Posted in Whathaveyou on April 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I have no confirmation of this — pure speculation on my part — but it seems likely to me that The Body are getting ready to do some recording while they’re on the East Coast. My understanding is they’ve still done stuff in their former hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, since relocating to the other side of the country in Portland, Oregon, and though they’re coming fresh off an appearance at Roadburn and they’ve got a brand new collaborative effort with New Orleans sludge devastators Thou, history has shown the duo are never far off from the next project, album, EP, whatever it might be.
And not that they haven’t spent plenty of time on the road over the course of the last few years anyway, and not that Christs, Redeemersisn’t worth the extra support, but they’re at the St. Vitus Bar on May 8, then they break for nine days, then pick back up in Ithaca on May 17 before heading west and south. Again, I’ve got no solid word on anything, but if they wanted to put something to tape in or around Providence at that time, they’d be able to do so. I guess we’ll see.
Dates and info follow, fresh off the PR wire:
The Body Announces US Dates in May
Christs, Redeemers is out now
The Body have announced a string of US dates following their first-ever tour of Europe and a performance at the famed Roadburn festival, which kick off at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn on May 8th. The avant-doom duo released their third LP, Christs, Redeemers, last October on Thrill Jockey, and have followed it with collaborative one-offs with electronic producer The Haxan Cloak and doom band Thou.
The Body US tour dates Thu. May 8th – Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus Sat May 17th – Ithaca, NY – Just Be Cause Sun May 18th – Pittsburgh, PA – Abandoned Store Mon May 19th – Cincinnati, OH – 3 Kings Bar Tue May 20th – Bloomington, IN – The Bishop Wed May 21st – St. Louis, MO – Apop Records
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t care who you are, a five-week tour is commendable, and for a band like Portland trio Prizehog — whose new, delightfully weird album Re-Unvent the Whool(streamed here), is available now on vinyl through Eolian Empire – all the more so. It’s not like these dudes and lady are hitting the road on the back of a hot new radio single, you know what I mean? They’re basically kicking ass with friends’ bands and bringing their strange sounds to as many heads as they possibly can. It’s not something a lot of people are willing to do, but it’s something I can respect the hell out of, and fortunate that Prizehog can make it work.
They’re playing with some killer acts along the way — Towers, Vaz, The Great Sabatini — in case you’d like to do some more digging while you’re digging this:
PRIZEHOG: Portland Celestial Space Sludge Outfit Announces Five-Week US Tour
Still riding a fresh wave of killer reactions to their walloping third LP, Re-Unvent the Whool, Portland, Oregon-based, PRIZEHOG, has announced the routing for their upcoming Spring US tour.
Embarking off of their home turf on May 2nd, the counter-clockwise path this tour makes will find PRIZEHOG winding through the entire continental US for five full weeks before closing down with the final gig in Seattle on June 8th and returning to their daily habitat. See true celestial space sludge for yourself on this massive endeavor including a short run with friends and faves, Vaz, as well as killer acts like Burnt Books, hepa/Titus, Tinsel Teeth, arbogast, The Great Sabatini, labelmates Towers and Big Black Cloud, and more throughout the itinerary.
Amidst the closing-in of this confirmed run, PRIZEHOG will be announcing their next tour lining up for this July alongside labelmates, Hot Victory.
PRIZEHOG US Spring Tour: 5/02/2014 Slabtown – Portland, OR w/ Towers, Big Black Cloud 5/07/2014 Lobot Gallery – Oakland, CA w/ Mansion 5/08/2014 The Eagle – San Francisco, CA w/ hepa/Titus, Peace Creep 5/09/2014 Redwood Bar – Los Angeles, CA w/ hepa/Titus 5/10/2014 The Tin Can – San Diego, CA w/ Ghetto Blaster 5/11/2014 C St – Flagstaff, AZ w/ New Gods 5/12/2014 Sister Bar – Albuquerque, NM w/ Fando 5/13/2014 Three Links – Dallas, TX w/ Bludded Head, Spacebeach 5/14/2014 Vinos – Little Rock, AR 5/15/2014 Springwater – Nashville, TN w/ Tijuana Goat Ride 5/16/2014 TBA – Birmingham, AL 5/17/2014 The Highlander – Atlanta, GA 5/18/2014 The Foxfield – Columbia, SC w/ Burnt Books 5/19/2014 TBA – Richmond, VA 5/20/2014 Gold Bar – Baltimore, MD w/ Vaz, Multicult 5/21/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA w/ Vaz 5/22/2014 Cake Shop – Manhattan, NY w/ Insect Ark, Columboid 5/23/2014 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY w/ Vaz, Mossenek, Collapsible Baton 5/24/2014 AS220 – Providence, RI w/ Vaz, Tinsel Teeth 5/25/2014 O’Brien’s – Boston, MA w/ Vaz 5/26/2014 The Lair – Buffalo, NY w/ Fox 45, Tainted, Jerry Grind 5/27/2014 TBA – Pittsburgh, PA/Cleveland, OH 5/28/2014 Beat Kitchen – Chicago, IL w/ arbogast 5/29/2014 Quarters – Milwaukee, WI w/ Soup Moat 5/30/2014 The Hexagon Bar – Minneapolis, MN w/ The Funeral and the Twilight 5/31/2014 Trumpet Blossom – Iowa City, IA w/ Acoustic Guillotine 6/01/2014 TBA – Omaha, NE/Kansas 6/02/2014 Bar Bar – Denver, CO w/ Echo Beds 6/03/2014 The Parlor Bar – Laramie, WY w/ Unpaid Butlers 6/04/2014 Burts Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT w/ Cornered By Zombies, The Great Sabatini 6/05/2014 Filling Station – Bozeman, MT w/ Acheron Thodol 6/06/2014 Zootown Arts Community Center – Missoula, MT 6/07/2014 TBA – Spokane, WA w/ Hooves 6/08/2014 Black Lodge – Seattle, WA w/ Don Peyote, Same Sex Dictator
Orders for Re-Unvent the Whool are live at the Eolian Empire fortHERE, available in a digital package as well as 180-gram vinyl LP including a 24″ x 24″ poster of the Chris Jehly cover art and download of the album.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Whatever else might happen to Ape Machine over the course of their existence, they’ll be able to say they opened for Motörhead. No matter the trials, the victories, the downs and ups that might come to them as a band and as people, when they finally shuffle off this mortal coil, they will do so having played gigged with gods.
I don’t know if this will be the case for the members of the band, but that certainly seems like the kind of thing that, when you’ve had a shitty day and everything seems super-fucking dire and whatever else, you might feel much, much better after you sit back for a second and say, “Wait. I opened for Motörhead.” That’s bound to work for a while, anyway.
The Portland, Oregon, four-piece will fulfill their destiny on Tax Day in Arizona. Info follows, courtesy of the PR wire:
APE MACHINE announce new tour dates; opening for MOTÖRHEAD
Portland, Oregon stoner-rockers APE MACHINE have joined forces with TKO BOOKING and now share a roster with the likes of Motörhead, Anthrax, Superjoint Ritual and other legendary acts. For now, they have revealed three new spring dates in support of their latest record, Mangled By The Machine, which is out now in the Ripple Music storehere.
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, Ape Machine provides a live experience that is as unique as each evening it shares with an audience.
4/13 Portland, OR @ The Know (w/ Berri Txarrak, and Order of the Gash) 4/14 San Diego, CA @ The Casbah – 2 sets on patio stage 4/15: Chandler, AZ @ Ovations Live! (w/ Motörhead!)
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
So you take the reignited Graves at Sea, and you put them in the studio with Billy Anderson. Right? Fucking brilliant. Then you take Sourvein, now past the 20-year mark, and you put them in the studio with C.O.C.‘s Mike Dean. Also, fucking brilliant. Then you take the results of these sessions, slap some badass war-wolf art on it, press it to CD and LP, and presumably take the rest of the day off, because I don’t care what else you come up with, you’re just not gonna top that idea.
And I’m not saying I’ve heard any of this material yet or anything, but you’re in for a surprise if you think you know what to expect from Sourvein.
The two bands start a European tour April 10 at Roadburn, and Seventh Rule has the split out on CD and LP on May 13.
Check out the PR wire, telling it like it is:
GRAVES AT SEA And SOURVEIN Unite For A Release Of Ultimate Amplifier Worship; Preorders Available This Friday
Two of doom metal’s mightiest of feedback-laden riff worshippers – Portland’s GRAVES AT SEA and Cape Fear’s SOURVEIN – have united in sound, mind and spirit for the ultimate split of earth-smoldering amplifier worship.
GRAVES AT SEA, whose contributions leave an eerie aura complete with tortured vocals, foreboding composition, and a general sense of dread, occupy Side A. Recorded by Billy Anderson, (Melvins, Sleep, Neurosis) “Betting On Black” and “Confession” finds the all-consuming sludge for which the band is notorious, flooding in amongst the tortured howls and shrieks of vocalist Nathan Misterek.
SOURVEIN, who’ve now existed for two decades of distortion, damage and total doom, solidify Side B. With three songs produced and recorded by Mike Dean Of Corrosion of Conformity, these odes of heavy combine toxic riffs, grooves and just the right amount of psychedelic appeal.
Track Listing: 1. GRAVES AT SEA – Betting On Black 2. GRAVES AT SEA – Confession 3. SOURVEIN – Driffter 4. SOURVEIN – Equinox 5. SOURVEIN – Follow The Light
Both sides were mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Beastmilk, Nails) at Audiosiege Engineering and will be released via Seventh Rule Recordings on both CD and LP on May 13th, 2014 during the two bands’ duel conquest touring Europe and prior to their appearances at this year’s edition of the illustrious Maryland Deathfest. The first pressing of the LP will be limited to 1000 copies and come available on 160-gram black wax with an included download code. Recommended for fans of Eyehategod, Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, and all things loud and fuzzy.
Posted in Features on March 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, this one pretty much sells itself. Leave a comment on this post to enter to win a copy of Portland, Maine, trio Ogre‘s new CD, The Last Neanderthal, from Minotauro Records. I’ve got one copy of the album to give away (plus some nifty buttons), and as long as you enter with your email address in the appropriate box in the comment form, you’re eligible to make it yours.
Two things to note: First, I don’t keep email addresses and I wouldn’t know what to do with them if I did, so if privacy is your concern, I have neither the time nor the inclination to violate it perhaps other than with a note to let you know you’ve won the CD. Second, the album (review here) smokes and is well worth your time. Presented with weathered-looking art from drummer Will Broadbent in a sturdy gatefold-style digipak, it’s a doomer’s delight of underground riff worship and heavy groove, up to and including the cover “Soulless Woman,” originally performed by ’70s heavy rockers Ogre. Yup, Ogre covers Ogre. The concept alone should be enough to blow your mind.
If not, be sure to check out the most excellent Lego video for The Last Neanderthalhighlight “Nine Princes in Amber,” posted for a refresher of the album’s righteousness and will to not take itself too seriously. Ogre – Broadbent, guitarist Ross Markonish and bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham — have also just been added to the bill of The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4, which is set to take place May 3 and 4 at Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester, Massachusetts. They’ll be in good company alongside the reunited Sixty Watt Shaman, Kings Destroy, Beelzefuzz and many others.
CD winner is chosen at random. Good luck to everyone who enters and thanks for your continued support of this site.
Leave a comment on this post to win! Don’t forget to include your email address in the contact form!
Posted in Reviews on March 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’d never been to Portland, Maine, but a CD release show for Ogre‘s first record in six years, The Last Neanderthal (review here) with Eldemur Krimm on the bill was a fitting occasion for a trip I’ve been wanting to make anyway, so tack two hours of Friday evening Boston traffic onto the already-two-hour trek, and I was off. The stretch of Portland I saw on arrival struck me like a lot of post-industrial towns, and really not so far from what I caught of Portland, Oregon, last month — lots of art, lots of Southeast Asian cuisine, more ice on the sidewalk. The show was held at Geno’s Rock Club. Local proggy types Sunrunner opened.
With four vocalists between the two guitarists, bassist and a ukulele player who remained seated for the duration — I guess it’s hard to find a strap — Sunrunner were rife with melodic intricacy. Singers traded parts, executed harmonized arrangements mostly with success and earned a warm reception from the crowd, who must have been waiting outside in the cold for the show to start and continued to pile in throughout the five-piece’s set. They were there plugging their second full-length, Time in Stone, and weren’t my thing, really, but decided to thrash out a bit at the end, which metered some of the indulgent moments. Basically at that point I was waiting for Eldemur Krimm to start.
Exactly when the last time I saw the reactivated Portlanders, I couldn’t tell you, but it was around the time they put out Dirigo, their 2003 debut, so somewhere in the neighborhood of a decade-plus. They were a trio then, now the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Fred Dodge, guitarist Neil Collins (also of Murcielago), bassist Jason Marshall and drummer Stefen Samuels hit the Geno’s stage in high spirits and offered me a reminder of what had made me enjoy Dirigoin the first place. Well at home in those songs, on that stage and kicking ass, Eldemur Krimm struck a balance between mid-’00s stoner and classic heavy rock quirk. They were fluid and relaxed in their groove, void of pretense, but the material was motor-ready all the same, and the audience went right along with them.
By then there was a more than solid crowd at Geno’s. Dirigo‘s memorable opener “Elephant Gun” was placed after “Black Fog,” which followed it on the album, and “She’s Maid of Wood, Pt. 2″ from the self-released 2008 sophomore CD, Trainwreck on a Ship, led off. The people knew them, and with what looked an awful lot like a hat made of or at very least covered in electrical tape, Dodge made for a considerable presence up front during the songs. Marshall and Collins provided backing vocals to add to what already felt like a party, and both “Astronaut” and “Chopper Reject” were enough to make me pull out my copy of Dirigo again and give it another spin. Some technical troubles early on, but it was hard to imagine a better way to set up Ogre‘s set.
They did play exceptionally well next to each other — obviously this wasn’t the first time the two Portland locals have shared a bill — but Ogre distinguished themselves in their doomier feel, and where Eldemur Krimm had focused mainly on older material, Ogre celebrated The Last Neanderthal‘s arrival with a setlist taken half from it. “The Jaded Beast” and “Ogre” from the trio’s 2003 debut, Dawn of the Proto-Man, “Age of Ice,” which was on their original demo in 2000 and also showed up on 2012′s reunion compilation, Secondhand Demons, and a quick closing finale of what might’ve been a cover of “Naked Lady” by The Bags were older, and the rest of the set found bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham, guitarist Ross Markonish and drummer Will Broadbent tearing through new tracks, beginning (rightfully) with “Nine Princes in Amber,” one of The Last Neanderthal‘s catchiest hooks.
Granted, in that category it has some competition, but it made a raucous start. As on the album, it gave way to the Sabbathian creepings of “Bad Trip,” and Ogre continued to play classic heavy rock off doom in much the same way as Eldemur Krimm had off punk and stoner vibes. Markonish quickly pulled attention with his lead work, which Cunningham and Broadbent met head-on with an array of killer grooves and fills. Something else Ogre had that worked with Eldemur Krimm was no delusion of grandeur. From the start of “Nine Princes in Amber,” it was clear that I was watching three friends who enjoy playing together have fun with a batch of new songs. That’s what it was. There were a smattering of birthdays that had been shouted out all night from the stage — Sunrunner rattled off five or six alone — and that only added to the already friendly mood. Ogre weren’t trying to “make it,” they were trying to have a good time. From what I could tell, that’s exactly what they had.
Maybe too much of one. “Warpath” and “Son of Sisyphus” had been thrills, but Geno’s brought up the house lights somewhere right around “Age of Ice” in what was a pretty clear signal to wrap it up. Ogre blasted their way through the closing cover anyway, and when they were done, the room was at full brightness. Coupled with the fact that it was past one by then and I had two hours’ road time waiting, I took it as a sign to head toward the exit. Made it home just a little before 3:30AM, which felt like good time.
Thanks to John Pegoraro for the company (his review is here) and Neil Collins for the accommodation.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not to toot my own horn — or rather, to do exactly that — but I pretty much called Red Fang as being the third headliner of the 2014 Stumpfest a couple weeks back when tickets went on sale. Needless to say, just one of the many prophecies that can come true when you take 10 minutes and call this toll-free number. $2.99 per minute, have your credit card handy. Be dialing.
With Red Fang added to the considerable headlining company of Trans Am and YOB, whose new album will likely be finished by then, the lineup for Stumpfest would seem to be complete, and as you can see in the flyer and list below, it’s a formidable one for the fest set to take place the last weekend in April — funny, I also seem to recall some craziness slated for London and Berlin that weekend — with what’s still just a sampling of the varied heavy delights the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
The PR wire affirms my telepathy:
RED FANG confirmed as final STUMPFEST headliner!
Unstoppable rock and roll heavyweights and Portland hometown heroes RED FANG will be the third and final headliner of STUMPFEST, which will take place April 24-26 at Mississippi Studios. Thursday’s headliner will be TRANS AM, Friday will be RED FANG and Saturday will be YOB. Individual day tickets and 3-day passes are on sale NOW through the Mississippi Studios website. Links and full festival lineup can be found below:
4/24 THURS Trans Am Federation X Life Coach Drab Majesty Hot Victory
4/25 FRI Red Fang Lord Dying Norska Black Pussy Ancient Warlocks Chron Goblin
4/26 SAT YOB Black Cobra Diesto Drunk Dad Honduran
Posted in On Wax on March 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Dressed in wizard robes and toting songs like “Crabs” and “Super Sluts from Outer Space” — I think I saw that movie — the trio Blackwitch Pudding emerge from Portland, Oregon, with a forceful helping of semi-psychedelic sludge on their first LP, Taste the Pudding. I’ve worked pretty hard to do so and found myself largely unable to get past the classically metallic misogyny of the album’s cover, which falls flat of intentional irony and saps This is Spinal Tap of its satire while trading a leash for a blindfold, thus leaving open the possibility that, hey, maybe she’s into it and this is a practice in which she’s engaging as part of a loving, fulfilling relationship, only to close it again via the element of force implied by the second hand behind the drawn figure’s head. But because one only invites bullshit by namecalling (there’s only so many times I’m willing to hear that I “don’t get it”), I’ll stick to the music of the self-releasing three-piece’s debut. They make glorious use of dirt-encrusted tonal largesse, veering here and there into more extreme, Zoroaster-esque growling murk on “Shark Commando” and their finale, while saving start-stop plod for “Crabs” on side B.
The wizard-centric lineup of guitarist Space Wizard, bassist Lizard Wizard and drummer Wizard Wizard – they’re like the Ramones, only magical — plant a foot deep in the post-Sleep school of riff worship, but there’s a character to 10-minute closer “Acid Castle Mountain Top” that portrays more than “Dragonaut” imitation, Blackwitch Pudding leaving most of the all-out growls for the end of each half of the album, which is something all the more apparent on the vinyl version than the CD or digital, though Taste the Puddingbenefits from the variety in whichever format. They ultimately descend in that closer from a trance-inducing nod to a smoke-clouded and noisy finish with even the drums spaced out by the end, all degenerating over a bed of constant toms, much darker and heavier than the don’t-take-it-too-seriously art and titles would seem to dogwhistle to the converted. Earlier on, “Gathering Panties” churns with beastly aplomb, a blast of low-end underscoring a riff that would otherwise motor were it not too monolithic to budge on the way to more fast/slow tradeoffs. Tempo dexterity works to Blackwitch Pudding‘s advantage from the start on opener “Mortre’D,” which drones and rumbles and abyss-shouts its way to life over the course of its seven-plus minutes, only to smoothly culminate with an increasingly speedy rush at the end of it.
And “Super Sluts from Outer Space,” which follows, may be the shortest cut of the bunch — also probably the most stoner rock, thickening and obscuring an otherwise Red Fang-style mover groove, though there’s plenty of dank competition — but even it finds room for a moment’s pause in the middle, brief as it is. I find some of the album’s most effective bludgeonry to be in “Swamp Gas of the Nevermizer,” which blends airy psychedelic leads with crunching riffs, the already-noted fluidity of tempo, lyrics that may or may not be about farts, and even touches on blending the cleaner and more abrasive vocal approaches on display elsewhere in various measure. As the start of side B, it’s a standout cut anyway, though not the apex of Taste the Puddingitself, which make no mistake arrives in “Acid Castle Mountain Top.” Still, the overarching impression of Blackwitch Pudding‘s debut — visuals aside — is in its showcasing of the trio’s tones and how they might proceed from here to pummel their listeners with them. It’s a more than effective display, proving particularly through Lizard Wizard‘s bass that low end can reach just as impressive expanses as echoing, richly effected guitar. If you’ve got speakers you’re looking to get rid of, Blackwitch Pudding would seem a worthy way of blowing them out.
Posted in Reviews on March 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Like the best of band breakups, Ogre‘s didn’t last. The Portland, Maine, trio called it quits in 2009, following the Shadow Kingdom reissue of their 2008 Leaf Hound Records single-track third album, Plague of the Planet(review here). They first got together for a gig in 2012 and last year set to writing what would become their fourth full-length, The Last Neanderthal, released through Minotauro Records. Recorded by Abel Adame at Acadia Recording in Portland, presented in a gatefold-style thick-stock digipak with an Obi strip and foldout poster in the liner notes of the weathered-looking cover art by drummer Will Broadbent, it’s an outing that comes with some measure of self-awareness hinted at through the title, the band perhaps referring to their own approach as the titular last neanderthal, positioning themselves as keeping their style simple and traditional in a world that’s gotten too complex for its own good. That’s speculative on my part, but if true, it sells short some of the cleverness in Ogre‘s songwriting and the obvious chemistry between Broadbent, bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham and guitarist Ross Markonish (also synth), despite falling in line with the obvious tongue-in-cheek joy the three-piece take in covering “Soulless Woman” by a heavy ’70s rock group that also reportedly just happened to be named Ogre.
That song arrives fifth of the total eight tracks on the 47-minute album, signaling a turn from The Last Neanderthal‘s most doomed material — “Bad Trip” and “Son of Sisyphus” — to its more upbeat and deceptively nuanced finishing three: “Warpath,” “White Plume Mountain” and “The Hermit,” the latter of which is the longest cut at a fully-used 10:45. A 45-second intro, “Shadow Earth” leads the way curiously into immediate highlight “Nine Princes in Amber,” which serves as The Last Neanderthal‘s most singularly infectious hook. It’s a song Ogre played at their first reunion show, so one expects it’s been around a while, but either way makes an excellent introduction of its own to what’s on offer with the band’s return — though as landmark as that chorus is and with its position as the first real song in the tracklist, I’m not sure why they’d want to delay in getting to it by putting “Shadow Earth” there to start with. It’s Ogre‘s first album in six years, however, so I guess they can start it however they want. There’s little rust to be found throughout The Last Neanderthalfor their several years away, Cunningham reaching high into his vocal register to inject trad-metal righteousness into “Nine Princes in Amber” before the slow count-in of “Bad Trip” signals a turn to more doomly atmospheres that Markonish‘s guitar soon enough underscores with lead riffing before a bass-driven break toward the midsection adds stoner creepiness to the whole affair, the vocals taking on a Mike Patton-style snide air of command.
The amount I’ve written about it does pathetically little to convey just how much time I’ve actually spent listening to Young Hunter‘s Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain EP. Now available as a split cassette with Ohioan (review forthcoming), the three-song collection by the Portland-by-way-of-Arizona outfit boasts an atmosphere and unabashed emotional heft like not much else out there. Whether it’s “Welcome to Nothing,” “Trail of Tears” or “Dreamer,” the whole thing clocks in at about 18 minutes and it’s more or less become a part of my daily routine to make my way through what’s a rather intense sonic ringer going from front to back, “Dreamer” closing with a launch into a driving rush that still sends a chill up the spine. Take the fact that I’ve included songs in podcasts over the course of three months (see here and here) as a sign of the enduring attention the release has received. Its tracks have yet to stray far from my consciousness.
“Dreamer” is the shortest of the bunch, and its finale speaks best for itself, so I’ll let it, but as you make your way through the video you’ll probably notice that it’s just frontman Benjamin Blake without the rest of the band represented. Blake moved to Portland last year, and presumably — at least judging from the misty forest treetops at the end — the clip was filmed there. Last I heard, he was looking to get a new lineup together for Young Hunter, though in January, he returned to Tuscon to play a release show with the desert-dwelling lineup for the tape. I don’t know what the future of Young Hunter might be, or where it might be, but Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountainhits with a resonant strike and is even more assured than was the the band’s 2012 debut full-length, Stone Tools(discussed here). If you haven’t yet checked it out, the video is pretty clearly a budget job, but still gives a good feel for how the EP hits its apex. Not to be missed.
Posted in audiObelisk on March 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Having relocated from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon, psychedelic sludge trio Prizehog will release their third album, Re-Unvent the Whool,tomorrow on Eolian Empire. The bass-less trio — you’ll note no lack of low end in the record — run a spectrum of effects-laden churning, mashing together bright ambient echoes and deep, dank tonality. I wouldn’t be the first person to compare them to the Melvins, but that doesn’t really do complete justice to the psychedelic side of their sound, which shows up quickly on Re-Unvent the Whool in the eight-and-a-half-minute opener “Parradiggum” (also the longest track included; immediate points) and carries through to the Monkees-referential noise experimentation that finishes in “Direction to the Valley.” Presumably that’s the Valley of the Dolls they’re talking about.
Between the start and finish, Prizehog – that’s Rion, Veronica and Zakk — delve into downtempo explorations of clouded sonic murk, immersive and sometimes distressing. A moment of peace arrives with the twanging bounce of the penultimate “Gnumskull, the Ruler,” but prior too, Prizehog put you deep in it and aren’t exactly keen to show a way out as “Whoady,” “Shed” and “Awsme Bube” push further and further into a dark ethereality, all dream echoes and where-the-hell-am-I as “Irrevelant” grounds side B somewhat with a still-weirdo take on the metal of stone. The crux of Re-Unvent the Whool– the album’s ambitions somewhat clouded by the wordplay, but underlying nonetheless — is in its open feel, and Prizehog seem to delight in the strangeness of their own concoctions. Can’t blame them. The melody that emerges from “Shed”‘s midsection builds on some of the best impulses Zoroaster and Kylesa have touched on, but is ultimately no more adherent to those bands than it is to a preconceived notion of what “heavy” should sound like, and “Parradiggum” succeeds early in throwing off the listener with blastbeats and overlaid vocal drone. It’s bizarre but surprisingly easy listening.
Eolian Empire has Re-Unvent the Whoolpressed in an edition of 500 copies on black 180g vinyl with a black sleeve, 24″ x 24″ poster of the Chris Jehly cover art. A download code is of course included, but for anyone who’d like to get a day-early sample of the full breadth of the beast itself, I’m fortunate enough to be able to have a front to back stream. Find it on the player below, and please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Prizehog are currently booking a full US tour for Spring 2014 in support of Re-Unvent the Whool, which is released March 4 on Eolian Empire. More info at the links:
Posted in audiObelisk on February 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Among the six tracks on Portland, Oregon, foursome Satyress‘ impending self-released debut 12″, Dark Fortunes, “Soma” is something of a standout. Less doomed in pace than cuts like opener “Possession” and the darkly metallic title-track, it’s the shortest cut at just under four minutes, but makes up with its hook whatever it might lack in relative span in relation to the other songs, only one of which (“Spread Thin”) is under five minutes long. Propelled by the driving riffs of guitarist Billy Niletooth and the alternately brooding and soaring vocals of Jamie LaRose, “Soma” is a high point in closing out side A of the vinyl, which is set for release on April 9.
What the band do best across the length of the half-hour full-length is balance doom and heavy rock smoothly playing each off the other, so that “Soma” has a bit of presence to go with its catchy riff and swirling climax. Shades of fellow Portlanders Witch Mountain show up a bit on the preceding “Esta Noche,” but Satyress are by and large more raucous and less directly blues-doomed, the guitars showing interest in traditional metal while bassist Alex Fast and drummer York Francken further showcase an efficiency in songwriting in the ease of their transitions, from verse to chorus, slow to fast, and while there’s a pervasive sense of build, nothing on Dark Fortunesfeels out of place or miscued. “Soma” will no doubt ring familiar to those with some familiarity with Portland’s fertile heavy scene, but the song is a blast all the same, and as a sampling of Satyress‘ first outing, it accurately conveys the beginning of what seems like an already well under way creative evolution.
Get a taste of “Soma” on the player below, and please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Satyress will release Dark Fortuneson April 9 on 12″ vinyl, and will play the semi-finals of the Portland Metal Winter Olympics on March 20 at White Owl Social Club. More info at the links:
02.24.14 — 12:07AM Pacific — Sun. night / Mon. morning — Hawthorne Theater, Portland, OR
“Everybody gets a trophy at the Hawthorne Theatre…” – JJ Koczan
Oh, Portland. Portland, baby. 15′s my limit on schnitzengruben. You are making a German spectacle of yourself. It would be real easy to get spoiled living in this town. Quite a night. Quite a show. Pentagram had an amp blow out or something and the crowd was still going nuts. Pressed up against a metal railing at the front of the stage, I was reminded of younger days, a straight-line bruise along the bottom of the rib cage from being up front at silly shows. This was a young audience. They were into it. You kids and your doom.
Everything was a little more dead on tonight, as expected. Getting past the first show seems to have allowed for a certain amount of tension to abate. The three touring bands were tighter — no small feat after last night — and the local openers, Mothers Whiskey and Sons of Huns, both drew and performed well. Sold out show. Again, one could get spoiled.
I’ll try and make it quick again since it’s midnight and I’ve got actual job work to do:
Was talking with Mothers Whiskey guitarist/vocalist Greg Powers before the show and he mentioned he’s an East Coast guy, from Maryland. I don’t know that I would necessarily have picked it out in his approach had he not said it, but he had some of that post-Sixty Watt Shaman burl, though tempered obviously by the pervasive mellow of his current surroundings. Thus, Mothers Whiskey were a solid bicoastal blend, unpretentious and laid back, but still with an insistent undertone. Pretty clear they’re figuring out their sound, but their dynamic was solid, particularly on closer “Scorpion Moon Burn,” which carried that Southern heavy influence across smoothly.
Sons of Huns
The first band I’ve seen on this tour in which no single member had a full beard. Nonetheless, a local trio who’ve made a splash with their recent Banishment Ritualrelease, Sons of Huns were clearly known to the crowd. It was an all-ages show, and they skewed young, which never hurts, but they made their chops plain enough to see, guitarist Pete Hughes busting out solos that I read as an opening volley soon enough to be returned by Radio Moscow while sharing vocal duties with bassist Shoki Tanabe, who switched to a fretless about halfway through the set. Drummer Ryan Northrop was the anchor, but nothing was really holding Sons of Huns back as they gave the yet-unnamed post-Millennial generation a reason to relish Kyuss-style riffing.
Since I was in the van this afternoon with them, I know the literal miles Kings Destroy came for this show, but they do little justice to how many miles more comfortable they seemed on stage. Guitarists Chris Skowronski and Carl Porcaro were shoving and kicking, almost daring each other to fuck up, while bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik provided the foundation for their shenanigans and Steve Murphy turned his mic stand at one point into a harpoon and thrust it in the general direction of the crowd. They started a little early, so squeezed “Dusty Mummy” into a riff-heavy set that worked well after Sons of Huns, setting up a rock/doom back and forth that would continue into Radio Moscow and Pentagram. The vocals didn’t come across as clearly, but the new song, “Embers,” was tighter tonight as well.
Doesn’t matter how many nights this tour goes, I don’t imagine I’m going to get tired of watching Radio Moscow make killing it look so easy. Two new songs in the set tonight, “Death of a Queen” and another one, plus “Rancho Tehama Airport,” which is also pretty recent, and where last night dipped back to the self-titled for “Frustrating Sound,” and that was certainly welcome as far as I’m concerned, I am not in the slightest about to complain about getting to know a couple new cuts ahead of the arrival of their new album, Magical Dirt, which seems to be slated for a spring release. Whenever it comes, the twists and turns in “Death of a Queen” are sure to be a highlight, as they were both in Seattle and at the Hawthorne, where they were met with due appreciation and then some by the all-ages set, who had youthful vigor on their side, and the 21-and-overs, who were sloshed. Suddenly the show felt very sold out, very packed in. No arguments though.
Yeah, and then Pentagram went on. Even before they took the stage, the push of people toward the front was fairly ridiculous. Bobby Liebling got cheers even as he walked out from the green room on the side of the stage, standing on a balcony and pointing at the crowd, obviously thrilled to see him. The place went off. Set was the same as last night — my only complaint with it is no “Walk in Blue Light,” but you can’t have everything — opening with “Nightmare Gown” from Be Forewarned and going into “Review Your Choices” before letting loose with “Forever My Queen” after what seemed to be some technical difficulty and on from there. It was during the latter (they were inadvertently switched at El Corazon, come to think of it), that being up front became an untenable situation and I did what any self-respecting adult would do and fell backwards into the press to make my way through. At one point the strap of my bookbag with my laptop in it was hooked around some plastered girl’s arm who refused to give it up, but I was ready to pull her outside with me if necessary. Finally I shouted something about it actually being my bag and a light went on in her head and she let go. I was pretty well frazzled, but made my way to the back to watch more. True, it was the same deal as Seattle, but screw it. Every time you get to see Pentagram — with Victor Griffin on guitar especially — it’s the right way to go, though I’ll admit that when they got down to the encore of “Be Forewarned” into “Wartime,” I was listening from outside.
Loadout, well, didn’t go quite as smoothly as last night. There was a bit of waiting and when all the stuff was in the sprinter, it was established that we’d be hitting a bar called Chopsticks at the suggestion of some locals who were headed that way. Tomorrow is an off-day for the tour. Turns out the place was a Chinese restaurant in addition to a bar — they called it fast food but they were the best dumplings I’ve had since I moved out of New Jersey — and that the karaoke was going in full force. Chopsticks wasn’t as packed as the show, but it had a crowd, and they felt like dancing. It was 1:30AM by the time we got there and about 2:30AM by the time we left, and in between is a blur of irony-overload ’80s hits sung by an assortment pulled from the almost-entirely-white assemblage. One guy did “Aqualung,” and nailed it, but the rest was Tears for Fears, Michael Jackson and the like.
Many laughs, many drinks, some dim sum, and no one was quite as sloppy as they semi-apologized for being. I think on some level it’s weird for these dudes that I’m here and that I’m writing as I’m here, like an embed. I know they’ve seen some of what’s been posted, and it’s not that they’re being guarded — at one point tonight I rechristened the band “Kings Destroyed,” so if there were guards, they went on break and didn’t come back — but my concern is not harshing anyone’s good time by making them feel like they’re being watched.
Anyway. There was talk of a James Brown hot tub party when we got back to the motel by the airport where we’re staying, but it was to bed almost immediately. Steve gets his own room, Carl and I share (even at his worst so far, which might be right now, he’s nowhere near the worst snorer with whom I’ve shared a hotel room), Rob and Aaron, and C-Wolf and Jim Pitts. We’re all in a row on the 200 level of the Clarion with a noon checkout tomorrow and a drive to San Francisco to follow. It’s now four in the morning. Something tells me we won’t be getting an early start.
Ride down from Seattle was pretty straightforward after a breakfast at the bar where the band couldn’t get served the other night on account of Aaron having forgot his ID. 13 Coins, near the airport. It was about two hours south on the I-205 (I think) with mountains and old growth evergreens around. Lots of grey, periodic rain, but the landscape is beautiful. Trees were impressive, traffic sparse. There’s wifi in the van, so as this was the shortest trip to be made over the course of the next six days, that will no doubt come in handy for passing the time. I still haven’t managed to find a book and/or a bookstore, though I hear there’s one near here that’s supposed to be where it’s at.
Ditto that for Portland as a whole, I suppose. Very colorful city for sitting under such a grey sky. I think the grocery store across the street from the Hawthorne was the brightest thing I’ve seen since last June. Easy to read the city as a creative space. I’m not sure how much more downtown it gets than where we are, but if this was it, there’s a cool vibe. To wit, the specials in the side bar/small-stage room here at the Hawthorne include the “Ian MacKaye,” which is Schilling Cider and orange juice, the “Neck Tattoo” and the “Earth Crisis.” There’s also a Modelo vending machine. Hard to gauge which is the symptom and which the underlying cause there, but then I’ve only been in town about 25 minutes.
Soundtrack on the way down was the self-titled The Meters record and then a double-disc collection of James Brown instrumentals. Horns and swing for days. I dig it. Pretty quiet in the van apart from what was the hardest working backing band in show business, but some laughs at references to Anchorman, Fast Times, Mystery Science Theater 3000, some other staples. Several running gags in the making, I think, and a few apparently held over from prior tours. Paul Stanley’s stage raps feature heavily, and rightly so. Portlandia references have been flowing freely as well, owing to the geography.
Radio Moscow were here a bit ago but seem to have moved on, probably to find food. We passed Pentagram on the highway, so they’re en route. In the spirit of last night, tonight’s also a five-band bill, with Sons of Huns and Mothers Whiskey opening. There’s a balcony that I’m thinking might be cool to try to get some pictures from if I can. Show’s almost sold out, so I don’t know how much space there will be to move around. Still, I expect good times and a little bit more of a relaxed mood as the tour sort of settles into itself. It’s a nice big stage, too, so the Mad Alchemy lights should be in their element. I’m looking forward to it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
As ever, I’m not going to claim to have any kind of inside track here — because, flat out, I don’t have one when it comes to the Portland, Oregon-based festival — but it seems to me that the question isn’t, “Who’s the last headliner for Stumpfest?” nearly as much as it’s, “Is it Red Fang?” A deep undercover investigation undertaken by yours truly — and by that I mean a glance at the tour dates on their Thee Facebooks page — shows that Red Fang end a month-long European tour in Moscow on April 13. That would give the road-dogging four-piece almost two weeks to decompress and reestablish interpersonal relationships before getting out again for a hometown gig. Surely that’s plenty of time!
Plus, having them on the bill for Friday aligns them with Relapse Records labelmates Lord Dying, and while I can’t boast of any more knowledge of the inner hierarchies of the Portland scene than one might expect from someone on the opposite side of the country, they seem to be the name missing from the list below.
Whether the last headliner turns out to be Red Fang, another Portland act or someone imported from out of town, Stumpfest has a killer lineup and seems like a hell of a way to spend a weekend. Dig it:
STUMPFEST day lineups announced; ticket sales are LIVE
STUMPFEST, Portland, Oregon’s “fantastic amalgam of music, bro love and art,” is a little over two short months away. The festival has officially been announced through the Mississippi Studios website, and ticket sales are LIVE. There is still one more band to be announced on March 8th, so stay tuned–but just trust us when we say that the $35 3-day pass is a steal. There is also a FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE for the festival with links to listen to every band involved.
4/24 THURS Trans Am Federation X Life Coach Drab Majesty Hot Victory
4/25 FRI Headliner TBA Lord Dying Norska Black Pussy Ancient Warlocks Chron Goblin
4/26 SAT YOB Black Cobra Diesto Drunk Dad Honduran