Ecstatic Vision to Release Sonic Praise on June 30

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

ecstatic-vision-(Photo-by-Orion-Landau)

Initially signed to Relapse on the strength of their first demo, Philly heavy psych trio Ecstatic Vision will make their full-length debut in the heat of summer with Sonic Praise. The album is available to preorder now and follows a spring tour the three-piece undertook with YOB and Enslaved — because if you’re going to do something, god damn it, do it right — and arrives with a sense of intrigue as to how the band’s penchant shown onstage for rhythmic intricacy and jamming spiritualism will translate to a studio setting. The album is five songs, so I’m guessing it translates to a couple pretty extended tracks.

No problem there. Sonic Praise is out June 30 on Relapse and the PR wire has details, a stream of the song “Don’t Kill the Vibe” and those preorder links for those who like to be ahead of the game.

Dig it:

ecstatic vision sonic praise

ECSTATIC VISION DETAIL DEBUT ALBUM ‘SONIC PRAISE’ OUT ON RELAPSE RECORDS JUNE 30TH

Philadelphia’s Ecstatic Vision explode onto the scene with one of the most thrilling guitar driven records in a long, long time. Sonic Praise weaves the guitar heroics of the 70’s heavy classics of UFO and Hawkwind with the rhythmic intensity of Sun Ra and Fela Kuti. Massive riffs vibe seamlessly with deep rhythms to create one of the most original and best heavy psych debuts in years. The album is out June 30th on Relapse Records.

Recorded at various studios throughout Philadelphia, the group’s debut is an acid-tinged mix of trance inducing, primitive African tribal and heavy psych a la Hawkwind, Goat and Amon Düül II. The band formed in early 2014 and have already played numerous high profile shows like Pallbearer, Georgia’s Meltasia Festival alongside Black Lips, Nik Turner’s Hawkwind and toured North America with YOB and Enslaved.

ECSTATIC VISION
SONIC PRAISE
RELAPSE RECORDS
JUNE 30, 2015
PRE-ORDER: PHYSICAL | DIGITAL

1 – Journey
2 – Astral Plane
3 – Don’t Kill The Vibe
4 – Sonic Praise
5 – Cross The Divide

https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticvision
https://twitter.com/ecstaticvision_
https://instagram.com/ecstaticvision/
http://ecstaticvision.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com/ecstatic-vision/

Ecstatic Vision, “Don’t Kill the Vibe”

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Red Fang Announce June/July European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

red fang

Wherever Red Fang go, they bring the party with them. Fresh off a headlining appearance at Desertfest, the reigning champions of Portland, Oregon’s densely populated heavy rock scene will head out this week to Australia and New Zealand, which sounds like an awesome thing to be able to say you’re doing later in the week, as in, “Yeah, I’m just getting this sandwich now because I’m flying to Australia on Wednesday,” or whatever it happens that you’re purchasing at that time and however little it might actually have to do with the travel being undertaken. Next month, they’re going back to Europe in support of 2013’s Whales and Leeches, for a June/July run that will take them into the heart of summer. One can only imagine that by then they’ll be ready to announce another full tour somewhere in the world.

The PR wire winds up and delivers:

red fang tour

RED FANG: Announce European Summer Tour, Festival Appearances

Portland, OR hard rockers RED FANG have announced a month-long headlining tour and festival appearances in Europe kicking off this June. The tour comes on the heels of the band’s headlining tour of Australia and New Zealand and will see RED FANG playing a special opening set for Faith No More in Bratislava plus making stops at various festivals including Hellfest, Forta Rock, Copenhell, With Full Force and many others. A complete listing of dates is available below.

Released on Relapse Records, RED FANG’s current album Whales and Leeches debuted at #66 on the Billboard Album Chart, marking the group’s highest sales week and first debut in the Top 200. RED FANG are generating worldwide critical acclaim from SPIN, Revolver, Magnet, Alternative Press and more for their current album Whales and Leeches, which was produced by Chris Funk (Decemberists) and mixed by Vance Powell (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Kings of Leon). Featuring such guests as Mike Scheidt (YOB) and Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession), Whales and Leeches propels RED FANG into the upper stratosphere of the heavy rock and metal elite. The album can be streamed in full via their official Bandcamp page.

May 07 Rosemount Perth Wa, Australia
May 08 Fowlers Live Adelaide, Australia
May 09 The Barwin Club Geelong, Australia
May 10 Cherry Rock 015 Melbourne, Australia
May 12 Crowbar Brisbane, Australia
May 13 Crowbar Brisbane, Australia
May 14 The Manning Bar Sydney, Australia
May 15 The Prince Bandroom St. Kilda, Australia
May 16 Kings Arm Newton, New Zealand
May 17 San Francisco Bath House Te Aro, New Zealand
Jun 05 Rock for People Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic
Jun 06 FortaRock 2015 w/ Epica Nymegen, Netherlands
Jun 08 Feierwerk Munchen, Germany
Jun 09 Arena Wien, Austria
Jun 10 Aegon Arena w/ Faith No More Bratislava, Slovakia
Jun 12 Cage Livorno, Italy
Jun 13 Hangar 22 Catania, Italy
Jun 14 Jailbreak Festival Cagliari Ca, Italy
Jun 18 John Dee Oslo, Norway
Jun 19 Copenhell 2015 Copenhagen, Denmark
Jun 20 Azkena Rock Festival ARF 2015 Bilbao, Spain
Jun 21 Hellfest Clisson, France
Jun 23 Circolo Mame Padova, Italy
Jun 24 Traffic live Rome, Italy
Jun 25 Solomacello Fest Milano, Italy
Jun 26 Provinssirock Festival Seinajoki, Finland
Jun 27 Bravalla Festival Norrkoping, Sweden
Jun 28 Rock Werchter Haacht, Belgium
Jun 30 Knust Hamburg, Germany
Jul 02 Ponte Rougue Monthey, Switzerland
Jul 03 Glemmride Saalbach Hinterglemm, Austria
Jul 04 Vainstream Rockfest Münster, Germany
Jul 04 With Full Force Löbnitz, Germany
Jul 05 Mighty Sounds Festival Tabor, Czech Republic

https://www.facebook.com/redfangband/
http://redfang.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.relapse.com/

Red Fang, Scion A/V Presents Red Fang (2014)

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Valkyrie Announce Live Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

valkyrie

Virginian heavy rockers Valkyrie are edging closer to the release of their third album and much-anticipated return, Shadows. Also serving as their debut on Relapse Records, it’s due on May 19, and in addition to appearances at the upcoming inaugural Maryland Doom Fest in June and Death to False Metal fest in Connecticut in August, they’ll be playing a few regional shows around the release date that are newly announced.

It works out to be a pair of weekenders late in May before the fest spots, heading as far north from Virginia as Philadelphia. Presumably more will follow, but for now, here’s this off the PR wire:

maryland doom fest 1

Valkyrie Announce Shows and New Song From “Shadows” LP

Valkyrie will release Shadows on May 19th via Relapse Records, and the band just announced a set of dates and unveiled a new track from the their upcoming LP.

Propelled by the stunning guitar heroics of brothers Pete and Jake Adams, Virginia’s Valkyrie return with their third full length Shadows, one of the year’s best guitar-driven, heavy rock records. Valkyrie’s twin harmonized guitar leads and clean dual vocal assault matched with a strong nod to classic doom and heavy metal creates a psychedelic and heavy sound that pays homage to classic heavy rock bands like Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy while bringing to mind the pastoral and organic sounds of Pagan Altar and Jethro Tull. With no regard to current trends, or retro-rock posturing, Valkyrie rides on with a true, classic, heavy metal assault that has turned many heads with its impressive live shows and soul-stirring conviction. Make sure you catch the band live if they are in your area!

Valkyrie shows:
May 22 Harrisonburg, VA – Golden Pony
May 23 Charlottesville, VA – Main Street Annex
May 29 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
May 30 Richmond, VA – Strange Matter
June 27 Frederick, MD – Maryland Doom Fest
August 14 Hamden, CT – Death to False Metal Fest

http://www.facebook.com/thevalkyrierides
http://thevalkyrierides.bandcamp.com
http://www.valkyrieband.com/
http://www.Relapse.com
http://relapserecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/relapserecords

Valkyrie, “Wintry Plains”

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Unearthly Trance Reunite and Announce Live Shows; Writing New Material

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been a minute since Unearthly Trance had anything going, but since the three members of the band have been working in Serpentine Path, I guess a reunion as Unearthly Trance never seemed out of the question. Well, it’s happened. After issuing what was called “their final release” in the form of the 2CD compilation Ouroboros last December on Throne Records, the three-piece has come back together and are at worm on new material for a sixth full-length and have announced three live dates in Brooklyn and out on Long Island that seem like a solid start — they’re certainly keeping good company — for a group getting back together in this incarnation.

Just off the PR wire:

unearthly trance (Photo by Will Dahl)

UNEARTHLY TRANCE: Band Announces Reformation; Live Performances

Like a phoenix undead, Brooklyn based black/doom/sludge trio Unearthly Trance has returned! After putting the band on ice in 2012, Darren Verni, Ryan Lipynsky and Jay Newman have decided to resurrect and start playing together once again. The band is already currently writing new music for what will be their sixth full-length album and fourth for Relapse Records.

2015 has shown sparks of life already for the band with the 2xCD release of Ouroboros; a compilation of hard to find songs, vinyl only releases and a few unreleased gems from years past. This collection was released on Throne Records and is available at this location.

In the past Unearthly Trance has shared the stage with the heaviest bands on the planet including The Melvins, Sleep, Electric Wizard, High On Fire, Autopsy and Morbid Angel to name a few. Now Unearthly Trance have announced their first performances in over three years with a few NYC area shows booked in May and July with support from Samothrace, Primitive Man and Churchburn. A series of Northeast dates are also in the works for August as well as a soon to be announced Fest in California this November. A complete listing of confirmed dates is available below.

Although Unearthly Trance became inactive in 2012, the three members were still active and releasing monolithic death/doom records under the banner of Serpentine Path which includes Tim Bagshaw (Ramesses, Electric Wizard) and Stephen Flam (Winter). Serpentine Path will be performing at this year’s Maryland Death Fest 2015 in Baltimore on May 23rd. Lipynsky and Newman also have a new project called Humanless and Lipynsky also keeps busy with Black Metal band The Howling WInd and newer band Force & Fire. Newman has also appeared on the debut recording from Kaiju Daisenso and Verni also pounds the drums for The Sheltering Sky.

Stay tuned for more news on Unearthly Trance including a new merch store (http://unearthlytrance.merchdirect.com/) and a new blog for future info http://unearthly-trance.blogspot.com/

Unearthly Trance Tour Dates:

May 24th 2015 @ Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY W/ Samothrace, Trenchgrinder and Beefrot
July 17th 2015 @ The Acheron – Brooklyn, NY W/ Churchburn and Belus
July 21st 2015 @ Sinclairs -Babylon, NY W/ Primitive Man, Opium Lord, Mother Brain, Afterbirth + more

https://unearthlytrance1.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/UnearthlyTrance
https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Unearthly Trance, V (2010)

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Quarterly Review: Royal Thunder, Strauss, Kult of the Wizard, Coogans Bluff, Papir Meets Electric Moon, We are Warwick Davis, Rongeur, Crowlegion, Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band, Eldorado

Posted in Reviews on April 1st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review

Morale is good as I stare down day three of this Quarterly Review. I’m encouraged by the good response the two-so-far posts have gotten and hope if you’ve had the chance to check out any of this stuff you’ve been able to find something you’re into. Or if not, I hope the next three days can rectify that situation. There are 30 records still to go. Bound to be something in there for everyone, myself included.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Royal Thunder, Crooked Doors

royal thunder crooked doors

Royal Thunder’s second full-length for Relapse, Crooked Doors, is bound to surprise some listeners. A three-piece when they issued CVI through the label in 2012, the Savannah, Georgia, outfit arrives at Crooked Doors as a foursome with the addition of guitarist Will Fiore of Zoroaster, and embarks on a considerable shift in approach. Slickly, almost commercially produced, the album brisks past some riffy elements in songs like opener “Time Machine,” also the longest cut at 7:20 (immediate points), and “The Line” toward an aesthetic reinterpreting ‘80s pop-metal melodramas through a vaguely heavy rock filter. Between Fiore and might-spit-beer-on-you guitarist Josh Weaver, one might expect more tonal heft than Crooked Doors offers overall, but the album instead leans heavily on bassist/vocalist Mlny Parsonz to carry the emotional crux of the material (though Evan Diprima’s drums still hit with some impact as well). Parsonz’s voice proves up to the task — in pop-singer form, she carries the record —  and is bolstered through layering, but by the time Crooked Doors’ hour runtime ends up at the lounge-blues and piano stylizations of “The Bear I” and “The Bear II,” it feels cumbersome and like the point has already been made.

Royal Thunder on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records

Strauss, Luia

strauss luia

A sophomore EP from this London five-piece following their impressive 2013 self-titled (review here), Luia doesn’t top half an hour, but its five included tracks show marked progression in pushing Strauss away from the Kyuss-isms that in large part defined their prior work. Opener “Mud at You” is immediately more aggressive, and though “Humanphobic (to Mary Shelley)” (note: anthropophobia), slows the pace and opens wide in its middle third, vocalist Stef shouts to remind of the core intensity in the songwriting. That takes a back seat as centerpiece “For all the Wrong Reasons” moves toward an apex of a cleaner-sung chorus, but the riffs of guitarists Charles and Bano, and the groove from bassist Bill and drummer Doc, remain heavy enough that the point isn’t lost. The eight-minute “Eclipse” has it all – doomed chug, screams, singing, crash, tempo changes, nod and so on – but the funky jam that starts closer “2015” shows Strauss are willing to have some fun with their heaviness as well. All the better. Time for a full-length.

Strauss on Thee Facebooks

Strauss on Bandcamp

Kult of the Wizard, The White Wizard

kult of the wizard the white wizard

Comparisons to Witch Mountain are inevitable for Minneapolis four-piece Kult of the Wizard, whose vocalist, Mahle Roth, carries a bluesy inflection not dissimilar from Uta Plotkin on the five-song EP, The White Wizard. Self-released, it’s the band’s first work with Roth as frontwoman, guitarist Aaron Hodgson, bassist Ryan Janssen and drummer Travis Nordahl having released two prior outings – The Red Wizard (2013) and The Blue Wizard (2014) – instrumentally, and the difference is palpable. Roth adds a commanding presence to the rolling leadoff track “Tusk of the Mammoth,” showcases a noteworthy range on “Black Moon” and steps back only for an eerie wash of noise and samples on centerpiece “Plasma Pool,” but the finest performance on all fronts is closer “Devil Delight,” which meters out stomp and echo at its peak to concoct an otherworldly churn of psychedelic cult doom, Roth once again steering the progression with a sure hand. One does not expect The White Wizard to be the last we hear from Kult of the Wizard. Hell, they haven’t even done all the primary colors yet.

Kult of the Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Kult of the Wizard on Bandcamp

Coogans Bluff, Ein Herz Voller Soul

coogans bluff ein herz voller soul

With 350 copies pressed by H42 Records in no fewer than five different color variations and at least that many versions of the cover art, Ein Herz Voller Soul, the latest 7” single from horn-laden German rockers Coogans Bluff hits with a fair amount of circumstance. It is, nonetheless, two songs and a quick listen. Its A-side is “Ein Herz Voller Soul,” a German-language retelling of “Heart Full of Soul” from the band’s 2014 full-length, Gettin’ Dizzy, and the B-side is “She Gave Her Life for a Man,” a classic rocker given middle-era Beatlesian flair by Stefan Meinking’s trombone, which feels fitting after the garage style of “Ein Herz Voller Soul,” though both cuts retain an element of the progressive in their approach, the band – Meinking, guitarist Willi Paschen, bassist/vocalist Clemens Marasus, drummer Charlie Paschen and saxophonist Max Thum – not afraid to branch wherever the song might take them, to a call and response hook or harder drum stomp. A stopgap, maybe, but Coogans Bluff have a tendency to engage and here they do so in hardly any time at all.

Coogans Bluff on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records’ webstore

Papir Meets Electric Moon, The Papermoon Sessions Live at Roadburn 2014

papir meets electric moon the papermoon sessions live at roadburn 2014

Members of German psych-jam godsends Electric Moon and Copenhagen progressive explorers Papir took the stage at Roadburn 2014 in the Netherlands as a follow-up to their 2013 outing, The Papermoon Sessions (review here). I don’t think they’d played live together before and I’m pretty sure they haven’t since (though don’t quote me on that), but in any case, the billing Papir Meets Electric Moon isn’t something that happens every day, and the two north-of-20-minutes pieces conjured up for inclusion on The Papermoon Sessions Live at Roadburn 2014 only emphasize how special the collaboration actually is, washes of synth and effects layered over gloriously krautrocking rhythms, swiftly turning one minute and peaceful the next, but never disjointed, never losing the sense of flow. Each track — the second one is shorter at 22:15 — has its own movement, but the thing to do is put on The Papermoon Sessions Live at Roadburn 2014 and just let it go and go along with it. For a group that came together in the wake of a tragedy — the untimely passing of Danish promoter Ralph Rjeily — Papermoon proves yet again that beauty can spring even in dark times. I hope they do another record.

Papir on Thee Facebooks

Electric Moon on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records

We are Warwick Davis, Storming the Castle

we are warwick davis storming the castle

Seems unlikely a band is going to dive into songs like “Hippies are Dead,” “Whore Island (Jim Loves His Wife” or “King Mullet Destroyer” and not have a sense of humor, let alone call themselves We are Warwick Davis – please note: the actor is nowhere to be seen – so yeah, the Illinois double-guitar five-piece get up to some chicanery on their Storming the Castle full-length. Lots of chicanery, as it happens. Vocalist Joe Duffy is blown out over the punkish progressions of “Audio Visual” but reminds more of Jello Biafra on “Mind Enemy Mine,” which launches the album following a voicemail intro about blowing people off the stage. Former Monster Magnet guitarist John McBain mastered the album, and it was apparently a couple years in the self-recording process. It’s accordingly raw, and at 57 minutes, I doubt the band could be accused of understating their argument. Out of balance here and there to the point of abrasion, but ultimately harmless.

We are Warwick Davis on Thee Facebooks

We are Warwick Davis on Reverbnation

Rongeur, The Catastrophist and As the Blind Strive Demos

Rongeur-The-Catastrophist-As-The-Blind-Strive-Demos

With members of folk metallers Trollfest, off-kilter hardcore punkers Ampmandens Døtre and atmospheric post-metallers Sju in tow, it may or may not be fair to call Rongeur a side-project, but they sure as hell are varied in their influences. The Oslo trio of drummer/vocalist Jostein, guitarist/vocalist Ken-Robert and bassist/vocalist Dag Ole (who belong respectively to the bands above) arrange their two-to-date demos with the newer tracks first on The Catastrophist and As the Blind Strive Demos, on Disiplin Media, so that the listener encountering them for the first time hears where the trio are as of 2014, then goes back to their first explorations, from 2013. Raw noise ensues, a post-hardcore vibe delivered with shouts and sludgy heft, but the older tracks offer a fuller distortion that they seem to have stripped down before getting around to songs like “Traitors” or the barebones-aggro “Jon Hogg.” One wonders where they might go from here, which is probably the whole point of the release.

Rongeur on Thee Facebooks

Disiplin Media

Crowlegion, The First Offering

crowlegion the first offering

Heavy rock and death metal rarely tread the same ground without being immediately cast to one side or another. Gothenburg’s Crowlegion seem determined to stake a claim to both sides, and the 24-minute The First Offering EP, issued on CD by Grave Goods Productions, makes good on that attempt. The seven tracks are short – only two top four minutes – but stylistically ambitious, guitarist/vocalist Linus Pilebrand seeming to be the driving force behind the project’s blend of rolling riffs and guttural growls. He’s since replaced the rhythm section, having played bass on this recording in addition to guitar, with Jonas Jörgensen also on guitar and Sarah Tefke drumming, and four of the seven cuts also feature guest vocals, most of them working in extreme styles as well. I’m not sure if The First Offering is the release that finally crosses that long bridge between aesthetics, but Crowlegion position themselves well with these tracks to continue to make the journey. Nod or headbang. Your choice.

Crowlegion on Thee Facebooks

Crowlegion on Bandcamp

Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band, Intensity Ghost

chris forsyth and the solar motel band intensity ghost

Less about the sonic heft of any given moment than the overarching freedom of exploration throughout its five instrumental tracks, Intensity Ghost is the first studio offering from Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band (released on No Quarter), and it’s fucking brilliant. The Philly-based five-piece got together in 2013 but play like they’ve been sharing stages for a decade, whether it’s the smoothness with which they ride the bassline and current of synth in “Yellow Square” or closer “Paris Song”’s subtle move from minimalism into contemplative psychedelia. Dreamy centerpiece “I Ain’t Waiting” is the shortest of the bunch at 5:16, and opener “The Ballad of Freer Hollow” the longest and jammiest at 11:25 (immediate points), but wherever these guys – Forsyth on guitar, plus guitarist Paul Sukeena, bassist Peter Kerlin, drummer Steven Urgo and synth/organist Shawn Edward Hansen – seem to go, they get there with an engrossing fluidity that’s nothing short of masterful. A joy, front to back.

Chris Forsyth on Thee Facebooks

No Quarter Records

Eldorado, Babylonia Haze

eldorado babylonia haze

Eldorado’s Babylonia Haze, at 10 tracks and 55 minutes, is not an insignificant undertaking. The Spanish four-piece brazenly take on classic rock hooks topped with organ-and-guitar fluidity and the soar-ready singing of Jesus Trujillo, joined in the band by guitarist Andres Duende, bassist Cesar Sanchez and drummer Christian Giardino (since replaced by Javier Planelles). A progressive clarity marks out acoustic-led cuts like “Breathe the Night” and the later “Resurrection Song,” the arrangements natural and purposeful in kind, and longer inclusions like “Flowers of Envy” (8:02) and “Karma Generator” (11:35) have breadth enough to sustain their runtimes while keeping a structured feel, the latter providing plotted movements toward the apex of the album before “Moon Girl” offers a lesser build of its own as afterthought, reimagining prog-fueled heavy rock as the fodder of a pop wistfulness. Accomplished and precise, it’ll be too clean for some ears, while others will no doubt wonder how its brilliance can be ignored.

Eldorado on Thee Facebooks

Eldorado on Bandcamp

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Live Review: Enslaved, YOB, Ecstatic Vision and Witch Mountain in NYC, 03.21.15

Posted in Reviews on March 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

enslaved 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Driving the four-plus hours from Massachusetts to NYC to see Enslaved, YOB, Witch Mountain and Ecstatic Vision on Saturday wasn’t the practical choice, but it was the only choice. True, three of the four would be much, much closer to me this week, but to catch them in a bigger room and with Witch Mountain wasn’t an opportunity I wanted to miss. I left much earlier than I needed to, leaving as little as humanly possible to chance in terms of sitting in traffic, stressing out, etc. Turned out to be one of the easier rides south that I’ve had.

A positive omen? Maybe. I had time to hit Academy Records before the the show, which was a rare pleasure, and plenty of opportunity to catch my breath before doors to Gramercy Theatre opened. Last time I was there was for PentagramKings DestroyBang and Blood Ceremony, and as ambivalent as I was at being back in Manhattan itself, it would prove to be a night surrounded by old friends, laughs and good vibes. More than anything, that made trip worthwhile.

But there was a show on as well, and a killer one at that. An early start for a packed night had Witch Mountain on at 7:30, and here’s how it went from there:

Witch Mountain

witch mountain 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A couple new faces in Portland’s scene-preceding four-piece, Witch Mountain. Very new, as it happened. As in, this was their second show. Led by founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nate Carson, the band had played Pittsburgh the evening prior, and that was the first gig with newcomer vocalist Kayla Dixon and bassist Justin Brown (also of Lamprey). Night two of the band’s Mk. III lineup was a short set, but they made the most of it and showcased the potential for continued growth. Dixon had a distinctly metallic presence as frontwoman, and the entire band, Brown included, seemed to relish the opportunity to have a bigger stage on which to unfurl their doom. Again, their time was brief, but “Psycho Animundi” from last year’s Mobile of Angels (review here) more than ably demonstrated Dixon‘s vocal range, while “Veil of the Forgotten” and particularly the end of “Shelter” from 2012’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) thrust into an almost power metal presentation, already edging up to the boundaries of a shifting personality for the band. Especially for it being night two, it was an encouraging sight. I’d expect over time Witch Mountain will loosen up further in presence as they continue to tighten sonically, but I felt fortunate to see that process at its beginning.

Ecstatic Vision

ecstatic vision 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Of the four bands on the bill, I wondered most about how Ecstatic Vision‘s sound would translate to the spaciousness of Gramercy Theatre. The Philly three-piece would hardly be the first act in history to play space rock in a high-ceiling room, but for their being a newer band despite the experience of guitarist/vocalist Doug Sabolik and drummer Jordan Crouse in A Life Once Lost, it was a point of curiosity. Some of Sabolik‘s flourish, the chimes on his mic stand and melodica, weren’t as prevalent as they had been when I saw the band open for YOB at the Saint Vitus Bar in December (review here), but they did well all the same, and bassist Michael Connor‘s tone came through the house clear and warm in kind. Their custom lighting, the rope lights around the drums, strobe, and so on, left Connor more or less out of the equation, and that seemed to create some imbalance on stage, but unless you happened to be the black metal purists positioned in front of me as I watched Estatic Vision space out on encompassing, fluid psychedelic jams, there was little to argue with as they warmed up and settled into their engaging vibe. They still don’t have much recorded but are expected to make a debut sometime later this year on Relapse. Still worth keeping an eye on.

YOB

yob 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Would YOB do “Marrow” in that room? Yes, they would. Three of the four cuts from last year’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) — also my pick for the best album of 2014 — were aired, with opening duo “In Our Blood” and the scorching “Nothing to Win” leading to the aforementioned 19-minute record-closer, which was followed in turn by the title-track of their 2011 sixth album, Atma (review here), the Eugene, Oregon, three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster crisp in their delivery but not at all dead-eyed in the here’s-another-show way one might expect after their having spent the better part of the last three weeks on the road. The run with Enslaved ends this week, but YOB will continue to tour their way back west before returning in May to the East Coast for Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore. In New York, their response showed a considerable crossover response from the clearly-there-for-Enslaved contingent, particularly as the culmination of “Marrow” hit and they followed it by the gallop-laden “Atma,” which seemed all the more furious in comparison. I’ve seen YOB at least five times in the last 12 months and have yet to come out of a set without any regrets. Foster‘s snare was loud in the house mix, but so was everything else, so, you know, it kind of worked itself out. Every accolade YOB gets, they earn. I know they did that European stint last year with Pallbearer, and that was a month-plus on the road, but it’s still a change to think of YOB as a touring band after their years of keeping shows limited. While I wonder what the rest of 2015 will hold for them, I also couldn’t help but notice how sustainable and decidedly un-worn they looked on stage, like they could just keep going. I doubt they’d have met any complaints if they had.

Enslaved

Enslaved (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Last time I saw Enslaved in New York was early 2013. They played the Bowery Ballroom (review here), which is a not-insignificant space in itself, but not as sizable as the Gramercy, and I think it says something about the long-running Norwegian outfit’s growing US fanbase that their return to Manhattan would be in a larger venue. They’re supporting the release of their 13th full-length, In Times (review forthcoming) on Nuclear Blast, but new material or old, they had the room on their side from the word go. Bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson joked with the crowd between songs, and by the time they got down to playing the title-track from In Times laughingly promised the crowd that it would be the last new song they played. For what it’s worth, I didn’t notice much of a change in reception for recent or older material. Sure, a song like “The Watcher” from 2008’s Vertebrae, with its mega-chorus, or a by-now staple like “Ruun” from the 2006 LP of the same name is bound to get a response, but “Thurisaz Dreaming” and “Building with Fire” sat well alongside those and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here), and wherever the band headed, the crowd went along. Of course, their stage presentation was air-tight, Kjellson holding down a frontman role flanked on either side by guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, while keyboardist/vocalist Herbrand Larsen made a case for up-front featuring of his own with stellar command of the clean-sung parts — I saw Enslaved for the first time eight years ago at SXSW, and I’d mark Larsen‘s growth as a vocalist among the foremost catalysts enabling their musical progression in that time; that growth was, I’ll note, already underway for several years by then — and drummer Cato Bekkevold sat swallowed up by his expansive kit surrounding. They came out one at a time to start their set and for the encore, and each time Bekkevold sat down, he disappeared. Good for a laugh, but he also used that whole drumset, and flawlessly. Their encore was “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights, “Fenris” from 1994’s sophomore outing, Frost, and the title-cut from 2004’s landmark Isa, and when it was over, there was nothing left for the audience to do but leave, having so thoroughly been handed its ass on a platter by the five-piece, whose reach seems only to continue growing with time.

If you want the short version, the show was a win, but what made it even better was seeing old friends throughout the night and catching up, and that was something that continued even as security started shuffling people out of the downstairs lounge. On my way back north on Sunday, it was the memories of good times and good music that seemed to make the trip shorter, both thoroughly appreciated.

Speaking of old friends, this review is dedicated to Loana dP Valencia of Nuclear Blast, alongside whom it has been my complete and utter pleasure to work for the last decade.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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audiObelisk Transmission 046

Posted in Podcasts on March 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

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I was coming down to the end of this one and decided that I couldn’t let it go without including one more track to push it toward the two-hour mark, and the weirdness of Skunk Hawk’s “Lovers of Pompeii” won out. All bets were off after JPT Scare Band anyway. Nothing to lose between that and Jonas Munk and Headless Kross. Kind of all over the place stylstically there, but each song is so immersive on its own that I figured it would work one way or another. Heaven forbid you change it up once or twice in 60 minutes. Ha.

The first hour gets pretty heavy as well — I suppose it starts that way, with Ufomammut leading off, but look out. Once Wren kicks in from the Jarboe & Helen Money track, that, Gale and Watchtower get into some serious heft. Not that the others don’t, but you know what I mean. Blah blah blah riffs. Oh yeah, and I totally snuck in some new Acid King there, because that record is killer. So dig on that for sure if you haven’t yet. As always, hope you enjoy:

First Hour:
Ufomammut, “Plouton” from Ecate
Royal Thunder, “Time Machine” from Crooked Doors
Boarchucker, “Red Rain” from Swine Throne
Suzukiton, “Snakehead” from Suzukiton II
Jarboe & Helen Money, “Hello Mr. Blue” from Jarboe & Helen Money
Wren, “Before the Great Silence” from split with Irk
Gale, “Burn Your Person” from Vol. 1
Watchtower, “Living Heads” from Radiant Moon
Leather Nun America, “Bourgeois Pig” from Buddha Knievel
Worshipper, “High above the Clouds” from Black Corridor/High above the Clouds
Acid King, “Red River” from Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere

Second Hour:
Headless Kross, “Rural Juror” from Volumes
Jonas Munk, “Absorb” from Absorb Fabric Cascade
JPT Scare Band, “Sleeping Sickness” from Acid Acetate Excursion & Rape of the Titan’s Sirens
Skunk Hawk, “Lovers of Pompeii” from Skunk Hawk

Total running time: 1:59:24

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 046

 

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Valkyrie’s Shadows Due May 19; Album Trailer and Details Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

valkyrie

As a first taste of the forthcoming third Valkyrie LP and first in seven years, the sampler clip of opener “Mountain Stomp” serves notice of classic rock intent and the double-guitar antics one expects from brothers Jake and Pete Adams. The record, titled Shadows, is out May 19 on Relapse, and along with the trailer and the tracklisting, the cover art by Jeremy Hush has been revealed. After so long an absence, though, it’s mostly just good to have Valkyrie up and kicking again. They’ll play the Maryland Doom Fest in June at Cafe 611 with Sixty Watt ShamanSpirit CaravanApostle of Solitude and many more (info here).

The PR wire has details:

valkyrie shadows

Relapse Records Details Valkyrie “Shadows” LP

Relapse Records, who is celebrating its 25th anniversary, has announced that they will be releasing a new LP from Valkyrie called Shadows on May 19th. The label is teasing the release with a trailer….

Propelled by the stunning guitar heroics of brothers Pete and Jake Adams, Virginia’s Valkyrie return with their third full length Shadows, one of the year’s best guitar-driven, heavy rock records. Jam packed with harmonized leads, rich solos and melodic, blues-based riffs, Valkyrie sound like the perfect blend of American style doom rock bands like Pentagram or Spirit Caravan and classic hard rock like Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, and Deep Purple. Where Pete Adams’ other band Baroness focuses more on the modern proggy and poppy side of metal, Valkyrie looks to proto metal trailblazers for influence while injecting plenty of current day inspiration. Produced by Sanford Parker (Pelican, Leviathan, YOB), Shadows is the perfect summer heavy rock record!

Check out the cover art by Jeremy Hush and track listing below…

Track Listing:
1. Mountain Stomp
2. Golden Age
3. Temple
4. Shadow of Reality
5. Wintry Plains
6. Echoes (Of The Way We Lived)
7. Carry On

http://www.relapse.com/label/
http://www.relapse.com/valkyrie/
https://www.facebook.com/thevalkyrierides
http://thevalkyrierides.bandcamp.com/

Valkyrie, Shadows album trailer

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