Posted in audiObelisk on March 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was just about a year ago that Atlanta trio Volume IV — who I think it’s safe to say have the best band moniker to come along since Masters of Reality — self-released their self-titled debut EP, compiling four tracks in what save for its cohesiveness might’ve been considered a demo. March 2014 finds them having worked quickly on their first full-length outing, Long in the Tooth, which is out next week on Ripple Music, available now to preorder and based around 10 songs boasting similar heavy rock burl and dudely push, influences from Clutch, C.O.C., early Down and Alabama Thunderpussy showing up in various points filtered through songwriting of consistent quality and marked heft. If you’ve never had a riff stuck in your head for days on end, there’s probably a good deal about what Volume IV have to offer that will be either over (or under) your head, but among the whiskey ‘n’ Sabbath set, a cut like the ’70s motor-shuffling “Wager” is bound to feel just like home.
You might note a twin guitar lead in that one — because when you’re going to do Thin Lizzy, you do it right, goddammit — but Volume IV are indeed a three-piece, made up of guitarist/vocalist Joe Carpenter (ex-Nihilist, and not the Nihilist who became Entombed, but a different Nihilist), bassist Blake Parris and drummer Troy King. They deal volume with gusto enough to crash lesser media players on swaggering jams like “Blackwater” and opener “Looking Low for a High,” but in partially acoustic pieces like “Cabal” and “Save Your Prayers” — which together sandwich the formidable hook of “Awake the Dreamer” — Volume IV show there’s more to their approach than beardo ballsiness, organ on the country-fried “Save Your Servant” adding to the lost-soul overtones in Carpenter‘s delivery. “Save Your Servant” (5:05) and the hey-remember-the-self-titled-Clutch-record easy-rolling groove of “Blackwater” (6:21) are the two longest in Long in the Tooth, but otherwise share little in common, making a conveniently assembled example of the album’s sonic diversity within its bruiser sphere.
That is to say that while the bulk of Volume IV‘s stylistic take could easily ring familiar to heads who’ve been around Southern heavy for a minute, the band has more in mind than copping riffs from Deliverance, though with a lyrical Pulp Fiction reference in tow, “Kong” seems ready with precisely that brand of righteousness. In order to get a feel for the full LP, there’s nothing quite like a complete listen, so ahead of the official March 11 release, I’m happy to be able to host a front-to-back stream of Long in the Toothfor your listening pleasure. Find it on the player below, followed by some info on the limited edition vinyl version, which is awfully pretty:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Less than 100 of these beauts were pressed! Multi-colored vinyl includes 11 x 17 poster, download card and Long In The Tooth CD!!!
With equal parts elegant beauty and steamrolling aggression, Atlanta’s Volume IV serve up a piece of ear candy for the ages with Long In The Tooth. This first release with Ripple Music is a concise thirty-six minute thrill ride of swampy metal heroics, featuring heavy grooves, classic stoner riffs, and an overall impending sense of doom. Led by singer/guitarist Joe Carpenter (Nihilist) and filled out by bassist Blake Parris and drummer Troy King, Volume IV is set to stun the music world with one of the most anticipated releases of the year!
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Here comes shenanigans. Boston heavy punkers White Dynomite released their self-titled rager last year and have signed a deal to have Ripple Music deliver a vinyl version late this Spring. It’s the kind of record you listen to and have a hangover afterwards, as White Dynomite dress to kill and live up to the wardrobe. Squares be damned, the outfit — which already included Tim Catz and Craig Riggs of Roadsaw in addition to vocalist Dave Unger (Antler) and guitarist John Darga (Wrecking Crew) — have added former Scissorfight and current Supermachine six-stringer Jay Fortin on second guitar. His hollow-body gold-trim Gretsch is going to go really well with that suit.
I’m a little behind on the news, which came out last week while I was gone, but here’s word off the PR wire about the vinyl and the band’s video for the song “White Dynomite,” which is about as exemplary an intro as you can get. Dig it:
WHITE DYNOMITE sign with RIPPLE MUSIC!
Boston’s “punk soul explosion” WHITE DYNOMITE have announced their signing with California-based label Ripple Music and the addition of a second guitarist.
Hard rock label Ripple Music, known for their excellent taste and quality of heavy rock music, have signed the super group and will re-release White Dynomite’s debut album in late spring of 2014. Pressed on white vinyl and including extra tracks, this dose of motor-punk soul will be an instant must-have for music fans who like it hard, fast-n-loud. White Dynomite have also officially announced the addition of Jay Fortin to the band. The ex-Scissorfight guitarist joins an already-heavy, veteran line up that includes former members of Roadsaw, Wrecking Crew and Fast Acting Fuses. With this twin-guitar front line in place, the group promises to pack more action than previously thought possible.
More details on the upcoming debut by White Dynomite to come this spring!
Posted in Reviews on January 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re ever looking to win an award for understatement, call Peter French‘s resumé “enviable.” In 1971, the same year Leaf Hound put out their seminal Growers of Mushroom debut LP, French was fronting Atomic Rooster for the In Hearing Of…album, and 1972 found him taking over for Rusty Day in Cactus for ‘Ot ‘n’ Sweaty. It was a short period of time, but a few landmark contributions. Though Growers of Mushroomwas widely bootlegged and officially reissued along the way, Leaf Hound wouldn’t put out another record until 2007′s Unleashed. With French up front, guitarist Luke Rayner, bassist Ed Pearson and drummer Jimmy Rowland, they’d begun playing out again circa 2004, released a live single through Rise Above in 2006 as a precursor to the album, continuing to tour and do periodic shows. They appeared at Roadburn in 2006 and 2012 both — at the latter playing Growers of Mushroomin full — and at Desertfest in 2012, and in July of that year did two nights in Tokyo that are now presented through Ripple Music as the Live in Japan 2012 CD/DVD (or LP/DVD) package. It’s noteworthy for a few reasons, among them that although they switched out Pearson for Peter Herbert on bass, this incarnation of Leaf Hound had already been active more than five years, over twice as long as the band’s original run.
Of course, Leaf Hound continues in large part to be defined by Growers of Mushroom and the swagger of that era, something that French‘s voice is able to convey some 40 years later on Live inJapan, but on the CD, cuts from Unleashedfeature pretty heavily as well. And where the studio version of that album didn’t quite convey the same kind of spontaneous edge, on stage in Tokyo the newer material meshes well with the old, so that original cuts like “Freelance Fiend” — as signature a riff as the band has — “Work My Body” and “With a Minute to Go” fit easily alongside “Barricades,” “Stop, Look and Listen,” and “One Hundred and Five Degrees.” A vinyl-ready 38 minutes for the audio portion concludes with the Howlin’ Wolf cover “Evil,” which Cactus also covered prior to French joining. There are a few bold exclusions from the CD, including “Sad Road to the Sea” and “Growers of Mushroom,” but the former seems not to have been played at all and the latter appears on the DVD with an extended jam featuring a bass solo from Herbert and subsequent guitar spaceout from Rayner that presumably would’ve put the audio over a vinyl runtime. Add to that the jam in “Work My Body” and maybe Leaf Hound were concerned about upsetting the flow of the audio or repeating themselves too much. Still, as omissions go, those are noteworthy ones for fans of the band.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 31st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Tomorrow is the arrival of the New Year, and among the pagan rituals, hangover-dispersal, Readers Poll results-posting and whatever other day-off-style shenanigans one might get up to, it’s also the on-sale date for Days of the Doomed IV tickets. To mark the occasion and the transition from an already-successful 2013 to a bigger 2014 to come, the festival has announced the addition of Ripple Music heavy rockers Devil to Pay to the lineup.
Devil to Pay, who released one of 2013′s best records in the form of their fourth album, Fate is Your Muse(review here), will make the drive north from their Indianapolis home-base to play Days of the Doomed IV alongside Blackfinger, The Mighty Nimbus, Age of Taurus, Wasted Theory and others. Many more bands are still to be announced, but the fourth installment of the metal-heavy doom outing, set for June 20 and 21, seems to be stepping up its game all around.
Announcement, links and Devil to Pay‘s kickass video for “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” (which premiered here) follow:
Happy New Year everyone! How about another band announcement For Days Of The Doomed Fest IV? Grab a PBR tallboy and get ready for the jams to kick your ass… from Indianapolis, I give you Ripple Music recording artist and purveyors of all things HEAVY.. Devil To Pay!
Back for its fourth installment June 20th & 21st, 2014! Days Of The Doomed Fest IV promises to bring the heavy! Bands will be announced over the next several months, so stay tuned! Tickets on sale starting 1/1/14 atwww.daysofthedoomed.com!
Days of the Doomed fest IV is scheduled for June 20th & 21st, 2014 at The Metal Grill in Cudahy (South Milwaukee), WI. It is the same venue as past fests, but it is under new ownership/management! Stay tuned for more details!
Posted in Features on December 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Please note: These are my picks, not the results of the Readers Poll, which is still going on. If you haven’t added your list yet, please do.
It’s always strange to think of something so utterly arbitrary as also being really, really difficult, but I think 2013 posed the biggest challenge yet in terms of getting together a final list of my favorite records. As ever, I had a post-it note on my office wall (when I moved, it moved with me) and I did my best to keep track of everything that resonated throughout the year. I wound up with over 40 picks and had to start putting them in order to whittle the list down.
I wound up with a top 20 that, even though it feels somewhat incomplete, I’ve found that I can at very least live with. That’s what I’ve done for the last week: Just lived with it. Even up to this morning, I was making changes, but in general, I think this gives some scope about what hit me hard in 2013. Of course, these are just my picks, and while things like my own critical appreciation factor in because that affects how I ultimately listen to a record, sometimes it just comes down to what was stuck in my head most often or what I kept putting on over and over.
That’s a simple formula to apply, but still, 2013 didn’t make it easy. Please note as you go through that there are some real gems in the honorable mentions. I thought about expanding the list to 30 this year, but the thought made my skull start to cave in, so I reconsidered.
Anyway, it only comes around once a year, so let’s do this thing. Thanks in advance for reading:
20. All Them Witches, Lightning at the Door
Traditionally, I’ve reserved #20 for a sentimental pick. An album that’s hard to place numerically because of some personal or emotional connection. This year wasn’t short on those, but when it came to it, I knew I couldn’t make this list without Lightning at the Door included, and since it was released just last month as the follow-up to the earlier-2013 Elektrohasch reissue of the Nashville, Tennessee, outfit’s 2012 debut, Our Mother Electricity (review here), I didn’t feel like I’ve had enough time with it to really put it anywhere else. It needed to be here, and so it is, and though I’ve listened to it plenty in the month since its release, I still feel like I’m getting to know Lightning at the Door, and exploring its open-spaced blues rocking grooves. All Them Witches are hands down one of the best bands I heard for the first time this year, and I’m looking forward to following their work as they continue to progress.
For a while after I first heard …Like Clockwork and around the time I reviewed it, I sweated it pretty hard. By mid-June, I had it as one of the year’s best without a doubt in my mind. Then I put it away. I don’t know if I burnt myself out on it or what, but I still haven’t really gone back to it, and while the brilliance of cuts like “Kalopsia” and “Fairweather Friends” and “I Appear Missing” still stands out and puts Josh Homme‘s songwriting as some of the most accomplished I encountered in 2013, that hasn’t been enough to make me take it off the shelf. I doubt Queens of the Stone Age will cry about it as they tour arenas and get nominated for Grammy awards, but there it is. I wouldn’t have expected …Like Clockworkto be so low on the list, certainly not when I was listening to “My God is the Sun” six times in a row just to try and get my head around the chorus.
Gorgeously produced and impeccably textured, The Winter Ward by Stockholm-based I are Droid aren’t generally the kind of thing I’d reach for, but the quality of the craft in songs like “Constrict Contract” and “Feathers and Dust” made it essential. Bits and pieces within harkened back to frontman Peder Bergstrand‘s tenure in Lowrider, but ultimately The Winter Wardemerged with a varied and rich personality all its own, and that became the basis for the appeal. As the weather has gotten colder and it’s gotten dark earlier, I’ve returned to The Winter Wardfor repeat visits, and as much as I’ve got my fingers crossed for another Lowrider album in 2014, I hope I are Droid continue to run parallel, since the progressive take on alternative influences they managed to concoct was carried across with proportionate accessibility. It was as audience friendly and satisfying a listen as it was complex and ripe for active engagement.
There was just nothing to argue about when it came to the self-titled debut from Massachusetts-based doomers Magic Circle, but what worked best about the album was that although the songs were strong on their own and seemed to have lurching hooks to spare, everything throughout fed into an overarching atmosphere that was denser than the straightforwardness of the structures might lead the listener to initially believe. It was a record worth going back to, worth getting lost in the nod of, and as the members are experienced players in a variety of New England acts from The Rival Mob to Doomriders, it should be interesting to find out what demons they may conjure in following-up Magic Circle, if they’ll continue down the path of deceptively subversive “traditionalism” or expand their sound into more progressive reaches. Either way they may choose, the material on their first outing showed an ability to craft an enigmatic, individualized sonic persona that never veered into cultish caricature.
If you’re into doom and you have a soul, I don’t know how you could not be rooting for Iron Man in 2013. Produced by Frank Marchand and the first full-length from the long-running Maryland doomers to feature vocalist Dee Calhoun and drummer Jason “Mot” Waldmann alongside guitarist/founder “Iron” Al Morris III (interview here) and longtime bassist Louis Strachan. The difference in South of the Earthwas palpable even in comparison to 2009′s I Have Returned(review here). With more professional production, excellent performances all around in the lineup, memorable songs like “Hail to the Haze” and “The Worst and Longest Day,” and the considerable endorsement of a release through Rise Above/Metal Blade behind them, the four-piece sounded like the statesmen they are in the Maryland scene and showed themselves every bit worthy of inclusion in the discussion of America’s finest in traditional, Sabbathian doom. May they continue to get their due.
Whether it was what the lyrics were talking about or not, the message of “The Message” was clear: Never count out a catchy chorus. Now in operation for a decade, Sasquatch practice an arcane artistry with their songwriting. Void of pretense, heavy on boogie, they are as genuine a modern extension of classic heavy rock as you’re likely to find. The Los Angeles power trio outdid themselves with IV, veering boldly into psychedelia on “Smoke Signal” and honing their craft over various moods and themes on “Sweet Lady,” “Me and You” and “Eye of the Storm.” They remain one of American heavy rock’s key and consistently underestimated components, and the three years since the release of their third album, III(review here), seemed like an eternity once the quality grooves of “Money” and “Drawing Flies” got moving, the former an insistent rush and the latter open, dreamy and atmospheric, but both executed with precision and confidence born of Sasquatch‘s familiarity with the methods and means of kicking ass.
It was hard to know what to expect from Black Pyramid‘s Adversarial, their first release with guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard at the fore with bassist Dave Gein and drummer/engineer Clay Neely, but the Massachusetts outfit flourished on tracks like “Swing the Scimitar,” incorporating a heavy jamming sensibility with marauding riffs and grooves carried over from the style of their first two albums. Adversarial took the band to Hellfest in France this past summer, where they shared a stage with Neurosis and Sleep, and whether it was the raging chorus of “Bleed Out” or the clarion guitar line of “Aphelion,” the band showed their war ensemble could not be stopped. Their future is uncertain with Neely having relocated and Gein having an impending move of his own, but if Adversarialis to stand as the final Black Pyramid outing, they will at very least have claimed enough heads in their time to line fence-posts for miles. Still, hopefully they can find some way to continue to make it work.
Even the interlude “Seasick Serenade,” just over a minute and a half long, was haunting. Electric Relicsmarked the first full-length from Nashville’s Across Tundras to be released on their own label and the first since they issued Sage through Neurot in 2011 (review here), and as rolling and exploratory as its vibe was, songs like “Solar Ark,” “Pining for the Gravel Roads” and “Den of Poison Snakes” also represented a solidification of Across Tundras‘ sound, another step in their development that refined their blend of rural landscapes and heavy tones. Issued in April, it’s been an album that throughout the course of the year I’ve returned to time and again, and the more I’ve sat with it and the more comfortable it’s become, the more its songs have come to feel like home, which it’s easy to read as being their intent all along. Guitarist/vocalist Tanner Olson (read his questionnaire answers here), bassist/vocalist Mikey Allred and drummer Casey Perry hit on something special in these tracks, and one gets the sense their influence is just beginning to be felt.
Initially a digital self-release by the Washington, D.C. riff purveyors, Oculus just this month got a tri-color, tri-label and tri-continental vinyl issue, and the fanfare with which it arrived was well earned by the five songs contained on the two sides. Borracho‘s second album behind 2011′s Splitting Sky(review here) also marked a lineup shift in the band that saw them go from a four-piece to a trio, with guitarist Steve Fisher (interview here) stepping to the fore as vocalist in the new incarnation with Tim Martin on bass and Mario Trubiano on drums. The results in songs like “Know the Score” and closer “I’ve Come for it All” were in line stylistically with the straightforward approach they showed on their first offering, but tighter overall in their presentation, and Fisher‘s voice was a natural fit with the band’s stated ethic of “repetitive heavy grooves” — a neat summary, if perhaps underselling their appeal somewhat. Oculusshowed both that the appeal of Splitting Skywas no fluke and that Borracho with four members or three was not a band to be taken lightly.
Like the bulk of Ice Dragon‘s work to date, Born a Heavy Morning was put out first digitally, for free or pay-what-you-want download. A CD version would follow soon enough on Navalorama, with intricate packaging to match the album’s understated achievements, taking the Boston genre-crossers into and through heavy psychedelic atmospheres added to and played off in longer pieces like “The Past Plus the Future is Present” and the gorgeously ethereal “Square Triangle” by thematic slice-of-life set-pieces like “In Which a Man Daydreams about a Girl from His Youth” and “In Which a Man Ends His Workweek with a Great Carouse” that only enriched the listening experience and furthered Ice Dragon‘s experimental appeal. Ever-prolific, Born a Heavy Morningwasn’t the only Ice Dragon outing this year, physical or digital, but it stood in a place of its own within their constantly-expanding catalog and showcased a stylistic fearlessness that can only be an asset in their favor as they continue to chase down whatever the hell it is they’re after in their songs and make genuine originality sound so natural.
It seemed like no matter where I turned in 2013, Devil to Pay‘s Fate is Your Musewas there. Not that it was the highest-profile release of the year or bolstered by some consciousness-invading viral campaign or anything, just that once the songs locked into my head, there was no removing them, and whether it was straightforward rockers like “This Train Won’t Stop,” “Savonarola” and “Tie One On,” the moodier “Black Black Heart” or the charm-soaked “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” — which might also be the best song title I came across this year — it was a pretty safe bet that something from the Indianapolis four-piece was going to make a showing on the mental jukebox if not in the actual player (it showed up plenty there as well). Devil to Pay‘s first album since 2009, first for Ripple and fourth overall, Fate is Your Musewas a grower listen whose appeal only deepened over the months after its release, the layered vocals of guitarist Steve Janiak (interview here) adaptable to the varying vibes of “Wearin’ You Down” and “Already Dead” and soulful in classic fashion. They’ve been underrated as a live act for some time, and Fate is Your Musetranslated well their light-on-frills, heavy-on-riffs appeal to a studio setting.
9. Beast in the Field, The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below
Such devastation. Even now, every time I put on Beast in the Field‘s The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below, it makes me want to hang my head and wonder at the horror of it all like Marlon Brando hiding out in a cave. If anything at all, there wasn’t much I heard in 2013 that hit harder than the Michigan duo’s fifth long-player, released on CD in March through Saw Her Ghost with vinyl reportedly on the way now. Toward the middle of the year, it got to the point where I wanted to go door to door and say to people, “Uh excuse me, but this is absurdly heavy and you should check it out.” I settled for streaming the album in full and it still feels like a compromise. I tried to interview the band, to no avail — sometimes instrumental acts just don’t want to talk about it — but what guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr were able to accomplish tonally, atmospherically and bombastically in expansive and overwhelmingly heavy cuts like the 22-minute “Oncoming Avalanche” or the noise-soaked riffing of “Hollow Horn” put The Sacred Above, the Sacred Belowinto a weight class that it had pretty much to itself this year. It’s a good thing they had no trouble filling that space. I still feel like I haven’t recommended the album enough and that more people need to be made aware of its existence.
When I finally listened to Beelzefuzz‘s self-titled debut, I was really, really glad I had seen the three-piece — its members based in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania — play some of the material live. I don’t know if otherwise I’d have been able to distinguish between the progress elements of effects and looping and the live creation of layers and organ sounds through the guitar of Dana Ortt (interview here) and the simple humdrum of studio layering one finds all the time. I almost think for their next record they should track it live, just the three of them, and heavily advertise that fact to help get the point across that it’s actually just three players — Ortt, bassist Pug Kirby and drummer Darin McCloskey (also of PaleDivine) — creating the richness of sound on “All the Feeling Returns” and the eerie, gleefully weird progressive stomp on “Lonely Creatures.” The album became a morning go-to for me, and I don’t know how many times I’ve been through it at this point, but “Reborn” and “Hypnotize” and “Lotus Jam” continue to echo in my head even when it’s been a few days. That said, it’s rarely been a few days, because while I appreciate what the trio accomplish on their first record on an analytical level, the reason it is where it is on this list is because I can’t stop listening to the damn thing. Another one that more people should hear than have heard.
7. Samsara Blues Experiment, Waiting for the Flood
One of the aspects of Samsara Blues Experiment‘s third offering that I most enjoyed was that it wasn’t the album I expected German four-piece to make. After their 2011 sophomore album, Revelation and Mystery (review here), shifted its focus away from the jam-minded heavy psychedelia of their 2009 debut, Long Distance Trip (review here), my thinking was that they would continue down that path and coalesce into a more straightforward brand of heavy rock. Instead, when the four extended tracks of Waiting for the Floodshowed up with no shortage of swirl or sitar or open-ended expansion in their midst, it was a legitimate surprise. Repeat visits to “Shringara” and “Don’t Belong” show that actually it’s not so much that Samsara Blues Experiment turned around and were hell-bent on jamming out all the time, but that rather for their third, they took elements of what worked on their first two LPs and built lush movements on top of those ideas. As a happy bonus, this having grown more and more into their sound has helped push the band — guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters, guitarist Hans Eiselt, bassist Richard Behrens and drummer Thomas Vedder — into their own niche within the wider European heavy psych scene, and they’ve begun to emerge as one of its most enjoyable and consistent acts.
Kind of inevitable that there would be a lot of comparisons made between Mind Controland the preceding Uncle Acid album, Blood Lust. Certainly the newer outing — their third and first for Rise Above/Metal Blade – is more psychedelic, more tripped out and less obscure feeling than its predecessor. It didn’t have the same kind of crunch to the guitar tone, or the same kind of horror-film atmosphere or psychosexual foreboding, but the thing was, it wasn’t supposed to. The UK outfit continue to prod cult mentality even as their own cult grows, and as I see it, Mind Control made a lot of sense coming off Blood Lustin terms of the band not wanting to repeat the same ideas over again, but grow from them and expand their sound. Of course, with the strut at the end of opener “Mt. Abraxas,” they’ve set a high standard on their albums for leadoff tracks, but where Mind Controlreally made its impression was in the hypnosis of cuts like the Beatlesian “Follow the Leader,” the lysergic “Valley of the Dolls” or the maddening “Devil’s Work.” The deeper you went into side B, the more the band had you in their grasp. It was a different kind of accomplishment than the preceding effort — though “Mind Crawler” kept a lot of that vibe alive — and it showed Uncle Acid had more in their arsenal than VHS ambience and garage doom malevolence while keeping the infectiousness that helped Blood Lustmake such an impression.
Of the ones reviewed, Lumbar‘s The First and Last Days of Unwelcomewas the most recent inclusion on this list. Having worked with Lumbar multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Aaron Edge (interview here) in the past with his band Roareth releasing what would be their only album on The Maple Forum, this was a project to which I felt an immediate connection given the circumstances of its creation: Being written almost in its entirety and recorded in everything but vocals during a bedridden period following Edge‘s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The contributions of YOB/Vhöl frontman Mike Scheidt and Tad Doyle of TAD and Brothers of the Sonic Cloth were what got a lot of people’s attention for Lumbar‘s The First and Last Days of Unwelcome, but with the situation are the core of the seven tracks named “Day One” through “Day Seven,” what stood out to me even more than those performances was the utter lack of distance and the level of rawness in the album’s presentation. It puts you there. What you get with Lumbar is the direct translation of a range of emotions from hopeful to hopeless, angry, sad, beaten down and wanting answers, wanting more. There’s no shield from it, and as much in concept as in its execution, there’s no other word for it than “heavy.” The intensity Edge packed into just 24 minutes — and not all of it loud or over the top doomed or anything more than atmospherics — was unmatched by anything else I heard this year.
From just about any angle you want to view it, the situation that turned Kyuss Lives! into Vista Chino was unfortunate. However — and I know I’ve said this before — I really do believe that becoming Vista Chino, that furthering the distance from the Kyuss moniker, brand, legacy, and so on, was for the better of the band creatively. And not because the songs don’t stand up. I doubt it helped their draw much, but for vocalist John Garcia and drummer Brant Bjork (interview here), working as Vista Chino for the creation of Peace, and especially or Bjork working with guitarist Bruno Fevery for the first time in the writing process, it allowed them to step outside of what would’ve been insurmountable expectations for a “fifth Kyuss album” and create something honest, new, and ultimately, more true to the spirit of that now-legendary band. Let’s face it, you hear John Garcia, Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri are working on a project together, you’re immediately comparing it to Kyuss anyway. At least with Vista Chino, they’ve given themselves the potential for growth beyond a preconceived idea of what Kyuss should sound like. Well what does Vista Chino sound like? It sounds like whatever the hell they want. On Peace, though many of the lyrics dealt with their legal battles over the Kyuss name, the vibe stayed true to a desert rock ethic of laid back heavy, and the round-out jam in “Acidize/The Gambling Moose” left Peacewith the feeling that maybe that’s where they’ve ended up after all. Fingers crossed Mike Dean (of C.O.C. and the latest live incarnation of Vista Chino) winds up playing bass on the record, but other than that, wherever they want to go with it, as a fan, I’m happy to follow along.
The second outing from Gozu on Small Stone, The Fury of a Patient Man tapped into so much of what made the Boston band’s 2010 Locust Season label debut (review here) work so right on and just did it better. Don’t get me wrong, I still dig on “Meat Charger,” but with tracks like “Snake Plissken,” “Bald Bull,” “Signed, Epstein’s Mom” (note: it was “signed, Epstein’s mother” on Welcome Back Kotter) and the thrashing “Charles Bronson Pinchot,” Gozu put forth a collection of some of 2013′s finest heavy rock and did so with not only their own soulful spin on the tropes of the genre, but a mature and varied approach that was no less comfortable giving High on Fire a run for their money than reveling in the grandiose chorus of “Ghost Wipe,” which was also one of the best hooks of the year, guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney (interview here) delivering lines in crisp, confident layers, perfectly mixed by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios and cutting through the fray of his own and Doug Sherman‘s guitars, the bass of Paul Dallaire (who split duties with J. Canava; Joe Grotto has since taken over the position) and Barry Spillberg‘s drumming. What the future might hold for Gozu with the recent shift in lineup that replaced Spillberg with drummer Mike Hubbard (ex-Warhorse) and added third guitarist Jeff Fultz (Mellow Bravo) remains to be seen, but with European touring on the horizon for 2014 and appearances slated for Roadburn and Desertfest, the band seem to be looking only to expand their reach, and with the material from The Fury of a Patient Man as a foundation, they’ve got some major considerations acting in their favor. Another album from which I simply could not escape this year, and from which I didn’t want to.
Billed largely and at least in-part accurately as a return to the group’s psychedelic roots, Last Patrol was Monster Magnet‘s ninth full-length, their first in three years and their second for Napalm. The New Jersey outfit led by guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, founder and, in this case, co-producer Dave Wyndorf (interview here) did indeed delve into the space rock side of their sound more than they have in over a decade, and the effect that doing so had was like a great shaking-off of dust, as though the Bullgod in the John Sumrow cover art just woke up after a long slumber. Perhaps even more than tripping on the Donovan cover “Three Kingfishers” or on the more extended freakouts “Last Patrol” and “End of Time,” what really made Last Patrolsuch a complete experience was the depth of emotion. Wyndorf wasn’t just standing above an overproduced wall of distortion talking about how he’s the best lay in the galaxy or whatever — fun though that kind of stuff is and has been in the past — but songs like “I Live behind the Clouds,” “The Duke (of Supernature),” “Paradise” and “Stay Tuned” offered a humbler take, a spirit of melancholy that rested well alongside the unmitigated stomp of “Hallelujah” or the driving heavy rock of “Mindless Ones.” Even in its most riotous stretches, Last Patrolwas a humbler affair, with a more honest vibe than their last four, maybe five albums. A Monster Magnet release would’ve been noteworthy no matter what it actually sounded like, because that’s the level of impact they’ve had on heavy psych and underground rock over the last two decades-plus. The difference with Last Patrolwas that it was a refreshing change from what had started to sound like a formula going stale, and it was just so damn good to have them be weird again.
Finally, an album that asked the question, “What it was I’m going to do I haven’t done?” I knew at the year’s halfway point that Clutch‘s Earth Rockerwas going to be the one to beat, and that it wasn’t going to be easy for anyone else to top the Maryland kings of groove, who sounded so reinvigorated on songs like “Crucial Velocity,” “Book, Saddle and Go,” “Unto the Breach,” and “Cyborg Bette,” and on funkfied pushers like “D.C. Sound Attack!,” “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…” and “The Face.” They’d hardly been in hibernation since 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West, but four years was the longest they’d ever gone between albums, and it was past time for a new one. To have it arrive as such a boot to the ass just made it that much better, the band shifting away from some of the blues/jam influences that emerged over the course of 2005′s Robot Hive/Exodusand 2007′s From Beale Street to Oblivion — though those certainly showed up as well in the subdued “Gone Cold” and elsewhere — but thanks in no small part to the production of Machine, with whom the band last worked for 2004′s Blast Tyrant, Earth Rockerwas huge where it wanted to be and that gave Clutch‘s faster, more active material all the more urgency, where although the songwriting was quality as always, Strange Cousins from the West languished a bit at a more relaxed pace. The difference made all the difference. Whether it was the hellhounds on your trail (what a pity!) in “D.C. Sound Attack!” or the Jazzmasters erupting from the bottom of the sea to take flight, Clutch‘s 10th album was brimming with live, vibrant, heavy on action and heavy on groove, and on a sheer song-by-song level, a classic in the making from a band who’ve already had a few. At very least, it’s a landmark in their discography, and though vocalist Neil Fallon (interview here), guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster always change from record, but it’s the unmistakable stamp they put on all their outings that have earned them such a loyal following, and that stamp is all over Earth Rocker. Front to back, it is a pure Clutch record, and while I’ll happily acknowledge that it’s an obvious pick for album of the year, I don’t see how I possibly could’ve chosen anything else. Like the best of the best, Earth Rockerwill deliver for years to come.
The Next 10 and Honorable Mentions
I said at the outset I had 40 picks. The reality was more than that, but here’s the next 10 anyway:
21. Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era
22. The Freeks, Full On
23. Luder, Adelphophagia
24. The Flying Eyes, Lowlands
25. Black Skies, Circadian Meditations
26. At Devil Dirt, Plan B: Sin Revolucion No Hay Evolucion
27. Kadavar, Abra Kadavar
28. Naam, Vow
29. Mühr, Messiah
30. Uzala, Tales of Blood and Fire
Further honorable mention has to go to Pelican, Endless Boogie, Earthless, Phantom Glue, Goatess, Windhand, Gonga, TonerLow, Jesuand Sandrider.
Two More Special Records
I’d be unforgivably remiss if I didn’t note the release in 2013 of two albums that wound up being incredibly special to me personally: I vs. the Glacierby Clamfight and A Time of Hunting by Kings Destroy. Since it came out on this site’s in-house label, I didn’t consider the Clamfight eligible for list consideration and while I didn’t help put it out, the Kings Destroy I also felt very, very close to — probably as close as I’ve felt to a record I didn’t actually perform on — so it didn’t seem fair on a critical level, but I consider both of these to be records that in a large part helped define my year, as well as being exceptional in and of themselves, and they needed very much to be singled out as such. These are people whom I feel whatever-the-godless-heathen-equivalent-of-blessed-is to know.
Before I end this post, I want to say thank you for reading, this, anything else you may have caught this year, whatever it might be. To say it means a lot to me personally is understating it, but it’s true all the same. I’m not quite done wrapping up the year — I’ll have a list of the best album covers, another for EPs and singles and demos, and of course the albums I didn’t hear — so please stay tuned over the next couple weeks, but it seemed only fair to show my appreciation now as well. Thank you.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is some of the best news I’ve seen in a while: Good band signs to good label. In the case of UK heavy rockers Stubb and Ripple Music, it’s a perfect match. They were made for each other, and though it’s a ways down in the press release, you’ll also note that when Stubb head into the studio come January to record the follow-up to their righteously fuzzed 2012 self-titled debut (review here), they’ll do so at Skyhammer Studios, which is the recording space owned and built by Jon Davis of Conan, who seems to be wasting no time leaving a mark on the UK scene beyond even the considerable footprint of his own band.
Definitely one to watch for come the New Year. Look out for more as we get closer to the release date (including when that might be), and check out the announcement below in the meantime. Kudos to all parties involved:
UK Retro-power Rockers STUBB Sign Worldwide Deal With Ripple Music
RIPPLE MUSIC is proud to announce the signing of acclaimed, hard-hitting UK-based retro-heavy rockers, STUBB to their ever-expanding roster!
Stubb was formed in 2006 with Jack Dickinson on guitar and vocals, Aaron O’Sullivan on drums and Isa Bruni on bass. The power trios of the late 60′s and early 70′s were the blueprint for their loud driving, fuzzed up heavy blues rock. In 2009, Chris West joined on drums and Peter Holland on bass (both also members of Trippy Wicked), solidifying the first classic line-up. The band recorded their first full length album for Chris West’s label Superhot Records, and hit the road, gigging with such heavy rock luminaries as the Gentlemans Pistols, Firebird, Cherry Choke, Steak, Sungrazer and The Machine as well as appearing at Desertfest to a packed house Purple Turtle. Making the trip over to Europe twice with Stone Axe from the USA further cemented Stubb’s reputation as a solid live act with some serious chops.
“We are delighted to be signing with Ripple Music, who are one of the hardest working independent labels on the scene,” Dickinson said. “To be alongside the likes of Mos Generator, Mothership, Stone Axe and Grifter as labelmates is an honour and a pleasure. The new record will bring you the sound of Stubb that along with a whole load of new shades and surprises. We hope to come and play in front of new audiences and treat you all to the loud sound of three guys doing what they love.”
With the departure of Chris West, the band recruited Tom Fyfe (ex-Olde Crone) as the new drummer. Tom brings another new sound to the powerful rhythm section as they prepare to head to Skyhammer Studios with Chris Fielding, January 26 – 30 to record their Ripple Music debut. The album will mixed and mastered by Mos Generator’s Tony Reed at Heavy Head Studios, guaranteeing a sonic explosion of heaviness.
For the growing legions of Ripple fans, known as the Waveriders, Stubb will be another must-hear addition to the ranks of bands that already include such heavy rockers as Mos Generator, Devil to Pay, Mothership, Trucker Diablo and Ape Machine. You can bet that the combination of Stubb and Ripple Music will be a combustible mixture!
Be sure to catch Stubb live: 11/29 @ Hard Rock Hell Festival – Wales
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Maryland’s Weed is Weed released their debut album, Blunt Force Trauma (discussed here), earlier in 2013. In addition to being the most unabashed hailers of the leaf I’ve come across in some time, the sixsome also marks the reuniting of Gary Isom and Dave Sherman, both formerly of Spirit Caravan. Of course, Sherman‘s been fronting Earthride in the intervening years — Isom also did a stint in Pentagram – and he brings his indomitable personality to Blunt Force Traumaas well, most especially on my personal favorite track from the album, the snickering “Eat Cookies.”
Weed is Weed also play Stoner Hands of Doom XIII next week, and Ripple will reportedly issue Blunt Force Traumaearly next year. Please note that when I say “reportedly,” I mean according to the PR wire, which sent along the following:
WEED IS WEED – Featuring Legendary Alumni from Pentagram, Earthride & Spirit Caravan – Sign to Ripple Music
Top-tier stoner/doom metal band WEED IS WEED has signed a world-wide deal with Ripple Music for the release of their full-length album, Blunt Force Trauma.
Years of seismic rumbling have led way to the tectonic formation that is WEED IS WEED. Two legendary masters of Maryland Doom, Dave “Sherm” Sherman and Gary Isom, come with a stoner/doom metal pedigree second to none. Sherm and Gary have been the creative catalysts in such genre defining bands as Pentagram, Earthride, and Spirit Caravan, and now they’re set to launch their newest, blazing heavy rock venture. Having assembled their most blazing line-up ever, this group of musicians have crafted the perfect sound track for red-eyed blazers the world over – Blunt Force Trauma. Blitzed out, stoned heaviness is the order as this collection of tales of reefer madness and alligator fights is slated to be released early 2014 by the ever impressive Ripple Music.
That’s right folks… People are about to take notice.
Sherm is completely shredding the vocals, undoubtedly turning in his best performance to date, as he is more than ably backed by the rip and tear of the triple (3!) guitar attack courtesy of Gary on slide & lead guitar teamed up with Jason Fisher and Rob Portillo’s riffing and rolling. Match that with the full on rhythmic assault of Darren Waters on bass, and the single moniker’d Cougin on drums, and this band is ready to pummel the unsuspecting ear drums of those about to burn!
With the ink just dry on their contract with Ripple Music, it is being announced that WEED IS WEED has also signed on with 313 INC Artist Management to help further their reach and plan their underground takeover.
Watch for some pre-release touring to be announced soon.
It’s no doubt that the riffs are gonna be huge, the vocals are gonna be gritty and the low end will rumble that PBR floating in your stomach. Weed Is Weed is taking over… and it’s going to be a smoky green revolution.
The Obelisk’s “10 Days of Stoner Hands of Doom XIII” coverage continues today with a video premiere from Indianapolis four-piece Devil to Pay, who headline Sunday night, Nov. 10 at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia. They’ll be the absolute last band to play at this year’s SHoD, and they’re set to tour their way along the East Coast with the fest as the centerpiece in support of their 2013 Ripple Music album, Fate is Your Muse(review here). In addition, they’ll have a brand new 7″ on hand in two different colors with two different covers for the standout cut from that record, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” (the B-side is a cover of Eldemur Krimm‘s “Black Fog”), and they’ve got a new video for the song as well that today I have the pleasure of premiering.
Arriving relatively early on in Fate is Your Muse, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” is nonetheless one of the most immediately lasting impressions the album leaves. From the quirky narrative of the lyrics, the soulful melodic delivery of guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak – joined in the band by guitaristRob Hough (who plays the therapist in the new clip), bassist Matt Stokes and drummer Chad Profigle – to the catchy chorus and quirk of the title and the song itself, if nothing else, it’s a track that stays with you. And like their video for “Tie One On,” which premiered here back in August, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” finds Devil to Pay having fun with the form, whether it’s dressing up and dancing in lizard costumes or sitting down for a little D&D in the awesome space that the credits refer to as the “Godzilla Room.” You’ll know it when you see it.
It’s always a good time to see what Devil to Pay are up to, and between the cut and the video, “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” sums up a lot of what I really, really like about this band. Check it out on the player embedded below, followed by the tour dates:
Devil to Pay, “Ten Lizardmen & One Pocketknife” official video
Devil to Pay SHoD XIII / East Coast Tour: 11/01 Valhalla Muncie, IN w/ So Sayeth & Witchdoctor 11/02 Radio Radio Indianapolis, IN w/ the Cocaine Wolves & Dead Birds Adore Us 11/06 Springwater Nashville, TN w/ Admiral Browning & Elder Skull 11/07 529 Bar Atlanta, GA w/ Admiral Browning , Volume IV & Iron Whip 11/08 Flat Iron Greensboro, NC w/ NONE and Jews & Catholics 11/09 Roger’s Pub Chesapeake, VA w/ Pillbuster, Wizard Eye, Faces of Bayon & Compel 11/10 Strange Matter Richmond, VA Stoner Hands of Doom XIII 11/11 The Maywood Raleigh, NC w/ Black Thai & Bedowyn 11/12 JR’s Bar Philadelphia, PA w/ Clamfight, The Cloth & Heavy Temple 11/13 Tobacco Road New York, NY w/ TBA 11/14 Geno’s Portland, ME w/ Eldemur Krimm & Eastern Spell 11/15 O’Brien’s Pub Allston, MA w/ Mollusk & Gut 11/16 Mr. Beery’s Bethpage, NY w/ Borgo Pass, Soma & Von Hell
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you haven’t started your list of albums to watch for in 2014, yet, UK heavy rock trio Grifter might just make a decent first entry for it. They’ve wrapped up work on the follow-up to their self-titled 2011 Ripple Music debut (review here), and today reveal that the full-length will include such song titles as “Princess Leia” and “Bow Down to the Monkey,” as well as a cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Fairies Wear Boots,” so by all accounts, their methods seem to be intact.
While we await the early 2014 release, the cover art and the hopeful revelation of some audio from The Return of the Bearded Brethrensooner or later, I submit the following from the PR wire:
GRIFTER: New Album Completed; Title & Tracks Revealed
Ass kickin’, booty shakin’, whiskey rock ‘n’ rollers GRIFTER have announced their new album is all mixed and mastered, artwork is being completed now and everything will be delivered to Ripple Music for release early in 2014. The album will be called The Return Of The Bearded Brethren and will feature the following tracks.
1. Black Gold 2. She Mountain 3. Paranoiac Blues 4. Princess Leia 5. Bow Down To The Monkey 6. Braggard’s Boast 7. It’s Not Me It’s You 8. Fire Water 9. The Return Of the Bearded Brethren 10. Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath cover)
The Return Of The Bearded Brethren will be released on CD, download and vinyl including a limited run ofBlack & Cream Guinness Splatterwax. GRIFTER will also be working on shows to support the album’s release and the band’s 10th anniversary. Details to come.
And finally, GRIFTER will also be running a competition via their Facebook page once they hit 3,000 likes based around the new album so head over, like the page and start growing your beards!www.facebook.com/grifterrock
Portuguese riffers The Fuzz Drivers recently announced they’d signed to Ripple Music. The four-piece have just unveiled a new video for the song “Carved Time,” which comes off their self-titled debut, released earlier this year. I’m not quite sure if Ripple will be reissuing that album or just moving forward with them on the next, but either way, the clip finds the band doing what heavy rock bands do best in videos — playing in the woods. Also a room though, so there’s some changing it up.
For as stoner rocking as their name is, “Carved Time” isn’t exactly pure Kyuss worship or really anything of the sort, instead residing in a kind of Southern hard/heavy rock that relies pretty heavily on its chorus. The Fuzz Drivers will head out on a European tour next weekend and you can check out the dates under the video below.
The Fuzz Drivers, “Carved Time” official video
THE FUZZ DRIVERS Debut New Video in Preparation For Their European Tour
RIPPLE MUSIC is still pumped over the addition of Portuguese Southern-vibed, heavy rockers, Fuzz Drivers, to the Ripple Music family. Now, they’re even more thrilled to announce the release of The Fuzz Drivers new video with an exclusive premiere at Melodicrock.com!
“Carved Time” is the third single from heavy rockers The Fuzz Drivers. The video comes shortly after the announcement of their worldwide deal with Ripple Music. The band will be appearing live in Spain, UK, Scotland, Belgium and Germany throughout August and September. Their self-titled debut is available for free at www.thefuzzdrivers.com
The Fuzz Drivers are gearing up to hit the road with King Lizard and The Scams.
Dates are as follows: August 30th – ES – Leon, Taberna Belfast August 31th – ES – Irún, Sala Tunk September 11th – UK – Grimsby, Yardbirds September 12th – UK – Edinburgh, Bannerman’s September 13th – UK – Bradford, Gasworks September 14th – UK – Southampton, ROXX September 15th – UK – London, The Underworld September 16th – B – Tongeren, Club Sodom September 18th – GER – Hamburg, Rock Café St. Pauli September 19th – GER – Cologne, MTC September 20th – GER – Hamminkeln, KuBa
Indianapolis rockers Devil to Pay throw down a gauntlet in their new video for “Tie One On.” Anyone can make a song about drinking, and a goodly amount of those people can then make a video for said drinking song. But can they do it in a brewery? With the very works that create crisp, deliciously mind-numbing refreshment right behind them? I humbly submit that no, probably not. Unless they know someone at the brewery. Either way, kudos to Devil to Pay and Fountain Square Brewing. They made it real.
“Tie One On” comes off Devil to Pay‘s 2013 full-length, Fate is Your Muse (review here) an album big on riffs, melodies and charm. It wasn’t included on the vinyl version of the album (it’s on the CD and the download, all out through Ripple Music), so if you got your hands on one of the snazzy clear-LP versions, the new video — filmed by Kris Arnold and edited by DTP guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (recent interview here) — is a good way to get acquainted with the track itself, the spirit of it captured well in the beery misadventures of the band — Janiak, guitarist Rob Hough, bassist Matt Stokes and drummer Chad Profigle.
If you haven’t heard it before, you might find its pace and shuffle somewhat akin to “This Train Won’t Stop,” which premiered here late last year, but “Tie One On” has a groove and a hook all its own and it’s a standout on the CD from whence it comes. Make sure you watch it to the end, spot the Beelzefuzz t-shirt, keep your eye out for Apostle of Solitude drummer Corey Webb, and in case you’re wondering at any point whether Mr. Janiak is making eyes at you, oh, most definitely.
Devil to Pay, “Tie One On” official video
Metaphysical Doom Rockers DEVIL TO PAY Release New Music Video!
Hoosier Doom Rock veterans DEVIL TO PAY released a new music video for their song “Tie One On” today via exclusive premiere at The Obelisk.“Tie One On” is just the second video from their Ripple Music debut album, “Fate Is Your Muse”. The video footage was filmed by Kris Arnold at Fountain Square Brewing Company in the historic Fountain Square area of Indianapolis.
Before being included on their Ripple Music debut, “Tie One On” was released as the B-Side to the GloryHole Records “This Train Won’t Stop” 7-inch. The boogie-doom of “Tie One On” is described by the band as “ZZ Top and Trouble getting into a drunken conversation about the meaning of life.” The video clip shows the band performing as well as relaxing at the bar, interspersed with various 1950’s educational film footage.
DEVIL TO PAY was recently awarded “Best Metal Band” honors from NUVO Newsweekly’s “Best of Indy”for the fourth straight year. Said drummer Chad Prifogle, “We’re really honored to win. The voting is done by the readers of NUVO and we’re grateful to all our fans for their support.”
The band also just finished up a string of Midwest dates with Columbus Fuzz Rockers, Lo-Pan, and have more regional shows lined up before an east coast trip this fall, including an appearance at STONER HANDS OF DOOM 13 in Richmond, Virginia. DEVIL TO PAY will be performing with a wide variety of bands such as SOULFLY, EARTHEN GRAVE, DAIKAIJU, INCANTATION and ZZ TOP.
“Fate is Your Muse” has been a top-selling album for heavy rock indie label, Ripple Music. A scant few limited-edition, splatter colored vinyl LP’s are still available in the Ripple Music Store. The album was also release on black vinyl, CD, and digital formats. All are available at the Ripple Music Store (http://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/products) and Ripple Music Bandcamp, (http://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/) as well as premium records stores world-wide and via Nail Distribution, Clearspot International and Code 7.
DEVIL TO PAY TOUR DATES:
AUG 10th – Mayne Stage, Chicago, IL w/ Earthen Grave with Rachel Barton Pine& Divinity Compromised AUG 11th – The Vogue Theatre, Indianapolis, IN w/ Soulfly, Lody Kong & Incite AUG 24th – The Haymarket Whiskey Bar, Louisville, KY w/ The Decline Effect. AUG 25th – Klipsch Music Center Side Stage, Noblesville, IN w/ Kid Rock & ZZ Top AUG 31st – Berlin Music Pub, Fort Wayne, IN w/ Born Under Burden, Maumee Project & Dogma SEP 6th – Beale Street Live, Indianapolis, IN w/ Daikaiju, The Dockers & Mr. Clit & the Pink Cigarettes SEP 21st- Indy Metal Fest, Old National Center, Indianapolis, IN w/ Incantation, Archeron, Byzantine, Leatherwolf & more
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Portland heavy rockers Ape Machine are at it again. After touring Europe this Spring, the four-piece are headed out for a West Coast run starting next Friday in Sacramento in support of their recently-released Ripple Music debut, Mangled by the Machine (review here). No word on when or if their good-time heavy boogie will grace the Eastern Seaboard, but hell, if you’re these guys coming from the West Coast and you’re going to go that far, you might as well stay on the plane until it lands in Europe and you can get paid, so I get it.
If you’re out that way, and even if not and you’re just generally interested in what cool bands are up to, dates follow:
APE MACHINE Announce West Coast Tour Dates
Portland, Oregon’s Ape Machine is hitting the road for the third time this year, once again plowing their way across the urban wastelands of the U.S. West Coast!
For the first time since the band’s landmark European tour this past June, Ape Machine is revisiting the frequent haunts of past West Coast tours, all in the support of the band’s critically-acclaimed Ripple Music debut, Mangled By The Machine. The quartet that admittedly is “out to melt faces and pound the apathy out of otherwise jaded listeners” is eager to bring the live Machine back to stages, and show the masses what hard and heavy music is supposed to do to the senses.
“We spent sixteen days trekking across Europe and that experience helped us refine our live set to be much more precise,” states guitarist and band founder, Ian Watts. “We’re a live band. The album (Mangled By The Machine) was recorded in a live setting and all in one session. It’s a natural setting for us and a place we itch to get back to every time we get off the road.”
APE MACHINE West Coast Tour Dates: Aug 16th @ Blue Lamp – Sacramento, Ca. Aug. 17th @ Audie’s Olympic – Fresno, Ca. Aug. 18th @ The Local Bar (Hangover Sundays) – Anaheim, Ca. Aug. 19th @ Soda Bar – San Diego, Ca. Aug. 20th @ The Royal Dive – Oceanside, Ca. Aug. 21st @ On The Rox – West Hollywood, Ca. Aug. 22nd @ Dex Records – Chico, Ca. Aug. 23rd @ Oak Street Speakeasy – Eugene, Or. Aug. 24th @ New Frontier Lounge – Tacoma, Wa.
Mangled By The Machine was released in early May of 2013 by Ripple Music, and is distributed throughout the North America through Nail/Allegro Distribution, the UK through Code 7, and Continental Europe through Clearspot International.
Posted in Reviews on August 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
With their third album and Ripple Music debut, Portland, Oregon, four-piece Ape Machine take something of a turn toward the straightforward within heavy rock. The semi-retro vibes they presented on their prior outing, 2011′s War to Head(track stream here), still show up on Mangled by the Machine, but tonally the focus seems to have moved somewhat more toward crunch than fuzz, and the songs by and large are crisper, higher tempo and shorter. It all makes for a quick listen throughout the album’s 38 minutes, and where Mangled by the Machinedoes not at all falter is in the quality of the songwriting, which if anything is all the more highlighted by this somewhat stripped down approach. Seeming to nod at latter-day Lo-Pan, “Gun You Down” opens the record with a fervent groove and soulful vocals from Caleb Heinze, the band’s stated affinity for recording analog showing itself through a natural feel and warmth in the guitars of Ian Watts, the bass of Brian True and Damon de la Paz‘s drums. Songs move quickly and smoothly one into the next, the strong hook of “Everybody Bleeds” taking hold quickly before it seems like the introductory rush of “Gun You Down” has had time to develop. That ethic plays out over the course of the vinyl-ready offering — the tracks don’t sound hastily composed, but the album has a rush to it all the same — and the material is further tied together by Heinze‘s consistent vocal approach, which keeps largely to a higher register and adds to the energy of the instruments behind (and sometimes in front of) him.
There’s an angularity underlying some of Watts‘ riffing that seems to be filtering classic prog through the Melvins, and it can be heard on “Everybody Bleeds” as well as several of the other cuts’ chugging progressions, but it’s not jagged enough to make the several guest organ spots from Ikey Owens seem out of place, the first of them arriving on “Everybody Bleeds” with others showing up on the title-track and side B cuts “Ruling with Intent,” “Grind of Defeat,” the ultra-catchy “Strange are the People” and closer “Pay Attention.” If that seems like a lot, it is, but Ape Machine put the organ to good use within the tracks, bolstering the classic rock atmosphere and adding to the melodies in what’s still definitively a modern sound — that is, not given to the same kind of retro audio manifestation as any number of European acts working with similar influences. And still, the riffs lead the way, which makes me think the songs were composed before the organ was brought into the process, and as “Tyrant’s Arm” gives way as the third in a raging opening trio to the more landmark riffing of “Angry Man,” there isn’t so much a change in tempo as one in energy that suits the band well, True‘s bass stepping in to fill out the guitar work with some of the album’s best fills, which of course also lets de la Paz deliver choice freakout fills. The whole album is impeccably constructed, but the most satisfying change of all might be “Angry Man” running headfirst into “Mangled by the Machine” to close out side A.
Posted in Features on July 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Two weeks ago, Indianapolis doom rockers Devil to Pay hit the road for a handful of dates alongside Ohio-based cohorts Lo-Pan. It was Devil to Pay‘s first real road time since issuing their fourth album and Ripple Music debut, Fate is Your Muse(review here), earlier this year, and Fate is Your Museis the first Devil to Pay album since 2009′s Heavily Ever After. Much of the material on the record had been tested at East Coast gigs last fall leading up to a performance at Stoner Hands of Doom XII, but still, for it having been so long since their last outing, the quality of the songs on Fate is Your Musewas all the more startling.
With tracks like “Already Dead,” “This Train Won’t Stop,” “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” and the eerily proggy “Black Black Heart,” Devil to Pay showed growth in what was already an engaging songwriting methodology. Strong choruses backed by the thick but not overdone riffing of guitarists Steve Janiak (also vocals) and Rob Hough lent a slick feel throughout, but a natural vibe persisted and won out, bassist Matt Stokes and drummer Chad Profigle holding down a straightforward foundation of organic groove from which tracks branched out in varying but consistent directions — the whole process both unpretentious and flowing over the course of the album as a whole. There was, in short, very little not to like.
As Janiak‘s vocals were a particular point of growth — he doubles as guitarist/backing vocalist in Indy trad doomers Apostle of Solitude – it seemed all the more appropriate to ring him up for a quick interview about Fate is Your Muse, what went into making it and if splitting his time as he does had any effect on the songwriting process for these tracks. Janiak has a keen, critical and self-aware eye, so to hear him turn those impulses inward to discuss putting the record together was especially fascinating. We spoke just prior to their starting the gigs with Lo-Pan and you’ll find the complete Q&A with pictures from last year’s SHoD after the jump.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Powered by vocalist Pete French, the reformed Leaf Hound will issue Live in Japan 2012 on Ripple Music later in 2013. The band have been playing periodically since releasing their 2007 comeback album, Unleashed, with stints at Roadburn and last year’s Desertfest (review here) under their belt as well as 1971′s Growers of Mushroom, which remains among the most formative works of modern heavy and stoner rock. Yes, really.
Ripple sent over the following:
Legendary Rocker, Pete French, Teams With Ripple Music To Release New LEAF HOUND Album, Live In Japan
Late 60s/early 70s classic rock band LEAF HOUND is legendary.
And now the band’s equally legendary frontman, Pete French, and the rest of LEAF HOUND has joined forces with Ripple Music to release an LP, CD, DVD project of all newly recorded live material – Live in Japan.
Recorded live in July of 2012 in Tokyo, Live in Japan will see worldwide release later this year via Ripple Music. Look out world, LEAF HOUND has been unleashed once again!
Few bands from the proto-metal period command the undying respect and nods of approval as does Leaf Hound. Talk about a pedigree. Leaf Hound formed in 1969 under their original name, Black Cat Bones. Early incarnations of the Black Cat Bones featured guitarist Paul Kossoff and drummer Simon Kirke who both left to form Free. Black Cat Bones issued one album then replaced their vocalist with perfect-wailer Peter French, Guitarist Rod Price departed soon after to join Foghat and French added his cousin Mick Halls on guitar. With that change, Leaf Hound was born.
In 1970, Leaf Hound released the seminal album “Growers of Mushrooms” which has rightly been hailed as a bonafide classic of 70′s British underground rock scene. Classic Rock magazine has raved that “Growers of Mushrooms” is one of the most influential pieces of music on the stoner rock, and the album has gained a reputation as being one of the true lost gems of the early British hard rock scene. Original Decca vinyl copies on are one of the most rare collectable rock albums out there with prices soaring above £4,000!
After the band broke up, Peter French found himself in high demand. He has been the voice of Atomic Rooster, Cactus and Randy Pie as well as releasing an acclaimed solo album on Polydor, ‘Ducks In Flight’, which featured the likes of Micky Moody, Brian Robertson and Kenny Jones. But the legend of Leaf Hound wouldn’t die. Interest in the band took a seismic shift when the album was first re-released on CD in 1994, finally giving rock fans easy access to the buried treasure. It gained a second re-release in 2005. The music is a prime slice of classic 70′s hard rock – a heady mix of Cream, The Who, Free, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
Following intense public demand, Pete French put a new version of Leaf Hound together in the Spring of 2004, and in 2007 Leaf Hound released their first new album in decades, ‘Unleashed’ on the R.A.R.E/Repertoire label to highly positive critical acclaim. The opening track, ’105 Degrees’, was voted one of the top 100 rock tracks of 2007 by Classic Rock magazine. To launch the release of the album, they headlined the second night of the All Hallows Festival at London’s Camden Underworld.
Now, the next chapter in the myth that is Leaf Hound unfolds as the band has joined the stalwart heavy rocking label, Ripple Music to unleash an all new set of killer live Leaf Hound onto the unsuspecting public. Soon to be released on LP, CD and DVD formats, Ripple Music will bring to a whole new audience the legend that is Leaf Hound. With a roster of classic proto-metal rockers that includes Poobah, JPT Scare Band, and Iron Claw, Ripple Music has already proven its ability to bring classic rocking bands to a modern audience.
LEAF HOUND is: PETER FRENCH – VOCALS LUKE RAYNER – GUITAR PETER HERBERT – BASS JIMMY ROWLAND – DRUMS