Omen Stones Announce First Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Omen stones

Want to know something crucial about Omen Stones? At least as far as the sound on the Richmond, Virginia, three-piece’s 2019 self-titled, self-released debut (review here) is concerned, just have a look at their logo. Like the letters themselves, there’s just some aspect of Omen Stones‘ sound that’s a little bit twisted, a little bit working toward something darker and more sinister. You can hear it in the vocal sneer of guitarist Tommy Hamilton, also known for his work in filth-caked riffers Druglord, and in the tones that surround as the drums of Erik Larson (also Backwoods PaybackAvail, ex-ATP, etc.) punch through in the rush of “Purity Jones.” There’s a track on the record called “Fresh Hell.” That about sums it up.

But there isn’t the mire one might expect from what Hamilton brought to Druglord, and Omen Stones are a more intense band. With Ed Fierro (also Tel) on bass, there’s venom if not Venom in their veins and not that they don’t sleek out a rolling groove every now and then, as in “Secrete,” but there’s an undercurrent of threat that never seems to be far from the their attention. As they look to head out on their first tour dates beginning Jan. 31, hitting spots in North Carolina, Indianapolis, Kentucky, Ohio, Delaware, Maryland and indeed Virginia, I’m wondering what the 10-day jaunt might lead to. More tours? New songs? It’s their first tour, and where I had the info I’ve included with whom they’ll be doing the shows. There are some good ones in there. Baltimore looks like a killer night.

Here are the dates, followed by the self-titled album stream from Bandcamp:

omen stones tour

Omen Stones live:
01/31 Raleigh NC Slims w/ Crystal Spiders, Moryo
02/01 Asheville NC Odditorium
02/02 Indianapolis IN State Street Pub w/ Lavaborne, Drooler
02/03 Louisville KY Highlands Taproom w/ Problem with Dragons
02/04 Cincinnati OH Northside Yacht Club
02/05 Columbus OH Dirty Dungarees w/ Deprecator, False Teeth
02/06 Kent OH The Dome w/ Goosed, Ghost:Hello
02/07 Wilmington DE 1984 Arcade Bar
02/08 Baltimore MD Rituals Bar & Venue w/ Alms, Cavern, Almost Honest
02/09 Richmond VA Fuzzy Cactus w/ Hoboknife, Deathcrown

Omen Stones is:
Ed Fierro – bass
Tommy Hamilton – guitar/vocals
Erik Larson – drums

https://www.facebook.com/OmenStonesVA/
https://omenstones.bandcamp.com/

Omen Stones, Omen Stones (2019)

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Windhand Announce Headlining Shows on East and West Coasts

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Windhand (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Windhand touring is continually a good thing. Windhand getting some of their stolen gear back is even better. Windhand‘s recent posting of a bunch of demos to help raise funds to cover the rest of their losses from said robbery, well that’s just a win for all parties involved. They’re not at all to the point yet where one would expect them to drop a follow-up to 2018’s Eternal Return (review here) — so they probably will; ha — but anything that keeps momentum on their side, especially after the above-noted setback, is good. They’ll play shows with Relapse labelmates Devil Master in the Northeast and then head out toward the Pacific with Serial Hawk to make a stop at Northwest Terror Fest. Bing bang boom, as clownish caricatures of stereotypes might say in my beloved Garden State. It’s a Windhand show. Even better that they’re headlining, the fest notwithstanding. One way or the other, it’s probably a better night than what you might otherwise have planned.

Also the poster’s awesome. Here it is from the PR wire:

windhand tour poster

WINDHAND: Announce 2020 US Headline Tour Dates

WINDHAND have announced 2020 tour dates beginning in March with labelmates DEVIL MASTER. Tickets are on sale Friday, January 10th at 10 AM local time. All confirmed tour dates are available below. Following the tour, WINDHAND will also make appearances in May/June around Northwest Terror Fest.

Additionally, WINDHAND recently shared unreleased demo & rarity tracks on Bandcamp throughout the band’s discography. The five album collection spans from the band’s full-lengths Soma, Grief’s Infernal Flower, Eternal Return, plus miscellaneous demos, alternative mixes & their Live at WFMU session on 6.8.13. All proceeds for the albums will help WINDHAND post-theft of their instruments and gear earlier in the Fall.

All five albums are available at https://windhand.bandcamp.com/

WINDHAND TOUR DATES:

— Mar 18-21 w/ Devil Master —

Mar 18 Harrisonburg, VA @ The Golden Pony
Mar 19 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
Mar 20 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Mar 21 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus

— May 29 – June 04 w/ Serial Hawk —

May 28 Seattle, WA @ Northwest Terror Fest
May 29 Vancouver, BC @ The Venue
May 31 Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club
Jun 01 Los Angeles, CA @ Jewels Catch One
Jun 02 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Jun 03 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
Jun 04 Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater

Aug 15-16 Las Vegas, NV Psycho Las Vegas

Sep 03-06 Cookeville, TN Muddy Roots Festival

A full collection of WINDHAND music videos are available HERE.

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

Windhand, Miscellaneous Demos & Alternate Mixes (2019)

Windhand, Live at WFMU 6.8.2013 (2019)

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Windhand Post Demos for Studio Albums & WFMU Live Set

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

If you didn’t know, Windhand were robbed a bit ago. It was horseshit. Don’t get me wrong — it’s always horseshit. If you’re someone thinking about robbing a touring band and wondering when the right time to do so is, just go play in traffic instead. But a band like Windhand, who’ve been at it for the better part of 10 years now and who’ve only ever kicked ass on stage and off — not that it would be okay to steal from them if they sucked, but you know what I mean — it of course seemed to hit that much harder when it happened. Fundraisers were launched, social media sympathy was proffered in great abundance, and then, as invariably happens in any news cycle, it was on to the next thing.

Well, when you get robbed, it doesn’t just suck for five minutes. It continues to suck. Even for people who get their stuff back, it can continue to suck. To help with ongoing financial concerns, gear and whatnot, Windhand have posted demos for three of their studio LPs — the demo for the first album was already up — and a collection of miscellaneous demos and alternative/rough mixes, and a live session recorded at my beloved Garden State’s own beloved weirdo freeform radio station WFMU in 2013.

The money, obviously, go to Windhand, who, again obviously, need it. So help out and hear some cool shit for the effort.

And don’t fucking rob bands. Ever:

WINDHAND (photo by Joey Wharton)

WINDHAND share unreleased demo & rarity tracks on Bandcamp throughout the band’s discography. The five-album collection spans from the band’s full-lengths Soma, Grief’s Infernal Flower, Eternal Return, plus miscellaneous demos, alternative mixes & their Live at WFMU session on 6.8.13. All proceeds for the albums will help WINDHAND post-theft of their instruments and gear earlier in the Fall.

Fresh off their heels from their North American tour with RUSSIAN CIRCLES, WINDHAND have announced new dates in 2020 as part of the Psycho Las Vegas, Northwest Terror Fest, and Muddy Roots Festivals. More tour updates will be available at the WINDHAND Facebook Page.

All five albums are available at https://windhand.bandcamp.com/

A full collection of WINDHAND music videos are available HERE.

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

Windhand, Miscellaneous Demos & Alternate Mixes (2019)

Windhand, Live at WFMU 6.8.2013 (2019)

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Wolftooth in the Studio for Second Album out Next Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The self-titled debut (review here) from Indiana’s Wolftooth kind of bounced around after its initial 2018 release, picked up by Blackseed Records and then Cursed Tongue Records and Ripple Music for an eventual issue this past June. I mean, hey, I get it. The record’s a kind of riff metal paradise, with spot-on weighted tones that have just enough sharpness to their edge to keep moving when they want to — and yes, they want to for a decent portion of the time, but still allow the band to emphasize groove rather than charge — can’t it be both? yes! — when they see fit to do so. Top it off with solid songcraft and you’ve got the kind of winner that, yeah, three separate labels might indeed be interested in working with.

I’ll be derned curious to hear the four-piece’s follow-up when the time comes in 2020, not the least because the band’s update on the recording currently in progress includes word that, “Bigger riffs and bigger choruses were the focus on this new installment of Wolftooth songs.” I like big riffs and big choruses. The more the merrier. So yeah, sign me up. I don’t know if it’ll be out through Ripple/Cursed Tongue or what, but when I hear something I’ll let you know.

Here’s the rest of what they had to say:

wolftooth

Wolftooth – Recording Update

Wolftooth entered Led Fields Studio in Connersville, Indiana, with Jeremy Lovins at the helm the end of August 2019 to start the recording process of their sophomore full length album. The band has 10 new tracks and is the final stages of tracking at the time of this update. We expect to be finished by the end of December 2019 and the album out to the fans by summer 2020.

The songs themselves represent a more focused and polished Wolftooth. Fans can expect tracks that are full on rockers to tracks that are reminiscent of Wolftooths’ nwobhm roots. Bigger riffs and bigger choruses were the focus on this new installment of Wolftooth songs. The band feels that this is their best effort yet.

Wolftooth is:
Chris Sullivan Guitar/ Vocals
Terry McDaniel Bass
Jeff Cole Guitar
Johnny Harrod Drums/Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/wolftoothmetal/
https://www.instagram.com/wolftooth_metal/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Wolftooth, Wolftooth (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, War Cloud, Here Lies Man, Book of Wyrms, Möyhy-Veikot, Darsombra, Set Fire, Jesus the Snake, Föllakzoid, Dresden Wolves

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Had to take a second this morning to get my email back under 100 unread. It currently stands at 95. There’s just something about being in triple digits that I can’t stand. Press releases and stuff I can usually file right away since not everything’s relevant to the site, etc., but that’s all stuff that either wants follow-up or could be a factor here if there was time. I do my best to try to keep up. And I fail, consistently.

The tradeoff, of course, is I spend that time writing reviews and other stuff for the site. Today’s hump day when we pass the halfway mark of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, and we’re doing it in absolutely all-over-the-place style, so all the better. Some pretty familiar names today, but some that might not be as well, so whatever your poison, I hope you enjoy the picking.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Russian Circles, Blood Year

russian circles blood year

There’s simply no denying the force behind the depths and swell of a song like “Kohokia” on Russian Circles‘ latest offering, Blood Year (Sargent House), and though one knows what to expect to some degree from the Chicago heavy post-rockers at this point in their career, they seem to be doing all they can to deliver their instrumental progressions with energy to match the breadth of the spaces and the heft they conjure. Like 2016’s Guidance (review here), the seven-track/39-minute Blood Year — was recorded with Kurt Ballou, whom the trio imported to their hometown to work at Electrical Audio (aka Steve Albini‘s stomping ground) instead of traveling to Massachusetts to track at Ballou‘s Godcity. If it was the long-famed drum sound of Electrical Audio that they wanted and the live feel that so many of the recordings done there have, they got both, so mark it a success and another notch in the belt of one of the heavy underground’s most immersive and evocative outfits. Their building and releasing of tension is second to none and moves into the spiritual by the time they even get to side B, let alone through it.

Russian Circles on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

War Cloud, State of Shock

war cloud state of shock

Oh, the riffs you’ll gallop. Oakland, California’s War Cloud skirt the line between classic thrash and heavy rock and roll on their second album for Ripple Music, State of Shock, and from the sound of things, they have a good time doing it. The record’s not much over a half-hour long, which is as it should be for this kind of party, and they toy a bit with the balance between their two sides on a rocker like “Do Anything” or the subsequent “Means of Your Defeat” on side B, but the main crux of State of Shock and certainly the impression it makes off the bat with “Striker” and “White Lightning” up front ahead of the six-minute that-moment-when-ThinLizzy-turned-into-IronMaiden “Dangerous Game” is one of homage to the metal of yore, and in following-up the band’s 2017 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a showcase of energy and craft alike as two guitars shred, chug, groove and charge through the material. If they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d say something about getting caught in a mosh. As it stands, I’ll go with urging you to jump in the fire instead. Horns up, either way.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon

here lies man no ground to walk upon

They should’ve just called it an album. Yeah, it would be short at 26 or so minutes, but it’s got everything you’d want from a full-length, and if they’d put a four-minute jam or something on it, they’d have been there anyhow. In any case, Los Angeles’ Afrobeat-infused heavy psych rockers Here Lies Man present seven tracks of dug-in glory with No Ground to Walk Upon (on RidingEasy), continuing to build on the potential shown across their first two LPs, 2017’s self-titled debut (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), even as they swagger their way through a groove like “Long Legs (Look Away)” and show their continued forward potential. They continue to be a special band — the kind of band who doesn’t just come along every day and who shouldn’t be overlooked during their time, because maybe they’ll be around 30 years and maybe they won’t, but what they’re doing now is bringing something wholly individual to a heavy context. They’ve already proven influential to some degree, but listening to No Ground to Walk Upon cuts like the dream-keyed “Iron Rattles” and the opening strut-into-drone of “Clad in Silver,” one wonders if they wouldn’t be more so if people weren’t too afraid to try to pull this thing off. Hard to argue with that, since more likely than not most couldn’t.

Here Lies Man on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Remythologizer

Book of Wyrms Remythologizer

I won’t take anything away from the eight-minute “Blacklight Warpriest” earlier in the offering, but the highlight of Book of Wyrms‘ second album, Remythologizer (on Twin Earth & Stoner Witch Records) has to be the closing “Dust Toad,” which at 9:25 is the longest track and the slowest crawl included. Led into by the synth-infused “Curse of the Werecop,” it takes the crunch that showed itself through opener “Autumnal Snow” and, later, the melody and swing of “Undead Pegasus” — as seen on the cover art — and brings them together in order to perfectly summarize the doom rocking ethic the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece are working from. Tonally righteous and more solvent in their songwriting than they were on their 2017 debut, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), the band sound assured as they move in “Spirit Drifter” from a standout keyboard line to a likewise standout guitar solo, giving a feeling of progressive nuance that’s continuing to take hold in their sound, balanced by the underlying naturalism of their approach. That dynamic continues to duke it out on Remythologizer, much to the benefit of anyone who takes the record on.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Möyhy-Veikot, Huume Jet Set Life

moyhy-veikot huume jet set life

Too weird for planet earth and, well, probably too weird for anywhere else too, Helsinki psych-space-kraut-whathaveyou experimentalists issue their third tape in the form of Huume Jet Set Life and whether it’s the cosmo-jamming on “MITÄ ON TULLUT VEDETTYÄ?” or the who-the-hell-knows-what-ism of “MEDIA-AJOJAHTI 2000,” the band at no point fail to make an impression of being out there in the far gone far out there reaches of the far out there. Talkin’ freaked out next level total, like the cassette just fell into the atmosphere to represent some other planet’s culture where things are both dangerous and interesting and you never really know if you’re going to get laid or eaten or both. Still, they may be doing math of the likes not yet conceived by humanity, but Möyhy-Veikot go about it in suitably friendly if totally over-the-top fashion, and it’s fun to play along while also being completely overwhelmed at the various pushes and pulls happening all at once, the media samples and the Windows 95 compatibility of it all. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for disco.

Möyhy-Veikot on Thee Facebooks

Möyhy-Veikot on Bandcamp

 

Darsombra, Transmission

Darsombra Transmission

It’s just lovely. Really. In some ways it feels like the 41:20 single-track full-length Transmission — self-released, no less — is what Baltimore ambient exploratory two-piece Darsombra have been building toward all along, but I think the truth is they probably could’ve done this at any time if they’d chosen to do so. Still, the fluidity of “Transmission” itself is something special, with its cascades of manipulated voice, riffs that swell and recede, loops, synth and somehow-manifested light that are as much immersion for the spirit as the eardrum. One doesn’t want to dive too deep into hyperbole and oversell it to the point of dulling the listener’s own impression, but Transmission is the kind of record that even those who profess to never “get” drone or noise offerings can engage with. Part of that is owed to Brian Daniloski‘s guitar, which provides landmarks along the path of swirl conjured by his own effects and the synth from Ann Everton (both add vocals where applicable; don’t look for lyrics or verses) that allow those who’d take it on to do so more easily. But the real joy in Transmission is letting go and allowing the piece to carry you along its progressive course, genuine in its reaching for the unknown. Plus there’s a gong, and that’s always fun too. Go with it.

Darsombra on Thee Facebooks

Darsombra on Bandcamp

 

Set Fire, Traya

set fire traya

Traya is the third three-song full-length from Boston’s Set Fire, and it would seem that, and in addition to marking the last recording to feature drummer Rob Davol, who’s since been replaced by Josh Cronin, it would seem to show the three-piece nailing their sound of classic-tinged duet-fronted heavy rock and roll. With two powerhouse vocalists on board in guitarist Jim Healey (We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, etc.) and keyboardist Jess Collins (ex-Mellow Bravo), they work in varying arrangements across a meager 12-minute run that feels short mostly because it is short. Too short. “Any Place Left” puts Collins in the foreground, while “Sacred Song” is more Healey‘s, and unsurprisingly to anyone who’s experienced their past work either together or separate, they’re more than able to carry the material — only more so with the other party backing. “Waves” brings them together around theatrical layers of piano and keyboard and guitar, and that they manage to hold it steady at all, let alone take flight as it does, speaks to how ready they are to embark on a longer offering. Put out an album, already, would ya?

Set Fire on Thee Facebooks

Set Fire on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Black Acid, Pink Rain

Jesus the Snake Black Acid Pink Rain

For those feeling adventurous, Portugal’s Jesus the Snake follow-up their 2017 self-titled EP (review here) with the unmitigated warmth of Black Acid, Pink Rain, their live-recorded full-length debut. And for the sort of heavy psych-jazz-prog meandering, one would almost expect the organ-laced instrumentalist four-piece to track the record as they perform it, if not front-to-back then certainly one song at a time across multiple takes. Not one piece of the five total on the 49-minute offering is under eight minutes long, and sandwiched between opener “Karma” (10:28) and the closing title-track (10:55) are three cuts circa nine that prove no less hypnotic. The beginning of “Floyds I” is so fluid with the interplay of organ and guitar that one almost expects a gentle Portuguese spoken word verse to start, but of course one never does. Instead, Jesus the Snake complement mindful drift with flashes of more weighted or active fare, all the while holding to a central vibe that is peaceful even as “Duna” finds its chill before the halfway point, with no loss of spirit in the process.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

Föllakzoid, I

follakzoid i

As with any kind of sonic minimalism or release based around trance induction — see Darsombra above — there’s a certain amount of buy-in that needs to happen on the listener’s side. Accordingly, those going into the fourth LP from Chilean duo Föllakzoid, titled I and issued through Sacred Bones Records as a double-vinyl, should be aware that it’s requires that kind of interaction from one side to the other. It’s not especially loud or abrasive, or even demanding in terms of the basic sonics of the thing, but as “I” becomes “II” becomes “III” becomes “IIII” and the songs such as they are alternate between 17- and 13-minute runtimes and the blend of effects and electro beats tips to one side or the other — “II” with a fervent ‘ump-tis’ in its early going while “III” brings a more Vangelis-style cinematic wash — of course there’s an ask in terms of indulgence happening on the part of the two-piece to their audience. Whether an individual is willing to make that jump is obviously going to be up to their headspace and where they’re at, but Föllakzoid‘s work here is more than worth the investment, even for those less familiar with their methods.

Föllakzoid on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Dresden Wolves, Hiedra – Sencillo

dresden wolves Hiedra Sencillo

The sub-three-minute “Hiedra – Sencillo” is the latest in an ongoing series of digital offerings from Mexico City’s Dresden Wolves, and though the two-piece band bill themselves as post-punk and they may actually have a history in playing punk rock — stranger things have happened, certainly — the song finds them working in a taut heavy rock context, brash in delivery but not overly so as to lose the overarching swagger they seem intent on conveying. Particularly as it follows behind two EPs and a swath of other single tracks, and is offered name-your-price through their Bandcamp, “Hiedra – Sencillo” feels like its most nefarious aim is to hook anyone who’d click play on first listen and try and keep them intrigued for next time out. Fair enough. I won’t profess to know what Dresden Wolves‘ plans are, but they’ve got songwriting in their pocket and the production on “Hiedra – Sencillo” is crisp and clear enough to convey the heft of the guitar but not so much so as to dull its rawer aspects. They’ve got the balance ready to go, whatever they might choose to do with it from here.

Dresden Wolves on Thee Facebooks

Dresden Wolves on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: High on Fire, Ruff Majik, Merlin, Workshed, E-L-R, Sibyl, Golden Legacy, Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Burden Limbs, El Supremo

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Another day, another batch of 10 reviews on the march to 50 by the end of the week. Will we make it? Yeah, probably. I mean, I think there was once when I had to skip a day or something but even then I made up for it and there’s never been an instance where the Quarterly Review fell apart. The one quarter I decided to nix it (was it last year?) I made up for it by doing 100 reviews instead of 50 the next time out, so we got there eventually. It being Tuesday, the end of the week looks far off, but indeed we’ll ge there eventually, and there’s a lot of good music between now and then, so let’s hit it.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

High on Fire, Bat Salad

high on fire bat salad

A limited vinyl EP released as part of Record Store Day 2019, High on Fire‘s Bat Salad comprises three songs: an original instrumental and two covers, one of Celtic Frost and one of Bad Brains. And I won’t take away from the “Rat Salad” Sabbath-does-blues-jazz-jam-except-it’s-HighonFire-so-it-sounds-nasty-as-hell spirit of “Bat Salad” at all, but the real highlight here is hearing Matt Pike‘s gravel-throated vocals take on “Into Crypts of Rays.” Celtic Frost have always been a central factor in what High on Fire were doing stylistically, so to have the band take them on directly seems long in the making. They approach Bad Brains‘ “Don’t Bother Me” with due reverence as well, careening through an intense three-minute burst of energy with the grit and underlying precision one has come to expect from these singular masters. Soon enough, bands will be covering High on Fire with the same spirit of fan homage. Doubly notable for being founding drummer Des Kensel‘s last recorded appearance alongside Pike and bassist Jeff Matz in the band.

High on Fire on Thee Facebooks

eOne Heavy on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Tårn

ruff majik tarn

Guitarist/vocalist Johni Holiday, bassist Jimmy Glass and drummer Ben Manchino return with Tårn, Ruff Majik‘s second album on a quick turnaround from their 2018 debut, Seasons (review here). Aligned with Lay Bare Recordings for the vinyl release, the deceptively quick and even more deceptively complex seven-track/36-minute offering finds Ruff Majik digging into dirt-caked tonality and classically punkish sneer in Holiday‘s vocals. There are moments where they sound like Queens of the Stone Age (“Speed Hippie”) and moments where they sound like Black Flag (parts of opener “Schizophrenic”), but as a roller like “Heretically Happy” or the earlier post-Zeppelin stoner sneak of “Gloom & Tomb” show, Ruff Majik are perhaps most interested in sounding like themselves. They’re gleeful as they toy with doomed vibes on closer “Seasoning the Witch,” and the seven-minute “I’ll Dig the Grave” earlier thrills with changes drawn together by a pervasive and righteous groove. With Tårn, Ruff Majik have found their wavelength, and it suits them.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Merlin, The Mortal

merlin the mortal

Be it heretofore established that sax-laced Kansas City psych-doomers Merlin don’t give a fuck. They don’t give a fuck what you expect, they don’t give a fuck what everyone else is doing, they don’t give a fuck if they meme the crap out of their own band. They’ve got their thing and they’re doing it. And you know what? They’re right. The Mortal is their fifth full-length in six years, following as a sequel to early-2018’s The Wizard (review here), and with flourish galore in arrangements of organ, sax, flute, percussion, accordion, trumpet, etc., alongside the foundation of songcraft that comes through the guitar, bass, drums and always-theatrical vocals of Jordan Knorr, the band recount tales along a dark-magical mystery tour of gorgeously flowing and still-weighted psychedelic plunder. They have become a buried treasure of weirdo/geek rock, and whether it’s the peaceful drift of “Ashen Lake” or the cacophonous heavy riffing of “Basilisk,” the stage-setting prog of “Towerfall” or the consuming swell that carries out the apex of closer “The Mortal Suite” — King Crimson chase and all — Merlin‘s work has never sounded so masterful. Will there be a third installment in the tale? Nothing quite like a trilogy.

Merlin on Thee Facebooks

The Company BigCartel store

 

Workshed, Workshed

workshed workshed

They’ve since added a third party in bassist Helen Storer (Fireball Ministry, among others), but Workshed‘s self-titled Rise Above Records debut LP was recorded as the duo of guitarist/vocalist Adam Lehan and drummer Mark Wharton. More than a quarter-century ago, both Lehan and Wharton played on Cathedral‘s pivotal first two albums, but in Workshed, and certainly there are some shades of doom on a stomper like “Anthropophobic” here, but the bulk of Workshed‘s nine-song/47-minute first offering is given to post-Entombed buzzsaw noise sludge, riffs crunched one into the next in an aggro, punk-rooted fashion that rife with a sense of willful punishment that comes through in sheer impact from front to back. Vocals call to mind Tom G. Warrior immediately and are suited to the social commentary of “If This is How it Is” and “This City Has Fallen,” while the grueling march of “A Spirit in Exile” leaves room for some atmosphere to eek through, which it does. They trash out in centerpiece “On Sticks of Wood” and chug their into a last fade on closer “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” but by then they’ve long since made their statement and left a trail of destruction behind them. Would they have been signed to Rise Above without the Cathedral connection? Probably not. Does the album earn their place? Absolutely.

Workshed on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

E-L-R, Mænad

e-l-r maenad

With their first full-length, Mænad, Swiss post-metallers E-L-R cart a gorgeous and textured course through patient and progressive songweaving that lends itself to hypnosis through its churning rhythm as much as its overarching melodies seem to evoke other worlds. It is not without its sense of challenge and certainly plenty heavy in its tone and groove — at least where it wants to be — but it’s also rich and provides a level of depth to its mix that should have others in the genre asking how they did it. A transitional drone at the end of “Devotee” brings about the 10-minute “Above the Mountains There is Light” and a long contemplation begins, working from the ground up on a pilgrim’s path to the eventual payoff. The resonance there is something unto itself, but even as “Ambrosia,” “Lunar Nights” and “The Wild Shore” find the stylistic footing that opener “Glancing Limbs” and “Devotee” seemed to hint at earlier, E-L-R maintain both an ambient sprawl and a consuming sense of passion that makes their work here all the more thrilling. This is a debut, following only a single 2018 demo that had two of the same tracks. What that tells me is look out for this band, because this kind of potential doesn’t come along every day and when it does, you want to be there for the follow-up. The impeccable taste of Prophecy Productions pays dividends once again.

E-L-R on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Sibyl, The Magic Isn’t Real

sibyl the magic isn't real

Otherworldly doom rock marked by echoing vocals oozing out from deep in the mix and gotta-hear-it bass tone complemented by choice riffage and a fervent thud in the drums, even if the aesthetic of Richmond’s Sibyl is familiar enough, there’s plenty to dig about their debut EP — what one might’ve called a “demo” in eras past — The Magic Isn’t Real. The stylistic elephant in the room is RVA’s own Windhand, but Sibyl take a more psychedelic path to heavy oblivion, and with four tracks in the range of four to five minutes, The Magic Isn’t Real comes across as well focused in its songwriting despite the ethereal touches in the actual sound. Cool vibe, and as they work some noisy shuffle into “Spinning Webs,” they show themselves as being less restricted than otherwise might be the case if they were purely committed to doomed drudgery. I’ll give bonus points as well for naming the penultimate track “Sexpionage,” just on principle, but it’s in stretches like the subdued creeper opening of “Blood Moon” and the engrossing, still-somehow-moving wash of “Pendulums” that Sibyl really showcase their intention.

Sibyl on Thee Facebooks

Sibyl on Bandcamp

 

Golden Legacy, Golden Legacy II

golden legacy golden legacy ii

London heavy noise duo Golden Legacy offer five tracks and 23 minutes of anti-genre, adrenaline rock to follow-up their 2016 self-titled EP. There’s a strong undercurrent of modern punk and indie to their sound, which is what gets them the “anti-genre” consideration, but it’s the energy of their delivery carrying them one way or the other as they drive through the harsh snare of “Cut and Crash” following the chunkier tone of opener “Moon” and just before centerpiece “Dirty Mouth” finds its way into grunge-style howling beastliness. Comprised of drummer/vocalist Lorena Cachito and guitarist Yanni Georgiou, the two-piece find winning momentum in “Salvation,” while closer “Thirsty” opens with a mellow drum progression gradually joined by the guitar and builds into more progressive and dramatic movement, casting off some of the rawness of the songs before it in favor of more complex fare. It still manages to soar at the end, though, and that seems to be what counts. They might be rawer now than they’ll eventually turn out, but that suits most of what they’re doing in adding to the emotionality on display in Cachito‘s vocals.

Golden Legacy on Thee Facebooks

Golden Legacy on Bandcamp

 

Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Coven of the Ultra-Riff

saint karloff devils witches coven of the ultra-riff

Alright, look. I don’t even think I have the full thing, but whatever. Saint Karloff and Devil’s Witches came together to release the Coven of the Ultra-Riff split — it can be so hard to find the right coven for your family; have you considered the Ultra-Riff? — and they each play an original track and then they cover each other’s songs and then Saint Karloff introduce the progression of “Supervixen (Electric Return)” and Devil’s Witches take up the mantle and run with it on “Supervixen (Acoustic Return),” so yeah, it’s pretty awesome and kind of all over the place but whatever. Get your head around it and get on board with whatever version you can grab. Vinyl came out through Majestic Mountain Records and tapes were through Stoner Witch Records and I’m fairly certain it’s all sold out already and probably stupid expensive on Discogs, but do what you need to do, because this is what Sabbath worship in the year 2019 is supposed to sound like. It’s bombed out of its gourd and has long since dropped out of life. It’s exactly where and what it wants to be.

Saint Karloff on Thee Facebooks

Devil’s Witches on Thee Facebooks

Majestic Mountain Records BigCartel store

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Burden Limbs, There is No Escape

burden limbs there is no escape

I’m not going to pretend to have the grounding in post-hardcore to toss off the influences under which Burden Limbs are working, but to listen to the blast of noise in “How Many Times Must I Reset” and the near-industrial wash of noise they conjure in the subsequent “Hypochondriac,” it’s clear they’re working under one influence anyway. There is No Escape (released through Glasshouse Records) runs 24 minutes and carries four songs, but in that time the band around founding figurehead and guitarist/vocalist Chad Murray manage to challenge themselves and the listener alike to keep up with their turns and emotional resonance. Murray is joined by two bassists, another guitarist, keyboards/synth and drums, so yes, there’s something of a busy feel to it, but even echoing cavernous as they are, the vocals seem to draw the songs together around a central presence and add a human core to the proceedings that only makes them all the more affecting as would seem to be the intent.

Burden Limbs on Thee Facebooks

Glasshouse Records on Bandcamp

 

El Supremo, Clarity Through Distortion

El Supremo Clarity Through Distortion

Sometimes these things take a while, but El Supremo was formed by now-ex-Egypt bassist Chad Heille has a solo-project and released a self-titled demo in 2008, to which Clarity Through Distortion is the follow-up full-length. Now joined by guitarist Neil Stein (also ex-Egypt, and who also played some on the demo) and organist Chris Gould as well as bassist Cam Dewald who came aboard after the album’s completion, the instrumentalist full-band incarnation of El Supremo waste no time diving into dead-on tonal and riffy righteousness, taking classic heavy cues and running with them in modern production richness, sounding clear but natural as a jam like “Moanin’ & Groanin'” turns into a shuffler as it moves into its second half, or the mellow sway of the 14-minute “Supercell” at last runs head-on into the lumbering motion that will carry it through to the end. I don’t know how much clarity — at least of the existential sort I think they mean in the title — they might’ve found by the time the bluesy “Lotus Throne” rolls over into the shreddy “Outro” that caps, but if the method is distortion, they’ve certainly got that part down.

El Supremo on Thee Facebooks

El Supremo on Bandcamp

 

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Red Beard Wall & Thunderchief Announce Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

red beard wall thunderchief tour banner

Gotta figure two one-man bands traveling together cuts down on costs, if nothing else. Plenty of room in a 13-passenger van, even with gear, when it’s just two dudes. I’m not sure, however, that it is just two dudes, as I know Texas’ Red Beard Wall and Virginia’s Thunderchief have both used live drummers in the past, so maybe upwards of… four… people involved between the two groups, such as they are? Still seems like a pretty efficient trip to me.

Thunderchief — aka Rik Surly and sometimes Erik Larson — have a couple singles out as of last year, while Red Beard Wall — aka Aaron Wall and sometimes George Trujillo — released the full-length The Fight Needs Us All earlier this year on Argonauta Records. Rest assured, whether it’s them alone or not, whatever the shows lack in personnel, they’ll make up in volume. Neither act is fucking around when it comes to that.

Dates and info from the PR wire:

red beard wall thunderchief tour

Red Beard Wall & Thunderchief Tour Dates

Thunderchief teams up with Red Beard Wall for one of 2019’s most anticipated tours! Sacrament of the Ninth Order Tour 2019!

This super-heavy doom/sludge hybrid tour begins October 17 in Dallas, TX, wrapping up in the Mecca of Doom, Frederick, MD, on Nov. 2, 2019. This pair of ultra-heavy sonic titans are quite unique, as they are both one-man bands, with walls of amps and NO drum machines!

Thunderchief, of Richmond, VA, will be performing their crushing new upcoming album in its entirety, and Red Beard Wall, of Lubbock, TX (Argonauta Records), will be belting out melodic heaviness from their current European release, The Fight Needs Us All.

Both bands have been seen opening for Eyehategod, Weedeater, Backwoods Payback, Shadow Witch, among many others, and this tour is not slacking on killer regional touring bands!

Oct. 17 Dallas TX Tradewinds Social Club
Oct. 18 Austin TX Dozen Street
Oct. 19 San Antonio TX Faust Tavern
Oct. 20 Lafayette LA Freetown Boom Boom Room
Oct. 21 New Orleans LA Poor Boys
Oct. 23 Birmingham AL Upsidedown Plaza
Oct. 24 Raleigh NC Slim’s
Oct. 25 Wilmington NC Reggie’s
Oct. 26 Asheville NC Static Age
Oct. 27 Nashville TN Betty’s Grill
Oct. 28 Louisville KY Highlands Tap Room
Oct. 29 Youngstown OH Westside Bowl
Oct. 30 Canton OH Buzz Bin
Nov. 1 Kingston NY The Anchor
Nov. 2 Frederick MD Guido’s

https://www.facebook.com/redbeardwall/
https://redbeardwall.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thethunderchief
https://thethunderchief.bandcamp.com/

Red Beard Wall, The Fight Needs Us All (2019)

Thunderchief, “Stone House”

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Inter Arma Announce East Coast Tour Supporting Sulphur English

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

inter arma

I know by now you’ve heard Inter Arma‘s latest masterpiece Sulphur English (review here) and so you don’t need me to recount for you its multifaceted righteousness, but if you’ll indulge me just a minute, consider how much even compared to the work the band was doing a few years ago their sound has become not a mash of different styles together — not doom one moment, death metal the next, post-this or that along the way — but one cohesive and identifiable aesthetic that they have made their own. It’s an easy-pick candidate for one of the best metal albums of the year, which makes it all the more of an exciting time to see the band live if you’re able. I don’t know what Inter Arma‘s future holds after Sulphur English, but it’s not a stretch to think this is a landmark moment for them one way or the other. I think I may have just talked myself into going to this show.

Dates came down the PR wire:

inter arma tour

INTER ARMA ANNOUNCE EAST COAST TOUR IN AUGUST & SEPTEMBER

Sulphur English out now on Relapse Records

Following the release of their universally acclaimed new album Sulphur English, Richmond’s Inter Arma have announced another string of North American tour dates in support of it. The band will tour along the east coast in late August into September with Creeping Death in tow. Check out the dates and venues listed below.

Out last April on Relapse, Sulphur English finds Inter Arma mining deeper in the proggy organic doom fields that made their prior albums so thrilling while expanding further the on the psych-folk strain that made those albums’ peaks seem so lofty. Despite all the new territory being covered both musically and lyrically, Sulphur English isn’t an experiment. It’s not Inter Arma testing the waters. It’s a necessary step in the evolution of a band whose music remains unclassifiable. Few bands make music as engrossing as Inter Arma; their lengthy, almost meditative songs rumble patiently forward until you’re ready to get thrown off a bridge — and then they throw you, with great force.

See Inter Arma on tour later this summer and look for more news from the band soon. Order your copy of Sulphur English here.

INTER ARMA – ON TOUR:
August 30 Washington, DC @ Atlas Brew Works *
August 31 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie *
September 1 Northampton, MA @ RPM Fest *
September 2 Portland, ME @ Geno’s Rock Club *
September 3 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus *
September 4 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place *
September 5 Hamtramck, MI @ Small’s *
September 6 Youngstown, OH @ Blackout Cookout
September 7 Harrisonburg, VA @ The Golden Pony *
* w/ Creeping Death

INTER ARMA Is:
Mike Paparo – vocals
T.J. Childers – drums
Steven Russell – guitars
Trey Dalton – guitars
Andrew Lacour – bass

http://relapse.com/inter-arma-sulphur-english/
https://www.facebook.com/INTERARMA/
https://www.instagram.com/interarmamusic/
http://interarma.bandcamp.com/

Inter Arma, Sulphur English (2019)

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