Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been seven long years since Virginian rockers Valkyrie issued their second album, Man of Two Visions, and wow that’s a long time. MeteorCity did a reissue in 2010, and they’ve continued to play shows every now and again, brotherly guitar duo Jake and Pete Adams (the latter of Baroness and now also guesting with the Samhain reunion) coordinating around family lives, member flux, Pete‘s tour schedule, etc., more or less gigging when able, but yeah, the years have gone quick. Valkyrie were always a killer band, and I frickin’ loved Man of Two Visions when that came out, so I’ll be interested to hear what they’ve got in store for their third long-player, which Relapse has picked up for an early 2015 release following a recording session with Sanford Parker.
The PR wire puts it like this:
VALKYRIE Sign to Relapse Records; Complete Recording New Album
Relapse Records is proud to announce the signing of Virginia hard rock riff worshippers VALKYRIE. Formed in 2002, VALKYRIE consists of brothers Jake and Pete Adams (Baroness, Samhain) on guitar and vocals, Alan Fary (Earthling) on bass and Warren Hawkins on drums. Drawing heavily from the classic eras of hard rock and heavy metal, VALKYRIE play guitar driven rock n’ roll replete with infectious solos and catchy, powerful vocals. The band has drawn numerous comparisons to greats like Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, early Iron Maiden, and Deep Purple.
The quartet has released two full-lengths along with a series of EPs and singles. VALKYRIE recently recorded their first full-length in over 7 years at Earth Analog Studios in Champaign, IL with producer Sanford Parker (Nachtmystium, Pelican) earlier this month. The eight song album will see an early 2015 release via Relapse.
Guitarist / vocalist Jake Adams commented on the signing and new material:
“We are really excited about this new record. Some of these songs we have been working on for many years and we are glad to see them have a proper release on an excellent label. This new record will be a step up in terms of song dynamics and musicianship from the previous albums. We think our fans will dig the fresh approach to the classic Valkyrie sound.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been a while since much of anything was heard from Illinois post-metallers Minsk. The Relapse troupe’s last full-length was 2009′s With Echoes in the Movement of Stone (review here) and after an appearance on the Hawkwind Triad (review here) tribute from Neurot alongside Harvestman and U.S. Christmas, they kind of faded out. They’d had a good run up to that point, working with producer-and-eventual-bassist Sanford Parker and touring the country several times over while on a seemingly relentless path of creative growth, but yeah. Then they were gone.
The PR wire informs they’re working on their first album in what by the time it arrives will have been six years. I’ve posted the Bandcamp stream for With Echoes in the Movement of Stonebelow, but I’d expect that anything Minsk put out at this point would be much different than that album was, with all the time that’s passed and whatnot. I guess we’ll find out for sure early next year when Relapse puts it out.
MINSK: Begin Recording New Album
Band’s First Record in Over 5 Years to See Early 2015 Release
Peoria, IL psychedelic metallers MINSK have begun work on their new full-length record and first in over 5 years. After a two-year hiatus, the band has been reinvigorated and has written their most ambitious material to date. The album is being recorded at Earth Analog studios outside of Champaign, IL throughout July/August and is being produced by long-time collaborator Sanford Parker. The as-of-yet titled album will see an early 2015 release via Relapse Records.
Founding member Timothy Mead commented on the group’s rebirth:
“So much attention and care have gone into this process, this renewal. We knew that in order to really move Minsk forward in a meaningful way we would need to raise the bar all over again. This realization lit a fire within us to transcend what was. So many things had to fall into place to make it what we knew it needed to be. A new rhythm section, a second guitar for the first time since the early days of the band, additional vocalists, Sanford’s contributions moving to the realm of synth/noise for this album. Lots of changes, to be sure, and yet the results will be unmistakably Minsk… just Minsk on a whole different level this time around. We cannot wait to share the fruits of these labors.”
Founding member Christopher Bennett further elaborated:
“With each album cycle, a multitude of experiences and influences unite to bring about the cultivation of a cohesive and representative grouping of sounds. This new album will present inroads to some of the musical archetypes we initially discussed when starting this band, but ones we have not yet touched on in the macrocosmic sense. It embodies the furtherance and expansion of Minsk in ways desired in the past, but not realized until these songs began to show themselves to us. The aggregate elements combining into a solid form. We hope to reveal this process to any and all who have the ears to hear.”
Minsk is: Aaron Austin Christopher Bennett Zachary Livingston Timothy Mead Kevin Rendleman
Posted in Features on July 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Before I even start, let’s get one thing out of the way. I want a new Sleep album too. My not including them on this list isn’t due to the fact that I don’t think a new Sleep album is a good idea, but just because I haven’t seen anything about it being recorded or released in the next five-plus months. If it hits on Jan. 1, 2015, I’ll be the happiest Baby New Year you ever saw, but that’s a different list altogether.
Ditto that Om and High on Fire. The latter were writing as of May, and I know Om did some recording way back in January, but I’ve yet to see solid word of new records at all, let alone before the end of the year. Either or both or all three may happen, but until I see some hint of it, all I can go on is the info I can find.
Seriously though, how badass would it be if all three put out albums before the New Year? That excitement is kind of what this list is about. Some of these records I’ve heard, but most I haven’t, so it’s just basic speculation about what I think could be some of the best releases in the next couple months. You’ll note that while there are plenty of dates TBA, nothing listed arrives in November, so as 2014 winds down, there’s bound to be even more quality stuff than appears here.
In fact, I struggled to take things out to get it down to 30. And it still goes to 31! I figured no one would mind. They’re numbered, but the list is in alphabetical order.
If I left something out you’re dying to hear, please let me know in the comments.
Thanks in advance for reading:
1. Alunah, TBA (Sept.)
Birmingham’s Alunah, like several others below, are a holdover from the Most Anticipated Albums list back at the start of the year. The difference between now and then is that, while its title still hasn’t been revealed so far as I know, their Napalm Records debut has been recorded, mixed and mastered, the latter by Tony Reed, the former by Greg Chandler of Esoteric, and given a September release date. Two years after Alunah made riffy doom sound easy on their sophomore outing, White Hoarhound (review here), I look forward to hearing how they’ve grown and shifted in their approach to warm-sounding tones and memorable hooks. They’ve set a pretty high standard for themselves. Alunah on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
2. Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds (Oct.)
These guys. I don’t mind telling you it was a thrill when Indianapolis doomers Apostle of Solitude were announced as having signed to Cruz del Sur to release their third album, Of Woe and Wounds, this fall. Their second outing, 2010′s Last Sunrise (review here), didn’t get the attention it deserved, but the handful of songs they’ve made public since have shown much promise, and as the first Apostle of Solitude full-length to feature guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also Devil to Pay) in harmony with guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown — the band is completed by bassist Dan Davidson and drummer Corey Webb — this is definitely going to make for a doomly autumn. Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks, Cruz del Sur Music.
3. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance (Aug. 26)
Recorded late last year at Amps vs. Ohms in Boston, the third album from Maple Forum alum Blackwolfgoat — the prog-drone alter ego of guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Roadsaw, etc.) — is the project’s most expansive outing yet, and it seems Shepard is moving more in a song-based direction, rather than some of the building loops of the past two offerings. Of course, there will be plenty of those as well, but watch out for some acoustic guitar, and deep-in-the-mix vocals, as they could easily hint of things to come. Or Darryl could turn it on its head and do a calypso record. Either way, I’m on board with no pretense of impartiality. Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp, Small Stone’s Bandcamp.
4. Blues Pills, Blues Pills (Aug. 5)
The much-heralded Swedish/French/American psych-blues conglomeration Blues Pills will make their self-titled debut (short review here) next month, and while it’s probably going to be a bigger deal in Europe than in the States — at least until Nuclear Blast brings them over here for a tour, then the country is going to go apeshit for them — the songwriting and soulful execution of their tracks justifies the hype. There’s a bit of retro posturing to what they do, some Graveyard shuffle (it feels inevitable at this point with a ’70s-influenced band), but the grooves are easy to dig into and the potential is basically limitless for where they want to go. It’s scary to keep in mind, but this is just the beginning. Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.
5. Bongripper, Miserable (July 7)
You may notice something strange about the date above for a list of upcoming albums in that July 7 was yesterday. Well, Chicago’s Bongripper posted their new three-track full-length monster Miserable on their Bandcamp for stream and download ahead of the vinyl’s arrival, and it was just too righteous to leave out. Those seeking landmark riffing need look no further than the 19-minute centerpiece “Descent,” which meters out stomp enough that future “scientists” will study its footprint, and closer “Into Ruin” (28:25) is guaranteed to be the heaviest half-hour you’ll spend today. Miserable feels like a no-brainer, but maybe that’s just because Bongripper have such a propensity for pounding skulls into mush. Bongripper on Thee Facebooks, Miserable on Bandcamp.
6. Botanist, VI: Flora (Aug. 11)
I feel like I missed a couple numbers from San Francisco-based environmentalist black metal unit Botanist along the way, but they’ll nonetheless issue VI: Flora on The Flenser next month, furthering their marriage of destruction and beauty and insistent percussive expression. The spaces Botanist — a one-man project from Robert Martinelli — create feel ritualistic without the dramatic posturing that pervades much of the genre, and sound, somewhere between raging and mournful, is hypnotic. Whatever your expectation might be, Martinelli seems pleased to use it to their advantage, and ultimately, defy it. Post-human, hammered dulcimer-laden black metal. It would be harder for Botanist to not be unique. Botanist on Thee Facebooks, The Flenser.
7. Brant Bjork, TBA (TBA)
When Brant Bjork‘s next album might show up, I don’t know. I know he’s signed to Napalm, and I know the photo above was snapped as he finished some vocals before going on tour with his Low Desert Punk band that includes guitarist Bubba DuPree, bassist Dave Dinsmore and drummer Tony Tornay, but whether or not the album they made is the funk-inspired Jakoozi that’s been in the offing for a while, or another collection of songs, and if Napalm will get it out before the end of the year remain a mystery. I do find it interesting that for his first “solo” outing post-Vista Chino (that band being on hiatus), Bjork has assembled a new band to work with rather than record multiple instruments himself, but no matter who’s involved, when it’s Brant Bjork writing the songs, it’s gonna be high rock from the low desert. Can’t wait to dig into whatever comes. Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
8. Earth, Primitive and Deadly (Sept.)
The headline for Earth‘s new album is it’s the one where they experimented with vocalists. And hey, if you’re going to toy around with the idea, you might as well get Mark Lanegan involved. The former Screaming Trees frontman is one of several singers appearing on Primitive and Deadly, due in September on Southern Lord, and it would appear that Earth‘s sound — always evolving, always somehow changing — is about to take another considerable turn. Fortunately, the Seattle band, led by guitarist Dylan Carlson and now approaching their 25th year, have long since proven worthy of trusting with their own direction. Earth will never be huge, by the simple nature of what they do, but their influence resounds and the quality of their output is unmatched. Earth on Thee Facebooks, Southern Lord Recordings.
9. Electric Wizard, Time to Die (Sept.)
“Wake up baby/It’s time to die.” So goes the title-track hook of Electric Wizard‘s new album and Spinefarm Records debut, Time to Die. As ever, it’s simple, hateful, drenched-in-fuzz misanthropy, and Electric Wizard revel in it accordingly. Their witchcult continues to grow in their native UK and abroad, and while their last two records have divided some listeners, they’ve invariably gained more ground than they’ve lost. A legal dispute with Rise Above finds them on the new label, and if there’s even the slightest chance that change will bring them to the US for a tour, I’ll take it. Expect 66 minutes of glorious filth. Electric Wizard on Thee Facebooks, Spinefarm Records.
10. Fever Dog, Second Wind (TBA)
Palm Desert youngsters Fever Dog have been kicking around the last few years finding their sound in varying elements of heavy rock and psychedelic experimentation. Most recently, they impressed with the single “Iroquois” (review here) taken from their new album Second Wind, and in looking forward to the full-length, I’m eager to learn how their style has solidified and what sort of vibes they conjure over its course. They’ve shown plenty of propensity for jamming in their prior work, so hopefully there’s a bit of that on hand as well. I’ve said before they’re a trio of marked potential, and nothing I’ve yet heard has dissuaded me from that impression. Fever Dog on Thee Facebooks, Fever Dog on Bandcamp.
11. Goat, Commune (Sept. 23)
Somehow, a band from Sweden who dress up in tribal costumes (problematic) and play Afrobeat psychedelia became a very, very big deal. I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to, and I won’t try, but I know that when Sub Pop releases Goat‘s second album, Commune, it’s going to be to a flurry of hype and heaps of critical fawning. It would be tempting to call Goat a novelty act, but their 2012 debut, World Music (discussed here), showcased a legitimately creative musical approach to go with the visual aspects of their presentation, and I find the fact that I have no idea what to expect from Commune to be refreshing. Goat on Thee Facebooks, Sub Pop Records.
12. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren (Aug. 11)
UK heavy rockers Grifter will make a welcome resurgence on Ripple Music with The Return of the Bearded Brethren, an album that builds on the straightforward, catchy sounds of their 2011 self-titled label debut (review here) and takes their infectiousness to new places lyrically, such as exploring issues of aging via an ode to Princess Leia from Star Wars. That particular brand of humor and is writ large on Grifter‘s second Ripple outing, and the trio set to work refining their take without losing the engaging feel of their self-titled. It feels like a long three years since that record hit, and I’ll be glad to have a follow-up in-hand. Grifter on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
13. Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz, New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future (TBA)
Unclear at this point whether Boston outfits Ice Dragon and Space Mushroom Fuzz collaborated on New Blue Horizon/A Peak into the Future, or if it’s a split. Either way, the prolific acts make a sound pairing. Both are vehemently creative and exploratory, psychedelic and progressive each in their way, and if what’s presumably a single finds them working together, all the better, but even if not, new material from either is nothing to balk at, particularly when topped off by such gorgeous artwork. Neither act is ever long from putting something out, so to have them come together one way or another makes a weird brand of sense, which I’m relatively sure the songs will as well. Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks, Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks.
14. Ides of Gemini, Old World New Wave (Sept. 16)
Ides of Gemini‘s 2012 Neurot Recordings debut, Constantinople (discussed here), established the three-piece as freely inhabiting either side of the imaginary line between ambience and heaviness, J. Bennett and Kelly Johnston providing sometimes minimal, sometimes consuming foundations for vocalist Sera Timms (ex-Black Math Horseman, also Black Mare) to cast ethereal melodies. What Old World New Wave will hold sound-wise, I don’t yet know, but Ides of Gemini‘s otherworldly resonance and ultra-patient approach makes it well worth finding out. Ides of Gemini on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
15. John Gallow, Violet Dreams (Aug. 4)
Frontman of Blizaro and Orodruin guitarist John James Gallo adds a ‘w’ to his last name and steps out solo on the I, Voidhanger Records release, Violet Dreams, the title hinting at some of his on-his-sleeve affinity for Italian psych-doom master Paul Chain and Swedish legends Candlemass. Gallo‘s work in Blizaro has a tendency to lean toward the progressive and cinematic, but as John Gallow, the focus is more on classic doom riffing and darkened metallurgy. As one would expect, he’s well in his element on the hour-long album, and I hope he decides to call the next one Ancient Theatre. Also note the incredible artwork of Costin Chioreanu. John Gallo on Thee Facebooks, I, Voidhanger Records.
16. John Garcia, John Garcia (Aug. 5)
A long-discussed solo debut for the former Kyuss frontman following a stint alongside Brant Bjork in Vista Chino, John Garcia‘s John Garcia (review here) finds the singer right in his comfort zone, topping desert rock riffs with his trademark guttural vocals. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I’d trade a second Vista Chino outing for it if given the choice — that band seemed to be on course for a sound of its own, separate from Kyuss‘ legacy, and that struck me as worth pursuing — but these songs have a similar enough production style that it’s easy to think of the one as an offshoot of the other, and of course Garcia calls his shots well throughout. John Garcia on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
17. King Buffalo, TBA (TBA)
Including King Buffalo here was pretty speculative on my part, but I dig the Rochester, NY, outfit and didn’t want to leave the prospect of their STB Records debut long-player out. It probably won’t land until 2015 — the future! — but their demo (review here) still gets regular plays around these parts, and I’m very much looking forward to catching them with similarly-minded Nashville blues rockers All Them Witches when they tour together next month. Whatever King Buffalo‘s recording/release plans might be, they’re definitely one to keep an eye on in the back half of this year. King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks, STB Records.
18. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy (TBA)
Love these guys, love this band. I make no bones about it. Their third record, self-titled and produced as the last two were by Sanford Parker, is as close as they’ve yet come to capturing their live sound, and while they’ve yet to nail down an exact release date, they have a couple very cool tours in the works for this fall, including dates next month with Eric Wagner‘s Blackfinger, that will make a fitting lead-in to their best outing yet. I’ve heard this and had the chance to see some of the material live, and they’ve outdone themselves again, which, considering the esteem in which I continue to hold their 2013 sophomore full-length, A Time of Hunting, is really saying something. Kings Destroy on Thee Facebooks, War Crime Recordings.
19. The Kings of Frog Island, V (Fall)
Easily one of the LPs I’m most eager to hear over the next few months, and specifically on vinyl. The Kings of Frog Island have shown themselves to be so dedicated to the format that their early-2013 album, IV (review here), was presented as two bundled sides even digitally. They recently gave a taste of what their fifth album will in-part hold via a video for “Sunburn” and I’m told more jamminess ensues elsewhere to complement that track’s easygoing flow and platter-ready hook. All the better. The Kings of Frog Island on Thee Facebooks, The Kings of Frog Island on YouTube.
20. Lonely Kamel, Shit City (Sept. 9)
I’d be lying if I said part of my immediate interest in Oslo heavy rockers Lonely Kamel‘s fourth record wasn’t due to the cheeky title, but it’s been three years since the Napalm Records four-piece released their last album, Dust (track stream here), and as they’ve put in plenty of road-time, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to go into this time around with elevated anticipation. I’m not sure you could get away with calling an album Shit City unless you meant business. Got my fingers crossed that’s precisely the case with Lonely Kamel. Lonely Kamel on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
21. Lo-Pan, Colossus (Oct. 7)
Fucking a. Doing the research for this list was the first I’d seen the Jason Alexander Byers cover art for Lo-Pan‘s fourth album, Colossus, or its Oct. 7 Small Stone release date. I haven’t heard the tracks yet — they recorded in Brooklyn back in March, and while I got 2012′s Salvador (review here) pretty early, the Columbus four-piece seem to be keeping a tighter lid on the follow-up — and I can’t help but feel like that’s my loss. Judging by what I’ve heard of the material live, Lo-Pan have dug further into their individual brand of riff-led soulful heavy, and I’ve got a high wager that a few months from now, Lo-Pan‘s latest will make an appearance on another list. More to come. Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
22. Novembers Doom, Bled White (July 15)
One of doom’s most fascinating and largely ignored progressions is that of Chicago melancholists Novembers Doom, who, when they started out 25 years ago, did so largely as a death metal band, and then moved on to pioneer an American interpretation of what’s commonly thought of as European doom, until, over their last several records, as they’ve started to move back to a more extreme, double-kick-drummed style. Bled White, on The End Records, continues along this path, but especially in the cleaner vocals of frontman Paul Kuhr there remain shades of the morose emotionality that typified what’s now become their mid-period doom idolatry. Unheralded, Novembers Doom keep exploring deeper, darker terrain. Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks, The End Records.
23. Pallbearer, Foundations of Burden (Aug. 19)
Foundations of Burden is unquestionably among the second half of 2014′s most anticipated albums. Arkansas-based doom four-piece Pallbearer will mark its release with extensive European and North American tours, and where their 2012 Profound Lore debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), came out and caught listeners off-guard with its unabashed emotional core, their sophomore outing finds them positioned at the forefront of American doom. Already the hype machine is rolling out the red carpet for the Billy Anderson-produced Foundations of Burden, but no one can say these guys haven’t put their work in, and the record is indeed one to look forward to. Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.
24. The Skull, TBA (TBA)
For The Skull to put out an album of original material is a unique challenge. Their earlier-2014 first single (stream/review here) found them standing up to it on the new song “Sometime Yesterday Mourning,” but at least half the point of the band since its inception has been to pay homage to legendary doomers Trouble, from whence vocalist Eric Wagner, bassist Ron Holzner and drummer Jeff “Oly” Olson come. For their Tee Pee Records debut full-length — yet untitled and hopefully out before 2015 — it’ll be most interesting to see how guitarists Matt Goldsborough (ex-Pentagram) and Lothar Keller (Sacred Dawn) rise to the occasion of building off some of doom metal’s most celebrated tones. Fingers crossed on this one. The Skull on Thee Facebooks, Tee Pee Records.
25. Snail, Feral (TBA)
Nothing has been formally announced yet, but on Small Stone Records‘ website, they list Snail‘s Feral among their upcoming releases. It would make a suitable pairing, the West Coast riffers having previously worked with MeteorCity on their 2009 post-reunion outing, Blood (review here), prior to independently releasing 2012′s Terminus (review here), and Small Stone seems like a good home for their fourth overall record and return to form as a trio, which was their original incarnation before their original dissolution circa 1994. How they expand on the heavier crunch of Terminus remains even more a point of fascination, and surely their cult following will be glad to find out. I know I will. Snail on Thee Facebooks, Small Stone Records.
26. Steak, Slab City (Sept. 9)
After two strong EPs in 2012′s Disastronaught (review here) and 2013′s best-title-ever-boasting Corned Beef Colossus (review here), it’s time for London stoner rockers Steak to step up their game for their Napalm Records debut full-length. The four-piece headed to the Californian desert to record Slab City, and so it’s fair to think some of that atmosphere may have worked its way into the material. Would be an awfully long way to go, otherwise. In either case, Steak have showcased considerable songwriting chops already, now it’s just a matter of sustaining it for a full album’s runtime and keeping enough variety in their approach. I have no doubt they’re ready for this next step. Steak on Thee Facebooks, Napalm Records.
27. Stubb, Cry of the Ocean (TBA)
It is with simple, unabashed warm feelings that I look forward to hearing Cry of the Ocean, the second long-player and Ripple Music debut from UK riffers Stubb. They’ve traded out drummers since 2012′s self-titled (review here), bringing aboard Tom Fyfe with guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, but I’m excited to hear what changes and shifts in sound Cry of the Ocean might have in store to match its provocative title. Goes without saying the photo above isn’t the final artwork, but instead Tony Reed‘s mastering sheet from back in May when he worked on the tracks. No solid release date yet, but hopefully soon. Stubb on Thee Facebooks, Ripple Music.
28. Torche, TBA (TBA)
Torche‘s new album and Relapse Records debut was originally slated for the end of the summer. Given that no official word has come out about a title or anything like that and the members of the band have been busy with other projects, it seems unlikely as of now that they’ll hit that target, but after something of a break so frontman Steve Brooks could focus on the resurgent trio Floor, Torche are in fact getting going again, beginning with their first tour of Australia this fall. Maybe their LP will be out by the time they go and maybe it won’t, but word on the street is that whenever the thing arrives, it’s gonna be heavy, which I have no problem believing. Torche on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.
29. The Well, Monomyth (Late Summer)
I’ve been waiting since the March announcement that Austin trio The Well signed with RidingEasy Records for further word of their debut full-length, Monomyth (pretty sure that’s not the cover above), but thus far to no avail. Their 2012 single, Seven (review here), was a repeat-listen thriller, and anticipation abounds for what sort of psychedelic garage riffing they’ll conjure up for the album itself. It’s been a couple months at this point, and maybe it’ll be 2015 before Monomyth gets out, but screw it, a boy can hope. The Well on Thee Facebooks, RidingEasy Records.
30. Witch Mountain, Mobile of Angels (Sept.)
Please note: The original cover art with this post was not final and has been replaced with the above band photo.
Portland, Oregon’s Witch Mountain have spent much of the two years following their 2012 third LP, Cauldron of the Wild (review here) on tour in the US and abroad, playing fests, headlining, supporting, but generally putting in a lot of time. As such, Mobile of Angels, which will be out on Svart in Europe and Profound Lore in North America, comes as the end product of a considerable touring cycle. Has all that gigging worn Witch Mountain into the ground, or will they rise above it with metal-loving doom-blues supremacy? They’ve got a vinyl-ready 38 minutes on tap for September and if they’ve ever been in a position to make their case, it’s now. Watch out for the killer sway in “Can’t Settle,” the title of which seems a fitting theme for the band. Witch Mountain on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore Records.
31. YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend (Sept. 2)
Yet again — as was the case back in January — alphabetical order forces me to end with YOB, whose seventh full-length and Neurot debut might just be my most anticipated of all on this list. The recently-unveiled Orion Landau cover speaks to a brooding sentiment, and from the one time I was fortunate enough to hear it to-date, the four-track album from the Eugene, Oregon, natives corresponds to its visual side in being a more aggressive push than was 2012′s Atma (review here), but also more exploratory and contemplative in its approach. Now statesmen in American doom and the forebears of a cosmic-minded sound, YOB stand ready to showcase a creative progression that has yet to find its end point. YOB on Thee Facebooks, Neurot Recordings.
Other Notable Mentions
Just a couple of these I’d be remiss if I didn’t note. Some were carried over from earlier this year, others just come up along the way. Not sure on all the release dates, but these are worth keeping an ear out for:
Acid King — Were listed in January, but their record has a Feb. 2015 release date.
Bright Curse — Second album recorded at Skyhammer Studios.
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth — My understanding is the album is done and they’re waiting to secure a label. Seems like a good occasion for Southern Lord to step forward, if not Profound Lore or Neurot.
Eggnogg — Not sure if it’s their full-length, You’re all Invited, or something else that’s coming, but whatever. More stoner-funk riffing needs to be had.
40 Watt Sun — There was some word of this early in the year, but nothing since.
Godflesh — Their first in 15 years, A World Lit Only by Fire, will be out Oct. 7. A fuckup not including them on the list proper.
It’s Not Night: It’s Space — Eagerly awaiting the Small Stone debut from this instrumental outfit, but it might be next year.
Karma to Burn — New album, Arch Stanton, out in August. I emailed for a review promo and never heard back. Always a great feeling.
Larman Clamor — Solo-project from Alexander von Wieding has a new one in the can, but I’m not sure on the release schedule.
Lowrider — They’re working on it, but don’t hold your breath to have it out by December.
The Machine — Kind of a slow year for Elektrohasch, but the new one from these Dutch fuzzers would be a nice way end up.
Nachtmystium — Century Media releases their final album, The World We Left Behind, on Aug. 5.
Orange Goblin — Seriously debated putting them on the list, since I know they’ve recorded, but they seem to be promoting a recent reissue of 2007′s Healing through Fire and their upcoming European tour with Saint Vitus rather than their new album, so unless news comes out about it like this week from Candlelight, I wouldn’t expect it until early in 2015.
Pink Floyd – Believe it when I see it, but I honestly couldn’t care less either way if I tried.
Ruby the Hatchet — Their full-length Tee Pee debut is due sometime in the next couple months.
Sun Voyager — Upstate NY youngsters had hinted at new recordings.
Again, if I forgot anything — and I’m sure I did — please let me know in the comments.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Presumably by the time Torche get on the plane to Australia in October, their new album and debut on Relapse Records will be out. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks has been working with the reunited Floor for much of the year so far, while drummer Rick Smith and bassist Jonathan Nuñez have recorded with their other band Shitstorm and guitarist/vocalist Andrew Elstner has an LP coming out with his other band, Tilts, so everybody’s been busy, but I guess the new Torche LP is going to squeeze in there somewhere before they go to Oz. Or not. I’m sure people would still show up for Torche‘s first Aussie tourif they don’t have a record out that week.
Life is Noise, which is presenting the run, sent the following particulars down the PR wire:
life is noise presents for the first time in our fair land: TORCHE (USA)
Australian Tour October 2014
From their blistering melodies to their bulldozer guitar riffs, the Miami four-piece are one of the most innovative bands in metal today, eschewing the genres’s clichés and standards for an entrancing mix of melody, sludge and jubilant doom…
No one else sounds quite like Torche.
Formed after the demise of stoner metal band Floor, Torche’s influences come from far and wide. The usual suspects are there – Melvins, Helmet, Sabbath – but the subtleties of their sound come from all over the canon: Guided by Voices, Jawbox, Superchunk and even Cheap Trick, all of it punctuated by Steve Brooks’ bellowing roar. The result is a dense and distinct wall of noise, one that’s as heavy as it is irresistibly catchy. How many other bands can you say that about?
Torche deal in anthems: every song brims with contagious hooks, rabid riffs and thunderous major-key progressions. Maybe that’s owing to the aesthetic of their beachside hometown – album number three, 2012’s Harmonicraft, was labelled “summer record of the year” by just about everyone who talked about it. But the quartet have no interest in wallowing. Every second of every song is an opportunity for high octane, unapologetic rocking-the-fuck-out.
Better yet, Torche promise their fourth album – slated for later this year on their new label Relapse Records – is heavier than ever.
We can’t wait.
Catch Torche on the following dates:
Thursday October 16 – Crowbar, Brisbane – tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue Friday October 17 – Rosemount Hotel, Perth – tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue Saturday October 18 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne – tickets from lifeisnoise.com, oztix and the venue Sunday October 19 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney – tickets from lifeisnoise.com, moshtix, oztix and the venue
Posted in Features on June 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Three years, one bassist, one added guitarist and heaps of hyperbole later, Brooklyn atmospheric extremists Tombs return with Savage Gold, their third album on Relapse Records and the follow-up to 2011′s Path of Totality. Set for release June 10, Savage Goldpushes the four-piece into deeper terrain of the sonically frenetic, and if there’s any doubt the 10-track collection was produced by Erik Rutan, it’s dispelled immediately in the clarity of drummer Andrew Hernandez‘s blastbeats on opener “Thanatos.” Rutan (who cut his teeth in NJ-based Ripping Corpse before moving to Florida and joining Morbid Angel) brings the same sense of purpose and malevolent ambience to Tombs‘ latest as he did with his own outfit, Hate Eternal, on American death metal landmarks like 2002′s King of all Kingsand 2005′s I, Monarch, proving that a crisp production doesn’t necessarily have to come at the expense of impact.
His work and Tombs‘ are exceptionally well paired throughout Savage Gold‘s 58-minute span, and whether it’s the bleak Celtic Frostery that emerges on “Deathtripper” and “Spiral,” the minimalist post-doom of “Severed Lives,” or the all-out blackened ferocity of “Seance,” “Ashes” and “Legacy,” Tombs proffer a laser-precise efficiency of songwriting, not just blasting away for extremity’s own sake, but conveying a darkened mood and churning tension to go with all of that brutality. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Hill, bassist Ben Brand, Hernandez and guitarist Garrett Bussanick offer no shortage of bludgeoning throughout, and more power to them for it, but as savage as it is Savage Gold‘s real asset is the sonic complexity that Hill and Tombs have been developing over the course of the last seven years, through their beginnings, 2009′s Winter Hoursdebut, and of course, from Path of Totalityuntil today and hopefully on from here.
No doubt at the end of 2014, you’ll find Savage Goldon any number of best-of lists, but what the album really accomplishes is furthering Tombs‘ evolution, and to that end, it seemed prudent to get Hill‘s perspective on the songs themselves, rather than simply add to the chorus of praise. I’m fortunate that he agreed to do a track-by-track for each of the 10 cuts on Savage Gold, and happy to be able to bring it to you below.
Once again, Savage Gold is out June 10 on Relapse Records. Please enjoy.
Savage Gold Track-by-Track by Mike Hill
This is one of my favorite tracks on the record; fully realized and complete. It sets the tone for the entire record, a meditation on death and the thin membrane between realities
We wrote this when we returned from the Path of Totality recording session down in Texas. The song went through a series of rewrites and metamorphoses before we arrived at the version that is on Savage Gold.
The Oroborus is a symbol that recurs in many different ancient cultures. While contemplating infinity, the vision of a serpent whose eyes stare into forever appeared to me. This song is a simulation of what seemed like an eternity of experience.
Over the last few years, I’ve been reading a lot of Graham Hancock, an Egyptologist and Alternative History Specialist among other things. Echoes was inspired by the concept that civilization has gone through many cycles of technological advancement and cataclysmic events have forced it all to be reset.
I pulled the lyrics of this song fully formed from an old journal. I had been living this dark, Travis Bickle-like existence that seemed incredibly hopeless. Ultimately, I pulled it together. “DeathTripper” is a tribute to that period.
6. Edge of Darkness
More meditations on death and the great unknown; “Edge of Darkness” refers to the membrane that separates this reality from what may lie beyond the coil of mortality.
I watched Jacob’s Ladder one night. It was really late. I had seen it many times before, but the movie took on new meanings. I worked with the fear and anxiety that the film had caused and put these lyrics together. The song addresses the concept that the lies of organized religion will all be revealed at the final moments of life.
This song had the working title “Dissection.” Musically, we were channeling the Swedish masters of black-death metal. Lyrically, the song works with the idea that time is a recurring cycle of infinity. That everything which has gone before will happen again, into infinity.
9. Severed Lives
This was one of those songs that sort of fell together. It wrote itself. Lyrically, I went into the “panspermia” concept that life on Earth originated out in the universe.
This is more death and the unknown. It’s another meditation on the final moments of life and what will pass through your head as your consciousness scatters into an infinite number of infinitesimal pieces.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
When it comes to Emanations, the second long-player from metro NYC-based Serpentine Path, you’re probably going to hear a lot of people talk about how dark it is. How extreme. How their death-sludge sounds even more like some kind of East River pollution tar pit that’s growing by the year and smells like decay. Okay, maybe that last one you won’t hear all the time, but you get my point. It’s fucking dark. What you’re not going to hear people talk about is the obvious glee the band — who probably qualify for supergroup status with vocalist Ryan Lipynski (ex-Unearthly Trance, The Howling Wind), guitarists Tim Bagshaw (ex-Ramesses) and Stephen Flam (Winter), bassist Jay Newman (ex-Unearthly Trance) and drummer Darren Verni (ex-Unearthly Trance), though I’m not sure if they’ve filled out the proper paperwork to be certified — have for the miseries they create. They’re well enough hidden, but in the soloing at the end of “Torment” or the unmitigated stomp that follows, or in the twisted hook of the preceding “Systematic Extinction,” it’s there. Just because a band is skull-cavingly heavy doesn’t mean they can’t also have a good time.
Maybe that’s not the thing to say, but when I listen to a song like the mournful “Treacherous Waters” and cringe at the grueling, malevolent churn that Serpentine Path have crafted as the follow-up to their 2012 self-titled debut (discussed here), it sounds as much like the band is celebrating their extremity as much as they’re using it to create bleak, abrasive soundscapes. It’s not like Serpentine Path are writing joke songs and goofing around, but neither is their deep-low-end viciousness delivered without passion. Emanationsis not a cold album, and that separates it from a lot of extreme metal, which comes across as plenty heavy, but also clinical and more concerned with technique than atmosphere. As if to begin in direct contrast to the very idea, the way opener “House of Worship” hits immediately, no intro, and launches into its first verse is practically punk rock, just twisted into slow grinding and given a sludgy groove that, as “Treacherous Waters” and “Claws” move into the highlight cut “Disfigured Colossus,” answers back the depressive melodicism of ’90s Euro-doom with a gritty, particularly dismal reinterpretation that’s as nasty as anything that’s come before it.
They don’t take much longer than that first verse to distinguish themselves and set the course for what’s to play out over Emanations‘ seven-song/45-minute span, but in kind with the classic death metal sensibilities evoked by the music as much as the cover art, the wretched psychedelia they create is an abyss of deceptive depth, and one that warrants a headphone listen to experience correctly. Their tales may be morbid, and they may tell them with a lumbering brutality, but Serpentine Path also stand for the excellent end results that can occur with an assemblage of those whose joy derives from such dark artistry. And with the addition of Flam since the release of the self-titled, the continued chemistry of Lipynski, Newman and Verni bled over from Unearthly Trance, as well as the lethally heavy collaboration with Bagshaw which is all the more cohesive this second time out, they have plenty to be glad about with the crushing filth they’ve created.
The album is out today on Relapse and I have the honor of streaming it in full. Find it below and please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Serpentine Path‘s Emanationswas recorded by Jay Newman and is available now on Relapse Records LP, CD and digital. For more info, check the links.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Presumably, Portland’s Lord Dying will pause the recording process to take part in the Scion Rock Fest this weekend in Pomona, California, but on the other hand, maybe they’ll be done by then. Depends on how much finesse they want to have with their destructive methods. The extreme sludge rockers are working with Toxic Holocaust‘s Joel Grind on the follow-up to their Relapse debut, Summon the Faithless, and they expect a winter release. That should leave plenty of time to get it done without needing to crunch in this weekend.
The PR wire brings news that youse can use:
LORD DYING Enter the Studio
Sophomore Record to See Winter Release via Relapse
Northwestern riff-masters LORD DYING have entered the studio to record the follow-up to their full-length debut Summoning the Faithless. The record will be produced and engineered by Toxic Holocaust’s Joel Grind and mastered by Brad Boatright at Portland’s Audio Siege Studios. The album will feature eight tracks of blistering riffs and neck-snapping grooves and be the band’s first recordings with new drummer Rob Shaffer (Dark Castle, Monarch). It is expected to see a winter release.
The band weighed in on the upcoming record:
“We are very proud to be releasing our new record into the world. It is our most concise and brutal offering to date. Crank it up, bang your head and come see us on the road!”
Earlier this year, LORD DYING sandwiched a US headlining tour in between two European treks with Red Fang. They will rejoin their fellow Portlanders along with Crowbar, Exhumed, Coffins, Windhand, and more at the Scion Rock Fest in Pomona, CA on May 17th. More details, including the full line-up, can be found HERE.
LORD DYING’s debut Summon the Faithless is available now on Relapse Records. The album is available in CD and LP formats which can be purchased HERE and digitally via iTunes.
This is my favorite High on Fire record. I know plenty other people who’ll choose other albums over 2007′s Death is thisCommunion, be it the band’s more stonerly 2000 debut, The Art of Self-Defense, or something more recent like 2010′s Snakes for the Divine, but for me, it’s gotta be Death is this Communion.
I remember very clearly the first time I really sat with a High on Fire album. It was 2002′s sophomore outing, Surrounded by Thieves. I was playing the album, which was new at that point, and a friend of mine came in the room and said, “What the fuck is this? It sounds so dirty.” We laughed, and yeah, it did. That record continues to hold a special place in my heart, but I think if you look at the progression of High on Fire‘s sound especially as it is right now, you see that Death is this Communionmarks the turning point between their earlier work and the two albums they’ve done since.
Their 2005 third album, Blessed Black Wings, was notable for bringing in bassist Joe Preston (Thrones, ex-the Melvins) alongside the founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike and drummer Des Kensel, but by the time they got around to the follow-up, it was Zeke‘s Jeff Matz in that role, and he’s stayed there since. So in a very real way, Death is this Communionis the marker for when High on Fire solidified itself. Also, if you take a look at where they were two records before (the marauding stoner thrash of Surrounded by Thieves) and where they went two records hence (the latest offering, 2012′s ultra-metal De Vermis Mysteriis), it becomes easy to read Death is this Communionas not just a step-stone in their catalog, but the essential position from which the two sides met and diverged. Whatever glories they’ve gone onto or had done before, they were never quite the same again.
And that’s not even to mention the songs on Death is this Communion — the title-track’s masterful sprawl, the initial pummel of “Fury Whip,” the unmitigated attack of “Rumors of War” that crashes right into the riff-groove of “DII.” It’s not a short album at a little less than 57 minutes, but even into its farthest reaches with “Ethereal” — still one of Pike‘s boldest vocal experiments — and churning closer “Return to NOD,” it never fails to both grasp and brutalize its attendees. They’d come from more filth-caked sonic places and they’d progress to even cleaner ones, but Death is this Communioninadvertently came to stand for the moment in time when High on Fire left behind the heavy forms of their beginnings and started a different quest altogether.
I had a job interview this afternoon. Corporate gig. People seemed nice. It was casual Friday, so I may have been one of few in the building not wearing jeans — the irony of which wasn’t lost on me. Before I left to go to their office, the little dog Dio came upstairs bleeding from the side of her head. An old scab she had opened up because she’s a dog and doesn’t know better. So I had to clean that before I left, put on some Neosporin, and that may have had an effect on my overall mental state, but I left there feeling positive. They asked about this site and I made it clear it was an “on my own time” thing. Guess I’d be putting in some early mornings or late nights. Either way. Gotta get the job first, then I’ll figure out the rest.
We’ve also put in a purchase and sale agreement to buy a condo, The Patient Mrs. and I (I suppose the dog too, though her name isn’t on the account). I’ve learned never to believe these things are going to happen until they already have, but I guess the point is adventure abounds. I’ve done my best these last few days to hold onto the good vibes I brought back with me from Roadburn. In a couple minutes I’ll go downstairs and load up a pizza from Whole Foods with pesto and roasted garlic, then watch baseball. A quiet night. Should be right on.
Next week — Monday brings a stream of two songs from the new The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic EP, and I’ll also have audio from Vestal Claret and Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus later in the week. I’m gonna try to squeeze a review of the new Floor in there as well, and another roundup of discs if I can. We’ll see how it goes, but I have a few staring me down from the pile that need to get written up. Fingers crossed I get there.
Hope you’re enjoying the High on Fire and hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve called bands supergroups for way less than ties to Electric Wizard, Winter and Unearthly Trance, but when it comes to New York-based Serpentine Path, what’s exciting about them isn’t what the component members have done before so much as what they’ll do together going forward. Their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) delighted in blurring the lines between death metal, doom and sludge, and the upcoming Emanations– set for release May 27 on Relapse – will arrive heralded by the potential they showed the first time out to push into further extremity.
Album info and a trailer with song clips follows, having oozed its way down the PR wire:
SERPENTINE PATH: Info On Second Relapse LP From NYC Morbid Metal Crew Released
Following a two-year release stretch since their bold self-titled debut LP was issued, Relapse Records this week unveils the release details on the highly-anticipated second LP from New York City-based morbid sludge metal executioners, SERPENTINE PATH.
Born from within the smoldering remains of Unearthly Trance in 2011, UT members, bassist Jay Newman, drummer Darren Verni and vocalist Ryan Lipynsky (The Howling Wind) recruited guitarist Tim Bagshaw (ex-Ramesses, ex-Electric Wizard) to complete the SERPENTINE PATH lineup.
Now officially augmented by new second guitarist Stephen Flam, the mastermind behind NYC doom/death legends, Winter, SERPENTINE PATH brings forth their most demoralizing and anguish-filled slow-motion chaos yet, with the newly-completed Emanations. As with their first album, Emanations was recorded by the band’sJay Newman, after which it was honed to devastating perfection at Audiosiege, the album capturing forty-five minutes of true sludge punishment with seven brand new songs from this true underground all-star team. Sure, the pedigree is undeniable, but regardless of their “members of” status, SERPENTINE PATH is one of the most scathing sludge acts on the planet.
Emanations will see parole via Relapse May 27th, 2014 on CD, LP and digital formats. A new trailer featuring a sample of the audio, as well as the cover art by in-house Relapse artist Orion Landau and more has been released. View the trailer HERE, and place preorders for the album HERE.
SERPENTINE PATH: Tim Bagshaw – guitars Stephen Flam – guitars Jay Newman – bass Darren Verni – drums Ryan Lipynsky – vocals
Emanations Track Listing: 1. House Of Worship 2. Treacherous Waters 3. Claws 4. Disfigured Colossus 5. Systematic Extinction 6. Torment 7. Essence of Heresy
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 January 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Today, Chicago’s Indian were announced as the latest addition to the Roadburn 2014 lineup. Indian will have a new album out later this month in the form of From all Purity, the follow-up to 2011′s Guiltless (review here), and their joining makes them the seventh Relapse Records band by my count playing Roadburn this year alongside Locrian, Lord Dying, Windhand, Inter Arma, True Widow and -(16)-. Seems like a bit of a takeover happening there, but of course with a lineup as diverse as Roadburn‘s, there will be plenty for the labelmates to blend in with over the course of Roadburn‘s four days, including the annual Sunday Afterburner.
The fest itself is sold out (no real surprise there), but there are tickets left for the Afterburner and the link for that along with the announcement of Indian joining the lineup and the track “Directional” from their new record can be found below:
Indian Set To Devastate Roadburn Festival 2014
Roadburn Festival is pleased to announce the addition of Chicago-based doom warriors, Indian. The band have been purveyors of the finest blackened doom for over a decade, and this month will see the release of their latest opus, From All Purity, via Relapse Records.
‘Directional’, a brand new track taken from From All Purity, has just been released and can be listened to HERE.
Roadburn will be playing host to Indian on Saturday 12th of April, at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands, when the crushing four piece will bring their sonic offerings to life.
Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Tickets for the traditional Afterburner event on Sunday, April 13th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands are still available. Get in on the actionHERE!
Posted in Features on November 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The track “Behind the Light” on Red Fang‘s third album, Whales and Leeches, paints a fairly grim picture. Lyrics like, “It’s so insane to be alone/With all the time I gave away,” fit neatly with the classic rock and roll notion of the weary traveler, the artist who, having given up what commonly passes for a normal existence for his craft, wonders what could’ve been. With as much time as the Portland, Oregon, four-piece spent on the road supporting their 2011 sophomore outing and Chris Funk-produced Relapse Records label debut, Murder the Mountains (review here), no doubt the band has had some opportunity to stew on it, and for being known essentially for a party atmosphere and ridiculously catchy songs like “Wires” from the last album or “Prehistoric Dog” from their 2008 self-titled debut — they have a propensity for putting the hooks up front, and “Blood Like Cream” from the latest continues the trend — “Behind the Light” presents something of a departure in atmosphere.
It’s the centerpiece and emotional low of Whales and Leeches, which the band returned to Funk to produce after what seems to have been a hurried songwriting process — deadlines to meet — and it’s followed by the record’s greatest triumph, “Dawn Rising,” on which YOB‘s Mike Scheidt guests on vocals alongside Red Fang bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam. Though “1516″ provides some of his best tradeoffs to date with guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, Beam is featured more prominently throughout Whales and Leechesthan anything Red Fang has done up till now, and his voice — in a somewhat cleaner approach than Giles‘ shouts — stands up to the dynamic both with the guitarist and within the emotionality of his own presentation, be it “Behind the Light,” the driving forward thrust of “Voices of the Dead” or the semi-psychedelic capstone(r) “Every Little Twist.” Of course, it’s the versatility of Beam, Giles, guitarist/vocalist David Sullivan and drummer John Sherman at the core of what gives Red Fang their personality. The difference this time appears to have been that Beam stepped forward to meet the challenge of the rush to put the album together.
So be it. If Red Fang were in a hurry, at least it was for a good cause. They took a break from songwriting to play Soundwave in Australia earlier this year, and have already toured the West Coast in support of Whales and Leeches with East Coast dates to follow next month and Europe in 2014 continuing a road-dog touring cycle that hardly seems to have stopped at all since before Murder the Mountainswas released. Turn around and he’s Red Fang with another three weeks’ worth of dates in one region or another. At least thus far, it’s much the same for Whales and Leeches, and in talking to Beam about the album, I was interested to get a notion from him of where he thought it was all heading and what his vision of “success” was for the band. Particularly as he’s emerged in this material — not quite to a frontman role, but not far from it — I was curious to see where he felt it’s all been leading, what it is keeping them moving forward other than the obvious need to sell shirts on tour.
When we spoke, Beam was in New York City to do East Coast press. He’d flown in overnight from Portland and you could hear in his voice that specific I’ve-recently-been-in-an-airport exhaustion. Nonetheless, he spoke not only about his and the band’s motivations, but about the construction and recording of Whales and Leeches, his growing comfort as a singer, the prospect of spending most of 2014 on tour, and much more.
You’ll find the complete Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Working with Hate Eternal‘s Erik Rutan as producer, Brooklyn’s Tombs have entered the studio to record a follow-up to their massively lauded 2011 sophomore outing, Path of Totality. No word yet on a release date for the third Tombs record, but one could reasonably expect a Summer 2014 release on Relapse, unless somehow it takes them eight months to get it put to tape. Anything’s possible, I guess, but certainly anticipation will be high for the new album when it arrives.
The PR wire has confirmation and comment from guitarist/vocalist Mike Hill:
TOMBS Begin Recording New Album
Brooklyn, NY’s Tombs have announced that they will be entering the studio today to begin recording their follow-up to 2011′s critically acclaimed Path of Totality. The band will be working with famed producer Erik Rutan (Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal) over the next two weeks at his Mana Recording Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida. Stay tuned for updates from the studio!
Tombs vocalist / guitarist Mike Hill commented on what to expect from the highly anticipated new album: “The new material is darker and more extreme than the last record. The addition of [bassist] Ben Brand and [guitarist] Garett Bussanick have really stepped up the playing and musicianship to a new level.”
Tombs have released two full-lengths and one singles / rarities collection via Relapse Records, all of which are available for streamingvia Bandcamp here.
Pentagram, First Daze Here: The Vintage Collection (2002)
Sometimes if it’s been a while I forget if I’ve already posted a record. I did a quick search on the site for First Daze Hereto see if I had posted the compilation of vintage early ’70s Pentagram tracks before, and no, I haven’t, but I found that on Oct. 30, 2009 — four years and two days ago — I closed out the week with “Lazylady” from the album. I was already pretty set on First Daze Here, but that just made it all the better for me. The more things change, right? Almost half a decade later, still wrapping up a long week with “Forever My Queen” and “When the Screams Come.” Go figure.
I was in college when Relapse issued this compilation in 2002, and I knew who Pentagram was at that point, but for sure First Daze Heregave me a whole new appreciation for the band, as I think it did for a lot of people. It’s great to have Bobby Liebling and company still rocking out, and I’ve yet to see him sing any of these songs and not enjoy myself, but this is just a special document of a special time, and thinking of all the great music and all the great doom I was discovering at that point, it’s wound up representing a special time for me as well. Maybe that’s not what they had in mind 30 years after the fact from the recording, but it worked out that way anyhow.
Before I wrap things up, I want to extend a special thanks to Todd Severin and John Rancik from The Ripple Effect. This week, they posted an interview with me about running this site and music in general and a lot of things, and it really meant a lot to me that they’d take the time or be interested enough to send over questions. I was pretty wordy in my answers, but I had been thinking a lot about what I’m doing with this project and why I do what I do here, and they gave me a real chance to explore some of those ideas in a way that was as much clearing it up for myself as for anyone else who might be interested. It was truly appreciated, and as someone who’s rarely on that end of an interview, I hope I did alright in laying out some of my perspective.
Appreciation also goes out to everyone on Thee Facebooks who shared the link or was kind enough to comment. I got some great support from people I genuinely respect, and frankly, that’s what keeps me going, so thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
And thank you.
I didn’t get as many album reviews in this week as I would’ve liked, but there was the SHoD coverage and starting the vinyl column and I was either going to do the Windhand interview today or review a record and I decided with their tour starting tonight, that was the way to go. Next week I’ll get to that Sandrider album. I’m also in Jersey for the next couple days and I’ll be going to see Orange Goblin tomorrow night at St. Vitus, so look for a review of that on Monday.
It kills me that I’m not going to get to SHoD next weekend. I had been planning on going for a long time, and there are a lot of bands I want to see, but it’s a money thing. Gas for a nine-hour drive, then a room, food, etc., never mind whatever I’d be spending on merch throughout the weekend. The Patient Mrs. was gracious about it. She was like, “You can go and we’ll charge it,” but it wouldn’t be fair for me to do that. I’ll look forward to the next The Eye of the Stoned Goat fest, which got its first announcement yesterday.
And there’s plenty to do in the meantime. In addition to the Sandrider and Orange Goblin reviews, I’ve got a full album stream set to go up on Monday from the German outfit Rising, whose last album was also streamed here. Nothing like symmetry. We’ll also continue the “10 Days of SHoD” coverage. I’m slated to jump on the phone with Dana Ortt from Beelzefuzz on Monday night, so maybe Tuesday or Wednesday I’ll get that posted. Looking forward to that.
As always, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you’re hitting up Orange Goblin in Brooklyn, I’ll see you there, and otherwise, back here Monday for more warm tones and rolling grooves. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Features on November 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
After making their Relapse debut earlier this year with the Reflection of the Negative split with fellow Richmond, Virginia, natives Cough, ultra-doomed five-piece Windhand unleashed Soma (review here), their sophomore full-length behind a 2012 self-titled (streamed here). At 75 minutes long, it’s a formidable undertaking before you even get to the dark sensibilities the band proffers throughout in songs like “Woodbine,” the sprawling “Cassock” or half-hour-long closer “Boleskine,” varying in intensity and tension while toying with a grueling pace throughout, expanding beyond the relatively straightforward riff-led approach of the first album and into atmospherics that make Somaall the more individualized.
Windhand toured heavily for the first LP, which was released on ForcefieldRecords,and seem already to be keeping the ethic intact in support of Soma. Already they spent September into early October going coast-to-coast on a full US tour. Tonight, Nov. 1, they begin a run of dates in Europe alongside Pilgrim that will go for more than three weeks, and upon their return to the States, they’ll pick up five days later and do the West Coast and Canada along with Kvelertak and High on Fire. Both runs are a continuation of the momentum Windhand has established through consistent road-time, and the new album seems certain to receive its due as well. Here are the tour dates:
01/11 BE Ghent Charlatan
02/11 NL Venlo Mudfest
03/11 FR Paris t.b.a.
04/11 UK Birmingham Asylum
05/11 UK Manchester Star & Garter
06/11 UK London Our Black Heart
08/11 ES Barcelona Rocksound
09/11 ES Madrid Rock & Pop
10/11 ES Bilbao Sentinel Rock Bar
11/11 FR Bordeaux Heretic Club
12/11 FR Paris Le Club
14/11 NL Tilburg Little Devil
15/11 DK Aalborg 1000 Fryd
16/11 SE Gothenburg Truckstop Alaska
17/11 DK Copenhagen KB18
18/11 DE Hamburg Rote Flora
19/11 DE Berlin Cassiopeia
20/11 DE Leipzig Zoro
21/11 AT Wien Vrena
22/11 DE Günzburg Donaustüble
23/11 DE Köln MTC
24/11 NL Amsterdam Occii
with High on Fire and Kvelertak
11/29 Lawrence, KS Granada Theatre
11/30 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
12/02 Winnipeg, MB West End Cultural Center
12/04 Edmonton, AB Starlite Room
12/05 Calgary, AB Republik
12/07 Vancouver, BC Venue Vancouver
12/08 Seattle, WA El Corazon
12/09 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theater
12/11 San Francisco, CA Regency Center Grand Ballroom
12/12 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
As they’ve already been confirmed for Roadburn 2014 and the next installment of Heavy Days in Doomtown, you can expect much more to come on Windhand. The band is comprised of vocalist Dorthia Cottrell, guitarist/recording engineer Garrett Morris, guitarist Asechaiah Bogdan, bassist Parker Chandler (also of Cough) and drummer Ryan Wolfe. Cottrell recently took some time out to talk about the making of Soma and how their road ethic came into play in terms of putting the album together, plus the European dates — it’s their first time out of the country — prospects for 2014 and much more.