Ecstatic Vision Post New Video for “Astral Plane”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

ecstatic vision astral plane

More than content to let their freak flag fly, Philly trio Ecstatic Vision released their debut long-player earlier this month on Relapse Records. That album, Sonic Praise (review pending), is as informed by the bright multi-color vividness of Goat as it is by classic Hawkwindian space rock, and it serves notice of the three-piece’s arrival on the heavy psych scene, their only prior work a demo that got them picked up by Relapse and found them on tour with the likes of YOB and Enslaved earlier this year. Not a bad way to start out.

“Astral Plane” is the first video to come from Sonic Praise and it is little surprise that it’s trippy as hell. Directed by Philadelphia’s Woodshop Films, it’s essentially a performance clip, but like the song itself, it takes traditional forms and manipulates them through a cosmic sprawl to get a weirdo result that’s multifaceted and oddly familiar at the same time. Hard to imagine it’ll be long before Ecstatic Vision are back out supporting their first full-length’s arrival, but for anyone who hasn’t yet had the chance to see them on stage, the clip gives a decent sense of what they’re all about.

Mushrooms, apparently.

Have at you:

Ecstatic Vision, “Astral Plane” official video

Ecstatic Vision take us on a ride with their new live video “Astral Plane”. Their stunning debut, Sonic Praise earned them a signing with Relapse Records just a little after a year of coming together as a band and they’ve already toured North America with Yob and Enslaved. You can’t miss this one. 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.

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Relapse Records

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-(16)- Begin Recording New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Los Angeles sludge pummelers -(16)- have entered the studio to begin recording their next album. It’s been three years since the release of the long-running four-piece’s last album, Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds, and with the ubiquitous plant delays and things of that sort, it’s easy to imagine that it will be 2016 before the record — whatever it’s called when they’re done with it — actually comes out. But progress in the direction of a new record is good news, particularly with a lineup revamp, so I’m not inclined to argue. Seems likely we’ll hear much more about it before it arrives.

When it does, it’ll be out on Relapse, who sent the following down the PR wire:

16

-(16)- Enter The Studio

Veteran California sludge trailblazers -(16)- have commenced recording the follow-up to their acclaimed 2012 release, Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds. Says longtime guitarist and songwriter, Bobby Ferry:

“Since our last album, time has passed and children have grown. Friends have died. Family members have died, some from cancer, some from misadventure. We’ve toured, playing shows with our heroes and new friends alike. We’ve driven thousands of miles, slept in European airports, crashed at American truck stops. We’ve held shitty jobs and worked for slave wages to keep bills paid and lights on. Most importantly, though, we’ve survived, and all of this has left a mark on us and on our creative process. Like a terminal diagnosis, the idea of -(16)- has loomed as a shadow over its members; it exists as an island of volume, feedback and riffs where our fears are articulated, confronted, and crushed beneath this musical battery we’ve spent 24 years building. This time around, we note a growing acceptance of chaos, a begrudging nod to the fact that this affliction has brought with its pain a wisdom that bleeds into our new work, makes it stronger and smarter. We are currently crafting a darker record that’s reinforced with longer, more complex songs. We’ve road-tested some of the new material, and it’s been greeted by belligerent, confused strangers and fist-pumping fans alike. We aren’t worried about progression. We aren’t thinking about evolution. We undertake this new trip in the spirit of taking the chain off an animal that’s survived a quarter-century by feeding on the most negative parts of us and our lives, and following it to see where it goes on its own.”

For the as-yet-untitled new album, -(16)- is once again reunited with producer/engineer Jeff Forrest. Following their tradition of injecting new life with new players, Ferry and vocalist Cris Jerue are also joined by drummer Dion Thurman of San Diego noise rock legends, Creedle, and bassist Barney Firks (Sylvia Juncosa). Potential song titles include “Pastor In a Coma,” “George,” “Peaches, Cream, and Placenta” and “Secrets of The Curmudgeon.”

https://www.facebook.com/16Band
https://16theband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com/label/artist/16.html

-(16)-, Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds (2012)

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Neurosis Vinyl Reissues Announced for Through Silver in Blood and Times of Grace

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

neurosis

It’s cool. Just two of the heaviest records of all time. Nothing too wild. You know. Pretty much business as usual.

For those who’d rightfully build an altar and worship them as the prophetic works they are, Neurosis‘ massively influential 1996 Through Silver in Blood and 1999 Times of Grace albums are being given a deluxe vinyl treatment as part of Relapse Records‘ ongoing 25th anniversary celebration. Colored LPs, new art, downloads in case anyone wants to actually listen to the albums, and a special version of Tribes of Neurot‘s Grace as well for that one cat who actually has two turntables and the time to sort out playing it simultaneously with Times of Grace, which, you know, I only make fun of that dude for because I’m jealous both of his two turntables and leisure activity.

A veritable parade of rightfully lauded badassery. Have at you:

neurosis vinyl reissues

NEUROSIS: Relapse Vinyl Reissues Announced

As the next chapter in Relapse Records’ ongoing 25th anniversary commemoration, heavy music visionaries NEUROSIS will have two of their most revered and long out-of-print titles reissued on super deluxe 180-gram double vinyl this fall. Through Silver in Blood (1996), which Fact Magazine recently deemed the #1 best post-metal album of all time, has not been printed on vinyl in ten years, while Times of Grace (1999) is seeing its first pressing in over fifteen years. Additionally, Grace, the 1999 Tribes of Neurot companion piece to Times of Grace, will also see a deluxe Relapse reissue, its first time ever on vinyl.

Each reissue will contain reinterpretations of the original iconic artwork and will be housed in heavy duty “tip-on” jackets and will be available in a variety of limited edition exclusive colors. The reissues are set for worldwide release on September 4th and will also include full album digital download codes. Preorders for all of the editions can be currently found HERE.

In concurrence with the deluxe reissues, NEUROSIS are preparing to embark on a headlining North American tour this summer alongside Neurot Recordings doomsters Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, experimental sludge/noise technicians The Body and sludgesters SUMAC. A full list of dates is included below.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
7/31/2015 Liberty Hall – Lawrence, KS w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/01/2015 Mill City – Minneapolis, MN w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/02/2015 The Majestic – Madison, WI w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/03/2015 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/04/2015 Expo Five – Louisville, KY w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/05/2015 St. Andrews – Detroit, MI w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/06/2015 Opera House – Toronto, ON w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Body
8/07/2015 Heavy Montréal – Montréal, QC w/ Mastodon, Meshuggah, Gorguts, Arch Enemy
8/08/2015 Paradise – Boston, MA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac, The Body
8/09/2015 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/10/2015 Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/11/2015 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/12/2015 Broadberry – Richmond, VA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/14/2015 Masquerade – Atlanta, GA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Sumac
8/15/2015 House Of Blues – New Orleans, LA w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Iron Tongue
8/16/2015 Warehouse Live – Houston, TX w/ Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Pinkish Black

https://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
http://www.relapse.com/neurosis/
https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Neurosis, “The Doorway”

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Quarterly Review: Minsk, King Bison, Les Lekin, The Vintage Caravan, Jim Healey, Anu, Iron & Stone, Gorgantherron, Elephant Riders, Lend Me Your Underbelly

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

the obelisk summer quarterly review

And so we cruise into day three. Not sure how you’re holding up, but I feel like I’m hanging in pretty well. We pass the halfway point today, which is significant, but of course there are still plenty of records to come. I’m not sure I have a favorite day — I tried to spread stuff around as best I could when I was planning the whole thing — but there are definitely a couple highlights today as well. No doubt the standouts will stand out as we make our way through.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Minsk, The Crash and the Draw

minsk the crash and the draw

Six years after the release of their third album, With Echoes in the Movement of Stone (review here), the 75-minute breadth of The Crash and the Draw (on Relapse) marks a welcome resurgence for Illinois post-metallers Minsk. Only keyboardist/vocalist Timothy Mead and guitarist/vocalist Christopher Bennett (also of Lark’s Tongue) remain from what was a four-piece and is now five with Aaron Austin on guitar/vocals, Zachary Livingston on bass/vocals and Kevin Rendleman on drums, but Minsk’s cascading heft is well intact as they show immediately on 12-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) “To the Initiate.” True enough one is bound to be initiated after it, but it hardly scratches the surface of the atmospheric sludge Minsk continue to develop over the course of the four-parter “Onward Procession,” the glorious later melodies of “The Way is Through,” or the tribal tension in the percussion-led “To You there is No End.” They cap with the 10-minute “When the Walls Fell” and find themselves standing after all else has crashed down. A sprawling and triumphant return.

Minsk on Thee Facebooks

Minsk at Relapse Records

King Bison, King Bison

king bison king bison

Not to be confused with New York’s King Buffalo, Michigan’s Bison Machine or any number of other large mammals in the well-populated fur-covered contingent of American heavy rockers, King Bison make their self-titled debut via Snake Charmer Coalition, comprising seven riffy bruisers owing a deep debt to Clutch and, in that, reminding a bit of their Pennsylvanian countrymen in Kingsnake. Songs like “One for the Money” and “March of the Sasquatch” signal a watch for stoner-roller grooves to come in “Queen of the South” and “Pariah,” the dudeliness of the proceedings practically oozing from the speakers in the gruff vocals of guitarist/vocalist Chris Wojcik, who’s joined in the trio by bassist Dean Herber and drummer Scott Carey. The penchant for booze and blues, ladies and US auto manufacturing holds firm in “Night Ride” and the slower “I’m Gone,” and while one might expect a closer called “Space Boogie” to flesh out a bit, King Bison instead reinforce the foundation they’ve laid all along of Southern-style heft, remaining light on pretense and heavy on riffs.

King Bison on Thee Facebooks

Snake Charmer Coalition

Les Lekin, All Black Rainbow Moon

les lekin all black rainbow moon

Originally issued digitally late last year, Salzburg, Austria, instrumental trio Les Lekin are set to give their debut long-player, All Black Rainbow Moon, a second look with a 180g vinyl pressing in Fall 2015. Comprised of six tracks, the record is a spacious 49 minutes, and the three-piece of guitarist Peter G., bassist Stefan W. and drummer Kerstin W. enact a fluid heavy psych groove, somewhat less dense in its fuzz than the post-Colour Haze sphere and following plotted courses throughout, whether it’s in the Arenna-esque “Solum,” which unfolds after the album’s wash of an intro, the efficient exploration of “Useless,” which seems to pack a 12-minute jam into a six-minute song, or the still-open-sounding bluesy stretchout of “Loom,” the longest inclusion here at 13:16. Familiar in aesthetic perhaps, the songs are nonetheless complex enough to represent the band’s beginnings well, the closer “Release” coming to a heavier apex that could perhaps foreshadow future expansions of the chiaroscuro elements at which the title of this debut is hinting.

Les Lekin on Thee Facebooks

Les Lekin on Bandcamp

The Vintage Caravan, Arrival

the-vintage-caravan-arrival

After releasing their 2012 debut, Voyage, on Nuclear Blast last year, young Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan return in 2015 with their sophomore full-length, Arrival – the second record seeming by title to be an answer to the first. Maybe that’s the intention musically, but the 10 tracks/55 minutes comprising Arrival do well to stand on their own, with the impressive lead work of guitarist/vocalist Óskar Logi never too far from the fore on songs like the standout “Babylon” or “Sandwalker,” though backed capably by the rhythm section of bassist Alexander Örn (also backup vocals) and drummer Stefán Ari Stefánsson. While unquestionably a more mature outing than their debut and more accomplished in its chemistry and songwriting, Arrival still gives a sense of the progression to come, and it’s easy to worry that by the time the listener gets to the powerful closing trio of “Innerverse,” “Carousel” and “Winter Queen,” the dizzying play throughout will have dulled the senses past the point of full appreciation. Room to tighten? Perhaps, but still a strong second outing for a band loaded with potential.

The Vintage Caravan on Thee Facebooks

The Vintage Caravan at Nuclear Blast

Jim Healey, This is What the End Looked Like

jim healey this is what the end looked like

Guitarist/vocalist Jim Healey is known more for the aggressive edge he’s brought over the years to bands like We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai and most recently Shatner, but his solo material brings a different look. Joined in this “solo” endeavor by guitarist/vocalist/organist Joe McMahon, cellist/backing vocalist Dana Fisher, drummer Kyle Rasmussen and accordionist/backing vocalist Bridget Nault, Healey’s songwriting is nonetheless front and center across the nine tracks of This is What the End Looked Like, memorable cuts like “A Whole Lot of Nothing,” the more subdued “Radio” (written by Eddy Llerena) and closer “World War Eight” fleshing out arrangements that could work and/or have worked just as well on solo acoustic guitar for Healey in live performances. Worth noting that for all the vocal and instrumental embellishments on the studio incarnations, the songs lose none of the heartfelt feel at their core, Healey’s voice remaining a lonely presence despite obviously keeping good company.

Jim Healey on Thee Facebooks

Jim Healey on Bandcamp

Anu, Nighthymns

ANU Nighthymns

Nighthymns marks a return for ANU and the band’s sole inhabitant Chad “Drathrul” Davis (Hour of 13/Night Magic, Tasha-Yar, The Sabbathian, and so many others) after a four-year absence following the release of 2011’s III EP. Offsetting blasting, ripping black metal on cuts like “Enter the Chasm” and “The Eternal Frost” with the ambient drones of “Risen within the Mist of Obscurity,” the longer “Winterfall” and the title-track, Nighthymns nonetheless gnashes its teeth in a dense blackened murk, screams far back in “Enter the Chasm” beneath programmed-sounding thud and full-on guitar squibblies. A project Davis has had going in one form or another since releasing a first demo in 1999, and likely before that, ANU’s slicing extremity and atmospherics rest well alongside each other, but neither is accessibility a remote concern. If you get it, you get it, and if you don’t, you don’t. Nighthymns is way more concerned with separating wheat from chaff than it is with making friends, and that plays much to its ultimate success.

Anu on Thee Facebooks

Wohrt Records

Iron and Stone, Old Man’s Doom

iron and stone old man's doom

Comprised of gruff-shouting vocalist Henning L., guitarists Christopher P. and Stephan M., bassist Matthias B. and drummer Torsten H., German riff idolizers Iron and Stone debuted in 2013 with an EP titled Maelstrom and Old Man’s Doom is a follow-up short release. Pressed to DIY cassettes, the three-tracker preaches loud and clear to the nod-ready converted in “Place in Hell” and “Into the Unknown,” big riffs lumbering out stone vibes, intertwining rhythms and leads in the latter as Henning works his shouting into a corresponding notation. “Into the Unknown” ends large and Sabbathy, but speedier closer “Bliss of Diversion” is a high point unto itself for the consistency of the tonal morass that the uptick in pace brings out of the guitar and bass, resulting in a kind of noisy, dense-in-the-low-end punk that suits Iron and Stone well despite operating in defiance of the EP’s title. New material reportedly in the works as well.

Iron and Stone on Thee Facebooks

Iron and Stone on Bandcamp

Gorgantherron, Second Sun

gorgantherron second sun

Their first album, Second Sun follows a 2012 self-titled EP from Indiana trio Gorgantherron, but is in a different league entirely. A well-set mix balance establishes itself on the opening title-track and develops throughout “Superliminial” and “Bookbinder” as they get rolling, and Gorgantherron – guitarist/vocalist Clint Logan, bassist/vocalist Toby Richardson and drummer Chris Flint – continue to foster grooving largesse over the nine tracks/47 minutes, veering skillfully between boogie and doom on “Pre-Warp Civilization” before airing out an atmospheric take on “Seventh Planet,” the rough-edged vocals prevalent in quieter surroundings. Richardson’s fuzz on “The Stone” ensures the song lives up to its name, and the soft guitar noodling that opens “Paranoia” brings a surprising touch of Colour Haze influence out of the blue before a count-in from Flint puts the band’s roll back on its appointed track. Closing duo “Entropy” and “Defy” offer some shuffle and chug, respectively, but by then the trio have already made the album’s primary impression in their heavy riffs, burl and more than capable execution.

Gorgantherron on Thee Facebooks

Gorgantherron on Bandcamp

Elephant Riders, Challenger

elephant riders challenger

The two cuts of Spanish trio Elephant RidersChallenger EP take Kyuss-style desert riffing and reset the context to something altogether less jammy. Tight and presented with a near-metallic crispness in their production, both “Challenger” – rerecorded from an earlier EP – and its more rolling B-side “Lone Wolf” push the line between heavy and hard rock, but riffs remain central to their purposes. Having released their debut full-length, Supernova, in 2014, they’re still getting settled into their sound, but a blend of heavy rock, grunge and metal impulses pervades these two songs, and when “Lone Wolf” shifts into a couple measures of start-stop fuzz riffing in its second half, they show off just a reminder nod for where they got their name. Two catchy tracks that maybe aren’t reinventing the stoner rock game, they nonetheless provide a quick sample of Elephant Rider’s songwriting development in progress and plant the seeds of future hooks to come.

Elephant Riders on Thee Facebooks

Elephant Riders on Bandcamp

Lend Me Your Underbelly, Hover

lend me your underbelly hover

When placed next to each other, the five one-word titles on Lend Me Your Underbelly’s Hover – either the project’s third or fourth full-length, depending on what you count – result in the phrase “Everything” “Was” “Deep” “Dark” “Green.” Whether or not that is of special significance to Netherlands-based multi-instrumentalist/sampler Christian Berends, I don’t know. The whole idea across these tracks seems to be experimentation and improvisation, so if the titles were grabbed from somewhere at random or carrying a rich emotional connection, either is just as likely. Not knowing turns out to be half the fun of Hover itself – not knowing that, not knowing what Berends is going to do around the next turn as each track builds, not knowing where all this noise is leading as the swirls and riffs of “Green” close out. Layers careen, appear and disappear throughout, but the wide open structures and creative sensibility remain consistent and tie Hover together as an intricate work of exploratory psychedelia.

Lend Me Your Underbelly on Thee Facebooks

Lend Me Your Underbelly on Bandcamp

 

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Windhand Announce Headlining Tour and Grief’s Infernal Flower Album Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

windhand

While they’re not making it easy on themselves in having to follow the thunderplod of Swedish heavyweights Monolord each night, if there’s anyone who might stand up to the task, it’s Richmond doomers Windhand, who today announce not only that headlining tour with Monolord and Portland heavy rockers Danava, but also the details for their forthcoming third long-player, Grief’s Infernal Flower, which stands among the most anticipated heavy offerings to come before the New Year. Cover art is by Arik Roper, production is by Jack Endino and the album itself is by Windhand, who stand poised to make a defining statement about who they are as a band and what their impact on US doom in the long run will be. I’m eager to find out.

From the PR wire:

windhand grief's infernal flower

Windhand Detail Upcoming Album Grief’s Infernal Flower Out on Relapse Records September 18th

Announce Headlining North American Tour This Fall

WINDHAND return with their third full-length, Grief’s Infernal Flower. The album was produced by Jack Endino (Nirvana, High On Fire, Soundgarden) and is a massive, heavy, personal and modern testament to the power of doom and stoner metal’s legacies. One sees the urgency the band have displayed over their career reflected in their music – long-canonized tropes are reimagined and reinvented, Windhand convey an irrepressible sense of motion even within the slowest of songs.

Front woman Dorthia Cottrell firmly establishes herself as one of today’s most powerful vocalists by perfectly balancing beauty with enormous force, and the twin-guitar attack of Garrett Morris and Asechiah Bogdan weaves together nine songs of perfect riffs and fuzzed-out bliss. That often-delicate splendor is all tempered by the colossal rhythmic mastery of bassist Parker Chandler and drummer Ryan Wolfe, whose lower-register expertise serves as the backbone of the new record. Though the first two WINDHAND albums were underground classics, Grief’s Infernal Flower stands to see WINDHAND cementing themselves as one of the premier metal bands of our time.

Windhand: Garrett Morris (Guitars), Parker Chandler (Bass) Dorthia Cottrell (Vocals), Asechiah Bogdan (Guitars), Ryan Wolfe (Drums)

Windhand Live Dates:
July 28: AS220 – Providence, RI
Jul 29: Cambridge, MA – Middle East Upstairs
Jul 30: Montreal, QC – RRROOAAARRR
Jul 31: Toronto, ON – The Garrison
Sept 18: Richmond, VA – Strange Matter
Oct 21: New York, NY – Gramercy #
Oct 22: Buffalo, NY – Waiting Room #
Oct 23: Pittsburgh, PA – Smiling Moose #
Oct 24: Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle #
Oct 27: Seattle, WA – Neumos #
Oct 28: Vancouver, BC – Astoria #
Oct 29: Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios #
Oct 30: San Francisco, CA – The Chapel #
Oct 31: San Diego, CA – Night of the Shred ^
Nov 1: Los Angeles, CA – Roxy #
Nov 2: Mesa, AZ – Club Red #
Nov 3: Albuquerque, NM – Sister #
Nov 4: Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater #
Nov 6: Dallas, TX – Dada #
Nov 7: Austin, TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest Nites #
Nov 8: Little Rock, AR – White Water Tavern #
Nov 11: Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups #
Nov 12: Ferndale, MI – Loving Touch #
Nov 13: Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop #
Nov 14: Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery #
Nov 15: Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts #

# – w/ Danava and Monolord
^ – w/ Monolord

Windhand
Grief’s Infernal Flower
Relapse Records
September 18th, 2015
Pre-order: Physical | Digital

1 – Two Urns
2 – Forest Clouds
3 – Crypt Key
4 – Tanngrisnir
5 – Sparrow
6 – Hyperion
7 – Hesperus
8 – Kingfisher
9 – Aition

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http://windhandva.bandcamp.com/

Windhand, Grief’s Infernal Flower teaser

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Valkyrie, Shadows: A New Golden Age

Posted in Reviews on June 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

valkyrie-shadows

It has been seven years since Virginia dual-guitar rockers Valkyrie issued their second album, Man of Two Visions, which was a record that never got its due. The core of the band has been and remains brothers Jake and Peter Adams, and with that second full-length following up their 2006 self-titled debut, they delivered a harmonized-lead kick in the ass to the traditions of Maryland-style doom, marking what seemed at the time like a generational shift in approach. The tones were organic, the vibe schooled but dipping back to ’70s rock in a way that, particularly at the time, was refreshing and exciting for an American band, and with just a touch of Southern heavy at its roots it seemed to hold promise that Valkyrie were bound to turn heads in the years to come.

In 2015, they make their debut on Relapse Records with Shadows, a 42-minute heavy-groover that boasts a track for its year of Valkyrie‘s absence — notable that opener “Mountain Stomp” was featured on a 2012 split with Earthling, whose Alan Fary here plays bass — and finds them no less ready than they were to be commended for their exploration of Pentagram-meets-Thin Lizzy vibes with the occasional flourish of Spirit Caravan‘s irresistible roll. With Warren Hawkins‘ drums setting the pace, Jake and Pete — the latter of whom joined Baroness on lead guitar in 2008 and also features in the latest live incarnation of Samhain — are at the fore as ever in Valkyrie, and Shadows is a guitar-lover’s guitar album, “Temple” showing off swirling leads while the aforementioned and aptly-titled “Mountain Stomp” and subsequent “Golden Age” reaffirm both the guitarists’ harmonic tendencies and the memorable songwriting that made the band such a standout during their initial run.

The heavy rock climate having shifted as greatly as it has in the last decade, and Baroness having ascended to the fore of progressive metal, it seems likely that Valkyrie‘s methods will garner more attention with Shadows than they had previously, and fair enough. It is a mature album, steady in its pace and naturalist in its intent, as “Golden Age” demonstrates in following and developing the nod of “Mountain Stop” with one of Shadows‘ more resonant hooks, and “Temple” affirms with a greater sense of spaciousness and sure-footed shuffle to bridge the lines of its verse. More than either of the opening two, “Temple” feels like a guitar showcase in its second half, but the simple fact is that the Adams brothers can pull that kind of thing off — easily, or at least easily-sounding — and emerge on the other end of six and a half minutes having long since departed the structure of a track without blisters either existential or on their already well-calloused hands.

valkyrie-photo-by-nicole-butler

Centerpiece “Shadow of Reality” refreshes a doomier spirit with peppered-in lead work and pushes through a midsection offsetting weightier impulses with airy tones on the way to a sun-soaked pastoral instrumental burst in its second half, the guitars locking step harmonically for a run no less memorable than the chorus subsequently referenced prior to the rumbling finish that leads the way into “Wintry Plains,” the longest track at 6:49 and a singular highlight for its patient feel, strong hook and rhythmic fluidity. That hook is reinforced, which makes a big difference compared to “Temple” or “Shadow of Reality” before it, the song moving into a jam and returning to the chorus before departing again at the close. One wouldn’t ask Valkyrie to do the same thing all the time, but even if it makes “Wintry Plains” the longest cut here — not by much; songs range on either side of six minutes — the extra seconds are well spent and go toward making the song a landmark for the band, which it is.

And the album is classic enough in its construction that “Wintry Plains” isn’t the last landmark to come, either. “Echoes (of the Way We Lived)” moves at a speedier clip than more relaxed earlier cuts like “Mountain Stomp” or “Golden Age” — though I wouldn’t go so far as to call anything on Shadows languid — and the effect it has is to sustain the momentum from the end of “Wintry Plains” over to closer “Carry On,” which leaves an impression that lasts much longer than the song’s six minutes, its theme and the repeated line, “Our voice will carry on,” as appropriate for a finishing track as it is for the story of Valkyrie in particular. With seven years between Man of Two Visions and their third, one can’t help but wonder if either or both of the Adams brothers are questioning if Shadows will be the last chapter in Valkyrie‘s story. It may well be, or it may be a new beginning, but whatever context time gives, it’s a worthy follow-up to their second album and a look at some of what the band might’ve been able to accomplish had they kept going the first time around.

To be perfectly honest, it’s a somewhat bittersweet listen on that level, since it’s easy to imagine that, had their circumstances not worked out the way they did, Valkyrie would probably be two or three records beyond their third offering by now, and there are points in making my way through Shadows where I ask what those could-have-been moments would sound like, where the obvious chemistry between Jake and Pete might have taken their songwriting. We may yet find that out — and better late than never, of course — and while it’s hard to hear these tracks and wonder if this is Valkyrie‘s shining moment or if that might still come, it’s worth remembering that in the intervening seven years they’ve been (mostly) gone, a new generation of American heavy rock fans has emerged, and for them, it’s just as likely Shadows will be a first exposure. On that level, it is nothing if not welcoming.

Valkyrie, Shadows (2015)

Valkyrie on Thee Facebooks

Valkyrie on Bandcamp

Valkyrie at Relapse Records

Relapse Records on Thee Facebooks

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Valkyrie Announce July Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Reborn Virginian heavy rockers Valkyrie continue their surge in the wake of the release last month of their third album, first in seven-plus years and first for RelapseShadows (review pending). They’ve just announced a new round of tour dates supporting the record for next month, and that’s awesome, but if I can, I’d like to draw your eyes for just a moment to their three festival slots in the coming months.

June 27, they’re at Maryland Doom Fest, and in one weekend in August, they play both the Death to False Metal festival in Connecticut (that’s Aug. 14) and the GwarBQ in Richmond, Virginia (that’s Aug. 15). Yeah, there’s a whole tour between and I’ve no doubt the four-piece are going to play with some kickass bands along the way, but god damn, if Valkyrie were going to make a comeback, at least they’re doing it in style.

Okay, now we can go back to the business at hand, which comes off the PR wire:

valkyrie

Valkyrie Announce Tour In Support of “Shadows”

Valkyrie recently released their Shadows LP via Relapse Records, and now the band is gearing up for a tour and set of festival appearances.

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 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. You can stream the album here, and check them out when they ride through your town…

Valkyrie shows:
Jun 27 Frederick, MD – Maryland Doom Fest
Jul 17 Athens, OH – Casa Nueva
Jul 18 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
Jul 19 Chicago, IL – Livewire
Jul 21 Madison, WI – Wisco
Jul 22 Minneapolis, MN – Hexagon
Jul 23 Omaha, NE – Lookout Lounge
Jul 24 Kansas City, KS – Riot Room
Jul 25 St. Louis, MO – The Firebird
Jul 27 Memphis, TN – Hi-Tone Cafe
Jul 28 Nashville, TN – The End
Jul 29 Johnson City, TN – The Hideaway
Jul 30 Asheville, NC – Odditorium
Jul 31 Raleigh, NC – Slim’s
Aug 14 Hamden, CT – Death to False Metal Fest
Aug 15 Richmond VA – Gwar BBQ @ Hadad’s Lake

http://www.relapse.com/valkyrie/
https://www.facebook.com/thevalkyrierides
http://www.valkyrieband.com/

Valkyrie, “Mountain Stomp”

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Windhand to Release Grief’s Infernal Flower on Sept. 18

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

Anticipation is already high for Windhand‘s upcoming third album, Grief’s Infernal Flower, and I think it has been more or less since the Richmond, Virginia, five-piece released their second offering and Relapse Records debut, Soma (review here), in 2013. In the wake of that outing, they’ve become one of the most hotly-tipped doom bands in the US, and have toured at home and abroad to acclaim no less mountainous than that heaped onto their studio work.

For Grief’s Infernal Flower, the band partnered with producer Jack Endino, whose resume is the stuff of legend, from his work with Nirvana to Nebula and High on Fire, on and on. The road-dogging Windhand will likely have tour dates announced soon as they lead up to the release of the new album — there are a few shows in the Northeast scheduled as it is that seem like the trickle before the flood of their new touring cycle — but even working with someone like Endino seems like a move by a band ready to take their approach to the next level. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, I’ll casually remind that the High on Fire record Endino helmed was 2007’s Death is this Communion. That should really say it all.

The PR wire has few details but keeps things focused on the key figures:

windhand and endino

Windhand Announce New Album Grief’s Infernal Flower

Produced By Jack Endino | Out On Relapse Records September 18th

Windhand’s highly anticipated, third full-length album is ready. Grief’s Infernal Flower is set for release September 18th on Relapse Records. Recorded in Seattle at Soundhouse Recording with legendary producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, High on Fire), the album contains nine songs and promises to be their most ambitious record to date.

Stay tuned for more info on WINDHAND.

WINDHAND US LIVE DATES:

July 28: AS220 – Providence, RI
Jul 29: Cambridge, MA – Middle East Upstairs
Jul 30: Montreal, QC – RRROOAAARRR
Jul 31: Toronto, ON – The Garrison

https://www.facebook.com/WindhandVA
http://windhandva.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com/

Windhand, Soma (2013)

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