Six Dumb Questions with Holy Grove

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on September 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

holy-grove-photo-by-Foto-Phortress

This coming weekend, Sept. 16, Portland, Oregon’s Holy Grove are set to appear at Epicenter Music Fest in San Francisco, California. In that endeavor, the soulful riff rollers join the considerable ranks of High on Fire, Big Business, Mos Generator and others (full lineup here), and after appearances at Psycho Las Vegas in 2016, making their debut run through Europe alongside Boston’s Gozu, and offering one of last year’s finest debuts in their Heavy Psych Sounds-released and Billy Anderson-helmed self-titled (review here), it would seem to be the finishing stamp on the cycle for their first outing as they get ready to move on toward the writing and recording of the second.

Anyone who’s heard cuts like “Nix” and “Holy Grove” doesn’t need me to say that’s good news. Topped off as it was by some of the most striking cover art Adam Burke has ever produced (which is saying something), Holy Grove‘s Holy Grove offered modern tones and classic groove in kind, vocalist Andrea Vidal establishing a commanding presence amid the righteous lead work of guitarist Trent Jacobs and the full low end push from bassist Gregg Emley. They’ve worked with a succession of drummers already since founder Craig Bradford recorded with them, and they just recently welcomed Eben Travis to the fold as at least the fourth in that line, hopefully settling the issue once and for all.

As we move into Fall and begin to look ahead toward some of 2018’s most anticipated releases, it’s only fair to include an impending sophomore outing from Holy Grove on that list. The level of bluesy stylistic cohesion and songwriting they brought to the driving, swinging “Huntress” and to the nodding, semi-metallic expanses of “Hanged Man” would demand no less. Just how will the four-piece, now including Travis as a (fingers crossed) permanent member, begin to move forward and expand their sound in the New Year? And will they hit the road again with the same fury they did behind the self-titled? Sounds to me like it’s time to check in with Vidal for a full update.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

epicenter-music-festival

Six Dumb Questions with Andrea Vidal of Holy Grove

We’re about 18 months out from the self-titled release at this point. Looking back on your first album, how do you feel about how the songs came out? What is your favorite thing about it and what is your favorite memory of the recording process?

I think overall, we’re pretty satisfied with how the songs are represented on the record. We knew going into the recording process that we wanted to create studio versions of the songs, and have the live versions be their own thing. To that end, I think we were successful. It served the purpose of introducing people outside of Portland to the songs. My favorite memory of the recording process was the day we finished mixing at Everything Hz (Billy‘s studio). We literally finished up mixing the last song, and then listened to the whole thing from beginning to end. It was definitely one of “those moments.”

What’s the status of new material? Do you have a recording plan yet and a ballpark release date? How have the new songs started to come together?

New material is progressing nicely. Even while we were down a drummer, the three of us continued to show up to practice to work on new material with the intent to have songs basically finished and ready to start working on as soon as we found a drummer. We played two new ones at our first show back which felt great. We have a few more nearing completion and a large backlog of riffs and ideas that we’ll start pouring over in the next few months to get a new record written and recorded by early next year.

Is there anything in particular you want the new songs to build on from the self-titled? Anything you want to change in the band’s sound or a new way to challenge yourself or the band as a whole? Something new you just want to try out in the studio, maybe?

I think the idea for the new batch of songs is to push ourselves to take the tunes to the next logical level. I wouldn’t say there is anything we want to change or reinvent particularly, but we do want to amplify everything that we did on the first record. More swing, more groove, more power, more riffs!

Tell me about bringing Eben Travis into the band. What was it about him that let you know he was right to take on the drummer position? What were you looking for in someone new?

We basically knew as soon as Eben started playing that he was “the one.” We really wanted someone who understood the feel of the tunes without us having to explain it, someone who hit the drums fucking hard, and was someone who we could welcome in to the band on a personal friendship type level… someone we could also be pals with, basically. Thankfully Eben was that guy. Dude is the total package.

You toured in the US and in Europe for the self-titled. How do you feel about the way the band has been received on the whole, in terms of the record and live? Can you sense a difference at shows between now and before the album came out?

We’re all pretty flattered and humbled by the response to the band and record. I think after we played Psycho Las Vegas in 2016 and got a positive response that we realized we had a chance to make a mark outside of Portland. Having the record out means that when we play people are familiar with the tunes a bit more, and Psycho was the first time I looked out and saw people in the crowd singing along, which was really a special moment for me personally.

You’ve got Epicenter fest Sept. 16. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

First and foremost, we can’t thank everybody enough for the support. It truly means the world to us. After we get back from Epicenter, we have a few local shows with The Obsessed, then the plan is to finish up writing the new record, get it recorded and hit the road. We’re in the early planning stages of getting a European tour planned for 2018, which is something we are all really looking forward to. More shows, more music!

Holy Grove, Holy Grove (2016)

Holy Grove on Thee Facebooks

Holy Grove on Bandcamp

Holy Grove at Heavy Psych Sounds

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Epicenter Music Festival 2017 event page

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Young Hunter Announce Dayhiker Out Oct. 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

young hunter

It’ll be about a year and a half turnaround from Portland, Oregon’s Young Hunter as they follow-up their 2016 self-titled full-length (review here) with Dayhiker on Oct. 13 through The Fear and the Void Recordings. The genre-spanning/genre/defying five-piece once more bring an exploratory sense to their work musically and thematically with the album’s seven tracks, embarking on a multi-textured heavy feel drawn together through the sincerity of the emotionalism behind it and the weight brought to bear tonally and, again, in terms of the theme.

I’ve only dug into the finished version once or twice at this point, but the growth this band has undertaken over their releases is as palpable as it is willful. They push themselves. They’re pushing themselves still. I hope to have more to come on this one, because I continue to think this band is something special.

They hit the road the night before the vinyl drops. Info came in via the PR wire:

young hunter dayhiker

Young Hunter release 3rd album ‘Dayhiker,’ making old sounds fresh and new again

At a time when humanity’s annihilation isn’t a far-flung concept, whether from devastating environmental forces or our culture’s seemingly masochistic need for self-destruction, music and communication often feel like the only hope for turning the tide. Remembering who we are, discovering why we’re here, and finding connection with each other is our only hope, even though the hour feels late.

Enter Young Hunter, a band that evolved from a one-man project churning out tribal, psychotropic desert-doom to a collective of five individuals drawing from across the spectrum of stadium power rock, desert grooves, epic post-metal, and the rose-colored depths of mid-eighties high school rock radio.

With third album, Dayhiker, Young Hunter complete their transformation into a force within the many-splintered world of 21st century heavy music. Musically, the album traces a path through the darkness, confusion, and illusion of our times, transmuting them into a fire to confront feelings of fear and meaninglessness in the face of an uncertain future.

Lyrically, vocalist/guitarist Benjamin Blake isn’t afraid to ask the big questions: Why are we here? What is human culture? What is its relationship to the natural world, and what critical pieces of human history have we forgotten? Young Hunter dives into these themes with a sonic palette that harnesses the duality of male/female co-lead vocals. Harmonies and call-and-response tradeoffs between Blake and keyboardist Sara Pinnell are omnipresent, helping convey a range of feelings and connections that make the darkness beautiful, the heaviness hopeful, and the sorrow both personal and universal.

Says Blake: “Heavy music is inherently cathartic. It’s a way for a room full of people to realize they’re not alone in their suffering, confusion, frustration, and anger. And it’s beautiful because there’s no emotion that’s too intense for it. On Dayhiker, that’s something we pushed ourselves to explore.”

Accessing and expanding the old-becomes-new-again cultural bent of artists like Sumerlands and Horisont and cinematic touchstones like Stranger Things and Stephen King’s IT, Young Hunter’s Dayhiker offers a more organic and primal strand in this increasingly attractive tapestry.

Written collectively and honed on the road, Dayhiker is Young Hunter’s first release on the Fear and the Void label. It was recorded over the course of 5 days with Tim Green (Melvins, Wolves in the Throne Room, Comets on Fire) at Louder Studios, his analog retreat in Grass Valley, CA.

Benjamin Blake – Vocals, Guitar
Sara Pinnell – Vocals, Keys
Erik Wells – Guitar
Sam Dean – Bass
Grant Pierce – Drums

Tracklisting
1. In the Shadow of the Serpent
2. The Feast
3. Entered Apprentice
4. Hunger
5. Dark Age
6. Black Mass
7. Night Hiker

Dayhiker will be released on October 13th on vinyl LP and digital via Bandcamp. Young Hunter’s tour in support of the new record takes place during October across the following dates:

10/12 – Eugene, OR – Old Nick’s
10/13 – Reno, NV – The Holland Project
10/14 – Santa Rosa, CA – Cooperage Brewing Company
10/15 – Oakland, CA – Feral
10/18 – Las Vegas, NV – The Griffin
10/19 – Flagstaff, AZ – Flagstaff Brewing Company
10/20 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
10/21 – Santa Fe, NM – Rufina Taproom
10/23 – Bisbee, AZ – The Quarry
10/25 – Los Angeles, CA – Lexington
10/26 – San Francisco, CA – SF Eagle
10/27 – Nevada City, CA – Cooper’s
10/28 – Bend, OR – M and J Tavern
10/29 – Portland, OR – Kenton Club

https://www.facebook.com/Young-Hunter-127424170682508/
https://younghunter.bandcamp.com/
https://thefearandthevoidrecordings.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TheFearAndTheVoid/

Young Hunter, Dayhiker teaser promo

Young Hunter, Young Hunter (2016)

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Red Fang Announce West Coast Tour Dates with Bloodclot and Fireball Ministry

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

red fang

This weekend, Portland, OR, heavy rock forerunners Red Fang take part in Crucialfest in Salt Lake City and Bumbershoot in Seattle. One fest features Radio Moscow, SubRosa and Earthless, the other Weezer, Lorde and Haim. Such is the magic of Red Fang at this point in their career. They can pretty much play to whatever crowd you want to put in front of them. They’ve got newly announced West Coast dates as well supporting last year’s Only Ghosts (review here) on Relapse, and that’s before they head to Europe to share a bill with Mastodon and Russian Circles. Red Fang, if you didn’t know, are a big friggin’ deal.

The PR wire knows it, and so, we all know it:

red fang west coast tour

RED FANG Announce Headline West Coast Tour Dates

Portland rockers RED FANG have announced the California Ghost Rush headline tour in October. The tour commences October 17 in Eugene, OR and ends October 28 in Los Angeles, CA. Direct support will be provided by Bloodclot and Fireball Ministry on select dates. RED FANG is also set to perform this weekend at Crucial Fest in Salt Lake City, UT and Bumbershoot in Seattle, WA. Additionally, the band will provide direct support for Mastodon in the UK and Europe this Fall. All confirmed tour dates are listed below.

RED FANG’s latest album Only Ghosts is out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Physical packages and digital orders are available via Relapse.com HERE and Bandcamp HERE.

RED FANG Tour Dates:
Sep 02 Salt Lake City, UT Crucial Fest
Sep 03 Seattle, WA Bumbershoot

Oct 17 Eugene, OR HiFi Music Hall
Oct 19 Sacramento, CA Harlow’s *
Oct 20 Petaluma, CA Mystic Theatre *
Oct 21 San Francisco, CA Slim’s *
Oct 23 San Diego, CA Cashbah
Oct 25 Long Beach, CA Alex’s Bar ^
Oct 26 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom ^
Oct 27 Las Vegas, NV Beauty Bar ^
Oct 28 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour ^
* W/ Bloodclot
^ W/ Fireball Ministry

— All Dates Nov 13 – Dec 10 With Mastodon & Russian Circles —
Nov 13 Vienna, AT Arena
Nov 14 Herford, DE X
Nov 15 Brussels, BE AB
Nov 17 Amsterdam, NL Melkweg
Nov 19 Stockholm, SE Munchen Brewery
Nov 20 Olso, NO Sentrum Scene
Nov 22 Copenhagen, DK VEGA Main Hall
Nov 23 Leipzig, DE Haus Auensee
Nov 24 Prague, CZ Lucerna Music Bar
Nov 25 Munich, DE Tonhalle
Nov 27 Milan, IT Live Club
Nov 28 Zurich, CH Komplex
Nov 29 Paris, FR Elysee Montmarte
Nov 30 Luxembourg, LU Rockhal Club
Dec 02 Cardiff, UK Great Hall
Dec 04 Wolverhampton, UK Civic Hall
Dec 05 Nottingham, UK Rock City
Dec 06 Newcastle, UK Northumbria University
Dec 07 Glasgow, UK Barrowland
Dec 09 Manchester, UK Academy
Dec 10 London, UK Brixton Academy

www.redfang.net
www.facebook.com/redfangband
www.twitter.com/redfang
www.instagram.com/redfangband

Red Fang, “Cut it Short” official video

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Grigax, Life Eater: Bleak Meditations

Posted in Reviews on August 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

grigax life eater

Portland-based Grigax is the one-woman vehicle of Alyssa Mocere. Also a graphic designer/tattooist who has done art for Infiltrator, SummonerMatt Pike and others, Mocere released a two-songer demo under the Grigax moniker in 2015 and has aligned to Dullest Records and partnered with drummer/engineer Luis Hernandez for the debut full-length Life Eater — a 32-minute/seven-cut collection that finds poise within a tumult of influences from the sphere of post-rock, doom, black metal, folk, psychedelia and drone, finally resolving itself in the moment-of-clarity “Nascita,” a clean-sung after-grunge push of overdriven guitar and deceptively patient drumming. Two sub-two-minute atmospheric pieces, the intro “Bardo Thodol” and the centerpiece “Lutto,” set up a two-sided dynamic, but whether one makes their way through Life Eater in vinyl-style halves or in a single-stream front-to-back fashion, the scope with which Mocere undertakes her material as Grigax is expansive, at times frightening in its affect, and unflinchingly creative.

Whether that creativity shows itself in the eerie keys and backward sonics that commence with “Bardo Thodol” or the bass-led marching spaciousness that ensues on the subsequent “Circcolo,” the longest inclusion here at 8:53, it is a resolute position from which Mocere directs the material one way or another on a song-by-song basis. Life Eater was recorded over a period of two years, and frankly, it sounds like it. That’s not a dig on the album at all — but a note on the constructed feel of the songs that make it up, Mocere building “Circcolo” one layer at a time, or experimenting with different elements to see what most brings her intent toward realization or, better yet, uncovering what that intent might be as the harsh wash in “Splitting” is shaped, her melodic vocals over top keeping a thoroughly human presence to what might otherwise feel purposefully cold and uninviting.

If anything, this notion of Life Eater‘s material as something that came together one layer at a time — which I admit to some degree is narrative being read into what might’ve been a completely different writing method, but inevitably how it had to work at least in part at the studio, since Mocere handles multiple instruments in addition to vocals and can only be in so many places at once — adds to the aesthetic of the record itself, which is deeply imbued with a meditative sensibility. Whatever else its varied scope might encompass, it sounds like a ritual playing out in swells of volume and passion. What the meaning is of the exploration at work in the buzzing low-end progression of “Circcolo” and the post-heavy scathe of “Splitting” — or for that matter in “Iron Quill”‘s blend of Wolves in the Throne Room-style blackened devouring and harmonized vocals and the manipulated spiritualism of “Zeis,” on which Mocere takes position behind the kit as well to conjure a vibe born of Om‘s Advaitic Songs but ultimately given its own crux via squiggly guitar and her own far-back-as-far-out singing — remains largely unknowable just by listening, but that would appear to be at least part of the point.

As deep as Life Eater goes, it doesn’t share everything — all lyrics save for “Nascita,” for example, come from 1900’s Harlequinade by Henry Rightor — and feels no need to come right out and explain itself or its jumps from one genre to another. Like the most commanding of works, it simply is. It stands its ground and will let the interpretations shake out as they will amid the effectively droning fluidity of “Lutto” and the searing that follows on “Iron Quill,” each turn Grigax takes on presenting some measure of its own intent while feeding into the noted idea of the album as part of a single ritual being shaped, carved out like a totem for a one-person pagan anti-dogma to be left in the Cascadian woods somewhere outside Portland and confuse man-bun hikers as they pass it by. Obscure and evocative, haunting and not at all chaotic in the way one might expect, even unto the Jarboe-esque rhythmic breathing that starts “Nascita,” Life Eater is both raw in its sound and rich in expression, and even if its component parts didn’t unite as well as they do, the sheer diversity of its approach would make it one of 2017’s most impressive debuts.

Particularly with the adoption of an outside speaker for the lyrics to “Circcolo,” “Splitting,” “Iron Quill” and “Zeis,” Grigax would seem to be setting up a push-pull dynamic with the listener. On the one hand, each movement sounds and feels almost entirely personal, and yet a key component of their making — quite literally the words Mocere is saying — come from a source other than herself. Does that mean Life Eater is somehow tentative in its approach? Not necessarily, and positioning “Nascita” as the closer, with its forward-moving linear build and Neurosis-born “Stones from the Sky” moment in the guitar, feels especially significant in this regard; Mocere gives herself the opportunity to make the album’s final statement. I’d be interested to know when “Nascita” was composed in relation to the other material surrounding, as it’s almost too easy to interpret it as a sign of things to come from Grigax as an ongoing project and perhaps Mocere letting her audience know, at last, that there’s a core consciousness at work behind all the breadth, nuance and pummel of the tracks.

Indeed, it’s her voice as the last element we hear on “Nascita,” and after the guitars, drums and the rest fade out, she gives a melodic reinterpretation of the rhythm breathed through at the outside some seven minutes earlier. Again, it’s hard to know exactly just what that transformation is saying, but the fact that Life Eater engages on that level — leads one to ask the question at all, in other words — is a testament to the effectiveness of its artistry. In thinking of where Grigax might go from here, there’s setup for expansion of reach in any number of directions, whether it’s playing up the psychedelic aspects of “Circcolo” and “Zeis” or the to-a-crisp tonality of “Iron Quill,” or finding some single modus over time that draws from all of them. More important is the work Mocere and Hernandez have done in bringing Life Eater to fruition as it is, and the manner in which those efforts have succeeded in crafting something so much of its time and place and yet so isolated and severe. Regardless of how Grigax evolves, one expects it will evolve, and looks forward to discovering what wonders and horrors are unearthed in that process.

Grigax, Life Eater (2017)

Grigax, “Splitting” official video

Grigax on Bandcamp

Grigax on YouTube

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Dullest Records on Bandcamp

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R.I.P. Premiere “Unmarked Grave”; New Album Street Reaper Due Oct. 13

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

rip

R.I.P. will release their second album, Street Reaper, Oct. 13 through RidingEasy Records. I’m still not entirely sure what the Portland, Oregon, four-piece’s self-imposed designation ‘street doom’ is fully intended to convey, but as with their 2016 debut, In the Wind (review here) — first issued by Totem Cat and subsequently picked up by RidingEasy — it would seem on the 10-track Street Reaper to have to do with the overarching level of grit the band brings to their material, evident likewise in tone and theme. Also it makes it okay that songs like “The Casket” and “The Dark” owe almost as much to Dead Kennedys as to Saint Vitus or Pentagram. Whatever you or they want to call it, it’s way over the top and, even though at least half the cuts directly reference death, is a blast of filthy, classic-style raw metallic pummel.

Make no mistake: by “blast,” yes, I mean party. Because whatever else might be going on in the street on which R.I.P. are proliferating their guttural doom, they’re also having a really good time doing it. That impulse may be the facet of their approach most tying them to the Portland underground that gave them birth, where otherwise they would seem bent on bringing a hint of darkness to the heavy rock sphere of Southern California — certainly the cover art of Street Reaper bears out that spirit. It’s a distinct notion and not something every band would be so brash as to attempt, but brashness seems to be a specialty for the foursome of vocalist Fuzz, guitarist Angel Martinez, bassist John Mullett and drummer Willie D., and from the opening “Unmarked Grave” onward, Street Reaper manifests that as much in its beat-you-over-the-head hooks as its noise-coated distortion. Riffs lead the way as they invariably would, but Fuzz answers the presence he brought to In the Wind with willful excess in “Street Reaper,” the slow-creep-int0-full-thrust “Shadows Folds” and the deeper echoes of “The Other Side,” stepping into a cassette-era theatricality that suits the rawer production almost surprisingly well, R.I.P. finding a place for ’80s and early ’90s nostalgia that’s not overblown would-be glam or retro-minded thrash, but would nonetheless fit well on a bill next to Slayer during their big-hair days, despite the obvious sonic discrepancies.

Likewise, “Mother Road” — the longest track on Street Reaper at 5:56 — seems to take the rip street reapercentral riff of Mötley Crüe‘s “Looks that Kill” and cake it in Motörheady dust such as to make it that much harder to place in one era or another, and closer “Die in Vain” taps First Daze Here-style Pentagrammery and brings in organ foreshadowed on “The Other Side” before it as a primary aspect, adding distinction and positioning its open verses and building choruses as all the more the band’s own. A well-placed guitar-led interlude “The Cross” follows the ultra-nasty “Brimstone” as R.I.P. move deeper into side B, and winds up emphasizing the point of just how atmospheric Street Reaper has been all along. I wouldn’t call much of what R.I.P. do subtle, but in terms of ambience, their songs successfully convey notions of mood and purpose without giving losing an apparent focus on simplicity of structure. Indeed, that simplicity is a part of their aesthetic, and well wielded through the thickened push of “The Casket” or “The Other Side” as well as “The Casket,” on which one half expects Fuzz to remind his audience in the opening lines that, “Saint Vitus was a young man…” in his best Scott Reagers. He doesn’t though, and as much as one might trace the band’s roots to one act or another when it comes to the elements at play at a given moment, what’s undeniable about Street Reaper as a whole is that R.I.P. are engaging the work of building their own identity in these tracks, and just because they’ve named it — the already-noted “street doom” branding — doesn’t mean they can’t and aren’t using it as a basis for creative progression.

And that progression — unless I’ve read the album completely wrong — costs R.I.P. nothing in terms of their party-ready spirit, which sees development here as well as a part of their overarching personality. They hit the road to support In the Wind along the West Coast and I’d expect no less when it comes to Street Reaper, and these songs would seem to be tailored to a stage presentation, ready to be captured in some grainy-style video to further demonstrate their allegiance to the smoke-weed-and-chew-boulders heavy metal and doom of yore. Worth keeping an eye out, because like death on a skateboard, R.I.P. are as inevitable as they are inebriated.

Below, you’ll find the premiere of “Unmarked Grave,” followed by some comment from Fuzz about the track and more info from the PR wire. Once again, Street Reaper is out Oct. 13 via RidingEasy Records.

Please enjoy:

R.I.P., “Unmarked Grave” official premiere

Fuzz on “Unmarked Grave”:

“The seed of the song ‘Unmarked Grave’ was planted in my brain when we were on a tour stop in New Orleans and went through one of the city’s few in-ground burial cemeteries. The high water table in the swamp there makes it difficult to keep corpses interred, and the grounds were strewn with bone fragments and rotten human debris that had floated up through the dirt and the mud. What was once a man with hopes and dreams was now nothing but refuse broken to pieces and strewn about with some litter and trash. The disquietude these bodies were subject to stuck with me, and were on my mind when we wrote that track. I hope some of the despondency and humiliation of that situation come through to the listener, and that your grave offers you a more peaceful sojourn than it did to the souls that brought this song into being.”

When R.I.P. came crawling out of the sewers of Portland, OR last year, their grimy, sleazy Street Doom was already a fully formed monstrosity that quickly infected the minds of everyone it encountered. Now, borne from the band’s declining state of mental health and increasing focus on songwriting, Street Reaper is an even more unhinged and menacing album than their 2016 debut In The Wind.

Borrowing equally from 80s Rick Rubin productions and Murder Dog magazine aesthetics, Street Reaper is a streamlined yet brutally raw manifesto of heavy metal ferocity hearkening to the era when both metal and hip hop were reviled as the work of street thugs intent on destroying America’s youth. Throughout, Angel Martinez’s guitar and John Mullett’s bass are inextricably interlocked, sounding like a massive sonic steamroller, while drummer Willie D keeps the beat solid and simple for the most powerful impact. And, the band’s extensive touring and excessive virgin sacrifices have clearly endued singer Fuzz with evermore agile vocal chords to drive it all home with extreme precision.

Street Reaper will be available on LP, CD and download on October 13th, 2017 via RidingEasy Records.

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R.I.P. on Instagram

R.I.P. on Twitter

R.I.P. on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

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RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

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Menin Announce Lord of Pain EP Due Sept. 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

menin

The impression made by the blown-out tone of Menin‘s Lord of Pain is immediate, resonant and righteous. Taking themes from sci-fi across its included tracks — one of which is instrumental and another a vinyl-exclusive bonus — the Doom Stew Records offering is out Sept. 15 and is the first EP release from the doubly-drummed (you can hear it on “Logrus”) Portland, Oregon, four-piece. Caked in distorted filth to match their bass-driven heft, Menin stomp their way through the title-track en route to the longer and ultimately more atmospheric “Logrus” before rolling out an effective linear build across “Mercer.”

All told, it’s a quick 22 minutes-plus that feels formative in its construction but carries forth a raw ambience to go with its nastiest stretches. It just so happens that the bonus track, “Entheogen,” is streaming at the bottom of this post, if you’d like to get introduced.

From the PR wire:

menin lord of pain

Menin EP – Lord of Pain Sept 15th

Portland, Oregon’s favorite science fiction stoner doom outfit Menin is proud to announce its allegiance with San Francisco’s Doom Stew Records to release the EP Lord of Pain on CD and 12″ vinyl September 15th.

Menin’s power has rarely been glimpsed outside of the Pacific Northwest until now. Two drummers, downtuned guitar, and towering bass bring about an involuntary slow-headbang with interlocking polyrhythmic riffs. The unhinged vocals of guitarist Chris Gray serve to further disorient and disturb the listener.

Lord of Pain launches Menin’s unrelenting heaviness into the farthest corners of the universe for all but the deafest of heshers to behold. Each track explores the power and wrath of creator/destroyer gods from works of science fiction and fantasy. Lord of Pain’s title track is named for the Shrike from Dan Simmons’s Hyperion Cantos: a 10-foot-tall, four-armed, time-traveling monster made of knives. Fellow science fiction fan and riff warrior Matt Stikker provides a horrifying illustration for the cover art, as he has done for the likes of Lord Dying, Drouth, and WVRM, among others.

Lord of Pain will be available on CD, digital download, and vinyl September 15th through Doom Stew Records. The 12″ vinyl also contains the previously-unavailable single Entheogen, an anthem to the sweet leaf.

Artist: Menin
Album: Lord of Pain
Label: Doom Stew Records
Release date: September 15th, 2017

Tracklist:
1. Lord of Pain (5:45)
2. Logrus (9:58)
3. Mercer (7:14)
4. Entheogen (5:52) (vinyl-only)

Menin is:
Chris Gray – Vocals / Guitar
Ken Neff – Bass
Devin Nowlin – Drums
Peter Schaller – Drums

http://facebook.com/meninpdx
https://www.menin666.com
https://menin.bandcamp.com
https://www.doomstew.com
https://www.facebook.com/doomstewrecords/

Menin, “Entheogen”

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A Stick and a Stone to Release The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost July 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

a stick and a stone

Portland-by-way-of-Philly post-doom outfit A Stick and a Stone will issue The Lost Art of Getting Lost on July 21 via Sentient Ruin and Cold Recordings (LP), Sentient Ruin and Breathe Plastic (CS) and Spirit House (CD). If you’re wondering what might cause so many different parties to line up behind pushing the release into the public sphere, consider yourself cordially invited to dig into the seven encompassing minutes of “Arrow” at the bottom of this post, which is both orchestral and emotionally affecting, finding perfect complement in the deep blue of the album cover and representing the richly atmospheric and creative approach on display throughout the record’s seven tracks. It’s dark and gorgeous and spacious and sad and all that stuff that reminds you that genre lines are made essentially to be transgressed.

Also, anyone who cites Carla Bozulich as an influence is okay by me. I’m just saying.

Sentient Ruin sent word of the release down the PR wire:

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A STICK AND A STONE: Oregon-Based Ethereal Doom Outfit Unveil New Album

This July Oregon’s A Stick And A Stone will release their brand new album The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost – a shimmering gem of experimental minimalistic doom that is set to wind back the hands of time to a time in which bands like OM, Earth, Boris, Orthodox and Goatsnake where redefining the lineaments of doom and post-rock.

A Stick And A Stone is led by vocalist and composer, Elliott Harvey. As a trans male with invisible disabilities, Harvey has learned that there is often more than what meets initial perception. Inhabiting a body between the thresholds of gender and ability has made him no stranger to liminality, shape shifting, and living between worlds. Consequently, he has developed a devotion to unveiling what exists beyond the easily detectable radar. This practice has carried over into his music, which is often described as ghostly, haunting, and ethereal.

Harvey started performing as a soloist in Philadelphia as a teenage castaway, and since then has expanded his project to include drummers, noise alchemists, and string players into the fold. In 2013, he met violist Myles Donovan (Disemballerina, Negative Queen, Ominous Cloud Ensemble) in Portland, OR. A city-born Philadelphian, the two realized their lives had been intricately intertwined long before meeting, and Donovan swiftly became the core collaborator of A Stick And A Stone. Their partnership has yielded music that is both earthly and transcendental – soundscapes of true intimistic prowess that are crushing and suffocating in their emotional intensity, and mesmerizing in their evocative force. With deep and touching lyrical content channeling themes of alienation, nature worship, mental illness, and disembodiment, and influences ranging from OM, Earth, Amber Asylum, Jarboe and Electric Wizard, to Bloody Panda and Noxagt, A Stick And A Stone brings together sludge-doom, post-rock, minimal folk, and avantgarde to conjure atmospheres of unparalleled beauty, darkness, and intensity.

On his third full-length album Elliott Harvey and viola player/“album co-conspirator” Myles Donovan explore new sludgy, tumultuous terrain while retaining the signature elements of ethereal harmonies, haunting vocals, and potent lyricism equated with Harvey’s previous work. The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost dives into the shadows of this age, upholding the power of resilience amidst times of uncertainty. A Stick And A Stone’s unusual style arises from blending paradoxical essences; on this album, gritty bass merges with elegant strings, rugged howls are echoed by graceful whispers, heavy drums are laced with ghostly soundscapes – to materialize in the end an unquestionable modern minimalistic doom masterpiece of our times.

With a release date set to July 21 2017, The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost, will see the light on cassette through Sentient Ruin (US) and Breathe Plastic (EU), while a CD version will surface through Spirit House. A vinyl LP version is also in the works through Sentient Ruin (US), and Cold Recordings (US). Pre-orders for the casette and digital versions are now live on our Bandcamp and on our store.

https://www.facebook.com/A-Stick-and-a-Stone-162036303838692/
https://astickandastone.bandcamp.com/
https://www.astickandastone.com/
http://sentientruin.com/
http://sentientruin.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SentientRuin/

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Review & Full Album Stream: Abronia, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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[Click play above to stream Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands by Abronia. Album is out June 26 on Water Wing Records. Tour dates below.]

It’s telling that Abronia‘s first album, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands, should open with such a strong sense of place. The leadoff track, which begins with a sparse minute-plus of atmospheric, prairie-vibed guitar before exploding into a cacophonous wash of noise, cymbal crashes, saxophone, etc., is called “The Great Divide.” Also known as the Continental Divide, its name derives from the point along the Rocky Mountains at which water flows either to the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. In the context of the Portland six-piece’s Water Wing Records debut, it could just as easily refer to the slashed duality of the title, that moment where the calmness erupts at the beginning, or the shift into spacious, swinging heavy Americana, folkadelia and rock that emerges therefrom.

But the important thing is there is a definite place, bound to the earth, that the opener positions the listener, since the core of the five-track/34-minute offering would seem likewise to be of and about the land. One finds this rooted in the use of a 1930s marching drum as a percussive focus throughout instead of a standard bass drum, as well as in the organic, direct-to-tape production through which the material is presented, having been tracked by Jason Powers (Moon Duo) at Type Foundry, and in the patient, methodical manner in which the ambience unfolds, creating a flow from the beginning of “The Great Divide” that is at once vividly present in its groove and seeking something ethereal or transcendent. Another great divide entirely, perhaps.

The band is comprised of vocalist/saxophonist Keelin Mayer (formerly of Eternal Tapestry), guitarist Benjamin Blake (also Young Hunter), guitarist/backing vocalist Eric Crespo (also Ghost to Falco), bassist Amir Amadi, Andrew Endres of Ohioan on lap steel guitar and James Shaver on the aforementioned marching drum and other percussive elements, and the stylistic trip on which they embark beginning with “The Great Divide” is significant. The opener is also the longest track at 8:36 (immediate points), and its instrumental fluidity carries the listener smoothly into the shimmering, sunshine-on-the-river melodica-topped folk of “Shala,” on which Mayer gradually makes her presence known vocally (it is a presence worth knowing) as she locks in with the melody of the guitar.

abronia

Here and across the following tracks, vocals will come and go with naturalist ease, adding to the earthy psychedelic impression of “The Great Divide” and giving the whole affair a front-to-back feel of willful meandering — the band seeming to head out in the woods and set themselves to ranging. They’ll do so throughout “Shala,” the centerpiece “Smoke Fingers,” the Jefferson Airplane-esque highlight “Glass Butte Retribution” and seven-minute closer “Waning Wand,” playing instrumentals off memorable, poetic verses handed down by Mayer with suitable command. Followers of Young Hunter will find some continuity with that band’s bouncing, plucked guitar notes via Blake‘s playing, but Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands is ultimately less gothic in its intent, and though there’s a tension to some of the craft following the blowup at the start, it’s not until the cymbal wash of “Glass Butte Retribution” and the payoff of “Waning Wand” that the album again finds itself pushing toward a noisy crescendo, and even the last is a quick one to end the finale.

Instead, for most of the duration, Abronia affect a meditative attitude, and concentrate on an exploratory feel within their tracks. That suits the space-jazz of “Smoke Fingers” well, which has a steadily nodding rhythm and some righteous interplay of sax and guitar, and the vast, open spirit of “Glass Butte Retribution,” which might be the most straightforward inclusion on Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands as regards the relative simplicity of its march, but still wants nothing for atmospherics despite a somewhat minimalist impression early that moves on a linear build to crashing cymbals and a surprising final scream from Mayer with an epilogue measure of guitar behind it. It doesn’t necessarily speak for the entirety of the record in terms of mood or sound, but “Glass Butte Retribution” makes a fitting ambient summary nonetheless, and with “Smoke Fingers” before and “Waning Wand” after it, side B of Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands proves no less a deep, headlong dive than did side A with “The Great Divide” and “Shala.”

That said, while one imagines vinyl release was a consideration in the album’s making, by the time the nuance guitar of “Waning Wand” starts as a bed for Mayer‘s first verse three minutes into the song — almost sounding like flourish of East Asian folk — it seems Abronia as much benefit from the nonstop immersion of a digital/CD structure in that once it starts, there’s no point of interruption to draw the audience away from what the band is doing. As to that, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands may well serve as a formative debut release from which Abronia will commence a sonic progression — they’ve certainly set themselves up for one — but there’s no question they establish themselves here as a cohesive unit of songwriters with a definite story to tell through their work. One hopes that as their journey continues forward, they hold onto the wandering sensibility that serves them so well here and feels so crucial in the crafting of their narrative of place and being.

Abronia on tour:
S –7/01 – Raymond, WA @ Thirst for Light Festival
R –7/27 – Portland, OR @ The Know
F – 7/28 – Arcata, CA @ Miniplex
S – 7/29 – Oakland, CA @ The Hole
S – 7/30 – San Francisco, CA @ Adobe Books
M – 7/31 – Oakland, CA @ The Nightlight
T – 8/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon
W – 8/02 – Yucca Valley (Joshua Tree ), CA @ Frontier Cafe
R – 8/03 – Fresno, CA @ Tioga Sequoia
F – 8/04 – Sacramento, CA @ Luna’s Cafe
S – 8/05 – Chico, CA @ Duffy’s

Abronia on Thee Facebooks

Abronia on Soundcloud

Water Wing Records webstore

Water Wing Records on Thee Facebooks

Water Wing Records on Bandcamp

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