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.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
This one’s beamed in from a universe of all good times. I don’t want to walk around tooting my own horn like I actually did anything, but you’ll pardon me if I say that once you get on board here, you might not want to jump back off. The flow is up and down, alternately drawn out and rushing, and right up to the last song which is a bit of a return to earth, the second hour is the most spaced out it’s ever been around these parts. I’m way into it. I hope you’re way into it.
Like last time, I tried to get a mix of excellent stuff upcoming with other recent items you might’ve missed. One of these days I’m gonna do another one of these where I talk, but this is straight-up track into track the whole way through and I think it moves really well that way. Please feel free to grab a download or hit the stream and dig in and enjoy.
The Melvins, “Sesame Street Meat” from Hold it In (2014)
Fever Dog, “One Thousand Centuries” from Second Wind (2014)
Lo-Pan, “Eastern Seas” from Colossus (2014)
Witchrider, “Black” from Unmountable Stairs (2014)
Alunah, “Awakening the Forest” from Awakening the Forest (2014)
Craang, “Magnolia” from To the Estimated Size of the Universe (2014)
Slow Season, “Shake” from Mountains (2014)
Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, “Guillotine” from The Shining One (2014)
The Proselyte, “Irish Goodbye” from Our Vessel’s in Need (2014)
Flood, “Lake Nyos” from Oak (2014)
Lord, “Golgotha” from Alive in Golgotha (2014)
My Brother the Wind, “Garden of Delights” from Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One (2014)
Spidergawd, “Empty Rooms” from Spidergawd (2014)
The Myrrors, “Whirling Mountain Blues” from Solar Collector (2014)
Witch Mountain, “Your Corrupt Ways (Sour the Hymn)” from Mobile of Angels (2014)
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Just six days after capping their European tour with YOB by appearing at Desertfest Belgium, Arkansas doomers Pallbearer will embark on their first and presumably far from last round of North American dates in support of their new album, Foundations of Burden, which is due in August on Profound Lore Records. They’ll tour this time with Tombs and Vattnet Viskar, and the trek includes a stop at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest.
Details follow, fresh off the PR wire:
PALLBEARER ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICAN TOUR IN OCTOBER
Tombs & Vattnet Viskar to Support; U.S. Tour Follows European Run with YOB
New Album, Foundations Of Burden, Available August 19th from Profound Lore
Having recently completed a tour across the U.S. supporting Deafheaven, Little Rock AR’s Pallbearer are excited to announce their own headlining run this coming October with Tombs and Vattnet Viskar in tow. The tour will kick off shortly after Pallbearer’s European tour with YOB and will take the band from the South up through the Midwest and into Canada for shows in Toronto and Montreal. Then, Pallbearer will tour down the East Coast to eventually end up in Texas for Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin – check out the band’s full tour routing below.
Pallbearer will be on tour in support of their monumental new album, Foundations of Burden, which is scheduled for release on August 19th on Profound Lore Records. The band recently premiered a new track “The Ghost I Used To Be” via NPR’s All Songs Considered and the track was hailed as “more confident, more diverse, and more immersive” by Stereogum and “modern metal doesn’t get much better than this” by Consequence Of Sound.
Formed in 2008 by Joseph D. Rowland (bass) and Brett Campbell (vocals/guitars), Pallbearer grew from the fertile underground metal scene of Little Rock, AR. A year after their formation, the band released their first three-song demo (with guitarist Devin Holt), which garnered well-deserved attention. Pallbearer went on to release Sorrow & Extinction in early 2012 on well-respected Canadian indie label Profound Lore, and instantly made waves among listeners and critics who found the band’s compositional paradox of vulnerability and might unparalleled in the metal world. Sorrow & Extinction proved to be an unequivocal masterpiece in any genre of music and compelled Pallbearer to reach even further creatively for what would come next.
Fast forward to February of 2014 as Pallbearer headed to Portland, OR (with drummer Mark Lierly) to Type Foundry Studio with legendary producer/engineer Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Melvins, Sleep, Swans) to lay down six tracks that would become Foundations Of Burden. This new album delves even deeper into Pallbearer’s melodic contexts, which adds a new and compelling dimension to music which has long since proven itself to be inexorably captivating; if Sorrow and Extinction created massive waves in the metal scene, Foundations Of Burden will create the stuff of legends.
Pre-order Foundations Of Burden now from Profound Lore.
PALLBEARER – ON TOUR September 3 Utrecht, NL @ Tivoli de helling ^ September 4 Bristol, UK @ The Fleece ^ September 5 Manchester, UK @ Roadhouse ^ September 6 Glasgow, UK @ Audio ^ September 7 Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club ^ September 8 London, UK @ The Underworld ^ September 10 Dortmund, DE @ FZW ^ September 11 Groningen, NL @ Vera ^ September 12 Aarhus, DK @ Atlas ^ September 13 Gothenberg, SE @ Truckstop Alaska ^ September 14 Oslo, NO @ Hostsabbat @ Betong ^ September 16 Helsinki, FI @ Tavastia ^ September 17 Stockholm, SE @ Slakthuset ^ September 18 Copenhagen, DK @ Loppen ^ September 19 Leipzig, DE @ UT Connewitz ^ September 20 Wroclaw, PL @ Firlej ^ September 21 Berlin, DE @ Bi Nuu ^ September 23 Prague, CZ @ Klub 007 ^ September 24 Vienna, AT @ Arena ^ September 25 Innsbruck, AT @ PMK ^ September 26 Winterthur, CH @ Gaswerk ^ September 29 Lausanne, CH @ Le Romandie ^ October 2 Barcelona, ES @ Razzmatazz3 ^ October 3 Madrid, ES @ Villamanuela ^ October 4 Porto, PT @ Amplifest ^ October 5 Erandio, ES @ Sonora ^ October 10 Athens, GR @ Kyttaro Club ^ October 11 Antwerp, Belgium @ Desert Fest ^ October 17 Nashville, TN @ Exit/In * October 18 Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlie’s * October 19 Champaign, IL @ High Dive * October 20 Madison, WI @ The Frequency * October 21 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick * October 23 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop * October 24 Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace * October 25 Montreal, QC @ Il Motore * October 26 Boston, MA @ Great Scott * October 27 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus * October 29 Philadelphia, PA @ Black Box * October 30 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery * October 31 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 November 1 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl * November 2 Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum * November 5 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Downstairs * November 7 Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest November 9 Dallas, TX @ Three Link *
* w/ Tombs, Vattnet Viskar ^ w/ YOB
Foundations Of Burden Track Listing: 1. Worlds Apart 2. Foundations 3. Watcher In The Dark 4. The Ghost I Used To Be 5. Ashes 6. Vanished
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The second half of this year is pretty stacked with releases, with YOB and Pallbearer and Electric Wizard and more than a handful of others. Looks like Pallbearer have finished their new one, which is titled Foundations of Burdenand set to come out on Aug. 19 in North America through Profound Lore. Their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction(review here), was a rare bridge across the gap from doom to a more mainstream audience, and with production by the venerable Billy Anderson, there’s little concern Foundations of Burdenwill be much of a tonal letup.
Pallbearer hit the road this week alongside Deafheaven and Wreck and Reference, and dates for that run follow the album art and tracklisting below, which come via Profound Lore:
PALLBEARER – Complete Work On New Album
Little Rock, AR doom metal band PALLBEARER have completed work on their follow-up to 2012’s acclaimed “Sorrow and Extinction” LP. Entitled “Foundations Of Burden”, the sophomore release sees the present-day doom metal giants create a more expansive, advanced, crushing, and emotionally charged album that takes everything to the next level beyond its predecessor.
With “Foundations Of Burden”, PALLBEARER have delivered their most engaging work yet. Musically, “Foundations Of Burden” sees the band strengthen their monolithic melodious structures of doom that have become synonymous with their signature sound. All while incorporating a much more progressive and musically challenging scenario to their anthems which compliment the huge epic melodies and harmonics even more. Whereas “Sorrow and Extinction” expanded the foundation which PALLBEARER laid down with their demo, “Foundations Of Burden” morphs itself into a glorious new vision that will see the band rise even more to promising new heights beyond the awareness brought upon them with “Sorrow and Extinction”.
Recorded and mixed by Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Sleep, Agalloch, The Melvins etc.) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, OR, tracklisting for “Foundations Of Burden” goes as follows:
1. Worlds Apart 2. Foundations 3. Watcher In The Dark 4. The Ghost I Used To Be 5. Ashes 6. Vanished
Covert art by Animetalphysical with design/layout by Chimere Noire.
“Foundations Of Burden” will see its release (CD/LP/Digital) in North America on Aug 19th, Aug 22nd in the EU, Aug 25th in the UK, and late Aug respectively in Japan.
Tour dates w/ Deafheaven and Wreck & Reference 06/08 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair 06/09 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary 06/10 – Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel 06/11 – Richmond, VA @ The Canal Club 06/12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Club Europa/Northside Festival (w/Hull, Planning For Burial, Yellow Eyes, and Vilkacis)** 06/15 – Miami, FL @ Churchill’s 06/16 – Orlando, FL @ Backbooth 06/17 – Tampa, FL @ The Crowbar 06/18 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s 06/20 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird 06/21 – Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick 06/22 – Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon 06/23 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club 06/24 – Lawrence, KS @ The Granada 06/26 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s 06/27 – Austin, TX @ Red 7 06/28 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada **No Deafheaven/Wreck & Reference
With the coming release next month of their third full-length, The Old Believer on Profound Lore, Chicago triple-guitar five-piece The Atlas Moth have proven to be survivors where others have fallen by the wayside. Consistent in releases and touring since 2008’s Pray for Tides EP (review here), the band has evolved beyond post-metallic beginnings to craft a sound of their own while those who were their peers and their forebears have called it quits, from Isis to Minsk. Through 2009’s A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, 2011’s An Ache for the Distance and the 2013 compilation release Master of Blunt Hitsthat brought together Pray for Tidesand 2010’s The One amongst the Weed Fieldscovers EP, as well as some prime internet smartassery, The Atlas Moth and guitarist/vocalist Stavros Giannopoulos have earned a place in metal that crosses genre lines and gives stoners and headbangers grounds for mutual nod.
Just today, Profound Lore announced that The Atlas Moth and labelmates SubRosa will join Japan’s Boris for US tour dates this August. The Old Believeris set for release June 10.
The Obelisk Questionnaire: Stavros Giannopoulos
How did you come to do what you do?
A lot of hard work, persistence, and a general lack of interest in doing anything else whatsoever.
Describe your first musical memory.
My father dancing around the living room to Greek music.
Describe your best musical memory to date.
On tour with Gojira, our hometown Chicago show was on my 30th birthday with my entire family there for the first time to see us play.
When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?
Every time we meet adversity playing music.
Where do you feel artistic progression leads?
How do you define success?
What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?
Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.
Master of Puppets.
Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?
The 2014-2015 Chicago Bulls season.
The Atlas Moth, Live in El Paso, TX, March 11, 2014
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m just going to assume that before you place the waterproof cover of The Atlas Moth‘s forthcoming third album, The Old Believer — out June 10 on Profound Lore – into water to reveal the rest of the art, it’s probably best to take the LP itself out first. Just a hunch. Cool idea though, and as it’s been three years since the last The Atlas Moth full-length, 2011’s An Ache for the Distance, it’s one more thing to stand them out from the crowd.
Not that they’ve been slacking in that regard anyway. It’s been half a decade since I reviewed their debut EP, Pray for Tides(review here), but particularly since the last record came out, The Atlas Moth have worked to establish their own identity within and around their sound. I’d have some catching up to do, but even beyond the novelty factor of the artwork, The Old Believerholds some intrigue ahead of its June release.
The PR wire offers the following:
THE ATLAS MOTH RELEASE THE OLD BELIEVER ON JUNE 10 VIA PROFOUND LORE
UNIQUE COVER ART CHANGES WHEN DIPPED IN WATER
The Atlas Moth, the Chicago-based quintet, release The Old Believer on June 10 via Profound Lore Records.
“This record is an equally large progression as between our first two records but this time is coupled with more experience,” explains singer/guitar player Stavros Giannopoulos (who also moonlights in black metal super group, Twilight). “I feel like we found ourselves on An Ache for the Distance and now we are expanding on our sound more than ever. It’s also the most personal and introspective music we have ever done. We are wearing our hearts on our sleeves with every note.”
The Old Believer, produced The Atlas Moth’s own Andrew Ragin at Chicago’s Wall To Wall Studios, features guests Joe Duplantier (Gojira), Marcus Eliopulos (Stabbing Westward) and Subrosa violinists Kim Pack and Sarah Pendleton. The album’s cover and back art feature a water-reveal stock, which when dipped in water, more graphics are revealed.
The Old Believer track listing: 1. Jet Black Passenger 2. Collider 3. The Sea Beyond 4. Halcyon Blvd 5. Sacred Vine 6. The Old Believer 7. City of Light 8. Wynona 9. Hesperian 10. Blood Will Tell
The band recently completed an extensive North American tour with The Ocean and Scale The Summit where they previewed music from The Old Believer. The Atlas Moth will return to the road upon release of The Old Believer, with dates to be announced soon.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Who’s gonna argue with this one? Hard to imagine it was a very long meeting at Relapse when they were deciding to get behind a vinyl reissue of YOB‘s 2003 sophomore outing, Catharsis. “So, here’s one of the best albums of the last decade remastered by Tad Doyle sounding more kickass than ever. Should we get on board?” “Yes.” Meeting adjourned. Everybody goes to lunch.
Seriously, Catharsisis one of if not the most essential documents of American doom since the end of Sleep, and I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s true and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply mistaken. Profound Lore put out the CD of the Doyle remaster — you’ll also note the new artwork by Aaron Edge, completing the Lumbar triumvirate — last year, and aside from a Roadburn-exclusive gold with black splatter version (fucking kill me that’s awesome), there are a host of killer editions set to arrive in late Feb./early March.
Details via the PR wire:
YOB: Doom Metal Classic Catharsis to See Deluxe Vinyl Reissue
Relapse Records is proud to announce the re-release of YOB’s psyche-doom metal classic Catharsis on vinyl. After being out of print on vinyl for over six years, Catharsishas been given the deluxe re-issue treatment and will be released the way it was meant to be presented. Re-mastered from the original tapes by Tad Doyle, the reissue features stunning new artwork by Aaron Edge and brand new liner notes from Guitarist / Vocalist Mike Scheidt.
Catharsis will see it’s official vinyl re-release on March 4th in North America, March 3rd in the UK/World and February 28th in Germany/Benelux/Finland. The vinyl includes a digital download of the full album and is being pressed on four limited color variations including gold, gold with black splatter (available exclusively at Roadburn), clear with black, bone white & gold splatter, and a special swamp green with purple & yellow splatter version that includes a blacklight poster available exclusively at Relapse.com. Pre-orders are currently available via this location while a trailer with detailed pictures of vinyl colors is available via this location. The full album can be streamed here.
Additionally, YOB will be headlining Roadburn Festival’s official Afterburner party on April 13th in Tilburg, NL alongside Triptykon, Avatarium, Morne, Bolzer and many others. Details are available here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A classic of modern doom and inarguably one of the most pivotal albums of the decade since its release, YOB‘s second full-length, Catharsis, is set to be reissued by Profound Lore on Nov. 12. The new version of the album — complete with new art by Aaron Edge, remastering by Tad Doyle and liner notes from YOB‘s own Mike Scheidt (the three parties also collaborating in the new project Lumbar) — is sourced from the original tapes and gives those who missed it the first time around or who came aboard a chance to experience an absolute cosmic masterpiece that has become a blueprint like very little before or since.
Scheidt will also kick off a cross-country solo tour with Uzala on Oct. 13 at the Fall into Darkness festival, and you can find the dates for that along with the PR wire info on the new version of Catharsisbelow:
Within doom metal circles, there are good number of YOB and doom metal fans alike that consider YOB’s second full-length album “Catharsis” as the trio’s shining moment. In turn it would become one of the most cult American doom metal albums over the succeeding years where YOB would build up their reputation as one of the penultimate titans in doom metal today. The only hindrance had been that “Catharsis” had been out of print for many years and would become the band’s most sought-after item from their repertoire as the initial label that released it folded and the album was never re-pressed or made available again for wider consumption. That is until now.
Ten years after its release (though “Catharsis” was recorded in 2002, much before it was first released in Nov of 2003) Profound Lore is proud to unveil the definitive re-issue of YOB’s sought after cult classic. Re-mastered from its original tape source by legendary grunge godfather Tad Doyle, making “Catharsis” sound that much more complete and monstrous than its original incarnation, along with new artwork and presentation by Aaron Edge and liner notes by YOB mastermind Mike Scheidt, this re-issue (which is just presented with the three tracks that comprise “Catharsis” as a whole) of one of the most colossal American doom metal releases of the last ten years is a reminder of how the vision of YOB culminated and began as a singular entity to what it has become today. That being YOB’s recognition as one of the most important bands in heavy music today.
UZALA and Mike Scheidt (YOB, VHÖL)
Autumnal Wanderings US Tour 13
(dates marked with ¥ include Mount Salem, dates marked with † include Sabbath Assembly) 10/13 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios FALL INTO DARKNESS FESTIVAL with The Skull (ex-Trouble) and Hammers of Misfortune 10/14 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey with Black Queen 10/15 Boise, ID @ Visual Arts Collective UZALA RECORD RELEASE PARTY with Muscle & Marrow 10/16 SLC, UT @ Bar Deluxe with Eagle Twin and Sub Rosa (cd release show) 10/17 Denver, CO @ Three Kings with Space in Time and Munimula 10/18 Madison, WI @ WISCO with Orogen (¥) 10/19 Chicago, IL @ Township with Bongripper and DJ Stavros (¥) 10/20 Columbus, OH @ Ruby Tuesday with Before the Eyewall (¥) 10/21 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar with locals TBA (¥) 10/22 DAY OFF 10/23 Providence, RI @ Dusk with Bog of the Infidel (¥) 10/24 Worchester, MA @ venue TBA with SET and Keefshovel (¥) 10/25 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie with Heavy Temple (¥) 10/26 Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar AUTUMN SCREAMS DOOM II FESTIVAL with LOSS, SOURVEIN, Churchburn, others (¥) 10/27 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter with Druglord (¥) 10/28 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 with Caltrop (¥) 10/29 Athens, GA @ venue TBA with Demonaut (¥) 10/30 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia early show with Red Shield (¥) 10/31 Austin, TX @ Red 7 with Communion (†) 11/01 Fort Worth, TX @ The Grotto with Solomon (†) 11/02 Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves with Dead to a Dying World (†)
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Taking the well-honed darkness of Atriarch‘s 2011 debut, Forever the End(review here), to someplace entirely more goth and dramatic, the 2012 sophomore outing, Ritual of Passing, intrigued both in concept and execution, and found the Portland act discovering their niche within not only their own severely crowded scene, but also the wider sphere of the heavy underground. Released on CD by Profound Lore last October, Ritual of Passing is also out now in vinyl issue through Seventh Rule Recordings, which is the impetus behind the tour. See how everything ties together?
Here’s the info:
ATRIARCH West Coast shows…
5/22 Thee Parkside San Francisco, CA W/ Wild Hunt, Lycus, Caffa 5/23 The Catalyst Atrium Santa Cruz, CA W/ Gloam 5/24 Five Star Bar Los Angeles, CA W/ Lightning Swords of Death, Usnea, Deathkings 5/25 924 Gilman Berkeley, CA W/ Worm Ouroboros, Sutekh Hexen, Gloam 6/5 White Owl Portland, OR
Posted in Reviews on February 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Los Angeles-based cellist Alison Chesley has been releasing albums under the Helen Money moniker since 2007, and in the interim, became something of a staple in Chicago’s formidable heavy underground. Contributing to Yakuza and Russian Circles (among many others) while also following up her self-titled debut with 2009’s excellent In Tune (review here), Chesley returns with her Steve Albini-produced third album, Arriving Angels. The 40-minute mostly-solo full-length also marks her Profound Lore debut (which makes Yakuza among her many labelmates), and features guest contributions from Neurosis/Sleep drummer Jason Roeder on the tracks “Beautiful Friends,” “Radio Recorders,” “Shrapnel” and the closer “Runout,” but though the circumstances of the release has changed and the drums and appearances from jazz pianist Dennis Luxion on “Beautiful Friends” and “Runout” note a shift in approach toward a less singular, cello-based musicality, there’s a lot about Arriving Angels that remains consistent with Chesley’s prior work in/as Helen Money, most notably the evocative atmospherics she creates using the cello and a range of loops and effects. She can be alternately minimalist, as on the Pat Metheny cover “Midwestern Nights Dream” that begins the second half of the tracklist or build layer upon layer to mount a consuming and dynamic swell as on “Upsetter,” filling out the starts and stops of one progression with the higher-register movements of another. All this results in an album varied and progressive, but also working (obviously) around a central musical thematic, that is, the cello itself. There are no vocals, no guitar or bass, no keys other than Luxion’s piano – which admittedly plays a significant role in the closer – and even Roeder’s drums on “Beautiful Friends,” “Radio Recorders” and “Runout” are looped, so Arriving Angels is still very much Chesley’s record, a showcase for what she does with the cello, opening with a full-toned volume swell of drone and foreboding echoes of distortion on “Rift,” which serves as much as an introduction to the album as a track in its own right, patiently developing and then abandoning a build to bring on layers of rhythmic chugging (yes, a cello can chug) that act as a bed for biting leads and complex interplay between the cello and itself.
The song turns vaguely psychedelic with backwards swirls and a devolution back into the droning noise from whence it came, and in its course, it establishes much of Chesley’s modus for the rest of the LP, “Upsetter” opening with creepy repetitions before bursting into jarring avant rhythm – you could call it aptly-titled, since whether it’s the threat of the atmosphere in the first cycle or the unwillingness of the second to let you get ahold of it, something here is probably going to upset you – running through the course twice before the three-minute mark, at which point a higher swell draws the song to what feels like a close, only to have the initial repetition resume as an outro that serves just as much as an introduction to “Beautiful Friends,” which sets clean and distorted lines against each other almost immediately – Chesley showing a bit of Neurosis influence in the distorted march – only to set a start-stop chug to what feels like an extended tom fill from Roeder, both stopping, then starting again. Luxion’s piano comes on as the drummer takes to his ride cymbal, but it’s Chesley that ultimately emerges, first in the right channel, then the left, to draw the cut to its conclusion with a part that, if she took another eight or nine minutes to ride it out to a massive tide of post-doom heaviness with a full band behind her, bass, guitar, drums and keys, I don’t think I’d complain. That, however, isn’t how Arriving Angels runs its course, and “Radio Recorders” begins with sustained notes and drums from Roeder that up the intensity even from what he was doing on the prior cut. I don’t know if that’s a loop (Michael Friedman is credited with programming loops on “Beautiful Friends,” “Radio Recorders” and “Runout”), or if Roeder is playing that part live, but either way, it sounds like a good way to blow out a shoulder. The drums come and go amid effected cello churn and swirls, and massive-sounding distorted line soon makes a bed for a lead that’s melancholic almost to the point of being doomed, the song lulling the listener into a false sense of security only to have Roeder’s drums pick up again and themselves layer to a faded finish.
Posted in Features on December 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Putting themselves quickly at the fore of a burgeoning Stateside death-doom revival, Seattle-based duo Bell Witch made their debut in 2011 with a remarkably well-received demo. The initial four-track release (review here) landed with enough of an impact to bring bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond (also of Samothrace) and drummer/vocalist Adrian Guerra (formerly of Sod Hauler) to the attention of tastemaking imprint Profound Lore, which picked them up for the release of the subsequent debut, Longing(review here). Desmond and Guerra, who’d released an album called Mnemosynetogether as part of a heavy psychedelic trio called Lethe (review here), departed those stylistic confines with Bell Witch, opting instead for the dreary drama and far-off melodicism they present on Longing‘s six-track/67-minute sprawl.
It’s a fascinating album for several reasons. Primarily because Desmond and Guerra do so well in alternating between a sense of wide-open space, oppressive tonality and nascent harmonized vocals, but also because of the intricacies they bring to the material, working in defiance of the notion that just because something is slow and open-sounding, it has to be simple all the time. That’s never been true, and as Bell Witch switch between growls and clean-sung arrangements and Desmond taps his six-string bass to emulate a guitar solo, it’s clear that there’s more to the band than just holding out riffs until the sound fades away — though when they do that as well, it works greatly to enhance the atmosphere of Longing, the mood of which has no trouble living up to the title it’s been given.
Perhaps the album’s greatest achievement comes on 13-minute second track “Rows (of Endless Waves),” on which Desmond and Guerra, both contributing to the initial barrage of screams and growls, are joined by Erik Moggridge, known for his Portland, Oregon-based solo-project, Aerial Ruin. As the lumbering fury winds down, Moggridge comes on to top periodic rhythm lines and higher-register bass notes with folkish verses that don’t necessarily depart from the darkness of the rest of the full-length, but provide complexity and depth to what that darkness means on a sonic level. At 9:35, bolstered by colossal instrumental swell, Moggridge leads a defiant recitation of vaguely Celtic-derived sway, and from the standpoint of melody and emotional resonance, it’s as rich as Longinggets, begging in its last minute to be sung along to as the waves of destruction mentioned in the lyrics seem to be crashing all around the final moaning vocalizations.
The inclusion and expansion of “Beneath the Mask” and “I Wait” from the demo was a launch point for the conversation, but there was much more than just that I wanted to discuss with Desmond, including the differences between recording with Bell Witch and with Samothrace — whose 2012 outing, Reverence to Stone(review here), was among the year’s most exciting albums, on recording Longingand what other than those two tracks they wanted to bring to their first album, on the use of melody and how it might continue to develop on their next batch of material, which Desmond reveals is already in progress. Choosing his words carefully, the bassist talked openly about all these and more.
Please find the complete 3,200-word Q&A after the jump, and please enjoy:
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Still thoroughly under-appreciated after issuing two excellent albums — 2009’s In Tune (review here) and a self-titled debut in 2007 — through her own Cellobird Records, Chicago cellist Helen Money (née Alison Chesley) will make her debut on Profound Lore in February with the forthcoming Arriving Angels. Chesley (interview here) has contributed to records by Yakuza and Russian Circles and is a great fit for the label, as she manages to craft with equal ease dense atmospheres or open spaces with just the single instrument.
The new album was recorded, as you can see in the headline, but Steve Albini and drummer Jason Roeder of Neurosis and Sleep also makes an appearance. Here’s the full story off the PR wire:
Steve Albini Recorded And Mixed New Helen Money Album, Arriving Angels
Out On Profound Lore Records February 5th, 2013
The new Helen Money album, Arriving Angels, recorded and mixed by Steve Albini, a long time fan and supporter, will be released on Profound Lore Records February 5th, 2013. National tour dates will be announced soon. Helen Money just completed All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ shows in Camber Sands, England (curated by Shellac).
Arriving Angels, was recorded and mixed in May and September 2012 by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio and features drummer Jason Roeder (Neurosis, Sleep). Cellist/composer Alison Chesley, a.k.a. Helen Money, merges her classical training with a lifelong affinity for punk rock and a taste for heavy metal. In addition to her own material Chesley has also performed and/or directed string arrangements for artists like Anthrax (Worship Music), Russian Circles (Geneva), Broken Social Scene (Forgiveness Rock Record) and current labelmates, Yakuza. For her previous album, In Tune, she worked with Greg Norman (Pelican, Russian Circles, Neurosis), Sanford Parker (Pelican, Chris Connelly, Yakuza, Buried at Sea) and experimental, avant-garde label, Table of the Elements, who released the album in 2009.
“Arriving Angels means a lot to me for so many reasons,” Chesley explains. “It’s a culmination of two years of continuing to explore ideas with my instrument and effects – expressing a lot of changes in my life. Being able to work with Steve — someone I’ve toured with repeatedly over the past few years, and who was able to help me fully realize what I wanted to achieve with my music on this record — was very gratifying.”
The eight tracks on Arriving Angels are: 1. “Rift,” 2. “Upsetter,” 3. “Beautiful Friends,” 4. “Radio Recorders,” 5. “Midwestern Nights Dream (Metheny),” 6. “Arriving Angels,” 7. “Shrapnel” and 8. “Runout.” The music is performed by Alison Chesley on cello. In addition Jason Roeder (Neurosis, Sleep) plays drums on tracks 3, 4, 7 and 8; Dennis Luxion plays piano on tracks 3 and 8; Michael Friedman programmed drum loops for tracks 3, 4, and 8. Tour dates are pending and Chesley will perform most shows solo, but hopes to do some dates with a pianist and/or drummer.
Asked to cite her influences Chesley’s list of artists include The Who, Bob Mould, Steve Reich, Glenn Branca, Roger Williams (Mission of Burma), Neurosis, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, adding “anything dark, powerful, beautiful, with lots of heart.” Chicago Tribune wrote “Alison Chesley brings her classical training on cello into realms occupied by heavy metal extremists and guitar deities.” The Onion opines “Using guitar effects pedals she crafts songs that veer from ethereal to downright ominous.”
In 2011 Helen Money was chosen by Portishead to perform at the ATP ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ and toured with Joe Lally (FUGAZI) as both support and performing in his band nightly. In addition to supporting Shellac on tour in 2012, Helen Money has shared bills with Earth, Nina Nastasia, The Bad Plus, KTL and Hunn Huur Tu. With her previous band, Verbow, she opened for Frank Black, Bob Mould, Counting Crows, Live, Morrissey, Liz Phair and Brad with Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam. Verbow toured nationally for seven years.
Posted in Reviews on November 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
After a well-received 2011 demo, Seattle bass/drum duo Bell Witch make their full-length debut via Profound Lore with the 67-minute Longing, an album as much about atmospheric weight as catastrophic low end. Bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond some will recognize as a founding member of Samothrace, whose 2012 LP Reverence to Stone (review here) was thrillingly heavy, or perhaps the underrated Lethe instrumental outfit, who released their only album to date in the form of 2009’s Mnemosyne (review here). In Bell Witch, Desmond is joined on drums and vocals by Adrian Guerra, and the pair manage to move with striking fluidity between sections that sound full and gut-twistingly heavy and sparse, ambient minimalist parts that seem to stretch sonically even farther than the runtimes of the songs themselves. No easy feat, that. Longing opens with its longest track (immediate points), the 20-minute “Bails (of Flesh),” but even so, three of the other five on the album top 12 minutes. But for the opener, nothing stretches past the 18 minutes of “Mayknow” from the demo (review here), but neither “Rows (of Endless Waves)” (13:02), nor “Longing (The River of Ash)” (12:06) are lacking for sprawl, and at 5:54, “Beneath the Mask” is essentially a filled-out version of what served as the demo intro, that track and the following “I Wait” (12:25) having also appeared there, and closer “Outro” follows with 3:27 more of atmospheric soundscaping. Perhaps the most notable point of growth between the demo and Longing lies in the vocals, which Desmond and Guerra execute in contrasts of extreme funeral doom growls and sad clean singing that adds mournful melodies to the band’s carefully constructed lumber, and particularly in the case of the late-track apex of “Rows (of Endless Waves)” sets Bell Witch on a course of emotional resonance similar to that which has brought the likes of 40 Watt Sun and Pallbearer (more closely related to the former, sonically speaking) such success over the last couple years. That’s not to say Bell Witch are aiming at the same kind of appeal – that’s really just a part of what they do – but their doom is modern in the sense of not feeling a need to cloak its sadness or titular longing in anything other than tonal thickness or impossibly slow tempos.
Being a duo works to Bell Witch’s advantage. At no point in the album does there seem to be a lack of presence where one isn’t intended. Longing, like Samothrace’s Reverence to Stone, was recorded by Brandon Fitzsimons, and Desmond’s tone remains consistent through these songs as it was on that record – rich and encompassing. But though “Bails (of Flesh)” opens quietly with an underlying rumble, at no point does there seem to be anything missing, most especially guitar, which if you asked me, I’d swear the first track has. Overtop of the grueling plod, there’s a solo, and it could be Desmond running his bass through an effects loop and layering in the recording, or it could be someone picked up a guitar, I suppose anything’s possible. In any case, Guerra does an excellent job holding the slower pace together as he does throughout the whole of the album, and when the vocals kick in just past the five-minute mark on the CD, they roar. I mean it. The growl is forward in the mix without wholly dominating it, but it is animalistic and terrifyingly well done. There are some who decry abrasive vocals outright – I’m not one of them. With a record like Longing, how it’s said counts almost as much as what’s being said, and lyrics like, “Hate for will/My grief will be avenged” are all the more foreboding for the indecipherable brutality of their presentation. Instrumentally, on the first track it’s the drawn out lead lines that carry across the emotionality until a midsection break touches on some clean vocals – not quite to the same level as “Rows (of Endless Waves),” but along the same lines – before the massive lumber resumes at 15:28 and the song begins its long march into oblivion, the growls returning to lead the way out and into the beginning of “Rows (of Endless Waves)” which is bombastic in comparison, a barrage of drums from Guerra meeting with the bass riffing and vicious screams and growls. For the first minute or so, it is unbearably heavy, but gradually, the song emerges, and by the time three minutes have passed, Bell Witch have gracefully shifted into minimalist pastoralia, beginning the build that will encompass the remaining 10 minutes of the track.
Posted in Reviews on October 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Beyul is the second Yakuza album to be released via Profound Lore. The continually underrated Chicago-based four-piece issued Of Seismic Consequence (review here) in 2010, and in that time, not much superficial has changed. Vocalist Bruce Lamont continues to lead the way with his warnings of the consequences of excess and his saxophone, guitarist Matt McClelland, bassist Ivan Cruz and drummer James Staffel doing a more than able job in keeping up and at times setting the course for Yakuza’s post-metallic shifts between ambient spaces and grinding aural crush. Once again, Sanford Parker helmed as producer as he has since sharing those duties with Matt Bayles on 2006’s Prosthetic Records debut, Samsara, and as with the ensuing Transmutations (2007, also Prosthetic) and Of Seismic Consequence, the pairing works well and to the advantage of the material. Hell, cellist Alison “Helen Money” Chesley even returns for a guest appearance on three of Beyul’s tracks, so if you were thinking their sixth albummight be some radical departure from the successful blend of progressive metal, ambient hum and jazz textures Yakuza was able to accomplish on Of Seismic Consequence – to be blunt – it ain’t. What Beyul is, however, is not only a logical extension of the ideas the band presented the last time around, but a tighter performance, with burgeoning melodic breadth to complement the stylistic freedom that seems to have always been at their core. Of progress, they continue to make a rolling stone, but how they’re doing that has changed. Perhaps the most notable difference between Beyul and its predecessor – again, superficially – is its length, which has dropped from a heady 51:55 to a vinyl-ready 38:46, and the adoption of a structure as well that feels suited to the LP form, a split perceivable between the two longest tracks, highlight cut “Man is Machine” (8:29), and the following “Fire Temple and Beyond” (9:55). If there are plans for a vinyl release, I don’t know, but even on a CD, Beyul seems to be driving toward that form, the last four of the album’s total seven tracks pushing further into the blistering avant garde – by now long since familiar territory for Yakuza.
With the most diverse and engaging vocal performance of his career fronting the band, Lamont remains a focal point throughout Beyul, developing the range he began to establish last time out and reserving a harsher approach for the penultimate thrasher “Species” (1:26), the mounting chaos of which serves as a release for much of the tension the album has built to that point. Earlier tracks like “On the Last Day” or the opener “Oil and Water” meld post-metal tribal-style rhythms with varying degrees of memorability in songwriting. Rabidly percussed, “Oil and Water” nonetheless has a chorus, and not a weak one, but coupled with the intensity of the initial churn, the two competing sides feel almost like the title, and even when they offer some release for the tension around 1:45, and screaming lead guitars pave the way for effective echoing vocals, the insistent thud is shortly to resume. If Yakuza had meant to write a catchy pop song, it might be an issue, but to date, that’s never been their aim. The thrashing riff they seem to be ending with gives way to one last chorus, and “On the Last Day” continues the push into maelstrom, offsetting with sax-led jazz ambience. Chesley guests here, as on “Man is Machine” and “Fire Temple and Beyond,” which follow in succession, and Angela Mullenhour and Tim Remus also contribute to “On the Last Day,” resulting in a kind of orchestral experimentation that’s met with multiple layers of vocals. In the heavier parts – because, despite effective contrast, that’s what they are – the line “Deny it all” is a sustained standout from Lamont, and that sets up the expectation for more of a chorus, which “Man is Machine” delivers after an initial plod and washes of low end wipe the slate clean from the pummeling opening duo. For guest spots, Mars Williams and Dave Rempis join Chesley and Mullenhour, and of course Lamont, McClelland, Cruz and Staffel as well, on “Man is Machine,” giving the song even more of a sense of culmination. Nonetheless, it’s the song that stands itself out, the repetition of “The body distorting the mind” following a faster cadence that reminds curiously of early ‘90s Primus before they cycle back into the lumbering verse.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
After seeing them back in June in Brooklyn at ye olde Saint Vitus bar, I’m glad to see it’s not too long before Portland, Oregon, doomly doomy doomers Witch Mountain will be returning to the road. They seemed to be so darn good at it, and Cauldron of the Wild(review here) was killer. The band has teamed up with Scion A/V and will be spreading the tale of Lanky Rae far and wide.
Hearken to the PR wire and receive such wisdom:
WITCH MOUNTAIN Announce North American Fall Tour
WITCH MOUNTAIN have received high marks from everyone in metal’s underground after awaking from their nearly 10-year hibernation. During this period, the band also added the extraordinary Uta Plotkin to the ranks and created one of the most impressive doom records of the year, ‘Cauldron of the Wild’ (Profound Lore). The band also took part in their first full North American tour and made an appearance at this year’s Scion Rock Fest.
Now, WITCH MOUNTAIN is back in action and has teamed with Scion A/V to plot a massive North American trek alongside Prosthetic Records’ new doom three piece CASTLE. The tour will kick-off in Portland on October 11th and run all the way through to another Portland show on November 18th.
10/11 – Portland, OR @ Plan B (w/Rabbits) 10/12 – Vancouver, BC @ Interuban Gallery 10/13 – Seattle, WA @ Highline 10/14 – Moscow, ID @ Prichard Gallery 10/15 – Boise, ID @ Shredder 10/16 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Bard Deluxe (w/SUBROSA) 10/19 – St. Paul @ Turf Club 10/21 – Madison, WI @ High Noon 10/22 – Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle 10/23 – Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class 10/24 – Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar 10/25 – Toronto, ON @ Wreck Room 10/26 – Hamilton, ON @ Corktown Pub 10/27 – Ottawa, ON @ Café Dekcuf 10/28 – Montreal, PQ @ Katacombes 10/29 – Burlington, VT @ Nectars 10/30 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott 10/31 – New Haven, CT @ BAR 11/02 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus 11/03 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s 11/04 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter 11/05 – Asheville, NC @ Static Age Records 11/06 – Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light 11/08 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree 11/09 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s 11/10 – Austin, TX @ Red 7 11/12 – Phoenix, AZ @ Yucca Tap 11/13 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah 11/14 – Fullerton, CA @ Slidebar (w/Ides Of Gemini) 11/15 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Catalyst Atrium 11/16 – San Francisco, CA @ Parkside 11/17 – Arcata, CA @ Alibi 11/18 – Portland, OR @ Ash St Saloon (w/Lord Dying)