Posted in Features on November 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Something is stirring in the Witch Mountain camp. I don’t know quite what yet, but on Nov. 10, the Portland, Oregon, outfit posted the following: “Just booked studio time to record a song in early December. Details when we are allowed to share them.”
Cryptic but precise, obscure and calculated, the message itself sums up a lot of what Witch Mountain have become over the last few years. After getting off tour this fall Nik Turner‘s incarnation of Hawkwind, the band — founded by guitarist Rob Wrong (to whom I’ve never spoken because he used to review records for stonerrock.com and would blow my meager knowledge of heavy out of the water) and drummer Nathan Carson (who also runs Nanotear Booking and has been interviewed here before) — said farewell to vocalist Uta Plotkin. They lost their bassist at the time as well, but it was Plotkin who grabbed the headlines, and reasonably so. Among metal singers, hers was a singular voice, resonant in its power and presence, but able also to convey emotion, bluesy soul and, particularly in the case of their latest album, Mobile of Angels (review here), a desperate sense of longing.
Their third offering for Profound Lore and third since reactivating following a long hiatus after their 2001 debut, Come the Mountain (discussed here), it’s easy to think of Mobile of Angels as a culmination in light of Plotkin‘s departure, and certainly it is their crowning achievement to date, but it’s also a step in an interrupted progression from their last two outings, 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and 2011’s South of Salem (review here). With the constant thread of Billy Anderson‘s production, one can hear Witch Mountain growing on these three albums, becoming the assured, progressive act they are on Mobile of Angels, patiently presenting an all-too-brief 38 minutes that’s beautiful and desolate at the same time.
Carson knows that whoever takes the vocalist role has a challenge ahead of them. In the interview that follows, he talks about how Plotkin‘s leaving took shape, making Mobile of Angels, the mood on this last tour and what they might be looking for in a new singer. The question at this point, after the above Nov. 10 post, is whether or not they’ve found that person. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
If you want a little extra thrill, plug in some headphones and turn the bass up as Disenchanter run through the below rendition of the song “Green Queen.” The track, which of course shares its name with a strain of weed — wasn’t that just a given? — makes a fantastic showcase for the low tone of four-stringer Joey DeMartini, and with Sabine Stangenberg‘s riffs and vocals leading the charge and Jay Erbe playing one tom against the other on drums, it’s halfway between boogie rock and all out heavy rager, and seems content to find a place somewhere not quite one or the other. This version was recorded earlier this year in Disenchanter‘s hometown of Portland, Oregon, at the Ceremony of Sludge festival, and is part of a series of clips I’ve been fortunate enough to premiere recorded over the course of that fest’s two days.
Disenchanter opened the second day of Ceremony of Sludge, which was held at Club 21, and while they’ve showcased a penchant for epic metallurgy or at least an appreciation for the grandiose on their two three-song releases to date, 2013’s Back to Earth and this year’s On through Portals (review here), “Green Queen” hones in a more straight-ahead heavy rock sound built around a strong hook, a still driving riff and the melody in Stangenberg‘s voice. I don’t know if that’s meant to be emblematic of some shift in direction or if Disenchanter were pulling a one off or if the song might even be a cover — go Google “Green Queen” and you’re only gonna find pot info — but it’s a cool groove one way or another and the band carries it just as well as some of their more epic material.
You can click here to see the other clips thus far released in the Ceremony of Sludge 2014 video series, and check out Disenchanter‘s “Green Queen” on the player followed by video info below. Please enjoy:
Disenchanter, “Green Queen” Live at Ceremony of Sludge
Disenchanter perform “Green Queen” live at the third annual Ceremony of Sludge (Club 21, Portland, Oregon, 3/8/14).
Edited by Cole Boggess. Cameras: Cole Boggess, Justin Anderson, Justin Brown, Eli Duke. Audio: Tim Burke
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Portland death-sludgers Lord Dying have finished work on their second album for Relapse, and Poisoned Altars is expected out sometime early next year. In the meantime, the four-piece — who recently toured opening for the formidable bill of Bl’ast, C.O.C. and Brant Bjork – will hit the road once again, this time alongside San Francisco’s Castle, for a stint of West Coast dates beginning Nov. 8. They’re calling it the “Peaceless Savage” tour, and I think the flyer gets the point across pretty well.
This from the PR wire:
LORD DYING: Complete New Album; Announce West Coast Tour Dates
Portland, Oregon’s LORD DYING have completed recording their much anticipated sophomore album and are set to embark on a West Coast tour with stoner/sludge trio Castle. The new record, entitled Poisoned Altars, was recorded with Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind (Black Tusk) at Audiosiege Studios in Portland and will see an early 2015 release via Relapse Records.
Poisoned Altars is direct result of the relentless work the band put in the past 18 months grinding it out on the road touring non-stop with the likes of Red Fang, Black Tusk, Corrosion of Conformity, Valient Thorr and more. Now the band will test out new material back on the road starting November 8th in Spokane, WA through November 26th in their hometown, Portland. Frontman Erik Olson commented on the upcoming dates:
“We are excited to get out on the road and pummel you with endless riffs! This time we will be joined with San Francisco’s Castle. This will be heavy as hell, don’t snooze and lose!”
More details on Poisoned Altars, including cover art, tracklisting and a release date will be announced shortly.
LORD DYING’s video for the song “Dreams of Mercy”, directed by Whitey McConnaughy (Red Fang, ZZ Top) can be seen HERE.
LORD DYING’s debut Summon the Faithless is available now on Relapse Records. The album is available in CD and LP formats which can be purchasedHEREand digitally viaiTunes.
Summon the Faithless can be streamed in full on LORD DYING’sBandCamp.
LORD DYING Tour Dates:
*All Dates with Castle* 11/8/2014 Spokane, WA The Hop 11/9/2014 Billings, MT Babcock Theater 11/10/2014 Salt Lake City, UT Bar Deluxe 11/11/2014 Denver, CO The Marquis 11/13/2014 Colorado Springs, CO Black Sheep 11/15/2014 Juarez, MX Hysteria Bar 11/16/2014 Tucson, AZ The Rock 11/17/2014 Mesa, AZ Club Red 11/18/2014 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick 11/19/2014 Fullerton, CA The Slidebar (21+) 11/20/2014 Van Nuys, CA White Oaks Music 11/22/2014 Walnut Creek, CA The Red House 11/23/2014 Reno, NV Jub Jubs 11/24/2014 Bend, OR 3rd Street Pub 11/25/2014 Seattle, WA El Corazon 11/26/2014 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theater
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Portland heavy rockers Ape Machine are heading out again in support of their Ripple Music debut, Mangled by the Machine (review here). They’ve done a few runs at this point since the record came out last year, and they even got to open for Motörhead earlier this year, but this will be the longest tour they’ve done since this Spring and going to Europe in 2013, covering up and down in California and heading as far inland as Texas as they make their way around and back to the coast. No official word yet on writing or recording for a follow-up to Mangled by the Machine, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they busted out a new song or two for the trip.
The PR wire ain’t afraid of no ghosts:
APE MACHINE announce fall U.S. tour dates
Portland, Oregon stoner-rockers APE MACHINE have announced fall U.S. tour dates in support of their latest record, Mangled By The Machine, which is out now via Ripple Music. (Orderhere.)
The name Ape Machine is a nod to the days of reel-to-reel magnetic tape audio recording; a fitting moniker for the heavy-hitting quartet as the band plays through vintage tube amplifiers and lays down its songs using exclusively throwback quality studio equipment. With a heady mix of animal aggression and technical precision, Ape Machine’s music carries an organic depth and warmth rarely heard since the time of rock’s glorious early years (or your Dad’s bad ass record collection) infused with an exceptional modern sensibility. When the mystical lyrics of vocalist Caleb Heinze lock in with the band’s stone-cold groove, Ape Machine demonstrates an earth-shaking ability to rock. A true four-piece, the group has been called “a rock and roll band with a finger on the pulse of the ’70s and their asses firmly in the present” and “real heavy-psych for the iPhone generation” that delivers “true guts and glory rock and roll.”
Blending equal parts rock ‘n’ roll, blues, stoner rock and psychedelia, Ape Machine is out to melt faces and pound the apathy out of otherwise jaded listeners with a wall of heavy rock n’ roll tones unheard since the days of bell bottoms, long hair and blaring tube amplifiers.
Ape Machine’s mission is to combine intense melody, cutting riffs and blistering live improvisation. Where many bands rely on meticulously rehearsed, just-like-the-record-parts, they provide a live experience that is as unique as each evening it shares with an audience.
Oct 16: Black Forest – Eugene OR Oct 17: Witch Room – Sacramento CA Oct 18: Eli’s Mile High Club – Oakland CA Oct 19: Redwood Bar – LA CA Oct 20: Flycatcher – Tucson AZ Oct 21: JRs – Sierra Vista AZ Oct 22: Lowbrow Palace – El Paso TX Oct 23: House of Rock – Corpus Christi TX Oct 24: Continental Club – Houston TX Oct 25: The Grotto – Ft Worth TX Oct 26: Underground – Sante FE NM Oct 27: Pub Rock – Phoenix AZ Oct 28: Copper Door – Santa Ana CA Oct 29: U-31 – San Diego CA Oct 30: Prospector – Long Beach CA Oct 31: Soda Bar – San Diego CA Nov 1: Audie’s – Fresno CA Nov 2: Paddys Pub – San Jose CA Nov 3: Elbo Room – San Francisco CA
Posted in audiObelisk on September 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Experimentalists of the proggy psychedelia, Portland’s Eternal Tapestry always seem to conjure something different with each release. Their latest outing, Guru Overload – I keep wanting to type “overlord,” but it’s not, it’s “overload” — is available now through Finland’s Oaken Palace Records and is a hypnotically ambient collection of Krautrock-inspired musings given melt-in-it presence through warm tones, synthesized beats and a self-directed will to let an idea go where it will. With an opening duo that comprises more than half the total 41-minute runtime, Guru Overload is shoegaze peaceful and heavy psych resonant without giving way really to one side or another.
This is respectable in itself, but the spirit throughout has less to do with respectability than with tripping out on wah-drenched vibery and languid rhythmic push on opener “Trout Fishing on the Street of Eternity” or the later, drone-fueled “The Double Bed Dream Gallows,” which rings out minimalism in swirling tones behind a barely-there guitar. Each of the five included cuts gives something of a different take, but by the time “Trout Fishing on the Street of Eternity” and the 11-minute follow-up, “Karma Repair Kit,” are done, one is bound to be lost in the album’s flow. More to the point, “Karma Repair Kit” in itself has a formidable dangling-watch effect, the five-piece pulling a “you’re getting very sleepy” with what, because of the beat underneath, winds up being one of Guru Overload‘s more grounded jams. Still, its blend of organic and synth elements and the not-all-who-wander-ism throughout make “Karma Repair Kit” a more than satisfying journey in itself, and an excellent sample of the cranial alterations Eternal Tapestry render so smoothly across the board.
The album is out as of this past weekend in 140g vinyl through Oaken Palace, with proceeds going to The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. More info follows the song, which you can stream on the player below.
Oaken Palace Records is proud to announce the release of the new full-length by Portland-based psych overlords Eternal Tapestry! As every release on Oaken Palace Records, the new album – entitled Guru Overload – is dedicated to an endangered species. Eternal Tapestry have chosen the orang-utan, and all profits will be donated to The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.
Guru Overload, mastered by James Plotkin, features 5 new jams that the band recorded in a private cabin deep in the woods. The album manages to strike a balance between the freaked-out “A World Out Of Time” and the more laid-back “Dawn In 2 Dimensions”, both in terms of style as well as track length. The result is a wonderfully smooth flow of new material that combines exotic and new sounds with the best of Krautrock and Psychedelic Rock.
The first pressing will be limited to 500 copies on 140g red vinyl, housed in a 100% recycled card sleeve, printed with non-toxic colours, and produced by a carbon neutral pressing plant. An additional 20 test pressing copies on black vinyl, housed in hand-crafted sleeves with alternative artwork, will be available exclusively in the Oaken Palace webshop. Both editions come with a free download code. Oaken Palace Records is a registered charity (#1154786).
This week marks three full years of Wino Wednesday. It is Wino Wednesday #156. In that time, I feel like we’ve just about covered the man’s entire career, from his days playing with Warhorse in high school on down through Spirit Caravan‘s 2014 reunion. In and out of bands like The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, Place of Skulls, Premonition 13, his own Wino band and on and on with more guest appearances live and recorded than I think anyone can count, it’s been a three-year investigation into one of doom’s most storied and most accomplished figures. I don’t think when I started out that I imagined this feature would go on for so long, but I’ve yet to run out of things to post, so I guess until that happens, onward we go.
“Look Behind You” appeared on 1987’s three-song Thirsty andMiserable EP, sharing the B-side with the titular Black Flag cover. Tough bill, since when one thinks of that release, it’s the radical slowdown of the Black Flag song that invariably comes to mind first, but “Look Behind You” has been a live staple for Saint Vitus more or less since. It showed up on their 1990 Live album, and it has been a regular feature of sets since their reunion in 2009, its Motörhead-style rush made to turn on its head by Dave Chandler‘s transitions and thickened by his inimitable tone. The song goes back further than Thirsty and Miserable, though. In 1979, Tyrant (the original Vitus lineup under its first name) included it on their demo, so it’s clearly been around even longer than Thirsty and Miserable, and as you can see in the version below, which was taped live in Portland, Oregon, at the Satyricon in June 2010, it wears its age well.
Here’s to three years of Wino Wednesday and more to come. Enjoy:
Saint Vitus, “Look Behind You” Live in Portland, OR, June 26, 2010
Posted in audiObelisk on September 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Calculated chaos abounds on Portland, Oregon, trio U Sco‘s full-length debut, Treffpunkt. The LP releases next week on New Atlantis Records and compiles eight brainbending instrumental selections of noise-gone-prog, churning high-speed math metal changes out with raw punker tones and some feedbackular hum for atmosphere and abrasion alike. It’s a dizzying array of sounds proffered by guitarist Ryan Miller, bassist Jon Scheid and drummer Phil Cleary, and if you were to follow the bouncing ball on a cut like the six-minute “Crack in the Crystal Glass,” you’d likely need more than three dimensions to do it. They turn and they drive and they shuffle and they even boogie a little bit (there’s some get-down in there), and spazz quick enough from one to the other that you’d almost be tempted to call it jazz if it didn’t already have 50 other designations. By whatever name, dudes are freaking out.
If you’re like, “Whatever, chief” and think you’re all set to hang with the bird-chirp guitar noise that starts “Tuskflower” or the litany of furies that unfold therefrom like sentient origami, knock yourself out, but be warned that Treffpunkt gets pretty brutal. Not in the growly ruh-ruh-ruh death metal sense, but throwing down a challenge anyway in its chops and technical prowess that, since it’s beyond the realm of my simpleton understanding, I’m just gonna have to assume is magic. The appearance of some standup bass in the title-track is noteworthy, and all the more so if you can find it amidst the surrounding assault, and right when the whole record seems like it’s going to burst, with the mega-noodle tap-ery of “Iguana House,” U Sco pull back and drone out on “Glm Lrkr” (which I’ll assume is pronounced “glum lurker” as opposed to some other configuration of vowels), slow riffing for a while before letting a wave of noise carry the last six minutes or so of the nine-minute track. You know, just in case you dared to think you knew what was coming or something like that.
It’s a Sept. 23 release date, and I’ve been given the nod to host the full doodad ahead of time, so find it on the player below, followed by PR wire info and order-type links, and enjoy:
Featuring members of notable, genre-bending Portland-bred projects such as Jezebel Spirit, With Eyes Abstract and Duck. Little Brother, Duck!, U Sco has been an electrifying, formidable staple of Portland’s unparalleled punk scene since their formation in 2011.
Treffpunkt was recorded and mixed by Paurl Walsh at Roadhouse Studios in Portland in the winter of 2013. Sonically, it’s the best representation of the band so far, combining the dizzying velocity of their live performances with an aural spaciousness and lucidity that highlights the group’s breathtaking consideration for musical minutiae. Treffpunkt is an immensely challenging (and equally rewarding) listen, but one should hesitate to use the word “inaccessible” – U Sco’s blood is red hot. In vulgar terms, this is progressive rock with a hardcore heart. A far cry from the emotionally-detached, irritatingly-positive, regurgitated diatonic Don Caballero-worship that characterizes most contemporary math rock. This is not happy music; this is not superficially fun music. Dissonant, propulsive, and pantonal- this is monolithic art rock, triumphant its raw, discomforting sonic catharsis.
A couple weeks ago, we began a series of pro-shot live videos shot at this year’s Ceremony of Sludge in Portland, Oregon, with footage of Beard of Bees playing “General Butt Naked.” It was as raucous a start as one could’ve hoped for, and with the second installment, we move into precision post-sludge tectonic riffing, courtesy of Portland’s own Sioux and their chug-a-lug stomper “Let in the Night.” Among the other things it is — progressive, complex, atmospheric — it is righteously heavy.
Sioux debuted in 2013 with a self-titled EP (review here), and at Ceremony of Sludge – held March 7 and 8 at Club 21 in Portland — they celebrated the release of their full-length debut, The One and the Many. “Let in the Night” is the opener from that album, and it highlights the addition of the former trio’s fourth member, synth-specialist/vocalist/sampler Ben Jackson, whose alternately screamed and clean-sung approach makes an excellent complement to the gruff, sludgy style of bassist Kirk Evans. On “Let in the Night,” they trade parts effectively but make highlight moments out of unison between them, adding depth and a sense of arrangement to the already rich turns of guitarist Juan Caceres and gloriously half-timed plod of drummer Ryan McPhaill. The sense of early Mastodonic lumbering that pervaded the EP is still there, but no question Sioux have taken their approach to a new level.
They were the penultimate act on the second night of the fest, with only Holy Grove following, so it was a fitting way to mark the beginning of this stage of the band. Last week, Sioux followed up The One and the Many with a digital single covering Nine Inch Nails‘ 1994 breakout radio hit single “Closer” that’s available as a name-your-price download from their Bandcamp page. However you might feel about the original source, it’s a bold song to take on and Sioux do well in putting their own spin on it.
As with last time, Sioux‘s “Let in the Night” was filmed by Cole Boggess, Justin Anderson, Justin Brown and Eli Duke, and edited by Cole Boggess with sound by Tim Burke. Stay tuned for more in the weeks to come from the third annual Ceremony of Sludge, and please, enjoy:
Sioux, “Let in the Night” Live at Ceremony of Sludge, Portland, OR, March 8, 2014
Admittedly, it was a while ago, so if you don’t remember or had chalked it up to the ol’ sometimes-things-fall-through, no worries, but when this year’s Ceremony of Sludge was announced back in January, it was noted that I’d be premiering a series of videos captured there at Club 21 in Portland, Oregon, over the course of the two-day event. Well, the fest happened March 7 and 8, and sure enough, it was filmed, and last night, I was sent the first of what I hope will be many clips to come from that weekend.
The band in question is Beard of Bees, a Salem, OR, guitar/drum two-piece who kicked off the first night of the festival. They shared the stage with Tsepesch, Serial Hawk and Lamprey, and playing to an already crowded room, they evoked ’90s noise pummel and brandished thick, mostly instrumental grooves of considerable threat. It’s my first time hearing the band, which is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Russell Brown and drummer Nick Plaff – going by their Thee Facebooks address, they were at some point a trio and Bob left — but the tension in their buildups and the locked-in chugging of the ensuing payoffs makes for a satisfyingly heavy roll that has me empathizing with those in the crowd raising their beer cans in appreciation.
As for the song itself, it’s called “General Butt Naked,” and the clip was filmed by Cole Boggess, Justin Anderson, Justin Brown (Russell‘s brother and one of Lamprey‘s two bassists) and Eli Duke, and edited by Boggess. Beard of Bees don’t seem to have anything recorded or released as yet — they first got together in 2011 — so if you go looking and find some other band with the name, don’t be confused, but as an introduction, I think the live clip works well to make a favorable impression, and if nothing else, looks like the kickoff to a hell of an evening.
Beard of Bees, “General Butt Naked” Live at Ceremony of Sludge, Portland, OR, March 7, 2014
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
While it looks like Ogre won’t be appearing at next weekend’s Vultures of Volume fest in Delaware as was originally slated, the illusive Maine-based doom rocking trio will still be out and about in the Northeast. Shows for a weekender they’re calling the “Trilogy of Terror” are booked in Philly, Connecticut and New Hampshire, and they’re playing with some excellent local support, including Heavy Temple and Cactus Hag. No doubt the good times will abound as they say goodbye to summer and continue to support their 2014 release, The Last Neanderthal (review here), their first album since getting back together after initially calling it quits half a decade ago.
That album is a worthy cause to support, and the notice the band sent down the PR wire is right when it urges you to catch them if you can. Ogre don’t really tour at this point, and who knows how long it’ll be before they next set foot back into civilization from their home in the northern wilds.
Or, as they put it:
Portland, Maine doomsters OGRE are closing out the summer with three out-of-town gigs over the Labor Day weekend. The “Trilogy of Terror”, as the band has dubbed the trip, begins on Thursday, August 28th with the band’s first ever show in Philadelphia, performing at Kung Fu Necktie with local support from Heavy Temple and Skeleton Hands. Then, they will head up the coast for a Friday, August 29th show in New Haven, CT at Three Sheets with VRSA and Mind Over Master. The road-trip ends on Saturday, August 30th at Sonny’s in Dover, NH. Opening that show will be Cactus Hag and Black Norse.
OGRE is not sure when they’ll be hitting the road again, so try to catch them at these gigs if you can. For more info about the shows and to see drummer Will Broadbent’s killer gig flyers, check out the band’s Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/rockogre
OGRE’s most recent CD, The Last Neanderthal, was released by Italy’s Minotauro Records in March 2014 and is still available at numerous on-line retailers and through the Minotauro website (www.minotaurorecords.com).
Posted in Reviews on August 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Certainly the announcement that vocalist Uta Plotkin will leave Witch Mountain following their Fall US tour with Nik Turner’s Hawkwind places Mobile of Angels, the band’s fourth album overall and third with Plotkin fronting, into a different context. If nothing else, it lets lyrics longing for escape in “Psycho Animundi” and “Can’t Settle” — lines like “Living in filth and dirt in rooms less colorful and cheerful than the cages in which we put animals in a zoo” from the former and the richly, beautifully crooned “Oh, it’s time to go” in the back half chorus of the latter — be read in ways opposed to how they otherwise might. Witch Mountain‘s music has never been particularly upbeat, but the blues in Plotkin‘s voice seem to have a focal point here and if it’s a change that needed to happen, then the only really unfortunate part about it is that it comes as the four-piece of Plotkin, guitarist Rob Wrong, drummer Nate Carson and bassist Charles Thomas (also of Blackwitch Pudding and the latest in a succession of bass players) reach their highest creative watermark to date. Released by Profound Lore in North America and Svart in Europe, Mobile of Angelsfollows two strong outings in 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and 2011’s South of Salem (review here) — their debut, Come the Mountain(discussed here) having been released in 2001 on Rage of Achilles before an extended hiatus — but it is leaner than Cauldronand more developed than Salem, the band’s considerable road-time paying dividends in the tightness of performance and the ground they’re able and willing to cover stylistically. Production by Billy Anderson never hurts either, but what’s most striking about Mobile of Angelsisn’t how the five songs sound so much as where they go.
The lurching chug in Wrong‘s riffs is a signature element in Witch Mountain‘s approach, and as the opener, “Psycho Animundi” dives immediately into an affirmation of it. Cauldron of the Wild‘s “The Ballad of Lanky Rae” was similarly direct, but the bluesier atmosphere of that track is contrasted by “Psycho Animundi”‘s purely doomed stomp, underscored by the slow march in Carson‘s drumming. At nearly nine minutes, it’s second only to centerpiece “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn),” and fittingly immersive, but there’s still a right-down-to-business feel, and the vocals start less than a minute into the track, beginning a tradeoff of verses and guitar solos that carries the central chug through a duration that feels less extended than it is. Plotkin‘s voice is given to soaring, and it does so liberally here, finding contrast in secret-weapon growls in the metallic midsection of “Can’t Settle,” the second half of which stands as an early apex of the record, perhaps rivaled by the guitar nods to YOB‘s “Catharsis” in closer “The Shape Truth Takes,” but a moment unto itself for the vocal harmonies at play in any case. That one would even be tempted to hyperbolize and call it Plotkin‘s best performance in Witch Mountain should be enough to emphasize the point. The 10-minute “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)” follows, executing a few quiet/loud tradeoffs en route to Mobile of Angels‘ most patient build, the full band in complete command of their movement as soulful backing vocals guide the way through the early stretches and the guitar, bass and drums begin their push toward a peak that arrives after seven minutes in, Wrong taking the fore for one of the album’s best solos — he also works in layers — and giving way to a morose final verse before a more open, ethereal ending shifts into the otherworldly title-track, relatively quick at 3:30, but hypnotic thanks to organ scratch and an interweaving of spoken and sung incantations.
A subdued finale, maybe, but “The Shape Truth Takes” is glorious in its melancholy. Plotkin seems to be playing off Debbie Harry‘s unrealistic range, and the quieter instrumentation behind her gives a perfect showcase in the song’s initial moments, the lead-in from “Mobile of Angels” opening fluidly to the peaceful noodling of the guitar, Witch Mountain proving just as capable of conveying weight in emotionality as in their tones, Plotkin‘s swirling layers recalling “Can’t Settle” as Thomas, Carson and Wrong weave their way through a forward but deceptive progression, finding an explosive point after the three-minute mark, at which point “The Shape Truth Takes” opens to a fuller but still not overblown breadth. Regret? Sadness? It’s hard to know what’s in there without reading too much in, but it’s not bitter in the way “Psycho Animundi” is. Maybe it’s just a moment of resignation that gets swept up in Wrong‘s solo before five minutes in, the album’s final crescendo coming in the solo/vocal trade much like that of “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn),” but leading to a relatively quick outro and final chug of the guitar, as though it’s looking to hold onto the song even as it’s already passed. Witch Mountain, which was founded by Wrong and Carson in the late ’90s, has said the band will continue without Plotkin, but there can be little doubt they’ll have their work cut out for them in assembling a new dynamic after the utter mastery they show on Mobile of Angels. That’s not to say it can’t be done, only that it will take time. When one considers the efforts put in by the band on tour and over the two records leading to this one, Mobile of Angelslooks all the more like a high point reached, the culmination of the years since Witch Mountain came back together and the arrival at what they’ve been pursuing all along. If subsequent outings show that’s not the case — i.e., if that pursuit continues off in a different direction — then all the better, but no question Mobile of Angelsmarks the end of something special for Witch Mountain and is bittersweet for American doom. All is fleeting.
Posted in Reviews on August 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I kept a steady pace rolling up the Maine Turnpike (aka I-95 but they charge you for it; I’d bitch, but NJ does the same thing), not looking to get pulled over both because it would involve talking to cops and because my car’s not registered, but with the sunset on my left, the rising supermoon on my right and big, old growth pines on both sides of the road, it would’ve been hard to complain had anyone been around to listen. Last time I was in Portland, it was also for a show at Geno’s Rock Club — Ogre‘s CD release, back in March (review here) — and though I had a hard time picking out familiar landmarks without a foot of snow on the ground, I eventually found my way to the same spot for the third of We’re all Gonna Die‘s three Summer 2014 reunion shows, with locals Murcielago rounding out the bill and support from MA’s Tigerman Woah and Maple Forum alum Blackwolfgoat.
The latter opened, going on around 9:30, with Darryl Shepard (Milligram, The Scimitar, etc.) starting out his Blackwolfgoat set with some new material from the forthcoming Small Stone release, Drone Maintenance. It’s his third LP under the Blackwolfgoat moniker — The Obelisk’s in-house label released the first CD pressing of the second one, Dronolith — and the most accomplished, Shepard beginning to veer toward a songwriting impulse to match the project’s progressive drone soundscaping. I was pleased to hear Dronolithopener “Building Buildings” in the mix, distinct for its layers of rhythm and melody, and it made an interesting lead-in for “Cyclopean Utopia,” the only Blackwolfgoat song to-date with vocals, for which Shepard got on mic and let loose a succession of ambient screams.
His time cut somewhat short when the strap on his guitar broke, but I guess part of the fun of having an outfit like Blackwolfgoat is that when something like that happens, you can roll with it. Still screaming over his loops and feedback, Shepard strummed the guitar a few times with his shoe before kneeling down to twiddle knobs on his pedal board. That wash of feedback continued even as he began to pack up his gear, but eventually the amp got shut off. “Cyclopean Utopia” was about half-done, but that strap was all-the-way done, and that seemed to win out. It was about as disparate a lead-in for Tigerman Woah as one could ask, the Lynn, Massachusetts, four-piece offering standup bass, banjo ukulele and rockabilly-ish revelry of a much more riotous and beery sort.
I live on the South Shore of Massachusetts, under Boston. On the other side of the city is the North Shore. I haven’t been up there much in the year that I’ve lived in the state, so I can’t necessarily speak to the geography of the place, but what I’ve seen has been way more Upper-Middle-Class-mall and way less a setting befitting the Appalachian mountain punk that Tigerman Woah proffered, but I’ll give it to those dudes for both selling it well and every now and again going on a tear of gang vocals and guitar solos that were likewise duly infectious. Plus who knows what lurks in those old foothills. They weren’t really my thing — and they were definitely the odd band out on the bill — but Tigerman Woah kept me glued to my spot on the floor at Geno’s with their twanging party vibe, gravely vocals and enviable beards.
After two prior shows, in Boston and Manchester, New Hampshire, it wasn’t such a surprise to find We’re all Gonna Die pushing through their set with workmanlike fluidity, but what stuck out to me most from watching them for the first time in I don’t know how many years was how dead-on they came across. Sometimes when a group plays for the first time in a while — I think in the Boston trio’s case, it’s been five years — they’re both rusty and overexcited. Material gets rushed. For guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey, bassist Jesse Sherman and drummer Scott Healey, it was more like seeing a band who’d been doing shows all year. They were plainly glad to be there, but they played like pros. The slow parts stayed slow, the fast parts were crisp in their pummel, and Healey‘s voice — a powerful instrument, forcefully wielded — was on point throughout and one could only stand in awe as solo after solo was thoroughly nailed. Something in me doubts this will be their last show.
Rounding out the night, Murcielago would keep that theme going, as the highlight of their set was a sudden turn that had guitarists Matt Robbins and Ian Ross (see also: Roadsaw) duking it out “Dueling Banjos”-style as they went back and forth, solo for solo. It was my first time seeing the band and they’ve only released a couple recorded tracks as downloads, so the bulk of their material was new to me, but came across steady in riff-heavy form, bassist/vocalist Neil Collins handling most of the singing with Robbins backing while drummer Brian Chaloux held it down smooth behind. Even during the aforementioned solo tradeoffs — which got a laugh as well at one point when Robbins flipped Ross off following a particularly impressive showing — Collins and Chaloux kept a central groove going as a bed, and Murcielago not only returned to that song’s chorus, but finished their set with another cut after.
That was about one in the morning, and I had two and a half hours of road time ahead, so I made my way out of Geno’s on the quick and back down the still unfamiliar Congress St. to my car, the Maine Turnpike lit blue by the near-full moon and save for a few swerving cars, empty with the well-worn evening.
A couple more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bit of a blindside here but I guess that kind of thing can’t be helped. On the eve of Witch Mountain releasing Mobile of Angels, their third album since coming back in 2011 with South of Salem(review here), vocalist Uta Plotkin has announced her intention to leave the band following their upcoming fall US tour with Nik Turner’s Hawkwind and Hedersleben. Plotkin, whose bluesy singing style and powerful delivery has greatly helped the Portland outfitfurther their doomly cause these last three years, will leave a significant void in the front of the stage, though Witch Mountain have stated their intention to continue anyway, guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nate Carson having started the band together in the late ’90s and released the full-length Come the Mountainin 2001 before a 10-year break.
I’m loath to pilfer news from anyone — and feel inclined to acknowledge the irony that the story broke via Revolver, whose “the hottest chicks in metal” undermines the legitimacy of singers like Plotkin and other players more or less every time it’s published — but this is a big story and worth spreading, considering that any change of frontperson is bound to have a sizable impact on the personality and style of Witch Mountain as a whole. It will be interesting to see what and who they come back with, but as they rightly point out, Witch Mountain was a band before Plotkin, so it’s not unreasonable to think it can be a band after. If anyone at Revolver is pissed at the cut and paste, I apologize, but at least I gave credit and linked back to the original story.
Obviously, best of luck to Plotkin on her next endeavor, whatever that may be, and to Witch Mountain for the reconstruction process. Text from Revolver, plus the tour dates:
Frontwoman Uta Plotkin to Leave Witch Mountain after Release of New Album, ‘Mobile of Angels’
Witch Mountain’s upcoming fourth album, ‘Mobile of Angels,’ and their summer shows with Nik Turner’s Hawkwind will be their last record and tour, respectively, with lead singer Uta Plotkin. The new album will be unleashed by Profound Lore Records in North America September 30, and via Svart Records in Europe and beyond. ‘Mobile of Angels’ was produced by producer Billy Anderson, tracked and mixed in Type Foundry studios Portland, OR.
“It’s been a rewarding experience being in Witch Mountain,” says Plotkin, who joined the group in 2009. “I’ve met many wonderful people and helped make a lot of great music but after three albums I feel it’s time for me to move on to new projects, musical and otherwise. My creative spirit has always been a restless one. I hope our fans continue to enjoy our music and support Witch Mountain in its future incarnations.”
“We love and support Uta in whatever direction her life takes her,” the remaining members of Witch Mountain comment. “Our collaboration with her over the last five years, three albums, and hundreds of shows has been a privilege. But the band existed long before we met her and will continue into the future. Somewhere in this wide world is a voice with the talent and ambition to help Witch Mountain continue to improve as we have with each new release and passing year. Someone (male or female) will eventually send us a demo that brings us to tears. Until then, we remain focused on our final tour with Uta, and promoting our brand new album. Thanks to all for your support.”
If you want to catch Uta Plotkin with Witch Mountain on stage, please mark your calendar because this is your last chance:
NIK TURNER’S HAWKWIND + WITCH MOUNTAIN + HEDERSLEBEN NORTH AMERICAN TOUR 2014
Tue 8/26 – Oakland, CA – Uptown Wed 8/27 – Los Angeles, CA – Viper Room Thu 8/28 – San Diego, CA – Casbah Fri 8/29 – Tucson, AZ – Hotel Congress Sat 8/30 – Albuquerque, NM – Launch Pad Mon 9/01 – Austin, TX – Red 7 Tue 9/02 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia Wed 9/03 – Birmingham, AL – Bottletree Thu 9/04 – Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone Cafe Fri 9/05 – Lafayette, GA – Meltasia Fest Sat 9/06 – Raleigh, NC – Hopscotch Fest* Sun 9/07 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter Mon 9/08 – Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery Tue 9/09 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot and Saddle Wed 9/10 – Sellersville, PA – Sellersville Theater Thu 9/11 – New York, NY – Webster Hall Fri 9/12 – Boston, MA – Middle East Sun 9/14 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore Mon 9/15 – Toronto, ON – The Garrison Tue 9/16 – Rochester, NY – Bug Jar Wed 9/17 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom Thu 9/18 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen Fri 9/19 – Rock Island, IL – RIBCO Sat 9/20 – Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club* Sun 9/21 – Saint Paul, MN – Turf Club Mon 9/22 – Winnipeg, MB – Pyramid Cabaret* Tue 9/23 – Saskatoon, SK – Vangelis Tavern Wed 9/24 – Calgary, AB – Palomino Fri 9/26 – Vancouver, BC – Venue (early evening show) Sat 9/27 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey Sun 9/28 – Portland, OR – Star Theater
Posted in audiObelisk on August 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It won’t be too long into opener “Night of the Blackwitch” from Portland gurgle-doomers Blackwitch Pudding‘s new EP, Covered in Pudding Vol. 1, before something starts to ring awfully familiar. The be-robbed trio present four tracks on their latest self-released outing, each derived from a classic rock staple. In the case of “Night of the Blackwitch,” it’s Roky Erickson‘s “Night of the Vampire,” and Blackwitch Pudding tear into it and make it dank nasty: a stoned-out, tonal-overload gruel, grandiose only in its burn and lurch. The method soon becomes a running theme.
Their 2013 full-length debut, Taste the Pudding(review here), proffered similar extremity and weedian charm, but Covered in Pudding Vol. 1wins out easily in terms of cleverness. To take Rush‘s “Working Man” and turn it into “Toke’n Man,” adjusting the lyrics accordingly, gleefully knuckledrags on sacred ground, and as KISS‘ “God of Thunder” becomes “Gods of Grungus,” I’m ready to declare the idiocy brilliant. Space Wizard (guitar), Lizard Wizard (bass) and Wizard Wizard (drums) channel a doomed-out, pot-addled Weird Al across these four tracks, and while each song obviously owes its debt to the original, there’s no question that the lunacy ensuing is their own.
When it comes to 10-minute closer “Bong Hits and Lust,” I’m almost hesitant to give away what classic song it uses for a foundation. If you can get it from the title, more power to you, but I had to hear it before recognizing, and I think that only made it more enjoyable, so I won’t spoil it. The band, speaking as a unified whole, were kind enough to take time away from their potions and spells and whatever it is a wizard does these days — hedge funds? — to give a track-by-track account that subtly hints at the origins of Covered in Pudding Vol. 1‘s four components, and if nothing else, it’s a great read.
The EP officially releases Aug. 12. I hope this isn’t the last time they do this, and that Vol. 2isn’t far off. Enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Blackwitch Pudding, Covered in Pudding Vol. 1 track-by-track
“Night of the Blackwitch”
We wrote this song about our cosmic witch-mother, the Blackwitch. She has a wicked way with pudding. She birthed us from pudding, raised us in the pudding and taught us how to spread the pudding. We figured she could use a theme song for when she’s having a good old broom-grinding get down. With a, ahem, Roky set of vocals this song spreads itself over your audio palate with long, smooth strokes of heavy psychedelia.
This song is about your everyday, blue-collared herbalist. Just as every man must be the king of his own castle, he must also strive to be the man who tokes the most. We wizards live this to the core; there truly is a toke’n man in all of us. There is no need to rush into this one — it is slow, heavy and triumphant. This rocket ship of a stoner anthem will blast you into outer space.
“Gods of Grungus”
Back in ’63 — 1663, that is — we used to party pretty hard. The age of witchcraft was upon us and we had just been busted stealing weed from our pops (the devil). He’s a pretty cool guy so he let us keep it and told us to “thunder on like gods of the night.” This song is a documented recording of a real wizard party. When you listen to this song we command you to party along because you know somewhere we are partying with you.
“Bong Hits and Lust”
It must have been around 1581, and we were somewhere near Trier in West Germany, having a good time getting down with some frisky witches doing some excellent black sorcery. Sooner or later this douchebag Archbishop Johann von Schöneburg and his army of priests showed up and ordered all the witches dead. We were pretty hammered, and by the time we woke up a few years later, over 300 perfectly radical witch-babes had been slayed. Needless to say, we took it pretty hard, and over the course of the next couple hundred years created this epic tribute to the bongs and broads and Bob Dylan of the middle ages.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you didn’t hear Megaton Leviathan‘s Water Wealth Hell on Earth(review here) when it was released in 2011, you’re probably going to want to stop reading this sentence immediately and get to whatever outlet will allow you to put it in your ears the fastest. An all-consuming wash of psych-doom experimentation that called forth black metal’s buzz but expanded the scope beyond genre confines. There were times throughout that album where it was simply too much to take, but wow, what a sound.
Band spearhead Andrew James Costa Reuscher has had a few limited releases out since then, and there was first discussion of an allegiance with Seventh Rule — now also based in Portland, OR — back in late 2012, but not much word has come out of a new album since. Enter Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cellas the first Megaton Leviathan full-length in three years and mark me down as on-fucking-board. As you can see in the live clip below, the drone wash is in full effect, and Megaton Leviathan offer all the ritual with none of the “cult” silliness of many of their contemporaries. Much as they have any.
Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cellis out Sept. 9:
MEGATON LEVIATHAN: Psychedelic Doom Masters Release Sophomore Full-Length Via Seventh Rule Next Month; Summer Live Performances Confirmed
The only constant is change. Standing in stark contrast to the droning, gorgeous slabs of psychedelic and atmospherically infused doom that comprise the aural output of MEGATON LEVIATHAN, the band itself has been in a constant state of flux since its inception in 2007. By the end of 2012, despite the official announcement of a new album, not only that album, but the fate of the entire project itself were positioned beneath a very precariously dangled sword. Circumstance and internal conflict nearly saw the band’s next major release a specter with no corporeal form. However, after a redoubling of effort, a reshuffling of the deck and some inevitable missteps along the way, MEGATON LEVIATHAN’s second full length album, Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell, has emerged from the chaos of its birth pangs, prepared to thoroughly swath a blazing path through the dense forest of the modern musical landscape.
Mixed by Mort Subite (V.I.I.R.L., Alfheimr, Benighted in Sodom live), MEGATON LEVIATHAN’s newest resident thaumaturgist, Past 21 is a near lethal dose of solemn audio narcotic, shifting the listener somewhere outside the realm of space-time for the duration of its dissociative transduction from speakers to brain. Glacial, yet burning with divine fire, Past 21’s spell is simultaneously whispered in a hallowed chapel, and torn from a throat rent by the gnashing of teeth.
Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell Track Listing: 1. Past 21 2. The Foolish Man 3. Arctic Cell 4. Here Come The Tears
In April of 2014, MEGATON founder and lone original member, Andrew James Costa Reuscher and Subite took Past 21 on the road for a first round of West Coast dates as a one man show/performance piece, featuring heavy visual elements, Reuscher the unifying human component, and Subite as the hidden hand, mixing live audio. MEGATON LEVIATHAN later tapped V.I.I.R.L. drummer Markus Covello to join the onstage lineup. With Reuscher handling vocal and guitar operations, and Subite continuing his live audio duties, this revamped, three-man cast will form the core of the MEGATON LEVIATHAN live experience for the duration of the forthcoming West Coast dates surrounding Deadfest in Oakland where the band will perform alongside the likes of Ephemeros, Connoisseur, Augurs and more. See confirmed dates below.
MEGATON LEVIATHAN Live 2014: 8/09/2014 Megaton House (cassette release show) – Portland, OR 8/14/2014 Ink Annex – Eureka, CA 8/15/2014 Dead Fest – Oakland, CA 8/16/2014 Rock Shop – San Jose, CA 8/17/2014 Starlight Lounge – Sacramento, CA 8/24/2014 Hive Portland, OR * LP Release Show 8/30/2014 TBA – Bozeman, MT 8/31/2014 Black Sparrow Tattoo Club – Billings, MT 9/02/2014 TBA 9/03/2014 Quarters – Milwaukee, WI 9/04/2014 Ghost House – Bloomington, IN 9/05/2014 5th Quarter Lounge – Indianapolis, IN 9/06/2014 TBA 9/07/2014 Acheron – Brooklyn, NY 9/08/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA 9/09/2014 The Crown – Baltimore, MD 9/10/2014 Static Age – Asheville, NC 9/12/2014 Springwater – Nashville, TN 9/14/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA 9/15/2014 TBA – Austin, TX 9/16/2014 TBA – Dallas, TX 9/18/2014 Bar Bar – Denver, CO
Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell will be released via Seventh Rule Recordings on September 9th, 2014. Further info including track teasers to be unveiled in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.