Posted in audiObelisk on April 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Tonight in their hometown of Richmond, Virginia, booze-doom trio Sinister Haze begin a month-long US tour that will take them coast to coast as they head west for a slot on May 16 at the Psycho California festival before looping back eastward. Today also marks the release of their debut EP, Betrayed by Time, pressed in a 180g LP edition of 300 copies by Heavy Slab Records, and “heavy slab” is about as apt a description as anything I can come up with for the four-song release. More than their three-song 2013 Demo (review here), the EP versions take elements from doom and mid-paced heavy rock groove and set a drunken undertone to the whole affair. Though Richmond is a hotbed for doom, grind, stoner rock and Southern heavy, I wouldn’t necessarily align Sinister Haze to any of them (especially grind), but over the course of “Betrayed by Time” (previously streamed here), “Changin’ Ways,” “Motorhaze” and “Black Shapeless Demon,” seem to tell the tale instrumentally of a night’s party taken perhaps a bit too far and the ensuing weight that can press on the head like so much concrete.
All told, it’s a 23-minute EP, but there’s a definite flow between the two songs of the A side and the two of the B. “Changin’ Ways” is of particular note in the bourbon-breathed narrative — which is something I’m putting to it rather than a concept Sinister Haze have said they’re working with — since it’s both the catchiest track and the moment where one realizes maybe the evening’s imbibing has gotten out of hand. It’s been a while, admittedly, but I’ve been there. Before that, “Betrayed by Time” starts off at a solid roll and winds up in a kind slurred vocal and guitar pairing by its finish, which leaves “Changin’ Ways” and its Earthride-worthy nod to further the boogie, as it most certainly does. The moment where the drink betrays the drinker? Well, it’s somewhere in the instrumental “Motorhaze,” which sways and leans this way and that and finds guitarist/vocalist Brandon Marcey, bassist/vocalist Sam Marsh and drummer Joe Dillon pushing through classic-minded leads and warm tones backed by swinging drums not quite as upbeat as either of the cuts on the first half of the EP, but transitioning smoothly into the eight-minute closer, “Black Shapeless Demon.”
Legend has it, it was such a creature that inspired Geezer Butler to pen “Black Sabbath,” but for Sinister Haze, “Black Shapeless Demon” is more introspective, begin with a sort of wistful, quiet guitar progression joined soon by the bass and drums that unfolds over the first three minutes or so before vocals start the first verse and the build ensues. Much to Sinister Haze‘s credit, while “Black Shapeless Demon” comes to a head, it’s not overblown or cliché in how it does so, and the slow-oozing distortion that takes hold feels drawn in parts from the emotional heft of Pallbearer and the fuckall of Electric Wizard, but is indebted ultimately to neither. Marcey and Marsh work exceedingly well together on vocals — the demo was fronted by Fire Faithful‘s Brandon Malone — and the quiet finish of “Black Shapeless Demon” is all the more effective for the spirited, regret-fueled performance given atop the track’s rumbling payoff. That must’ve been some night.
In honor of the Betrayed by Time EP’s release, you can stream it in full courtesy of the band and Heavy Slab Records. Please find it on the player below, followed by Sinister Haze‘s tour dates, which once again, start tonight.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
SINISTER HAZE TOUR DATES:
4/28 Richmond Va @ Strange Matter w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers 4/29 Durham NC @ Motor City Music Hall w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers 4/30 Johnson City NC @ The Hideaway w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers & Torch Runner 5/1 Knoxville TN @ Poison Lawn w/ Torch Runner 5/2 Atlanta GA @ 529 w/ Irreversible (Final Show), Order of the Owl 5/3 New Orleans @ Siberia w/ Today is the Day 5/4 New Orleans @ Sisters in Christ 5/5 Houston TX @ Fitzgerald’s w/ Today Is The Day 5/6 Austin TX @ Mohawk 5/7 San Antonio @ Hi Tones 5/8 Austin TX @ The Lost Well w/ Conan 5/11 Amarillo TX @ Yellow City Bomb Shelter 5/12 Albuquerque NM @ Moonlight Lounge 5/13 Tempe/Phoenix AZ @ Yucca Tap Room w/ Sorxe and Goya 5/16 Psycho California Festival 5/18 Oakland CA @ Golden Bull 5/20 Denver CO @ Barbar 5/21 Omaha NB @ O’Leavers 5/22 Minneapolis MN @ Hexagon Bar 5/23 Milwuakee WI @ Quarters 5/24 Chicago IL @ LiveWire Lounge 5/25 Detroit MI @ Corktown Tavern 5/26 Pittsburgh PA @ 31st St. Pub
When they first got back together last year, Spirit Caravan started off their first US tour in more than a decade at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore. A more fitting setting would be hard to find. Baltimore, D.C., Virginia, the entire Doom Capitol region has been the center of Spirit Caravan‘s enduring influence, and for guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman and drummer Henry Vasquez, it was more or less a homecoming, or at very least as close as they were going to get on a touring circuit. Granted, they could’ve gone back to Wootton High School and done the show there, if they’d wanted.
The night after Baltimore, they were in Richmond, Virginia. Playing in front of their classic banner to an enthusiastic crowd who obviously well appreciated being there, they took on the venerable Strange Matter with due vitality and ran through a set full of staples, landmark riffs of “Sea Legs,” “Dead Love/Jug Fulla Sun,” “Dove-Tongued Aggressor” and “Dreamwheel” carrying their original rolling vibes both to those who were there the first time around and those who’d come aboard in the 12 years since the band’s original run ended in 2002, their reputation bolstered all the more by Sherman‘s subsequent work in Earthride and Wino‘s in The Hidden Hand and the reunited Saint Vitus. I wasn’t there to see it, but it looks in the video below like it was one hell of a time.
Whoever TubeVision is, they’ve been taping shows in and around Virginia for well over a decade. They were there at Strange Matter and captured the full Spirit Caravan set, a genuine moment of heavy rock history marking their return in a heavy rock climate no doubt more welcoming than there had been the first time around, and for that alone, I’d shake his/her hand if presented with the opportunity. Spirit Caravan headline at this year’s inaugural Maryland Doom Fest this June with The Obsessed‘s Ed Gulli on drums (info here), filling in for Vasquez who’ll be on tour in Europe with Saint Vitus at the time, that band rejoined by original vocalist Scott Reagers.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Richmond, Virginia, trio Sinister Haze have a new vinyl EP coming out called Betrayed by Time. Three of the four songs, “Betrayed by Time,” “Changin’ Ways,” and “Black Shapeless Demon,” you might recognize from their 2013 Demo (review here), but Betrayed by Time is a new recording entirely — for one thing, they were a four-piece at the time they did the demo — and features a fourth track, “Motorhaze,” which is as accurate a description of the band’s sound as anything I could ever come up with. The vinyl is available to preorder now from Heavy Slab Records.
When it arrives, it will do so on a 180g red swirl 45RPM platter, with numbers limited to 329 copies. To celebrate its coming, the three-piece will embark on a month-long coast-to-coast US tour that includes a stop at the much-anticipated Psycho California fest on May 16. They’ve also got dates scheduled along the way with Conan, US Christmas, Today is the Day, Order of the Owl, Goya and others.
Remaining true to heavy rock psychedelia, Richmond VA’s SINSTER HAZE offer their Betrayed by Time EP through Heavy Slab Records. The trio with members of doom and punk backgrounds come together for over 20 minutes of acid laced rock and roll. With the trippy grooves of “Betrayed By Time” and “Changin’ Ways” to the epic hopelessness of “Black Shapeless Demon,” this is music for rockers with a beer and joint in hand and one foot in the grave.
Limited to 300 copies, “Betrayed By Time” has been pressed to 180-gram red swirl vinyl by Heavy Slab Records, this album can be ordered online: PRE-ORDER THE RECORD FROM THE BANDHEREOR HEAVY SLABHERE.
Guitar/Vocals – Brandon Marcey (Cough) Bass/Vocals – Sam Marsh (Dry Spell) Drums/Madness – Joe Dillon (Balaclava)
TOUR DATES: 4/28 Richmond Va @ Strange Matter w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers 4/29 Durham NC @ Motor City Music Hall w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers 4/30 Johnson City NC @ The Hideaway w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers & Torch Runner 5/1 Knoxville TN @ Poison Lawn w/ Torch Runner 5/2 Atlanta GA @ 529 w/ Irreversible (Final Show), Order of the Owl 5/3 New Orleans @ Siberia w/ Today is the Day 5/4 New Orleans @ Sisters in Christ 5/5 Houston TX @ Fitzgerald’s w/ Today Is The Day 5/6 Austin TX @ Mohawk 5/7 San Antonio @ Hi Tones 5/8 Austin TX @ The Lost Well w/ Conan 5/11 Amarillo TX @ Yellow City Bomb Shelter 5/12 Albuquerque NM @ Moonlight Lounge 5/13 Tempe/Phoenix AZ @ Yucca Tap Room w/ Sorxe and Goya 5/16 Psycho California Festival 5/18 Oakland CA @ Golden Bull 5/20 Denver CO @ Barbar 5/21 Omaha NB @ O’Leavers 5/22 Minneapolis MN @ Hexagon Bar 5/23 Milwuakee WI @ Quarters 5/24 Chicago IL @ LiveWire Lounge 5/25 Detroit MI @ Corktown Tavern 5/26 Pittsburgh PA @ 31st St. Pub
Posted in Radio on March 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Once again it’s been a couple weeks since I was last able to do a round of radio adds. But I have a good excuse! I was… uh… reviewing stuff? Well, that’s what I was doing, anyway. Anyhow, I’m way backed up on stuff to join the server, so for at least the next couple weeks it seems reasonable to expect regular adds while I get caught up. By then I’m sure I’ll be behind again, because somehow that’s how it works. Anyway, point is that as usual, a lot more was added to the server this afternoon than appears here, so make sure you check the Playlist and Updates page for the full list. Most of it is pretty new as well, so you might stumble on something you didn’t know was out. Could happen. Alright, let’s do this.
The Obelisk Radio adds for March 20, 2015:
XII Boar, Pitworthy
Before “Sharpshooter,” the opening track of their debut full-length, Pitworthy, actually starts, Hampshire, UK, trio XII Boar are introduced by a ring announcer in full arena-echo style. Somebody is about to get their ass kicked. That mentality tells you a lot about where the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hardrocks, bassist/vocalist Adam “Baddog” Thomas and drummer David Wilbraham are coming from on the 10-track outing, rife with heavy, Southern-style boogie presented with weighted burl whether it’s a slower groove like “Crushing the P” or a thrasher like “Chicken Hawk.” Side A caps with the title-track, a seven-minute Southern metal highlight, but the real party is at the end of the record’s second half, when the 11-minute “Quint” takes hold in a raucous fury of rhythmic thrust, seafaring tales and off-the-wall soloing. It is a riotous debut after a few promising EPs, and if nothing else, XII Boar make it clear that if anyone’s going to get their ass kicked, it won’t be the band. Their dudely growls and whisky this-or-that might be too much for some, but there’s no denying these guys sound like they’re having a blast, and that energy proves infectious throughout their first album. XII Boar on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Deadpeach, Old Fuzz Generation
Underrated Italian fuzz rockers Deadpeach initially released the debut EP, Old Fuzz Generation, in 2004 on what was apparently severely limited vinyl. Then a three-song 7″, Old Fuzz Generation now sees a digital reissue as a four-track release with the three-minute “Spain ’87” added on to the end. All told, it’s still under 10 minutes long with all four cuts taken together, but while brief, there’s enough fuzzy rush to hearken back to a time when European heavy rock was less concerned with either psychedelic freeform jamming or sounding like it’s 1972, and that the thickened-out, sped-up punk of “Americano” (1:50) needed no frills to get its point across, tapping influences from Nebula, Fu Manchu and Kyuss even while quoting Bob Marley in the lyrics and expressing what was a pervasive anti-American sentiment throughout Europe following the US invasion of Iraq. Good times. Not really, but good fuzz, and twice as interesting when one considers how European heavy was on the verge of a multi-faceted explosion 11 years ago and Deadpeach were tapping into a similar classic heavy ethic as the likes of Demon Cleaner, earlier Dozer and their countrymen in OJM. A quick but satisfying stoner burst. Deadpeach on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Suzukiton, Suzukiton II
Making their home in the fertile heavy ground of Richmond, Virginia, the instrumental four-piece Suzukiton made their debut a decade ago on Crucial Blast with Service Repair Handbook, a collection of distinctly Southern but still varied rockers that found a cult following at the time. Kind of a surprise to find that 10 years later, the four-piece of guitarists Todd Naumann and David Boyd (Twisted Tower Dire), bassist William Rose and drummer Bryan Cox (ex-Axehandle and Alabama Thunderpussy) would return with the self-released Suzukiton II, but the intervening time has done little to dull their potency, shredding leads cutting through tight rhythms in tones bordering between heavy rock and metal, a chugger like “Death of a Mule” no more out of place than a prog-metal stomper like “Ronin.” Closer “Todd II” would seem a direct sequel to “Todd Song” from the first album, but its eight-minute course feels more than duly expanded from the prior release. Thoughtful in its progressions and well-plotted within its individual pieces, Suzukiton II is nothing if not a welcome return, and if it’s the band’s position to blindside new listeners, that suits the material well. Suzukiton on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Torpor, From Nothing Comes Everything
Immediate points to UK atmospheric sludgers Torpor (also stylized in all-caps) for opening their Head of Crom and Black Bow Records debut LP, From Nothing Comes Everything, with “From this Time,” the longest song on the album. Follow-up points for the actual weight of the damn thing. Dense, post-metallic claustrophobia is undercut by trades between spoken or otherwise clearheaded shouts and vicious screams, the foursome of standalone vocalist Nats Spada, guitarist/vocalist Jon Taylor, bassist Lauren Mason and drummer Simon Mason successfully avoiding stylistic cliche throughout the six-track release while executing lethal builds and thunder-toned push. “Surrender to the Light” is as effective for its melody as its chug, the obscure interlude “The Wake” rumbles and growls ferociously, and “As Waves Crash” demonstrates a powerful blend of post-hardcore and doom, from which “Abandon” departs only momentarily, delving into a minimalist midsection before rounding out with a maddening payoff. Nine-minute closer “Everything We Left Behind” might as well be made of skull fragments and burst eardrums, its heft giving way gradually to deconstructed ambience and a finale of abrasive noise. Torpor‘s first is brutal, fierce and terrifying most of all for how solidified and assured the band sounds in their aesthetic — how at home they are in the churning chaos they’ve made. Torpor on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, at Head of Crom, Black Bow Records.
If the art wasn’t clue enough, Monsternaut‘s Monsternaut EP is a stoner rock record. Its motor revs in opener “Dog Town” and doesn’t let up until it hits the slowdown in closer “Black Horizon,” which wraps the Kerava, Finland, trio’s 18-minute debut outing with a fitting show of swing, choice basslines and nod-worthy fuckall. There’s plenty about the five tracks that will prove familiar to listeners who may have seen a record with an El Camino (admittedly, a gorgeous one) on the cover before, but there’s a next-generation freshness in Monsternaut‘s barebones, unabashed heavy rock approach, and cuts like “Back for More” and “Mountain Doom” prove deceptively catchy while also tapping tonal satisfaction in the guitar, bass and drums — Jani Kuusela‘s snare and kick landing no less heavy than Tuomas Heiskanen‘s riffs or Perttu Härkönen‘s low end — and the thud of “Caravan” and the straightforward, unpretentious vibe of all the tracks suits a presentation of genre that offers an edge of individuality while immediately doing more than just aping the band’s stylistic forebear(d)s. In heft, mood and songwriting, it’s a more than solid showcase of a progression underway. Monsternaut on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
As previously noted, this is just a fraction of the stuff that joined the server today — one-third, if you want to be more specific about that fraction. To check out everything else or to see what’s been played today and for probably way further back than you’re interested in knowing, check out the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page. Hope you find something good from it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, there’s good news and good news. The good news is Richmond, Virginia, trio Druglord are heading out for a round of dates headed north between April 4 and 10. They’re also playing twice this month in VA, with Medieval Steel and Elder, respectively, which marks a return from half a year of stage absence. They need a show somewhere in the Delaware-to-NYC range for April 6 — calling The Depot in York, PA! — but other than that, it’s booked solid and looks like it’ll be cool time.
Meanwhile, the good news is that Druglord will also have a split out later this year with the doomly Sinister Haze. It’ll be an LP on STB Records, who also released Druglord‘s 2014 full-length, Enter Venus (review here) — a second pressing of which, on purple vinyl, is also coming soon — and is set to release sometime in the coming months. Druglord are also putting out a special CD compilation for this tour with Enter Venus and their prior full-length, 2011’s Motherfucker Rising (review here), of which I’ll just hope they wind up with a couple left over so they might sell them online for those of us not in the tour radius.
Their update goes a little something like this:
After a 6 month break from playing shows, DRUGLORD will be hitting the road with some East Coast dates in April. A couple before that too. Short but sweet. We will have some special tour only merch as well, plus a new CD package with both our LPs on it. Also good time to mention our upcoming split LP with Sinister Haze, out later this year on STB Records of course. Help with April 6 if you can! That’s it for now…
March 13- Riffhouse, Chesapeake,VA w/ Medieval Steel March 27- Strange Matter, RVA w/ Elder and Sinister Haze April 4: Guido’s Speakeasy, Frederick, MD metal night April 5: 1984 club in Wilmington, DE with TITHONUS April 6: open- need show-DC,Baltimore, anywhere close to NYC April 7: NYC at Don Pedro with Heth and Jed and Huldra April 8: the Boneyard in Atlantic City with SHRINER April 9: Kung Fu Necktie in Philly with Lord Almighty April 10: Clash Bar in New Jersey
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Unmistakably good news today from the camp of Richmond, Virginia, five-piece Windhand, as it’s announced they have entered the studio to work with producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Nebula, on and on) on their third album. The record has been given a tentative due date of Fall 2015, and I’d be surprised if Windhand didn’t hit that mark, since if their itinerary for their Relapse debut and sophomore outing, 2013’s Soma (review here), is any basis for judgment, they’ll likely already have tours booked before the record is released.
All the better. The response to Soma was massive, so anticipation for the follow-up will be likewise high. In the last year-plus, though, the band have become veterans of fests like Roadburn, Day of the Shred, Scion Rock Fest and others, in addition to putting in considerable road time on their own, headlining and supporting, their wash of volume and riffs finding welcome on a frighteningly close to universal scale. Seems like they’re working quick to get back in the studio, but you won’t hear me complain.
They’ve also got some shows in Atlanta with a little band called Sleep in May. Here’s the news, freshly hoisted from the PR wire:
WINDHAND ENTER THE STUDIO WITH JACK ENDINO TO RECORD NEW ALBUM OUT THIS FALL ON RELAPSE RECORDS
Richmond, VA psychedelic doomsters WINDHAND have entered the studio with legendary producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, High on Fire). The band is recording their highly anticipated third full-length album at Soundhouse Recording in Seattle, WA. The currently untitled album will see a fall release via Relapse Records and promises to be their most ambitious record to date. The album will contain nine songs including titles like “Two Urns”, “Hyperion” and “Kingfisher”.
Additionally, the group has confirmed two Atlanta shows with Sleep this May.
Stay tuned for more info on WINDHAND.
WINDHAND US LIVE DATES: May 3 – Atlanta, GA The Masquerade ^ May 4 – Atlanta, GA Center Stage Theatre ^
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Virginian stylemashers Inter Arma received no shortage of praise for 2014’s single-song EP, The Cavern, but seem keen not so much to rest on those laurels as to pummel them into the ground. Fitting. They’ll head out with grinders Yautja on April 10 for a month-plus of touring that will cap off with an appearance at Maryland Death Fest on May 23. It is not an insignificant run.
Already veterans of Roadburn and Gilead Fest, Inter Arma will continue to add notches to their collective belt throughout the year, and no doubt by the time this tour is over they’ll be ready to knock MDF on its ass. So be it. Worth going just for the chance to pick up The Cavern on CD from the band.
The PR wire:
Inter Arma Announce North American Tour Dates with Yautja
The Cavern EP Available Now
Richmond, VA genre-destroying metallers INTER ARMA have announced a five week North American Tour with deliciously dark, Nashville metallers YAUTJA. The dates kick off April 10th in Philadelphia, PA and end May 18th in Nashville, TN followed by a stop at the renowned Maryland Deathfest. A complete listing of tour dates is available below.
INTER ARMA recently released a critically acclaimed 45+ minute, single song EP entitled The Cavern. Originally written during the summer of 2009, but reworked and perfected over the last few years, The Cavern was recorded in 2013 during breaks from the relentless touring the band did with the likes of Baroness, Russian Circles, Ulcerate and numerous others. The recording was captured with producer Mikey Allred at Dark Art Studios in Madison, TN, the same surroundings and setup that captured 2013’s monolithic Sky Burial. Both records can be streamed via their official BandcampHERE.
Inter Arma Tour Dates: 04/10/15 Fri Philadelphia PA Boot & Saddle 04/11/15 Sat Boston MA TT the Bears 04/12/15 Sun Brooklyn NY St Vitus 04/13/15 Mon Washington DC DC9 04/14/15 Tue Durham NC Pinhook 04/15/15 Wed Asheville NC Mothlight 04/16/15 Thu Atlanta GA 529 04/17/15 Fri Orlando FL Will’s Pub 04/19/15 Sun St Petersburg FL Fubar 04/20/15 Mon Gainseville FL The Atlantic 04/21/15 Tue Birmingham AL Bottletree 04/22/15 Wed Baton Rouge LA Spanish Moon 04/23/15 Thu Houston TX Fitzgeralds 04/24/15 Fri Dallas TX Three Links 04/25/15 Sat Austin TX Holy Mountain 04/27/15 Mon Tucson AZ Flycatcher 04/28/15 Tue Phoenix AZ 51west 04/29/15 Wed Las Vegas NV Beauty Bar 04/30/15 Thu San Diego CA Soda Bar 05/01/15 Fri Los Angeles CA Complex 05/02/15 Sat San Francisco CA Bottom of the Hill 05/04/15 Mon Portland OR Doug Fir 05/05/15 Tue Vancouver BC Electric Owl 05/06/15 Wed Seattle WA Highline 05/07/15 Thu Spokane WA The Bartlett 05/08/15 Fri Missoula MT The Palace 05/09/15 Sat Boise ID Neurolux 05/10/15 Sun Salt Lake City UT Kilby Court 05/11/15 Mon Denver CO Lost Lake 05/12/15 Tue Lincoln NE Bourbon Theatre (small room) 05/13/15 Wed Minneapolis MN 7th Street Entry 05/14/15 Thu Chicago IL Empty Bottle 05/16/15 Sat Louisville KY Zanzabar 05/17/15 Sun Cincinnati OH MOTR Pub 05/18/15 Mon Nashville TN Stone Fox 05/23/15 Sat Baltimore, MD Maryland Deathfest
Posted in Reviews on December 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Yesterday was kind of crazy, but I don’t mind telling you I think today might be the most all-over-the-place of the week each of the five piles on my desk — now three, soon two — offers something different from the others, but it’s a wide spectrum being covered here, and there’s a couple abrupt turns from one to the next that I didn’t really do on purpose but I think will make for an interesting challenge anyway. In case you’ve been wondering, that’s what kind of nerd I am. Also the Star Trek kind.
I’m feeling really good about this series so far. Really good. I reserve the right to, by Friday, be so completely done with it that I never want to even think of the idea again, but I can only begin to tell you how satisfying it is to me to be able to write about some of these records after staring at them for so long sitting on my desk. Today’s batch is reviews 21-30 of the total 50, so we’ll pass the halfway point in this pile. If you’ve been keeping count since Monday or checking in, thanks, and if not, thanks anyway. Ha.
It’s about that time:
Brain Pyramid, Chasma Hideout
Although it was streamed here in full in September, the persistent stoner charm of French trio Brain Pyramid’s debut album, Chasma Hideout (released by Acid Cosmonaut Records), seemed to warrant further highlight. Whether it’s small touches like the organ underscoring centerpiece “Lucifer” or the wah-ready bass of Ronan Grall – joined in the band by guitarist/vocalist Gaston Lainé and drummer Baptiste Gautier-Lorenzo – or the memorable if genre-familiar turns of “Into the Lightspeed,” the band’s first LP impresses with unpretentious heavy rock front to back. It’s not perfect. Lainé’s vocals come across high in the mix on opener “Living in the Outer Space” and there are points where the “familiar” runs stronger than others, but especially as their initial full-length offering, Chasma Hideout is one that one seems to continue to grow on the listener as time goes on, and one hopes that the heavy psych chicanery from which they launch the 11-minute closing title-track becomes the foundation from which they build going forward. Potential worth reiterating.
With the backing of venerable Swedish imprint I Hate Records, Canadian two-piece Zaum release their first LP in the four-song Oracles, a 48-minute work taking its central musical and atmospheric themes from Middle Eastern cues. Melodically and atmospherically, it relies on chants, slow, deep low end and minor key riffs to convey a dense ambience, reminding some of Om’s Mideast fixation on “Peasant of Parthia” – third and shortest here at 8:13 – but otherwise on a much heavier, darker trip entirely. Opener “Zealot” (12:55) and closer “Omen” (14:08) both offer plodding pace and a methodology not unlike Nile played at quarter-speed, but it would be a mistake to call the hand with which Kyle Alexander McDonald (vocals, bass, synth, sitar) and Christopher Lewis (drums) approach their aesthetic anything but commanding, and when McDonald switches to a semi-blackened rasp in the second half of “Omen,” Zaum demonstrate a desire to push even further into extremity’s reaches. I can’t help but wonder how far they’ll go.
Some of the organ sounds on “Eye Opener,” the aptly-titled leadoff from Virginia four-piece Fire Faithful’s second LP, Organized Occult Love, remind of what Beelzefuzz conjured atmospherically, but an even more primary impression is the uptick in production value from Fire Faithful’s 2012 outing, Please Accept this Invocation (review here). Recorded by Windhand’s Garrett Morris, songs like “Last Fool on Earth” and “Organized Occult Love” brim with tonal resonance and a perfect balance the mix. Guitarist Shane Rippey handled the latter with Morris, and throughout, his tones and that of bassist Jon Bone shine, but whether it’s a more straightforward, Earthride-style groover like the title-track, or a more ranging doomer like “Combat,” vocalist Brandon Malone is well balanced to cut through the morass and drummer Joss Sallade’s crash resides comfortably behind the thick chugging. Melissa Malone and Gabrielle Bishop contribute backing vocals to “Last Fool on Earth” and only affirm how much Organized Occult Love brings Fire Faithful’s Southern doom to another level of presentation. An important forward step.
Five years after debuting with 2009’s Cantos a Ma Vida, Amsterdam-based Pendejo return on Chancho Records with Atacames, a 10-track/44-minute wallop of classic heavy rock riffing and Latin American influence via the Spanish lyrics of vocalist El Pastuso and his readily-wielded-but-not-overused trumpet, which makes a surprising complement to Jaap “Monchito” Melman’s fuzz-heavy guitar, Stef “El Rojo” Gubbels’ bass and Jos “Pepellín” Roosen’s drums, but in context works well to bring personality and an individualized sensibility to a sound otherwise heavily indebted to the likes of Kyuss and Fu Manchu. Quality songwriting and variety in songs like the slower “Amiyano” and the building “Hermelinda” ensures Atacames offers more than novelty to those who’d gape at its other-ness, and when that trumpet does hit, it never falls flat. Closing out with a pair of big-riffers in “El Jardinero” and “La Chica del Super No Se Puede Callar,” Pendejo’s sophomore effort produces results as substantial as they are fun, and serve to remind that’s why we’re here in the first place.
Cali trio Heavy Glow – guitarist/vocalist Jared Mullins, bassist Joe Brooks and drummer St. Judas – have spent a decent portion of the year on tour in support of their full-length, Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine. Understandable, and all the better to pick up your girlfriend in-person. Smooth, well-baked grooves permeate cuts like “Mine all Mine,” which also appeared on their prior 7” (review here), and the later “Nerve Endings,” a Queens of the Stone Age-style production giving about as much of a commercial vibe as a record can have and still be heavy rock, but the songwriting is paramount and definitely an element working in Heavy Glow’s favor, whether it’s the takeoff chorus of “Domino” or near-lounge vibe of “Fat Cat.” There’s an aspirational sensibility at the album’s core that’s going to make for an odd fit for some riff-heads who might be puzzled how something so nearly desert rock can still sound not at all like Brant Bjork, but hooks is hooks, and Heavy Glow use them well.
Bibilic Blood released three albums between 2009 and 2011, but the Eastlake, Ohio, duo haven’t been heard from since – their nightmarish, depraved psychedelic sludge vanishing in a smoky, somehow hateful wisp. Snakeweed marks their fourth album, and with it bassist/vocalist Suzy Psycho and drummer/guitarist Scott “Wizard” Stearns unfurl another demented collection of chaos snippets from an alternate, terrifying universe, the 11 songs totaling just 27 minutes with enough lumber and obscure freakout on two-minute mainliners like “Severed” and “Bloodnomicon” in the middle of the record to be a genre on itself — like a grainy horror flick made scarier by its rawness. Closer and longest cut at 4:10 “Bloody Rabbit” starts with Boris, Flood-style noodling from Stearns on guitar, but samples transition into Snakeweed’s most gruesome chapter, Suzy Psycho’s voice echoing, twisted, from out of an abyss that might as well be your own subconscious, referencing Jefferson Airplane along the way. Their particular brand of malevolence has been missed, and hopefully Snakeweed starts a new bout of activity.
Thera Roya & Hercyn, All this Suffering is Not Enough
Gloom prevails and takes multiple shapes on All this Suffering is Not Enough, the new jewel-case split between Brooklyn post-metallers Thera Roya and progressive New Jersey black metallers Hercyn. Each band includes one song, and for the trio Thera Roya, that’s “Gluttony,” which builds its churn from the ground up and intersperses spacious guitar and almost punkish clean singing en route to a wash of scream-topped distortion, trading off volume and ambience and ultimately delivering a lot of both in a densely-packed eight minutes. Hercyn, a four-piece, counter with the 14-minute “Dusk and Dawn,” which follows their also-longform Magda EP (review here) in grand and squibbly form, a gallop taking hold early topped with throaty screams and shifting between melodic and dissonant impulses, a midsection solo offering a standout moment before the bludgeoning resumes. Each act offers a quotient of noise not to be understated, and despite working in different styles, that’s enough to let them complement each other well on the searing 23-minute Ouro Preto Productions release.
Synapse, the third full-length from German trio The Spacelords, arrives like a gift from the bliss-jam gods. Four extended mostly-instrumental cuts arranged two per side on a Sulatron Records LP, crafting memorable impressions with washes of synth and guitar, intelligent jams that feel partially plotted and intelligent but still exploratory and natural in how they flesh out. Guitarist Matthias Wettstein is out front in the mix, but bassist Akee Kazmaier and drummer Marcus Schnitzler (also of Electric Moon) aren’t far behind, as much as a title like “Starguitar” might make you think otherwise. The chemistry between the three-piece remains tight across the album’s 41 minutes, and from the rich bass and chugging guitar of the opening title-track to the more laid-back groove of “No. 5” and voicebox strangeness of “Pyroclastic Master,” which has the record’s only vocals in robotically spoken lines, Synapse seems to make all of its connections along the way. Heavy psych heads previously unfamiliar will want to take note. The vinyl, of course, is limited.
A progressive heavy rock trio from the Netherlands, The Good Hand present Atman, their second album, on Minstrel Music, with an adventurous semi-desert sensibility given crisp production and a somewhat wistful feel in songs like “Greenwich Mean Time” and “Unity.” For a record that starts out with lead guitarist/vocalist Arjan Hoekstra (also tuba, trombone, bugle, keys, percussion) declaring “I am god,” Atman is surprisingly not-arrogant, owing probably as much to Radiohead as Kyuss and keeping an experimental feel to the stops and arrangement of “The Opposite,” bassist/vocalist Dennis Edelenbosch and drummer/vocalist Ingmar Regeling (both also Monotron) swinging out classic style but holding firm to a modern edge. Out of nowhere is the 19-minute closing title-track (nothing else hits six), on which The Good Hand unfold varied movements that push beyond the charm of “The Death of the Real”’s ‘60s affiliations and into spaces jazz-funky, or droning, or doomy, or all of them. No easy accomplishment, but The Good Hand manage to hold it all together fluidly.
Byzanthian Neckbeard, From the Clutches of Oblivion
Okay, seriously. What the hell do you think a band who live on an island in the English Channel and call themselves Byzanthian Neckbeard sound like? Burly as hell? Well you’re right. The Guernsey foursome of guitarist/vocalist Phil Skyrme, guitarist Jon Langlois, bassist Dano Robilliard and drummer Paul Etasse get down on some dudely, dudely grooves on their 2014 debut, From the Clutches of Oblivion. “Doppelganger” nestles somewhere between death rock, stoner and sludge, and there’s a heaping crash of doom on “Plant of Doom” (duh) and “To Seek the Cyberdwarf” to go with the more swaggering take of “Hive Mind Overlord” as well. But primarily, you don’t put the word “Neckbeard” in your band’s name unless you’re on a pretty masculine trip, and Byzanthian Neckbeard do not fuck around in that regard or in the aggro boogie of “The Ganch.” CD is limited to 200 copies in a four-panel digipak to house the growl-laden, riff-led plunder that ensues across its brief but bloody 32-minute span.