2 Death” is no less ambitious, building to its darkened hardcore beatdown via black metal raging to start off the back end of the album perhaps in more typical fashion for the band’s general approach than “Lizard Birdman” started the first, though there’s still plenty of stylistic chicanery to come.
Posted in Features on November 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The track “Behind the Light” on Red Fang‘s third album, Whales and Leeches, paints a fairly grim picture. Lyrics like, “It’s so insane to be alone/With all the time I gave away,” fit neatly with the classic rock and roll notion of the weary traveler, the artist who, having given up what commonly passes for a normal existence for his craft, wonders what could’ve been. With as much time as the Portland, Oregon, four-piece spent on the road supporting their 2011 sophomore outing and Chris Funk-produced Relapse Records label debut, Murder the Mountains (review here), no doubt the band has had some opportunity to stew on it, and for being known essentially for a party atmosphere and ridiculously catchy songs like “Wires” from the last album or “Prehistoric Dog” from their 2008 self-titled debut — they have a propensity for putting the hooks up front, and “Blood Like Cream” from the latest continues the trend — “Behind the Light” presents something of a departure in atmosphere.
It’s the centerpiece and emotional low of Whales and Leeches, which the band returned to Funk to produce after what seems to have been a hurried songwriting process — deadlines to meet — and it’s followed by the record’s greatest triumph, “Dawn Rising,” on which YOB‘s Mike Scheidt guests on vocals alongside Red Fang bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam. Though “1516″ provides some of his best tradeoffs to date with guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, Beam is featured more prominently throughout Whales and Leechesthan anything Red Fang has done up till now, and his voice — in a somewhat cleaner approach than Giles‘ shouts — stands up to the dynamic both with the guitarist and within the emotionality of his own presentation, be it “Behind the Light,” the driving forward thrust of “Voices of the Dead” or the semi-psychedelic capstone(r) “Every Little Twist.” Of course, it’s the versatility of Beam, Giles, guitarist/vocalist David Sullivan and drummer John Sherman at the core of what gives Red Fang their personality. The difference this time appears to have been that Beam stepped forward to meet the challenge of the rush to put the album together.
So be it. If Red Fang were in a hurry, at least it was for a good cause. They took a break from songwriting to play Soundwave in Australia earlier this year, and have already toured the West Coast in support of Whales and Leeches with East Coast dates to follow next month and Europe in 2014 continuing a road-dog touring cycle that hardly seems to have stopped at all since before Murder the Mountainswas released. Turn around and he’s Red Fang with another three weeks’ worth of dates in one region or another. At least thus far, it’s much the same for Whales and Leeches, and in talking to Beam about the album, I was interested to get a notion from him of where he thought it was all heading and what his vision of “success” was for the band. Particularly as he’s emerged in this material — not quite to a frontman role, but not far from it — I was curious to see where he felt it’s all been leading, what it is keeping them moving forward other than the obvious need to sell shirts on tour.
When we spoke, Beam was in New York City to do East Coast press. He’d flown in overnight from Portland and you could hear in his voice that specific I’ve-recently-been-in-an-airport exhaustion. Nonetheless, he spoke not only about his and the band’s motivations, but about the construction and recording of Whales and Leeches, his growing comfort as a singer, the prospect of spending most of 2014 on tour, and much more.
You’ll find the complete Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.