Weedeater Announces Tour Dates with ASG and Lo-Pan

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I assume the drummer position in Weedeater will once again be filled by Travis Owen (Whores), who took on the role for the trio’s short tour around Maryland Deathfest a couple weeks ago replacing founding member Keith “Keko” Kirkum, as well of course as for the fest itself, though I guess you never know. Maybe they found a permanent replacement. Maybe it’s him. One way to find out would be to show up at the gig, I suppose.

So it goes. As volatile as their on-stage persona can be, Weedeater had a better run with their original lineup than most. Joining them throughout the summer dates below are ASG, whose new record Blood Drive has apparently been met with a welcome reception, and Lo-Pan, who are currently on the road with Torche.

Here’s the latest from the PR wire:

WEEDEATER AND ASG ANNOUNCE U.S. TOUR

ASG’S BLOOD DRIVE MARKS N.C. BAND’S HIGHEST DEBUT

Weedeater and ASG have announced a four-week tour across the United States, kicking off on June 27 in Savannah, Ga. at The Jinx.

The tour comes as ASG celebrate their highest charting and most critically acclaimed album to date, the breakthrough release Blood Drive. The twelve-song collection landed at #15 on Billboard’s Heat Seeker chart and also had impressive debuts on the trade magazine’s Hard Music (#32) and Indie (#67) charts. The album is streaming via Bandcamp at asgnation.bandcamp.com.

Weedeater & ASG presented by Brooklyn Vegan and Invisible Oranges
June 27 Savannah, GA The Jinx
June 28 Atlanta, GA The Earl
June 30 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks
July 1 Houston, TX Fitzgeralds
July 2 San Antonio, TX Korova
July 3 Austin, TX Red 7
July 4 Denton, TX Rubber Gloves (Free Show)
July 5 Norman, OK The Opolis
July 7 Tempe, AZ Pub Rock
July 9 San Diego, CA Soda Bar
July 10 Los Angeles, CA The Whiskey
July 11 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst
July 12 Oakland, CA Oakland Opera House
July 13 Portland, OR Ash St. Saloon
July 14 Seattle, WA The Highline

ASG only
July 16 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
July 17 Lawrence, KS The Replay Lounge
July 18 Oklahoma City, OK The Conservatory
July 19 Nashville, TN Springwater
July 20 Asheville, NC Broadway

Weedeater
July 16 Vancouver, BC Electric Owl
July 18 Calgary, AB The Palamino
July 20 Edmonton, AB The Pawn Shop
July 23 Winnipeg, MB Windsor Hotel
July 24 Fargo, NC The Aquarium
July 25 Great Falls, MT Machinery Row
July 27 Missoula, MT Farmageddon Festival
July 30 Denver, CO Marquis Theater

Weedeater & Lo Pan
August 1 Chicago, IL Ultra Lounge
August 3 Nashville, TN Exit/In
August 4 Johnson City, TN Hideaway
August 6 Asheville, NC Broadways
August 7 Charlotte, NC Chop Shop
August 8 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
August 9 Raleigh, NC The Maywood
August 10 Wilmington, NC Soapbox

ASG:
www.facebook.com/asgnation
asgnation.bandcamp.com

Weedeater:
www.facebook.com/weedmetal
www.weedmetal.com

ASG, Blood Drive (2013)

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Wolvserpent Celebrate Signing to Relapse by Giving Away Their Demo

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s good to celebrate the milestones in life, and to honor their announced signing to Relapse Records today, Idaho duo Wolvserpent have made their Perigaea demo available as a free download. Back in the day, that used to be called “sharing the love,” but in the case of Wolvserpent‘s bleak aural dreariness, we’ll probably have to come up with another name for it. Feel free to get creative while you peruse the PR wire info below and listen to the Bandcamp stream of the demo:

Wolvserpent Sign to Relapse Records

Relapse Records is extremely proud to announce the signing of Boise, Idaho’s mysterious occult duo WOLVSERPENT.  Formed in 2010, WOLVSERPENT consist of Blake Green (guitar, vocals, keys) and Brittany McConnell (drums, percussion, violin) playing a masterful mix of apocalyptic doom, avant-orchestral drone and blackened, sepulchral ambience.  The duo will enter the studio to record their sophomore full-length entitled PERIGAEA, a four song 80 minute opus, this November with producer/engineer Mell Dettmer (SUNN 0))), BORIS, ASVA, EARTH) in Seattle and in Idaho at in their home studio.

After a two year writing period, WOLVSERPENT first recorded the PERIGAEA 2012 demo (pronounced “pear-a-guy-a”) in Dec ’11-January 2012. Choosing initially not to release it….but to hold onto it for another 9 months and re-write it, they are now offering it as a free stream at Bandcamp and download via their official site here.  The upcoming full-length version of PERIGAEA will be an entirely different manifestation of the ideas heard on the demo.

WOLVSERPENT commented on the recent signing and new material:

“We are very pleased to be working with Relapse Records on this upcoming album. We are excited to join forces and foster the potential of our best work to date.

We don’t want to say much about the concept now. But we will say this: PERIGAEA is inspired by the four stages of existence and with that, the phases of humanity within the Earth and the greater Universe. PERIGAEA explores and reinforces our qualities and struggles as humans in this life. Our relationship with the Earth and our place as spiritual beings in what some believe is the final phase of this cycle. There are many names for it, one of those names is ‘Kali Yuga,’ the age of Kali, the dark age. The serpent that eats it’s own tail will once again devour itself and give to itself a new birth and a fresh start.”

This demo represents the early stages and younger concepts of PERIGAEA. We decided to set new standards for ourselves, working longer and investing more in our music, allowing the pieces to breathe and gain new life. Created from the strength and seeds of ideas past, this demo has served as the roots from which we have grown.  We want to share this process of growth with our fans. We have taken Wolvserpent’s concepts to the stone and sharpened our vision.”

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13 Before ’13 — Albums Not to Miss Before the End of 2012

Posted in Where to Start on July 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

We’re more than halfway through 2012, and we’ve already seen great releases from the likes of Orange Goblin, Pallbearer, Conan, C.O.C., Saint Vitus and many others, but there’s still a long way to go. The forecast for the next five months? Busy.

In my eternal and inevitably doomed quest to keep up, I’ve compiled a list of 13 still-to-come releases not to miss before the year ends. Some of this information is confirmed — as confirmed as these things ever are, anyway — either by label or band announcements, and some of it is a little bit vaguer in terms of the actual dates, but all this stuff is slated to be out before 2013 hits. That was basically my only criteria for inclusion.

And of course before I start the list, you should know two things: The ordering is dubious, since it’s not like I can judge the quality of an album before I’ve heard it, just my anticipation, and that this is barely the beginning of everything that will be released before the end of 2012. The tip of the fastly-melting iceberg, as it were. If past is prologue, there’s a ton of shit I don’t even know about that (hopefully) you’ll clue me into in the comments.

Nonetheless, let’s have some fun:

1. Colour Haze, She Said (Sept./Oct.)


I know, I know, this one’s been a really, really long time coming. Like two years. Like so long that Colour Haze had to go back and remake the album because of some terrible technical thing that I don’t even know what happened but it doesn’t matter anymore. Notice came down yesterday from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek that the recording is done and the long-awaited She Said is on the way to be pressed on vinyl and CD. Got my fingers crossed for no more snags.

2. EnslavedRIITIIR (Sept. 28)

The progressive Norwegian black metallers have put out 10 albums before it, and would you believe RIITIIR is the first Enslaved album that’s a palindrome? Kind of cheating to include it on this list, because I’ve heard it, but I’ve been through the record 10-plus times and I still feel like I just barely have a grasp on where they’re headed with it, so I think it’ll be really interesting to see what kind of response it gets upon release. Herbrand Larsen kills it all over these songs though, I will say that.

3. Mos Generator, Nomads (Oct. 23)

Hard for me not to be stoked on the prospect of the first new Mos Generator album since 2007, especially looking at that cover, which Ripple Music unveiled on Tuesday when it announced the Oct. 23 release date. It’s pretty grim looking, and even though Mos once put out a record called The Late Great Planet Earth, I’ve never thought of them as being particularly dark or doomed. I look forward to hearing what Tony Reed (Stone AxeHeavyPink) has up his sleeve for this collection, and if he’s looking to slow down and doom out a bit here, that’s cool too. I’ll take it either way.

4. Ufomammut, Oro – Opus Alter (Sept.)

No, that’s not the cover of Oro – Opus Alter, the second half of Italian space doom grand masters Ufomammut‘s Oro collection — the first being Opus Primum (review here), which served as their Neurot Recordings debut earlier this year. That cover hasn’t been released yet, so I grabbed a promo pic to stand in. I’m really looking forward to this album, though I hope they don’t go the Earth, Angels of Darkness Demons of Light route and wind up with two records that, while really good, essentially serve the same purpose. I’ve got my hopes high they can outdo themselves once again.

5. WitchcraftLegend (Sept. 21)

I guess after their success with Graveyard, Nuclear Blast decided to binge a bit on ’70s loyalist doom, signing Witchcraft and even more recently, Orchid. Can’t fault them that. It’s been half a decade since Witchcraft released The Alchemist and in their absence, doom has caught on in a big way to their methods. With a new lineup around him, will Magnus Pelander continue his divergence into classic progressive rock, or return to the Pentagram-style roots of Witchcraft‘s earliest work? Should be exciting to find out.

6. Wo FatThe Black Code (Nov.)

After having the chance to hear some rough mixes of Texas fuzzers Wo Fat‘s Small Stone debut, The Black Code, I’m all the more stoked to encounter the finished product, and glad to see the band join the ranks of Lo-Pan, Freedom Hawk and Gozu in heralding the next wave of American fuzz. Wo Fat‘s 2011 third outing, Noche del Chupacabra (review here), greatly expanded the jammed feel in their approach, and I get the sense they’re just beginning to find where they want to end up within that balance.

7. Blood of the SunBurning on the Wings of Desire (Late 2012)

As if the glittering logo and booby-lady cover art weren’t enough to grab attention, Blood of the Sun‘s first album for Listenable Records (fourth overall) is sure to garner some extra notice because the band is led by drummer/vocalist Henry Vasquez, better known over the past couple years as the basher for Saint Vitus. Whatever pedigree the band has assumed through that, though, their modern take on classic ’70s heavy has a charm all its own and I can’t wait to hear how Burning on the Wings of Desire pushes that forward. Or backward. Whatever. Rock and roll.

8. SwansThe Seer (Aug. 28)

This one came in the mail last week and I’ve had the chance to make my way through it only once. It’s two discs — and not by a little — and as was the case with Swans‘ 2010 comebacker, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (review here), the far less cumbersomely titled The Seer is loaded with guest contributions. Even Jarboe shows up this time around, doing that breathy panting thing she does. Unnerving and challenging as ever, Swans continue to be a litmus for how far experimentalism can go. 3o years on, that’s pretty impressive in itself.

9. Swallow the Sun, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird (Sept. 4)

Apparently the Finnish melo-doom collective’s fifth album, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, came out earlier this year in Europe, but it’s finally getting an American release in September, and as I’ve always dug the band’s blend of death metal and mournful melodicism, I thought I’d include it here. Like Swans, I’ve heard the Swallow the Sun once through, and it seems to play up more of the quiet, weepy side of their sound, but I look forward to getting to know it better over the coming months.

10. My Sleeping Karma, Soma (Oct. 9)

Just signed to Napalm Records and tapped to open for labelmates Monster Magnet as they tour Europe performing Spine of God in its entirety this fall, the German four-piece are set to follow-up 2010′s Tri (review here) with Soma. Details were sketchy, of course, until about five minutes after this post initially went up, then the worldwide release dates, cover art and tracklist were revealed, so I updated. Find all that info on the forum.

11.Eagle Twin, The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (Aug. 28)

Way back in 2009 when I interviewed Eagle Twin guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley about the band’s Southern Lord debut, he said the band’s next outing would relate to snakes, and if the cover is anything to go by, that seems to have come to fruition on The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale, which is set to release at the end of next month. As the first album was kind of a mash of influences turned into cohesive and contemplative heavy drone, I can’t help but wonder what’s in store this time around.

12. Hooded MenaceEffigies of Evil (Sept. 11)

You know how sometimes you listen to a band and that band turns you on in their liner notes to a ton of other cool bands? I had that experience with Finnish extreme doomers Hooded Menace‘s 2010 second album, Never Cross the Dead (review here), except instead of bands it was hotties of ’70s horror cinema. Needless to say, I anxiously await the arrival of their third record and Relapse debut, Effigies of Evil. Someone needs to start a label and call it Hammer Productions just to sign this band.

13. Yawning Man, New Album (Soon)

Make no mistake. The prospect of a new Yawning Man album would arrive much higher on this list if I was more convinced it was going to come together in time for a 2012 release. As it is, Scrit on the forum has had a steady stream of updates since May about the record — the latest news being that it’s going to be a double album — and Scrit‘s in the know, so I’ll take his word. One thing we do know for sure is that the band in the picture above is not the current Yawning Man lineup. Alfredo Hernandez and Mario Lalli out, Greg Saenz and Billy Cordell in. Bummer about the tumult, but as long as it’s Gary Arce‘s ethereal guitar noodling, I’m hooked one way or another.

Since we closed with rampant speculation, let me not forget that somewhere out there is the looming specter of a new Neurosis album, which the sooner it gets here, the better. Perhaps also a new Clutch full-length, though I doubt that’ll materialize before 2013. And that’s a different list entirely.

Thanks for reading. Anything I forgot or anything you’d like to add to the list, leave a comment.

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Giveaway: Win a Copy of Royal Thunder’s CVI; Band Announces Tour with Pallbearer and Samothrace

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Last week, it was announced that Atlanta, Georgia’s heavy rocking upstarts Royal Thunder — who are so hard to pin to a single genre that one has to resort to vague phrases like “heavy rock upstarts” to describe them — were hitting the road in September alongside Pallbearer and Samothrace for a tour dubbed “Paths to Oblivion.” No other way to say it, these are three killer bands, riding at the top of their game — all of whom have released killer albums this year (Samothrace‘s is out shortly) — and this is the kind of tour that years from now you look back on and say, “I saw these bands when…”

Check out the dates on the poster below (click to enlarge):

To mark the occasion, Relapse Records — which put out Royal Thunder‘s second album, CVI, late in May — has offered up two free copies of that full-length for me to giveaway.

Couldn’t be more stoked on that fact, as CVI‘s always-consistent but resoundingly amorphous sonic scope ties the band no more to Baroness than it does to Neurosis, no more to Mastodon than Fleetwood Mac, no more to Kylesa than Alice in Chains. Between sprawling nine-minute epics like “Shake and Shift” and “Blue,” aggressive bursts like that of the riffy “Whispering World,” the Americana atmospherics of the later “Minus” and the nigh-on-miraculous flow of all these elements which in less capable hands would be disparate and not in the slightest cohesive, it’s a perfect example of the genre-bending mindset that seems to be driving the next generation of US Heavy. Makes a good freebie, in other words.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post. Make sure to fill out the email address in the form so I can get in touch with you if you win. I’ll pick winners next week and the albums will come from Relapse. If you want to say thanks, I’d recommend hitting up their Thee Facebooks.

For a refresher on CVI, here’s the album streaming in its entirety, courtesy of the Royal Thunder Bandcamp page:

Royal Thunder is Mlny ParsonzLee Smith, Josh Weaver and Josh Coleman. They’re on Thee Facebooks here.

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Red Fang Debut Video for “Hank is Dead”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Red Fang‘s building up an awful lot of pressure to keep making hilarious videos. “Hank is Dead” is their third in a row, and what starts with awkward junk-glances in the shower ends with a PBR-fueled (PBR being the thread that unites the to-date trilogy of Red Fang clips) rager/air guitar championship. Spandex is had, blood is spilled, invisible necks are licked — in short, Red Fang‘s specific brand chaos ensues, and as always, it looks like a blast to have put it all together.

Enjoy “Hank is Dead,” followed by some PR wire info and European tour dates:

Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang are premiering their new video today on YouTube for “Hank is Dead”, which is taken from their critically acclaimed release Murder the Mountains. Red Fang worked with director extraordinaire, Whitey McConnaughy on the video.

Drummer John Sherman spoke about the “Hank is Dead” video:

“Another great concept from the brilliant mind of Whitey McConnaughy. This one came together super quick with the help of some insane Portland locals and their sick air guitar skills. We basically just threw a big party and had a blast while a bunch of cameras ran. That is my shower Aaron and Bryan and Bobcat are in at the intro, btw. It still has a weird ring around it…”

Red Fang are currently on tour in Europe with Mastodon. The tour runs through Feb. 11 in London and includes Red Fang headline dates in addition to the shows with Mastodon.

Red Fang European tour with Mastodon
01/27 GER, Stuttgart Juha West*
01/28 SWI, Zurich Xtra
01/29 GER, Frankfurt Batschkapp
01/30 GER, Munich Backstage Halle
01/31 GER, Berlin C-Club
02/01 GER, Osnabruck Bastard Club*
02/02 GER, Cologne Essigfabrik
02/03 HOL, Tilburg 013
02/04 FRA, Le Havre Le Mate L’Eau*
02/05 ENG, Bristol Academy
02/06 ENG, Manchester Academy
02/07 SCO, Glasgow Barrowland
02/09 Norwich, UEA
02/10 ENG, Birmingham Institute
02/11 ENG, London Brixton Academy

*Denotes headlining dates

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ASG Sign to Relapse

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kudos to North Carolinian heavy rockers ASG on living the stoner rock dream and getting picked up by Relapse. The acronymic outfit kicked a good deal of ass with Weedeater and Naam in NYC earlier this year, and though they haven’t had a record out in four years, their work on the road has obviously paid off. So well done.

Here’s the announcement, plus tour dates and new album details, off the PR wire:

Relapse Records is extremely proud to announce the signing of North Carolina’s finest psychedelic stoner punks, ASG! Impossible to pigeonhole, ASG has been wheelin’ and dealin’ in kickass rock ‘n’ roll since forming in 2001. The band has previously released four albums with including their most recent, critically acclaimed effort Win Us Over in 2007. ASG has gained a reputation for their wildly energetic live shows, and has found themselves on the road with heavy-hitters Motörhead, The Sword, CKY, Fu Manchu, Torche and The Dwarves among others.

ASG plan to enter the studio in February 2012 to record their highly anticipated Relapse debut with producer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Children of Bodom, Fu Manchu). More details will be announced shortly. Additionally, the band has confirmed a string of Southern US dates in January plus a special appearance at next year’s Hellfest in France. A complete list of tour dates are included below.

ASG guitarist/vocalist Jason Shi commented on the signing: “To be part of such a well respected music label like Relapse and to be included in their roster of bands both past and present is quite an honor for us. We plan to record our first release on Relapse in the winter of 2012 with Matt Hyde and are very excited for everyone to hear it! We are amping!”

01/04 Savannah, GA The Jinx
01/05 Jacksonville, FL Brewster’s Pit
01/06 Satellite Beach, FL The Sports Page
01/07 New Smyrna, FL Beachside Tavern
01/11 Orlando, FL SIP Art Gallery
01/12 Lake Worth, FL Speakeasy Lounge
01/13 Vero, FL Filthy McNasty’s
01/14 Daytona, FL Frank’s Front Row
01/20 Wilmington, NC Soapbox (w/ Hail!Hornet, SSS)
01/21 Charlotte, NC Tremont Music Hall (w/ Hail!Hornet, SSS)
06/15 Clisson, France Hellfest 2012

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Rwake Interview with CT: If You Can Fill the Unforgiving Minute with 60 Seconds’ Worth of Distance Run…

Posted in Features on October 11th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Of the various kinds of heavinesses they emit — sonic, emotional, temperamental, etc. — where Arkansas post-sludgers Rwake are heaviest of all is in atmosphere. There’s something about their new album, Rest, that, in its most biting moments, reaches down your throat to pull the air from your lungs. It’s not just oppressively loud. Even quiet stretches like the opening introduction “Souls of the Sky” enact a kind of hegemony for the threats they contain.

Rest is the fifth and most realized Rwake (pronounced “wake”) album. It follows four years behind the band’s Relapse Records debut, Voices of Omens, and, like that album, was produced by the careful ears of Sanford Parker. That’s important to note because, as Rwake has stepped beyond their past work in so many ways across Rest‘s six tracks, there are still some consistencies of sound that work greatly to their benefit, and Parker‘s production is undeniably a big part of that.

But then, “big” seems to be the word all around when it comes to Rwake. The guitars of Kiffin Rogers and Kris “Gravy” Graves alternate between piercing leads and riffs that seem to be made of block cement, broken through only by Jeff Morgan‘s ultra-adaptable drums, Reid Raley‘s rumble and the dual-vocal assault of Brittany Fugate‘s snarled screams and CT‘s shouts echoing over the abyss like cliffside incantations yelled to gathering clouds.

As the frontman, CT has shown marked growth in his vocals, moving beyond the screams of Voices of Omens and earlier records like 2004′s If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die and 2002′s Hell is a Door to the Sun (reissued earlier this year by Relapse) to more controlled and overall cleaner shouting. It’s not exactly melodic, and he’s still able to match Fugate for ferocity on cuts like “An Invisible Thread,” but there’s no question that in the four years between Voices of Omens and Rest, he came into his own as a singer and as a central figure in the band.

The album is 53 minutes long. My interview with CT was 55. We spoke before the band’s short tour at the end of last month about the strange and protracted process by which Rest was recorded and how it ultimately helped in undertaking the aforementioned maturation, the move to longer songs, their current position as regards touring and much more, and even had some time at the end to bring in how he — as the director of the sludge documentary Slow Southern Steel — views Rwake within the expansive creative milieu of the American south.

You’ll find the complete 6,200-word Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.

Read more »

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Red Fang to Tour with Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Fearsome Oregonian foursome Red Fang have already toured this year with Saint Vitus and Crowbar as part of the Metalliance tour, and joined the ranks of the vastly more commercial Mayhem Festival, brought to you by an energy drink whose name I’m not going to mention because, fuck it, I’m not getting paid to. Their streak of high-profile runs is set to continue through the fall, it seems, as they’re booked for the month of November with reigning metal champs Mastodon and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

So, uh, good for them. Here’s the dates off the PR wire:

Red Fang has just confirmed a Fall North American tour with Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan. The tour kicks off Nov. 1 in Los Angeles, CA, and runs through Dec. 1 in Lake Buena Vista, FL. A complete list of dates is below:

11/01 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern Theater
11/02 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
11/03 San Francisco, CA The Warfield Theater
11/05 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
11/06 Seattle, WA Showbox SODO
11/07 Boise, ID Knitting Factory
11/08 Salt Lake City, UT The Depot
11/09 Denver, CO The Ogden Theatre
11/11 Chicago, IL The Riviera Theatre
11/12 Milwaukee, WI The Rave Ballroom
11/13 St. Louis, MO Pop’s
11/14 Kansas City, MO The Beaumont
11/16 Detroit, MI The Fillmore
11/17 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room
11/19 New York, NY Terminal 5
11/20 Philadelphia, PA The Trocadero
11/21 Boston, MA House of Blues
11/23 Montreal, QC Metropolis
11/25 Toronto, ON Kool Haus
11/26 Buffalo, NY Town Ballroom
11/27 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
11/28 Norfolk, VA The NorVa
11/29 Asheville, NC Orange Peel
12/01 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues

To coincide with the tour announcement Red Fang have released an exclusive B-side from Murder the Mountains titled “Black Hole” on their [Thee] Facebook[s] page.

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Rwake, Rest: It is Later than You Think

Posted in Reviews on September 6th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

While embroiled in the 53 minutes of Rwake’s new album, Rest, you feel every second of the four and a half years it’s been since Voices of Omens came out in February 2007. That record was Rwake’s Relapse Records debut, and in some ways, the new Rest is a direct sequel. It once again pairs the Little Rock, Arkansas, five-piece with producer/engineer Sanford Parker and finds them imbuing their sludge with atmospheric sprawl, but where Rest surpasses Voices of Omens (not an easy task) is in the level of growth displayed. On the four extended cuts (plus two interludes) of Rwake’s latest, the band show a mastery of their form and style that couldn’t come from anything but a mature outfit. The music is heavy both in tone and introspection, and Rest benefits greatly from the interplay between vocalists CT and Brittany Fugate, the latter who also contributes samples and noise, but the fact that’s most readily apparent is that four years ago, Rwake simply wasn’t here yet, and they’re here now.

In light of CT having helmed the documentary film Slow Southern Steel, it’s hard not to read Rest in terms of its place in the lineage of Southern American sludge, and in that regard, it builds on the directives of the genre – at times it is painfully slow – but shies away neither from exploration nor melody in the guitar work of Kiffin Rogers and Kris “Gravy” Graves. Rounded out by Jeff Morgan’s drums and Nachtmystium contributor Reid Raley‘s bass (John Judkins has also recently toured with the band in the role), Rwake don’t entirely transcend rudimentary sludge’s punk-based aggression – they’re not trying to – but in terms of where these songs go, it’s clear the band are reaching for something more complex. They get it almost instantly, the acoustic guitar and melodic vocals from Fugate in the intro “Souls of the Sky” giving way after 1:27 to the near-12-minute ultra-downer “It was Beautiful but Now it’s Sour.” The opener, like the later “Ti Progetto,” being geared more toward atmosphere and establishing a context for what’s coming, Rest truly gets underway with the second cut, a lumbering pace set by Morgan’s snare and topped with one of the album’s several excellent guitar leads. CT’s first vocals, interestingly, are backwards. It’s a tactic Rwake use toward the end of the song as well, but his gruff shouts are soon turned forward and paired with Fugate’s animalistic black metal snarl. But 3:20 into the total 11:45, Rwake’s expanse is beginning to lay itself out. CT and Fugate synchronize and the effect is engrossing.

Like much of Rest, “It was Beautiful but Now it’s Sour” follows a linear structure, but though there are moments where it feels like their build will just keep going without payoff, Rwake never lose sight of the song they’re writing. I’d argue that the ambient/acoustic break that comes into “It was Beautiful but Now it’s Sour” – one of CT’s most Neurosis-esque moments in terms of delivery – undercuts the apex the prior movement was leading toward, but it doesn’t feel like Rwake are making a misstep in their craft as much as making their listeners sweat out the track’s peak. Instead, melodic guitar lines space out patiently before a crashing avalanche of a riff takes hold and, eventually Morgan introduces a quicker tempo with drum fills while Fugate screams deep in the mix, nonetheless stepping back as CT helms the drama of the final minute. There’s a lot happening right away, and though shorter at nine minutes, “An Invisible Thread” doesn’t let up, beginning faster with electric and acoustic (I think) guitars paired in Mastodonian tradition for a quicker riff as CT and Fugate once again line up as well. Much of Rest’s success is based around the two pairings – Rogers and Graves and CT and Fugate (with the Raley‘s bass and Morgan’s drumming for ground) – and all are working excellently on “An Invisible Thread.” The song doesn’t have the same kind of outward movement as “It was Beautiful but Now it’s Sour,” but the intensity of the first half finds release in the slow riffing and Slayeresque lead-line/ride cymbal interplay that mounts the second. It’s horrific in how huge it sounds, but here too Rwake are in control, and the rumbling noise with which the song ends is suitable aftermath for the low-end apocalypse the song preceding has wrought.

Read more »

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audiObelisk EXCLUSIVE: Rwake Stream “An Invisible Thread” From New Album Rest

Posted in audiObelisk on August 24th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

We’re about a month out from the Sept. 27 release date for Rwake‘s second album for Relapse Records, Rest. The full-length follows four years after Rwake‘s label debut, Voices of Omens, and like that record, it was produced by the ever-vigilant Sanford Parker. It is — and I say this with no exaggeration or sense of hyperbole — a beast.

Voices of Omens delved into apocalyptic metal territory, no doubt about it, but Rest personalizes that process. It makes it human. Sonically, the six tracks encompass a range of extreme genres, from doom to black and death metal to the dirge-hued bombast Rwake have come to trade on over the course of their development. The songs (with the use of a couple choice samples) hit hard enough to satisfy longtime followers of the band, and the expansive scope comes at no cost to that heaviness.

Relapse has been kind enough to let The Obelisk have a couple choice track premieres over the last several months (Hail!Hornet, Indian, the entirety of Rwake‘s reissue of 2002′s Hell is a Door to the Sun), but I don’t know if I’ve been as excited about any of them as I am about this. As you listen, understand that you’re getting a part of the whole here and that each cut on Rest offers something individual to the listener.

Please find “An Invisible Thread” on the player below — followed by an explanation of the track and lyrics from frontman CT — and enjoy.

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From CT:
“An Invisible Thread” is an anthemic song about the devil’s music, wife abuse, dreamscapes, and the ability to “out of body experience” your very own suicide. It is the “upper” on the album. Not so much uplifting, just more of an all around upper.

Lyrics:
nothing last forever un relived
when all the others give and fucking take
user suck the life to fucking live
imitate life but never recreate

if we knew there would be no fit
if you think you know then you’re fucking full of shit
look around you and embrace it
the long road to hell with no regret

now you feel it cause you’re sick at your stomach
it’s a feeling that no one can run from
it’s a haunting and the sickness is the demon
exorcise through suicide and reason

Rest is available for preorder at this location in 180 gram vinyl, CD or t-shirt bundles, and will be released Sept. 27. Special thanks to Relapse for permission to host the stream.

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audiObelisk EXCLUSIVE: Hail!Hornet Premiere Track From New Album

Posted in audiObelisk on June 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Southern metal rogues’ gallery returns! Four years ago, the assemblage of doomed bastards known as Hail!Hornet made their debut in the form of a Dwell Records self-titled, and it was some of the dankest metal ever to rise from the muck. Now signed to Relapse, the four-piece of vocalist T-Roy Medlin (Sourvein; interview here), bassist “Dixie” Dave Collins (Weedeater; interview here), guitarist Vince Burke (Beaten Back to Pure) and drummer Erik Larson (The Might Could/ex-Alabama Thunderpussy; interview here) make an overdue return with their second album, Disperse the Curse, on July 19.

Recorded by Burke (who I guess I need to get on interviewing) in his own Sniper Studio, Disperse the Curse is a little more focused, more linear than was Hail!Hornet‘s first outing — all things relative — but it’s still dirty as hell tonally and topped off with Medlin‘s trademark throat-searing screams. It’s not all sludge, but those elements are definitely in there, and there’s no denying that when these guys kick into a groove, it’s absolutely brutal.

Relapse was kind enough to grant me permission to premiere the track “Unholy Foe” for streaming, so dig this:

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Hail!Hornet‘s Disperse the Curse is out July 19, 2011, on Relapse Records, and is available for preorder through the label’s website. The cover art, which rules, is by Brian Mercer.

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Top Five of the First Half of 2011, #3: Red Fang, Murder the Mountains

Posted in Features on June 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Try as I might, I can’t come up with an argument against Murder the Mountains, the Relapse Records debut from Portland, Oregon‘s Red Fang and their second album overall. The songs are diverse without being pretentious, rocking without being dumbed down and once they get into your head, you think you might lose your mind from how constantly you hear them. Maybe that’s an argument against, but if so, it should say something that the biggest complaint about an album is that it’s so catchy it’ll drive you nuts.

Red Fang‘s self-titled had a couple cool tracks and that one they did the beery video for, and that was fun, but with Murder the Mountains, they blew themselves right out of the water. Their choice of producer in Chris Funk of The Decemberists was a bold one, but it paid off huge in that Red Fang wound up making moves and arrangement choices that other bands of their scruffy ilk might not have thought of and/or done, and they were heavy enough to still make it work. The gruff vocals of guitarist Bryan Giles and the smoother approach of bassist Aaron Beam played off each other track by track — and often within the cuts themselves (see “Number Thirteen” or “Throw Up”) — and the material was so immediate that the songs couldn’t help but flow together.

They’ve gotten a fair amount of buzz thanks to high-profile touring, but one listen to Murder the Mountains will show that Red Fang have the songwriting to back up whatever hype might surround them, and best of all, that it’s the music, not the hype, that matters to the band. Rounded out by guitarist David Sullivan and drummer John Sherman, Red Fang proved that you don’t necessarily have to choose between being heavy and engaging with an audience. And all that’s wonderful, but most of all, Murder the Mountains is on this list because I can’t seem to stop listening to the fucking thing. With all of the quality releases that have come out this year, that should say something.

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Frydee Red Fang

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 13th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

The above clip, which is the official video for “Wires” off Red Fang‘s excellent Murder the Mountains Relapse debut, was revealed to the world yesterday, and there was pretty much no way in hell I wasn’t going to post it one way or another. Like their video for “Prehistoric Dog” — the success of which one could argue was what got them signed to Relapse in the first place — this was directed by Whitey McConnaughy (if it ain’t broke), and it fucking rules. It’s awesome to see a real rock video, to both laugh and enjoy the music, and to see a band who seems to be doing the same. Kudos all around.

This was kind of a sleepy week, and by that I mean I feel like I slept through more than half of it. Seriously. I think it was Wednesday before I actually opened my eyes all the way, and even then, they were half-closed again within a few minutes. I guess maybe it’s comedown from the semester still, but I was plenty busy with work from both paying gigs. That’ll carry into tomorrow as well, but at least I can sleep late. I’m very much looking forward to that.

I’m slated to interview Orange Goblin frontman Ben Ward on Monday evening, and I hope to have that posted by the end of next week. Next Thursday I’ll be taking a ride down to Philly to catch Lo-Pan and Backwoods Payback playing a show together at the M-Room, and I know that’ll be a lot of fun, since those are all good guys and both outstanding bands. Speaking of Philly, I hope to have a studio report from the Clamfight dudes, who start the recording process on their new full-length this weekend, and as a special feature to advance the release of Blackwolfgoat‘s Dronolith, I’ll have a track-by-track report from Darryl Shepard on the six songs that make up the record. He’s got some really cool stuff to say, so stay tuned even if you’re not planning on buying Dronolith when it goes on sale a week from Tuesday.

I also have a Six Dumb Questions feature on the docket with recently-reviewed Pittsburgh metallers Sistered, so there’s a lot to come next week and through the end of the month. And probably after that too, if I had to guess. Hope you all have a great and safe weekend, I’ll see you on the forum, and thanks for checking in.

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Indian, Guiltless: No Remorse in the Swarm of Flies

Posted in Reviews on April 29th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Even before I opened the liner notes, I knew two things about Guiltless, the fourth full-length from Chicago misanthropic doomers Indian, just from listening, and those two things were: Sanford Parker recorded and that the guitars were running through Emperor cabinets. Tonally, the Chicago doom/dirge style (typified in several cases by those two elements) has become so distinct, so singularly its own, that one knows right away what one is dealing with. Of course, it helps that Indian already have a foundation of three strong outings behind them, but this, their much-anticipated Relapse Records debut, would seem to be a coming of age for the five-piece. Their frightful crashes, haunting atmospherics – in this I’ll liken them to Pig Destroyer, despite the obvious tempo disparity – and generally unsettling approach feels more solidified across Guiltless than it did on either Slights and Abuse or The Sycophant (or the CD compilation of the two) or their 2005 Seventh Rule debut, The Unquiet Sky. As a serial killer matures in a modus operandi and ritualizes his violence, so too does Indian seem to have developed into the beastly form that presents itself on Guiltless’ seven tracks.

And if you think the serial killer analogy might be a little strong, I humbly ask that you take another listen to Guiltless’ frantic and disturbing nature. Tonally and atmospherically consistent, the album nonetheless seethes with an underlying energy and tension that comes out on nearly every song – the only notable exception being the late acoustic interlude “Supplicants,” which is creepy, but not necessarily the same kind of unhinged feel. For the rest of its vinyl-ready 41-minute duration finds Indian – guitarist/vocalists Dylan O’Toole and Will Lindsay (the latter ex-Middian and Wolves in the Throne Room, bassist Ron DeFries, drummer Bill Bumgardner (also of Lord Mantis) and noisemaker Sean Patton – reveling in their dense tonality, cutting through it only with hard-hit snares and vicious, throat-wrenching screams. As Guiltless opener “No Grace” breaks into just the guitar to introduce the movement that will encompass its last two minutes or so, one feels in listening that the album has already been on for much longer than it has. The songs are pillow-over-the-face oppressive, and the performances blisteringly tight.

“The Fate Before Fate” finds Indian underscoring black metal riffs with doomed groove, Bumgardner landing heavy on his cymbals in a noisy wash complemented by Patton’s underlying layers. The vocals are far back beneath O’Toole’s and Lindsay’s guitars, and some of Guiltless’ most scathing, working in the song’s faster pace to set up the lumbering feel of the ensuing title-track, which closes side A in madman fashion. It’s on “Guiltless” that Indian perhaps most uses the single-note thudding crashes that seem to pop up on several cuts, and to the greatest effect. The song is unflinchingly heavy and downright terrifying, DeFries’ bass working well with the drums to keep some movement happening under the raucous noise of the surface. O’Toole and Lindsay are in synch ringing out notes over the hits, and it’s almost as though the song grows more insistent over the course of its eight minutes, until finally it leads directly into “Guilty” on the CD (the LP requires a flip, so I imagine some of the effect is lost), which renews the pacing of “The Fate Before Fate” but keeps some of the same laborious feel as “Guiltless.” You won’t be surprised to find out it’s really fucking heavy, really fucking abrasive, and really fucking dark.

Read more »

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audiObelisk EXCLUSIVE: Indian Premiere New Track from Guiltless

Posted in audiObelisk on March 31st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

They’re Chicago‘s forerunners of deranged doom, and with their 2011 Relapse Records debut, Guiltless, the five-piece Indian are showing no signs of letting up. The label was kind enough to grant me permission to premiere the righteously heavy song “Guilty” from the album, and it’s my pleasure to host it for streaming on the player below. Prepare for an adventure into the thoroughly fucked:

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I told you. Shit is nuts.

Guiltless was recorded by Sanford Parker (who else?) at Semaphore Recording in Chicago, boasts artwork by Scott Fricke, and is available for pre-order from Relapse at this location. The label has more info on the record and Indian‘s upcoming release show. Dig it:

Guiltless will see its North American release on April 12 (April 25 internationally) on CD, 12” vinyl, and digitally. The CD is available for pre-order now at Relapse.com and a deluxe digital edition with a bonus track and digital booklet is available now at iTunes.

Indian has announced a Chicago record release show in support of Guiltless for April 9 at Subterranean (2011 West North Avenue). This is a co-record release show with labelmates Bloodiest. The show starts at 10:00pm and tickets are available at this location.

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